Friday, September 16, 2011

Will of John Meredith, 1830 - Friend of Friends Friday

This is the part of a series of transcriptions and abstracts of records involving slaves that I copied at the Library of Virginia during my summer research marathon. My husband's 3rd great-grandfather John Meredith wrote a his last will in 1830, before the birth of his last child, William Vincent Meredith. He named his wife, one adult and two minor children, his brother and two young slaves, Henry and Maria.

From Lancaster County (VA) Will Book 28, pages 327-328 (LVA Film #21)
     In the Name of God Amen I John Meredith of the County of Lancaster and State of Virginia being at this time in tolerable health and of Sound mind and knowing the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death do make and ____ this instrument my last will and testament revoking all others that I have heretofore made -
1st. It is my will and desire that my loving wife Ann Steptoe Meredith have and enjoy the use of all my estate both real and personal during her Single life for the purpose of Supporting maintaining and educating my younger children Margaret Maria and Thomas Wm. Meredith and Such other child or children as it may please God to bless me with by her Should however my relations think it best on Consulting with my said loving wife to Send them out to School or otherwise to take care of them, then and in that case instead of her having the use of my whole estate, She Shall have the use of one third of the Same during her natural life for it is my desire not to leave her worse off than I found her but rather better, She has been and continues to be, a most affectionate wife, as as well as mother to my children --.
2nd. I give and bequeath to my Son Thomas Jas. Meredith the plantation on which I live my negro boy Henry and my negro Girl Maria to him and his heirs forever any thing in the first item as above to the contrary notwithstanding, but he is not to have the possession of the said plantation till the Single life of my Said loving wife should terminate or the changes take place as above mentioned, he is however to take possession of above named Negroes as Soon after my decease as may be --.
3rd. The balance of my estate (in all cases my Just debts first to be paid of every description) I desire may be equally divided between my two younger children the Said Margaret Maria Meredith and Thomas Wm. Meredith and Such other child or children as I may have by my said loving wife --.
Lastly I hereby appoint my said loving wife Ann S. Meredith my brother Joseph Meredith of Totuskey Bridge and my Son Thos Jas: Meredith of the Same place my Sole Exors. To this my last will & testament. In Testimony whereof I have hereto Set my hand & affixed my Seal (the whole being written by my Self) this 9th day of July in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and thirty --.
Jno. Meredith {S.S.}
At a Court held for the County of Lancaster on the 16th day of June 1834. This last will and testament of John Meredith decd was this day produced in open court, and being proven to be wholly in the proper hand writing of the Said decd by the oaths of Addison Hall & Ralph Edmonds two respectable witnesses was ordered to be recorded.
Teste,  Benjamin M. Walker cl.
Notes: I have not transcribed the estate records of John Meredith yet. There were other slaves named in later records. I have not researched Meredith's son Thomas James Meredith's estate which would have been recorded in Baltimore, Maryland. It is not clear whether the slaves Henry and Maria remained in Lancaster County (probably being rented to local land owners), moved to Totuskey Bridge (Richmond County, VA) where Thomas James Meredith was living, or were sold. I did not find record of such a sale in Lancaster County records. 

This is the first will I have transcribed where provisions were made for removing the children from the widow's care. In this case the children named were not her natural children, but the children of Meredith's previous wife, Ann Currell Lee Towles Meredith. Meredith had been married a year and a half when he wrote this will. The children did, in fact, remain in her care until her death in 1835. 


  1. It's interesting how the will addressed a complex family situation.

  2. Susan,
    That is really interesting that there was a "debate" about where the children would be best off. I guess I'm glad to read that they stayed with their stepmother -- it says something about her.


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