Recently, I spent some time poking around the Virginia Memory: Chancery Records Index looking at Prince Edward County to see if I could find anything relating to my husband’s Williams family, which extended into several counties around Cumberland County.
I didn’t have much luck, but did come across the Chancery Court suit of Michal/Michael (very unusual given name both for a female and in that time period in Virginia) Scott, widow of Rice Scott vs. Edward Scott, administrator of Rice Scott’s estate.
The papers (12 pages total) named widow Michal/Michael Scott and three children: Robert, under 21 years old, Edward and Martha Williams, wife of James Montfort. I haven’t figured out why she is called “Martha Williams,” if her maiden name was Scott, but that is a totally different issue, not relevant to the estate inventory.
I have only transcribed the portion of the inventory naming people.
Page 1 of the Inventory
Agreeable to an order of Prince Edward Court to us directed we have made division & distribution of the Estate of Rice Scott Decd as follows (Viz)
W Michal Scotts Dower in Slaves exclusive of Eighty seven pounds thirteen shillings & four pence which she has given among the Legatees
One negro Man Jack £87.10
Edward Scotts Proportion
One negro Man Robin £75
Page 2 of the Inventory
James Montforts & Martha Williams his Wife’s proportion
Judy & her two Children David & Molly 90-
Mildred & two children Nancy & Lett 87-
Robt Scotts proportion
One negroe Man Bob 75-
Rice Scott was a well-to-do plantation owner with 1800 acres of land and 34 slaves to help him work the crops. There are few details about him in this court case, but it did state that he died in April 1793 and this lawsuit was filed in November 1794.
Because the settlement gave Robert Scott’s portion and it wasn’t in care of a guardian, it is likely that Robert Scott attained the legal age of 21 between the time the suit was filed in November 1794 and the estate distribution in May 1799.
The widow, Michal or Michael, wanted her 1/3 portion and filed suit against Edward Scott, elder son of Rice Scott, and administrator of the estate. I haven’t been able to determine if Michal/Michael was the mother of any or all of the three Scott children.
The file folder for this court case lists 34 slaves:
However, this list doesn’t include all the names in the inventory distribution, so it’s a good reminder to read the original records. This file folder clearly is a modern addition to the 1799 court papers.