Amanuensis Monday: The Will of David Springsteen

The beginning lines of the will of David Springsteen (1697?-1763) of Newtown, NY.
The beginning lines of the will of David Springsteen (1697?-1763) of Newtown, NY. (Click to enlarge.)

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Dated March 25, 1753.

In the name of God, Amen. I, David Springsteen

of Newtown, in Queens County, in the Colony of New York

Yeoman being in perfect Health and Strength of 

Body and of sound mind memory and understanding

Wills have pretty formulaic language to make sure the lawyers and the courts know exactly what the deceased had in mind for disposition of money and property after death. Most wills are just extracted by genealogists- basically, the important information is copied, sometimes with quite a lot of abbreviations- rather than a full amanuensis, or transcription, being done. In the case of David Springsteen’s will, however, we will make it a bit of a hybrid, because while we don’t want you to fall asleep, this document is important-  this will proves all sorts of relationships. It was really a gold mine for advancing our Springsteen research!!

I give and bequeath unto Anntie my Dearly beloved Wife the whole and Sole use Benefits Incomes & Profits of all and singular my dwelling Houses Messuages Lands Meadows Barns Orchards and Hereditaments with the Appurtenances in New Town…

Of course, there is always this caveat:

during so long a time as she shall continue my widow.

If a woman remarried, all that she had worked to build with the previous husband was not hers- it went to the next heir in line, usually the sons, and often there was a small amount for the daughters.

He also gave Annetie 1/3 of his movable estate, which included cash, furniture, the buggies, etc. The 1/3 was considered her ‘dower right.’ (A husband could not leave his wife with absolutely nothing.)

So we have confirmed the name of his wife, using the will he wrote in 1753. Always check the dates the will was written, proved, and probated- they vary, and are usually NOT the date of death- despite what one sees on many online family trees!

Now, on to their oldest son, who would usually get the majority of the estate:

I give and devise unto to my eldest son Casparus Springsteen the dwelling house in which I now live with the barn and orchard there and lands adjoining…

The will continues with detailed land descriptions and other parcels to Casparus. Next,

 I…bequeath unto my son Garret Springsteen…all that of my dwelling house and Tract of land there where… Garret now lives.

David also leaves his son Garret two pieces of meadow, one of which he

... had of my Father Casparus Springsteen Deceased.

So David’s will not only lists himself and his wife, and then children, but he mentioned his father as well! One more generation back confirmed… We also thus know that his father had passed away by the date the will was written, so that would be by 29 March 1753 at the latest.

The remaining 2/3 of his estate was to be divided equally among all his children, including, in addition to what they had already received through the will, a share each to Casparus and Garrett, plus a share to each of their married sisters:

Mary the now wife of Paulus Vandevoorst

Auriantie the wife of Jonathan Provoost

Charity the wife of Daniel Fleet

Grietie the now wife of Frederick Van Wicklen

So now we have the married names of the daughters as well as their first names- and their husband’s first names too. We also can assume that their son Joost, baptized on 21 July 1734 in Jamaica, NY, probably died as a child or young adult, since he was not mentioned in his father’s will of 1753.

David named his wife Annetie and his two sons, Casparus and Gerrit, as executors.

Yes, the will of David Springsteen was a gold mine. We started with a hypothesis of the parents of Gerrit Springsteen, our ancestor, and the will confirms his parents, siblings, and even his grandfather!

Nice that we can now read wills in our jammies rather than going to the courthouse!


Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999. Record of Wills, 1665-1916; Index to Wills, 1662-1923 (New York County); Author: New York. Surrogate’s Court (New York County); Probate Place: New York, New York.

  2.  “…Messuages… and Hereditaments with the Appurtenances”  Messuages are out buildings and the land surrounding- like a barn and corral. The second phrase is a legal term that conveys specific rights, in addition to the items listed individually, such as rental income, right of way, etc. See Judy Russell’s “The Legal Genealogist” post of 5 Aug 2015, “A Deed Indeed.”

  3. Also see Black’s Law Dictionary–


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