What does this will actually say?

+4 votes
What is your expert interpretation of this will?

Is it saying Martin is acutally the father of Josette's children or is he simply claiming them since he never had any of his own?
in Genealogy Help by Lance Martin G2G6 Pilot (111k points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
Best answer

Here's a legal article on the subject, specific to Louisiana:  https://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2198&context=lalrev

"The definition of the term 'natural child' in Louisiana law has remained the same since the Code of 1808, which provided:

'Illegitimate children who have been acknowledged by their father are called natural children....' "

by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (733k points)
selected by Lance Martin
Thanks for the star, Lance!
+3 votes
He's acknowledging them as his children, despite not marrying their mother or anyone else.  He said he had 'no legitimate children.'  This may be partly to head off any other paternity claims against his estate.
by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (733k points)
Are these then his illegitimate children? What does 'my natural children' mean in this context? At the time of birth, the woman's husband was still living. Do you have expertise in these area or just reading it as I am?
He calls them his "natural children" which often, and clearly in this case, means "illegitimate."  Sometimes you will find "natural children" used to mean biological children as opposed to adopted or step-children with no connotation of illegitimacy.
So, the question remains who is the biological father?
I think 'natural children' indicated he believed he was their biological father, and it also fits the meaning of illegitimate, as Kathryn said.  I have no special expertise.  It would be pretty cool if DNA settles it 200 years on.

ETA - With the husband still alive makes it even more sense.  If Martin didn't bequeath his estate to them, the husband would probably sue the estate.  Presumably, the husband would have to raise the children.  Then he'd have to prove the children's claim, which would involve his wife admitting her behavior in public.  Martin just did the right thing in the end.
It says she's a widow, so her husband probably died when she was fairly young and she hooked up with Martin Camersac. This really wasn't all that uncommon. There's actually a good reason why they would have 4 children without getting married. Widows used to have certain rights to the estate of their deceased husbands that ceased when they died or remarried, so if a widow happened to have a really good life interest in an estate, sometimes they would make do. This is a more extreme example, but not the first time I've seen it.
Yes, she was a widow at the time, her husband dying in 1797. The will was written in 1817.

The children in question all born 1786-1793.

Though I would not rule out the fact that perhaps her husband was off trading furs and never home, it seems more like a case of Martin being a close friend of the family, and a bachelor.

If he had property to pass on, perhaps this is how he did it. To his friends family, by 'adopting' his friend's children.

I guess the only way to know for sure is a DNA test, but I was hoping someone with experience in customs and wills of the time might be able to shed some light.
Since the kids had been registered as legitimate, it's very odd to bastardize them in that way at that stage, as it serves no legal purpose.

But perhaps he thought confession was good for the soul.  Dying people sometimes think the truth should be told while they have the chance, even if it won't do anybody any good.

But it would be quite bizarre to declare his legatees bastards if it wasn't even true.
The reason for being so explicit about everything is probably just to establish the cause for the legacy. If he had other potential heirs, there's a chance that they would contest the will if there was no reason given for the legacy. The important thing about wills is to make the intent clear, and it's very usual for causes of legacies to be cited like "out of natural affection" and "my loving brother in law." If there's a relationship, to a legatee, it's important to say what it is. Given the terminology he uses, it sounds like he had some legal education or used a decent lawyer, so it's probably not in there just to stir the pot or anything. Well, if the first one was born in 1786, Lebleu was 64 at the time. With a 27 year age difference, it's probably not a love-marriage.

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