A man of property

Finding local history in property deeds

A lot of history can be found in the deeds of North Laine properties. The owners of 29 Kensington Place found the will of Michael Smith among their deeds, Michael Smith being the person who built the house and also, as can be seen from various bequests in the will below, several others.

From the deeds of 29 Kensington Place, Brighton: the will of Michael Smith, builder and occupier

This is the last will and testament of me, Michael Smith of Brighton in the County of Sussex, bricklayer, made this fourth day of January, one thousand eight hundred and fifty five. I resign my body to its mother earth, my spirit to God who gave it and my soul to the son of God who redeemed it.

I give and bequeath to my dear wife Ann Smith all that dwellinghouse situate No.8 Frederick Street and two rooms with the furniture, first floor front room and back bedroom now in our occupation as long as she shall remain my widow. But in case of her again being married or at her death, the aforesaid dwellinghouse No.8 Frederick Street shall fall to Michael Smith, son of John Smith, and Michael Immanuel Smith, son of William Smith, for their use or disposal.

I also give and bequeath to my son John Smith, carpenter, all that dwellinghouse situate No.29 Kensington Place except that portion to be occupied by my wife during the life or during the time she remains my widow. But at the marriage or death of my said wife when John is in possession of the whole of the said house, he must give his brother William ten pounds to make his brother's share equal to his own. I also give and bequeath to my son William Smith, coach painter, all that dwellinghouse situate No.28 Kensington Place.

I also give and bequeath unto my daughter Caroline Martin all that dwellinghouse situate No.9 Frederick Street for her sole use.

But in case of no money at my death, my executors Mr George Piper, tailor, of the one part and Ann Smith, my wife, of the other part shall take the rents of the houses before named to pay my funeral expenses until such time as the whole of the expenses attending my funeral shall have been paid, after which each one takes possession.

I also give and bequeath unto my daughter Caroline Martin all my kitchen furniture.

Signed: Michael Smith
Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of: George Henry Piper and William Henry Webber.

Testator died 27th September 1860

Editor's note: The original will is without punctuation or paragraphs but both have been added here for the sake of clarity.

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 181, July/August 2006]

Have any other North Laine residents found something of interest in their house deeds?

This page was added on 27/02/2008.

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