A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury/Extracts

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Extracts from Maury's Will. (S.) 1862.

By the grace and mercy of my blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I, Matthew Fontaine Maury, being of sound mind and healthful body, do make this my last Will and Testament.

Should I fall in the war in which my country is now, in this month of February 1862, unhappily engaged, I wish no efforts to be made by my family to recover my body. A sailor's or a soldier's burial is all, in such a case, that I desire at the hands of men. But I pray the Lord to have mercy on my soul, beseeching my Redeemer from this day to the last to strengthen my hands to fight, and to deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Should it please my Heavenly Father to let mo die in the bosom of my family, then a pine coffin, a plain funeral, and u simple burial, with an evergreen to mark the spot, will constitute the burial, the tomb and the epitaph, that under the circumstances, are most grateful to me. But whether I die in peace, surrounded by family and friends, or whether I fall in battle, I hope my wife and children will not grieve because I am gone before, but that they will be comforted, and abstain from the outward signs of mourning.

After my death, I wish the expenses of my burial and all my debts to be paid. The remaining portion of my possessions, save only the medals, I leave to my dear wife, who deserves all and more than I can give. I thank her for her example of piety and religion. I love her for her love and gentleness, and I honour myself by confessing to my children our obligations to her for all her goodness as wife and mother and friend.

My children, too, they have been dutiful, obedient and affectionate, giving me calm and comfort, for which I humbly thank them. Very precious are they to their Father's heart.

They will comfort and cherish their mother when I am gone, as they have done to both when I was living.

In token of my gratitude and affection and in memory I leave to my daughter Betty, the Kosmos Medal of Humboldt, awarded to me at the instance of that illustrious philosopher, by the King of Prussia.

To my daughter Nannie I leave the " Great Prussian Gold Medal of Science."

To my son Richard, the Gold Medal which the King of Sweden and Norway caused to be struck in my honour.

To my son John, the Gold Medal which the King of Holland caused to be struck for me.

To my daughter Mary, the " Great Austrian Gold Medal of Science."

To my daughter Eliza, the Sardinian Gold Medal.

To my son Matthew, I bequeath the Gold Medal which the Senate of Bremen caused to be struck for me, and because he is to be a Latin scholar, I leave to him the set of thirteen Medals presented by His Holiness the Pope.

I leave to my daughter Lucy, the Gold Medal presented by the Emperor of the French and the diamond breast-pin presented by the Archduke Maximilian.

All these medals were presented in acknowledgment of the services rendered to commerce and navigation through the Wind and Current Charts and the researches connected therewith.

I leave to my grand-daughter, Nannie Bell, the Gold Medal of the French Exhibition.

I leave to my son-in-law, Wm. A. Maury, a copy of all my works and of the various editions of which there are duplicates.

To my son-in-law. Lieutenant S. W. Corbin, C. S. Navy, I leave the publications of the French Hydrographical Office, which are bound in red, and were presented by the Minister of Marine.

To my friend and nephew, D. H. Maury, who has been as a son to me, I leave any article among my present effects that will be most grateful to him to have as a "keepsake." (A subsequent will designated the Medals presented to him by the Pope.)

I desire that my dear, kind, and faithful sister-in-law, Mary Herndon, shall continue to reside in my family as heretofore, so long as it may be agreeable.

To my sister-in-law, Mary Herndon, I bequeath my Hexapla Testament.

To my brother-in-law, John Herndon, I leave the walking-cane of tortoise-wood which his brother Lewis brought me from the Amazon.

To my brother-in-law, Brodie Herndon, the cane that I may use in my last walk upon earth. And to Charles, a pair of my best London razors.

To my sister Betsy and her daughter Diana I wish a ring or a breastpin of my hair presented.

Thanking all my good friends and affectionate relations for their many kindnesses, and lamenting my own unworthiness, I commend them to God's holy keeping, and my soul to His gentle mercies.

Given under my hand and seal in the city of Richmond, this 4th day of May, Anno Domini 1862.

M. F. Maury.
Robert H. Maury, Jr.
R. H. Maury,

May 1869.


Extracts from Codicil to his last Will and Testament dated 4th May, 1862.


The war has made of no effect several clauses of my last Will and Testament dated as aforesaid, in that my darling boy John—God rest his noble spirit!—is no more, and in that the books left in token of esteem and affection to my two well-beloved son-sin-law, William A. Maury and Spottswood Welford Corbin, have been lost or mutilated, or otherwise rendered of no avail as such tokens.

In writing the school-books, I was greatly assisted by my three unmarried daughters—God bless them!—and especially by my precious Eliza; and also in the torpedo experiments by my companion and friend in exile, my affectionate son, Matthew Fontaine Maury Jr.

From these two sources my present means are mainly derived, and as these four much-loved children are not established, I wish my wife to bear that fact in mind, and while always helping according to her means that one of our children that may be most in want, I would fain, when claims are equal, she should remember how these four have, in the absence of the others, wrought with me.

Should any of these my three youngest daughters be unmarried at my dear wife's death, I desire especial provision to be made for such so as to secure each one an annuity of not leas than $700 as long as she is single. With this reservation, I desire the rest of my estate, after the death of my wife and the payment of her debts, to be equally divided among our other children.

Let my Portuguese and my Danish Decorations be returned.

My dear brother, John Herndon, is no more. The London razors for Charles were lost in the war, and my walking-cane for Brodie has been worn out. It is in my heart to leave this dear friend and kinsman a more substantial memento than it is in my power to bestow. In brotherly affection and in gratitude for his friendship and his kindness, I leave him my gold spectacles, and hope that he will think of me sometimes, and, when he thinks, wear them.

I appoint my wife my executrix, and desire that she may qualify without security.