Bequests: Create history, make a bequest

A bequest carries your past into our future. We invite you to become a member of the Jessie Webb Society

The RHSV established the Jessie Webb Society to honour those who bequeath funds to us. If you make the decision to leave the RHSV a bequest in your will there is no obligation to notify us, however, we’d love it if you did so that we can acknowledge your generous gift now and invite you to enjoy the Jessie Webb Society and its benefits.

Receiving a bequest is an enormous privilege and we would be proud to be acknowledged as one of the custodians of your legacy.

A bequest to the RHSV enables you to make a contribution that you may not have been able to during your lifetime, and, a bequest of any size makes a real difference to our work. A bequest can also acknowledge the important role that the RHSV has played in your life.

Your bequest allows the RHSV to invest in the future by enabling us to undertake special projects that advance the vital work we do in preserving Victoria’s history. 

The Society has had wonderful bequests in the past that have allowed us to make our collections accessible through digitising our unique Pioneer Register, indexing the on-line Victorian Historical Journals, restoring significant original artworks, funding prizes and, just as vital if more prosaic, building our new website and funding our database. These projects will enable future generations to access the history which we all value.


Who was Jessie Webb (1880-1944)?

In 1909 Jessie Stobo Watson Webb was not only an original RHSV member (membership No. 30) and the first woman but she also provided rooms in Block Arcade in which our first meeting was held. She was a passionate historian and a true individual who lived by her own rules. Graduating from the University of Melbourne with first class honours in history and political economy, she became the third woman appointed to the University teaching staff when she joined its history department as an evening lecturer in 1908. She and her friends exemplified the ‘new woman’: intelligent, emancipated women who led rich intellectual lives. She spent 7 months trekking from Cape Town to Cairo in 1922 and thence to Athens where she spent eight months at the British School of Archaeology which had a huge influence on the rest of her life. She was an alternate Delegate to the League of Nations, travelled through outback Australia in 1926 in a Baby Austin 7 and returned to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East in 1936 for one last historical tour. She was a founding member of many academic clubs and associations and lived her life in the pursuit of education and adventure.

We want to honour Jessie’s legacy, and her impact on the RHSV which is still felt over 100 years later, by naming our bequest society after her. The Jessie Webb Society, like its namesake, is there to make a difference and its members understand the power of a legacy.  

We honour all who contribute to society as a whole and who take the time to become involved in organisations like ours, who are passionate about our country’s history, and endeavour to preserve it for future generations.

By leaving a bequest to the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, you are writing yourself into history.

“My bequest to the Jessie Webb Society is made in acknowledgement of the enduring value and worth there is in the study of history. I am pleased to provide support for a discipline that gave me not only many years of enjoyable employment, but also enduring friendships, and opportunities to contribute to an understanding of our past. I am proud to think that, through the Jessie Webb Society, my achievements can be of benefit in the future. That, surely, is what ‘history’ is about.”

Dr Gary Presland FRHSV


“As Victoria grows, we mustn’t forget our heritage in records, stories, and historical places and figures. If we neglect the past, we lose our soul; history provides the links and stories that give our communities meaning. The RHSV has been collecting, saving and publishing those stories for over 110 years.

By leaving a bequest to the RHSV, I know I’m helping secure their vital work in protecting Victoria’s heritage, and the stories and histories of its communities, into another century.
Jessie Webb loved the past but saw to the future: We can all contribute to the goal of preserving the stories and records of Victoria’s history long into the future. One of the best ways is to leave a bequest to the RHSV Foundation, which is what I intend to do.

The success of the RHSV depends upon the generosity of people like you and me. If we value the past, we must protect its future.”

Professor E W Russell FRHSV


Find Out More

If you have any questions about leaving a gift in your will to the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, please contact your solicitor or our Executive Officer on (03) 9326 9288 or The RHSV can provide you with information on wording your bequest (see below) or adding a codicil (downloadable here as a PDF or as a word document) to your existing will, however, we do stress that you should always seek legal advice regarding your will. Any information that the RHSV provides does not constitute legal advice and you should obtain legal advice only from a qualified solicitor.

If you would like further information or wish to notify us of your bequest, please email us here.

Making a bequest is an extraordinary act of generosity. By making a bequest to the Royal Historical Society of Victoria you can support the development and nurturing of current and future historians and ensure our collection continues to grow and to be accessible. As custodians of this important collection, we have a responsibility to maintain its legacy.

There are several gifts that you might consider leaving to the RHSV. We are happy to discuss with you any special areas of interest. Your bequest can be untied or it will be used solely for your nominated purpose.

A share of your estate

Known as a ‘residual bequest’, it is a percentage of what remains of your estate after all other gifts and expenses have been paid. One of the advantages of this gift is that it won’t be affected by inflation as its value will change in line with the value of your estate. This means you’re less likely to need to amend it in the future.

A specific sum

This is a gift of a specified dollar amount. It is worth remembering that the effects of inflation may reduce the value of this kind of gift.

A specific item

It could be something valuable such as an antique, painting, property, shares or an insurance policy.

A reversionary gift

This gift allows you to leave your estate to your loved ones while they are living, but after they pass away the share you intended for the RHSV will pass to us.

Amending an existing will?

Of course, you may already have made a Will. You can add the RHSV by completing a codicil and keeping it with your current Will. A codicil is a document on which changes or additions are made to an existing Will and must be read in conjunction with it. A Codicil Form can be downloaded here as a PDF or as a word document.

How to word your will

We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice from your solicitor or financial adviser in arranging a bequest. To include a gift to the RHSV in your Will all you need to do is to provide your solicitor our full legal name (Royal Historical Society of Victoria Inc) and registered Australian Business Number (36 520 675 471).

The following wording may be used as a guide:

‘I bequeath, free of all duties the residue or (percentage) % of the residue of my estate; or the sum of $(amount); or (specified items) to the Royal Historical Society of Victoria Inc (36 520 675 471), in aid of that charity and for its general purposes, with the written acknowledgement of Royal Historical Society of Victoria Inc to be accepted by my executors as a full and complete discharge.’