I’ve touched on the idea of locating ancestors through the estates of men to whom the ancestors owed money. Generally, those owing money to an estate are only included in court inventories for those who ran a business or who were wealthier than the average man and in a position to loan money or property for a fee.
When these records tie into a person who lived in a rural community or small town, the debtors actually form a little FAN club. In the estate of a city person, some of the debtors might be random customers with no close ties to the deceased.
Estate of Duncan McLeod, 24 April 1819
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
This particular list of people owe money to an attorney, Duncan McLeod, Esquire, who died sometime before this list was created on 24 April 1819. I came across it while researching my ancestor, Richard Jones, who is 22nd down in the middle column, owing £2.2.11. I also recognize at least a couple of other names on the list, like Ephraim Betts and Moses Estey, who are not ancestors, but are part of my ancestors’ FAN club in New Brunswick, Canada.
Most of these people owed only a few pounds, but a couple, like Lauchlan McDonald and James Buber owed £141 and £135. Today, £135 is the equivalent of about £9000.
Finding ancestors in estate inventories is fun and informative because it gives an every-day life perspective to them.
Have I made my point yet with all these court records posts? They are truly an endless pit of possible genealogical gold. Court records are definitely a BSO (bright, shiny object) to be followed.