Andrew Alexander Watt of Thornhill Londonderry is probably best remembered as the man who in 1921 closed the Abbey Street distillery that bore his family name. The workers had closed the gates in protest at the level of their wages. AA as he was referred to was driven to the distillery in his Rolls Royce and demanded of the men whether they were going to open the gates. They declined to do so and he informed them that the gates would accordingly remain closed for ever. Over three hundred men lost their jobs.
Very shortly after the closure of the distillery AA moved to England and set up residence at Easton Hall, Easton near Grantham in the County of Lincoln. The property was rented from the Cholmeleys a family decimated as a consequence of their service during the Great War.
AA was to make his last will on the 18th May 1927 and he died at his residence on 11th October 1928. Probate of his will was extracted on the 8th day of November 1928. This Grant was subsequently produced in the Sheriff Court of Edinburgh and resealed in Northern Ireland. The gross value of the deceased's estate within Great Britain amounted to £904,614.3.0 and estate duty of £263,821.15.6 was paid. His estate within Northern Ireland amounted to £21,159.2.1 and estate duty of £3,294.1.3 was paid.
He appointed his sons Samuel Alexander Watt and Andrew Hubert Watt along with his friends Robert Pulsford Hart and Alexander Moore as the executors and general trustees of his will. The said two Watt brothers along with Robert Pulsford Hart and the deceased's son in law Henry Julius Joseph Stern were appointed as the Special Trustees of what was described as the Gerald Watt Fund. The executors and general trustees were each bequeathed the sum of three hundred pounds conditional upon them proving the will or acting in the trusts thereof. His guns were bequeathed to his eldest son Samuel Alexander Watt. He left his fishing rods and tackle to his son Gerald Alllingham Watt if at the time the executors were in a position to deliver same to him he was in receipt of the annuity referred to in clause 18 of the will or in the opinion of the Special Trustees fit to receive same. The balance of his personal effects were left to his Trustees upon trust to allow each of his children to select such items as they should desire. They did however have to bring into hotchpot the value of such items as against any other interest they should take under the will.
The sum of £500 was left to his sister Hester Babington and £1,000 was left to his late wife's maid Mrs Mary Gibson of Kilchoan Lodge, Kilmartin, Argyleshire. A similar sum was bequeathed to his valet Thomas Murdy. He left £100 to his private secretary and £50 to his groom, (Charles Hewardine) and his chauffeur, (Blackwell). Two hundred pounds was left to his son-in-law Henry Julius Joseph Stern provided that he acted as special trustee. The deceased's friend Robert Swan Corbett of Oakhurst Woodhay, Newbury received £300 and the aforementioned Alexander Moore was left £300 in addition to the legacy bequeathed to him as Executor and Trustee.
AA left his silver and silver plate to his eldest living son but if his sons Samuel Alexander Watt and Andrew Hubert Watt should both be alive then subject to the latter having the right to select items up to the value of £150.
The deceased's real estate was left to his trustees upon trust for his child if only one or all of his children who should be alive at the date of his death but not in equal shares. Sons were to take double the share of a daughter. A proviso to this clause states that if any of his sons should die in his lifetime leaving issue living at his death then such issue should take the share which their deceased father would have taken and if more than one then in equal shares. If however the deceased child should be a daughter then the share of AA's estate which the daughter would have taken if she had survived her father was to be retained by her trustees upon the trusts set forth in Form 7 of the Statutory Will Forms 1925 subject however to certain modifications.
If AA had not sold his property at Thornhill then he gave his eldest son, Samuel Alexander Watt the option of purchasing same together with the properties known as Silverdale, Sheepwalk Farm and Sir George's Quay for the sum of ten thousand pounds. The latter two properties were held from the Hill family of St Columb's House. If Samuel did not avail of this option then AA's second son was granted the option in his stead.
The deceased's will goes on to say that he had transferred certain shares in The United Distilleries Limited to his eldest son and that he had settled certain stocks and shares upon the marriages of his daughters Constance and Eva Violet and his sons Andrew Hubert Watt and Gerald Allingham Watt and by a settlement dated 30th September 1910 had settled further stocks funds and investments upon each of his children save for Gerald. He stipulates that as a consequence of these gifts and settlements that the following sums should be brought into hotchpot in respect of the division of his residrary estate. As to Samuel Alexander Watt or his issue £69,496; as to Andrew Hubert Watt £64,585; as to Constance £31,000 and as to Eva Violet £31,000. So far as Gerald was concerned the provisions are somewhat more complicated but effectively the relevant sum was to be £62,700 or £2,000 more if the house known as Drumberry at Shantallow was not sold by AA in his lifetime. That was where Gerald and his wife Gladys Kathleen Watt were living in 1927.
On the 16th October 1914 Gerald was gazetted as a temporary Second Lieutenant in the infantry. In a supplement to the gazette which was published some two weeks later his commission and that of twelve other individuals were cancelled. Was this related in some way to the reasons behind his father's establishment of the Gerald Watt trust?