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From: "Elizabeth Shown Mills" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Tricky Deed
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 22:55:23 -0500
References: <B03828E5-098C-4169-A014-1371FDDD0479@mac.com>
In-Reply-To: <B03828E5-098C-4169-A014-1371FDDD0479@mac.com>

Polly wrote:
>I have an 1808 Massachusetts deed in which descendants of Israel Vinal
[Jr.] are selling some jointly owned (inherited) land of parcels which
are divided into two parts:
> 35/44ths owned by his 5 living children (William, Betsey, Nathaniel,
Deborah and Lemuel) along with the widow of one deceased son (Lydia ye
3rd, wid. of Israel III). He did have a son Robert of which no mention
is made, so I'm assuming he died, though I haven't found any proof
thereof; and
>9/44ths are being sold by Wm. Vinal as guardian for 3 grandchildren, 2
of whom are children of Lydia & Israel III, and one of whom gis the
child of Israel's deceased daughter, Marcy, who's husband also is dead!

> how did they arrive at such an odd denominator?

Polly, two sets of questions:
1. When did Israel Jr. die? How far before this division?
2. Did the widow of Israel Jr. survive him and claim a widow's third? Did
her death then prompt the 1808 sale?

If the answer to Set No. 2 is yes, then the following would account for 44
being the common denominator. (For the initial part of this calculation, the
references to the widow of the deceased Israel III and the children of the
deceased Israel III and Marcy are red herrings. Set them aside for the

According to your details, Israel Jr. had 5 children who were still alive in
1808 and 2 who had died. That's 7 children who would share his estate.
However, if Israel Jr. left a widow, then the allotment of 1/3 to his widow
would leave 2/3 to be divided by the 7 children. One-seventh of two-thirds
is .095237--i.e., 1/11th.

Since 44 was the common denominator in this estate settlement, it would seem
that each child then got 4/44ths (for a total of 28/44ths) while Israel
Jr.'s widow got 16/44ths. If the land remained undivided until her death,
as frequently happened, then the heirs would divide all 44 parts. At that
point, each of the original 7 would be entitled to 4/44 from the father and
roughly 2.28/44 from the mother--i.e., about 6.28/44 each. For the 5 living
children, that would total roughly 33/44.

At that point, the following would happen to the shares of the two deceased
children, if they tried to calculate it per stirpes (i.e., division by line
of descent).

1. Israel III's share would be divided into 1/3 for his widow and 2/3 for
the 2 children. That makes slightly more than 2/44ths for each.

2. The share of Israel's III's widow is combined with the 33/44 of Israel's
living siblings to make 35/44ths for "5 living children ... along with the
widow of one deceased son."

3. Marcy's one child should have inherited roughly 6/44ths.

4. All this would total about 10/44ths for the grandchildren. However, when
dividing estates by fractions like this, they typically ended up with a
total that was a little under or a little over. In this case, they had
9/44ths left over, which they split between the three grandchildren.

But, Polly, all this scenario is contingent upon your answer to Question Set
No. 2.

(Who majored in history, not math!)

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
Advanced Research Methodology & Evidence Analysis
Samford University Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research

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