"In the Name of God Amen, I David Samwell, Surgeon of the Royal Navy, being of Sound mind, memory and understanding make this my last Will and Testament as follows -
I give and bequeath to Mrs Anne Davies of Fetter Lane in the Parish of St. Dunstan’s in the City of London, thirty Pounds a year out of the Rents of my two tenements and Lands called Talwrn [now called what?] in the Parish of Nerquis [now called Nercwys] and County of Flint, and Hafod [now called what?] in the Parish of Llanarman [now called Llanarmon-yn-ial] in Yale and Co. Denbigh, to be paid half yearly to herself for Order During her Life.
Also one half of the Goods, and Money I may die possessed of or be entitled to, all the Rent and property above, this I give and bequeath to Mrs Margarett Mitchell my Sister and her Heirs,
Save that I bequeath to Mrs Anne Davies of Pwllgwyn near Caerwys in Flintshire and her Sister Mrs Elizabeth Davies of the same place, Ten Guineas each
And the same sum to Hugh Samwell of Ipswich, Watchmaker,
And all my Welsh Books and Manuscripts to Mr Roger Jones of Taie [now called what?] near Mold, Flintshire,
Also ten Guineas to Thomas Edwards of Nant, Denbigh to be paid within twelve months after my decease out of the Money due to me in the 3 P/Cents Consolidated Stock or what may be due to me from Government as Witness my Hand and Seal David Samwell.
Signed, Sealed, Published and Declared by the said David Samwell as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who have hereunto set our Names as Witnesses hereto in the Presence of the said Testator and of each other John Thomas Lewis Lloyd No.11 Addle Street, London, Thomas Williams, Bolton Le Moors, Lancashire.
On the Seventh day of December in the year of Our Lord One thousand Seven hundred and Ninety Eight Administration with the Will annexed of all and singular the Goods, Chattels and Credits of David Samwell, Late of Fetter lane in the Parish of Saint Dunstan in the West, London, and Surgeon in His Majesty’s Navy deceased was granted to Anne Davies Spinster and Margaret Mitchell Widow the Residuary Legatees therein named, having been first Sworn duly to Administer (No Executor).”
(Transcribed from a copy of the Will at the Family Records Centre, London. Microfilm Reference Prob. 11 / 1316)
- This seems to be a "home made" will as it contains several important omissions; Samwell does not appoint an Executor, and his will bears no date indicating when it was drawn up.
- Samwell died aged 47, and is described as a Surgeon of the Royal Navy. He was still acting in that capacity some months before his death, as from March to September 1798 he was surgeon to the British prisoners of war at Versailles.
- Samwell’s bequest of his "Welsh books and manuscripts" supports Beaglehole’s statement that the surgeon was "A prominent figure in the Welsh literary circle in London, he wrote much verse in English and Welsh…". A volume of Samwell’s writings from 1788-89 is held in the national Library of Wales.
- In the absence of a named Executor, the Administration of the will was granted to the two women to whom he had left the majority of his estate, his sister Margaret Mitchell, and Anne Davies whose address is the same as Samwell’s and who may have been his housekeeper.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 29, volume 27, number 4 (2004).