Monday, August 18, 2014

John Clayton - Born John Crouch

While browsing through images of Worcester County Probate Files on, I came across a file for John Clayton of West Brookfield.  I decided to view the contents of the file and immediately noticed that John's heirs included some of his brothers.  What interested me, was that his brothers had the last name, Crouch, and not Clayton.  I did some further research, and found that John Crouch had changed his name to John Clayton on April 16, 1836.  I found an online tree which included the Crouch family and it gave me some insight as to the reason for the name change, (see notes in online tree), and while I have not been able to verify the information, I believe it to be true, at least in part.  Below, I have transcribed the Will of John Clayton from the online images.

Know all Men by these Presents,

That I, John Clayton of West Brookfield in the County of Worcester and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, being of sound mind and memory, but, knowing the uncertainty of this life, do, this thirtieth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy two make and publish this, my last Will and Testament, in manner and form following, that is to say:-

First      I give bequeath and devise to my beloved wife Emma A Clayton and her heirs my household furniture wearing apparel and family stores which may be on hand at my decease - Also my Homestead situated in West Brookfield aforesaid and consisting of about one half acre of land with a dwelling House Barn and other buildings thereon, being the same now occupied by me

Second   I give and bequeath to my brother William Crouch and his heirs and assigns the sum of Five hundred dollars

Third      I give and bequeath to my sister Eudocia Small and her heirs the sum of Five hundred dollars

Fourth    I give and bequeath to my sister Mercy Bacon and her heirs the sum of Five Hundred dollars

Fifth       I give and bequeath to my sister Emily White and her heirs the sum of Five Hundred dollars

Sixth      I give and bequeath to my brother Levi S. Crouch and his heirs the sum of Five Hundred Dollars

Seventh I give and bequeath to my sister Mary Dunham and her heirs the sum of Three Hundred Dollars

Eighth    I give and bequeath to the Congregational Society of West Brookfield the sum of One Hundred dollars to be expended by said society in the purchase of books for their Sabbath school Library.

Ninth     I hereby order and direct my executor herein after named to cause to come to be erected in the burial ground at Brimfield Massachusetts three grave stones of suitable size and quality to wit: one to the memory of my brother Benjamin Crouch and his wife - one to the memory of my fathers second wife and one to the memory of my brother Ruel Crouch

Tenth     I hereby autherize and direct my Executer[sic] herein after named to sell and dispose of , pass deeds and convey, at such time and in such manner as he shall deem best for the interest of my estate, any and all of my real and personal estate wherever situated -(Excepting such part thereof as is herein before bequeathed and devised to my wife Emma A Clayton)

Eleventh After the payment of my just debts and funeral charges, the erection of  suitable grave stone to my memory (which I direct to be done) the bequests and orders herein before expressed and the necessary expenses of administration of my estate - I hereby give and bequeath the remainder of all my estate both real and personal (That is the proceeds of the sale thereof) of what value and nature soever to my aforesaid wife Emma A Clayton and her heirs

                                                                              And I do hereby appoint Joseph F Hitchcock of Warren in said county of Worcester sole executer[sic] of this my last Will and testament hereby revoking annulling and declaring void all former wills by me at any time heretofore made

                         John Clayton [signature]

                         Witnessed by A. G. Blodgett

                                              Augustus W. Gilbert

                                              Alfred A Gilbert

1. Foskett family tree including descendants of Ephraim Crouch research by Marilyn Labbe, copyright Sandra Smith
2. Massachusetts Name Changes, 1780-1892, List of Persons Whose Names Have Been Changed in This Commonwealth,page 7980, Operations Inc, Provo, Utah, 1998
3. Massachusetts, Vital Records, Brimfield, Brookfield, and West Brookfield
4. Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925, images, FamilySearch (,1055515901 : accessed 18 Aug 2014), Worcester > Case no 12335-12432, Clark, William-Cleveland, Ellen M, 1731-1881 > image 208 of 1175; citing Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts.

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