Federal Burt’s Will

Federal Burt’s will was written February 28, 1827, in anticipation of his imminent trip to Boston to seek treatment for his malady at the Massachusetts General Hospital. It offers several clues and insights into his life: As was typical for the times, his first bequest concerns his soul (to God) and his body (to the earth). He names his wife as executrix, and instructs that a young girl, Julia Augusta Gray, whom he and Mary had taken into their care after the death of her father, be returned to her mother. An orphan boy, Charles Edwards Williams, is to remain with Mary “until otherwise provided for.” His beloved encyclopedia he left to the Durham Social Library. The witnesses are town clerk Moses Eaton and Sally and Stephen Mitchell, who, like Federal Burt, was a graduate of Williams College–Mitchell in 1801; Burt in 1812.


In the name of God Amen. I Federal Burt of Durham in the county of Strafford and State of New-Hampshire Clerk [sic] considering the uncertainty of this natural life and being of Sound and disposing mind and memory blessed be God for the same Do make and hereby publish my last will and Testament in manner and form following– First I resign my Soul into the hands of Almighty God, hoping and believing a remission of sins by the merits and intersessions [sic] of Jesus Christ the Divine Redeemer of Man and my body I commit to the Earth to be buried at the discretion of my Executrix hereinafter named — and my worldly Estate I give and devise as follows — that is to say — First I give and devise unto my beloved Wife Mary P. Burt all my Real Estate situate (situate [repeated]) in Durham in said county of Strafford, or else where whether Lands, Houses or Tenements to have and to hold to her and her heirs and assigns for ever. And I do further give and bequeath unto my said Beloved Wife all my personal Estate of ever [sic] name and kind whatsoever after payment of all my just debts — except the part which is herein particularly bequeathed. I do also give and bequeath unto Julia Augusta Gray the sum of ten Dollars to be paid within six months after my Deceasing. And I do further will and order my Executrix to furnish the said Julia at the expense of my said estate two good suits of cloths [sic] in addition to her ordinary wearing apparel and to return her to, and place her under the care of her mother [or] other relations within the time aforesaid there afterwards to be provided for, and protected by them and not my executrix. And also for the better management and education of Charles Edwards Williams the orphan boy who now resides in my family. I do give and dispose the custody of him to my said beloved Wife Mary P. Burt whom I hereby request to be his guardian and friend for such time as he may remain with her and untill [sic] otherwise provided for. I also give and bequeath unto the proprietors of the Durham Social Library, all the numbers of my encyclopedia, which are now published & which are to be published to complete the work — said proprietors & my Executrix discharged from the liability of my estate for the same and not otherwise. I do hereby constitute and appoint my said wife Mary P. Burt the sole executrix of this my last Will and Testament. In witness where of I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty eighth day of February in the year of Our Lord 1827.

Signed sealed published & declared in the presence of us who at his request in his presence & in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto.

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