The story of Keats's financial embarrassments begins with the will of his grandfather, John Jennings, dated 1st February, 1805, five weeks before his death when from the shaky signature one may judge he was already a dying man. He employed, not a lawyer but a land surveyor, Joseph Pearson of Edmonton, to whose amateur drafting the uncertainty of the terms of the bequest to his son, Midgley, and the consequent Chancery proceedings, were due. The executors of the will were Alice Jennings, Midgley John Jennings and Charles Danvers of Upper Thames Street, City of London.
Terms of the Will and Court of Chancery decisions
To his wife, Alice Jennings, 'two hundred pounds per year being part of the monies I now have in Bank Security entirely for her own Use and disposal--together with all my household furniture and effects of what nature or kind soever that I may be possessed of at the time of my decease.'
In 1806, observing "this will is very obscure," the Master of the Rolls directed that 'so much capital stock' should be paid to Mrs. Jennings 'as will produce her £200 a year.' Mrs. Jennings claimed the whole residue of the personal estate, viz., that a surplus undisposed by the terms of the will should be regarded as 'effects,' but this claim was not sustained: the surplus went into the general estate to be divided--according to the law at that time --between the executors. Charles Danvers disclaiming, it was divided between Alice and Midgley John and paid out after Midgley's death.
To his son, Midgley John, three thousand nine hundred pounds 'for his use during his Natural life and if he shall die without issue I then give and bequeath to his widow if living at the time of his decease the sum of £500--and the remaining part to return to my family.'
In 1806 Midgley enquired of the Court 'whether the capital will, upon his death without issue, sink into the residue of the testator's personal estate or not: and whether on his death leaving issue, the said capital will or will not belong, and become payable to, and divisible between such issue.' The Court postponed a decision until such a situation should arise.
In July 1811 the Lord High Chancellor directed that the widow of Midgley Jennings1 should retain half of the money left to him for life and____________________