Notes about Mary Sinclair's Will

Charles and Anne [Hanna] Crommelin, daughter of Mary Sinclair


Source: Inheritance and Family Life in Colonial New York City by David E. Narrett, Cornell University Press, pp 161-162

Other parents restricted their married daughters' inheritance not because they disliked their sons-in-law but simply in order to guarantee the descent of property to their grandchildren. Mary Sinclair accumulated a substantial estate after her husband's death in 1704 and subsequently assisted her son-in-law, Charles Crommelin, in establishing a major transatlantic trading firm.[?] Her will of 1721 absolved him from repaying the principal and interest on a loan of eight hundred pounds that she had previously given him. Though favoring her son-in-law to some degree, Sinclair reserved nearly her entire estate for her only child, Hanna, Charles Crommelin's wife, and the couple's four children.

She directed her executors to lease all her city real estate and to pay the rents and profits, deducting the costs of taxes and repairs, to her daughter throughout her life. After Hanna Crommelin's death, all property was to descend to her children, including those lawfully "Begotten & to be begotten Either by the Said Charles Crommelin or by any other Husband."

The widow took great care in specifying the succession of household goods and personal effects from her daughter to grandchildren. While Hanna's children were to share most of these goods after their mother's death, certain heirs gained title to particular items. For example, Sinclair's will granted Robert Crommelin a gold ring and a silver tankard engraved with his maternal grandfather's coat of arms. Grand-daughter Maillie received a large pearl necklace, a pair of gold rings with large pearls set in them, a silver powder box, a pepper box, and a Dutch Bible with gold clasps and a gold cross inlaid with precious stones. [Source: "N.Y. Wills", Liber 13:50-57, July 20, 1721, codicil-Aug. 23, 1730. For Crommelin's business activities, see Harrington, "New York Merchant", 119]

Mary Sinclair, born Mary Duyckinck in New Amsterdam, prized her household good and personal possessions as much as any Dutch colonial matron. Though she trusted her son-in-law to care for her grandchildren if her own daughter died, she did not allow him to interfere with their inheritance.