« PreviousContinue »
words, or to the same effect, were spoken in the presence of CHRISTOPHER MILTON ..
“X (Mark of ] ELIZABETH FISHER ^. “ Nov. 23, 1674
The Allegation propounding the Will, on which
Allegation the Witnesses be examined'. “ Negotium Testamentarium, sive probacionis Tes
e John Milton's younger brother: a strong royalist, and a professed papist. After the civil war, he made his composition through his brother's interest. Being a practitioner in the law, he lived to be an ancient Bencher of the Inner Temple : was 'made a judge of the Common Pleas, and knighted by king James the second ; but, on account of his age and infirmities, he was at length dismissed from business, and retired to Ipswich, where he resided all the latter part of his life. Warton.
But see what I have said of him in the preceding account of Milton, pp. 256, seq. TODD. .,
d A servant-maid of John Milton. WARTON.
e Registr. Cur. Prærog. Cant. This will was contested by Mary, Deborah, and Anne Milton, daughters of the poet's first wife Mary, daughter of Mr. Richard Powel, of Foresthill in Oxfordshire. The cause came to a regular sentence, which was given against the Will; and the Widow, Elizabeth, was ordered to take Administration instead of a Probate. I must add here, that this cause, the subject of which needed no additional lustre from great names, was tried by that upright and able statesman, Sir Leoline Jenkins, Judge of the Prerogative Court, and Secretary of State ; and that the depositions were taken in part before Dr. Trumbull, afterwards Sir William Trumbull, Secretary of State, and the celebrated friend of Pope. As a circumstantial and authentick history of this process, the following instruments, which were otherwise thought too curious to be suppressed, are subjoined. Warton.
"Viz. Christopher Milton, and John Milton's two ser
tamenti nuncupativi, sive ultimæ Voluntatis, JOHANNIS MILTON, nuper dum vixit parochiæ S. Ægidii Cripplegate London generosi, defuncti, habent. &c. promotum per Elizabetham Milton & Relictam, et
vant-maids Elizabeth and Mary Fisher. Witnesses on the part of the widow. WARTON.
8 This was his third wife, Elizabeth Minshull, of a gentleman's family in Cheshire. He married her at the recommendation of his friend, and her relation, Dr. Paget, about the year 1661, and in his fifty-fourth year, soon after he had obtained his pardon from the restored king; being now blind and infirm, and wanting some more constant and confidential companion than a servant to attend upon his person. The elder Richardson insinuates, that this lady, being no poet or philosopher like her husband, used frequently to teaze him for his carelessness or ignorance about moneymatters, and that she was a termagant. He adds, that soon after their marriage, a royal offer was made to Milton of the resumption of his old department of Latin Secretary, and that, being strongly pressed by his wife to an acceptance, he scornfully replied, “ Thou art in the right; you, as other women, would ride in your Coach. My aim is to live and die an honest man.” LIFE, &c. p. xcix. seq. edit. 1734. From these papers, however, it appears, that she consulted her husband's humours, and treated his infirmities with tenderness. After his death in 1674, she retired to Namptwich in Cheshire, where she died about 1729. Mr. Pennant says, her father, Mr. Minshull, lived at Stoke in that neighbourhood. W. Tour, and Gough's Camden, Cheshire, p. 436. The third edition of Paradise Lost was published in 1678: and this is the poet's widow, to whom the copy of that work was then to devolve by original agreement, but who sold all her claims to Samuel Simmons, his bookseller, for eight pounds, according to her receipt given Decemb. 21, 1680. WARTON.
Among the letters of Mr. G. Grey to his brother Dr. Zach. Grey, was the following notice of this lady's death, which was obligingly communicated to me by J. Nichols, Esq. from the original in his possession : “ There were three widow Miltons there,
· Legatariam principalem nominatam in Testamento
nuncupativo, sive ultima Voluntate, dicti defuncti, contra Mariam, Annam, et Deboram MILTON, filias dicti defuncti.
“ THOMPSON. CLEMENTS.
“Secundo Andreæ, A. D. 1674. Quo die.... Thompson, nomine, procuratione, ac ultimus procurator legitimus, dictæ Elizabethæ MILTON, omnibus melioribus et effectualioribus [efficacioribus] via, modo, et meliori forma, necnon ad omnem juris effectum, exhibuit Testamentum nuncupativum dicti JOHANNIS MILTON defuncti, sic incipiens, “ MemoRANDUM, that John MILTON, late of the parish of S. Giles, Cripplegate,' &c. Which words, or words to the same effect, were spoken in the presence of Christopher MILTON, and Elizabeth Fisher ; et allegavit consimiliter, et dicens prout sequitur. I. Quod præfatus JOHANNES MILTON, dum vixit, mentis compos, ac in sua sana memoria existens, .... Testamentum suum nuncupativum modo in hoc negotio exhibitum .... tenoris schedulæ .... testamentariæ condidit, nuncupavit, et declaravit; cæteraque omnia et singula dedit, donavit, reliquit, et disposuit, in omnibus, et per omnia, vel similiter in effectum, prout in dicto Testamento nuncupativo continetur,
(at Nantwich) viz. the poet's widow, my aunt, and another. The poet's widow died last summer.” Dated July 30, 1731. But this must have been a mistake of the writer. Milton's widow, it indisputably appears, died in 1727. See a subsequent note on this Will. This lady also was married to Milton not in 1661, but in 1665. See what is before said in p. 186. Todd.
ac postea mortem obiit: ac Principalis Pars ista proponit conjunctim, divisim, et de quolibet. II. Item, quod tempore conditionis, declarationis, nuncupationis Testamenti, in hoc negotio exhibiti, præfatus JOHANNES MILTON perfecta fruebatur memoria ; ac proponit ut supra".
Interrogatories addressed to the Witnesses
examined upon the Allegation.
“ Decemb. 5, 1674. Interrogatoria ministrata et ministranda ex parte Annæ, Mariæ, et Debora MILTON, testibus ex parte Elizabethæ MILTON productis sive producendis sequuntur.
“ Imprimis, Aske each witnesse, what relation to, or dependance on, the producent, they, or either of them, have; and to which of the parties they would give the victory were it in their power ? Et interrogatur quilibet testis conjunctim, et divisim, et de quolibet.
“ 2. Item, Aske each witnesse, what day, and what time of the day, the Will nuncupative was declared; what positive words did the deceased use in the declaring thereof? Can you positively swear, that the deceased did declare that hee did leave the residue of his estate to the disposall of his wife, or
” Registr. Cur. Prærog. Cant. ut supr. Warton,
did hee not say, “I will leave the residue of my es tate to my wife ? Et fiat ut supra.
“ 3. Item, Upon what occasion did the deceased declare the said Will? Was not the deceased in perfect health at the same time? Doe you not think, that the deceased, if he declared any such Will, declared it in a present passion, or some angry humour against some or one of his children by his former [first] wife ? Et fiat ut suprà.
« 4. Item, Aske each witnesse, whether the parties ministrant were not and are not greate frequenters of the Church, i and good livers; and what cause of displeasure had the deceased against them ? Et fiat ut supra.
“ 5. Item, Aske Mr. (Christopher] Milton, and each other witnesse, whether the deceased's Will, if any such was made, was not, that the deceased's wife should have £.1000, and the children of the said Christopher MILTON the residue; and whether she hath not promised him that they should have it,
i Here seems to be an insinuation, that our poet's displeasure against those three daughters, arose partly from their adherence to those principles; which, in preference to his own, they had received, or rather inherited, from their mother's family, who were noted and active royalists. Afterwards, the description good livers is not to be understood in its general and proper sense, which could not have offended Milton ; but as arising from what went before, and meaning much the same thing, that is, regular in their attendance on the established worship. WARTON.