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The First Generation in America - Alexander Wilson and Jane Armour

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Historical Records About Alexander Wilson

The Will of Alexander Wilson

From Wills of New York 1766-1771, page 536: Will of Alexander Wilson, found by Robert, one of Alexander's 3rd great-grandsons, "translated" by an attorney friend of Robert's:

"In the Name of Lord Amen, I Alexander Wilson of the City of New York Shopkeeper being at present declining in health yet of sound and disposing mind memory and understanding and considering the uncertainty of this frail and transitory life and that it is appointed for all men once to die do therefore make and publish this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following That is to say first and fundamentally(?) I commend my Soul to The Hands of Almighty God who gave it me and my body to the Earth from whence it came in sure and certain Hopes of a joyful Resurrection through the Merits of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And as to Such worldly Estate wherewith God hath been pleased to bless me with, I give devise and dispose of as follows. I do hereby order that all my just Debts and funeral Expenses be fully paid and satisfied within some convenient Time after my decease Amen I do hereby give devise and bequeath unto My dearly beloved Wife Jane one third part of my whole Estate as well as personal And as to the other two thirds part of my whole Estate I hereby give devise and bequeath to my two Children Alexander and Jane Share and Share alike And lastly I do hereby nominate constitute \\\\\\\ my loving Wife Jane Executrix and my good Friends Samuel Sowdon and Johnathan Blake of the City of New York to be Executors of this my Last Will and Testament hereby revoking and disannulling all former and other Wills or Will Testament or Testament heretofore by me made and declared either in Word or in writing allowing this and none other to be my last Will and Testament In witness whereof The Said Alexander Wilson have hereto - set my hand and Seal this Day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy one. /

"Alexander Wilson (As / Sighnce) Sealed published and declared by the said Alexander Wilson as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of John Wilson Alexander Robertson James Gourlay City of New York xs Be it remembered that on the twelfth day of February one thousand Seven hundred and Seventyone personally came and appeared before John Bowles thereunto duly authorized Alexander Robertson of the City of New York Shopkeeper and being duly Sworn on his Oath declared that he did See Alexander Wilson Sign and Seal The annexed written Instrument purporting to be the Will of said Alexander Wilson bearing Date xx Day of January last And hearing him publish and declare the Same to be and contain his last Will and Testament That at the Time thereof, He the said Alexander Wilson was of Sound disposing mind and Memory to the best of The knowledge and belief Of him the Deponent And that his Name subscribed to the said Will of his own proper hand writing which he subscribed as a witness to the valid Will in the presence of the testator And that he the despondent likewise saw John Wilson and James Gourlay the other witnesses to the said Will subscribe their names as Witnesses there to the said Will Subscribe their Names as Witnesses thereto in the Testators Presence

"The Right Hon (vle) John Earl of Dunmore Captain General and Governor Chief in and over The Province of New York and the Territories defending thereon in America Chancellor and Vice Admiral of the Same To all to whom these Present to Shall come or may concern Greeting Know Ye That at the City of New York on the Day of the Date here of before John Bowles---___- thereunto delegated and appointed the last Will and Testament of Alexander Wilson deceased a Copy whereof is herewith -___- annexed of was proved and is approved and allowed of by me The Said deceased having whilst he lived and at the Time of his Death Goods Chattels and Credits within this Province by means whereof. The proving and registering The Said Will and the granting Administration of all and singular The Said _----_ Goods Chattels and Credits and also The auditing allowing and final discharging the Account thereof doth belong unto me And that Administration of all and Singular the Goods Chattels and Credits of the Said deceased and any way concerning His Will is granted unto Jane Wilson one of the Executors in the Said Will and being first duly sworn well and faithfully to administer the Same and to make and exhibit a true and perfect Inventory of all and Singular the Said Good Chattels and Credits and also to render a just and true account there of when thereunto required. In Testimony where of I have caused affixed at the City of New York the twelfth day of February one Thousand Seven hundred and Seventy one.//"

The New York City Fire of 1776

The New York City fire of 1776 is described at

"The British viewed New York City and the Hudson River Valley as key strategic locations. After evacuating the patriot stronghold of Boston in March of 1776, the British concentrated on New York as a base of operations. In July of 1776, shortly after the signing of Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, a huge British fleet of nearly 500 ships and 35,000 men--the largest single armed force in America until the Civil War--appeared off New York. Under the command of General William Howe, the vastly larger British forces began pushing back the smaller and less-organized American Army under the command of George Washington almost immediately. By August, Washington had withdrawn from Long Island, pulling back to Manhattan. In September of that same year, Washington and his generals, convinced of the weakness of their position in New York City, debated whether they should burn the city upon retreat, or simply leave it to the British. Under instructions from the Continental Congress to not torch the city, Washington withdrew into New Jersey * * *."

The story continues at

"The British anticipated snug winter quarters in the city of New York, when, at a little past midnight, Sept. 21, 1776, a fire broke out in a low drinking-place and brothel [The Fighting Cocks Tavern] - a wooden building on the wharf, near White-hall Slip. The wind was brisk from the southwest, and the flames spread rapidly, unchecked, for there were few inhabitants in the city. Every building between White-hall and Broad streets up to Beaver Street was consumed, when the wind veered to the southeast and drove the flames towards Broadway. The buildings on each side of Beaver Street to the Bowling Green were burned. The fire crossed Broadway and swept all the buildings on each side as far as Exchange Street, and on the west side to Partition (Fulton) Street, destroying Trinity Church. Every building westward towards the Hudson River perished. The Tories and British writers of the day charged the destruction of the city to Whig incendiaries. Some of these citizens who came out of the gloom to save their property were murdered by British bayonets or cast into the flames. Even General Howe in his report made the charge, without a shadow of truth, that the accident was the work of Whig conspirators. About 500 buildings (almost a third part of the city) were laid in ashes."

It is noted at that

"Without the city's firemen present and on duty, the fire quickly spread. A third of the city burnt and 493 houses destroyed. Trinity Church was destroyed in minutes. With the fire department in disarray and largely missing, the British soldiers attempted to extinguish the flames. Unable to quell the fire because of sabotaged equipment, the fire raged on from day into night.

"Washington mused that some honest patriot might have helped them out by setting the fire. The British were also convinced that the fire had been deliberately set. They arrested 200 suspected sympathizers and hung the self-described American spy, Nathan Hale. Those citizens displaced by the fire set up canvas tents around the destroyed areas in lower Manhattan. The British made little attempt to rebuild the city but did create their own fire department, realizing that fire was as much their enemy as the colonial rebels were."

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