Family Stories

Will of Richard Major of Loudoun County, Virginia

I love reading old wills.  In my opinion this one gives a rosy picture of a family farm life – complete with horses, cows, steers, livestock.  Granddaughter Elizabeth receives a red and white cow ‘commonly known and called her cow’.  I love it!  The picture that comes to mind of the hogs in the pen fattening, crops of grain – much more effective than simply doling out this many acres or amounts of money!  The two daughters are mentioned by their married names – with a list of Loudoun marriages (which I do not have – I need a copy!) it should be easy to find their husbands.  I notice in the will of James Lane, written April 29, 1790, and recorded December 13, 1790, from Loudoun County, Rev. Richard Major and wife are given a  Negro man Harry, to be freed upon the Rev.’s death.  Since there is not another Richard Major mentioned in Loudoun records – or anyone of that last name – it is quite possible to assume that this is the Richard Major whose will we have been studying.  His wife was very likely Sarah Lane before marriage.  And finally, it is of interest to note that his deceased son, Daniel Major, is also mentioned in the will – that he was married and left children.  Another piece of the puzzle for this family.  Take out one of your wills and read through it again – do you make any new findings or conclusions?

from Loudoun County, Virginia, Wills 1793-1797

pp. 303-305

In the name of God, Amen.  I, Richard Major, of Loudoun County, being in a weak and low state of health, but of sound mind and memory, and being willing as far as in me lies to prevent all disputes that may arise about what estate it hath pleased God to bestow upon me, do make this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following.

Imps. My will and desire is that my wife, Sarah, shall have during her natural life one third part of my land to be laid off as she shall choose and also five acres more in woods where she shall be willing to have it; and after her decease to be equally divided between my children (to wit.) Elijah Major, James Major, Sarah Hutchinson, Rebecca Beaver and the children of my deceased son, Daniel Major, to have one child’s part.

Item.  I give to my wife, Sarah, all the household goods and kitchen furniture and her choice of two of my horses and two cows and one third part of hogs and sheep, also I give her choice of one of my steers and all the hogs in the pen now a fattening and all the present crop of grain now on the plantation to be disposed of by her as she shall think proper.

Item.  I give to my granddaughter, Elizabeth Major, a red and white cow, commonly known and called her cow, to her forever.

Item.  All the residue and remaining part of my estate not given nor already mentioned in this will I give to be equally divided between all my children, to Elijah Major, James Major, Sarah Hutchinson, Rebecca Beaver and the children of Daniel Major and to their heirs forever.

Lastly, I nominate, constitute and appoint James Crooks and Jeremiah Hutchinson, Sr., executors of this my Last Will and Testament, revoking and disannulling all former and other wills heretofore by me made, allowing and confirming this to be my last in testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the second day of November 1796.                     Richard Major

Signed, sealed, declared and pronounced to be his Last Will and Testament in presence of Joseph B. Mershon, Joshua Hutchinson, Thomas B. Mershon

At a Court held for Loudoun County, May ye 8th 1797

This Last Will and Testament of Richard Major, deceased, was proved by the oaths of Joseph B. Mershon and Joshua Hutchinson, two of the subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded.  And on the motion of Jeremiah Hutchinson, one of the executors therein named, who made oath thereto according to law, and together with James Crook, his security, entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of five hundred pounds conditioned as the law directs, certificate is granted him for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.                    Teste Charles Binns, C.L.C.

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