William Mitchell's Will
The documents filed in the public
record office contained:
(1) The original will
This is of interest because of the effects continued in the family for
twenty years. Dated 7 Nov 1888, William was 38 years old and knew he
was dying of diabetes. He died 11 July 1889. At the time of his death
Ellen was 33, Lily 8, Flossie 6, Adelaide 5, Len 3, and Ern had just
turned 2. The farm (324 acres) was left to the two boys "for their support, and also for the
support of their mother and sisters while unmarried, widowed or having
obtained a legal separation", not to be sold
or encumbered till Ern turned 25. In the interim the farm was to be
used for the support of Ellen and the children. For any sale after Ern
turns 25, 1/3 was to be shared between the (three) girls, Separate to
this Ellen was left 90 acres, a share of 418 acres held with William B
The “selected land” left to the boys is presumably the assets described
as “leasehold” in the asset list (315 acres total).
Witnesses were William’s father (William B) and sister Clara, in
Wodonga. Executor was brother Fred (26 at the time William died).
Interestingly Fred is described as a farmer in the probate documents,
but has no joint assets as Brad did. Perhaps this is because Brad is
older (34). Why was Fred chosen as executor? With 22 years for the
estate to run, perhaps age was important.
Comments Les Rowley.
The ninety acres referred to is the share of the
paddock Brad tabulates in his diary. Ppayments stopped when
William died, Perhaps Ellen was bought out?
It is not clear to me whether the "while unmarried"
clause applies to Ellen as well as the girls. The oldest girl
(Lily) would be 31 when Ern was 25
The will to me reads as if William did not envisage
Ellen staying on and running the farm, but rather being supported by it
Fred as executor seems to have complete charge of
what is done
(2) Probate affidavit by Clara, 31st Dec 1889, at Albury (3pps)
There is a similar document from William Burton.
Routine stuff, except
for the statement that William had been frequently told by his father
to make a will because “he was suffering from diabetes, which is a
fatal disease”. You also wonder whether William’s interruption of the
reading through of the will shows him feeling understandably depressed.
“I have no need to hear any more of it. Let us sign it.”
Probate was pounds 30/10/4
(3) Statement of Assets ad Liabilities as at William’s death
This gives a thumbnail sketch of Whiteford at the time.
house 24 ft by 22 ft, 4 rooms, 10 years old.
The net value of the estate (land, improvements, stock) was put at
Weatherboard storeroom 20 ft by 14
ft, iron roof, 6 years old.
Weatherboard kitchen 20 ft by 12 ft,
iron roof, 5 years old.
Dairy 10 ft by 8 ft, brick, shingle
roof, 5 years old.
Hayshed 50 ft by 40 ft
A one acre fruit garden, eight years
(4) Three Months Inventory filed 3 July 1890
The reference to “last years floods” would be to
spring floods in 1898
after William’s death. The stock lost were in inventory at William’s
death. The losses would have been exacerbated by William being gone.
William B and Brad would only have to be on the other side of the river
to be unable to help. Where were their properties? Were they still at
Hillsborough (twenty miles away)? They are referred to in (3) as
Graziers, Bethanga. Losing over a hundred pounds worth of stock must
have really brought home to Ellen the difficulty of her position.
bullocks (25 were lost in last years flood, and 17 had been sold).
13 cows, two 2 year olds, and 15
calves (3 died in the floods)
110 ewes, of which 62 had been sold,
26 lost in flood, and 12 killed
for eating, leaving only 10.
1 draught mare, 1 draught foal, 3
draught colts, 4 saddle horses, 1
half draught foal
Farming implements, including
blacksmiths bellows, anvil, etc
Household furniture, nearly all bush
(5) Fifteen Months Account
From the asset list it looks as if all the bullocks and sheep have been
sold..Total distribution to Ellen 55 pounds.
An interesting item was 7 pounds 19 s to Dr Mueller for medical
attendance and wine. Was this wine for diabetes treatment?
Law costs were nearly 97 pounds. There was also repayment of an
overdraft of 129 pounds.
It looks as if the family had not yet settled on the long term running
of the farm, as most stock was sold, and there is no sign of hired
labour in any quantity, nor of renting
out the land.
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page Page last updated - 18 Oct 2007