The Will of John Gaull

I don’t have that many family wills but those that I have read continue to fascinate me with their glimpses into the life of the individuals who completed them. They also at times add to some of the family mysteries that perplex me.

John Gaull was my 4th great grandfather. He was born on June 8th, 1806 at Conglass, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and married Mary Christie on May 13, 1843 at Kintore, Aberdeenshire. On January 8, 1887, John Gaull employed Thomas Wilsone as his solicitor and set out the provisions of his last will and testament. He named three trustees to oversee the disposition of his estate and provided that they each receive 5 pounds Sterling for doing so – Robert Grant of Pitfichie, Monymusk; Rev. Alexander Yule, Minister of the Free Church of Blairdaff, Monymusk (later, due to Rev. Yule’s death, he appointed Adam Gordon, Farmer at Haddock, Monymusk in his place); and, his nephew, William Fowler of Millbowie, Skene.

After the standard direction that his debts and funeral expenses be paid, John Gaull directed his executors “pay to my illegitimate Grandson George Gaull, sometimes named George Howie, sometimes George Irvine” a sum of one hundred pounds.

He left 500 pounds “for the liferent use of my illegitimate Grandson John Gaull, residing at Cairnley aforesaid during all the days of his life and on his death I direct the said sum to be paid over and transferred to the lawful children of the said John Gaull.” Liferent, under Scots law, was the right to receive for life the benefits of an asset, in this case money but land could also be left as a liferent, but without the right to transfer or otherwise dispose of the asset.

John Gaull left the rest of his estate “for the liferent use of my daughter Mrs. Mary Gaull or Glennie during all the days of her life,” further stipulating that upon her death the balance was to be split between her children, including George Gaull (sometimes Howie, sometimes Irvine) but excluding grandson John Gaull, George’s twin brother.

It seems John had not forgotten that he spent money helping his daughter Mary on the death of her husband, Alexander Glennie, in 1879 for he advised his executors that “there is a balance of upwards of Two hundred and fifty pounds due to me by my daughter in connection with the Executry of her late husband or the management of the farm of Tillyfro occupied by her.” It should be noted that John allowed his executors to decide how to deal with this issue and they subsequently accepted Mary’s assertion that the debt had already been paid back to her father.

John Gaull finally directed that “the whole stocking and other effects on the farm of Cairnley occupied by my said Grandson John Gaull belong to him.”

The will was changed or amended on three subsequent occasions by John. First on June 16, 1888, then on November 21, 1888, and finally in July 1892, about a month before his death when his was “now residing at Millbowie, Skene.” In the last changes that he made, John Gaull removed the liferent provision for the 500 pounds he was leaving to his grandson and namesake, John Gaull so that the money would simply be given by the estate. He also directed that 100 pounds be set aside to be paid to John Gaull’s children, following his daughter Mary Gaull or Glennie’s death, on “their respectively attaining majority.”

And, finally, he “recalled” the 100 pounds that he was leaving to his grandson, George Gaull instead leaving 50 pounds to George’s twin brother John after their mother’s death. No reason was given for the exclusion of his grandson George from receiving any proceeds from his estate that was valued on his death at more than 1,500 pounds. Their is no life event that I can find associated with George that would cause his exclusion but clearly, John Gaull had some reason and for now, it remains a mystery.

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