History Department Salem State College
 

Inventories from the Balch House, Beverly, Massachusetts
John Balch,  1648
Agnes Balch, 1657
Benjamin Balch, 1750

Early Probate Inventories from Salem, Massachusetts
John Watkins, 1641
John Symonds, 1671
John Wilkins, 1672
Thomas Oliver, 1679
Alestar Mackmallen, 1679
Major William Hathorn, 1681
John Turner, 1680

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Hints on Reading Probate Inventories
Dates, Money, Spelling and Archaic Words

Hannah Higgenson gravestone, Charter Street, Salem

Gravestone of Hannah Higgenson (died 1713), Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem.


Dates
Although Catholic Europe adopted the Gregorian Calendar on January 1, 1583, England remained on the Julian Calendar until January 1, 1752.  To further complicate matters, in the seventeenth century Englishmen used March 25 (Conception Day) as the start of the ecclesiasticial, civic, and legal year. This makes March the first month, and February 12.

So, February 20, 1653 would be written as 20: 12: 1652  or sometimes 20: 12: 1652/3
and April 20, 1653 would be written as 20: 2: 1653

Money
British money, then as now is divided into £ (pounds) s (shillings) and d (pence). If you think the British were late to change their calendar, they did not decimalize their currency until 1971. So, in the 1600s, the following exchange rates were in effect:
20s = £1
12d=1s

Spelling
Until Noah Webster published his dictionary in 1828, there was no "correct" way to spell words, alone punctuate and capitalize. You will  see that writers were often inconsistent in spelling the same word, in the same inventories.  If you are stumped by the meaning of a word, it may just be the spelling is really odd. You may want to try reading the word or phrase outloud. Actually, you can sometimes see traces of accents in spelling people chose to use.

Archaic Words
At other times, reading outloud simply won't help, as you are dealing with an archaic bit of English, or an archaic meaning for a word. Your best bet here is the Oxford English Dictionary. It is available in our library, and also most public libraries. It is an amazing reference that give the meaing of all English words, during different historical times.

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Inventory of the estate of John Balch taken July 28, 1648

 

 

 

by John Porter, Peter Palfrey, Jeffrie Massey and Nicholas Patch

 

 

 

 

£

s

d

Apparell

51

10

0

dwelling house & barne

16

0

0

one farme of medow and upland containege 210 Ackers

56

0

0

9 Ackers of whete

9

0

0

6 Ackers if indian

6

0

0

one Acker of _________

1

0

0

2 Ackers of barley

2

0

0

5 yoaks of eoxen at 10, 11 and 12 each yoke

33

0

0

a yoke of Steares

8

10

0

3 cowes & 2 heffers

22

0

0

2 yearelinge heffers

4

0

0

a yearelinge mare fole

5

0

0

wheles, chaines & yokes with other implements of husbandry

3

0

0

Frute trees in the Orchad

10

0

0

5 yeards & 1/2 of broadcloth

3

6

0

11 yeards of sarge

2

15

0

22 years of linin

1

2

0

13 yeards of cotten cloth

1

14

8

2 fether beds, w bolsters and 2 pilloes

5

5

0

1 paire of sheats

 

8

0

2 bead coverings

 

16

0

one Rugg

 

10

0

one bead and bloster

1

10

0

one blankett & coveringe

 

8

0

one paire of shees

 

5

0

4 shetes & 1/2

1

10

0

2 pillobeares

 

4

0

6 napkins

 

6

0

2 beadsteads

 

12

0

2 tables

 

7

0

2 tronks

 

6

0

one chest

 

5

0

one warmeinge pan

 

6

0

yearne, flakes & hempe

1

0

0

chares & stoles

 

3

0

12 bushells of indian corne

1

16

0

4 bushells of malte

 

16

0

one winopett & 3 bages

 

14

0

tubes & 6 barells & other wooden ware

1

0

0

3 hides

 

15

0

2 old chestes

 

2

0

toolese & old ireron

1

0

0

one bras pan & 2 bras cettles

1

0

0

a littell bras pott, 2 ireron pottes

1

0

0

peuter

 

10

0

2 muskets, one fowllinge peace with other armes

2

0

0

2 _____________

 

4

0

one ____________

 

10

0

____________

 

10

0

____________

 

5

0

one cannoe

 

10

0

chease pres

1

0

0

one hog

1

6

8

severall books

 

12

0

one calfe

1

0

0

total

220

13

12

 

 

 

 

Essex County Quarterly Court Files vol. 1 leaf 100

 

 

 

The Probate Records of Essex County vol. 1 p. 97.

 

 

 

 
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Inventory of the Estate of Anes Balsh taken Nov. 25, 1657

 

 

 

by John Rayment and Henery Hericke

 

 

 

 

£

s

d

One bed and bolster and pilo

3

0

0

two Rugs

1

0

0

one payer of shets

 

6

0

one Cot and blancett

1

0

0

3 Cotes

1

0

0

one waskot and two aprons

 

10

0

two shifes and an aperen and A pocetket hanshercher

 

10

0

one pot, a Cettell, one Scelet and payll

 

8

0

one hat

 

8

0

one bibell, one payer stockings

 

10

0

one trunck and Chest

 

5

0

one warmen pan

 

3

0

one Carpet and plater

 

8

0

one Chayer, one Crock, one payer beloes

9

11

0

 

18

19

0

Essex County Quarterly Court Files vol. 3 leaf 147

 

 

 

The Probate Records of Essex County vol. 1 p. 264.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Balch's bill of charges

 

 

 

Essex Co. Quarterly Court Files vol. 3 leaf 147

 

 

 

Attendance for two years

15

12

0

for coming to town to Mr. Curwin

1

0

0

at hir buriall for Cofen and Casks and drink

2

0

0

total

18

12

0

 

 

 

 

 June 29, 1658, that Benjamin Balch have the estate of Agnis Balch in order to pay her debts

 

 

 

 

Salem Quarterly Court Records vol. 4, leaf 20.

 

 

 

The Probate Records of Essex County, vol. I, p. 263.

 

 

 


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An Inventory of the Estate both Real & Personal of Decd Benjamin Balch late of Beverly

 

in ye County of Essex in New England Decd Taken on April  ye 20th A.D. 1750

 

 

At the Appraizment of Capt Henry Herrick Nathll Brown & Israel Wood.

 

 

 

A Comtee Appointed hereto by the Hon Thos Berry Esq Judge of Probate of Wills

 

 

for and within the County of Essex and is as followeth   Vizt:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Estate

£

s

d

The homestead land contains abt 6 Acres wth ye house and barn

120

0

0

A peice of land Calld ye 10 Acre Lott  Cont ab. 11 Acres

74

0

0

A peice of land Calld ye Close Containing 6 Acres

54

0

0

To wood land &  meadow in rail feild (so Called) 4 Acres

27

0

0

 

 

 

 

Personal Estate

 

 

 

To a horse 120/  Cow & Calf 80/  Ditto wth calf 80/  a Cow 80/

18

0

0

To a heiffer 35/ 1 yearling 16/   4 sheep & 2 lambs 42/6 

4

13

6

To 1 swine 21/  One Bond on Elezar Kimball for £100 old tenor £13 6/8

14

7

8

To 1 Bond on Peter Hunt for £100 old Tenor

13

6

8

To 1 Bond on Ebenezr Kimball for £50 old Tenor unto Barnaby Raymond

 

 

 

        Decd thought to be payable to the Executor of Decd Balch

6

13

4

To a Note of hand of Israel Herrick for £10 old Tenor

1

6

8

To an old plow & Irons  1/6  Axes & Hamer 3/  Gun Sword & warming pan

1

11

2

To Iron potts kettles trammels fire shovel & dog irons

1

4

0

To Chest of drawers 8/   table & bellows 4/

 

12

0

To old Chairs 4/   pewter 10/8   barrils hh: earthin & woodin ware 26/   

2

0

8

To Loom..quill wheele  swift warping bars and spools

1

4

0

To Wearing Apparril £8..15..8

8

15

8

To table Linens & four pillow Cases 10/8

 

10

8

To a Bed Covering, sheets Curtains bedsted & Cord

 

13

8

To a mean bed Covering Bedsted & Cords

4

5

4

To 8 sheets 53/4   Bibles & other books 10/    2 pr stockings 6/

3

9

4

 

357

14

4

 

 

 

 

Given under our hands ye day & year aforsd Henry Herrick Nathll Brown Israel Wood

 

John Lovett Ipswich April 23, 1750. Then John Lovett made oath to aforegoing Inventory

and if anything further appeared he would Cause it to be added - Before Thos Berry

 

 

 

 

 

Taken from: Essex County Registry of Probate: Book 329, pp. 212-213

 

 

 

 
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Mr Walter Price brought in an invoice of clothing 29:4:1641, that was left by 

 

 

his servant John Watkins, who died within six or seven weeks after landing.

 

 

 

Price brought Watkins with him from England and had paid £5 for his passage. 

 

 

His clothing was appraised by James Cary and Abell Kelly as follows:

 

 

 

 

£

s

d

piece of leather

 

6

8

pair of gloves

 

0

6

an old suit

 

8

0

a suit of clothes

1

5

0

2 pair drawers

 

4

0

6 pair stockings

 

7

6

2 cots

1

2

0

3 pair new shoes and 2 old

 

12

4

1-2li thread and a little hemp

 

2

0

3 shirts, 10s and 3 ragged ones, 2s 6d

 

12

6

a chest and a few nails

 

2

6

an old hat

 

0

10

3 old hat bands

 

1

0

total

5

4

10

 

 

 

 

Salem Quarterly Court Files, vol. 2, page 90.

 

 

 

The Probate Records of Essex County vol. I, page 13.

 

 

 

 

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The Estate of John Symonds of Salem,
proved in Salem court 19: 7: 1671

 

 

 

 

£

s

d

Inventory taken by John Kitchin and John Pickering

 

 

 

His houseing and and Land

230

0

0

Joyners Tools benches and alre

5

5

6

2 Bedsteds almost finished

3

0

0

3 stools with one half of a Box

 

12

0

1/2 grindstone and windlass and a Small grindstone

 

5

0

Timber, planke & board

5

12

0

Two beds, a bolster & a p of sheets, a p of blankets, a bed steed

 

 

 

   & matt that lay in the Chamber

5

0

0

Tubs

 

4

0

part of a Chest and 4 Bush. Corn

 

18

6

His wearing Clothes

6

5

0

2 yds. & 3/4 of sad colored cloth

 

22

6

a Table cloth

1

12

6

3 Hollond pillow-beers

 

15

0

a p of sheets

2

5

0

3 p of old sheets

 

30

0

3 corse pillowbeers

1

15

0

3 small peeces of Cloth

 

8

0

1 Doz. of napkins, 1 Towil

1

0

0

a Feather bed, 2 bolsters, 3 pillows, a rugg, 4 blankets, one p of sheets

 

 

 

   Curtains & Bedstead

10

0

0

2 pound of woolen yarn & som linen yarn & a hat brush

 

8

0

1 great Kettle

 

20

0

3 Iron potts & 2 p of pot hooks

2

7

0

1 Churnn, 3 payls with Iron bayls & 5 Trayes

 

13

0

a frying pan

 

5

0

a warminge pan

 

12

0

a fire pan and Grid Iron

 

2

0

a ps. of a hawke & a driping pan

 

4

0

2 brass puding pansand 3 tinen Lamps

 

3

6

an Iron Trivit, 4 glass bottles and a spitt

 

8

0

3 Earthen pots, 2 panns

 

3

0

2 Jarrs, 1 Sieve and a pitcher

 

2

6

a broken posnet & a Cod line

 

2

0

3 new pewter platters and a bell mettle Skillet

1

2

0

4 old pewter platters, a poringer & 2 plates

 

8

0

2 old quart pots,. A bason and & Chamber pot

 

7

0

a beer bowle, a beaker, a wine Cup & a Grater

 

4

0

a lattin sarce pan & Tunnil, 4 wooden dishes & 4 spoons

 

2

8

a Lanthorne, 2 Doz. Trenchers, a platter & a chafeing dish

 

4

0

Two wooden Bowles and a ladle

 

1

0

a choping knife & 3 brass Candlesticks

 

13

0

3 Chests, 3 Boxes and a wooden Tunnil

 

14

0

5 Barrils and a half baril, a buttor tub & 4 Keelers

 

13

0

a halfe a bushel & a p of Scales

 

2

0

2 Tables, a fourm and Chayers

 

16

0

32 Cheeses, buttor & meat

1

0

0

Apples growinge I n the orchard

 

15

0

2 old Bibles, a Booke of Doct. Prestons works and a book or Mr. Rogers

 

 

 

   works & a psalm booke

 

18

0

one firelock musket

1

6

0

one firelock Musquet, worme & Scowerer

1

4

0

Sword, belt, powder & bullets

 

8

0

2 Tobacco boxes and a drest Calfe skin

 

2

6

a meal Sack & a litle bagge

 

4

0

a five shilinge peece of gold & a 6d in Silver

 

5

6

a Vice and an old Hatchet

 

19

0

nayles

 

0

10

a Howe

 

2

0

an Ax

 

6

10

A Mattock

 

5

0

halfe a plow chayne

 

8

0

an old Sithe, old Iron & a p of Jemmils

 

5

0

a Reap hook

 

0

9

2 hoops, 2 boxes & and ex pin

 

11

9

a p of pitchfork Tynes, 5 Wedges & old Iron

 

12

0

one halfe of a Crosscut Saw and an ex pin

 

5

0

four lode of Hay in the yarde

4

0

0

Salt Marsh Grass growinge

1

0

0

2 Cows and a Cow Calfe

7

10

0

Tow Hogges & 2 pigs

3

12

0

Indean Corne that grew on the Land

3

10

0

20 Bushels of pease

4

0

0

Timber in the Wiids

1

2

0

a p of woosted Stockings

 

7

0

Debts due to the Estate

24

10

7

total

342

14

10

 

 

 

 

Estate is debtor

12

0

7

Also an apprentice of 17 years old who hath 3 year and 9 moneths and 2 weekes to serve.

 

 

 

 

Essex County Quarterly Court Files, vol. 18, leaves 25,6.

 

 

 

The Probate Records of Essex County vol. II, pages 249-50.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inventory of the estate of John Wilkins, of Saylem, deceased,

 

 

 

taken by Nathaniell Putnam and John Putnam.

 

 

 

 

£

s

d

Three cowse

10

10

0

1 Steare

2

0

0

2 yearlings

2

10

0

2 Calves

1

0

0

11 Swine

4

5

0

1 Horse

5

0

0

1 mare

2

0

0

Indian Corn upon ye ground

1

10

0

The halef of a house

8

10

0

In iron ware

3

0

0

woodden weare

 

6

0

Puter

 

10

0

Brase

 

10

0

Pisstoles, Holsters, sord & belt

2

0

0

Bedding

4

0

0

wearing clothes

3

0

0

total

50

0

0

Attested in Salem Court, 26: 4: 1672

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essex County Quarterly Court Files, vol. 18, leaf 145.

 

 

 

The Probate Records of Essex County vol. II, 271.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inventory of the estate of Thomas Oliver, intestate,

 

 

was granted 21: 4m: 1679 by Edmund Batter and Hilliard Veren sr:

 

 

 

 

£

s

d

house & ground adjoyning of about 1-2 an acre

45

0

0

about 10 acres of land in the north field

25

0

0

a smale old bed, bedsteed, flock bolster & pillowes with all appurtenances

2

10

0

his wearing apparrell

1

5

0

a smale old bed, bedsteed, flock bolster & pillowes with all appurtenances

 

 

 

a litle table and & 3 old chests

 

15

0

2 Iron pts & old iron Ketle, and hanger & tonges

 

10

0

a brass scillitt & som few earth dishes

 

5

0

3 or 4 old chaires

 

3

0

2 piggs

 

10

0

2 pailes & old tubs & som od lumber

 

5

0

an old rusty sword & old bandeleers

 

5

0

 

76

8

0

 

 

 

 

The estate is Dr.in England, as he said in his sickness about

30

0

0

to several other men hereare as he said above

 

15

0

due to the Towne when sick & at his buriall

2

19

6

due to Dr. Swinerton about

2

3

0

several other debts owing not yet known

 

 

 

 

35

17

6

Attested by Bridgett, relict of Tho. Oliver, and allowed, 28: 9: 1679

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essex County Quarterly Court Files, vol, 32, leaf 23

 

 

 

The Probate Records of Essex County, vol. III, p. 319.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inventory of the estate of Alester Mackmallen, deceased 20: 4m: 1679, taken by Richard Adams and Hilliard Verin sr.:

 

 

 

 

£

s

d

the house and ground

40

0

0

an old smale featherbead, steed& furniture

3

0

0

his wearing apparrell

1

0

0

an old brass mettle pot & Ketle

1

0

0

a side cubord & old warmin pan

1

0

0

hanger & pothookes & gridirons

 

10

0

in pewter & lanthorne

 

10

0

earthware & botle glasses

 

2

0

an olde chaire or two, an old chest 3 old axes, 2 old spades & som other lumber

10

0

an old bedstead & a litle old flock bed

 

10

0

 

48

2

0

 

 

 

 

Essex County Quarterly Court Files, vol, 32, leaf 23

 

 

 

The Probate Records of Essex County, vol. III, p. 320-21.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inventory of the estate of Maj. William Hathorn, Esq.

 

 

 

Taken June 10, 1681 by Hilliard Veren and John Pickering:

 

 

 

 

£

s

d

his dwelling house with the outhouseing, orchard & land adjoyning &

 

 

 

 belonging thereto containing of upland & meddow about 60 acres

450

0

0

a small pcell of land for a warehouse at the burying poynt

2

0

0

5 cowes

15

0

0

2 yearling heifers

 

40

0

4 swine young

 

48

0

31 sheep

9

6

0

12 lambs

 

48

0

2 horses & 1 mare

6

0

0

7 mares & colts wild in the woods

7

0

0

several goods left in the house, bedsteeds, cubbords, tables, chaires, chests,

 

 

 

   potts, tooles, cart tackling, plow geere & other lumber

7

10

0

chest with several old books

4

10

0

a farme at or neare Groaton containing about 640 acres

50

0

0

plate

8

0

0

cash

110

0

0

featherbed, bolster, pillowes, curtaines, vallins, & all appurtenances,

8

0

0

1 more featherbed, coverings, Rugg & appurtenances

6

0

0

1 more featherbed smaler one, Ruggs, blanketts & appurtenances

4

10

0

flockbed, bolster, & all belonging thereto

2

0

0

a turky carpett & 2 old carpetts

1

15

0

9 chaires, 8 joyne stooles and 10 cushins

2

10

0

3 guns, 3 old pistolls, Paier & cutles

3

0

0

his wearing apparrell wollen & linen

15

0

0

66 yds. Linen & cotton cloath

8

5

0

pewter

3

0

0

brase Kettles, pan pott, scales, skillets, warming pan, &c.

5

0

0

Iron potts & other houseold goods & iron

1

10

0

old axes & other old tooles & lumber

 

10

0

6 yds. Home made woollen cloth

1

7

0

a still & appurtenances

1

10

0

linen yarne & 12li of cotton & flax

2

4

0

table, bed & housold linen &c.

11

0

0

horse furniture &c.

1

0

0

total

754

3

0

 

 

 

 

There is something owing from the treasurer, & something owing to ye

 

 

 

contre or demanded for powder money not yett known.

 

 

 

The estate is Dr., for funerall expences

41

0

0

oweing to several men

1

2

0

total

42

2

0

Attested in Salem court 29 : 4m : 1681 by Ann, relict and executrix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essex County Quarterly Court Files, vol. 35, leaves 140, 141.

 

 

 

The Probate Records of Essex County vol. III, 423-4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inventory of the estate of Mr. John Turner as it is now found

 

 

 

in the hands of Mrs. Elizabeth Turner, widow,  taken by,

 

 

 

John Price, Wm. Browne jr., Thomas Gardner, jr. and John Hathorne

 

 

 

 

£

s

d

Sundry good and merchandize amount unto

2843

9

11

hosuehould stuff and in baggs

1295

8

0

total

4138

17

11

 

 

 

 

The account of houseing & land

 

 

 

the dwelling house, land, out houseing, 2 warehouses & wharfe

 

 

 

  belonging thereunto

500

0

0

a house, household stuff and stock at Bakers Isld.

50

0

0

Land at Castle Hill

70

0

0

a parcell of land bought of Wm. Lake and a pcell bought of Nath. Sharp

40

0

0

a warehouse at Winter Isld.

12

0

0

house and land bought of Mr. Skinner

140

0

0

the warehouse yt is building, boards, &c.

25

0

0

land by Chritopher Babidges

40

0

0

total

877

0

0

 

 

 

 

The account of Vessels:

 

 

 

the Keatch Blosome

170

0

0

Keatch Prosperous

120

0

0

Keatch John & Thomas

100

0

0

Keatch Willing Mind

90

0

0

total

480

0

0

 

 

 

 

1/2 of ye Keatch wth Mr English

190

0

0

1/2 of ye pink Speedwell

150

0

0

3/8 of the Keatch Society

150

0

0

3/3 of ye Keatch Wm. And John

100

0

0

1/4 of the Keatch Fraternyty

40

0

0

a shallop at Marblehead

50

0

0

1/4 of ye sloop with Jon. Hart

40

0

0

a pleasure Boote

8

0

0

1/3 of 3/8 of the Shipp Wm. & John

500

0

0

total

1773

0

0

making total of whole estate

6788

17

11

 

 

 

 

Further a parcell of Salt at Marblehead, a parcell of Refuse fish at Marblehead

 

 

The account of Debts due unto the estate and debts due to be payd out of the

 

 

estate which cannot yet be settled or known.

 

 

 

Attested in Salem court 30: 9: 1680 by Mrs. Elizabeth Turner, relict and adminstratix.

 

 

 

 

 

Essex County Quarterly Court Files, vol. 34, page 86.

 

 

 

The Probate Records of Essex County vol. III, pages 400-1.

 

 

 

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