Frances Burney’s Original Will (1839)

Frances Burney’s Original Will (1839)

Peter Sabor, McGill University, and John Avery Jones, London School of Economics

Author Biographies

Peter Sabor FRSC is Professor of English and Canada Research Chair at McGill University where he is also Director of the Burney Centre. He is the general editor of The Court Journals and Letters of Frances Burney (2011-19), The Additional Journals and Letters of Frances Burney (2015-18), and The Letters of Dr Charles Burney (1991- ), and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Frances Burney (2007).

John Avery Jones CBE is a retired judge of the UK Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) and a retired visiting professor at the London School of Economics. His publications include several articles on Jane Austen, on Henry Austen, and on legal issues in the long eighteenth century.


Frances Burney d’Arblay’s original will of 6 March 1839, housed at the National Archives, Kew, has hitherto remained unseen by Burney scholars. This article provides an annotated transcription, followed by photographs of the document. We have identified, as far as possible, all the individuals named in the will and have also clarified, in our commentary, Burney’s references to financial matters, while elucidating various obscurities and legal complications. We demonstrate that the will was drawn up jointly by the imaginative novelist Burney and her lawyer Alfred Turner: an odd collaboration, which produced a highly idiosyncratic document. We also indicate the relationship between the will and an undated memorandum written by Burney as a form of rudimentary testamentary instructions for Turner.


Burney (d’Arblay), Frances, 1752-1840; Turner, Alfred; will; testament; probate; legacy; memorandum; manuscripts

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