Will of Richard Leake, 1784, Orange County, North Carolina: Releasing 21 Enslaved People

As I researched the Brasher family in North Carolina, the will of Richard Leake of Orange County, North Carolina, 1784, happened to be recorded directly after the will of Thomas Brasher.

Because Richard Leake was originally from Rappahannock County, Virginia, removed to Orange County, North Carolina and owned enslaved people, his will might help someone trace his or her African-American origins.

The will is a bit odd because no executor is named by Richard Leake, nor does the court entry make mention of an executor, but orders the will to be recorded.

Will of Richard Leake, Orange County, North Carolina, 1784
Source: FamilySearch, WB A:288-289

In the Name of God Amen the Seventh day of February 1784. I Richard Leke of the State of North Carolina and County of Orange Farmer, being very sick and weak in body but in perfect mind and memory, thanks be given unto god therefore calling unto mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament. That is to say, principally and first of all, I give and recommend my Soul into the hands of God that gave it, and for my body I recommend it to the earth to be buried in a Christian like decent manner, at the direction of my Executor, nothing doubting but at the General Resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God and as touched by such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased god to bless me in this life I give, devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form.

Imprimis. It is my will and I do order that in the first place, all my Just debts, and funeral Charges be paid & Satisfied.

Item. I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Terry Six Negroes Ralph, Easter, Jean, Phillis, Sarah, Davy, during her lifetime, and my mill is that said Negroes after the death of my said daughter shall be equally divided amongst her Children which she hath by James Terry, Richard and John excepted, and further my Will is that my daughter Elizabeth Terry aforesaid shall have the use of one negroe man named Dick, during her lifetime, and then to desend to my grandson Richard Leke Terry.

Item. I leave and bequeath unto my daughter Mary (Moore?) four negroes Phil, Jude, Easter and Phil, now in her possession her lifetime, then Phil and Jude as man and wife to be sold and not parted and the money to be equally divided among my aforesaid daughter Mary’s Children.

Item. I give and bequeath to Richerd Leke Moore one negroe girl named Easter, now in the care of my said daughter Mary Moore.

Item. I give and bequeath to Richard Leke Moore (and?) unto John Terry, son of Elizabeth Terry, one negroe boy named Phil now in the Care of my aforesaid daughter Mary Moore.

Item. I give and bequeath unto John Moore one negro boy named Isaac now in his care.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my daughter, Jean Harley one negroe woman named Hannah.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my daughter Susannah Campbell two hundred acres of Land named by Davis Patent and another hundred acres ajoining to it and five shillings in money.

Item. I give and bequeath unto Richard Campbell one negroe girl named Jean now in his care.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my Grandson Walter (Slatten?) five negroes, Sam, Rachel, Ben, Jude and Nan, and a Copper Still, and the plantation whereon I now live and a negroe man named (Isaac?)

Item. I give and bequeath unto Walter Slattens son Richard Slatten, one negro boy named Moses.

It is my will and I order it so that the lands not bequeathed in Richomnd County upon PD in the state aforesaid shall be sold and likewise my household goods Horses and Cattle and the money equally divided amongst Mary Moore, Jean Hartley, Elizabeth Terry and Walter Slaughten.

And lastly I Constitute this my last Will and Testament. in witness whereof I have set my hand & Seal the day and year above written.

Richd Leak (Seal)

Signed, Sealed, published, pronounced & (?) by the said Richard Leke as his last Will & Testament in the presence of us the Subscribers etc.

Charles Ch(?)
George Webb, Sarah
John Pugh

Orange County, May Court 1784

The Execution of the above will was only proved by the oath of George Webb one of the Subscribing Witnesses thereto and on motion ordered to be Recorded. Jesse Benton CC

Named in this will then are 21 enslaved persons: Ralph, Easter, Jean, Phillis, Sarah, Davy, Dick, Phil, Jude (identified as man and wife), Easter, Phil, Isaac, Hannah, Jean, Sam, Rachel, Ben, Jude and Nan, Isaac and Moses.

It appears that all were already in the “care” of Richard Leake’s children and grandchildren.



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