A full-length study of the most celebrated will in English history, a will which scandalized society, forced an immediate and rare statutory curb on testamentary freedom, precipitated a Chancery suit lasting more than half a century, and was one of the inspirations for Dicken's "Bleak House". Based on the records of the court of Chancery, family papers, and a wide range of official and other printed sources, this study should be of value to scholars in a number of fields. In business, it explores the activities of the house of Thellusson, one of the biggest firms in international trade and finance in the late 18th century. As social history, it explains the place of this innovative will in the development of the law and practice of inheritance and family settlement among the new rich, and discusses the motives for and effect of the legislation hurriedly enacted in response to it. As legal history, it provides an unusually detailed account of the workings of the court of Chancery in its most unpopular phase and in its most criticized sphere, the administration of an estate.
The most famous will in the world; the Thellussons; making the fortune; founding the family; a tale of three cities; property politics and peerage; Peter Thellusson's will; the first round in the Great Law Suit; the Thellusson Act; in the shadow of the will - the first generation; in Chancery - managing the fund; in Chancery - managing the estates; the shadow of the will - the second generation; escaping the clutches of the hungry sloth; the final round; spending the fortune.