Is this the Smallest Will granted Administration?

In an earlier post, I discussed Privileged Wills which had extended from Roman Law from at the time of Julius Caesar, granting a special privilege initially to soldiers, and then seamen to grant the entitlement to make valid Wills without the usual formalities.

In June 1922 there were reports that a Curious Will had been admitted to probate. In some ways it was similar to the  “tractor fender Will” discussed earlier this week.

It is in the form of a Royal Navy identification disc, bearing on one side in deeply punched letters, the name, the number, rating and the religion of the man to whom it was issued. On the other side when viewed at a certain angle some neatly engraved words are clearly visible under a microscope.

“ Everything I possess and all moneys, property due to me by Wills Wages Bank or any other sources I bequeath to my Darling Wife Alice Maud Skinner signed this day 1st FBY 1916 HMS Indefatigable Wm H. T. Skinner. Witnessed by W.H Taylor, H.J.Way.

The disc was recovered from the sea, cleaned and the words of the Will were revealed.

William Skinner was killed aboard HMS Indefatigable at Jutland in 1916. HMS Indefatigable was battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy in 1909 and following service in the Mediterranean was sunk on 31 May 1916 during the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of the first world war. Only three of the crew of 1,019 survived.

As no executor was named Arthur Skinner filed an affidavit seeking letters of administration declaring that the handwriting is Williams.  Alice had remarried and moved to Australia. Letters of administration were granted to Arthur for Alice’s benefit.

In granting letters of administration the Court accepted that the 40 words engraved on an identity disc measuring 3.8 cm in diameter were William’s last will and testament”. The total value of the property passing under the Will was 258 pounds


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