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These are the document series MOOC 12 volumes 1 to 35, part of the Weeskamer or Orphan Chamber archive [2]. These deeds were drawn up for the Weeskamer and signed by the widow or widower as a guarantee of the inheritance of the children of the deceased spouse. Such a deed was required by the Weeskamer if the surviving spouse was going to retain control of the inheritance due to the children, as a safeguard in case of such spouse’s future marriage. They usually name the main party and the deceased spouse, all the children involved along with their ages, names of two guarantors and the details of the contract [3]. The surviving deeds date from 1731 and there is a complete sequence up to 1798. These deeds were also drawn up in earlier years [4], but they appear not to have survived from before 1731.

As a bonus, many of these documents also have little marginal notes made during the lifetime of the document. These notes may record that the widow or widower has remarried and give the name of the new spouse, or that a farm, name given, has had its mortgage cancelled and a new mortgage entered into, that one of the guarantors has been replaced, that one of the children has married and therefore taken up their portion of the inheritance, or simply come of age – or in fact died, their portion being then allocated among the surviving children.

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