The Will of Benjamin Harrison

First and foremost, is an acknowledgment of the many souls held enslaved on the six plantations held by Benjamin Harrison IV. In his 1793 will, only fifteen of those many souls held in bondage were named.

We think of them all and of those who are identified, we say their names.

Patty. Levy. Sarah. John. Liddy. Charlot. Cate. Aggy. Dorcas. Aaron. Hannah. Tamer. Martha. Bess. Suekey.




In the Name of God Amen!

I Benjamin Harrison of Berkley in the County of Charles City and Parrish of Westover, Gent., being of perfect sense and memory, ordain this my last will and Testament. Imprimis I Give and bequeath my Soul to Almighty God who first gave it to its being, in sure and certain hope of a Joyfull resurrection thro’ the death and Passion of my blessed Savior Jesus Christ, My body to the Earth from which it was first taken, to be decently buried on Berkley Plantation near my little dear son Henry’s grave, at the Discression of my executor hereafter mentioned, and as to all my worldly goods with which it hath pleased the Almighty to bless me my just Debts and Funeral charges being first paid, I Give and dispose of in the following manner:

I give and bequeath unto my well beloved wife one equal third Part of the neet proceeds or profits of my whole Estate during her Natural life, and forasmuch as my wife hath at all times behaved in a most dutifull and affectionate manner to me and all—-allways been assisting through my whole affairs, I there-fore think proper to Give to my dear wife as a small requital over and above the Thirds of my Estate as aforesaid, the use of occupation of the Plantation whereon I now live, comonly called Berkley, and with all the Slaves Properly belonging to the Crop of the said Plantation, with all my household furniture of what kind soever and house Servants, except my Cook wench Patty and her children and the boy levy son of Sarah, which Slaves I would have to go to my son Benjamin on his being of age; I also give to my wife the use of all my plate and kitchen Furniture as also the use of my flocks of Cattle, Hogs, Horses and Sheep upon the said Plantation, all which said gifts I give to the use of my Said Dear wife so long as she she shall remain a widow or shall abide on or inhabit the said Plantation, with full power to Cut down and make use of any Timber of Wood either for building or repairing, makeing fenceing or firing,or any other use whatsoever for the said Plantation of or from any Part of my Estate in Charles City County Dureing the time aforesaid, she allowing yearly out of her own Estate Nine thousand Pounds of good Crop Tobin Nine Cask to be thrown into two thirds of my estate which is hereafter Ordered to be divided amongst my children until my Son Benjamin shall come to Age but no longer, and after her decease or Nonresidence as aforesaid the Premisses to go and descend to my well beloved son Benjamin Harrison and to the heirs of his Body Lawfully begotten forever. I also Give to my Wife my Coach, chariot chair, Six horses and all Furniture thereto belonging as also all my Saddle horses Mares and Colts on the Said Plantation, together with her Gold Watch and all Jewels now in her possession.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my Benjamin Harrison all that Tract of Land commonly called Berkeley and Kimadges and also that whereon my mother formerly lived as also the Gleeb Land bought of the Parish of Westover in the County of Charles City, to him and his heirs of his Body lawfully begotten Forever. I also Give to my said son Benjamin the land called Bicres with the Land Escheated of John Resbie and all my land on the South Side Nottoway River belonging to the Chiticorah Tract and all the additional Surveys made adjacent thereto, and all my Lands at the Falls of James River bought of Davis and others with he slaves and stocks thereon to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I Give unto my son Henry all that estate of Land on the South Side Nottoway River by Peter’s Bridge being Seven Plantations with all the Slaves and Stock of all Sorts thereon to him and his heirs Forever, and the Mill thereon, I also give him the Tract of Land lying on Nottoway on the North Side the River at Peter’s Bridge to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I give unto my son Robert Harrison all my several Tracts of Land lying at the Falls of Appomattox River bought of Abraham Cocke, Christopher Herntory, Thomas Williams, James Munford and Richard Smith and the lots bought of Abraham Jones and that in the Town and Petersburg and the Slaves and Stocks of all sorts thereon, and also the remaining Part of Chitecorah Tract lying on the North Side of Nottoway River with the Slaves and Stocks of all Sorts that shall be found thereon, to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I Give unto my son Nathaniel my land at Amelia Court house and all the Slaves and Stocks thereon. I also give unto my said son my land at Great Creek, and Meherrin (Vizt) the Tract whereon Benjamin Harrison is overseer, that where Clayton is overseer, with all the Slaves and Stocks thereon to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I Give unto my son Charles all my Land Secarnis with all the Slaves and Stocks thereon and the Land called the ______Allen Tract. I also Give to my said son all the Lands that will fall to me by the death of Mr. Willis (To-wit) Cabbin Point Mill and that at Huntington, with all the Keepers thereof, to him and his heirs forever, and my desire is that there may be Five Slaves bought (Vizt) three women and two men as soon as Conveniently be to Full slave the three Plantations on Secarnis. And my desire is that so many Slaves as shall be occupied on the Pond Quarter and Black Water, at the death of Mrs. Willis shall be and belong to my said son and his heirs forever.

Item. My will and desire is that the mulatto man John shall be for the sole use of my wife so long as she shall be a widow, and that the reset of my Sawyer, Carpenters and Coopers shall be used for the use of my Estate in general until my son Benjamin comes of Age, and then to go to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I give unto my son Robert my Tract of Land on Brunswick Creek, lying at the mouth of Great Creek, containing seventeen hundred acres, be it more or less, to him and his heirs forever. I also give to my Said son Robert my mill on Harry’s Swamp with the Land thereto belonging, being three hundred and Fifty Acres more or less, to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I give unto my son Benjamin all the Negroes and Stocks of all sorts upon the Six Plantations that are now Settled on my Berkley and Kimadges Tracts, to him and his heirs forever; and whereas I have given my Manor House and Plantation to my wife on terms as above to ascertain the bounds, my meaning is that from the upper bounds to the Glebe shall be the Eastward Limits and from thence as the Shirley road runs tot he Ford on Kimadges Creek, containing all the Land between the Glebe Road and the River, and if by Experience that should be found too little I add to it that Land on tother Side the Road called Woodfords.

Item. My will and Desire is that the Land I bought of William Glover whereon my Surry Store stands be sold, and the Slaves thence be Immediately removed to that Part of the Chetecorah tract given my son Robert for him and his heirs forever, and the money arising By the Sale of the Land to be laid out for Negroes for the Same uses, To wit, for the better Settleing the same Part of the Number of Slaves which, after the Death of Mrs. Elizabeth Willis relict of Henry Harrison, Esq., Dec’d, and by the last Will of the said Henry Harrison, are to revert to me and my heirs, my Will and desire therefore is, that when the estate in Negroes shall revert by the death of the Said Willis now in possession, that then the Said Negroes shall be divided into six as equal Parts as Possible, Without Parting men and their Wives, by three able and discreet persons to be appointed by the General Court, which division being made my will and desire is that three already Given to my son Charles go in Proportion to his Part, that my Son Benjamin have the first choice, and the Rest of my six sons to choose according to Seniority, which Negroes I Give to them and their heirs forever.

Item. I Give unto my sons Carter Henry and Henry, to be equally divided between them, all the house hold Plate that belonged to Henry Harrison, Exq., dec’d now in possession of Mrs. Elizabeth Willis his relect, and after her death to revert to me, as will appear by an Instrument of Writing between the said Willis and myself recorded in Surry Court.

Item. I Give and bequeath unto my Daughter Betty Harrison one thousand pounds sterling including my mother’s Legacy of two hundred pounds that is to say five hundred pounds to be paid by my Executor within Twelve months after she shall arrive at the Age of twenty-one years, or be married, and the other Five hundred Pounds within three years after, and I also Give to my Daughter Betty these several Slaves following and their increase to-wit: Liddy, Charlot and Cate, the Daughter, of Aggy, to her and her Heirs forever.

Item. I Give and bequeath to my Daughter Anne the sum of one thousand pounds Sterling, Five hundred to be paid by my Executors within Twelve months after she shall arrive to the Age of Twenty-one or be married, and the other Five hundred pounds within three years after that. I also give to my Daughter Anne a negro girl named Dorcas to her and her heirs forever. The Thousand pounds is to be with my mothers Legacy———hundred Pounds inclusive.

Item. I Give to my Daughter Lucy Eight hundred Pounds Sterling including my mother’s Legacy, to be paid her in four years after She arrives to the Age of twenty-one or is married. I also give to my said Daughter Lucy these Slaves and their increase, to-wit: Aaron, Hannah the Daughter of Tamer, and Martha the Daughter of Bess, to her and her heirs forever.

Item. I Give to my Daughter Hannah Five hundred pounds Sterling including my mother’s Legacy, to be paid her within three years after she arrives to the Age of twenty-one or married. Also a negro Girl Suekey the Daughter of Bess and her increase, to her and her Heirs forever.

Item. My will and desire is that my whole Estate shall be Kept entire until my Debts are paid, and the two Eldest Daughters Fortunes are raised, and until my son Benjamin comes of Age, and then whatever Legacys remain unraised the Estate of Each of my sons shall be Taxed in Proportion to their annual———for the Payment thereof.

Item. That the Guardianship and disposal of my children shall be entirely in the Power of my wife, and that they be Maintained and educated at her discression——-of my estate; of whose prudence I have had sufficient Proof dureing her Life, that if my Daughter dureing their minority Do marry without first having had the Consent and Approval of my said wife, then they or every one of them so marrying shall forfeit all Claims or Pretensions whatsoever to all and every part of the Legacies given them, by this my will, and I doe heartily and Earnestly recommend to my said Children that they behave with Duty and obedience to their mother, and that they live in Love and Friendship with one another, and Lastly I doe hereby Appoint my Dear Wife Ann Harrison, and all my sons as they shall come of Age, Executors of this my Last will and Testament, and I further order that there be no Appraisement of my Estate nor Security given but her own. In witness whereof I have here set my hand and Seal this 17th day of October 1743, and I utterly revoke all other wills by me heretofore made. This my last containing two sheets of Paper.


Signed Sealed &c. in the Pressence of Robert West, Joseph Royal, John Stith.

Charles City County ss.——-August Court 1745

The Afore written Last will and Testament of Col. Benjamin Harrison Dec’d was Presented in Court by William Randolph Gent and Wife and Miss Betty Harrison, who made oath there and being proved by the oath of Joseph Royall one of the witnesses thereto is admitted to Record, and the said Joseph Royall also on this oath declarad he saw John Stith and Robert West the other two witnesses sign the said will as witnesses, and on the motion of the said William Randolph and Betty Harrison, and performing what is usual on such Cases, Certificate is granted them for obtaining Letters of Administration with the said will annext in due forme Durante Minori estate of Benjamin Harrison and Sons and heirs of the Deced.

Teste——— LEWELLIN EPPES, Clk. Curia.

Copy Test——— LEWELLIN EPPES, Cl. Curia.

Will of Benjamin Harrison on JSTOR

This last will was crafted in the infancy of our nation. Benjamin’s namesake was by this time (1793) the Signer, as he (Benjamin Harrison V) had signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The Signer’s son would go on to be the ninth president of the United States. Progenitors of more than a nation…

As mentioned previously, The Genealogy Situation Room will share these legal documents which dually demonstrate a road map of injustice and family history.

This is our situation.

The Genealogy Situation Room

2 thoughts on “The Will of Benjamin Harrison

  1. Will of Benjamin Harrison..
    In your opening paragraph, I believe there is a typo. You refer to his will of 1793, but the will was signed and docoumented in 1743. As he died in 1745, he would have been hard pressed to draft one in 1793!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good eye. Thanks for catching that! LOL Not only was that typo there, but I worked it into my closing statement. Cringe!! I appreciate your correction, because crafting a will fifty years after his passing would qualify him as Nosferatu Harrison.

      Liked by 1 person

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