If the motive behind Emma Keyse killing was money, then the perpetrator of this crime was in for disappointment. Miss Keyse was in fact quite broke.
On the 1st April 1885 reports began to fill the papers of her much anticipated probate.
“The will of the late Miss Emma Whitehead Keyse, of the Glen, Babbacombe, who was murdered by John Lee, the Butler, has been proved in the Exeter court of probate. The will is in the handwriting of the deceased and is on two sides of a sheet of foolscap. It was made on the 16th of December 1875.
The deceased was murdered on the 15th of November, 1884. It is proved by Amelia Hamilton Edwards, wife of the Rev J. Edwards, of Croft Rectory, Leominster, Hereford, the sister of the deceased: are being reserved to grant probate to George Maxwell, and nephew: the other executor Arthur Oakes Wilkinson, rennounced.
The testatrix directed that in the case of the “Glen”, at Babbacombe, which was given by her mother, was not sold previous to her death, it should be disposed of by the executors to the best possible advantage. She provided that all the proceeds £1000 should be invested, and the income should be applied for the benefit of her servants, William Discombe, and Eliza and Jane Neck. To her sister, Charlotte Baldray, Miss Keyse bequeathed a legacy of £1000, and two of her other sister’s, Mary Maclean and Harriet Maxwell, she gave her plate and various articles of vertu. She further provided small legacies for her nephews and nieces and other relations, and left the residue of the estate to Mrs Edwards.
On the affairs being wound up, it was found that the gross value of the estate was only £1079 six shillings and sixpence. Against this there were debts to the extent of £964, and after meeting these and the funeral expenses there was only balance left off £31 18 shillings and 04 pence to meet the legislation before mention. There was, however, some leasehold estate, but no real property. Mr William Burd of Okehampton, is the solicitor for the executix.
By the middle of April 1885 money was already being raised by sale of her furniture and other items in anticipation of the size of Miss Keyse’ debts coming to light:
“The sale of the effects of the late Miss Keyse, of Babbacombe, took place yesterday, when a large number of persons were present. Mr. G. Richardson conducted the sale, and the biddings were brisk and spirited”.
The following week the solicitor, Mr. Burd, had placed an announcement in the local press:
“… are hereby required to send particulars in wring of their debts, claims, or demands to me, the undersigned solicitor for the executrix, on or before the 8th day of May, 1885 and NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that at the expiration of that time the said executrix will proceed to distribute the assets of the said deceased among the persons entitled thereto, have regard on to the debts, claims, and demands of which she shall then have had notice, and she will not be liable for the assets, or any part thereof, so distributed to any person or persons of whose debt, claim, or demand she shall not then have had notice …”
You can view in PDF format Emma Keyse mother’s will and probate (left) and Emma Keyse will and probate (right) by clicking the respective images below: