Stephen Lee’s will, written and recorded in Mason County, Virginia (soon to be Kentucky!), is one of the earliest on record – found on pages 8-10 of the first will book. It is interesting that he gave one of his daughters a different legacy from the other six children – probably a story behind that, and one we will most likely never know.
In the name of God, Amen. I, Stephen Lee, of the County of Mason, and Commonwealth of Virginia, being sick in body but of sound and perfect memory, and calling to mind the uncertainty of life, do make, constitute and ordain this my last will and testament in the manner and form following.
In the first place I will and devise that all my just debts be paid by my executors hereinafter mentioned,
and the remainder of my estate of every kind, after my just debts being paid, I will and bequeath to my beloved wife Anne Lee, during her natural life, and at her decease to be divided among my four sons and two daughters, namely Stephen Lee, Edward Lee, Henry Lee, Peter Lee, Susannah Sashbrooke and Jenny Mason, each of my children so named, to have an equal portion. They first paying to my daughter Lucy Bridwell the sum of thirty pounds of Virginia currency and tis my further will and desire that when my estate is divided that my several sons and daughters should possess as their part of their portion the following Negroes at their valuation, that my son Stephen Lee have one Negro man named Archie. My son Edward Lee to have one Negro man named Charles. My son Henry Lee one Negro man named Bristol. My son Peter Lee one Negro woman named Amy. My daughter Susannah Sashbrooke one Negro woman named Dinah, and my daughter Jenny Mason one negro girl named Celia, and tis my further will and desire that in case either of my sons herein before mentioned should die without heirs, that then the portion of such child so dying without heirs be divided equally among my surviving sons and daughters, as before mentioned or their heirs and I further will and desire that my beloved wife Anne Lee, before my estate is divided as above shall have the power to give at her own discretion to my son Edward Lee one feather bed and furniture and to my son Peter Lee one feather bed and furniture in case my said beloved wife Anne shall think proper so to do, and I do hereby constitute and confirm this to be my last will and testament and do revoke every other will or wills, either written or verbal and do constitute and appoint
Witnesses present – Alexander Orr, Samuel Arrowsmith, Henry Ritter, Ezekiel Arrowsmith
At a court held for Mason County the 20th day of July 1791 –
The last will and testament of Stephen Lee, deceased, was proved by the oaths of Samuel Arrowsmith, Henry Ritter and Ezekiel Arrowsmith, sworn to by Henry Lee and Edward Lee, executors therein named and ordered to be recorded. Thomas Matthews, Junior