Will of Charlotte, Duchess of Albany, 1789

The will of the Duchess of Albany is remarkable for the tenderness she shows towards the members of her household, not one of whom is forgotten.

A printed version of the text can be found on pages 166-169 of The Life and Letters of H.R.H. Charlotte Stuart, Duchess of Albany, by Francis John Angus Skeet (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1932).

In the name of God. Amen.

This fourteenth day of November 1789, Her Grace the Duchess of Albany, Charlotte by name, being grievously sick of body, but of sound mind, and in full possession of her senses, thanks be to God, not wishing to leave this world without disposing of these goods of fortune of which she is possessed, after having received the Holy Viaticum and humbly commended her soul to God, her Creator and Redeemer, and again beseeching His pardon for all even to the least offence which she may have given Him during the whole course of her life, and trusting to His infinite mercy -

Declares in the first place that she desires to be buried without any pomp whatever, asking only such suffrages for her soul as may be decided upon by the Lord Cardinal Archbishop [Andrea Giovanetti], whom she has requested to take down her will in writing, further recommending him not to allow her body after her death to be opened in anyway, and if possible that it may be kept aground for four days, not enclosed in a coffin.

In the second place she desires to be buried in the parish church of St. Blaise of Bologna, to the poor of which she leaves a hundred scudi to be distributed to them by the curate of the said church.

Coming to the legacies, or pensions, she requests her royal uncle, hereinafter constituting him her sole heir, to send to her lady mother in Paris an annual pension of fifteen thousand francs during the term of her natural life, and further, to allow her the power of disposing at her death of fifty thousand francs in favour of any of her necessitous relations.

She leaves to Mrs. Norton an annuity of two thousand francs for the term of her natural life, also a gold enamelled box, and the English clock which her Grace uses daily, further requesting her royal uncle to provide for the lady more abundantly should this pension not suffice.

To Canon Cesarini, rector of Frascati, she leaves an annuity of a hundred scudi, for the term of his natural life, as a mark of her attachment, and more especially on account of the respectful and particular affection which he has for her royal uncle.

To the Count Monsignor Consalvi she leaves an enamelled box as a remembrance.

To the Abbate Waters, as a mark of her gratitude for his services to her royal father and herself, she leaves an annuity of a hundred scudi for the term of his natural life; further requesting him, if such be the pleasure of her royal uncle, to be her testamentary executor as hereinafter set down.

To the Abbate Count Castaldi she leaves a plain gold box as a remembrance, particularly requesting her uncle to be pleased to prefer him upon the first occasion he has of disposing of an ecclesiastical benefice.

To her two waiting women she leaves all her wearing apparel, and an annuity of sixty scudi to each of them for the term of their natural life.

To Signor Giacinto Bruni she leaves a sum of a hundred scudi in one payment, and two years salary.

To each of her two serving men she leaves an annuity of forty-eight scudi at the rate of four scudi a month to each, for the term of their natural life, also a year's wages, and their mourning, which is to be made for them, as well as for all in her service, both men and women, appealing to the friendship of Abbate Waters to take upon himself, besides the other charges hereinafter stated, the task of providing mourning for those in her service.

To the unliveried members of her household, that is the steward and chaplain, she leaves the pay, or wages, or salary one year.

The rest of her household, including the Moor in livery, are warmly recommended by the duchess, the testatrix, to the great and constant charity of her royal uncle, and moreover she leaves to the said remnant of her household, including the Moor two years' wages.

She leaves a hundred scudi to be distributed to the poor of her parish in Rome.

She appoints and constitutes his royal Eminence her uncle Cardinal Henry, called the Duke of York, universal heir of all her goods movable and immovable, titles, rights, and shares, in any place, country, province or kingdom whatsoever, and especially and expressly of all the jewels, diamonds and orders belonging to the Crown.

It is her will that all the remaining jewels, coins, and plate of any sort whatsoever shall be sold, the proceeds of such sale to form a capital the interest of which shall be applied to the payment of the annuities, pensions or legacies abovesaid; and should the interest of the said capital formed as aforesaid by the sale of the said articles the personal property of the testatrix, not suffice, she earnestly entreats the goodness and great affection of her uncle and universal heir to pay all the said pension.

As testamentary executor of this her last will, if it meets the consent and approval of her uncle, she appoints the Abbate Waters above-mentioned, upon whom she lays the charge of forming the said capital in the best way possible, besides the other charges which she flatters herself he will willingly undertake out of the friendship he has always shown to the said duchess the testatrix; further requesting him to see that the doctors and surgeon be adequately remunerated, also that Father Scandellari, her confessor receives some recognition of the trouble given him during her illness.

She further wills and beseeches her royal uncle (whom she thanks with all her heart to the utmost of her power and ability for the singular affection he has always shown her), assuring him that she dies willingly, resigning herself with her whole soul to the will of her Creator and Redeemer, in whom she places all her hope of eternal salvation, that he will be pleased to accept her small library for his own at Frascati, with this condition however, that all those books which his royal grace, the Lord Cardinal her uncle, shall not think fitted for the said library shall be given and consigned to her said testamentary executor, the Abbate Waters whom she requests to so arrange that the journey of all her household to Rome may be paid for. She further charges the said Abbate Waters to collect all the letters belonging to the royal house and family and to deliver them to her royal uncle. All her purely personal letters to be consigned to the flames by the said Abbate.

She declares this to be her last will, and any other disposition made by her at any other time notwithstanding this will alone to stand and be regarded. And should this said last will not be valid as such, she wills and declares it to be valid by virtue of the codicil in cause mortis and in every better way possible.

In faith whereof the said duchess has affixed her signature with her own hands in the presence of the undersigned witnesses called upon to witness the same.

Charlotte, Duchess of Albany

The following codicil was added the day of her death, November 17, 1789:

The third waiting-woman, Carolina Bidusi by name, two pieces of velvet and one of linen, and the same annual pension as the other two, being very sorry for having forgotten her, and recommending her to H.R.H.

A little clock to Mr. d'Azincourt.

A small present to Monsignor Erskine and one to the Cavaliere de Bernis.

This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran (noel.mcferran@rogers.com) and was last updated October 26, 2003.
© Noel S. McFerran 2000-2003.