Succession of Andrew Burke

To showcase our new digital images, we chose a single court case, more or less at random -- our only criteria being that the case be short and that it be in English. The one that came to the surface is the Succession of Andrew Burke (Court of Probates, 1807).

We know very little about Mr. Burke, other than that he died on March 4, 1807, and that he was a merchant in partnership with James Johnston. In 1805, he is listed as residing at 11 N. Levee Street. His succession tells us that he died intestate, leaving his wife, Henrietta, to administer the settlement of his estate. Her petition to the court notes that he left both a "considerable personal estate," including real estate (and slaves) in the Territory, and considerable debts and demands against that estate.

This succession is unusual, in that it includes an inventory of Burke's estate. Usually, in the Court of Probates, inventories were filed separately from the succession itself.

Burke's inventory tells us a bit more about him and his lifestyle, detailing the contents of his home, valuing his five slaves (including a mother, Susan, with "an infant at the breast, small and sickly"), and listing the notes and accounts held by the deceased. The court ordered that Burke's assets be sold at public auction to pay his debts.

Andrew Burke, Henrietta Burke, and the firm of Johnson and Burke were involved in additional litigation in the Territory of Orleans; additional references to these names can be found among the records of both the Superior Court, the County Court, and City Court.