Benjamin (I)’s 1770 will includes a peculiar signature mark, looking very much like a cross…


Benjamin’s will proclaims his love for his wife Francis [sic], and includes a strong testament of his dedication to God and his desire for a fine burial. I wonder if Benjamin’s cross-shaped mark is intended to convey his faith, despite his illiteracy.

A comparison of his father Cornelius’ post-death household inventory with his own shows that there was no transfer of literacy from one generation to the next, but there certainly was a transfer of property.  Cornelius’ 1705 inventory includes “five small books” (I wish they had included the titles), but few household luxuries; whereas, Benjamin’s inventory is fairly extensive and includes a veritable ark of animals… sheep, pigs, cows and horses.  Benjamin did quite well for a man who couldn’t keep written records.

Here’s a link to the entire original will: Benjamin I will.