Draft of the Will of James Smithson
Creator: Smithson, James 1765-1829
Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7000, James Smithson Collection, Box 2 (Documents)
Usage Conditions ApplyThe Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The last will and testament of James Smithson, which he wrote on 23 October 1826 while living in London. Smithson wrote his own will, apparently without professional legal help, which was very unusual for an individual of his economic stature. This image is of a draft copy and contains the same language as that registered with the Public Record Office in England. Smithson left his estate to his nephew, Henry James Hungerford. If that nephew died without heir, legitimate or illegitimate, then Smithson's estate was to go to the United States to found in the city of Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men. This bequest of c. $515,000 was the basis for the founding of the Smithsonian Institution in 1846.
- Smithson, James 1765-1829
- Hungerford, Henry James c. 1808-1835
Smithsonian Legal Documents
Legal document information
- Will of Smithson
- Title 20, Education
- See "Plain Advice to the Public to Facilitate the Making of Their Own Wills," which Smithson used as a reference when writing his will.
- To view a digital facsimile of the Court's version of the final three-page will of James Smithson that was submitted to the Chancery Court after his death in 1829, visit The National Archives of Great Britain web site at http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/image/Index/D168292?index=0&page=0.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7000, James Smithson Collection, Box 2 (Documents)
Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu
- Smithson Bequest
- Holographic wills
- SI, Early History
- Wills--Great Britain
Number of pages: 4; Page Numbers: 1-4