Will of John Gilliam, 1823 | Gilliams of Virginia

Will of John GILLIAM of Prince George
1 August 1820
Probated 12 August 1823
Updated March 23, 2016

In the name of God, Amen.

I, John GILLIAM, of the county of Prince George, do make and ordain this my last will and testament.

Imprimis: I give to my beloved wife Hannah during her widowhood the use of my plantation called Mitchells, together with the following slaves, to wit: Bristor, Phil, Hannah, Mary and Sarah, and I also give to her for and during the same time the sum of Two Hundred Dollars per annum—this bequest is to be in lieu of all or any dower to which she may otherwise be entitled to claim form my estate, it is however my wish and desire that my children who are unmarried, shall be permitted to remain with their Mother, and in case any who are now or shall hereafter be married, should unfortunately want a home, that they should find a home and maintenance from my estate at Mitchells. It is further my wish and desire that my carriage and horses, my household and kitchen furniture and stock of very kind should be kept together during the widowhood of my wife for the benefit of herself, my children and my sister Susan, who is to be considered during the period aforesaid a member of my family so far as that whenever she chooses to avail herself of it. She shall find a home and maintenance at Mitchells at the expense of my estate.

It is my will and desire that the bequests made to my daughters in this or any subsequent time of my will, should be so construed as not to entitle them or either of them to the possession of the property so bequeathed altho’ they may have reached the age of twenty-one years. Or have been or may be married, unless the Trustees hereafter to be named, from experience, and the utmost confidence in the husband or husbands of my daughters who are married shall consider and decide that the bequest made of their benefit may be advisably and beneficially entrusted to them: in that event, they are authorized and empowered to transfer their respective portions to those thus possessing their full confidence otherwise it is my intent and remaining that they and each of them should during their natural lives derive annually only the net profits of the bequest, and if they have not heirs of their bodies that the estate devised should remain and be subject to an equal division between all my children surviving and the descendants of those who may have departed this life. With this view and for the purpose of accomplishing this article of my will, I constitute and appoint my executors hereafter to be named as Trustees for the especial purpose and give in trust to them for the said purpose all my slaves (excepting hereafter those named as dower for my wife) to be divided in the manner following:

My eldest daughter shall select one of her choice of my female slaves, the second and third daughter shall successively in like manner each select one, the balance is to be divided into three equal parts, on part of each daughter, subject to the restrictions aforesaid. I repose full confidence in my executors as Trustees that in the execution of the trust thus reposed in them that they will faithfully tenderly and affectionately perform the duties assigned to them.

I give and bequeath to each of my sons as they shall respectively reach the age of twenty one years—two male slaves, one of which such as they (beginning with the eldest) shall select from all my slaves (not otherwise disposed of), and the other one not to exceed twelve years of age, also as much money as including the said two slaves a piece shall make their portion or amount equal to that of their sister in the proceeding item.

It is my will and desire that either of my sons (giving preference to seniority) shall have the option of purchasing my proportion (it being the half) of Spring Hill at the price of Three Thousand Dollars, but if neither wishes to make the purchase, I direct that my executors make sale thereof at public auction—also after the death or widowhood of my wife. I have at the option of either of m sons in manner aforesaid to purchase my plantation called Mitchells at a fair valuation but if they also decline to make this purchase, my executors are directed in like manner to make sale of it for the benefit of my estate.

As it is my wish and desire that each of my children should derive an equal proportion of my estate those of them who have heretofore received or hereafter shall receive from me any advancement for their promotion in life shall in their respective proportions account for the same.

My executors shall have power on the misconduct of any of my slaves to make sale of them and account for the proceeds of such sale.

It is farther my wish and desire that my son William should be educated at Philadelphia for the practice of Medicine as soon as his education is sufficiently advanced to be sent there and that my son James be so educated as to qualify him for that pursuit whatever it may be which his inclination may induce him to select.

I request that my funeral may be solemnized in the plainest manner and that my coffin be made of the best heart pine plank and blacked.

The reside of my estate as received by executors after giving my sons their proportion as they come of age I direct shall be vested in the funds of the United States and the accruing interest as received equally divided between all my daughters. Lastly I nominated and appoint William GILLIAM and James S. GILLIAM my sons Executors to this my last will and testament and as I own no money of importance hope that no security will be required form my executors on their qualification as such—and request that no appraisement of my estate may be made.

In testimony I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this first day of August in the year of Christ, 1820.


Nathaniel Colley
W. P. Johnston

Probated Prince George county Court, 12 August, 1823.

I order that a decent house shall be built at the place I bought from Walter Boyd GILLIAM for the reception of my wife and family which place I give my wife during her natural life in lieu of the place called Mitchells before devised to her in my will, and that my family bay be kept together there during her life I give to my daughters the house which will be built there to live in so long as they are single if they may choose and at the death of my wife I give to my son William GILLIAM and his heirs forever the place called spring Hill and should be died without issued who leaves a son I give it to my son Robert and his heirs forever and if he ides without a son who leaves a son I give it to my son James and his heirs forever. I order that my son William GILLIAM allow five hundred pounds in the distribution of my estate for that part of the land which I bought from Walter Boyd GILLIAM called Spring Hill. —Lastly I appoint my wife executrix instead of my son Robert of this my last Will and Testament.

In witness thereof I set my hand and affix my seal this twenty-ninth day of August one thousand eight hundred and twenty one. Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of us.


A. Davis
Joshua Poythress

Proved at August court 1823 by A. Davis
Proved 11 May 1824 by Joshua Poythress

  • Burned Record Counties Database, Library of Virginia.