Blog post

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The last will and testament of a married woman

Christine McGiffin (nee Couper) was married on the 15 March 1911 at the age of around 47 and died in December 1912, a "married woman" with property in her own name. She also had a son born prior to the marriage.

She bequeathed:
  • To her sister, Barbara Couper, her sewing machine, chest of drawers, clothing linen, jewellery and also all her shares in the Standard Mutual Building Society.
  • To her husband Robert McGiffin, property at No 71 Epsom Road, Ascot Vale, Victoria.
  • To her brother, Daniel Couper, and brother-in-law John Bennie properties 379 and 381 Ascot Vale Road, Moonee Ponds, Victoria in trust for the use and benefit of her son Charles Henry Couper (known as Charles Henry McGiffin) with rents and profits to be paid to him until he reached the age of 25, when the two properties were to be transferred to him.

So far so good. Here's where it gets complicated.

If her son did not attain the age of 25 the two properties were to be sold and the proceeds were to be distributed as follows:

  • If a wife and their lawful issue survived him the wife was to received half and the other half to be divided equally among the children.
  • If no wife survived him, but he had lawful issue, the proceeds were to be shared equally among the children.
  • If he had a wife, but no children, the wife should receive half and Christina's sisters, Jessie Bennie and Barbara Couper were to have equal shares of the other half.
  • If he had no wife or children her sisters Jessie Bennie and Barbara Couper would have equal shares.

Christina's other property, a block of freehold land on Lennox Street, Moonee Ponds, Victoria, was to be sold and the proceeds used to pay for probate duty, funeral and administration expenses, and any charges or debts against her real estate. The residual was to go to her husband.

Got all that? Good.

The combined value of her real estated was 631 pounds. You many wonder how she managed to accumulate such wealth. It appears that those responsible for granting probate did, as her probate file contains a sworn oath by Daniel Couper and John Bennie that she was indeed married, and describing the source of her funds. She had purchased the properties with money received as a legacy from her father, Robert Couper, savings from her occupation in service before the marriage, and profits from the raising and sale of poultry.

Christina is not my direct ancestor, her brother Daniel Couper is. There's plenty of names, dates and places in the probate file. Lots of leads for me to follow when I get around to it, and new questions raised.

Images of her probate files can be viewed online for free here at the Public Record Office of Victoria website.

As always, if you have a family connection to the people I mention in the post, please get in touch with me!

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