Quite the Last Testament

In what spare time I find I often like to research my family’s history and have become something of the family genealogist. Somewhere in my adventures over the last year I came across this, which I saved and just rediscovered. This person is of no relation and it was only by chance that I happened across it. It is the Last Will & Testament of one William Anderson of Upper Burgeo, Newfoundland.

I saved it for obvious reasons, it is really quite remarkable. I am not a lawyer, but I don’t imagine there are very many last wills & testaments that read quite like this anymore:

William Anderson deceased.

On the nineteenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty one. The last will and testament of me William Anderson of Upper Burgeo in the Island of Newfoundland. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. I William Anderson being at this present (all glory be to God) of good health & memory do make and ordain my last will and testament in form and manner following. First. I do willingly and freely resign my most precious and immortal soul whensoever it shall please Him to call for it into the merciful hands of God who made it, and of His blessed Son Jesus Christ who hath redeemed it and washed it with His Blood and of the Holy Ghost who out of His infinite love and goodness has kept it under the most blissful guidance and comfort of His Grace.

I die firmly assured of the grace and mercy of God, through the merits of Jesus Christ to all true penitent sinners that believe the Gospel. I am a poor miserable sinner & infinitely need mercy but I know I have a merciful God to take account of me and a Saviour who died for me to judge me and I have an humble confidence through the merits of His Blood that He will pardon all my mainfold and great offences and look favourably on my repentance and accept my poor and weak but sincere and hearty and well meant services when He comes to call me to account for them. And as for my earthly body after my last breath is expired I bequeath it to Christian burial in the place where it shall please God to call me out of this mortal life in comfortable and blessed hope of a most happy resurrection from dust and dishonour unto glory and from the chains of death to the triumphs of eternal life at the last day. And as for all my worldly estate which God hath graciously blessed me with and made me steward of my will is to dispose of it to the praise of His name and I trust to His good liking. With respect to what money is remaining in Messrs. Nicol’s and Thomas’ hands my desire is that a third part shall be given to my wife and the remaining two thirds to be equally divided among my children. My house and household property shall all belong to my wife Susan with the exception of the clock which shall belong to my son Edward. The stage, flakes, boat punts, nets and all the fishing gear shall belong to my two sons George and Edward Lastly according to my expectation and confidence in my said wife and children I do pray and as much as in me lieth enjoin them to continue in the true faith, to observe all acts of kindness and love one to another, and to be satisfied with this my will according to the purport thereof and the true meaning therein declared as aforesaid.

Witness my hand this 19th day of Septr in the year of our Lord

William Anderson X

We the undersigned are witnesses that the above is the mark of William Anderson made in our presence,

John Cunningham, George Keeping X-

Certified correct,

D. M. Browning



2 thoughts on “Quite the Last Testament

  1. Thank you! I was glad I had found it, definitely unique. Other last testaments which I saw were quite explicitly ‘Last Testaments’ in the sense of faith, but none to the extent that this one is.


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