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The Will of Richard Davis

(died 1761 in Granville County, North Carolina)

Copyright © 2000-2004 T. Mark James
Permission Notice at end



The North Carolina State Archives has two versions of the Richard Davis will: one in the barely-legible handwriting of Richard Davis himself, the other the official copy made by a court clerk. The clerk had such difficulty in deciphering Davis’ handwriting that he noted at the end of his transcription:

Both the original and the clerk’s copy may be found at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History (109 East Jones Street, Raleigh, North Carolina), document box CR.044.801.9, in a folder marked “Davis, Richard 1761”.

The following is my own transcription of the original, since the court clerk’s version, although more legible, introduces many errors, especially in the rendition of names. I have kept all spelling as in the original; I have also attempted to maintain paragraphs and line breaks, although I cannot guarantee that they will display correctly on all browsers. Illegible or obliterated words are indicated with triple question marks, ???, and questionable words with a single question mark in square brackets, [?]. Footnotes and my comments are in italics in [square brackets].  A discussion of several points follows the transcription.

The Will


In the name of God amen I Richard Davis of Cariline County being
now in parfick helth mind and memry God be prais for it and calling
to mind the fate of fate [sic] and this Life is unsurting is mind to set my
bissnes and to setel all in order ??? ??? ??? [1] to late I doo hear by apint
this to be my last will and testament - -


I lend to my be Loved wife all my hole Estate both parsnel
and Reial duering her widowhood but if she shood mary then all my
Estate to be Devided amonge my Children as I shall name


I lend to my Daugher Kesiah Devnport one negro garl named Lucie[?]
and the In Creas as long as my Daugher Kesia liveth and after her deth
the negro gal and her Icreas to be devided among her Children
born of her one body


I lend to my Daugher patien Toyns[2] a negr womad [sic] namd
Judy and if the negro wench shood have a child after the date of this
my will I give it to my grandator Levinah Davis be it boy or gal.
I lend to my daugher patien toyns a negro garl named Isbel and
if the negro gal lives to have a child be boy or garl I give it to
my gran Daugdaugher [sic] Jeriah Toyns. the negro Judy and the
negro garl I leave to my daugher Toyns Dure her Life
and after her Death Exceping these to Children before given
all Their in Creas to bee devided at my Daugher patien Toyns Death
among the children born of her one body


I lend to my Dagter Sofyah Yancy a negro Garl named an dureing
her life and after her death the negro garl and her increas to her
Childeren to be devided among the Children born of her one body


I Lend to my daghor Judy Davis a negro boye nameed mericah dure
ing her Life I dont Leave her in the Cear of any pertickelar Child but
where she likes the best among all my children to her negro boye with
her and after her deth the negro boye to be his that she lives and dyes
with him or her


I Give to my Daughter Judy Davis the bead where on she lies and if the negro
boy lives to be fitting to goo in for [?]shear and is put in for a Crop he shant
be moved til the Crop is finised and have sel his part tord maintaing
her and him self


I Give to my son Agustain Davis a negro man named wiser tord maitning
of my sons Gidens three boys and I give to my son Agustain Davis one
negro boy named winser to him and his hare


I Give to my son Cyrus Davis a negro Girl named Dol and her incres
to him and his hairs


I Give to my son Sollomon Davis one negro boy named peter
to him and his hairs


I leve my negro felo myner to be sold to the highes
bider among my one children I Debare any one biding I wood not
have him goe out of the famly and twenty five pounds of the
mony to be put in my sons Agustain hands for my son Gidion
Children and five pound with it the which makes it thirty
pounds to be paid to the Childeren as thay gro up to the age of
ninetean as thay grow up if anone dyes his part to go to
the liveing and the mony not to be taken out of my son Agustain
hands til the Children is growe up to Receave it but not any
Interest on it I declare that the five pound to the
twenty five pound given makes it thirty pund the five I ???
to the children


ten pound of the mony to be payd to my son Apsolam Davis
for this Land as I now live on my son Apsalam Davis has had his part in Land


I Give the land and planttation where on I now Live and all the
improofments to my Gran son Richard Davis to him and his hare


and all my other Estate houses stof and stock catel hogs and hors flesh valed
and sold and turnd into mony and the over[?] of the mony that is above thirty pound
to my son Gidion Children and the ten pound to my son apsalam for the
Land to be sum up to the mony that my par of estate is valied to and
Eqally Devided betwen my daugter Jeriah Terry my son Zackarias
Davis and Mary Consalea[?][3] and my Dauhte Jeria Terry part to be put
in to my son absolam hands to pay to her self in parson and to no
one els and if ??? ??? ???[4] her one self her part to be his one
proper Estate and Mary part to be in my son agostain hands to
pay to and no one els and if she never comes to be his one proper
Estate and my son Zackarias to have his part as he will and my will is
that to of my sons or sons in law to vallu it and my will is that
nothing shall be destorb nor mislested[?] of my hole esteat only old
winser for the benefit of the children till my wife is Dead and berr[ied?]
and my will is that the County Court shall not be consarned with
this my will onely to put it on the Record and I dow apint my son
Apsolam Davis and my son Agustain Davis to be holy Exetors
of this my Last will and testament and pay for the eigh Children
be fore name thay have and had ther full part so that I doo
Debare any of them a Comin for any of the Last three Leges[?]
that I have Given to the Last Children as witnes my hand and seal
16 Day of June 1760[?][5]

[signed in the same hand]
Richard Davis

[signed in different hands]
Teste William Upshaw     Jurat

Thomas Upshaw

William  W  Holly     Spa. Jurat
            his mark

Granville County ??? Novem.r Court 1761

This Will was proved by the Oath of William Upshaw one of the
subscribing Witnesses thereto & Order’d to be Recorded then Absolem
Davis & Augustine Davis Executors therein named Qualified
as such which was Ordered to be Certified

Teste Danl. Weldon CC

Absolam Davis
Augustine Davis     Qualified as Exrs

Feb Court 1762

This Deed [sic] was further proved by the Oath of William
Holly a Witness thereto

Teste Danl. Weldon CC


More on the will:


Notes on the will:

[1] Three words obliterated; the court clerk’s version has “before it is”.

[2] Patience’s married surname has provided endless amusement for transcribers of the Richard Davis will. The court clerk renders it variously as Coyema, Coyns, and Joyner; Zae H. Gwynn (Abstracts of the Wills and Estate Records of Granville County, North Carolina, 1746-1808 (Rocky Mount, N.C.: Joseph W. Watson, 1973), page 7) thinks it is Coyny. An analysis of Davis’ handwriting strongly suggests that the initial letter is a T. The interpretation of the name as “Toyns” is supported by the fact that William Tynes, a neighbor of Richard Davis’ son Solomon, had a wife named Patience and a young daughter named Jeriah (see my Tynes Website). These are very probably the “Patien Toyns” and “Jeriah Toyns” referred to in the will.

[3] Mary’s married surname is even more difficult than Patience’s: . The initial letter appears to have been written during a hand spasm, and could be a C, an L, a P, or a T. The rest of the name could be read “onsalva”, “ensalon”, “onsaten”, “ensalea” or similar. Unlike the surname “Toyns”, there does not seem to be any Granville County name that resembles any of these possibilities. This may not be surprising, however, since Mary may have been one of the children left behind in Caroline County, Virginia; see comments below.

[4] Three words obliterated; the court clerk’s version has “she never comes”.

[5] The court clerk’s version reads the date as 1761, and he had a less faded copy than I have. Zae H. Gwynn, op. cit., reads it as 1760. The last digit looks like a zero to me. It may be worth noting that the phrase “16 Day of June 1760” appears to have been written with a different pen (although by the same hand) from the rest of the will. See the discussion of Caroline County below.


Inventory of the Estate of Richard Davis

Absalom Davis and Augustine Davis, sons and executors of Richard Davis, were ordered to conduct an inventory of the estate of their father, and did so, returning the following document to the Granville County court. The inventory is dated “Febuary 8th”, but no year is specified. This is unfortunate, since the inventory would probably have been conducted shortly after the death of Elizabeth Davis, Richard’s widow. As far as I know, we have no other clue as to the date of Elizabeth’s death. Each item in the inventory is followed by a horizontal line, as if leading to a valuation, but no values appear; perhaps a facing page has been lost.

The original of the inventory may be found at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, box CR.044.508.42.


Absalom davis


Augusten davis


 The Children of Richard Davis

The will speaks of eight children who have already “had their full part”, three others who are being given special “Leges”, and one, Gideon, who has died leaving at least three young sons in need of support. It mentions Richard’s wife, but does not name her. (Subsequent tax lists indicate that her name was Elizabeth; see discussion of slaves below.)

The eight children who had already been given their inheritance are, in the order listed in the will:

Richard’s three children who apparently had not already received their inheritance were:

Richard’s deceased son was:

Notes on children:

[1] Richard Davenport, John Sullivent, and Absalom Davis proved the last will and testament of Thomas Terry on 14 May 1736. See John Frederick Dorman, Caroline County, Virginia, Order Book 1732-1740 (Washington, D.C.: J. F. Dorman, 1969), part 2, page 40 (original page 341). This may have been the father of the Richard Davenport who married Keziah Davis.

[2] John Scott Davenport, Ph.D., “The Pamunkey Davenports of Colonial Virginia” (online article at, 1998), section E, “Richard Davis of Caroline County”.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Land warrant for William Tines, North Carolina Office of Archives and History, microfilm S.108.276 (Granville County Miscellaneous Land Office Records), record 3740. Click here for a transcription.

[5] Ibid. The warrant is marked on the reverse: “Patience Tines 700. Widow of Wm. Tines”.

[6] Thomas McAdory Owen, History and Genealogies of (Old) Granville County, North Carolina, 1746-1800 (Greenville, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1993), page 69.

[7] Jeriah Tynes’s marriage to John Jennings is the subject of much controversy among both Tynes and Jennings researchers. The best evidence for the marriage is an 1882 letter written by James Madison Jennings, grandson of John Jennings, who stated, “[M]y grandmother was Jariah Tynes, the sister of the first Fleming Tynes.” See Valerie Fields Harris, John Hastle Tynes and Associated Families (Apollo, Pa.: Closson Press, 1988), page 18.

[8] Brent H. Holcomb, Marriages of Granville County, North Carolina (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1981), page 331.

[9] For more on this family, see my Tynes Website.

[10] William Yancey was granted 515 acres of land in Granville County in 1762, and appears on a tax list that year. Three years later, William and wife “Sophie” sold land to John Walker. Credit for this research goes to Dennis J. Yancey; see his Website and Worldconnect database. Records not checked by me.

[11] In 1770, William Yancey and wife Sophia sold land to Benjamin Turner in Tryon County. (Dennis J. Yancey)

[12] 1790 U.S. Census, Rutherford County, North Carolina, page 132, second column, 18th line. William has a white male under 16 and a white female in his household, and no slaves.

[13] Granville County, North Carolina, Will Accounts Book 1, pages 282-283 (14 September 1779). Augustine Davis sells 520 acres “whereon he lives” to John Gober; and “since I, Davis, am moving to South Carolina” he appoints William Byars as his attorney to execute the deed.

[14] “Agustine” Davis appears on the 1790 U.S. census for Abbeville County, 96 District, South Carolina, page 460. His household contains two white males over 16, four males under 16, four females, and no slaves. He appears again on the 1800 census for Abbeville District, page 14.

[15] Cyrus Davis is mentioned as a neighboring landowner in Louisa County, Virginia, as early as 17 April 1772 (Louisa County Deed Book D½, page 390). His wife Sarah is mentioned in his 1795 sale of land (Louisa County Deed Book I, page 482). All references to Cyrus Davis in Louisa County come from research by Edna Bushnell.

[16] On 12 March 1781, Cyrus Davis sold 141 acres of land in Louisa County to Joseph Baynham for a token five shillings. The deed mentions Joseph’s wife Keziah, “daughter to the said Cyrus Davis”. (Louisa County Deed Book F, page 463)

[17] On 29 October 1796, Cyrus Davis issued a power of attorney to William Cook of Louisa County, to take care of his business in Virginia because Cyrus was “about to remove to the State of Kentucky.” (Louisa County Deed Book I, page 176)

[18] Will of Cyrus Davis, Mercer County, Kentucky, Will Book 4, page 179.

[19] There are five different versions of the will of Solomon Davis, all of them in a folder marked “Davis, Solomon 1810” at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, box CR.044.801.9.

[20] The legal battle was over which of the five versions of Solomon’s will was written while he was in full possession of his mental faculties. About a hundred pages of testimony may be read in the loose estate papers of Solomon Davis, in box CR.044.508.42 at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History.

[21] On a 1761 tax list for the Island Creek neighborhood of Granville County, North Carolina, “Sollaman Davis” appears three entries after the widow “Patiance Tines”. See the tax list entitled “Josiah Mitchels List” in the Tax Lists 1760-1761 folder, box CR.044.701.20, North Carolina Office of Archives and History.

[22] Solomon Davis and Elizabeth his wife to Samuel Tines, Granville County, North Carolina, Deed Book I, pages 328-329 (14 March 1768).

[23] John Frederick Dorman, Order Book 1754-1758, part 2, page 78 (original pages 342-343), dated 9-10 March 1758.

[24] Absalom Davis, with others, proved the last will and testament of Thomas Terry on 14 May 1736. See note 1 above.

[25] Absalom’s wife Keziah is mentioned by her grandson Thomas H. Davis in his diary, which is a principal source of information about Absalom’s family. See “Diary of Thomas H. Davis (1823-1849),” in Marie Stevens Walker Wood, Stevens-Davis & Allied Families (Macon, Georgia, 1957), pages 129-142.

[26] The diary of Thomas H. Davis does not mention a second wife for his grandfather Absalom Davis. Absalom’s marriage to Ann Hackney may be deduced from a 1771 deed mentioning that Ann’s father William Hackney had given her a slave, and that “the said Ann Hackney intermarried with Absalom Davis” (Granville County, North Carolina, Deed Book I/J, page 214, 7 January 1771). The assignment of the first nine of Absalom’s children to Keziah and the last three to Ann is the work of Jeanette Cuthriell; I don’t know her evidence for this arrangement.

[27] Thomas H. Davis, in his diary, describes the move from Granville County, North Carolina, to Wilkes County, Georgia, “in 1779 or 1780”. (Thomas H. Davis himself was not born until 1787.)

[28] Will of Absalom Davis, Elbert County, Georgia, Will Book L-F (1804-1809), page 30. The will was dated 12 January 1807 and recorded on 24 July 1807, so Absalom died sometime between those two dates.

[29] Stephen Terry and wife Jeriah to Phillip Rootes, Orange County, Virginia, Order Book 10, page 302 (21 May 1746); cited by Mike Terry, “Notes on Stephen Terry 1700-1769”, in Terry Family Historian, volume II, number 2 (June 1983), page 97. The Terry Family Historian is available online at

[30] Brent H. Holcomb, “1783 Tax Returns”, South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, volume II, number 4 (Fall 1974), page 178.

[31] “Zaccharis Davis” appears on “A List of tithables Collected by Philemon Hawkins for the year 1758”, and again, as Zacariah Davis, on Josiah Mitchell’s tax list for 1761 (North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Granville County Tax Lists, box CR.044.701.20). I have not found him after that.

[32] “Bedford County Marriage Bonds Extracted from the Appendix in Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy” (on the GenWeb page for Bedford County, Virginia).

[33] Paul R. Sarrett, Jr., “1779 Census 96th District” (online at

[34] There are entries for Zachariah Davis on the 1790 U.S. census for Beaufort District, South Carolina (two men of the name, one on page 492, the other on page 493); the 1800 U.S. census for Beaufort District (page 92); and the 1810 U.S. census for Abbeville District, South Carolina (page 36).

[35] John Frederick Dorman, Order Book 1746-1754, part 1, page 31 (original page 47), dated 13 June 1747.

[36] Later census and estate records in Granville County suggest that Gideon’s three sons may have been named Cyrus, Augustine, and Archileus. Archileus Davis died in 1786; Augustine Davis and Joseph Taylor were his administrators (North Carolina Office of Archives and History, box CR.044.508.41, folder marked “Davis, Archilus 1786”). Cyrus and Augustine appear on census records for Granville County in 1800 (Cyrus on page 568, Augustine on page 534); 1810 (Cyrus on page 125A, Augustine on page 135); and 1820 (Cyrus on page 43, Augustine on page 25). While no solid evidence links these three to Gideon Davis, the naming patterns strongly suggest that they are descendants of Richard Davis. Apart from Richard’s son Zachariah, whose fate I do not know, Gideon is the best candidate to have fathered these three Davises.


Slaves of Richard Davis

The will mentions ten slaves, and the inventory mentions eleven. At least one slave mentioned in the will does not appear in the inventory, and may have died in the interim. Two slaves listed in the inventory are absent from the will; perhaps they were children born in the interim, or (more likely) old Richard simply forgot about them as he was writing his will.

In addition to the will and inventory, the Granville County tax lists are a good source of information about slaves.[1] In theory, taxes were levied upon landowners for all adult white males and all slaves (of either gender and any age) in their households. Even free black landowners had to pay the tax on each non-white member of their families, as if they were their own slaves. Therefore, tax lists, where they survive, are supposed to offer complete records of blacks, but only partial records of whites. In practice, of course, many landowners lied to the tax agent about their slaves, and some tax lists simply count the slaves without naming them.

The slaves mentioned in the will and inventory are as follows, in alphabetical order:

Notes on the slaves:

[1] Early tax lists for Granville County, North Carolina, are kept at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, folder CR.044.701.20. Most of them have never been microfilmed or abstracted.

[2] Will of Solomon Davis, in folder marked “Davis, Solomon 1810” at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, box CR.044.801.9.

[3] I have not checked the records of Louisa County, Virginia, or Mercer County, Kentucky, to see whether Doll appears with Cyrus Davis in those localities.

[4] “A List of the Tax. in Island Creek District in Granville County for the Year 1762 Taken by John Williams Jnr”, in folder marked “Tax lists 1762-1763”, folder CR.044.701.20, North Carolina Office of Archives and History. Absalom Davis is charged with tax on himself, two sons, three slaves (Caesar, Juno, and Hannah), “and the Tax on Eliza. Davis, to wit, Minor, Judah & Lucy.” Elizabeth Davis was most likely Richard Davis' widow.

[5] “Island Creek District List of Taxables in 1763 Taken by James Yancey”, in folder marked “Tax lists 1762-1763”, folder CR.044.701.20, North Carolina Office of Archives and History. Absalom “Deavis” is charged with tax on himself and slaves Minor, “Seser” (Caesar), “Juner” (Juno), Jude, Lucy, and Hannah. It is not specified whether some of these charges are actually those of Absalom's presumed mother Elizabeth.

[6] John Williams Jr.'s 1762 tax list (see note 4 above).

[7] James Yancey's 1763 tax list (see note 5 above).

[8] Will of Solomon Davis, loc. cit.

[9] James Yancey's 1763 tax list (see note 5 above).

[10] John Williams Jr.'s 1762 tax list.

[11] Ibid.

[12] James Yancey's 1763 tax list.

[13] On both John Williams Jr.'s 1762 tax list and James Yancey's 1763 tax list, Augustine Davis is taxed only on himself. If Augustine told the truth to the tax agents, this means he had in his household no slaves, and also no white males over the age of 16 other than himself.

[14] Augustine Davis household, 1790 U.S. census for Abbeville County, 96 District, South Carolina, page 460, and 1800 U.S. census for Abbeville District, South Carolina, page 14. The household entries show no slaves in either year.

[15] Ibid.


Richard Davis in Caroline County, Virginia

Richard Davis, in his will, claimed to be “of Cariline County”, even though his will was probated in Granville County, North Carolina. Caroline County, Virginia, is unfortunately one of the “burned counties” whose local records were destroyed during the Civil War. All that survives from the eighteenth century are a few wills and a set of court order books. Richard Davis and his sons Absalom and Gideon appear in those order books, as does Richard’s son-in-law William Tynes. The Caroline County order books were abstracted over two decades by John Frederick Dorman.[1] The following items are taken from his abstracts.

The oldest surviving record of a Richard Davis in Caroline County is dated 8 March 1732/3:

From 14 May 1736:

Note the association of both Richard and Absalom Davis with the Terry family, and also Richard Davenport; recall that two of Richard’s sons-in-law were named Terry and Davenport.

Richard Davis appears several more times in the order books during the 1740s and 1750s. His last entry may be the most revealing. This is dated 9-10 March 1758:

Later that same year, 1758, Richard’s son Zacharias and son-in-law William Tynes begin appearing on tax lists in Granville County, North Carolina.[5] By 1760 (few tax records survive from 1759), Richard himself and most of his children seem to have relocated to North Carolina.[6] Could this large debt judgment against him have been the proximate cause of Richard’s decision to leave Caroline County? It has been said that debt avoidance was one of the motivating factors during the entire westward expansion, and this may be a case in point.

It is interesting to note that in Richard’s will, two of his daughters are given a share of the estate provided that they come and get it. This suggests that Jeriah Terry and Mary Consolea (or however one reads her name) may have remained in Caroline County, Virginia, when the rest of the family migrated to North Carolina.

Richard may have actually written his will while he was still living in Caroline County, but did not date or sign it, or acquire witnesses, until he was in Granville County. The date, on the last line of the will, appears to have been written in a lighter ink than the rest of the will, although in the same handwriting. If this is the case, perhaps his daughters Jeriah and Mary had already lost touch with their father before Richard’s move to North Carolina, their husbands having migrated elsewhere. For example, Stephen Terry, probable husband of Jeriah, had land transactions in Orange County, Virginia, as early as 1746 (see discussion of Jeriah above).

Notes on Caroline County:

[1] John Frederick Dorman, Caroline County, Virginia, Order Books (Washington, D.C.: J. F. Dorman, 1969-1991), fifteen volumes.

[2] Dorman, Order Book 1732-1740, part 1, page 29 (page 59 in the original order book).

[3] Dorman, Order Book 1732-1740, part 2, page 40 (original page 341).

[4] Dorman, Order Book 1754-1758, part 2, page 78 (original pages 342-343).

[5] “Zaccaris” Davis appears on “A List of Tithables Collected by Philemon Hawdins for the Year 1758” and William “Tines” on “A List of Tithes Taken for the Year 1758 June 10th by Nathaniel Harris”. Both lists may be found in the “Tax Lists 1758” folder in box CR.044.701.20 at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History.

[6] Richard Davis and son Absalom appear on “A List of Tithables for the Yeare 1760 Taken by Jno. Hawkins”; Richard's son Augustine and sons-in-law Richard Davenport and William Tynes appear on “Granville County June 10th 1760 A List of Tiths Taken by James Mitchell”. Both lists may be found in the “Tax Lists 1760-1761” folder in box CR.044.701.20 at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History.


Was Thomas Davis the father of Richard Davis?

Some Davis family accounts[1] say that Richard Davis was the son of a Thomas Davis, who joined Richard in Granville County, North Carolina, during the 1750s. A Thomas Davis died in Granville County sometime between 20 August 1754 (when he made out his will[2]; see transcription below) and 7 March 1758, when the will was probated. The will mentions four sons: John, Thomas, Rubin, and Richard, along with a daughter Mary and wife Elizabeth. It has been assumed that the Richard Davis mentioned in this will was the same Richard Davis who himself died in Granville County in 1761.

However, two entries in the Granville County court minutes[3] show that this is not the same Richard. The following entries appear under the year 1758:

Therefore it is clear that Richard Davis, son of Thomas Davis, was barely ten years old when the other Richard Davis, a grandfather, died in 1761. Thomas may have been a brother or even a nephew of our Richard, but was certainly not his father. If Davis family researchers have concluded that Richard Davis' father was named Thomas based on the Thomas Davis will, then that evidence is now in question, and Richard’s parentage may need to be reconsidered.

Daniel Underwood, named as guardian of the four children, was one of the executors of Thomas Davis’ will. For the record, the will follows:

John Gibbs

Thomas his T mark Davis

Thos Cook


Thomas his H mark Lacee


Notes on Thomas Davis:

[1] See, for example, the following databases on the Rootsweb Worldconnect website: ray_donna, gilead, and akw2003.

[2] The original of the will of Thomas Davis is held by the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, document box CR.044.801.9, in a folder marked “Davis, Thomas 1758”.

[3] The court minutes (the originals of which are now missing) were abstracted in 1896 by Thomas McAdory Owen and published in his History and Genealogies of (Old) Granville County, North Carolina, 1746-1800 (Greenville, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1993).

[4] Owen, History and Genealogies, page 191.

[5] Ibid.


The Surname “Toyns”: A Case Study in Richard Davis’ Handwriting

The married name of Patience Davis has been read in many contradictory ways. The court clerk renders it variously as Coyema, Coyns, and Joyner; Zae H. Gwynn thinks it is Coyny. I have transcribed it as “Toyns”, based upon the following analysis of Richard Davis’ handwriting.

The surname occurs five times in the will. Three times it refers specifically to Patience: , , and ; once to “my daughter Toyns”: ; and once to Patience’s daughter Jeriah: . In four of these five instances of the name, the initial letter does resemble an upper-case C; in one (the second instance), it looks very much like a lower-case t.

Comparing this name with other occurrences of the upper-case C in the will, such as in the phrases “Cariline County” and “County Court” , makes it clear that Richard’s C is characterized by a loop at the top, and not by the sharp vertical hook seen in the surname. On the other hand, the initial letter of the surname matches the only other two examples of an upper-case T in the will: the name of Richard’s daughter Jeriah Terry , and the phrase “all Their in Creas” (note another fine example of a C). Therefore, the best interpretation of this letter is a T.

There is not much controversy about the middle three letters: They are clearly “oyn”, and are rendered so in all transcriptions except one of the court clerk’s (“Coyema”). The final letter is Richard’s odd lower-case s, which occurs throughout the will, such as in the word “in Creas” above, and in the name Davis itself: .

The best transcription for Patience’s married surname is, therefore, Toyns.