It is now possible to go online to access old Wills. One Will of particular interest is that of Helen Beatrix Heelis better known as Beatrix Potter.
Beatrix Potter died on 22 December 1943 and appointed as one of her executors her brother in law George Herbert Heelis of Appleby. His practice is today part of Arnison Heelis.
Beatrix Potter’s Will says a lot about the type of life she led. She had an estate worth £211,636 4s 10d which paid tax of £54,093. This included over 4,000 acres of land (including 15 farms and numerous other cottages) in the Lake District! Interestingly if she had died today the estate would have been measured in millions and the tax would have been nil.
Interesting points from the Will include:
1. Her house property were to continue to be let ‘at moderate rents to the same class of tenants’.
2. Her sheep flocks on her full farms were to be maintained of the pure Herdwick breed.
3. She banned hunting by otter hounds and harriers on her land.
4. All her property was left to the National Trust as an inalienable property and she expressed the wish that the Trust should let and manage the same on the same lines as she had.
5. She had at least 8 servants.
6. She gave her husband a life interest in all her royalties in her books but after his death they went to her friend and publisher Frederick Warne Stephens as did all her shares in the publishers.
7. The walled garden and wood at Outgate was given to the National Trust to be preserved as a bird sanctuary.
She desired her body to be cremated and her ashes scattered at a secret place by her servant Thomas Sawrey. He died in 1986 having kept the location secret.
A copy of the Will is attached.