Monday, July 1, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - Samuel Hall, Rowan County, NC - Will 1793

On his TransylvanianDutch blog, John Newmark defines an amanuensis as “a person employed to write out what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.” For more information about this daily blogging prompt, see John’s post Amanuensis – Why?.

I have amassed quite a collection of scans of handwritten documents related to my ancestors—primarily marriage records, deeds, and wills. As I have been transcribing these documents, it occurred to me that most of these documents were not actually written by my ancestors, but rather dictated to someone else, and then transcribed by a clerk into official records.

Samuel Hall, my paternal 6th great-grandfather, wrote his will on 20 February 1793 in Rowan County, North Carolina. In it, he names his wife Elizabeth and two sons, Abraham and George. He names no daughters although he had at least one, my 5th great grandmother, Phoebe Hall, who married Isaac Eaton.

I found two provisions in his will especially interesting. The first was that he itemized how much Indian corn, wheat and pork was to be provided each year for his widow Elizabeth. The second was that son Abraham was to receive a cash bequest, either in hard money or trade, and with interest from the date of his death until paid.

Here is my transcription followed by digital images of the will as it appears in the Rowan County records.

“In the name of God Amen! The 20th Day of February AD 1793. I Samuel Hall of Rowan County & State of N Carolina, farmer. being very frail in body but of perfect mind & memory thanks be given to God; therefore calling to mind the mortality of my body & knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die do make & ordain this my last will & test. that is to say principally & first of all I give & recom[m]end my soul to God, & my body to the earth to be buried in a christian like & decent manner, at the discretion of my executors, not doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God. And as touching such worldly estate wherewith it had pleased God to bless me in this life. I give devise & dispose of the same in the manner & form following.
First I will that all legal demands against my estate be paid of[f] as soon as conveniently it can be done.
Item I give & bequeath unto Elizabeth my dearly beloved wife all my household furniture, together with two cows & one horse creature, & four head of sheep, these to be fed or supported on the plantation at the expence of my beloved son George Hall, who is also to furnish her the said Elizabeth Hall with a comfortable dwelling house, & furnish or provide for her annually twenty five bushels of Indian corn, ten bushels of wheat, & one hundred & fifty pounds of good pork during her widowhood.
Item I also give & bequeath unto my dearly beloved son Abraham Hall the just & full sum of thirty pounds hard money N. Carolina currency, the said sum be paid either in money, or trade at hard money rates, the same to carry interest from the day of my decease, until it is paid.
Item. I also give & bequeath unto my beloved son George Hall all my lands & tenements, the same to be to him, his heirs & assigns for ever. I also, make, constitute, ordain & appoint my beloved sons Abraham Hall, & George Hall the only executors of this my last will & test: And I do hereby utterly disallow, revoke & disannull all & every other former test: wills, legacies, bequeaths & executors by me in any way before this time named, willed, bequeathet, ratifying & confirming this & no other to be my last will & test. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal the day & year above written.
Signed, sealed, published by                                     his
the said test: as his last will & test                Samuel  X   Hall {seal}
in the presence of us.                                                 mark
Isaac Eaton jun.
Jese Willcockson.
John Alexander.”

[Source:  North Carolina, Rowan County Wills, 1789-1807, 3:127, Samuel Hall; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 20 Nov 2011).]

© 2013 Denise Spurlock

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