The 1840 Last Will of Henry Harrison of Southampton County, Virginia

LAST WILL OF HENRY HARRISON

I Henry Harrison of the County of Southampton and state of Virginia being in perfect health do make my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say
1st I wish my Executors whom I shall hereafter appoint immediately after my deceased to advertise and sell all the perishable property I may have and out of the proceeds of such sale pay my just and legal debts and if my perishable estate should be insufficient to pay the same it is my further desire that they sell one of my negro men Jim or Charles or both if required and pay all such debts as I may lawfully owe.

Item 2 It is my desire and wish and I do hereby give and bequeath unto my old servant Susan her freedom and liberty for her meritorious services it is my earnest request that my Executors whom I shall hereafter appoint to release and set her at perfect liberty the servant Susan and to act as trustees for her in every instance and I do hereby make the following provision for her maintenance for my said servant Susan 1st I give and bequeath unto her and her heirs forever the following property to wit one feather bed and furniture one desk one loom and spinning wheel three chests all my kitchenware and furniture one trunk with all her clothing weaving apparell (sic) and bed clothes one coffee mill and (wr;)? sad irons and cupboard and two jars one horse and cart of her choice one years provision for herself and horse all the fowls on the plantation one sow and pigs and one cow and calf of her choice

3rd It is my further wish and request that if my debts are paid without selling my two negroes Jim and Charles that I have and bequeath them as follows that my Executors may dispose of them by hire by the year or otherwise at the option of her the said Susan for the annual support of my old negro woman Susan their mother during her life and at her death I do hereby give them their freedom provided she may be supported without the sale of them being required and if she should remove to any for to any free state it is my request that my Executors permit the said Jim and Charles to go with her and of course receive their freedom

4th I give and bequeath unto my servant Susan the land and improvements on which I live containing one hundred and sixty one acres being the land given me by my Father by his will unto her and at her death to my two servants and their children Martha Mason to be equally divided between the said Martha + Mason and if anything should occur and the laws of this state will not permit them to remain so that they are compelled to remove to a free state it is my wish that my Executors or Commissioners appointed by the court, sell the land and divide the money equally between my said servants Susan Martha and Mason unto them and their heirs forever.

5 I do hereby give and bequeath to my servant Anthony his liberty and freedom and particularly request my Executors that they set him at perfect liberty immediately after my decease and I do further give and bequeath unto my said servant Anthony the tract of land and improvements of all kinds which I purchased of Joseph W. Darnell called Browns land containing by estimation and survey two hundred and fifty five acres unto him the said Anthony and his heirs forever and if he should die without lawful heir I wish and desire and do hereby bequeath the land to be equally divided between my servants John Martha and Mason unto them and their heirs and if the laws of the state or anything should occur so as to prevent the said Anthony from remaining in this state in the court sell said land and pay the proceeds over to the said servant Anthony if he be alive if not to his heirs if no heirs to the said John Martha and Mason equally or to their heirs +@ ?

6 I give and bequeath unto my said servant Anthony one bay mare one yoke of oxen one cow + calf one sow and pigs one feather bead and furniture and one cart and wheels and one years provisions unto him and his heirs forever

7 I do hereby give and bequeath unto my servant Mason and her children Tom Sucky Lucy Chary July and Carter and all her future increase from this time their entire freedom and liberty to each and every one of them and my positive wish is that my Executor set them at perfect liberty immediately at my decease and I do by this will give and bequeath unto the said Mason one feather bead + furniture her years provisions for herself and children 1 sow and pigs and one cow and calf unto her and her heirs forever

8 I hereby give and bequeath unto my servant Martha and her children Henry Betsey and Hannah their liberty and freedom entire also to her future increase and it is my earnest wish and desire that my Executors set them at perfect liberty at my decease and I do further by this will give and bequeath unto the said Martha one years provision for herself and her children also one feather bed + furniture + one cow and calf and one sow and pigs and unto her and heirs forever

9 I do by this will give and bequeath unto my servant John his entire liberty and freedom and it is my desire and wish that my Executors immediately at my decease set him at perfect liberty and I also give and hereby bequeath unto him the said John the following property to wit one mule one feather bed and furniture one cow and calf and one sow and pigs unto him and his heirs forever

10th And if there should be any property that I have not disposed of on my will above I wish it to be equally divided between all my legatees above mentioned particularly my clothing and house hold furniture unto them and their heirs

11th and Lastly I do hereby appoint Edwards Butts Lit R Edwards the present Clerk Howell Harris Executors to this my last will and testament by me made and I do hereby request and solicit them that they and each of them will qualify to this my last will and carry the same into effect as specified in the will and further that they or either of them will immediately at my decease take charge of this will and see the same duly Recorded for which I pray they may receive their future reward I Testimony whereof I do hereby revoke all other wills by me made and have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 13th day of Oct 1840
signed sealed and published}
by Henry Harrison as and for} Henry Harrison {Seal}
his last will and Testament in}
the presence and hearing of us who}
at his request and in his hearing}
have subscribed our names as}
Witnesses}

Not surprisingly, Harrison’s last will would prove very controversial. It would be challenged in chancery court, by his sister-in-law and creditors. All of the executors named by Harrison, save one, Edwards Butts, declined to do their duty. Those who were emancipated were by and large excised from the state of Virginia due to law. Some were “sold” to another “owner…” The strange currency of 1844, involving those listed in Harrison’s last will of 1840, was reviewed here on this blog.

I am a descendant of those emancipated in this will, Martha and her son, Henry, who would be listed as “Henry, the carpenter” in the 1853 last will of Edward P. Turner. There are many others.

As previously mentioned, we will review these legal documents, instruments of resonance, here in The Genealogy Situation Room. Brick walls must come down.

Onward! 🍃 This is our situation.

The Genealogy Situation Room

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