Will of Samuel Williams of Cumberland County, Virginia 1823

Although the wills of Cumberland County, Virginia were filmed and are available at the Family History Library, I discovered that the image of Samuel Williams’ will was so faded that I could barely even make out his name. Therefore, I did it the old fashioned way and requested a photocopy from the county clerk’s office. Here is the two page will and transcription, found in WB 7:129-130. Samuel’s estate inventory, found on the following two pages, will be posted and transcribed tomorrow.

Samuel Williams was a slave owner, but I find the third item in his will interesting in that it sounds like his old slaves were not only to be cared for by his estate, but they were also to give their consent if they were to be sold outside the “neighborhood.” The fourth item further states that his slaves (I assume the younger ones) with families nearby were not to be sold out of the neighborhood either.

Looking at this through 21st century eyes, of course, is difficult, but it appears that Samuel at least showed compassion towards his elderly slaves and recognized how difficult it would be for younger ones with families to be separated.

I Samuel Williams of the County of Cumberland, now
old and infirm but of a sound and disposing mind do hereby
make this my Last Will and testament in manner & form
Following – First it is my will and desire that all my just
debts shall be paid spedily (sic); Secondly I Leave to my beloved
wife Mary Williams such part or portion of my Estate
during her natural life which she may think will add to
her ease & Comfort & at her death to return to my estate
Thirdly It is my desire that such of my old and
infirm slaves at my death that may not be able
to support themselves shall be provided for out of my
estate to be left in the hand of my Executors provided
no one of my Children will provide for them so that they
may remain in the neighborhood & get their
consent to go else where out of the neighbourhood in
which they now live in, Fourthly It is my will and
desire that all my estate of every description shall be
sold and upon such Credit as my Executors shall thing (sic)
most advisable. Those of my slaves that have Families
in the neighbourhood I desire shall not be sold out
of the neighbourhood so as to make a seperation (sic) the
consequences of such sale my land not lying in a
compact form I Therefore leave that discretionary with my
executors either to divide it so as to such purchases
or see the whole Intire as they may think best, How to
end that as fair and as equal division may be had
between my Children or their legal representatives after
all my debts shall be paid & my wife having taken upon
loan such part of my estate as she may choose and my
old slaves provided for as herein required the next proceeds
of all my estate to be divided among my Children or their
legal representatives hereafter named requiring each distribution
to account for in the division of the money arising from
my estate for such account as I have already given to each
of my children by way of advancement heretofore, but
if it shall so happen that any one or more of my
children shall have received more than an equal portion
they are not to be accountable for such excess the sums of
money which each legatee are first to account for in the
division is as followed, My Son Anderson Williams to the
amount £185. My son William Williams £100 to my son
John Williams £75 to son Charles Williams £75 to Reubin
Williams £ 100 To my son Samuel Williams £405. To my
daughter Polly Love £240 to my son Robert Williams £75to my son Joseph Williams £100 to my son Ben Williams
£150 It is my will and desire that, that part of my
estate in money which may fall to my son Benjamin
Williams part after accounting as my other Children do
for the amount which I have thought just and proper
to Charge each one with in order to as equal division
among them all as possible to be paid by my
executors over to my two sons Namely Reubin & Robert
Williams in trust for the benefit of my son Benjamin
and family to be i their discretion laid out in
property for the use of him and family, and by no
means subject to his wast (sic) or control to the prejudice
of himself or family but entirely discretionary with
the above named Reubin & Robert Williams during
the life of my son Benjamin Williams & at his
death to be equally divided among his Children or
their Representatives – Lastly, I do hereby appoint and
constitute my two sons namely Anderson Williams &
Jos Williams & Allen Wilson as my executors to this
my last will and testament. In testimony whereof
I hereunto set my hand and seal this 2nd day of
July 1821 —

Samuel Williams SEAL
Phillip W. Wright
Hugh Raine
Ewing Morrow
John M. Woodson

At a Court held for Cumberland County the 27th day of
January 1823, This last will and testament of
Samuel Williams decd. was presented in Court
& proved by the oath of Phillip W. Wright, Hugh
Raine and John M. Woodson three witnesses Thereso
Ordered that the (?) Be Recorded, On the motion
of Joseph Williams & Allen Wilson Executors i said
Will named who with Daniel A. Allen, Daniel A.
Wilson, John W. Wilson, John Garrett, Abraham Cook and
John M. Woodson their securities entered into and
acknowledged their bond for the purpose in the
penalty of Twenty thousand dollars Conditioned
according to Law, and took the oath reqd by Law
Certificate for obtaining (?) thereof in due
form is granted them.

Teste William Powell DC

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