Ramsden’s Will and Probate
Ramsden had left a will, naming as his executors his employees Matthew Berge and Edward Pritchard. A romantic story tells how this document was dampened by the tears of those reading it, then charred as it was put to the fire to dry. This nice tale is countered by the two copies and explanation now in the National Archives.1 The original (copy ‘A’) had been written by Ramsden. The day after his death Berge produced the will and dictated it to James Allan and Pritchard who, standing together, each wrote copies. Allan’s copy (copy ‘B’) was given to the Dollond brothers. Berge said that sitting alone on 10 November, he made another copy from Ramsden’s original, and it was this which had been accidentally laid on a wet plate on the table and when he held it to the fire to dry, had been slightly burnt at the bottom, rendering the last eight lines illegible.