William Adamson Estate


Brownville, Jefferson Co., NY

In the matter of the estate of WILLIAM ADAMSON of Brownville, Jefferson Co., NY:

ISABELLA ADAMSON, widow of the deceased, stated that William had deceased on 2 February 1846 at Brownville and did not leave a will. Petition dated 16 February 1846.

This is a very confusing estate. Apparently, William Adamson was referred to as "Dr.". His creditors, of which there were many, pursued the widow relentlessly in court proceedings to pay his debts. The final inventory of his estate was a mere $700 or so dollars, but there was mention of Sacketts Harbor bank stock that had been converted for some other purpose and the doctor had used the money for his own purposes which created a great deal of anger amongst the creditors. Probate proceedings revealed a transfer in 1841 by Mrs. Adamson to a Jas. Hope, who was identified as her brother, a resident of Pamelia, Jefferson Co. On examination, it was learned that Mrs. Adamson was loaning money to Hope for the reason that she was not naturalized and could not hold the security (bank stock). The doctor also had included a "Mrs. Paddock" in his financial affairs, but her connection to him was not stated. A transfer of some bank stock to Loveland Paddock occurred on 19 Jan. 1846. A neighbor was called to the probate court for her testimony and explained that the transfer of stock that she had was in payment of $300 which Dr. Adamson owed to her. Many of his creditors were from London and Kingston, Ontario, Canada where the couple had lived prior to moving to Jefferson County in about 1837. Testimony revealed by another brother at the probate hearings that Isabella owned two houses and lots in Kingston, Canada and sold them for about $2,000 to get her money. Another witness testified that in about 1839 in a conversation with Dr. Adamson, that he (the witness) asked for a loan from the doctor at which time the doctor stated that he had none to lend and it took his pension to pay expenses. Jas. Hope, brother of Isabelle, stated that the couple had married in June of 1832 at Kingston and resided there for about 12 years. And she was a dressmaker who had a considerable business. When Isabella petitioned to open probate, she did not mention any heirs. However, in testimony in the probate court, a neighbor mentioned that he thought she had her own "estate", and that the wife of the man giving the testimony had knitted gloves and socks for the whole family. Testimony in probate court by Isabelle's brother, uncovered the fact that Mrs. Adamson had 5 children with her - the oldest was 14, and the youngest 7. The man also testified that he did not think the "doctor" ever practiced in Jefferson County as a physician. A document within the file showed that William Adamson had tried to get four children, not named, into an orphanage in Bengal? but the request was denied. The final arguments in the surrogate court became a question of whose money was it that Isabelle controlled. The Surrogate Court decided that upon marriage the money became a joint possession and that it should be used to pay the creditors of Dr. Adamson. Apparently, the doctor is buried in the Brownville cemetery with a death date of 2 February 1846, at 63 years. The inscription states he was a surgeon on the Bengal Establishment which may have been the source of his pension. The Bengal Establishment, was a medical unit established by English rule, with a troop in Canada which seems to be the unit that Dr. Adamson had been serving in prior to his retirement and subsequent pension.

Jefferson Co., NY Estate Papers, Box A1.

Information contributed by volunteer Marilyn Sapienza.

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