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dinher as hee liked, and that he was then indifferent well in health saving that some time he was troubled with the paine of the gout, and that hee was at that time very merry and not in any passion or angry humour, neither at that time spoke any thing against any of his children that this respondent heard of, et aliter nescit.
Ad quartum Interr. respondet, that this respondent hath heard the deceased declare his displeasure against the parties ministrant his children, and particularly the deceased declared to this respondent, that a little before hee was marryed to Elizabeth Milton his now relict, a former maid servant of his told 'Mary one of the deceased's daughters and one of the ministrants, that shee heard the deceased was to be marryed, to which the said Mary replyed to the said maid servant, that that was noe news to heare of his wedding, but if shee could heare of his death that was something: and further told this respondent, that all his said children did combine together and counsel his maid servant to cheat him the deceased in her markettings, and that his said children had made away some of his bookes, and would have sold the rest of his bookes to the dunghill women, or hee the said deceased spoke words to this respondent to the selfe same effect and purpose: that this respondent knoweth not what frequenters of the church, or what good livers, the parties ministrant or either of them are, et aliter nescit.
Ad quintum Interr. respondet, that this respondent doth not know that the deceased's wife was to have £1000, and the interrogative children of Christopher Milton the residue, nor doth this respondent know that the said Elizabeth, the deceased's wife, hath promised the interrogative Christopher Milton or his children any such thing in case shee should prevaile in this cause, that the said Mrs. Milton never confessed soe much in this respondent's hearing, or to any body else that this respondent knoweth of, et aliter nescit.
Ad sextum Interr. respondet, that this respondent believeth that what is left the deceased's children in the will nuncupaVOL. I.
tive in this cause executed and mencioned therein to be due from Mr. Powell, is a good debt; for that the said Mr. Powell is reputed a rich man, et aliter nescit.
Ad septimum Interr. respondet, that this respondent did voluntarily tell the interrogative Mrs. Milton, what shee heard the deceased say which was to the effect by her predeposed, et aliter nescit.
Ad octavum Interr. respondet, that this respondent know. eth not what the deceased did in his life time bestow on the ministrants his children, and that the interrogative Anne Milton is lame, but hath a trade and can live by the same, which is the making of gold and silver lace, and which the deceased bred her up to, et aliter nescit.
Ad nonum Interr. respondet, that this respondent knoweth not the deceased's estate, or the value thereof, et aliter nescit. Eodem Die
Signum Repetit coram Doctore
ELIZABETHE FISHER. Trumbull Surro. &c, Tho. Welham, N. P:
? Cur Prærog. Carit. ut supra.
IV. Grant of Letters of Administration to the widow Elizabeth'.
Die 25+0. Februarii 1673.
Die Februarii emanavit Commissio
*The reader will compare these dow Elizabeth seized, and only evidences with the printed ac gave one hundred pounds to counts of Milton's biographers each of his three daughters. Of on this subject; who say, that this widow, Philips relates, rather he sold his library before his harshly, that she persecuted his death, and left his family fifteen children in his life time, and hundred pounds, which his wi- chealed them at his death.
These seem to have been the grounds upon which Milton's Nuncupative Will was pronounced invalid. First, there was wanting what the Civil Law terms a rogatio testium, or a solemn bidding of the persons present, to take notice that the words he was going to deliver were to be his Will. The Civil Law requires this form, to make men's verbal declarations operate as Wills; otherwise, they are to be presumed to be words of common calling or loose conversation. And the Statute of the twenty-ninth of Charles the Second [c. iii.] has adopted this rule; as may be seen in the 19th clause of that Statute, usually called the Statute of Frauds, which passed in the year 1676, two years after Milton's death. Secondly, the words here attested by the three witnesses, are not words delivered at the same time; but one witness speaks to one declaration made at one
time, and another to another declaration made at another time. And although the declarations are of similar import, this circumstance will not satisfy the demands of the Law; which requires, that the three witnesses who are to support a Nuncupative Will, must speak to the identical words uttered at one and the same time. There is yet another requisite in Nuncupative Wills, which is not found here ; namely, that the words be delivered in the last sickness of a party: whereas the words here attested appear to have been delivered when the party was in a tolerable state of health, at least under no immediate danger of death. On these principles we may presume Sir Leoline Jenkins to have acted in the rejection of Milton's Will: although the three witnesses apparently told the truth in what they deposed. The Judge, deciding against the Will, of course decreed administration of the Intestate's effects to the widow,
For an investigation of these papers in the Prerogative Registry, for an explanation of their nature and purport, and of other technical difficulties which they present to one unacquainted with the records and more ancient practice of the Prerogative Court in testamentary proceedings, I must confess myself indebted to the kind attention and friendship of Sir William Scott. There are other
papers in the Commons belonging to this business: but as they are mere forms of law, as they throw no new light on the cause, and furnish no anecdotes of Milton and his family, they are here omitted.
QUI legis Amissam Paradisum, grandia magni
Carmina Miltoni, quid nisi cuncta legis? Res cunctas, et cunctarum primordia rerum,
Et fata, et fines continet iste liber. Intima panduntur magni penetralia mundi,
Scribitur et toto quicquid in orbe latet: Terræque, tractusque maris, cælumque profundum,
Sulphureumque Erebi, flammivomumque specus: Quæque colunt terras, pontumque, et Tartara cæca,
Quæque colunt summi lucida regna poli:
Et sine fine Chaos, et sine fine Deus:
In Christo erga homines conciliatus amor.
Et tamen hæc hodie terra Britanna legit.
Quæ canit, et quanta prælia dira tuba!
agros! Quantus in æthereis tollit se Lucifer armis!
Atque ipso graditur vix Michaele minor!