Updated March 18, 2016
Images of this suit may be found at the Library of Virginia’s Chancery page. The case is listed as 1787-010
John Boyd Etc vs. Legt(s) of John GILLIAM.
John GILLIAM, the Elder, married Elizabeth Poythress, the daughter of Robert Poythress who left a Will mentioning John GILLIAM and daughter Elizabeth GILLIAM. John and Elizabeth name their first born Robert, after Elizabeth’s father. Robert marries Lucy Skelton, the daughter of James Skelton.
In addition to Robert, John and Elizabeth had the following children:
- Elizabeth who married Col. Thomas Griffin Peachy
- John who married Jane Henry, daughter of the Rev. Patrick Henry
- Ann who married Nathaniel Harrison, Sr.
- William who married Christian Eppes of City Point
- Jane who married Charles Duncan and
- Susanna who married Robert Boyd.
Son, John, though he outlived his parents and some of his siblings in interestingly missing from the suit. We know that John GILLIAM, the Elder had a son John from John GILLIAM, the Elder’s Will dated 1774.
John Boyd sues the heirs of John GILLIAM, the Elder of Prince George, over the division of the slaves of John GILLIAM. John Boyd was given power of attorney by his father Rev. William Boyd to over his uncles, Robert Boyd and Walter Boyd, then living in Virginia. John Boyd’s power of attorney is recorded in Richmond’s Hustings Court.
Quotes of John GILLIAM’s Will is included in the suit. From the papers one learns the approximate death dates of Susannah GILLIAM, daughter of John GILLIAM and wife of Robert Boyd, as well as, the death date of Robert Boyd. One also learns that Susannah and Robert pre-deceased, Susannah’s mother, Elizabeth, and that Susannah and Robert had an unnamed child that died shortly after his/her baptism.
The names of numerous slaves of John GILLIAM are recorded both those kept in Prince George and Amelia/Chesterfield Counties.
John Boyd Etc
Vs. Legt(s) of John GILLIAM
To the worshipfull Court in Chancery sitting of Amelia County
Humbly complaining shew unto your worships your orators John Boyd as attorney in the fact for Charles Duncan acting executor of the Last Will & Testament of Robert Boyd, decd & John Baird, Mercht., the other surviving executor named in the Will of Robert Boyd
That sometime in the year of our Lord Christ one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four a certain John GILLIAM, Gent, then of the county of Prince George departed this life; having first made and published his last Will and Testament in writing duly proved and admitted to record in the Court of the said County as may more fully and distinctly appears reference being had to an another to ______ ______ _____ your Orators possession ready to be produced & to which he begs leave to answer & prays that the same may be taken as part of this his Bill of Complaining that the said John having in his possession a very considerable Estate both real and personal, did by his said Will and Testament amongst sundry other decrees & bequests make the following one to wit:
“Item my will and desire is that after the death or marriage of my wife all the rest and residue of my estate of which kind of whatsoever that is not already disposed by this my last Will & Testament I give to my son William and his sister Elizabeth, Ann, Jean & Susannah to be equally divided amongst them which dividend I
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I give to them and their heirs forever each daughter in fact division respectively to account for the several sums of money advance by me to their respective husbands which sums are to be deducted from their proportion of the said shares or their value and my will and desire further is that if my said son William should die before he arrives at the age of twenty-one years or my daughter Susannah should died before she arrives to the age of twenty-one years or before marriage and my son William is without issue that then, his or her shares or their shares shall be equally divided between Robert and his sisters which dividend I give to them and their heirs forever”
Your orator further begs leave to represent that _____ after the forgoing clause in the said Testator’s Will he adds the following explanatory one to wit:
“Whereas I have throughout this my will given and devised to my several daughters that are now married sundry estates & interest by and under their Christian names as if I intended to deprive their several husbands from that share of my estate which I ever intended my daughters when married as their portion, I therefore declare this to be my will and desire and intention that such of my sons in law that may survive any of my daughters at the time the within mentions contingencies [sic] may happen or their heirs by any of my said daughters shall enjoy & receive their respective proportion as she then was living.”
Your orator further begs leave to shew unto your worships that Robert Boyd late a
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a merchant of Petersburg in this state some time in the year 1775 intermarried with Susanna one of the daughters of the said John & one of the residuary legatees aforementioned who departed this life before Elizabeth her mother and relict of the said John as aforesaid leaving issue a daughter who was baptized by the name of _____ and who departed this life in a few years after her mother and ______ short while after the said Robert also departed this life leaving no child or heir in law in this state, that some years after the death of the said Robert, Elizabeth the relict & widow of the said John and in whom was the life estate of the slaves given to her by the residuary clause before recited also departed this life by which latter ______ the slaves devised to her during her life became subject to a division amongst William & his sisters or their legal representatives, in conformity to the Will of their Testator
That the said Robert Boyd departed this life some time in the year 1779 having first make and duly published his last Will and Testament written bearing date the day of ___ 17___ and thereof in appointed the aforesaid Charles Duncan & John Baird and a certain Alexr Robertson now decd his executors & that the said Charles hath provided the same in the County court of Prince George & hath ____ upon himself the burthen of the execution thereof as by the said Will of Robert in the said County court ____ more fully appear reference being had there to & which the ____ ____ Robert
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May be taken as part of this their Bill of complaint
That in virtue of the powers vested in him as attorney in fact for the said Chas Duncan your orator Jon Boyd the aforesaid John Baird the other surviving executor named in the Will of the said Robert Boyd has made friendly application to the residuary legatees under the Will aforesaid to wit
Thomas Griffin Peachy, who intermarried with Elizabeth, Edmund Harrison & William & Robert GILLIAM acting & qualified exors of Nathaniel Harrison decd who intermarried with Ann, the said Thomas G. Peachy & Robert Turnbull attorneys in fact for Charles Duncan who intermarried with Jean & who is surviving executor of the said John deceased and William GILLIAM to make division of the slaves _____ aforesaid bequeathed or devised by the Will of their testator and to put your orators _____ of the executors of Robert Boyd decd or his representatives as aforesaid in possession of a fifth part of the slaves as aforesaid as the portion which Robert would have been entitled to in right of Susannah his wife he survived, the said Susannah whose mother, Elizabeth. But now so it is, may it please your worships that the said
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Thomas Griffin Peachy &c as before mentioned conceiving that they _____ bound in law to admit the executors or representatives of the said Robert to share of the said slaves in right of him the said Robert because they portend that as the said Susannah one of the legatees aforesaid & late wife of the said Robert deceased departed this life together with her only child and likewise her husband Robert before that contingency happened under the Will, which would have entitled either Susannah or Robert had they survived Elizabeth to take a proportionable part of the said slaves after the death of the said Elizabeth, giving out in speeches [?] at the same time that the legacy Susannah is a lapsed one and sinks into the residuum. At which actions and doings of the said Thomas Griffin Peachy, Edmund Harrison, & William GILLIAM, Exors of Nathaniel Harrison and the said Thomas G. Peachy & Charles Turnbull, attorneys in fact of Charles Duncan surviving Exor of the said John GILLIAM decd
Are contrary to equity & good conscience & tend to injure & oppress the representatives of the said Robert, your orators who have nor remedy but in Chancery to the end therefore that the Thomas G. Peachy, & others aforementioned may on their respective corporal oaths full, true, perfect and
and distinct answers make as fully as if again repeated and interrogated (and he prays that they may also be made defendants hereto) and finally that prays that this wpfull Court in & under consideration of their claim would decree unto your orator in right of the said testator the said Robert Boyd, a fifth part of the slaves aforesaid, and grant such then and further relief may be agreeable to equity and good conscience
May it please our worships to grant a writ of Spe &c, &c
Ro. Lawson, Atto. for Compl
Mar Ct 1787
Set for hearing
The 3d day May
1787 August Ct
The joint and several answers of William GILLIAM, Thomas Griffin Peachy, William and Robert GILLIAM & Edmund Harrison executors of Nathaniel Harrison deceased and Charles Duncan one of the legatees and surviving executors of the last Will and Testament of John GILLIAM, the elder deceased by Thomas G. Peachy, and Robert Turnbull his attorneys in fact
Defdts to the bill of complaint of John Boyd attorney in fact for Charles Duncan acting executor of the last Will and Testament of Robert Boyd deceased and John Baird, Merchant, the other surviving executor named in the Will of the said Robert, complainants
These defendants now and at all times hereafter saving and reserving to themselves all manner of benefit and advantage of the exception to the manifold
Errors and insufficiencies in the complainants said Bill contained for answer thereto or to so much thereof as these defendant are advised is material to them to make answer unto they answer and say they do admit that John GILLIAM, the elder deceased in the bill named did duly make and execute such last Will and Testament in writing of such date and to such purpose and effect as set forth in the complaints bill and did by such Will appoint the defendants Charles Duncan and Nathaniel Harrison since deceased, executors thereof who did duly prove the same in the county court of Prince George and did take upon themselves the _____ of the expectation thereof and these defendants do further admit that the complainants did several times apply to them the said defendant to make division of the slaves mentioned in the residuary clause of the Will of the said John GILLIAM deceased and assigns unto them one fifth part thereof of the benefit of the representatives of the said Robert Boyd deceased which these Defdts have declined as they conceive that they are not bound
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in law to admit the executors of representatives of the said Robert to a share of the said slaves in right of him the said Robert, these defendants being advised that as the said Susannah one of the legatees aforesaid and late wife of the said Robert Boyd deceased departed this life together with her only child and likewise her husband the said Robert before that contingency happened under the Will, which would have either Susannah or Robert, had they survived Elizabeth, the widow of the said John GILLIAM deceased to take a proportionable part of the said slaves after the death of the said Elizabeth, that the legacy so as aforesaid intended for the said Susannah had she survived the said Elizabeth became a lapsed one and sinks into the residuum that therefore the executors or representatives of the said Robert Boyd deceased have no right or title to a distributive part of the slaves or aforesaid; and these defendants deny all unlawful combination or confederacy in the said Bill charged without that ____ there is any other matter or being material or necessary for these defendants to make answer unto and not herein or hereby well and sufficiently answered unto confessed or avoided, traversed or denied is true all which, etc. and these defendants pray to be hence dismissed with their reasonable costs etc.
Answer in Chan
At a court held for Amelia County, November 25th 1786
John Boyd attorney in fact for Charles Duncan acting executor of the last Will and Testament of Robert Boyd, deceased, and John Baird, the other surviving executor named in the Will of the Said Robert, Plts.
William GILLIAM, Thomas G. Peachy, Charles Duncan, & Jane his wife & William GILLIAM, Robert GILLIAM and Edmund Harrison, acting executors of the last Will & Testament of Nathaniel Harrison, deceased, Deft
By the consent of the parties and upon hearing the bill and answer filed in the is cause It is decreed and ordered that Henry Anderson, Peter Randolph, and Abraham Green, and Philip Jones, Gentlemen, or any three of them do divide the slaves mentioned in the residuary clause of the last Will and Testament of John GILLIAM, deceased into five equal parts, making first and appraisement thereof according to the real value of each of the said slaves, that they allot one fifth part thereof unto William GILLIAM, one other fifth part there of unto Thomas Griffin Peachy, one other fifth part thereof unto Charles Duncan, and Jane his wife, and other fifth part there unto the executors of Nathaniel Harrison deceased and that they allot the remaining fifth part thereof unto Robert Turnbull, in trust for the use of the complaints as executors of the said Robert Boyd, deceased if they shall by a final decree of this Court hereafter be adjudged entitled thereto or that the same shall remain in the hands of the said Robert in trust, for the use of any other person or persons who may be entitle to the said fifth part in the case the said complainants shall not and that they make their report of such division to this court in order to a final
G. Holmes, DC
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Boyd Excr etc
vs. GILLIAM & others
Copy internl decree
Set for hearing by consent of parties on the amended Bill, the Defts answer of the Defts and the Auditors report made and returned in the cause to the 3d day of May Court next.
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At a court held for Amelia County January 25 1787,
John Boyd attorney in fact for Charles Duncan acting executor of the last Will & Testament of Robert Boyd, decd & John Baird, one of the surviving executors named in the Will of the said Robert, Plts
William GILLIAM, Thos Griffin Peachy, Charles Duncan & William GILLIAM, Ed Harrison acting Exors of the Will of Nathl Harrison, decd, Defts
By consent of the parties it is ordered that Isaac Hall, Simon Fraser, John Shore and James Campbell, Gentlemen, be
Added to the persons, appointed and named in the decretal order made in this cause at November Court last for the division of the slaves mentioned in the residuary clause of the Will of John GILLIAM, the elder, late of the county of Prince George, decd, and that they or any three of them do divide, agreeable to the said decretal order such of the said slave as are in the Va Counties of Prince George and Chesterfield and make report thereof to the court in order ____ decree
G Holmes, DC
vs. GILLIAM’s Lgt &al
Pursuant to the decree of Amelia County Court, hereunto annexed, we have this day appraised and divided the slaves mentioned in residuary clause of the Will of John GILLIAM deceased of the County of Prince George, in manner following, to wit:
|Nelcey & child||40|
|Pegg & child||75|
|Judy & child||55|
|Janey & child||80|
|Sue & child||60|
|Janey & child ||60|
|Katchena & child||70|
|Suckey & child ||70|
And we have allotted and assigned unto the respective claimants their several slaves in the following manner (viz) to William GILLIAM the slaves named under No 3, he receiving four pounds four shillings to make up deficiency in his proportion of the said slaves unto Thomas Griffin Peachy, No 1, he receiving one pounds four shillings unto Robert Turnbull, No 2, as Trustee for the person or persons who may be adjudged to have the right upon the final decree of the Court, the person of persons so entitled paying
Two pounds fifteen shillings, unto Charles Duncan, we have allotted No 4, he paying three pounds, sixteen shillings, & unto the Executors of Nathaniel Harrison deceased we have allotted No 5, he receiving one pounds four shillings
Given under our hands this 19th of January 1787
Sig: Henry Anderson, P. Randolph, Phil Jones
Report of Division
Of J. GILLIAM’s slaves in Amelia
Jan 19, 1787
Pursuant to an order of the county Court of Amelia hereunto annexed. We have this day divided the slaves of John GILLIAM, the elder, late of the county of Prince George decd, to us produced, having first made an appraisement thereof in manner following vizt:
|Ciss & three children: Phoebe, Peggy [?] & Nelly,||£120|
|Kitty & two children||£110|
|Essey & three children||£130|
| Violet and child||£85|
|Jeanny & Phillis||45|
|Nanny & child||£80|
|Ned & Amber||37.10|
And we have allotted and assigned unto William GILLIAM one fifth part thereof being the slaves whose names are placed under the number 4, unto Thomas Griffin Peachy, on other fifth part, whose names are annexed to the Number 1. Unto the executors of Nathl Harrison, decd, one other fifth part thereof whose names are annexed to the Number 3 unto Charles Duncan, one other fifth part thereof whose names are annexed to the No 5. And unto Robert Turnbull, Gent, in trust for the Executor of Robert Boyd, decd, or such other person or person as may be adjudged legally entitled there to we have allotted & assigned all those slaves whose names are annexed to the Number 2. The executors of Nathl Harrison paying unto William GILLIAM the sum of two pound, ten shillings and Charles Duncan paying unto Thos Griffin Peachy, and to Robert Turnbull, in trust, he the sum of two pounds, ten shilling each.
Given under our hands this 5th day of February 1787
Sig: Simon Fraser, Thos Shore, James Campbell
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Boyd’s Exors &c
Vs GILLIAM & al
Report of Division of slaves in Pr George & Chesterfield
Feb 5, 1787
- John Boyd Etc vs. Legt(s) of John GILLIAM. Library of Virginia’s Chancery Suits. 1787-010.