I bequeath my beloved parrot

These snippets are from a collection of eccentric wills gathered together by an 19th Century author:

I, David Davis, of Clapham, Surrey, do give and bequeath to Mary Davis, daughter of Peter Delaport, the sum of 5s, which is sufficient to enable her to get drunk for the last time at my expense. (1788)

I, William Blackett, governor of Plymouth, desire that my body may be kept as long as it may not be offensive; and that one or more of my toes or fingers may be cut off, to secure a certainty of my being dead. I also make this request to my dear wife, that as she has been troubled with one old fool, she will not think of marrying a second. (1782)

I, John Aylett Stow, do direct my executors to lay out five guineas in the purchase of a picture of the viper biting the benevolent hand of the person who saved him from perishing in the snow, if the same can be bought for that money; and that they do, in memory of me, present it to Esq., King’s Counsel, whereby he may have frequent opportunity of contemplating on it, and, by a comparison between that and his own virtue, be able to form a certain judgment which is best and must profitable, a grateful remembrance of past friendship and almost parental regard, or ingratitude and insolence. This I direct to be presented to him in lieu of a legacy of £3000, which I had, by a former will, now revoked and burnt, left him. (1769)

I, S. Church, give and devise to my son, Daniel Church, only one shilling, and that is for him to hire a porter to carry away the next badge and frame he steals. (1793)

I, John Moody, of Westminster, boot-maker, give to Sir F. Burdett, Bart., this piece of friendly advice, to take a special care of his conduct and person, and never more to be the dupe of artful and ensigning men at a contested election, or ever amongst persons moving in a higher sphere of life; for placemen of all descriptions have conspired against him, and if prudence does not lead him into private life, certain destruction will await him. (1806)

I, Elizabeth Orby Hunter, of Upper Seymour Street, widow, do give and bequeath to my beloved parrot, the faithful companion of 25 years, an annuity for its life of 200 guineas a year, to be paid half-yearly, as long as this beloved parrot lives, to whoever may have the care of it, and prove its identity; but the above annuity to cease on the death of my parrot; and if the person who shall or may have care of it, should substitute any other parrot in its place, either during its life or after its death, it is my positive will and desire, that the person or persons so doing shall refund to my heirs or executors the sum or sums they may have received from the time they did so; and I empower my heirs and executors to recover it from whoever could be base enough to do so. And I do give and bequeath to Mrs Mary Dyer, widow, now dwelling in Park Street, Westminster, my foresaid parrot, with its annuity of 200 guineas a year, to be paid her half-yearly, as long as it lives; and if Mrs Mary Dyer should die before my beloved parrot, I will and desire that the aforesaid annuity of 200 guineas a year may be paid to whoever may have the care of my parrot as long as it lives, to be always the first paid annuity; and I give to Mrs Mary Dyer the power to will and bequeath my parrot and its annuity to whomsoever she pleases, provided that this person is neither a servant nor a man—it must be bequeathed to some respectable female.

And I also will and desire that no person shall have the care of it that can derive any benefit from its death; and if Mrs Dyer should neglect to will my parrot and its annuity to any one, in that case, whoever proves that they may have possession of it, shall be entitled to the annuity on its life, as long as it lives, and that they have possession of it, provided that the person is not a servant or a man, but a respectable female; and I hope my executors will see it is in proper and respectable hands; and I also give the power to whoever possesses it, and its annuity, to any respectable female on the same conditions. And Í also will and desire, that 20 guineas may be paid to Mrs Dyer directly on my death, to be expended on a very high, long, and large cage for the foresaid parrot. It is also my will and desire, that my parrot shall not be removed out of England. I will and desire that whoever attempts to dispute this my last will and testament, or by any means neglect, or tries to avoid paying my parrot’s annuity, shall forfeit whatever I may have left them; and if any one that I have left legacies to attempt bringing in any bills or charges against me, I will and desire that they forfeit whatever I may have left them, for so doing, as I owe nothing to any one. Many owe to me both gratitude and money, but none have paid me either. (1813)

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

2 Comments

  • October 25, 2009 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    I hope then, that you are a respectable female who won’t remove it from the country…

    It is hilarious, I agree.

  • October 24, 2009 - 8:14 pm | Permalink

    This is hilarious. I want 10 minutes with that parrot.

  • Comments are closed.

    All original content on these pages is fingerprinted and certified by Digiprove
    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

    Join other followers:

    © Shakespeare's England 2009-2014