Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2007-01 > 1167838021
Subject: Re: [S-I] Alison/Allison PA
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2007 15:27:01 +0000
I do not know where this man may have died, but I wonder if you have searched the probate packets
and Orphans Court adminstrations in Philadelphia? If a person died intestate, he estate was still probated. In fact since heirs had to prove their descent, these records often contain more information than wills and their probates. There may also be administrations and other court records. These survive for Philadelphia though they are not filmed.
I recently hired a professional in Philadelphia who does this kind of work to investigate a man who died in 1745 or so. Probate packet was found and inspected, all records transcribed and photocopied.
If he owned land in Philadelphia his will should have been filed there. In the case we were researching the man lived in PHiladelphia but owned land in Lancaster (now Bedford) and had owned land in Chester Co. His will was presented to courts in all three counties but disallowed due to debt.
There was still a probate packet. In PA these are kept. However in Virginia probate records were
considered the personal property of the family and returned. So it is a very disappointing place to
check for probate packets. We're talking colonial era here. So if you research in VA you don't realize
what a wealth of probate records eastern PA can have from the 1600s, even.
Given the Maryland link, I'd check Maryland too in the jurisdictions where they lived. Most critical
Maryland records are indexed and/or published so it's not usually too difficult to find them. I know
a lot of these published Maryland records are in libraries in SE PA -- when I was at Swarthmore
doing Quaker research, they had a lot of wonderful Maryland publications. I'd check the web first.
The state archive. If someone showed up with a will probated in another state and expected to have
a deed recorded in PA, I suspect the clerk would have sought the advice of the orphans court.
Was a will declared valid in MD valid in PA? Even today I suspect some investigation would be
required. This would involve the court.
I would also check Philadelphia county Orphans Court records -- these are indexed and I believe
in LDS. There are a couple kinds. Check them all.
There is a reason the will is not in the indexes but the conveyance of the property is
identified in a deed due to a will. Some kind of inconsistency that probably was resolved in a court
case. As I said my experience is even if your will was 'thrown out', there was a stub in the will books indicating that is what happened. Though this will was disallowed in 1745, 20 years later
an heir (presumed son) successfully sued the man who made off with the estate in Lancaster Co,
forced a sheriff's sale of the property, and received the proceeds above the amount of the original
debt....the poor lad had been screwed out of his inheritance by a voracious crook, apparently.
But he prevailed. I mention this to indicate how thorough these surviving records are. I thought
there was a family tie with the man absconding with the estate (surname Flemming) but to date
haven't found any.
Check the date on the deed too. It might show a gap from the time of the man's death. Suggesting his will was not found, the estate entered into probate, after a lengthy process, perhaps the will was suddenly produced, declared valid, and the land conveyed. In the midst of it, perhaps the will was not properly recorded or recorded 'late', or, well, who knows. I know in the case I was dealing with years went by while various administrators failed to settle the estate and were replaced with others. There is no mention of the "heir" at the time of the death when the will was filed either....he jumps off a UFO 20 years later. Was he in Ireland? Don't know. Unfortunately a copy of the disallowed will was not saved in the probate packet. That might explain everything. It just occurs to me I should check in Carlisle for
it in the second court case. Bing Bing Bing.
Anyway what I believe you got here is a problem that most likely can be solved by someone experienced in researching these types of records in Philadelphia. If you want the name of the person and/or the name of the repository, I'll send off list. I wasn't sure from viewing various books, etc, exactly where they were in Philadelphia (court house, Gen Society, etc), but he knew right away and retrieved all associated records promptly.
It's also possible the will was probated normally but is missing from the will book (was not recorded). I'
ve run into this in Greene Co, TN (whose early records were not organized by Quakers <grin>). The will was 'loose', not transcribed into the proper will book. An abstract was published in one collection of Greene Co wills, but with no probate date. However we learned the will was executed but it took a visit to the historical society to retrieve this info. Yours was apparently executed, declared legal, the basis for a property conveyance. However funny things happened, even in the City of Brotherly Love and even among Quakers. The records probably survive to sort it out, but unless you want to become an expert in Philly will problems, hire an expert. I know a good one!
Another possibility is to hire a law firm. They employ folk who spend all their time researching titles. A discussion on Pro list indicated that they can be cheaper than a genealogist who wants $30 an hour because they use clerks or paralegals. A professional genealogist will insist on transcribing it as well, charging you for it too. So the cost mounts.
Such is the profession. You can find a zillion uncertified hungry record retrievers who will claim to look for it but not be able to find anything who are cheaper and don't know that they should transcribe it too, but as this is not a straight record retrieval, these folk may miss critical documents. I use these types of folk too but not for problems like this. I have employed people who want $35 an hour and who can't reliably go to a courthouse or archive and retrieve the goods too....
Any time an issue like this is posted to the professional list I am on, the responses are amazing -- there is always several more possible explanations that I would have never thought of. A few folk on that list know wills and probates extremely well. I could also ask them.. It's such a learning experience to witness the real experts gnawing at a problem like this. You can sub to this list yourself.