poniedziałek, 22 maja 2017

»debt of £700 and upwards due to me by my Brother«
Brothers Daniel and John Tolkien!

Daniel Gottlieb Tolkien's Last Will from 6 September 1810 was find by me yesterday. It is a beautiful document, three pages long, with wonderful calligraphy (it looks like best examples of J.R.R. Tolkien's manuscripts), and with a lot of details about Daniel Tolkien's family: his wife Ann Tolkien and his children Maria, Daniel, Ann, Martha, Charles, John and James. It begins as follows:
»THIS IS THE LAST WILL and Testament of Mr. Daniel Tolkien [Tolkein] of Hackney Road in the Parish of Shoreditch in the County of Middlesex, furrier, made in the following manner: in the first place I summoned my soul into kind hands of my most merciful Creator in humble hope of pardon of my manifold sins [...] and I desire that my body may be buried devoutly with as little expence as may be in my family grave in the burial ground of the [...] Chapel of City Road. I give [...] Ann Tolkien my [...] house in Hoxton Town, all my furniture, plates, books and linen for her own use [...]«
Then we find a lot of information about Daniel's property, his houses at Cumberland Street, Hoxton Town etc. And at last we find information about Daniel's brother, John Benjamin Tolkien! (who was probably mentioned by name, but the name seems to be covered with a streep of white paper!) This is a very strong proof that Daniel Gottlieb and John Benjamin Tolkien were real brothers (and if so we can be almost sure that Professor Tolkien's great-great-grandfather was born in Gdańsk in 1753!). And we find the explanation why the families of Daniel and John don't seem to be in good contacts in the last years of Dan and John and after:

»[...] shall & shall alike the debt of £700 and upwards due to me by my Brother [the name seems to be covered with a stip of paper!] My executors will receive if he shall find it convenient to pay and (I) direct that no action of law or providing shall be taken out against him and I appoint my dear Wife Ann Tolkien, my son Daniel Tolkien of Cheapside and John Hopwood of Paternoster No. 10 Glover Executors of this my last will and testament oath of them to answerable for his own disposition [...]
A good man, isn't he? And the name of John Benjamin Tolkien seems to be covered with a streep of white paper (maybe the reason is clear: not to make any legal problems to the descendants of John Benjamin Tolkien?):

Anyway we know from my summary of John Benjamin's life that he had financial problems in 1810s. Maybe these 700 pounds were lent to John to start his own "Tolkien & Dancer Watch-movement & Tool-manufacturer" at 145 St. John's Street (evidence from 1808)? In the London newspaper The News (from 9 May 1813) we can read that he bankrupted in May 1813. Maybe it was connected with the fact that Daniel Tolkien died in the same month?
My thanks to Jarema Piekutowski for his help in transcription

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