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Extracted from the Registry of the Prerogative Court of
In the Name of God. Amen. I Thomas Gray of Pembroke-Hall in the University of Cambridge, being of sound mind and in good health of body, yet ignorant how long these blessings may be indulged me, do make this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following. First, I do desire that my body may be deposited in the vault, made by my late dear mother in the churchyard of Stoke-Pogeis, near Slough in Buckinghamshire, by her remains, in a coffin of seasoned oak, neither lined nor covered, and (unless it be very inconvenient) I could wish that one of my executors may see me laid in the grave, and distribute among such honest and industrious poor persons in the said parish as he thinks fit, the sum of ten pounds in charity. -Next, I give to George Williamson, esq. my second cousin by the father’s side, now of Calcutta in Bengal, the sum of five hundred pounds reduced Bank annuities, now standing in my name. "I give to Anna Lady Goring, also my second cousin by the father’s side, of the county of Sussex, five hundred pounds reduced Bank annuities, and a pair of large blue and white old Japan china jars. Item, I give to Mary Antrobus of Cambridge, spinster, my second cousin by the mother's side, all that my freehold estate and house in the parish of St. Michael, Cornhill, London, now let at the yearly rent of sixty-five pounds, and in the occupation of Mr. Nortgeth perfumer, provided that she pay, out of the said rent, by half-yearly payments, Mrs. Jane Olliffe, my aunt, of Cambridge, widow, the sum of twenty pounds per annum during her natural life ; and after the decease of the said Jane Olliffe I give the said estate to the said Mary Antrobus, to have and to hold to her heirs and assigns for ever. Further; I bequeath to the said Mary Antrobus the sum of six hundred pounds new South-sea annuities, now standing in the joint names of Jane Olliffe and Thomas Gray, but charged with the payment of five pounds per annum to Graves Stokely of Stoke-Pogeis, in the county of Bucks, which sum of six hundred pounds, after the decease of the said annuitant, does (by the will of Anna Rogers my late aunt) belong solely and entirely to me, together with all overplus of interest in the mean-time accruing. Further, if at the time of my decease there shall be any arrear of salary due to me from his Majesty’s Treasury, I give all such arrears to the said Mary Antrobus. Item, I give to Mrs. Dorothy Comyns of Cambridge, my other second cousin by the mother’s side, the sums of six hundred pounds old South-sea annuities, of three hundred pounds four per cent. Bank annuities consolidated, and of two hundred pounds three per cent. Bank annuities consolidated, all now standing in my name. I give to Richard Stonehewer, esq. one of his Majesty’s Commissioners of Excise, the sum of five hundred pounds reduced Bank annuities, and I beg his acceptance of one of my diamond rings. I give to Dr. Thomas Wharton, of Old Park in the Bishoprick of Durham, five hundred pounds reduced Bank annuities, and desire him also to accept of one of my diamond rings. I give to my servant, Stephen Hempstead, the sum of fifty pounds reduced Bank annuities, and if he continues in my service to the time of my death I also give him all my wearing-apparel and linen. I give to my two cousins above-mentioned, Mary Antrobus and Dorothy Comyns, all my plate, watches, rings, china-ware, bed-linen and table-linen, and the furniture of my chambers, at Cambridge, not otherwise bequeathed, to be equally and amicably shared between them. I give to the Reverend William Mason, precentor of York, all my books, manuscripts, coins, music printed or written, and papers of all kinds, to preserve or destroy at his own discretion. And after my just debts and the expenses of my funeral are discharged, all the residue of my personal estate, whatsoever, I do hereby give and bequeath to the said Reverend William Mason, and to the Reverend Mr. James Browne, President of PembrokeHall, Cambridge, to be equally divided between them, desiring them to apply the sum of two hundred pounds to an use of charity concerning which I have already informed them. And I do hereby constitute and appoint them, the said William Mason and James Browne, to be joint executors of this my Last Will and Testament. And if any relation of mine, or other legatee, shall go about to molest or commence any suit against my said executors in the execution of their office, I do, as far as the law will permit me, hereby revoke and make void all such bequests or legacies as I had given to that person or persons, and give it to be divided between my said executors and residuary legatees, whose integrity and kindness I have so long experienced, and who can best judge of my true intention and meaning. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 2d day of July, 1770. THO. GRAY.
Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the said Thomas Gray, the testator, as and for his Last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his request, and in the presence of each other, have signed our names as witnesses hereto. RICHARD BAKER. THOMAS WILSON. Joseph TURNER.
Proved at London the 12th of August, 1771, before the Worshipful Andrew Coltre Ducarel, Doctor of Laws and Surrogate, by the oaths of the Reverend William Mason, Clerk, Master of Arts, and the Reverend James Browne,” Clerk, Master of Arts, the executors to whom administration was granted, having been first sworn duly to administer.
* Mr. Gray used to go with his friend Browne to a readingroom in the evening. Browne, who was a very punctual man, just before the hour of going, used to get up, walk about the room, and make a bustle with his gown, &c. “Now,” says Gray, “Browne is going to strike.”
THE following curious paper I owe to the kindness of Sir Egerton Brydges and his friend Mr. Haslewood. It was discovered in a volume of manuscript law cases, purchased by the latter gentleman at the sale of the late Isaac Reed’s books. It is a case submitted by the mother of Gray to the opinion of an eminent civilian in 1735; and it proves, that to the great and single exertions of this admirable woman, Gray was indebted for his education, and consequently for the happiness of his life. The sorrow and the mournful affection with which he dwelt on his mother’s memory, serves to shew the deep sense he retained of what she suffered, as well as what she did for him. Those who have read the Memoirs of Kirke White in Mr. Southey’s Narrative, will recognise the similarity of the situation in which the two poets were placed, in their entrance into life; and they will see, that if maternal love and courage had not stept in, in both cases, their genius and talents would have been lost in the ignorance, or stifled by the selfishness, of those about them.
“Philip Gray, before his marriage with his wife, (then Dorothy Antrobus, and who was then partner with her sister Mary Antrobus,) entered into articles of agreement with the said Dorothy, and Mary, and their brother Robert Antrobus, that the said Dorothy’s stock in trade (which was then 240l.) should be employed by the said Mary in the said trade, and that the same, and all profits arising thereby, should be for the sole benefit of the said Dorothy, notwithstanding her intended coverture, and her sole receipts alone a sufficient discharge to the said Mary and her brother Robert Antrobus, who was made trustee. But in case either the said Philip or Dorothy dies, then the same to be assigned to the survivor.
“That in pursuance of the said articles, the said Mary, with the assistance of the said Dorothy her sister, hath carried on the said trade for near thirty years, with tolerable success for the said Dorothy. That she hath been no charge to the said Philip; and during all the said time, hath not only found herself in all manner of apparel, but also for all her children, to the number of twelve, and most of the furniture of his house; and paying 40l. a year for his shop, almost providing every thing for her son, whilst at Eton school, and now he is at Peter-House at Cambridge. “Notwithstanding which, almost ever since he hath been married, he hath used her in the most inhuman manner, by beating, kicking, punching, and with the most vile and abusive language; that she hath been in the utmost fear and danger of her life, and hath been obliged this last year to quit her bed, and lie with her sister. This she was resolved, if possible, to bear; not to leave her shop of trade for the sake of her son, to be able to assist in the maintenance of him at the University, since his father won't. “There is no cause for this usage, unless it be an unhappy jealousy of all mankind in general (her own brother not excepted); but no woman deserves, or hath maintained, a more virtuous character: or it is presumed if he can make her sister leave off trade, he thinks he can then come into his wife’s money, but the articles are too secure for his vile purposes. “He daily threatens he will pursue her with all the vengeance possible, and will ruin himself to undo her, and his only son; in order to which he hath given warning to her sister to quit his shop, where they have carried on their trade so successfully, which will be almost their ruin : but he insists she shall go at Midsummer next; and the said Dorothy, his wife, in necessity must be forced to go along with her, to some other house and shop, to be assisting to her said sister, in the said trade, for her own and son’s support. “But if she can be quiet, she neither expects or desires any help from him: but he is really so very vile in his nature, she hath all the reason to expect most troublesome usage from him that can be thought of.
“What he can, or possibly may do to molest his wife in living with her sister, and assisting in her trade, for the purposes in the said articles; and which will be the best way for her to conduct herself in this unhappy circumstance, if he should any ways be troublesome, or endeavour to force her to live with him " And whether the said Dorothy, in the lifetime of the said Philip, may not by will, or otherwise, dispose of the interest, or produce, which hath, or may arise, or become due for the said stock as she shall think fit, it being apprehended as part of her separate estate 7 °