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Historic English will uncovered

QLS CEO Rolf Moses with the historic will sent into the Society. Photos: Geoff McLeod

Retired Ingham sole practitioner Michael Dillon decided to sort through some old documents recently and uncovered a forgotten gem – an English will made in 1782.

Now aged 71 and living in Townsville, Michael closed his firm in Herbert Street after practising from 1979 to 2007. He started as a counter clerk for the Supreme Court in Townsville in 1971.

“I didn’t know what I was getting in for,” he recalled after winning four government scholarships. “But I thought ‘I’ll take it’.”

Four years later, Michael was approached by a solicitor to do his articles as a mature-aged clerk and he started at Connolly Suthers & Walker.

After completing his articles, he decided to “buy a few typewriters” and hang his tile in Ingham, doing conveyancing for houses and cane farms, succession planning and wills, and some personal litigation work.

Michael wrote to the Queensland Law Society this month after discovering the old will while sorting through some baby photos.

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“Sometime during those years, an elderly lady client gave me an old, battered enveloped which contained an English will made in 1782,” he said.

“I have no recollection of the conversation and cannot remember why she gave it to me. I did nothing with it except to put it away with my personal papers where it remained.

“During the past month, I decide to look at all my papers and photos from when I was a baby in 1952 to put things in sensible order for my children. The English will surfaced.

“I thought it might be worth a bit of money in years to come.”

So Michael had the will appraised by Gibson’s Auctions in Victoria, which has a reputation for valuing and selling rare collections.

“They told me it has no commercial value but has curiosity value because of its age, its hand writing, its intellect etc,” he wrote in the letter to QLS.

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“Even the envelope has a notation, probably made in 1913, ‘no value’.

“I don’t want to throw it away.

“I thought ‘what will I do this with this’. So I decided to send it to the Law Society.”

QLS is finding a suitable home to display the historic gem, which indeed has curiosity value.


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