The Ott heirs had been put into the position of defendants by the Cochrans, who, on being made aware that the former had commenced an action in the Supreme Court, seized the initiative and brought their own action in the Court of Chancery.

In the early years of the case--when most of the Beamish children were still quite young and Beamish Murdoch was still a toddler and Thomas B. Akins not yet born--leadership seems to have come from Thomas Akins Sr., the husband of the oldest Beamish sister, and to some extent from Andrew Murdoch, husband of the second oldest--until the latter developed severe financial problems of his own. Whether the Ott inheritance was able to provide financial support to prosecute the case, is not clear. Certainly, a few years earlier, the Beamish family, despite their inheritance, was in very severe financial straits.

"During the time the aforesaid complainants and their partner were endeavouring to pay themselves the debt the said Thomas Beamish owed them with the property of these defendants, the family of the said Thomas Beamish was in great poverty and distress notwithstanding the income of the estates left to these defendants by the said Frederick Ott." (from "Defendants Anwer," filed in Court of Chancery 15 Aug. 1804--in PANS RG 36, Vol. 16, No. 138.)