The Burgar/Burgess families in Shetland
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The Testament and Inventory of David Burgar, died 1664
The details below are a translation (as far as possible) of David Burgars Testament and Inventory.52
In summary it states that probate was granted on 31st January 1668 to his widow Isobell Burgar. His estate, which was valued at £36-18s-8d, comprised a horse, 2 geese, 5 sheep, property and something we have not been able to decipher. The fee for proving probate was £018s-6d.
Thus David Burgar died in 1664 but we do not know when he was born. His wife was Isobell Burgar. This is unusual since in Shetland the wife usually went by her maiden name. Does this mean that her maiden name was Burgar and therefore she was some form of cousin to David Burgar? Or did this Burgar family originate in Scotland, where women adopted the surname of their husbands? As far as we can understand the Probate was granted in 1668, but David died in 1664.
A Testament Testator is where a person makes a Will and it then goes through the probate process.
A Testament Dative occurred when a person died without making a Will.
This happened in David Burgar's case. Often the deceased persons possessions were divided up amicably by the family. Sometimes at a later date (in this case 4 years later) it was necessary to apply to the court for a ruling on how the proceeds were to be split up. Why that happened in this case is unknown. But the court decided that the applicant, Isobell Burgar, was entitled to have the estate of David Burgar
See actual Testament and Inventory
(The translation has been done line by line).
The Testament Dative and Inventory of the goods
gear and debts nothing omitted here set
within the ? which pertaining
to the late David Burgar in Skelloway at
the time of his decease who deceased in the
month of September 16 hundred three score four
years (i.e. September 1664) faithfully made, made and given
up by David Burgar sayth to the said
deponent in name of Isobel Burgar his
relict for herself and executor dative decree
and confirmed to her by decree of the Commissioner
prince of Orkney and Zetland as the
of the day the last day of January 16 hundred
three score and eight years in it best
Firstly the said Deponent and his said
relict spouse and said goods gear and ? of the
values and quantities and prices examined follows
my pertamony to them the Princes foresaid of his
ITEM two fine? estimate to £18-6s-8d
ITEM one Stallion? Shetland ? horse estimate to £10
ITEM 2 geese £1.0s.0d
ITEM the domiciles with the abutments estimate to £10.
ITEM five sheep estimate £8.
Sum of the Inventory £38-6s-8d (NB. this is the correct total for the above items)
Follows are the debts owing to the dead
ITEM by David Cross £4 .
ITEM by George Sinclair 12s
Sum of Inventory and debts is £42-18s-8d (NB. this is the correct total for the above items)
Follows the debts owed by the dead
ITEM for the deceased burial £6
Remains of sum are £36-18s-8d (NB. this is the correct total for the above items)
To be divided in 2 parts becomes £18-9s-3d
The latter is the Fee to be paid for the granting of probate. This is up to 10% of the estate value, but for small estates was much less. In this case it was about 5%.
This Inventory suggests that David Burgar died in Skelloway, but it was not his permanent address. His wife was Isobell Burgar, who was claiming his estate. Since David had horses, geese and sheep, he must have had a croft. It is not clear whether he resided in Skelloway or just happened to be there when he died. Because he was married, and left a considerable amount of money, he was certainly older than 20, and possibly older than 40. If this were so, he would have been born by about 1620, and therefore might be a son of William Burger, the tailor, and his wife Marian Irving. If David was much older than 40 then he might be the brother of William Burger, the Tailor.
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