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Anna's mark on one of the document's in Josiah's probate file

Her dower thirds of Josiah Lovett's real estate included part of their house:

"the westerly part as far east as the great doorway...from ye bottom of the cellar to ye top of the garret with a priviledge of the doorway on the front of the house and of the stairway from ye lower room into the chamber and garret, and also the one half of the arch in the eastermost (part of the house, crossed out) and allso and liberty to pass to and from it as she will have occasion and ye NWerly part of the barn to wit from the NW post southerly to ye next post 10 feet & allso liberty to improve one half of the floorway & liberty to pass to and from sd barn over the other two thirds as occasion shall serve & liberty to pass over sd 2/3 from her part of ye house to and from ye road as she shall have occasion. & Likewise liberty to fetch sea muck of the beach which belongs to the other two thirds. We have also set to sd widow one cow lease & a peice of land called Brackenberries & also one cow lease in Snake Hill Pasture."1

     Anna showed signs of what was likely dementia in 1790. On 14 March 1798, at the request of her family, she was interviewed by the selectmen of Beverly and declared "non compos mentis," a designation indicating she couldn't handle her own affairs and needed a guardian to oversee her "estate."2 This was already being done by her son Samuel. He was officially appointed on 28 March 1798, and over the years gave an account of his time and expense to look after her and her homestead. This began in 1790, when he was 21. He must have been a mariner by then, mentioning that he was then kept home from the sea. Anna lived fifteen years in this condition. The last account of her guardianship was in 1804. Although an 1805 burial record for widow Anna Lovett in the Beverly town records says she was 81 (Anna [Woodbery] Lovett was 76), these must be the same person given the circumstances. Her cause of death was "decline."
     This family name in the 17th and early 18th centuries is spelled variously depending on the document and the gravestone. There were varying degrees of literacy, even among town clerks and ministers. Spelling was fluid and often reflected phonetics, but the prevailing spelling amongst family members decidedly "Woodbery." Since there is no ambiguity about this, I see no reason not to use it. I do so with the note that other spelling were used, uncommonly by Woodberys themselves, more commonly by others. This spelling eventually shifted to "Woodberry," and now "Woodbury" is favored. Anna Woodberry - Anna Woodbury

children of Anna Woodbery and Josiah Lovett:

i. Hannah b. 1 April 1751
ii. Anna b. 21 October 1752
iii. Lucy b. 1 April 1756
iv. Mercy b. 29 April 1758
v. Josiah b. 1 January 1762
vi. Eleanor bap. 4 March 1764
vii. Jonathan b. 17 May 1766
viii. Samuel b. 10 June 1769

vital records sources: Anna's birth and marriage come from Vital Records of Beverly, Massachusetts to the Year 1849 vol. 1 (Topsfield:1906) 372, and ibid, vol. 2 (Topsfield:1907), 342. Her burial is in ibid, 492.

1. Essex County Probate case file 17101.
1. Essex County Probate case file 17143.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted