Saturday, November 24, 2018

The 1787 Will of Elias Lyman ~ 52 Ancestors #47

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Thankful.

I am thankful that I am currently participating in the ProGen Study Groups.

My most recent assignment was to transcribe a will or deed. I chose a New Hampshire ancestor whom I have not researched very much and transcribed his will. I am thankful that I have had this learning experience because it has (1) shown me the importance of transcribing every word of an old handwritten document and (2) helped me clarify the number of children of the writer of this will.

My 5th great-grandfather, Elias Lyman, was born in Enfield, Grafton County, New Hampshire, on 14 April 1754. [1] He married Ruth Griswold on 30 January 1776 in Enfield. [2] The only other sources I have for him are authored works: a 1935 Griswold family genealogy [3] and an 1872 Lyman family genealogy. [4]

Two of the children of Elias and Ruth were found in New Hampshire vital records:
Ruth Lyman (b. 7 January 1777 in Enfield)
Elias Lyman (b. 5 or 6 July 1778 in Lebanon)

Then there is Lucinda Lyman (born about 1784), my 4th great-grandmother, who married Thomas G. Wells, and two other children mentioned in the published genealogies: Lucy Lyman and Harry Lyman. The Lyman genealogy also included Roswell Lyman, but doesn't specifically list him as a child of Elias and Ruth. (And since the Griswold genealogy based its information on this family from the Lyman genealogy, it doesn't include Roswell Lyman.) Both genealogies included Tryphena, born 10 August 1810.

However, the will, written and proved in 1787, means that Elias Lyman died 23 years before Tryphena Lyman was born and therefore couldn't have been her father.

Section of 1787 will of Elias Lyman in which he lists his children

He referred to his beloved sons: Elias Roswell and Henry (with no punctuation between the names) and Elias inserted before and above Roswell. He referred to his beloved daughters, Ruth, Lucy, Lucinda (with punctuation). However, using the will and continuing with researching from the hints from the genealogies, I am surmising that he had six children: Ruth, Elias, Roswell, Lucy, Henry, and Lucinda, but I still need to explore each of these families to confirm the birth order.

In addition to transcribing the will, I also created an abstract, where I take out the boilerplate language and provide the essential elements. The abstract of Elias Lyman's will is as follows: [5]

Will of Elias Lyman
Grafton County, New Hampshire
Will Book 1:89
Written 6 August 1787; filed and recorded 11 October 1787

I, ELIAS LYMAN of Lebanon, Grafton County, New Hampshire, this 6th day of August 1787: give to my wife RUTH, the sole use and improvement of all my real and personal estate for the term of eight years. At the end of eight years, my will is that my wife RUTH have one third part of my estate, set to her use during life. I give my sons, ELIAS[,?] ROSWEL and HENRY, whole equal shares of my estate (at the end of said eight years) and to my beloved daughters, RUTH, LUCY, LUCINDA, half shares with my sons. I do ordain my brother RICHARD, and my wife RUTH, executors.


Proved, 11 October 1787, on oaths of ELIHU HYDE and PATTY ALDRICH, witnesses, at Haverhill, Grafton County, New Hampshire.


My line from Elias Lyman is
Elias Lyman
Lucinda Lyman
Thomas Goodwin Wells
Eliza May Wells
Ethel May Greeley
Lowell Townsend Copeland
My mother


     [1] George McKenzie Roberts, comp., "Vital Records of Enfield, New Hampshire, 1761-1940" (Boston, Mass: Typescript. R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, NEHGS, 1957), p. 543; digital images, ( : accessed 8 August 2015).

     [2] Roberts, "Vital Records of Enfield," p. 543.

     [3] Glenn E. Griswold, The Griswold Family: England-America (Middleboro, Massachusetts: Griswold Family Association of America, 1935), vol III, p. 135; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 July 2015).

     [4] Lyman Coleman, Genealogy of the Lyman Family in Great Britain and America (Albany, New York: J. Munsell, 1872), p. 112; digital images, Google Books, : accessed 17 July 2015).

     [5] “New Hampshire, County Probate Records, 1660-1973,” FamilySearch ( : viewed 9 November 2018) > Grafton > Probate records 1773-1814 vol. 1-2 > images 51-52 of 698, will of Elias Lyman, 6 August 1787; images from County of Grafton, Registry of Probate of Wills and Administrations etc. began July 1773 [vol. 1], pp. 89-90; Grafton County, New Hampshire.


  1. So his wife had to wait 8 years to get anything more than the "use" of his real and personal estate? I've never heard of that before.

    1. I only included the part of the will that lists the children. In the part before this, he wills his wife all his real and personal estate for eight years, after which she is to receive one third of his estate. I need to do more research but I'm guessing that whoever the oldest son was would reach the age of majority in eight years.