October 25, 2013

Last Will and Testament of Jeffrey Pearce, Franklin County, NC, 1838

Jeffrey PEARCE, my 5th great grandfather, was a plantation and slave owner in Franklin County, NC. His will is dated January 1838 and updated in 1859 to include his daughter Patsy.

It is interesting - and indicative of the times - that Jeff's children inherit money and land if their mother remarries. Seems a good recipe for a family rift; the children want her to marry so they can inherit their due, but mom doesn't want to remarry because she would lose a large chunk of change. 

Last Will and Testament of Jeffrey Pearce
Recorded in Book R, Page 399
Franklin County, NC
In the name of God Amen, I, Jeffrey Pearce of the County of Franklin, and the State of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory and knowing the uncertainty of my earthly existence do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is

First it is my will and desire that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid out of the first moneys arising from my estate.

Item 1 I lend to my beloved wife Annie Pearce, living, her natural life or widowhood all my estate both personal and real for the support of herself and daughter Elizabeth now living with her so long as she may continue to live with her satisfied.

Item 2nd  I lend to my oldest daughter Elizabeth Pearce after the death or marriage of my  wife all the land on which I live herein her life or until she marries for her use and support and I leave it discretionary with my daughter Elizabeth after she may come into possession of my plantation to employ one of her brothers and no other to live with her neither rent for use it in any other way than for her support.

Item 3  It is my will that after the death or marriage of my wife that each of my children herein named shall receive eighty? Being to make them equal with them that I have given heretofore unless received before my death. Elizabeth, Enoch and James J. Pearce and Mary Winston and if at my death I shall not leave any money or other property sufficient to pay my before named children or their heirs the ? Executors to  sell one hundred acres of my track of land to give money for that purpose.

Item 4 It is my will and desire that on the death of marriage of my wife that my Negros be divided as follows first I give unto my daughter Elizabeth one Negro girl Biney and increase. Second to my son Enoch my Negro boy Joseph. Thirdly to my son James Thomas my Negro boy James, fourthly to my son Willis my woman Lady. Fifth to my son Joseph my negro man Berry, and all of the above named Negros to be valued at cash proportional and the proportionate to be paid to my children here named or their heirs.  Patsy Kearney, Mary Ann Winston, William, Henry, & Benjamin Pearce to make them equal in ? of my ?. If my daughter Elizabeth at the death or marriage of my wife be living and not married it is my will that she hold all of my land but should she die or marry then it is my will that my land and the remainder of my property be equally divided or sold as a majority may agree and the proceeds thereof be equally divided between my children here named: Elizabeth, Henry, Benjamin, William, Enoch, Joseph, Willis, and Samuel Pearce, Patsy Kearney & Mary Winston and their heirs.

Item 6 If either of my children aforesaid named shall die before such issue is to receive the parents then but if there be no issue then such share fall into the general fund to be divided among the survivors in the manner before directed.

Lastly I constitute and appoint my three sons Henry, Enoch, and James Pearce Executors to this my last will and testament in witness whereof I hereunto set my hand and seal this 27th January 1838.

Jeffrey (his mark) Pearce (seal)

Witness Wilson H. Williams, A. B. Cooke

Codicil to the above

Whereas I Jeffrey Pearce of the County of Franklin and State of North Carolina have made my last will and testament bearing seal January 27th 1838 in and by which I have given and bequeathed to my daughter Patsy Kearney an eighth share of my estate. After therein I do by this writing which I hereby declare to be a codicil to my said last will and testament and to be taken as part therein order and declare that my will is that the share or part of my estate given to my daughter Patsy Kearney herein shall be ? unto her ? and of the support of her and children upon her death to be equally divided between her children. I also appoint James Pearce as executor for my daughter Patsy Kearney and children and leave it discretionary with him to use the funds in the best way. It is my desire that this codicil be annexed and be made a part of my last will and testament as aforesaid to all interests and purposes.

As witness whereof I have signed my name and affixed my seal the 13th day of November One Thousand Eighteen Hundred and Fifty Nine.

Jeffrey (his mark) Pearce (seal)

Witness Wilson H. Williams, A.B. Cooke

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