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Joseph's signature from his will when he was 85

An advertisement in The Newport Mercury at the time "Bedford," soon better-known as New Bedford, was just getting its start as a shipping center due primarily to the efforts of Joseph and Joseph Rotch. "& son" refers to Barnabus, and their partnership is mentioned in Joseph's will (see below).

perhaps out of the Russell's Quaker modesty, this is all The Columbian Courier (predecessor to The New Bedford Mercury) had to say when Joseph died ("on the 16th [i]nst." means on the 16th of the current month)

There's a snapshot of a remarkable event in Joseph and Judith's life that happened in 1801. (insert narrative from diary)

Quaker families from Dartmouth settled in Easton in the 1700s, among them relatives of Joseph and Judith.

John Russell's will as transcribed from the original in his probate packet:

I Joseph Russell of New Bedford in the County of Bristol and Commonwelth of Massachusets yeoman, being advanced in years but through divine favor am preserved in a good degree with a sound disposing mind and memory, for which I desire to be truly thankful and callng to mind the uncertainty of this life , thought it expedient to make this my will and dispose of the worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased the Lord to bless me with in this life in my family while time & oppertunity is thus afforded unto me, therefore I do by thise presents give divise & dispose of my said estate In manner & form as followeth - (viz)

Imprimis I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Judieth Russell the use and improvement of all the southerly & low part of my dwelling house where we now live with both sellors under the same with a priviledge to my pump for water, also the use of chais? house, and my spring house, also I give my said wife the keeping of two cows & one riding best also the keeping her friends horse when come to viset her on that part of my farm given to my son Abraham, also the keeping one swine in the orchard and as many fowls & poltery as shee sees fit and all the above gifts to continue to my said wife yearley and every year during the time she remaines my widow.

Item I give unto my said wife yearly & every year during said term of widowhood one hundred pounds of good beaf also thirty pounds of tryed tallow, also one hundred pounds good pork with twenty pounds sweet fat, also twenty five bushels of Indian corn with five bushels of rhy and one good barrell of good flower, and two bushels of salt, & quarter pound salt peeter, also ten gallons molasses, and one hundred pounds brown shuger & twenty pound loaf shuger, four pound of cotton wool & ten pounds flax, together with a sufficiency of green corn and a sufficiency of
[?] of all kinds, also fire wood cut a sutable lenth for her chimney and brought to her dore with a sufficiency of sope for her use all to be procured & delivered to my said wife by my son Abraham.

Item Give unto my said wife the use of four rows of apple trees and pair trees at the east end of my orchard near my house, also the use of half my garden also the use of my chaise and harnis together with the use of my clock during said term of widowhood.

Item I give unto said wife the sum of forty dollars yearly and every year during said tem of widowhood and to be paid by my son Abraham.

Item I give unto my said wife Judieth Russell as a free gift for ever and to be at her own disposal two good cows one riding best also my great Bible, she to have her choice out of my stock and my will is that in case there is not such stock left at my deceas for my son Abraham to procure them for her my said wife in leiu of her write of dowry &
[?] of widows thirds.

Item I also give unto my sid wife as a free gift for ever and tobe at her own disposal all my houshold goods and indore movables, including my silver tankerd with all the silfer plate, together with all my new clooath, flax & wool with the like kind. Together with all the
[eatable?] and [potable?] stores of all kinds with the tubs & barrels for that use, and my will is that in case what I have given to my said wife be not sufficent for her comfortable support & maintenance both in sickness & in helth than I order my son Abraham to make it up in all things needfull so that she may be taken care of in the best manner.

Item I give and bequeath unto my son Barnabus russell besides what I have already given him my waring apparel (my silver shoobuckels and kneebuckels excepted) and wheras my said son Barnabus Russell has already received a large sum of money frm his brother Abraham, for which by mutual agreement between said sons, said Abraham was to receive said Barnabus' shear or part in my real estate to cmpensate for the money so paid, therefor I have herein bequeathed the same accordingly.

Item I give and bequeth unto my grandson Joseph Russell, son of Barabus Russell and to heirs & assigns for ever all that my tract or percal of land laying in the Town of Summerset in the State of Vermont that I bought of James Bauld reference being had to said Baulds deed for a more particular decription thereof.

Item I give unto my son Barnabus Russell all my part of the debts & notes of hand and what ever else belonging to me in company with him my said son Barnabus including all that is due to me from him by virtue of being in company with him in years past.

Item I give and bequeath unto my son Humphry Russell and to his heirs & assigns for ever all that my farm & tract of land situate in Dartmouth that I now own, where he now lives that was bought of Jonathan Hussey with all the buildings, priviledges & appurtenances there unto belonging. Together with all that my lot of salt meadow & upland laying at Boggy Meadow (so called) and was bought of Benjamin Tucker - together also with that my lot ceeder swamp laying in the Meeting House Swamp in said Dartmouth and was bought of David Smith reference being had to the several deeds for a more particular description, thereof, also I give said son Humphry all my farming tools that is in his hands.

Item I give and bequeath unto my son Gilbert Russell & to his heirs & assigns for ever a certain parcel or tract of land laying and being the southerly part of my homestead farm, bounded of from what is herein given to my son Abraham on the west side, the highway as followeth, begining at the south est corner of my little meadow on the west side said way by the gate that said Gilbert has erected to pass in to his improvement, from thence westerly as the stonewall now stand untill it come to a brook & and elbow in the wall being the northeast corner of Lowden Lot which I bought of Avery Parker as by deed may appear, thence to continue on westerly as the wall now stand in the line of sd Lowden Lot and so on westward in said line to ye west end of my said farm, all which tract or parsel of land, that belongs to me on ye south side of dividing line with all the priviledge & appurtenances thereto belonging to my said son Gilbert his heirs & assigns as above expresed.

Item I give and bequeath unto my son Gilbert Russell & to his heirs & assigns for ever a certain tract or parcel of land on the east side of the highway being part of my homstead farm bounded of as followeth begining at the northwest corner of James Davis lot thence northerly by the east side of said way untill it comes to the corner of my little meadow at the n west corner of Kirsley dwelling house thence easterly as the stonwall now stands to south east corner of said meadow, thence easterly a parelel line with that between said Davis & me untill it comes to Water Street or Ropwalk Street thence southerly by sd street till it comes to the ropewalk. Also I give unto my son Gilbert Russell his heirs & assigns for ever one acre of land on the west side of said highway to be measored of oppiset against the upper end of New Street (so called) where it shall best sute him and my son Abraham for a hous lot.

Item I give and bequeath unto my two sons Abraham & Gilbert Russell & to their heirs & assigns for ever to be eaquelly divided between them all that my lot of land in New Bedford joining the river containing about one acre bounded southerly on Benjamin Taber lot & the lot bought of John Akens, westerly by Wm Rotchs est. northerly part on sd. Rotch & part on Abraham Smiths lot easterly extends into the river (excepting the storehouse lot of
[?], and what said Gilbert now owns as by his deeds may appear)

Item I give unto my daughter Rebecca Ricketson the sum of five hundred dollars to be paid by my executor in one year after my deceas

Item I give unto my grandson Joseph Anthony, son of my deceased daughter Mary the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars, and my will is that said money be put to interest at my deceas by my executor and both principal & interest paid by my said executor when said grandson arives to lawfull age if he lives till that time, butt in case said grandson deceas before that time leaving no lawfull ishu said leagasee to be eaquelly divided between my children namely, Barnabus, Rebecca, Humphry, Abraham & Gilbert

Item I give unto my four grandchildren, namely Russell David, Ruphas Green, Elisabeth Green and Mary Green the sum of eight hundred dollars to be eaquelly divided among them and paid by my executor in one year after my deceas

Item I give unto my grandson Russell Davis my silver shoebuckels & kneebuckels

Item I give unto my son Humphry Russell my clock he to come into posession when his mother cease being my widow

Item I give unto my four children namely Rebecca, Abraham, Humphry & Gilbert all my printed books (great Bible excepted) to be eaquelly diveded among them

Item I give and bequeath unto my son Abraham Russell & to his heirs & assigns for ever all my homsted farm where I now live laying on both sides the highway with all the buildings of all kinds whatsoever thereon, with all the priviledges & appurtinances there unto being excepting what I have particularly given away & bounded of in this my will, also I give unto my said son Abraham his heirs & assigns all that my land laying on the island called Goosbery Neck which I purchased of Samuel Almy layin in the town of Westport reference being had to said deed for a more particular description thereof also I give unto my son Abraham his heirs & assigns all my ceader swamp and excepting what is otherwise particularly mentioned & given away in this my will, also I give my said son Abraham all my money & surities of all kinds, together with all my farming tools of all kinds together with my live stock of all kind except what is otherwise disposd of in this my will he paying and purforming as directed in this my will.

Item I give unto my son Abraham Russell his heirs & assigns all my salt meadow except what is otherwise given away in this my will

Item I give unto my son Abraham Russell all the rest & residue of my estate of all kinds both real & personal whereso ever it may be found not given way in this my will he purforming as herein directed.

Item I hereby ordain and apoint my son Abraham Russell executor to this my last will and testament hereby ordering him to pay all my just debts & lawfull expences of all kind, also all the leagasies as directed in this my will desiring him in that near affection I have towards him to take due care to this my will truly performed and fulfilled according to the true meaning and intent thereof - and I do hereby make null and void all other & former wills and testaments by me before made, rattifieing and confirming this & no other to be my last and testament, in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty fifth day of the ninth month A:D: one thousand eight hundred & four 1804

Joseph Russell

The foregoing instrument was signed sealed and declared by Joseph Russell to be his last will and testament in presence us

Samuel Stall
Consider Smith
William Anthony

Novr. 6 1804 approved

Joseph's stone in the Friends section of Rural Cemetery, New Bedford

"JOSEPH RUSSELL died 10. m. 16. 1804. aged 85"

children of Joseph and Judith (Howland) Russell:

i. Barnabus b. 26 March 1745
ii. Rebecca b. 30 February 1746/1747
iii. Patience b. 10 January 1748/1749
iv. Martha b. 14 December 1751
v. Elizabeth b. 1 August 1753
vi. Abraham b. 25 February 1756
vii. Humphry b. 25 May 1758
viii. Gilbert b. 2 May 1760
ix. Mary b. 9 November 1763
x. Judith b. 26 November 1765
xi. Joseph b. 13 December 1768


vital records sources: his birth is inVital Records of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 vol. 1 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1929), 209; his marriage is in ibid, vol. 2 (Boston:1930), 403; his death is in Vital Records of New Bedford, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 vol. 3 (Boston:1941), 60.


all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted