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Re: What's the Evidence That the Two Marthas Were One?
Posted by: Gene Zubrinsky (ID *****9842) Date: November 29, 2008 at 15:17:32
In Reply to: Re: What's the Evidence That the Two Marthas Were One? by Jerry Parker of 476

Jerry,

The petiton record lacks details, but there's no basis for assuming that Nicholas Ide's appeal for a child's share of Thomas Bliss's estate was on behalf of anyone but himself. If Nathaniel was Bliss's stepgrandson, he would not have been a legal heir, period. (While a testator was free to name as a legatee anyone he/she chose, Nicholas's contesting Bliss's will would have appealed to the common law relating to inheritance [routinely applied in cases of intestacy].) But even if he was Bliss's natural grandson (assuming for the moment that Martha Ide was Bliss's daughter), Nathaniel would have had no standing as a legal heir if his mother was alive (she was).

You'll recall that near the end of his will, Bliss refers to his "fouer Children" and warns them against trying to defraud each other or otherwise being troublesome. This suggests that there were storm clouds on the horizon before Bliss wrote his will; Nicholas's petition is a logical extension of this. The only natural children mentioned in the will were Jonathan, Elizabeth (by implication), and Mary; I believe that Nicholas was, as his stepson, child number four. (It was not uncommon at this time for in-laws to refer to each other as "my brother," "my mother," etc.) It's my feeling that he got short shrift in the will--and perhaps from one or more of Bliss's natural children--precisely because he was a stepson.

Not only are there good reasons, as above, to conclude that Nicholas's petition was on his own behalf, but I know of no case of a will in which the sex, let alone the name, of an unborn child (or grandchild) is presumed. If the distribution of livestock to Nathaniel were to have been dependent on his sex and name, those conditions would have been spelled out in the will. And when a bequest is conditioned upon the name given to a potential, unborn legatee, that name is virtually always the same as the testator's.

Gene


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