The will of Elisha Parker of Woodbridge, Middlesex County, New Jersey was written on 8 September 1709, but it was not probated until 30 June 1717. It is unusual, at least to me, in two respects.
First, Elisha owned three slaves. It was much less common for slaves to be owned in northern states, so I was a bit taken aback reading his will since he was a resident of New Jersey and his parents had migrated there from Massachusetts. The second, even bigger surprise, was that while one of his slaves, Violett, is described as “my negro woman”, the second slave is “my Indian boy named Jeruba” and the third is “my Indian girl named Savina.” I don’t think I’ve ever read a will before where the slaves were identified as Native American, although I know there were some.
A transcribed version of this will was found online.
In the name of God Amen I Elisha Parker of Woodbridge in the County of Middlesex, Province of Nova Casarva or New Jersey (?) being in perfect health in sound disposing mind and memory, believing that soon it may please God to remove me from this transitory life, I think fit to ascertain my mind in the site of all that God of his infinite Goodness hath placed and bestowed on me, by this, my last will and Testament which I make in Truth and form following:
First, I commit and bequeath my soul to God and give it hoping for Salvation in and through the merits and motivation of our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and my body to be devotedly interred by my hereafter named, sure to remain in love and certain hope of a Glorious Resurrection.
Thereby I would appreciate all debts I owe to be justly and full paid with all convenient speed by my executors.
3rdly – I do give, divest and bequeath to my dearly beloved wife, Ursula, in Law and full of her right and claim to the third part of my Estate, and not otherwise, as follows – first my Dwelling or Manor house in Woodbridge, with the land thereunto adjoining and the Orchard, Gardens, Houses and appurtenances. All of my pasture containing thirty-five acres surrounded by land of Sam Smith, Seven and Henry Freeman to Henry Freeman Jr. by the highway. Also my three acres of Meadow lying upon the waterfront of Pasaick Creek, to have, hold and enjoy, Houses, Meadow and Furniture during the term of her natural life. I do give unto her also my negro woman named Violett. . . . I also do bequeath unto her the sum of Two Hundred pounds and one equal majority or half part of all my household goods or furniture, excepting certain particulars hereafter mentioned bequeathed to my daughters.
All the remaining part of my household goods or furniture I first give to the care of my said wife to be carefully preserved for the use of son John until he arrives at the full age of twenty years. Then I give and devise unto my beloved son Elisha all those Farm Lands, attachments and appurtenances to the same belonging, which I purchased from Benjamin Hull, John Worth, Jamiel Clemence Jr. and Sr., and being in the towns of Woodbridge and Piscataway in the south County of Middlesex to have and to hold to him and his heirs forever. I do give unto him also my Indian boy named Jeruba and one hundred pounds to be payed when he arrive at the age of twenty-one years.
5th Item I do give and bequeath to my well-beloved daughter, Elizabeth, my Indian girl named Savina and the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds to be payed unto her when she arrives at the age of twenty-one years but in case she should marry before she arrives at that age, she is to be payed at the time of her marriage.
6th Item I do give and bequeath to my well-beloved daughter Ursula, the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds to be paid when she arrives at the age of twenty-one years, or at the time of her marriage should it happen before.
7th Item I do give and bequeath unto my well-beloved daughter Mary, the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds to be payed unto her after the manner as I have appointed to her other two sisters. I then do give unto her also my silver Jam Pots and a bed, comfortably furnished.
8th Item I do give and bequeath to that child unborn which my beloved wife is now big of, be it son or daughter when it comes to the age of twenty-one years, the sum of two hundred pounds.
9th Item I do order and appoint all my children to be maintained out of my efforts until the age of eighteen years, and no longer.
Elisha’s son John was to be sole executor, when he comes of age, until then his wife, Adam Hude and John Kinsey were to oversee his estate.
Witnesses – Tho: Farmer, Miles Forster, George Willocks.
Elisha Parker’s will was recorded in Liber A: 78.