The Will of Richard Davis:
The Court Clerk’s Copy
Copyright © 2000-2001 T. Mark James
The will of Richard Davis was proved and ordered recorded, but was apparently never actually placed in the will books for Granville County. Both the original will and the court clerk’s transcription of it (which follows) were kept in a separate folder of loose wills, and are now to be found at the North Carolina Department of Archives and History, in Raleigh, in box CR.044.801.9, in a folder marked "Davis, Richard 1761".
Here is my transcription of the court clerk’s copy, followed by a discussion.
In the name of God amen I Richard Davis of Caroline County being now in perfect
health, mind and memory God be praised for it, & calling to mind the future State
and this life is uncertain is mind to set my business and to settle all in Order
before it is to late I do hereby appoint this to be my last Will & Testament.
Item I lend to my well beloved wife all my whole estate both personal & Real during her
widowhood, but if she should Marry then all my estate to be divided among my
children as I shall name
Item. I lend to my daughter Keziah Davenport one Negro girl named Lucy and the
Increase as long as my daughter Keziah liveth and after her death the
negro Girl and her increase to be divided among her children
born of her own body
Item. I lend to my daughter Patience Coyema, Negro woman named Judey
and if the Negroe wench should have a child after the Death of this
my will I give it to my grandaughter Levinah Davis be it boy or
Item I lend to my daughter Pation Joyner , Negroe Girl named Isbel and
if the Negroe Girl lives to have a child be boy or Girl I give it to my
Grandaughter Teriah Coyns. the Negroe Judy and the Negroe Girl I leave to
my daughter Coyns Davis her life and after her Death Excepting these
two Children before given all their Increase to be Divided at my daughter
Pation Coyns Death among the Children born of her own body
Item I lend to my daughter Sofiah Yancey a Negro girl named Ann during her life
and after her death the negroe Girl & her Increase to her Children to be divided
among the Children born of her own body
Item I lend to my daughter Judy Davis a Negroe boy named Morioak during her life.
I don’t leave her in the care of any particular Child but where she likes the best
among all my Children, to her negroe boy with her, and after her death the
Negroe boy to be his she lives & dies with him or her.
Item. I lend to my daughter Judy Davis the bed whereon she lies and if the Negroe boy
live to fitting to go in for a share and is put in for a Crop, he shall not be moved
till the Crop is finished and have his part toward maintaining her & himself.
I give to my son Augustine Davis a negroe man named Wiser toward maintaining my son
Gideons three boys. And I give to my son Augustine Davis one Negroe boy named
Winser to him and his heirs
I give to my son Cyrus Davis a Negro Girl named Doll and her Increase to him and
I give to my Solomon Davis one Negroe boy named Peter to him & his heirs
Item. I leave my Negroe fellow Minor to be sold to the highest bidder among my
own Children. I debar anyone bidding, I would not have him go out
of the family and Twenty five pound of the money to be put in my son
Augustine’s hands for my son Gideons Children, and five pounds with it
the whole makes it thirty pounds to be paid to the Children as they grow
up to the age of nineteen, as they grow up if any one dies his part to go
to the living And the money not to be taken out of my son Augustin’s
hands till the Children is grown up to receive it but not any Interest
on it I declare that the five pound to the Twenty five pound given
makes it thirty pound, the five to the Children. Item ten pound of
the money to be paid to my son Absolem Davis for this Land I now live
on. My Son Absolem Davis has had his part in Land.
Item. I give the Land and plantation whereon I now live & all the improvements
to my Grandson Richard Davis to him & his use
Item And all my other estate Houshold Stuff & Stock of cattle, Hoggs & Horses flesh
valued and sold & turn’d into money & the overplush of the money that is above
thirty pounds to my son Gideons Children, and the ten pounds to my
Son Absolem for the land to be sum’d up. The money that my part of Estate is
valued to & exactly divided between my daughter Teriah Terry my son
Zachariah Davis & Mary Consolon & my daughter Tere Terry part to
be put into my son Absolems hands to pay to her self in person & to no
one else. & if she never comes her own self her part to be his own
proper estate. And Mary part to be in my Son Augustin’s hands to pay to
and no one else, & if she never comes to be his own proper estate and my
son Zachariah to have his part as he will, & my will is that two of my
sons or sons in law to value it, & my will is that nothing shall be
disburst nor Molested of my whole estate only old Windsor for the bene-
-fit of the Children till my wife is Dead & buried. & my Will is that
the County Court shall not be concerned with this my Will, only to
put it on the record. And I do appoint my son Absolem Davis and
my son Augustine Davis to be wholey Exors of this my last will &
Testament & as for the eight Children before named they have & had
their full part so that I do debar any of them coming for any of
the three last Legacies that I have given to the last Children, as Wit-
-ness my hand & seal. 16 day of June 1761
Teste William Upshaw, Thomas Upshaw, William his W mark Holley
At a Court held for Granville County Novemberth tenth 1761
This Will was proved by the oath of William Upshaw one of the subscribing
Witnesses thereto, then Absolem Davis & Augustine Davis the Exors therein
named qualified as such, & Ordered to be Certified
Teste Asa Searcy.C.C.
So many imperfections & Incorrectness
in the above Will together with nonsensical
Sentences that the fee for Copying is double the Gaige.
Although Richard Davis mentions eleven living children at the end of his will (eight of whom have already had their inheritance, and three of whom have not), the court clerk's version lists fourteen children. The discrepancy arises from the clerk's misreading of the paragraph pertaining to Richard's daughter Patience. Since the clerk's version of the Richard Davis will is so much more legible than Richard's own original, researchers have propagated the clerk's errors (and the extra three children) in published abstracts such as Thomas McAdory Owen's History and Genealogies of Old Granville County, North Carolina.
The clerk somehow splits the Patience paragraph in two (with two "Items" where the original will has only one). The first of these paragraphs deals with a daughter named "Patience Coyema", and the second with a different daughter named "Pation Joyner"; but the second paragraph also mentions two other daughters, "Coyns Davis" and "Pation Coyns". In fact, even a cursory reading of the original will shows that these four names are of the same person; and a careful analysis of the handwriting reveals the name of this person as "Patien Toyns" -- different from any of the clerk's guesses.
In addition to the errors regarding Patience, the clerk also has trouble with some slaves' names. The young boy whom the clerk calls "Morioak" is actually Mericah in the original, and may well be the same person called "Old America" fifty years later, in the will of Richard's son Solomon Davis. Also, the name Windsor appears variously as "Wiser", "Winser" and "Windsor" in the clerk's rendition. Richard Davis himself used "Wiser" at one point. There were apparently two slaves named Windsor, one referred to as "old Winser" in the will, and the other as a "boy named Winser".
Copyright © 2000-2001 T. Mark James
Richard Davis Will Court Clerk’s Copy page, version 1.02, last updated on 18 March 2001.
Please send all comments to Mark James at firstname.lastname@example.org.