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Guide to the G.M. & A.W. Speir Records on the Estate of William Payne
1842-1888 (bulk 1873-1888)
 MS 3057

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Ariana Heinsdorf

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 13, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical / Historical

William Payne (1811-1873), was born in Aylsham England and moved to New York where he was a successful merchant tailor. He and his wife, Jemima Payne, resided at No. 324 West 18th Street, Manhattan, New York. William Payne died on 31 July 1873 designating Jemima Payne as executrix. William Payne had a previous marriage to Sarah Payne who died in 1860. William, Jemima, and Sarah Payne are all buried at the same plot in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

In addition to the properties in New York City he also owned a farm in Monmouth County, New Jersey and land parcels in New York State and Michigan. Payne's will designated specific sums for several relatives, some of whom resided in England. The sales and auctions of his assets, along with the procedures to disperse the proper amounts to relatives domestically and abroad, added to the complexity of settling the estate. The estate was settled in 1885, 12 years after William Payne's death.

Gilbert M. and Archibald W. Speir were New York based lawyers and had a law firm that was once located at 49 William Street and later moved to 42 Wall Street. They represented Jemima Payne as her probate attorneys and in court cases related to the estate settlement. One well-documented case was against James Sutherland, who had familial ties with the Paynes, regarding an ownership dispute of a 29th Street rental property. William Payne and James Sutherland were co-owners of the building at one point, but there are papers showing Payne later bought Sutherland's portion from him.

William Payne's relatives in England included a brother James Payne, whom predeceased him. At the time of William's death, he was the designated executor to James's estate, which had not yet been finalized. Although James Payne resided and died in England, Gilbert M. Speir took over as administrator of his estate after William Payne's death.