Friday, 12 October 2012

W is for .... Wills

I was over the moon when I found Wills and Probate records for the period 1841 to 1925 online at the Public Records Office of Victoria

My best find was the Will of my great-great grand Uncle, Michael Kelly.  because it gave me the name of a brother, William, who I didn't know existed. I only knew about Michael because he is buried at Melbourne General Cemetery in the family grave of his sister, my great great grandmother, Alice Morgan, nee Kelly.

On obtaining his death certificate I found that he was born in Ireland but had only been in Victoria for 6 months.
It stated that his occupation was "Gentleman" and that he had suffered Tuberculosis of the lungs for 12 months.  His nephew, John Felix Morgan, was the informant.  I would say Michael came to his sister when he knew he was dying.

I am glad I found his Will before I went searching for him in Ireland because he wouldn't have been there.  He came to Victoria from Kimberley in South Africa.  I have no idea how to find any information on him in South Africa.  Because he wasn't married (that I know of)  I doubt he would have left a paper trail.
I am assuming from his will that he did rather well there, perhaps in mining?  Occupation "Gentleman" doesn't give me any clues.  If anyone has experience with research in South Africa any suggestions would be extremely welcome.

A transcript of Michael Kelly's will:
This is the last Will and Testament of me MICHAEL KELLY late of Kimberley South Africa now of Pascoe Vale Road Essendon in the Colony of Victoria. Gentleman.  AFTER payment of all my just debts funeral costs testamentory expenses I GIVE DEVISE AND BEQUEATH all my property of what nature soever and wheresoever situate unto my nephew and niece John Morgan and Agnes Morgan of Pascoe Vale Road Essendon aforesaid hereinafter called "my trustees" and whom I hereby appoint Executor Executrix and Trustees of this my Will UPON TRUST to realise such part of such property as shall not consist of money and out of the proceeds of such realisation and such money to pay to my niece Mary Adams the wife of John Adams of Moonee Ponds in the Colony of Victoria Bricklayer the sum of one hundred pounds to Alice Kelly of Melrose Street North Melbourne in said Colony daughter of my brother John Kelly the sum of one hundred pounds to my dear sister Alice Morgan of Pascoe Vale Road Essendon aforesaid Widow the sum of three hundred pounds to my brother William Kelly now I believe of West Australia Mining Speculator the sum of three hundred pounds and to retain for a pay to themselves my trustees the said John Morgan and Agnes Morgan the sum of three hundred pounds each and I direct that in the event of the death of the said William Kelly before the making of this my Will my trustees shall hold the said sum of three hundred pounds bequeathed to the said William Kelly in trust to divide the same equally between my said sister Alice Morgan and my trustees the said John Morgan and Agnes Morgan.  Any residue of my said property after payment of such debts expenses legacies and discharges of such trusts I leave to my trustees in trust for the said Agnes Morgan absolutely.  I revoke all former Wills made by me I appoint Joseph FitzGerald of 108 Queen Street Melbourne Solicitor to my Estate and to obtain Probate hereof IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of March one thousand eight hundred and ninety eight.

signed Michael Kelly

George Henry Monks, State School Teacher, 25 Arden Street, Kensington
Nicholas Bergin, Pascoe Vale Road, Essendon, Labourer

This is my contribution for the Letter W in the

 My family history through the alphabet list


  1. That was. A good find Krryn! It's great that they have the digitsed versions ofbthe wills online..shame I mainly have Qlder. Have you tried Roots Chat or Fqmilynsearch forum to see if anyone can help with South African clues.

  2. Thanks Pauleen I didn't know about familysearch forum, I'll look that one up. I can't remember if I tried rootschat once before or not. If I did nothing came of it but it's certainly worth another try.

  3. Wills for the most part are an amazing resource. I've got a few from the UK, but really need South Australia to get the with the times, and make them easy to access.

  4. Oh, what a beautiful story Kerryn and a great find indeed. Wills certainly can provide lots of info. Unfortunately I can't help with any suggestions re: South African research but sure will keep it in mind.

  5. I agree. The online Wills and Probate records at the PRO are fantastic. I have found so much information from them.

    I have no ideas about South African research either.