6 December 1844
Updated March 28, 2016
Rebecca N. Gilliam was the daughter of Walter Boyd Gilliam and Esther Tinsley, his wife. Rebecca and her mother and sister, Jane Henry Gilliam and enumerated among the Free Negroes of Petersburg. Rebecca’s middle name is said to be Nichols. The Register of Free Negroes states Rebecca was 13 years old 21st day of July 1821, that she was 4 feet 8 inches high, and born born free. This places her birth around 1808.
I, Rebecca N. Mathews, do hereby make my last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say:
1st I desire that all debts with which I may be justly chargeable shall be paid from the hire of my slaves if a sale of any part of my property be necessary to pay the same it is my wish that my executors hereinafter named dispose of my real estate for that purpose so as to avoid the sale of any of my slaves.
2nd After the payment of my just debts I give, bequeath and devise to my daughter Sarah Elizabeth [Gilliam], the following slaves, Lucy and her child Lucy, Robert, Thomas, Carter, Jenny, Mary and Sally the children of Mary Bartley and I desire that my executors shall give to my said daughter when she shall attain the age of fifteen a bed and bedstead.
3rd In like manner I give and bequeath to my daughter Jane [Gilliam] the following slaves Mary Ann and her child Betty, Mary, Skinner, James, Peter and Thomas Stuart and desire that she shall at like time as aforesaid be furnished with a bead and bedstead.
4th I like manner I give and bequeath to my son John Walter Boyd [Mathews] the following slaves, Priscilla and her three children, John, Mingo and William and to be furnished in like manner by my executors when he shall attain the age of 21 with a bed and bedstead.
5th I desire that my executors hereinafter named will hold and hire out during the life time of my husband James Z. Mathews my slaves Frances and George paying to my said husband annually the proceeds of their hires at the death of my said husband, I give and bequeath both of the said slaves to my son John Walter Boyd [Mathews],
I devise to my said husband James Z. Mathews for and during the term of his natural life the house and lot on which I now live, after his death I desire the said house and lot to my son John Walter Boyd [Mathews] and his heirs forever.
6th I devise to my two daughter before named to be equally divided between them, the lot which I own upon Walnut Street devised from Walter Boyd Gilliam, decd, and all the lots and land which I own in the County of Prince George.
7th I hereby emancipate and set free Peggy, William, Irvine, Jack, Stewart, Mary Bartley, and two little boys whoa are motherless Thomas and David. I wish these slaves to be hired out however by my executors if I should died in debt and the proceeds of their hires to be applied to the payment of my debts after by estate shall be clear from debt I wish my executors to furnish them with the proper evidence of their freedom.
8th All the rest and residue of my estate not particularly herein before mentioned, I desire may be equally divided between my three children herein before named
9th And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint Thomas Wallace and Jordan Branch executors of this my last Will and Testament and desire that they may have the education, care and guardianship of my children as fully as I may be authorized to entrust it to them, if either of my executors should die before me, it is my wish that the survivor may act and have in addition the custody of my children aforesaid.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal, this 6th day of December 1844
Signed, sealed, published and declared as and for the last will and testaments of R. N. Mathews in our presence and we sign our names hereto by her request.
Sig: Rebecca N. Matthews
Wit: Wm N. Fried, Wm P. Burton, Wm D Dyer.
Codicil to my last Will and Testament whereas I have determined to manumit my negro woman Ussed and her children Sidney and Jack on account of money and service which I have received rendering it just that I should do so. I hereby ratify and confirm any such act of manumission which I may make and by this codicil grant to them completely their freedom it is my will and desire that my trustee Robert Ritchie shall not be called to any account by my heirs or distributes for this or any other act or deed in which he may unite with me and if there by any claim against him for any such acts whether it be for property sold or for other acts in which I may unite to prevent any difficulty, I hereby bequeath and release the said claim fully to the said Ritchie. Given under my hand and seal this 19th day of August 1846
Sig: Rebecca N. Matthews
Teste: W. F. Fisher, D. H Branch
Codicil No 2 It is my will and desire that my husband James Z. Mathews shall have instead of the legacy of the slaves and real estate for the tern of his natural life in my will bequeathed and given him, a portion of my lot on Walnut Street to be held by him in fee as his own to with, the northern part of said lot fronting 30 feet on Walnut Street and running back by parallel lines to the depth of 50 fteet. It is my will that the part of my estate given to John Walter Boyd [Mathews] and Mary A. Rebecca [Mathews] my two children by my said husband, be charged with the payment of fifty dollars a years to him so long as he shall lived and I hereby revoke all bequests and devised given in the body of my Will to my said husband. It is also my will and desire that the two slaves, Frances and George given to my said husband for life and afterward to Walter Boyd [Mathews] be the property of and I hereby bequeath them to my daughter Mary A. R. Mathews, I also give her Peter heretofore given to Jane Henry my daughter and I also give the said Mary A. R. Mathews little Suckey, the daughter of Priscilla born since the making of my Will. I give to my daughter Jane Henry, Cecilia the daughter of Mary Bartley, Henry and Margaret, the children of Mary Ann Holloway all three born since the date of my Will. And it is my Will and desire that the balance of my lot (after the desire to my husband be taken off) lying on Walnut and Marl Streets be divided between my daughters Sarah E. and Jane H. in equal proportions it being the residue of the same lot given in the body of my Will to my husband for life and afterwards to my son [John] Walter Boyd Gilliam in fee. The said devise in the body of the Will I hereby revoke and dispose of the said lot as above. The lot devised in the item of my will devised from Water Boyd Gilliam decd to be divided between my two eldest daughters, I have sold and I hereby confirm the said sale. In testimony whereof I have set my hand and affixed my seal to this codicil to my will this 3rd Nov 1847
Signed, sealed and published as a codicil to her last will by R. N. Mathews in our presence and our names are subscribed as witnesses hereto at her request.
Sig: Rebecca N. Matthews
Wit: W. F. Fisher, D. H. Branch
Clerk’s office of the Hustings Court of the town of Petersburg I do hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy of the last will and testament of Rebecca N. Matthews decd and the codicils thereto annexed and ordered to be recorded by the said Hustings Court on the 21st instant. Given under my hand this 22nd day of December AD 1848.
Jno Mann, DC
- Library of Virginia Chancery Files. Petersburg. James Z. Mathews vs. Exr of Rebecca N. Mathews, etc. 1854-038