Monday, April 23, 2012

Heirs and Slaves named in 1813 Will of William Yerby - Amanuensis Monday

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is another transcription of a document copied last summer at the Library of Virginia - William Yerby's Lancaster County will dated 13 Mar 1813. While spelling and punctuation have been transcribed as accurately as possible, I have added space between the bequests to improve readability.

In the name of God Amen I William Yerby of Lancaster County and State of Virginia, In tolerable Health thanks be to God for the same and am desirous to set my house in order, as it is certain for all men once to die
First, I give my soul go God and my body to the Earth its original in hopes of a future resurection through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Redeemer
Secondly after all my Just debts and funeral expences be first paid It_ my will To dispose of my worldly Goods that God hath blessed me with as followeth,
To wit
Thirdly I give to my son Thomas Yerby the Plantation wherein he now lives and All my Land in Northumberland and Lancaster adjoining to the same Negroes to wit, Elijah, Mary ann her four youngest children Anthony Jesse Spencer Isaac, Hannah and Griffin and their future increase
Fourthly I give to my son Wm T Yerby the plantation whereon he now lives and all my land west of the road that leads from the Catton swamp to the Girls brige swamp, Negroes to wit, Solom___ Nelson, Cate, her four youngest children now in his possession Ephraim, Jane & Harry the plasterrer and their future increase, choice of a Bed and furniture one cow & Calf
Fifthly I give to my son Charles I Yerby my dwelling house and all my Land East of the road that leads from the Cabin swamp to the girls bridge swamp Negroes to wit, Richard Benjamin, Samuel, Lucy & Child, Charity, her three youngest children John and Chloe and their future increase, my still, Casks Barrels Tubs, apple mill his choice of a Horse Saddle and bridle Two choice Cows and Calves, yoke of oxen and all apparatures of the said oxen, choice of Sow and Pigs four choice hogs L___ and the appartures thereto belonging _ile my Gun_ ____ly
Sixthly I leave the [page 142] profits to my daughter margaret Towles Negroes to wit, moses or value sold to Richard Stephens for one hundred pounds. Rose her three youngest children now with her Frederick, Gilbert, nancy, Jason [difficult to read; James?], Jude and her child and her future increase one bed bed and furniture In case my Daughter Towles should have any more child lawfully begotten of her body It is my desire that my Grandson Henry W. Towles shall have one equal portion of all the property that I leave my aforesaid Daughter the income profits of when comes of age or marries with the aforesaid described children, In case my aforesaid daughter die without any such Issue It is then my desire that my Grandson Henry W. Towles to have and enjoy the whole of the property that I lent my Daughter Margaret, forever after her death
Seventhly Its my desire that all my Earthen ware __ink and China may be Equally divided between my Three Children William T Yerby Margaret Towles and Charles I Yerby Stock of Cattle sheep and Hogs
Eighthly [**] Its my ___ that the Hoes axes __ that my above named negroes Laborers with shall go with my children as my negroes them To
Ninthly I give my son Charles I Yerby the remains of my Household Goods & Kitchen Furniture that is not heretofore mentioned or may not hereafter by mentioned
Tenthly Its my desire that the balance of my Estate not heretofore mentioned or has not been bequeathed may be Equally divided between my four children Thomas Yerby William T Yerby Margaret Towles and Charles I Yerby
Eleventh If there is Two hundred Dollars in my house either in cash or bonds after my Just debts be paid I give the same to my Daughter Towles to go a the property named ---
Twelth Its my will and desire if either Thomas Yerby William T Yerby Margaret Towles brings forward any account against my Estate in any case what ever That my Exors hereafter named shall sell so much of the property named in this my will to the said child that my bring forward such a claim, as may be sufficient to discharge the claim
Thirteenth Its my will that all the property that I have heretofore Lent my Son Thomas Yerby Wm T Yerby Margaret Towles, I give it now to them ---
Fourteenth and Lastly I do nominate and ordain my Two beloved sons Thomas Yerby & Wm T Yerby Exors of this my last will and testament revoking all other will or wills heretofore made by me and acknowledging this to be my last will and testament In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this the 13th day of march 1813
__ Taylor                              William Yerby {Seal}
John Doggett
Wm Stott
Richard Cundiff
And this being done by way of a Codicil and in addition to my will Some years past Charles Ball made me a Deed of trust for three negroes [obscured line] [page 143] to pay for the aforesaid Charles Bell and named as his agent before and since that time I have paid for the aforesaid Charles Bell the full value of the property named in the Deed foresaidmentioned At the aforesaid Charles and his wife Catey's deaths the aforesaid property mentioned in the aforesaid Deed of trust is given to my son William T Yerby since that time the aforesaid Charles Bell thought that I was not as safe for the sums of money I had paid for him as I ought to be and wish to make me a Deed of Gift which was made, of the aforesaid property named in the Deed trust I have willed the aforesaid property to my children in my will In case either of my Children claims any more than I have mentioned in my will to them severally by account or any other way their claim or demand against my Estate or the property named in the Deed of trust from Charles Bell to William Yerby to secure him for money paid or that he might have to pay shall be taken out of the portion given the said Child in my will to them In witness to this my Codicil to my will I hereunto set my hand and affix my seal the 13th day of march 1813
William Yerby {seal}
Wm Taylor
John Doggett
Wm Stott
Richd Cundiff
At a Court held for Lancaster County on the 20th day of April 1813
This last will and testament and Codicil of William Yerby gent decd were proven according to law by the oath of John Doggett and Wm Stott two of the witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded, and on the motion of Thomas Yerby one of the Exors in the said will named who made oath and together with John Doggett Samuel M. Shearman Joseph Carters Jr and James Towles his Securities entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of twenty Thousand Dollars according to the law & certificate is granted him for obtaining probat thereof in due for and liberty is reserved to the other exor in the said will named to join in the probat thereof if he should think fit
James Towles cl

** Very difficult to decipher. This item appears to have been squeezed in. Perhaps an error by clerk copying original record. 

This William Yerby is not my husband's direct ancestor William Yerby whose will was proven in Lancaster County [VA] 20 April 1786. Nor is he that William's son who died in Mississippi. He is assumed to be one of the two William Yerbys appearing in Lancaster County in the 1810 US Federal Census.

The son whose name was transcribed as Charles I Yerby could easily have been Charles J Yerby.

The swamps named in the will are new to me. I was not able to locate references to them in an admittedly cursory internet search.

Finally, I've grown somewhat inured to the descriptions of human slaves as property while transcribing the documents I copied from the Library of Virginia last summer. But the eighth bequest, including the tools used by the slaves in their labors, just as the oxen's yoke and horse's bridle were included, was jarring. Never has it been clearer what being legal property meant.


     Lancaster, Virginia, Will Books, 28: 141, William Yerby, dated 13 Mar 1813; Library of Virginia, LVA Lancaster County Roll 21.  


  1. Good job!I just wish other my ancestors would be listed this way so I could know more of their story.

  2. I felt the same way (referencing your comment about #8). I had hardened myself to those things. That is, until I came across an ancestor that was part of a group of white people who would not let a group of former slaves come ashore and inhabit their county where land had been purchased for them to do so. My ancestor was one of two who headed that throng. I want to write about it and eventually I will. I've just got to get it right first.


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