We have just found copies of wills for the whole family so thought it would be a good idea to summarize them on here for those of you who have taken such an interest in the family.
Of course, as you know, James was the first to die in America in 1811. We were quite surprised to find though that his will was actually located in England. James described himself as being of the city of New York. He left the ‘lions share’ to his wife Ellen, later described in his will as his ‘faithful and much respected wife, fully confiding that she will act with that fidelity and discretion in respect of the future disposal of the rest of his property with which she has conducted herself through every condition of life’. He left around £5,000 plus $5,000 deposited in a New York bank. He made provision of £200 for his son George Sharples, by his first wife, but said that George had also financially benefited previously. To his son Felix, by his second wife he left £500 having already assigned over to him about 1,800 acres of land in the state of Pennsylvania. To both Rolinda and his other son James he bequeathed each of them £1,000. His will was dated 28th January 1811 and proven in London on 23rd July 1811 by his devoted wife Ellen.
The next will we found was that of Rolinda which was written 4th September 1837 and proven around six months later on 7th March 1838.
Rolinda never married so left all her worldly possessions to her mother Ellen and her brother James for them to ‘share and share alike‘. She did however leave her shares in the Great Western Rail Road to brother James. Her shares and other interest in the Clifton Suspension Bridge she left to her mother. Rolinda’s will was very brief unlike that of her mother.
Son James’s will was dated 12th June 1839. He described himself as an artist in the parish of Clifton Country of Gloucester, bachelor. He left his mother Ellen all the property he possessed in the three per cent consolidated annuities and also in the new three and a half per cent consolidated annuities. He also left her a quarter of a share in the Clifton Suspension Bridge. These were things he had clearly inherited from his sister. His will was also proven by his mother Ellen.
So by this time Ellen was alone, her husband and two children had both died. When Ellen died she had no close relatives to leave her estate to. On the 9th September 1847 Ellen wrote her will. She described herself as a widow of Saint Vincent’s Parade in the parish of Clifton in the City of Bristol.
She left her faithful servant Maria Johnson (if living) with £500, one share of £100 and two quarter shares of £25 each in the Great Western Railway Company and also all her wearing apparel, household furniture, musical instruments and music, books, plate, linen, china, household stores, wines and liquors. Apart from some small bequests there was one curious bequest made to a Mrs Elizabeth Sharples of Great Barlow Street London one annuity of £25 during her life. Ellen offered no explanation as to who this Elizabeth was.
The rest of her estate she left in trust to John Scandret Harford and Philip William Skynner Miles Esquires such books, pictures and drawings which had been annotated by her with the names of any individuals for the persons respectively with whose names the name may be so marked. The remainder, where possible was left for the benefit of The Bristol Academy for the provision of the fine arts. Her will was proven on the 17th May 1849.