I have spent more than a few days analyzing and absorbing the information in my husband's 4x great-uncle Thomas Meredith (TM) will. He and his extended family have fascinated me for years, all the more after I read many of the letters he and his family exchanged during the 1830s and 1840s in the collection of his papers (MS1795) housed at the Maryland Historical Society.
The will confirmed, in spades, what the papers had suggested. TM and his wife had no children who survived to adulthood. He was extremely wealthy, generous to his family (mostly) and a devoted Catholic. Just for grins I calculated what the $50,000 that he is reported to have left Catholic organizations and charities would be worth today. According to calculators at Measuring Worth.com his 1853 gifts to the Church roughly equal $19,000,000 in 2010. In addition, there were the more than $52,000 of named bequests to his wife and other heirs. He left a large estate and he spread his wealth around.
His will supported the information gathered from the TM papers. Those family members whose letters were saved, who were mentioned regularly in the correspondence, are generally the family members named in the will.
Finding the McSherrys mentioned both in the will and in his papers drove me to some fast online research that suggested Dr. McSherry was a cousin of TM's wife. Since McSherry referred to both TM's wife and nephew James (Thomas James Meredith) as cousins this suggests McSherry may have been related to James' as yet unidentified mother. I love clues!
There were a couple nieces named in the will (Elizabeth Kirk and Ann B. Purcell) who did not appear in his papers. I believe they are daughters of TM's sister Frances Meredith Pullen, one of his sisters I know very little about. Many researchers name her as the Fanny Pullen who married William Garland Yerby in Richmond County, VA. This Fanny Pullen was still alive during the time covered by TM's papers and when he wrote his will. If this Fanny Pullen was TM's sister the fact that she was not mentioned in either his papers or will suggests they were not on good terms. The fact that her daughters were named in the will could also suggest that TM's sister died before his will was written. There are several Richmond County Chancery Court cases I plan to review this summer that I hope will clarify whether the wife of William Garland was also TM's sister.
Finally, and much to my disappointment, the will did nothing to illuminate the life of TM's nephew Thomas W. Meredith, the only known surviving child of John Meredith NOT named as an heir. Thomas is my remaining Meredith mystery - at least for this generation of the family. But that, I think is another post.