Hungerford – in last will

In looking for 1830’s news items about the Hungerford family I came across this interesting article about a “last will and testament”, which is contained in a letter to the government of the USA. The newspapers are reporting from Washington DC and cite a letter that is being read to congress.

It is interesting to see that three newspapers ran the item as a good report but one newspaper called the letter a hoax.

The name Hungerford is mentioned but it looks like the name was changed to Dickerson per this will.

Jas. Smithson’s last will and testament that sets up the Smithsonian in Wash DC.

I James Smithson, son of Hugh, first duke of Northumberland, and Elizabeth, heiress of the Hungerford’s Audley, and niece of Charles the proud duke of Somerset, now residing in Bentinck street, Cavendish square, do on this 23th day of October, 1826, make this my last will and testament…

…To Henry James Hungerford my nephew heretofore called Henry James Dickerson…

In this newspaper: Carroll free press. (Carrollton, [Ohio]), 08 Jan. 1836. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.


Below are the links to the three newspapers that ran the item as a good report and a link to the one newspaper that called it a hoax.

Good reports


This newspaper calls it a Hoax

By Jose A Munoz

Retired General Motors designer who now works on subjects dealing with genealogy. I create trees using items I find in old Google News Archive newspapers and I contact other tree owners notifying them about the news item concerning their relative and send them a link to the tree I created. I post a screen print of the news item on the tree for others to copy, so that my work will benefit others. Occasionally, I will post about the tree I created or the item that I found, always with a "how to" in-bedded in the post. I want my blog posts to help others with their family trees or with their genealogy experiences.


  1. Why do you think they called it a hoax?! This sounds funny: “heiress of the Hungerford’s Audley.” I couldn’t help but wonder what in the world Audley is! Sounds like a dog or a car.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Luanne. I think the editors of that paper did not believe someone would actually give that type of money in a will… They say in their article that they searched for the names and could not find them so the will was fake… Of course the will was written in 1826 and the newspaper was in 1836 or some year like that. Who knows.
      How is your mom?
      Have a great Thanksgiving and a safe Dec holiday season.

      1. I guess there WAS fake news all along. And without the internet, so difficult to check sources, etc. Thanks for asking: she’s doing GREAT! That TAVR she had done was wonderful. She’s back golfing, etc. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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