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REMARKABLE TRIALS AND LAW CASES.
TESTAMENTARY CAUSES. sessed a very considerable por:
tion of his regard. For about Prerogative Court, Doctors' two years prior to his death, he Commons. — Price and Kent v. was in a very declining state of Worthington.—This was a pro- health, and on the 16th of June, ceeding relative to the validity of 1913, appeared to have made his the will of the Rev. Hugh Worth- will, but which, notwithstanding ington, late of Northampton- due search was made at his death, square, Clerkenwell, Middlesex, could not be found.
He was deceased, propounded on the part much in the habit of writing in of Eliza Price and Wm. Kent, short hand, and amongst some Esq. the executors, and opposed letters from Miss Eliza Price to by John Worthington, Esq. the him was found a paper in short deceased's brother, and only next hand, which on translation or exrelative.
tension proved to be the following It appeared, that the deceased effect : -“ Northampton-square, was a inan of an advanced age, June 10, 1813.-1, Hugh Worthand a widower, without any re- ington, give and bequeath to my lations but his brother and his fa- dear Eliza Price, who is my mily. He was minister of a sect of adopted child, all I do or may Protestant dissenters, and esteem. possess real and personal, to be at ed a man of great piety. He had her sole and entire disposal. And from a very early period of life I do appoint William Kent, Esq. been acquainted with the Rev. of London-wall, my respected Rees Price, also a dissenting mi- friend, with the said Eliza Price, nister, and was much attached to to execute this my last will and him and his family, usually call- testament.” Signed in the usual ing him brother, and his chil- mode of handwriting, “ Hugh dren calling the deceased uncle, Worthington." At the end "Copy and not knowing until late as of my Will;" and on the back of they grew up that no such relation- the paper this endorsement in ship subsisted. Upon the death short hand, “Most dearly beof his wife in 1806, the deceas- loved, my Eliza, very small as ed (with their father's permis- this paper is, it contains a copy sion) received Miss Eliza and of my last will. I have put it Miss Hannah Price into his house. with your letters, that it may be They superintended his domestic sure to fall into your hands, , arrangements, and the former should accident or any other cause presided at his table, and pos- destroy the original. I have taken pains to write this very clear, that well." “ Tuesday.--Blessed be you may read it easily. I do know God, much better this day. The that you will perfect yourself in comfort of my heart going to see short hand for my sake. To- her father : I dread her leaving morrow we go for Worthing, me.” “ Wednesday.-Hare this most likely never to return. 1 day made my will for the last hope to write a few lines, to ex- time, and given all I have to press the best wishes, prayers, my beloved Eliza Price, the sole and hopes of thy true- -H.W.” possessor of my heart, and prop of A day or two after the making of my declining years. I wish I had this will, the deceased went to more to give her; but all is Worthing by the advice of his her's, to do with as seemeth her physicians, to try the effect of the good; and she is my adopted sea air, accompanied by Miss child, and sweet soother of my soPrice and her sister, who paid litary hours. God give her every him the most unremitting atten- blessing when I may be gone. tion, for which he repeatedly ex- Mr. Kent is with her executor." pressed his warmest acknow- Friday.-The dear girl I love is ledgment, and alluded to his gone to see her beloved father having given the former every this day : I cannot forget her kindthing he possessed by his will. ness in not going yesterday. I love His health became worse, and hermore and more. To-morrow she in the morning of the 26th comes back with her sister Mary. of July, he got up, and knock- Heaven watch over her. The joy ed at the Misses Prices' door, re- of my heart is come back well. questing them to get up, as he Thank God for it. Much dread had been seized with a spitting of the sea-side, but God's will be blood, from which he had for- done. Will give a copy of my will merly suffered much. They did to Eliza, to keep or lay it by for so, and on going into his room, her." found him much exhausted. He The evidence in opposition to took them by the hand, and ad- the will consisted principally of letdressing himself to Eliza, said, ters from the deceased to his brother “Every thing, all, all is your's," and family, part of them in short shortly after which he expired. hand, explanatory of his intenIn confirmation of the effect of tions in the disposition of his prohis will, some extracts were ex- perty, which he gave them to unhibited from a diary in short hand, derstand would ultimately rewhich he was in the habit of mak- vert to them, Miss Price having ing of the occurrences in his fa- only a provision for life. The mily, with his observations on principal communication was datthem. The date of these extracts ed the 10th of March preceding appeared to be about the time of his death, was entitled “ A genethe will being made. They were ral Statement by H. W." and was to this effect :" Monday.--Am to the following effect :-“ The very ill this day with my breath : following brief statement of my hope I do my best to serve my domestic arrangements cannot Lord and Maker, and all will be in itself be very essential to my
dear and worthy brother, he be- life with singular satisfaction, ing my senior three years, but it possessing in her the constant somay be of essential service to his ciety of an intelligent companion four worthy descendants, pre- and the tender assiduity of an venting, on the one hand, wrong affectionate daughter. But while expectations, and on the other she devotes to my comfort her jealousy and reserve. Two years shattered health and strength after the death of my beloved and (made worse, not better, by the excellent partner, my acquaint- taunts and misrepresentations of tance increased with Miss E. an ill-natured world), it is my Price, whom I had known from first duty to provide for her deher birth, and whose father had cent independence when I am no been for 30 years the most inti- more, and this I have done mate friend I ever had in thc without any injustice to those world. Nothing but a vow so- who would not possibly have any lemnly made when I was young, claim upon what little I possess; grounded on the many miseries I who would have had but a part, had seen in second marriages, had I inserted in my will some prevented my making this young public charities, which for a long lady my wife, notwithstanding time was my intention; who, in disparity of age. She had been a case of a second marriage, and a teacher in an eminent boarding- rising family, could never have reschool, till a pain in her side and ceived any share of my property, debility of nerves rendered it but who now will obtain a porimpossible to maintain any pub- tion of it, and eventually be heirs lic situation. She then became to the remainder at the decease governess at my friend Mr. Kent's, of my amiable Eliza. These are who well knowing her excellent the principles upon which I actand cultivated understanding, and principles urged by conscience, her superior abilities in needle- and, I trust, supported by reliwork, French, painting, &c. was gion; nor will any thing alter the exceeding loth to part with her, balance I have laid down, except and would at this moment re- (what I cannot suppose) disrejoice in her return, but her me- spect, personal or oblique, from lancholy overthrow in the Worth- those who hitherto have always ing stage (which had like to have treated me with the most gebeen fatal at the moment) has nerous attention. I commend totally disqualified her for the all my relations, and all their exertion of even private tuition. growing families, to the blessIn these affecting circumstances ing of God for time and eterthe high union of regard, esteem, nity.” The passages in the other and honour left me but one al- letters of a subsequent date, which ternative: I have adopted her as seemed to bear most upon the quesa relation, placed her at the head tion at issue, were the deceased's of my house, when I could not “thanking his family for their have a relation of my own, my attention to him upon all ocnieces being married, and can now casions, but more particulerly look to the declining years of in answer to his communication on a particular subject," al- of the case did not establish that luding apparently to the "brief fact sufficiently to conflict with statement" of March 10;-his the legal presumption of its restating that when his nephew vocation. wrote to him next “ he would Sir John NICHOLL recapitulat(though he sat up beyond mid- ed the leading circumstances of night) express at some length his the case, and the terms of the pasincere and warm gratitude for per propounded, and coincided his most affectionate and obliging with the counsel for the next of letter of April last, and touch on kin, that it was for the parties setpoints to which there was then ting up the paper to repel by evino time to advert;"--and his stat- dence the legal presumption of ing in a letter of 13th of March, its revocation. The species of evi. 1813, “ Next week I shall send dence for this purpose need not be you a brief statement of my do- positive, as, for instance, if it mestic arrangements, and plans had been subsequently destroyed which I have not time to trans- by an act of fraudulent spoliation, cribe this afternoon. It will be it would be almost impossible that in long hand, for on such a sub- they could prove the direct afject I wish for no reserve." The firmative of that fact. A case of rest of the letters contained the circumstances was all that was strongest and most affectionate required; but then they should be expressions of regard for his such as to leave no doubt on the brother and family, and pious moral conviction of the Court, wishes for their prosperity. It also that the deceased meant this paappeared that the deceased's will per to operate. Now the evidence never was in the possession of out of which these circumstances any other person than himself ; were to arise, must necessarily be that Miss Price was the only per- the conduct of the deceased, his son who had access to his papers; declarations of the affection, tesand that a book, containing in- tamentary intentions, &c. If, for structions for making wills, was instance, it should appear that found open on the writing table he had made the will under any in his study, where it had been sudden impulse of affection, which lying from the 16th of June, un- afterwards abated, the presumptil after his death.
tion of his having destroyed it It was contended, in opposition animo revocandi would be strengthto the will, that from its never ened rather than repelled; but if having been traced out of the he made it from motives which deceased's possession ; the legal had actuated him for years, and presumption was, that he had de- seemed to cease but with life, and stroyed it animo terocandi ; that that he took precautions for givit was, therefore, incumbent upon ing effect to his purpose, then the parties setting up the copy of the presumption would rather be it in question, to repel this pre- that he had placed it somewhere sumption by evidence, that the where it still was in existence, deceased meant the copy to ope- than that he had destroyed it. rate, but that the circumstances Guided by these principles, be
had to proceed to the considera- the Court to inquire into his tion of the question whether or motives for this change in the not the legal presumption was suf- amount of the benefit conferred, ficiently repelled by the evidence still less to sit in judgment upon in the case. He then entered in the propriety of the act itself. He to a recapitulation of the family had a right, in this respect, to history of the deceased, and stat- follow the dictates of his own ed the terms of the “brief state- feelings. His motives, however, ment" of the 10th of March, pre- appeared to have been misrepreceding the deceased's death. This sented by the world, and Miss Price paper, he observed, established fell under its censure. This affectthree material points, Ist, Thated her health ; and in the opinion the deceased up to that time en- of the deceased, as expressed in his tertained the intention of pro- letters to his family, gave her adviding for Miss Price, as the fixed ditional claims upon him. It was purpose of his mind. 2dly, That but justice to the family to obhe did not consider his relations serve that they were not forward as having any claim upon his tes- thus to impeach the purity of his tamentary bounty. And, 3dly, that motives, but conducted themthe mode by which he then pur- selves towards Miss Price with posed to make the provision for great liberality. One person only, Miss Price was by an annuity or Mr. Marston, ventured to suggest life interest only. His property was to the deceased, the construcabout 40001. certainly not an exces- tion the world put upon his sive sum for such a provision, and acquaintance with this lady, and it was not even suggested by the urged him to break it off; but he opposite party that there was any invariably refused, saying, he did alteration in his affection for the not care for the opinion of the young lady down to the time of world, and it was certainly but his death. What, then, was the justice to his memory to say, that case they must set up as against there did not appear the least this will ? They were reduc- foundation to suppose that any ed to the dilemma either of improper intimacy subsisted beadmitting that the will in question tween them. Her behaviour to is the only one by which he meant him was that of an affectionate to make the intended provision, daughter, paying the most unwhich would wholly destroy their remitting attention to his health case; or of asserting, in direct con- and comfort, even to the injury tradiction to all the evidence of of her own. It was the ordinary the deceased's intentions, that he course of human feeling to magdestroyed this will, intending not nify attentions shewn in the deto provide for her at all. In cline of life. The gratitude beMarch then, it was clear, he comes stronger as the want of meant to provide for her by an
such attentions beomes greater, nuity; but in June he made a will, and it was therefore very natural giving her all his property abso- that the deceased should latterly lutely. It was not necessary for determine to make his testamentVol. LVII.