SCOTT, Sir Walter (1771-1832). Manuscript with autograph emendations, the draft of his last will and testament, n.p. [Edinburgh], n.d. [January/February 1831], 20 pages, folio (312 x 190mm), in the hand of J.G. Wood, writer, additions, emendations and cancellations by Scott with the insertion of approximately 84 words on 12 pages, original docket on verso of final blank by J.G. Wood noting that the will was extended on 2 February and signed on 4 February 1831, with an autograph annotation signed by Scott, Mackenzies Hotel, [Edinburgh], 2 February 1831, 'Upon serious consideration this D[ra]ft seems to reach the several purposes which I entertain and I will be glad Mr Wood has it ingrossed ...', stitched into a portfolio, half red roan (rubbed); with a manuscript 'Account due by Sir Walter Scott Baronet to J.G. Wood W.S.' for drawing up, engrossing and executing the will in January-February 1831, annotated by Scott with a sum for additional expenses, and an autograph instruction to Cadell 'Pay Mr Wood 12 guineas', one page, 4to, and a facsimile copy of minutes of the meeting of Scott's creditors after his death, 29 October 1832, 4 pages, folio (torn at folds), both documents stapled to front free endpaper. Provenance: Robert Cadell (Scott's bookseller, at whose house in Edinburgh he was staying during the drawing up of the will); and by descent.
SIR WALTER SCOTT'S WILL. Scott leaves his estate to his sons, Walter and Charles, and son-in-law, John Gibson Lockhart, specifying that the library, museum and household goods at Abbotsford, given to him by his creditors at a meeting on 17 November 1830, are to be assigned to his eldest son in exchange for £5,000 which is to be divided between his other children. The will mentions copyrights of those of his late works which have not been assigned to his creditors, and, foreseeing the full payment of his debts within 'four or six years' after his death, makes provision for the reversion of the majority of his copyrights, the proceeds of which are to pay off the mortgage of £10,000 on Abbotsford, any excess to be divided between his children and their heirs, advising them 'not to part with any part of this property rashly', enjoining them to continue in the 'mutual affection ... which has gone so far as to make me a happy father' and to give every assistance to the publication of the Magnum Opus, and naming Lockhart as his literary executor with the particular tasks of drawing up a 'biographical sketch', concluding the publication of his poetical works, and abridging his Life of Buonaparte, 'which may be done with a prospect of considerable advantage'.
Scott's decision to draw up his will was prompted by the meeting of his creditors on 17 November 1830, which had given a favourable report on his progress in paying off the substantial debts he had incurred in 1826 on the collapse of the publishers James Ballantyne & Co (in which he was an unlimited partner). His diary on 8 January 1831 records that he 'Spent much time in writing instructions for my last will and testament', and he went up to Edinburgh at the end of the month to execute the document. His diary on 9 February summarises his dispositions, noting that his eldest son's payment of £5,000 for the contents of Abbotsford 'is his own choice, otherwise I would have sold the books and rattletraps', and acknowledging ruefully that, in view of his continued indebtedness 'My bequests must many of them seem hypothetical'. Scott died on 21 September 1832, and his debts to the Trust were finally paid off in the following year.