Highlights of James Wilson Sr.’s Will (1704-1776)

Sealed in front of witnesses 12/10/1775*; probated and registered 5/1/1776
Hamiltonban Twp., York County, PA

[words added] or (paraphrase, comments, or explanation)

[James calls himself a] Yeoman (a free man holding and cultivating a small landed estate; a farmer), being of sickly and weak body, but of sound and disposing mind and memory. [After] all my just and legal debts [are paid and] my funeral charges be defrayed, I give and bequeath (leave as a legacy through a formal will):

Unto Jean (1721-1798), my beloved wife, a feather bed and suitable furniture . . . likewise the mare she usually did ride and her colt . . . and also two negroes, Will and Rose. At her decease I order the negro man Will to my son Hugh and the negro woman Rose I order and allow to my son James. I likewise order that she shall have kept and foddered on the place two horse creatures, two cows, and six sheep.

Next, I give and bequeath unto my son Hugh (1746-1810) that tract and piece of land on which he has been laboring for sometime past. Also I bequeath him one equal third part or share of the plantation I have in the South Mountain. Also I give and bequeath unto him a feather bed and furniture, hingings excepted (perhaps the hardware with which it was attached to a wall, not unlike a Murphy bed). I also order and allow him in the purchase of his land, forty pounds of the money paid into the office at Philadelphia (perhaps to cover transfer expenses and/or taxes).

Next, I give and bequeath unto my son James (1747-1779) that plantation on which he has been laboring for sometime past, two hundred acres. Also I give and bequeath to him one equal third part or share of the plantation I have in the South Mountain. Also I give and bequeath unto him in the purchase of his land, forty pounds of the money paid into the office at Philadelphia. Further I bequeath unto him one feather bed and furniture, hingings excepted.

Next, I give and bequeath unto my son [later Captain] David (1752-1846) and his heirs the plantation I live upon. As also one equal third part of share of the plantation I have in the South Mountain, [I give] one feather bed and furniture, hingings excepted; also four horses, Buck, Dick, Duck, and Prince; also the new wagon and gears; also two plows and plow irons and harrow; also four cows and six sheep; likewise the young negroes Tom and Jude; also I give him all the crop in the ground; also sixty bushels of wheat of the crop now in the barn; and my silver watch.

Next, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Martha Wilson (1754-1822) [unmarried at this time] a black mare called ‘Lil’ and her saddle; [also] three cows and six sheep; also a feather bed and furniture and a chest of drawers and a spinning wheel. Likewise, I order that she shall have her maintenance off the place for four years, if she remains so long unmarried, but if she marries in the time, she is to have no allowance for the remaining time.”

Signed, sealed, and published, pronounced, and declared by the said James Wilson as his last will and testament in the presence of us, the subscribers.

Probated before Samuel Johnston, Esq. and Deputy Register, County of York, Province of Pennsylvania, May 1, 1776.

* His oldest off-spring, Elizabeth, had died the year before, in 1774. He left nothing for her husband, William Reed, which was customary. We believe, however, that this William was from General William Reed’s family. He served in the Revolutionary War. Other of our Wilsons married Reeds. James, Sr.’s son John had died a bachelor five years before his father at age 21. Our direct ancestor, James, Jr., was to pass just three years after his father, at age 32. Most of his heirs were just children at that time, but his widow Hettie remarried and no doubt had help managing the farm. James, Jr.’s daughter, our direct ancestor, Jean, named for her mother, was only age 2 at James, Jr.’s death but eventually married, at age 18, a young man from that area, John Hill, and they headed west to Indiana County, PA, to produce my paternal grandmother’s Wilson-Hill line.

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