Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

5 articles on this Page



i PONTYPOOL WILL CASE. VERDICT FOR DEFENDANTS. i In the High Court of Justice (Probate, Ad- miralty, and Divorce Division), on Wednesday veek, before Mr Justice Barnes, was commenced the action of Thomas Russell (plaintiff), against John Mayers, Thomas Mayers, and Sarah Russell, widow (defendants), in which the validity of the last will of the late Mr Robert Russell was in dispute. Mr Russell, it will be remembered, was a member of the Pontypool Local Board, and formerly carried on business as a coal merchant and grocer, in the town. By the statement of claim de- livered in the action, plaintiff alleged that he was one of the executors named in the will of the deceased made on the 16th December,1881 and he claimed revocation of the probate of a will of the testator dated the 4th of February, 1892, which had been granted to the defendants, claiming probate of the will of the 16th December, 1891, in solemn form of law. To this the defendants by their defence and counter-claim alleged that they were the execu- tors appointed under the true last will of the de- ceased, dated the 4th February, 1892, and that such will revoked the former will, the defendants claiming that the Court should decree probate of the will of the 4th February, 1892, in solemn form of law, and should pronounce against the •will of December, 1892. Plaintiff by his reply joined issue with the defendants, and. by way of counter-claim alleged that the will of the 4th February, 1892, was not duly executed, that the testator at the time of the alleged execution was not of sound mind, memory, and understanding, and that the execution of the said will was pfro- cured-by the undue influence of the defendants. Upon these pleadings issue was joined. The defendants having in their possession the docu- ment which was called in question, proof lay upon them to establish the validity of the will under which they had obtained probate. Mr M'Coll, Q.C., aad Mr Bargreave Dean, instructed by Messrs Le Brasseur and Bowen, were for the plaintiff and Mr Bayford, Q.C., and Mr Searle, instructed by Mr L. E. Webb, for the defendants. Mr Bayford briefly opened the case on behalf of the defendants on Wednesday afternoon, ana on Thursday morning proceeded to call evidence,. The first witness was John Mayers, one of the defendants, who was examined by Mr Searle, as follows You are living at Pontypool ?-Yes. I believe you are employed at the Glyn Col- lieries as superintendent and assistant-general manager ? Is that so ?-That is -so. Did you know Robert Rassell, the testator in this case ?—Yes, sir. You are a nephew of Mrs l&assell, his wife am. And do you live about half a mile from Robert Russell's house ?—Yes about that distance. He was formerly in business as a grocer, was he not ?—He was. But retired from business some years before his death ?- Yea. The business was carried on for him by a Mr "Williams?—Yes. Had you and your brethers-aad sisters been in the habit of visiting him for a very long time.? —We were. Was he always on faeoucUy terms with you and your family J- Yes. And did that continue down to the time of his last illness ?—Yes. Until he sent for you on the 4th of February had he ever spoken t@ you about the way in which he had left his property or not ?—He had not. I believe you did knew that a will had been made ?—Yes. But you did not know what was in that mil ? —I»dia not. Oil the 4th Feb., did your toother Tom came to you with the object of getting you to go to your uncle's houtiet-Y-es. Had he then been.attacked by his last illness ? —Yes; he had. And you yourself had helped to dress him and sat up with him ?-I think I-sat up "with torn one or two nights iby myself. Had your brother also sat with hifca ?—Yea. On the 4th February you stJ", your brother eame to fetch you ?—Yes he told me that uncle wanted to see me. < Did you go with him to your uncle's house No. il wanted to eallat home, where I changed, and went down afterwards. What time was that?-It weald be quite 21 o'clock by the time I got down. In the morning ?—Yes. Did you and your brother Tom go to your uncle's room ?—Yes. Was he in bed ?—Yes he was in bed. Did .you ask him what he wanted ?—Yes. What did he tell .yon ?—He told me to tell aunt to get the key of the safe, to find a blue envelope containing hie will, and get it out of the safe. Did he tell you whathe wanted the will for —Yes he asked me to it, as he desired to make same alterations. That's what he told -you ?-Yes. Did he tell you what <he would find it m ?— • Yes* in a blue envelope, among -some other Bid your aunt do what he told her ?—Yes. Did she bring out the blue envelope ?—Yes. What did you do ?—She handed me the will, and uncle asked me to read it. pid youiake it out ?-l am net sure whether aunt took it out of the envelope, or whether I -saw it open when it was handed to me. Well, did you read it ?—I read it. Read it ,joud "-Yes. As you read it clause by clause did your uncle tell you what he wanted altered ?—Yes, as I came to each jiame. The firat name I think he told me to strike out was that of Thos. Russell, but I am not certain upon that point. The first part you read would be, I devise and bequeath my leasehold and copyhold property and household furniture to my wife, Sarah Russell, for her use during her life so long as she remain a widow." What was done as to that ?-That was allowed to stand. Then you came to the name of Thomas Rus- sell. Was that to remain in or not ?—He said it was to be struck out. Then there was one part for Thomas Mayers ? Yes. One part for John Mayers ?—Yes. One part for Thomas Russell ? Was that struck eut ?—Yes. One part to Sarah Hiley ?-That was struck out What did he say about that ?-He said her husband had borroweasome money of him, and had not paid it back. There was one part for Ann Webb, wife of William Webb?—He told me to strike her out. Three parts for Elizabeth Pullin ?-That was reduced to one, giving her an equal share to us. What did he say as to that ?—He said he had nothing against his sister, but he did not care for her children, and he thought the property would revert to them. In the will it read that John Mayers, Thomas Mayers, and Thomas Russell were to be the exe- cutors ?—Yes. Thomas Rassell came out there also ? Yes • I may say uncle hesitated some time as to whether he should strike another brother out because he was rather wild, but ultimately consented to leave his name remain in. Was your brother Tom in the room while this was eoina on ?—Yes. Was Mrs Russell, your aunt, there too ?—Yes. All the time ?—All the time the will was read. Was anybody else in the room?—My sister was in and out of the room. Which one ?—She's not here—my sister Mary. When you had read over the whole of the will and he had told you what alterations he wanted, did you begin to write out another will ?-When I had read it over, I asked him whether it would be legal for me to do it. I had had no experi- ence, and knew nothing whatever about drawing up a will, and told him so. He told me to con- sult the old will as a guide, and to do what he told me, and it would be all right. Did you say anything about consulting a soli- citor ?- Yes; I suggested sending for Mr C. Dauucey, who lived close by. did he say when you suggested that?— He said I could do it very well, and he didn't want anyone to know the provisions of the will. Did you begin to write out the will ?-I com- menced to write on a sheet of foolscap, but after going on for some time I made one or two mis- take. and was about to interline them, when uncle said it would not do, and suggested I should send for a printed form. Who suggested that ?—Uncle. It was got, and I commenced writing on that ? Who went for the form ?-One of my brothers or sister., When the form came you had the old will before you, and did you proceed to GOpy it out with the alterations as he told you ?-Yei. Did you read it odt as you went on ?—Yes, I read it clause by clause as I went on. I asked uncle if he wished any other member of the family to be included. I asked him that half-a- dozen times, and be said No." And when you came to the number of shares to be divided what was about that ?-There were 15 at first, which were to be reduced to 9, one each for our family and one for his sister. When you were reading it was anything said about executors?—Yes, I and my brether and aunt. Tell me what was said about it ?—He said I was to strike out Thomas Russell's name, as he wished him to have nothing to do with aunt, and he told me to put in aunt's name with our two as executors. And you did so ?—Yes. Was anything said by your uncle about the executors being paid ?-He said perhaps aunt might object to paying the executors for any time they might lose, and and he thought that should go in. Did you put it in ?-Yes, I did. That was not in the old will ?-No it was not in the old will. And you say that was your uncle s suggestion t —It was his suggestion. Having the old will before you, and having copied out the new will, was anything said about. witnesses ?~zXe8 '• suggested sending for Richard Williams, his partner in the grocery business, for one. He pondered some time about the second witness, and at last he said he thought Charles Legg would be a very suitable person. i Were they sent for ?-Yes. "I Do you remember who went for them ?—I j think my sister went out for Richard Williams I am not certain who went for the other. Which of them eame first ?-Richard Williams. When Mr Williams came did you hear what passed between him and your uncle ?-They were talking about business, but I can't give you the substance of it Did your uncle tell him what he wanted him for ?—Yes to witness his will. He had made an alteration in his will, and wished him to witness it. Was anything said about the will to Williams ? —Legg was rather late in coming, being in bed, having been at work overnight. Uncle said. You can read it over to Richard Williams.' Aunt was m the room. When I came to the part about the property being for the period of her natural life or widowhood, she laughed and said" You needn't have made that stipulation." He jokingly said he did not know about that, as Aaron Harris, a neighbour not far away, might come in and hang his hat up. (Laughter.) He also said, Your mother was inclined "to get married when she was 70 years of age." (Laugh- tec.) The Judge What was the name of the gentle- man ?—Aaron Harris. Examination continued Did Legg come in ? —Yes he came in about half-past 2. Did your uncle tell Legg what he wanted him for?—Yes; after he bad made some remarks about his illness he said he wanted Legg to witness his will. I believe it was read over after Legg came ?— No. Did Legg consent to witness it ?-Yes. How about the signing of it ?-A book was got —a scrap-book I think it w«s—on which a piece of paper was put for uncle to try to sign his- name. His hand trembled so that he said he was afraid he could not write his name, He asked for a piece of paper, and I handed him the pen, but he failed, as his hand trembled so. He afterwards made his mark on the will. Did you assist him ?-Yes I guided his hand to make hia mark. And you wrote the name ?—Yes. After you had made the mark, who signed first}?—I think it was Richard Williams who signed first. And then Legg ?—Yes. These are their signatures ?—Yes. Did you iltay long afterwards ?—-I stayed some time. He complained of a pain in his bowels, and I went down to Dr Essex's surgery. I found Mr Turton, his assistant, there. Uid you take back some remedy T—xes, Mr. Turton prescribed, and the young man in the surgery made it up. ± j o How long were you with your uncle that day? —I was there till about 6 o'clock, and later in the day I returned. During :the whole of the time your uncle was giving those instructions what was the condition of his mind ? Did yoo notice any failure of his mind at all ?-I saw nothing, sir. He was as' clear in his conversation and as coherent as I am; now. The only thing was he was a little laboured; in his breathing, and could not converse as freely as he could at other times when he was up. The Judge Was the mark made by him in bed ?—Yes, sir, sitting up he was pillowed up. Further examination That was on the 4th of February, and he died on the 9th February ?—, Yes. f Between the 4th and the 9th did you see him ? —Yes, on two or three occasions. How long a time were you with him on those occasions.?—I sat up with him on the following Sunday night. Down to the last, within a few hours of his death, what do you say as to his mind ? Was he sensible ?—Yes, he was quite sensible until the night before his death, when, between 9 and 10 o'clock, I saw a little wandering. Beside you, did he see other persons ?—Yes, various people visited him. You are one of the persons charged with hav- ing procured this will by undue influence. Did you ever attempt to unduly influence him r- Never, sir. I never asked him if he had made a The Judge What did he die of ?—Dropsy. Cross-examined by Mr Dean: How far off his house do you live ?—About half a mile as near as I \^ho lived in the house with him ? Aunt and one of my sisters. j „ Which aunt ? With uncle, do you mean ? Yes.—His .wife. o -vt Did your mother live there eir* How far away ?—30 or 40 yards. That's Mrs Ma vers ?—Yes. A nd who lives with her Father. You are married, I supp°se • xes*. „ „ Any other of vour brothers married ?—Yes, Tom. How far away does he live ?-On The 1 ranch, about the same distance as I do. T you say he died of dro ?-As far as I know that was the complaint. He was tapped. What brought.on the dropsy ?-I don t know. Fm not a doctor. I know that. You're a collier. Wa«n t the dropsy brought on by drinking ?-I cant say. Wasn't he given to drink ?-He used to drink, but he wasn't a drunkard. I dare say he drank beer or liquor every dayi but he was not a drunkard. 0 Did he drink more than was good for" Not that I know of. When did he take to his bed ?—About three months before his death. Did you see him there from time to time r Yes. Did you learn that the doctor had forbiddea him all stimulants ?—No, sir. Will you swear that.?—I swear it. Dr Essex is in court. I'll ask you to be careful vT yS? ^swer this question-—Yes, sir. Dr Essex was the medical attendant r xes, sir. Did Dr Essex forbid him all stimulants ?-Not that I know of. Have you ever seen your aunt feeding him with a feeding bottle containing brandy and milk?—Yes, brandy and milk or whisky and milk. Did you not know that that was contrary to Dr Essex's orders ?-No, sir. Did you know that he had lost all power over his urinary organs ?—Yes. To what do you attribute that?—I don't.know, He was on very friendly terms with his wife and all the rest of his family ?- Yes. Was he on friendly terms with his own rela- tions ?—Yes I think he was, with the excep- tion of one sister. Which was that ?-Thomas Russell s mother. Was he on friendly terms with Mrs Pullin ?—I don't know about friendly terms: she visited him. You have just told me he was on friendly terms with his wife. When did that begin ?-I don't know, I am sure. They were friendly during his illness. I don't know if there had been any unpleasantness between them before at any time. You were constantly seeing him ?-Yes. During his illness ?- Yes And you say that he was on friendly terms with his wife during his illness ?—During the the time I was there. I can remember that in his illness he was asking her to go to him. I beg you to be careful. Is it not a fact that he had not spoken to his wife for years ?- loon t say that. Is that your answer—you swear you don't know ?—I don t know. Have you ever heard the name of a Mr Wilson ? —Yes. Is he a witness for you ? Yes. Having mentioned that name to you, do you still say you don't know ?—Know what ? That your uncle had not spoken to his wife for years ?-I don't know that they had not spoken fo;- years. When did you first know he had made a will ?— I should think about a week or two before the second- will was made. From whom did you learn that 1-1 think it was from aunt. Mrs Russell ?—Yea. Did you know that it was made by a solicitor? -I heard it was made by Mr Lloyd. He was a solicitor ?—Not at that time. Wasn't he in practice at that time ?—No. Where does Mr Lloyd live?—About as far away from uncle's as I lived. Didn't it occar to ypu that Mr Lloyd was the proper person to send for r-No; uncle would not have him sent for because he had never been to the house eince he made the first will. When did you learn that your uncle would not have Mr Lloyd to make the will ?-I know undo mentioned something about Mr Lloyd at the time. Do you know what he said ?—I can't remem- ber. I know he said something to the effect that he could not understand why Mr Lloyd had not been to see him. Did you suggest that Mr Lloyd should be sent for ?-No. Somebody did, apparently.—Yes. Who suggested it ?—I don't know, I'm sure, but very- probably it would be one of my brothers. Will you swear it was suggested ?-His name was mentioned, I can't say by whom. In reference to preparing this new will, or was it merely in reference to his having prepared the old will ?—I can't state the circumstances of that exactly. I know uncle mentioned about Mr Lloyd not having been to see him, and also that he owed him for some coals. Who owed him for coals ?—Mr Lloyd. Was Mr Lloyd's name ever mentioned at all on the 4th Feb. in reference to his being sent for to make this new will ?—I don't think it was. What time did your brother Tom come to see you ?—Between 9 and 10 o'clock. In the morning ?—Yes. What was the message about ?-He told me uncle wished to see me. And to come presently ?—Yes. Did he tell you how your uncle was ?-Yes; he told me he was about the same as he had been the day before, and that there was not much difference in him. Had you seen him the day before ? I don't think I had. It was not much information to you then if you had not seen him the day before ?-No. What did you understand by his being much the same as he had been the day before ?-Of course I was told how he was. How was he the day before ?-Of course he was weak as he naturally would be in this case. What else did your brother Tom say to you ?— Nothing else. „ And then you went down to the house r—Yes. Did you see anybody in the house before you went to your uncle's pedroom ?—No I saw no one only aunt in the kitchen as I passed through. Did you have any conversation with her be- fore you went in ?—I only wished her Good morning," and passed into the bedroom. .Did you ask her what you bad been sent for ? she didn't know what I had been sent for. How de you know ?—I should imagine so. Had you on any other previous occasion been prepared to make a will for your uncle ?-No. Not 10 years before, when he had a previous illness ?—I remember he was ill. Didn't you go down there with pen and ink prepared to make a will ?—Never. You were in the house from 11 o'clock to 6 ?— Yes I hid dinner there, and went down to the doctor's at 3 or half-past 3 for some medicine I thought your brother Tom was sent ?—I went. When was this will executed-what time 9-1 think it would be completed about half-past 1. When was it signed and witnessed ?—About 3 o'clock or just before. This was through Charles Legg being so long coming ?—Yes. What time had you had your dinner 9—It would be nearly 2 o'clock, I should think. Your unele was very weak and ill, and you sent for the doctor to see if he was in a fit state to make a will.—No; we were expecting the doctor to visit him. Did you know when he was dying ?—No, I did not. Did you know that the doctor had given him up on the 31st January ?—No, sir. You were not told that by anyone ?-No. Did you know he was three times operated upon for dropsy ?—Yes. And that tne iasc operation was on the 31st January ?-I can't say about that. The doctor flhea expressed the opinion that he oould do no more ?—I didn't hear that, but I knew his case was hopeless. He had heard some time before-perhaps a fortnight-that it was impossible for him to recover, but he did not appear to me to be in a dying state when I was there. It isn't true that you sat up with him the nicht before ?—No; I did not. Did you learn from anybody that on the pre- vious day he had been rambling and delirious ?- 2?o, sir. Not from anybody ?—No. And do you really mean to say that during the time you were in that house on the 4th of February there wasuo sign ot rambliag ?—None whatever. He was perfectly coherent during the whole of the time you were in the house ?—All the time I was there. You told us something about the key of the safe ?—Yes. Do you say that the safe was locked ?- Yes. Did it occur to you that you were not quite the proper person to make this will considering it took away benefits from other relatives and gave them to your family Y-It did. In re-examination,witness repeated his former statement to the effect that he advised his uncle to have Mr C. Dauncey sent for. Thomas Mayers, another of the defendants, was the next witness. You are one of the defendants, a nephew of- the deceased, and a brother of the last witness ? -Yes. Were you on intimate terms with your uncle .and aunt ?—Yes. During his last illness were you and your mother, your sister, and brother constantly in the house attending upon him and assisting your aunt ?—Yes. And did you stay up with him from time to time ?—Yes. On the 3rd February were you sitting up with him ?—Yes, sir. i hat was on the Wednesday night ?—Yes. Did you go away on the Thursday morning ? —Yes I went home. After you went home did you get .a message from somebody telling you that your uncle wanted to see you ?—Yes. Did you accordingly go iback ?- Yes. About what time did you go there ?—About 9 o'clock or a little after. Did you see him at that time "I-Yes. Do you say he was clear and sensible at the time ?—As sensible as I am at the present time What did he tell you he wanted you for ? He told me to go and fetch John. What did you say ?—I asked him if there was anything I could do for him. He said, No Tom go and fetch John." Did you go down to the colliery and fetch your brother ?—Yes. Did you go back to the house with him ?—Yes sir we both went back together. On going into your uncle's room did he say something in reference to a will {—Yes when we got into the room he told me to ask aunt for the key of the safe. I asked her for it, and she came and opened the safe herself. Did you hear him giving any directions Y^g sir. What did he say to her ?—He told her to open the safe and she'd see a blue envelope that the will was in. h When it was brought out what did he say was to be done with it ?-He told John to read it over. Did John read it over ?—Yes. When it was read out did your unele say any- thing ?—He told John as he was going through the names to strike out each as he asked him Do you recollect Russell's name being men- tioned ?—Yes. What did he say about Russell, as far as you recollect ?-He said Thomas had asked him for a sovereign for his son up the country, and hadn't paid it back. And his name was to be struck out r—Yes. What did he say about Sarah Hiley ?-He said her name was to be left out, as her husband had had the loan of money of him, and hadn't re- turned it. Sarah Ann Webb and James White's names were mentioned. Did he say anything particular about them ?-No nothing particular. Mrs Pullin's name was then mentioned. Do you recollect what was said ?—He made remarks about her children, and said he did not see why he should leave anything to her boys, a8 they had never done him any good. Did he say she was to be struck out, or altered or what ?-He said she was to be reduced to one part instead of three. What did he say to John about making a fresh will ?-He told John he wanted him to make a fresh will, and afterwards John began writing on a piece of foolscap paper. Did you hear John saying anything about a solicitor ?—Yes he mentioned Mr Dauncey's name. What did your uncle say to that ?—He told John he didn't wish anyone to know his business, but to keep it secret. Did John get a piece of paper, or was there 9 paper there ?—Yes. And did he begin to write ?—Yes. A form of will was sent for. Who sent for it ? -John made a few mistakes in writing one out, and then he told me and John to go and get a printed form, and I went myself for the printed fprip. Do you recollect anything being said about the difference between nine parts and fifteen parts ?—He said to John that ne wished to give nine equal parts instead of 15. And John wrote the will out ?—Yes, sir. Do you recollect what was said about wit- nesses?—He told us to send for Richard Wilii'uns for one. and then after he spoke about j Ghas Legfc, and we sent f;>r biui. ] WillhtBiB came first ?—Yes. After Williams carne) IJêgg, we hear, did not j come for some time. Va? anything done then; about reading the will ?—The wili was read over in my presence, uncle, Richard Williauis, and John being also there. Was your mother there at the time ?—She was in and out of the room. It was after dinner Legg came ?—Yes. Did Williams come after dinner too ?—We had had dinner before Williams came. When Legg came, did you hear your uncle speak to him ?—Yes. What did you hear him say to him ?-He said Good day, Charles," and Mr Legg said, Good day, Mr Russell," and asked him how he felt. He said he felt middliug, as well as he could ex- pect. He then said, Charles, that's my will I want you to sign it." He said. All right, Mr Russell." Do you recollect anything being done about an attempt to sign his name ?—Yes. Give us your account of that.—He said, I'm afraid I shan't be able to siga my name," and asked for a piece of paper. It vas got, and put on a book, but his hand shook very much, and he couldn't make any sort of a form of it. so he asked John to sign his name, and he put his mark to it. Do you recollect the will being read in your aunt's presence ?—Yes. Was that after it was signed cr before it was signed ?-I don't remember I? At any rate, it was read in iier presence. Yes, it was. Do you recollect anything occurring when the will was read over ?—Yes, sir. What was it ?—She made a remark about the way the property was put for her, and be said something about Mr Aaron Harris coming there and hanging his hat up. (.Laughter.) I want you to tell us very particularly what led him to make that remark ?-I can't say posi- tively, but she said he had no need to put it in the will as he had. Put what in the will ?—About its being during her natural widowhood." Then he said something about somebody hang- ing his hat up ?—Yes. Mr Aaron Harris. Re said, Your mother wat- ab<"ut getting married when she was about 70 years of age." (Laughter.) Did you remain with him that night ?—No, sir, not that night. Did you stay up with him after that ?— Yes on the Saturday night. Both on the 4th and on the Saturday night v&s he clear in his mind ?—Yes, sir he was. /You are accused of having used undue influence to get this will-had you anything whatever to do with it ?-No, sir not at all. Cross-examined Had you sat up with him on the 3rd, the night before the will was made ?— Yes, sir. What time did you get to the house on the 3rd ?-It might have been from 8 to 9 o'clock. Do you say he was perfectly sensible that night ?—Yes, sir perfectly. And perfectly sensible on the 4th ?—Yes. You say that when the will was made he talked as easily and sensibly as he had ever done ?— Yes. He died on Tuesday night about 7 o'clock ?— Yes. What day of the week was this will made ?— Thursday. That was the 4th ?—Yes. He was perfectly sensible up to what time do you say ?—Monday evening. Who is Williams ?—His partner in the grocery trade. What is he beside that ?—My brother-in-law. He married your sister?-No, sir. I married his sister. Did you give your uncle brandy ?--No, sir. Or whiskey ?—No, sir. Do you know who gave him brandy or whiskey? —Yes, sir. How much would he drink in a day ?-I can't say exactly how much the quantity would have been. I have seen aunt feeding him from a feeding bottle. Did he take a pint or a pint and a half of brandy in a day?—He wouldn't take much more than half of that in a week. That's what you've been told ?—That's what I've seen when rve been there. Do you know whiskey and brandy were for- bidden him ?—No I know the doctor said he was to take it. Did you hear him sayingso ?-i heard that he had said so. Mrs Russell said the doctor had said be was to take stimulants. That was Dr Essex, I suppose ?—I can't say whether it was Dr Essex or his assistant. And she followed those instructions ?- Yes. Did he seem sleepy or drowsy at this time throughout the week.—I didn't see him any any different than I had before. Did you know he had been given up by the doctors ?—No, sir; I did not. Richard Williams, grooec, Tranch, Pontypool, said he formerly carried on bu3iue8s in partner- ship with the deceased, who was senior partner. Until the4th February, when he was sent for, he had never been spoken to by the deceased on the subject of his will. He was in the habit of see- ing a good deal of the deceased during his ill- I ness, sometimes twice a day, and was always on friendly terms with him. On the 4th February he received a message at about two o'clock ask- ing him to go down to Mr Russell's house. When he got there, he saw John and Thomas Mayers in the room with Mr Russell, who Was in bed. Mr Russell told him he wanted him to witness his will, as he supposed it had to be done. Witness assented, and when Mr Legg came the same request was made to him Tes- tator failed to write his signature, and made his mark, John Mayers holding the tip of the pen. During the time witness was there testator ap- peared quite sensible, and as far as he could see he made the will of his own aoeord Chas. Legg, rman at the G13,n Colliery, deposed to rcweiving a message to go to testa- tor's house, and arriving there between 2 and 3 o'clock. John and Thomas Mayers and Richard Williams were in Mr Russell's room when he got there. Mr Russell wished him "Good evening, and asked him how tie felt. He said he felt bad, and idded that he felt sorry to disturb witness from bed, as he had been working the night before. He then told witness he bad had his will made, and asked him to sign it, which he did. Witness identified the signature on the document produced as his. He did not see testator afterwards He had no doubt that Mr Russell thoroughly understood what he was doing, as he spoke just the same as be always did. Thomas Russell and Mr flew^rdine, clerk to plaintiff's solicitors, had seen him since, and he had given him the same version. Cross-examined: Witness had not the smallest doubt that testator was perfectly sound mentally and knew what he was about. He had not ex- pressed any dissatisfactiou at having had to wit- ness the will. John Mayers and witness worked at the same pit, the former on the top and wit- ness fireman down under. Cross-examined He has nothing to do with you ?—Nothing at all. 6 Sarah Russell, widow of the deceased, was next examined, and said she had been married about 40 years. She and her husband lived together down to the time of his death. She bad heard what had been said with regard' to a difference at one time between her anH hni, if. was nothing to speak of. Whatever it was, it was made up at the time or his last illness, when she attended upon and nursed him and did her best for him. There was not a missword between them. He took to his bed for about two months. She knew that a will was made on the 16th of December, but did not know what was in it. Witness was told that a will had been made, and asked deceased if it was 1n his possession. He said it was, and that it was in the safe in a blue envelope. She asked him if he bad appointed trustees, and said she hoped he had appointed steady men. To that he said he had made up his mind, and would not tell anyone who they were. He only told her he had put her all right. She remembered his sending for John and Thomas Mayers on the 4th February. He did not tell her what he wanted them ior. When they came he told her to get the will out of a blue envelope m the safe, and she did as he wished her. Witness gave evidence as to the preparation and execution of the will, but it contained no new feature. Corroborative evidence was also given by Mary Mayers. Richard Morgan, carpenter and joiner, said he kept the Wellington Inn, deceased being formerly his landlord. He was on friendly terms with the deceased, and visited him con- stantly during his illness. Witness had occasion to see him once during his illness in reference to a rumour he had heard to the effect that if the property was left in a certain way. Thomas Mayers would go to keep the house and he would be turned out. Deceased was very angry, and wanted to know where such a report came from. Deceased told him to take no notice of what he had heard, but to go back and laugh at the parties who said such a thing. Witness had discussed business matters with him, and he seemed quite sensible. Witness saw him on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and also on the day before he died, when he seemed as sensible and rational as ever. Mr Evan Jones, clerk and collector to the Pontypool Local Board, said he had known the deceased for many years. Deceased was a mem- ber of the Local Board for ten or twelve years. On the 2nd February, 1892—two days before the last yill was made—witness called on him in reference to the payment of a premium for plate glass insurance. In the course of conversion witness told him he understood that the jjj.'taer j ship had ceased, and asked whether Williams was to pay in future or he. He said "Never you mind about that; I'll pay as usual. By his direction either his niece or Mra Mayers went for the money, which was handed ovtr to W;, ness. Deceased understood all the conversa- tion, and appeared perfectly rational. Edward Moseley, hairdresser, said deceased was a customer of his for many years, and wit- ness used to shave him during his illness. He had noticed no Change whatever in his mental condition. Cross-examined Witness had been spoken to on the matter by a Mr Moses, a clerk in the office of Mr Le Brasseur, but witness told him nothing as to the case, and said he should reserve his evidence. The Rev Jesse Wilson, Primitive Methodist minister and superintendent of the Pontypool Circuit, said he was first asked to see the de- ceased early in December, nine weeks to the day he died, and from that time to the time of his death he was in the habit of seeing him fre- quently-he should think, taking the nine weeks together, on an average every other day. For the last six weeks he conversed with deceased chiefly on religious matters. At first their conversation was of a general character. After he had been visiting him four or five weeks, witness spoke to him on the subjefct of a will. He might say that the gentleman who first asked him to visit the deceased (Mr Ford, who was a deacon of his church, and also a member of the Local Board, of which the deceased was a mem- ber) told him, if he had half an opportunity, to suggest to deceased to remember his wife in the will. One day they were talking together, when witness raised the question. Deceased told him about some relative—he was not sure whether it was not a nephew-who had done him some kindness, and he had left him JE20 or JE30. He saw his opportunity, and said, I hear you have not made a will, Mr Russell." He said, That's my badness." Witness then said, "You'll surely remember your wife." In reply to that he again said, That's my business." As far as he could recollect, that was all that passed with reference to the will. Witness saw him the night before he died, and several times shortly before. He appeared perfectly sane, aud was quite clear and rational. On the Sunday afternoon before his death, witness saw Mr Russell in company with Mr Pearce. They conversed together on Scrip- tural matters for some time, and Mr Pearce sub- sequently spoke to deceased alone. Cross-examined: After he had been seeing him three or four weeks, he one day said to Mrs Russell, "I hear your husband has not made a will. Is that correct ?" She said" Yes; and if you have half a chance put in a word for me." Whether it was said in a joke or in earnest he could not say. That would probably be in the early pare of January. She mentioned it also on other occasions. He at first noticed something in Mrs Russell's conduct which led him to make inquiries. She would receive wit- ness at the door, conduct him to the room in which her husband was, and leave them together, but she afterwards said she did that so as not to disturb them. He did not remember having heard Mrs Russell say she wanted her husband to alter this will. He had been seen on the matter by Mr Le Brasseur and his clerk. (Laughter.) Witness might have told Mr Le Brasseur that deceased on the Sunday before the will was made had changed in his manner. He seemed more affected and crushed by his condition than witness had ever seen him before. ,Witness knew that Dr Esssex was attending de- ceased, but did not know that he regarded his case as hopeless. Witness all along regarded the case as hopeless. Witness heard that the doctor had given him up, but did not know whether he heard it in the house or not. He remembered having a conversation with Legg on the day of the funeral, as they were walking together to- wards the churchyard. Legg said in the course of conversation that he was sorry for having signed the will, but added immediately after- wards that he was not sorry he had signed the will, but he was sorry he had not heard it read before he signed it. That was the distinction. Witness did not remember telling Mr Le Brasseur that Legg had expressed great dissatis- faction at having had anything to do with it. He believed some of the deceased's relatives attended the funeral, but they did not go back to the house to tea. Witness did not know that the Russell family did not get notice and did not attend the funeral, and that only one family was represented at the f uneral Witness did not inquire at all as to the cause of the illness, but had heard that deceased used to drink. Re-examined: He did not remember to have seen any signs of drink ou the deceased when-' ever he saw him. George Pearce gave evidence as to visiting the deceased in company with Mr Wilson. He con- versed with deceased, who appeared quite ra- tional. This was the case in favour of the last willl the case for the plaintiff being opened by counse, calling Mrs Pullin,wbo said she was a married woman but had lived apart from her husband for the past 22 years, and was a sister of Mr Russell, whose will was in dispute. She had been mar- ried about 40 years, and was 65 years old when he died. He had not been on very good terms with his wife for the greater part of his life. For years they had not spoken or occupied the same room. He had told her so. She had often seen him, and he used to tell her about his wife. He said he could not have a comfortable home like another man. Years ago she remembered his suggesting that a grandchild of hers should go to live with him but he afterwards said it would not do for him to take him home, as he would have no fair play. Witness had been in Newport for the past few years, and whenever her brother came down he called to see her. She used to go to Pontypool to see him, but not to hip house. She went to see him when he was ill ten years ago, but was refused. She went to the door aud knocked, and a little boy came to the door. The boy went in, and came back at once and said her brother did not want to see her. After her brother got better she told him she had been there. He said he did not know anything about it. and that he should like to have seen her. Her brother's wife would not speak to her on the street, or receive her at the house. Her brother told her that when he went home after having been out the fire would be stirred out and nothing prepared for him, and he would have to get his own dinner. In June, 1891, he first spoke to witness about making a will. He said it would not do for him to make a will unless he made it to please his wife. He was taken ill in December, 1891, a fortnight or three weeks before she knew of it. Witness went te the house to see him. but Mrs Russell did not speak to her then. She went in about a fortnight afterwards to see him. She saw a niece there and her mother, Mrs Mayers, and, later on, Mrs Daniels. She remembered once calling when Mr Wilson was there. She noticed a great change in him. He was in great pain. She did not say much to him. He told her he had made a will, and said, I have put you all right, and Jim and Tom. I have put you three shares." He wandered a good deal. That would be between one and two o'clock in the day. He told her not to mention it to anybody. Witness saw him on the day of his death, but did not talk'with him then. She got no infor- mation about the funeral except from her daughter, in consequence of which she attended I it, but she was not invited. Cross-examined When she saw him on the 2nd February his breath was very bad, and she did not ask him any questions to put him about. He was as nice as when she saw him before. When she saw him in June, 1891, she asked him if he had put anything right. He said No; it wouldn't do for me to make a will." She never asked him to leave anything to her. They were not on bad terms at all. She believed she was his favourite sister he only had two. She expected him to leave her some- thing. He had many times promised to do so. He told her if he made a will that his wife did not like she would poison him. She was oppos- ing the will of 1892 for her nephews. She had been cited in the case, but had not entered any appearance to the citation. James White was the next witness. He said he had known Mr Russell ever since he was a child. He was with Mrs Pullin at his house on the 2nd February. He was weak, and it seemed too much trouble to him to speak. He said he had made a will, and had left his sister all right, and witness and Thomas Russell. He said he had left his sister three shares, and one each for the other two. Mr W. H. Lloyd, the next witness, said he was a solicitor, but was not now in practice. He lived in Pontypool, and had known the testator for many years. Witness had acted for him on several occasions when he was in practice, and since. He gathered frem testator that he was not on good terms with his wife. Some few months before he died he said he had not spoken to her for two years. Deceased first spoke to witness about making a will. The conversa- tion arose in this way-witness asked him if he had any objection to attest a will with him as one of the attesting witnesses. After the will was attested he said he would like to make a will for himself, but did not know how to do it. Witness asked if he could assist him in the matter. He said he did not know, btt would speak to him again. Nothing more was said then. They had several conversations after that about the will. He said if the will was not made to please the people about him he should have no peace, or words to that effect. He did not say who the people were about him. Witness made a suggestion which he thought oge would meet the but he would rather Dot say That it was. He thought learned counsel could imaeice what it was. Witness said the ceceai 3d could make a will to satisfy the people about him, and he could make another to satisfy h?v)fcelf. V., got a message on the 4th of December from Morgan, in consequence of which he went and saw deceased. Witness got to the house in the afternoon. When he first got there he saw Mrs Russell, he thought. She told him Mr Russell wanted to see him, she thought, about making a will, and asked him to do the best he could for her. He did not take that *8 a joke, but thought she meant it. Wit- ness saw testator in his room, nobody else being present. He told witness he had sent for him to make his will. Witness sat by the bedside, and took down his instructions. Among other things, he told witness to put down his wife for a life interest in the household furniture. Witness pointed out to him the inconvenience of that form of bequest, and suggested that he should give the furniture to his wife absolutely. He accepted that suggestion. The rest of the pro- perty was left in such a way as to give his wife the interest of it during her life or widowhood. After her death or second marriage the whole was to be sold and divided into equal parts. By his direction witness put a cross against the names of the persons who were to be executors. The document was afterwards put into an enve- lope and placed in the safe. Witness asked Mr Russell if he should lock the safe. and he said uNo." He left the eafe unlocked, and afterwards went away. Witness remembered hearing de- ceased speaking about White, who, he said, was a very quiet, hardworking young man, and was generally complimentary.




[No title]