18 November 2009

A Beauty, In-Deed!


Plymouth County, Massachusetts, original quitclaim deed, Thomas Stetson, Sary Stetson, John Peirce,  Patience Peirce, John Booth,  Mary Booth, Jonathan Dodson, Eunice Dodson, Rodulphus Ellmes and Bethiah Ellmes to Nathaniel Tilden, 5 January 1696/7; digital image, Ebay (www.ebay.com : 2 February 2009)

I found this beautiful quitclaim deed on EBay earlier this year. Despite bidding what felt like an extravagant amount of money, I lost it in the last seconds of the auction. Some of the signers were my ancestors, so I was sad not to win, but at least I have the image. First I'll transcribe, then I'll talk a bit about it. I'm being very brave doing this, because the hidden meanings in early legal documents scare me. Things can seem obvious but these old transactions have a plethora of implications that I do not always catch. I suspect I'm not alone in that, still it makes me reluctant to look at this publicly! I'm not able to print superscript in this blog's text editor, so I will write out the words I believe they are intended to represent. There was no source given. I suppose I'll find it in the deed books, but here it is in raw format.
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Know all men by these presents that we Thomas Stetson and
[S]ary Stetson John perce and patience perce John booth
and Mary Booth : Jonathan Dodson Eunice Dodson Rodulf
is Elms and Bethiah Elms Have Remised, Released and forever
quitt Claimed and by these presents do for us our hairs Exsecutors
and administrators and Jointly and severaly for every of us our
hairs Exsecutors & administratours do fully freely and forever also
[lately] quitt Claime unto Nathaniel Tilden of Sittuate in the County
of plymouth in New England Exsecutor to the Last will and Testament
of our Honored Mother Marah Dodson of Sittuate aforesaid do
ceased him his hairs and assigns of and from all Leggacies Gifts bequests
som and soms of mony and demands whatsoever bequethed and giv
en unto us the said Thomas and Sary Stetson John perce and patience
perce John booth and Mary booth Jonathan dodson Eunice dodson
Rodulfis Elms and bethiah Elms in and by the Last will and testament
of our honored Mother Mary dodson aforesd Deceased and of and
from all manour of actions and Suts Cause or Causes of [actions] or Suts Som and
Soms of mony debts dutys Recknings accounts and demands whatsoever which
against the sd Nathaniel Tillden we Ever had Now have or which nead our hairs
Exsecutors or administratours shall or may have Claime Challenge or Demand
for or by reason of any mater Caus or thing from the beginning of the world unto
the day of the date of thes presents in wittnes whare of we have here unto
sett our hands and Seals this fift day of January one thousand Six hundred
Ninety Six : or seven 1696/7 Jonathan Dodson (signature and seal)
Signed Sealed and delivered John Peirce (signature and seal)
in presents of Wittnesses John booth (signature and seal)
"the mark of Abraham Barden" Rodulphus Ellmes (signature and seal)
Thomas Turner (signature)
witnes "the mark eunice (signature) dodson" (seal)
Benjamin Stetson (signature)
Bethia Stetson (signature) Thomas Stetson (signature and seal)
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Before examining this deed closely, I had a look at the Vital Records of Scituate, Massachusetts to 1850, and Deane's History of Scituate to get acclimated with the family. Deane isn't always accurate, but used in conjunction with the VRs provides a good springboard. Of course, this information would need to be verified in original sources before determining anything conclusive, but for our purposes, they provide enough background information.

Anthony Dodson and Mary Williams were married 12 Nov 1651 in Scituate, Plymouth Colony. They had eight children. One, Gershom, died in Rehoboth during King Phillip's War. There remained six daughters and one son.

Sarah m. Thomas Stetson 1671
Margaret m. Nathaniel Tilden 1693
Jonathan
Mary m. John Booth jr. 12 Dec 1687
Patience m. John Peirce 12 Dec. 1683
Bethia m. Rodolphus Ellmes 20 Feb 1695/6
Eunice m. Simon Delis 1 Jan 1717

A quitclaim is executed to relinquish any right of ownership, whether actual or only implied, meaning the grantor may or may not have had title to begin with. People had a variety of reasons for executing quitclaims, but I think it was mostly a safety measure, a way to ensure that a title was clear, just in case...

When Mary Dodson died (sometime before 5 January 1696/7), she left a will. In this quitclaim, six of Mary's children are handing over their claim to any inheritance to the seventh child. Mary's one son, Jonathan, signed in his own right, as would be expected. The only unmarried daughter, Eunice, did the same. But for the rest of Mary's children, all married daughters, the laws of coverture govern how the ownership is determined. Once they married, they gave up their right of ownership to their husbands. For this reason we do not see their names at all, even though they were the main characters.

So why are Nathaniel and his wife (Margaret) the lucky recipients? I just don't know! This would require some study and I've already spent a load of time just getting this far. I suspect that there are probably other deeds conveying property for payment, and that this is just a clearing of title. Feel free to chime in, if you know, and I'm being stupid, which, sadly, is entirely possible.

3 comments:

Tracy said...

What an amazing find!

Family Curator said...

How wonderful to have the photo, but it's too bad the original got away. I am enjoying your ideas for "juggling" genealogy and life, and I've awarded you with the Kreativ Blogger Award at www.thefamilycurator.com.

Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt said...

Thanks so much! I'm honored and tickled! In that order.