Where can I find P.T. Barnum's will?
June 15, 2013 12:29 PM   Subscribe

According to an article in the July 14, 1946 Sunday Morning Star (of Wilmington, Delaware), P.T. Barnum had his 53-page will published as a book in 1891. Can it be found anywhere online?
posted by Flunkie to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have not yet found an online scan, but this Google record looks like the right document.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:19 PM on June 15, 2013

I can't find the will itself anywhere online, but there's a book called "Ancient, Curious and Famous Wills" that has a few tidbits (starting about two-thirds of the way down this page). Excerpt:

The Probate
Court of Bridgeport, Connecticut, will, on request, furnish you with a copy of his will; it would seem that printer's ink is used by Barnum's executors, following the testator's example, for the will is in the shape of a booklet containing fifty-three pages, and is the most lengthy testamentary document which has come under our observation. The legacies and gifts under it exceed one hundred and fifty in number and several million dollars in amount. Then
are added to the will, eight codicils of unusual length and of great particularity. The will itself is dated the 30th day of January, 1882, the last codicil, the year in which he died, 1891.

And this interesting codicil:

By the first codicil, a diamond stud is given to his wife, Nancy, to be hers absolutely : ntimerous bequests are made, many of them for charitable purposes, including an endowment fund for "Bamum Institute" for scientific purposes. The testator states, that having no son, the name Barnum will not be continued, and on condition that his grandson, CHnton [sic] H. Seeley, will call himself Bamum Seeley, and take legal steps to change his name, he is to receive $25,000.
posted by amyms at 1:25 PM on June 15, 2013

Unfortunately it looks like there are very few copies. Here's a link to another bequest in the will, on the publication of religious documents. You could try to contact the P.T. Barnum Museum as well-- maybe they have it digitized?
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:28 PM on June 15, 2013

A summary of the will & its codicils is also available here:

posted by woodman at 2:01 PM on June 15, 2013

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