The Will of Frances Dickinson (née de Brissac)
Original copy in the Public Record Office contained within The National Archives, Kew, London. Catalogue reference: probate 11/2197 Image reference:517
This transcription made April 2012 by Judith Frances Hubbard with the assistance of Penelope Anne Forrest (née Phelps)
Will and Testament
This is the last Will and Testament of me Frances Dickinson of Bramblebury in the Parish of Plumstead in the County of Kent, widow of the late Thomas Dickinson of the same place Royal Navy. I order and direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses and the costs charges and expenses of proving this my Will and all such as may be attendant and consequent upon the execution thereof and carrying that same into effect may be fully paid and discharged out of my personal estate.
I give and bequeath to my son John Dickinson of Abbotts Hill in the County of Herts Esquire the following articles that is to say my largest Vase of Derbyshire Spa which was presented to me by his late partner Mr George Longman, my folio Family Bible and my Dutch telescope, The Gentleman’s Magazine complete, with any other Books he may desire from the Room called the Library, also my largest silver salver with beaded edge, the set of Cruets in silver stand with three Doves and three ladles silver mounted to correspond all complete, twenty-one silver table forks and six plated forks to correspond, eighteen dessert forks to match all in Kings Pattern, twenty four table knives with silver handles twenty four dessert knives with silver handles to match, one silver forked salad spoon, the framed print of the Last Supper, the miniature portraits of his Father and Grandfather also the portrait of his late father and of myself recently taken and framed complete, also my largest set of mahogany dining tables, four plated dishes with covers and stands complete, soufflé dish, mahogany wardrobe, his late Grandfathers. And I reflect with comfort on the kindness and liberality of my son John to every member of his family as occasions have arisen to require his assistance and his counsel.
I give and bequeath to Ann, the wife of my said son John Dickinson, my finest and largest India Shawl and my Indian Ivory Fan.
I give to my grandson John Dickinson, son of my said son John Dickinson, my gold repeating watch and my pocket spy glass by Jones in a Black Case.
I give and bequeath to my granddaughter (who is also my Goddaughter) Frances, the wife of Frederick Pratt Barlow of Kensington Soliciter the sum of One Hundred pounds and also my Model of the Tower of Pisa with the Glass in shade and stand complete.
I give and bequeath to my son Colonel Thomas Dickinson my nineteen best table spoons, eighteen dessert spoons to match, four sauce ladles, one silver soup ladle, one silver fish trowel, two best gravy spoons, one silver meat skewer, second best silver waiter with beaded edge, pair of plated wine coolers with family crest, coloured dinner service, best dessert service, twelve plain dessert spoons, one butter knife Kings Pattern, two glass side dishes and two plated spoons and all my Jet plates.
I give and bequeath to Catherine the wife of the said Thomas Dickinson all the Indian articles which decorate my drawing rooms not otherwise disposed of in my Will also my brooch containing the hair of my grandson Thomas Dickinson.
I give and bequeath to my daughter Frances Dickinson my set of Cornish diamond ear rings, brooch and bracelets, twelve plain silver table forks, twelve plain silver dessert forks marked with the letter F, fourteen plain table spoons, six plain silver dessert spoons, six plated dessert spoons and silver gravy spoon, eighteen silver tea spoons and sugar tongs beaded edges, four salt spoons to match, one silver mustard pot and spoon, silver tea pot, caddy and stand, also smallest silver waiter, one silver butter knife my largest plated tea waiter with handles, my small plated waiter, my plated bread basket, my smallest set of fish cruets in plated stand my best tea and coffee china service with purple edge and all the odds and ends of tea spoons, salt spoons also. The tea Poy complete, in the little Drawing Room also my pianoforte and the pair of little silver candlesticks. Johnsons Poets sixty eight volumes  note below belong to my said daughter Frances as do also Johnsons works twelve volumes.  note below And I desire that she may have any two of my table covers that she pleases and any articles of my furniture that she may fancy, provided the same are not otherwise disposed of by this my will.
I give and bequeath to my daughter Harriet, the wife of the Reverend John Septimus Grover of Eton, my set of amethysts consisting of ear rings with drops, bracelets and brooch, my plated vegetable dish and cover complete, also my Alabaster Ornament with four Doves.
I give and bequeath to my daughter Anne, the wife of the Reverend Doctor Arthur Benoni Evans of Market Bosworth, my set of Garnets complete, all my Brussels and point lace my plated Epergne  note below with glass dishes complete, also my pearl brooch set like a shell. The British Essayists  note below in forty five volumes belong to and are the property of my said daughter Anne Evans. I give and bequeath to the said Reverend Doctor Arthur Benoni Evans my portfolios with the pictures and drawings … they contain, also the miniature of his wife by Newton. I give and bequeath to my granddaughter Anne Evans (the daughter of my said daughter Anne Evans) the sum of one hundred pounds and also my diamond ring brooch set transparent.
I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth the wife of Joseph Phelps of the island of Madeira, Esquire, my pearl tiara and all my other pearls set and unset (not otherwise disposed of) and all my Valenciennes lace made up and unmade.  Note below
I give and bequeath to my granddaughter (who is also my goddaughter) Frances Phelps the sum of one hundred pounds and also my enamelled watch chain and seal complete.
I give and bequeath to my granddaughter (who is also my goddaughter) Harriet Phelps, the sum of one hundred pounds and also my gold neck Chain and Cameo brooch set in gold.
I give and bequeath to my son in law, the said Joseph Phelps, the miniature portrait of his wife by Newton.
And I desire that all my wearing apparel and all material applicable to apparel shall be equally divided between all my daughters.
I give and bequeath to my grandson Henry Dickinson (one of the sons of the said Colonel Thomas Dickinson) my chimney clock in porcelain and stand which was the gift of his late pupil, James Hatsell for whose sake he will value it.
The clock now standing in the landing place near my bed room door belongs to Frances the wife of David Robertson Esquire. And I hereby direct that the same may be returned to her after my decease, properly packed and delivered at her residence free of expense.
I give and bequeath to my said granddaughter Fanny (the eldest daughter of my said son Colonel Thomas Dickinson) the sum of one hundred pounds.
I give and bequeath unto Frances Morley, spinster, the daughter of the late William Morley, one hundred pounds. I also give and bequeath to her sister, Anne Morley, spinster, the sum of fifty pounds.
And I also give and bequeath to Harriet the wife of ? Glascott the sum of fifty pounds for her sole and separate use independently and apart from her said husband and for which her receipt alone shall be a sufficient discharge to my Trustees and Executors hereinafter named.
The Clock, also the ornaments on the Library Chimney piece, belong to and are the property of my grandson Sebastian Stewart Dickinson; another of the sons of the said Colonel Thomas Dickinson.
And I give and bequeath to him the sum of one hundred pounds as a little acknowledgment for his attention and affectionate behaviour which has endeared him to me as a son.
I give and bequeath to my nephew John Frederick Bernard Senior, the sum of one hundred pounds.
I give and bequeath to my maid servant, Mary Ann Gandy the sum of one hundred pounds for her own absolute use and benefit independently of any husband with whom she may thereafter intermarry and so as not to be liable to his debts contracts control or engagements and for which her receipt alone notwithstanding her coverture shall be an effectual discharge to my Executors hereinafter named.
I give and bequeath the following legacies to my other servants if they shall respectively be living with me at the time of my decease, that is to say to my Manservant William Witham the sum of two hundred pounds; to my maids Jane Gill and Mary Mereweather, the sum of fifty pounds each.
I give and bequeath to my Trustees and Executors hereinafter named and appointed three hundred and fifty pounds per annum annuities for a term of years or long annuities upon trust as to twenty pounds per annum part of the said sum of three hundred and fifty pounds per annum, annuities for a term of years or long annuities upon trust to pay the same as and when the same shall become due and payable unto my old gardener(?) John Stead for and during the continuance of the said annuities, if he shall so long live. But in case the said John Stead shall happen to die before the said annuities expire, then it is my Will and desire and I thereby order and direct my Trustees and Executors hereinafter named, to pay one moiety see below of the same unto my aforesaid daughter Anne Evans, the said wife of the said Reverend Arthur Benoni Evans, Doctor of Divinity, for and during the then continuance of the said annuities if she shall so long live, for her own sole and separate use apart and distinct from her husband and for which her receipt alone shall be a sufficient discharge to my said Trustees and Executors. And from and immediately after her decease unto the Trustees or Trustee of the Marriage settlement of my said daughter Anne Evans to be held on the trusts thereof and to pay the other moiety of the same unto my daughter Elizabeth Phelps, the wife of Joseph Phelps for and during the then continuance of the said annuities if she shall so long live for her own sole and separate use apart and distinct from her husband and for which her receipt alone shall be a sufficient discharge to my said Trustees and Executors and from and immediately after her decease unto the Trustees or Trustee of the marriage settlement of my said daughter Elizabeth Phelps to be held Upon the trusts thereof. And as to One Hundred and sixty five pounds per annum further part of the said sum of Three Hundred and Fifty pounds annuities for a term of years or long annuities. Upon trust to pay the same as and when the same shall become due and payable unto my said daughter Anne Evans for and during the continuance of the said annuities if she shall so long live for her own sole and separate use apart and distinct from her husband and for which her receipt alone shall be a sufficient discharge to my said Trustees and Executors. And from and immediately after the decease of the said Anne Evans unto the Trustees or Trustee of the Marriage Settlement of my said daughter Anne Evans to be held on the trusts thereof. And as to the other One Hundred and Sixty Five pounds, per annum annuities for a term of years or long annuities remaining part of the said sum of three hundred and fifty pounds per annum annuities for a term of years or long annuities Upon trust to pay the same as and when the same shall become due unto my daughter Elizabeth Phelps, the wife of the said Joseph Phelps for and during the continuance of the said Annuities if she shall so long live for her own sole and separate use apart and distinct from her said husband and for which her receipt alone shall be a sufficient discharge to my said Trustees and Executors. And from and after the decease of the said Elisabeth Phelps unto the Trustees or Trustee of her Marriage settlement to be held by them on the trusts thereof. And I hereby declare that the said annuities for a term of years or long annuities so bequeathed as aforesaid are given to my daughters Anne and Elizabeth to assist them in educating and placing out their children in the world.
And it is my Will and I hereby desire that the said long annuities shall not be sold out or changed into any other stock.
And as to the residue and remainder of my estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever and of what nature or condition of which I shall die seized or possessed or be in any manner entitled to except only property over which I have any power of appointment and which I do not intend to be included in this device or bequest, I give and bequeath the same and every part and parcel thereof unto my Trustees and Executors hereafter named Upon the trusts following. That is to say Upon trust as soon as conveniently may be after my decease upon the discretion and of the absolute authority of the Trustees and Executors for the time being of this my Will to sell and dispose of collect got in and convert the same into money.
And I hereby declare that my said Trustees and Executors shall stand possessed of the monies to arise and be procured from my said residuary estate and as aforesaid upon trust as to one equal sixth part or share thereof to pay the same into my said son John Dickinson for his absolute use and benefit. And as to one other equal sixth part or share thereof Upon trust to pay the same unto my son Colonel Thomas Dickinson for his absolute use and benefit. And I do hereby declare that in case of the death of either of my said sons John Dickinson and Thomas Dickinson in my lifetime then that the said two sixth parts or shares of my said residue shall not lapse but shall become payable and be paid to the Executors or administrators of the said John Dickinson and Thomas Dickinson respectively to be by them applied as part of their respective personal estate.
And as to one other equal sixth part or share thereof, Upon trust to pay the same unto my said daughter Frances Dickinson for her absolute use and benefit.
And as to one other equal sixth part or share thereof Upon trust, to pay the same unto my said daughter Harriet Grover for her own absolute and separate use and benefit independently of her present or any future husband and so as not to be liable to his debts contracts control or engagements and for which her receipt alone notwithstanding her Coverture  below shall be an effectual discharge.
And as to one other equal sixth part or share thereof I direct that my Trustees and Executors shall stand possessed thereof Upon trust to pay out and invest the same in their own names in Government or real securities in Great Britain and to stand possessed thereof in trust from time to time to pay the annual income arising therefrom unto my said daughter Anne Evans or permit or empower her to receive the same during her life for her separate use and free from the control and debts of her present or any future husband and so that she shall have no power to allow or anticipate the said annual income. And after the decease of my said daughter Anne Evans to stand possessed of the principal of the said sixth part or share in trust for all and every or any one or more to the exclusion of the other or others of the children of the said Anne Evans in such parts and shares and for such estates and interests and with limitations over for the benefit of some or one of the said children and subject to such conditions and restrictions and with such power of revocation and new appointment as the said Anne Evans shall by deed or will appoint and in default of any such appointment and subject thereto Upon trust for all and every the children of the said Anne Evans who shall live to attain the age of twenty one years or marry for the absolute benefit of such children if more than one in equal shares and in case my said daughter Anne Evans shall have no child who shall live to acquire a vested interest under the trust aforesaid, then in trust for her, my said daughter Anne Evans, for her own use and benefit. And as to one other equal sixth part or share thereof I direct and declare that my Trustees and Executors shall stand possessed thereof for the benefit of my said daughter Elizabeth Phelps and her children Upon and for the trusts and purposes and with and subject to the same power of appointment by Deed or Will and other powers and authorities similar to and in all respects corresponding with the trusts purposes powers and authorities expressed and declared concerning the sixth equal part or share lastly hereinbefore bequeathed to my said daughter Anne Evans and her children.
And I hereby nominate constitute and appoint my said son John Dickinson and my friends John Fredrick Bernard, the younger of Great Winchester Street in the City of London, Gentleman and Henry Macgregor Clark of Essex Street, Strand, in the County of Middlesex, Gentleman, Executors of this my Will and Trustees for performing the same and the several trusts thereof.
And I do hereby declare that the receipt or receipts of my said Trustees and Executors or of the survivors or survivor of them or of the Executors or Administrators of such survivor or of such new Trustee or Trustees as hereinafter is mentioned shall be a sufficient discharge and discharges, to the purchaser or purchasers of all or any part of my estate and effects and that such purchaser or purchasers shall not be answerable or accountable for the application misapplication or non-application of such purchases, monies or any part thereof.
And I do hereby order and direct that if any or either of them, the said John Dickinson, John Fredrick Bernard and Henry Macgregor Clark or the Trustees to be appointed as hereinafter mentioned or any of them shall die or refuse or become incapable to act in or shall desire to be discharged from the trusts aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the surviving or continuing or only acting Trustees or Trustee for the time being or the executors or administrators of the last surviving or continuing or only acting Trustee to nominate and appoint any other person or persons to be a Trustee or Trustees in the room of him or them so dying, ceasing or becoming incapable to act as aforesaid.
And when and so often as any new Trustee or Trustees shall be appointed, all the said trust monies and premises shall thereupon with all convenient speed be vested in the person or persons so to be nominated as aforesaid either solely or jointly with the surviving or continuing Trustee as occasion shall require and every such new Trustee shall have the same powers and authorities as if he had been appointed a Trustee to this my Will.
And it is my Will, that all the said Trustees shall be entitled to retain out of the said trust monies, all reasonable expenses which they shall be put to in the execution of the trusts aforesaid.
And further that no one of them shall be answerable for the acts or defaults of the others or other of them, nor for any loss which may happen to the said trust premises without his wilful negligence or default and I do hereby revoke all former Wills by me at any time heretofore made and so declare this to be my last and only subsisting Will and Testament.
In witness whereof I, the said Frances Dickinson, the Testatrix, have to this my Will contained in this and the seven preceding sheets of paper written on one side of each sheet subscribed my name this twenty ninth day of January in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and forty nine - Frances Dickinson - signed by the above named Frances Dickinson in the presence of us both present at the same time who in her presence and in the present of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses - Wm. Gall - Geo: Booth~ Clerks to Messrs Black & Davidson Solicitors, 36 Essex Street, Strand.
Proved at London the 9th September 1854 before the worshipful John George Middleton Doctor of Laws and Surrogate by the Oath of John Dickinson Esquire the son, one of the surviving Executors to whom Admon was granted having been first sworn only to administer. John Fredrick Bernard the younger Esquire, the other surviving Executor and one of the surviving Residuary Legatees … trust named in the said Will having first recounted the probate and execution thereof and also the letters of …… with the said Will annexed of the Goods of the said deceased.
 Johnsons Poets - Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1779–81), alternatively known by the shorter title Lives of the Poets, is a work by Samuel Johnson comprising short biographies and critical appraisals of 52 poets, most of whom lived during the eighteenth century. These were arranged, approximately, by date of death.
 Johnsons works - An Essay on the Life and Genius of Samuel Johnson, LL. D. was written by Arthur Murphy and published in 1792. The work serves as a biography of Samuel Johnson and an introduction to his works included in the volume.
 Epergne - a type of table centrepiece, usually made of silver, but may be made of any metal or glass or porcelain.
 The British Essayists
 Valenciennes lace - a type of bobbin lace named after a town in NE France where it was made in the 17th and 18th Cents.
 Moiety - a part or share.
 Coverture - a legal doctrine whereby, upon marriage, a woman's legal rights were subsumed by those of her husband. Harriet was under this rule. Anne and Elizabeth were not, so greater possibilities were made under the terms of the Will so that their children could benefit.
Married Women's Property Act
Married Women's Property Act 18 came in 1882.
Harriet, Anne and Elizabeth were married women - who at that time would be seen as ‘property’ of their husbands - hence the complexities ensuring they had their inheritance made apart from their husbands.
The people mentioned in the Will and their ages at 1849 are:
Frances Dickinson, née de Brissac (mother)
John Dickinson (eldest son, paper manufacturing)
Ann (née Grover, daughter-in-law)
…married to Frederick Pratt Barlow
Maj. Gen. Thomas Dickinson(second son, East India Company's Engineer)
Catherine (née Dean, daughter-in-law)
Sebastian Stewart (grandson) born in India
Fanny (granddaughter) born in India
Henry Dickinson (grandson) born in India *
Frances Dickinson (eldest daughter) **
Harriet Grover, née Dickinson (second daughter)
The Rev. John Septimus Grover (son in law)
Anne Evans, née Dickinson (third daughter)
Rev. Dr. Arthur Benoni Evans DD (son in law)
Elizabeth Phelps, née Dickinson (fourth daughter)
Joseph Phelps (son in law, Madeira wine trade)
Frances Phelps (grand/goddaughter)
Harriet Phelps (grand/goddaughter)
* all known records suggest Henry was dead in 1849, but apparently not!
** daughter Frances being unmarried, the Will was straight forward. As she is bequeathed far more items than anyone else, I am assuming she still lived at Bramblebury at the time of the writing of the Will and the thinking would be that she would have set up independently only after her mother’s death. However - see note 5) below. Daughter Frances’ address at time of death in 1870 was 10 Young Street, Kensington. She was 85.
John Frederick Bernard Senior, (nephew 1781 - 1853) aged 58 Son of Jeanne de BRISSAC (1754-1831) and John Frederick Bernard 1751-. This nephew (JFB) also had a son by the same name (1813 - 1895) as he too becomes one of the Trustees.
The following are probably friends
Frances wife of David Robertson
Frances and Ann Morley - spinster sisters
Mary Ann Gandy (personal maid)
William Witham (manservant)
Jane Gill (maid)
Mary Mereweather (maid)
John Stead (gardener)
The Trustees are John Dickinson and John Fredrick Bernard Jnr, with a Henry Macgregor Clark.
The solicitor firm is Messrs Black & Davidson Solicitors, St …… Street, Strand, London.
The witnesses are Wm. Gall and Geo. Booth, both Clerks to the above firm of solicitors.
1) Frances Dickinson (née de Brissac) did not bequeath to all her grandchildren directly. In 1849 I calculate she had at least twenty-five living grandchildren.
2) Her husband Captain Thomas Dickinson RN, 1754 - 1828, died aged 74. They had been married for forty seven years; their wedding being in 1781. He was, according to records of 1776, superintendent of transports in the ordnance service, Woolwich, with quarters at the Tower of London. Thomas’s father was also a Captain in the Royal Navy. Their married life started in quarters at or near the Woolwich naval barracks where they stayed for some years until 1803.
3) Bramblebury House near Plumstead Common, in what was then part of Kent, was built in 1793. In 1803 the family moved to Bramblebury. The house was the central hub of the whole family for nearly forty years. Adult children from abroad and nearer home, with their children, would often go there. [See ‘A Memoir in Letters’ by Penelope Forrest 2011 and ‘Time and Chance’ by Joan Evans 1943]
4) Frances Dickinson’s father, Pierre or Peter Abraham de Brissac, was a Master Silk Weaver with a successful business in the Spitalfields area of London. His family were Huguenots from an aristocratic family in France. We can assume much of Frances’s wealth was from this source.
5) Frances had hoped to see her days out at Bramblebury, but in extreme old age of nearly 94, she had become forgetful and died 26th August 1854 being looked after at Thurlow Square, Brompton, Kensington. She was buried in St Nicholas churchyard, Plumstead, on 1st September 1854. (from Time and Chance; burial registers Borough of Greenwich.)