Old Wills

Peter Benham’s 1795 Will

I’m sure you know by now how much I enjoy reading old wills.  This one is especially interesting since Peter Benham, of Campbell County, Kentucky, was in Washington County, Pennsylvania, on business when he became ill and died.  He lists everything due him in Pennsylvania and gives the duty of gathering money and articles to Jacob Cuvert, to bring back to Kentucky.  How sad it must have been for Betsy Benham to never see her husband again, and the children their father.  It just shows how perilous life was at that time.

benham-1In the name of God amen.  I Peter Benham, of Campbell County, but present about business in Washington County in the state of Pennsylvania, being sick of body but of perfect mind and memory and calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament, that is to say principally and first of all my soul I recommend into the hands of God who give it and my body to the earth to be buried in decent, Christian burial at the discretion of Myles Hardin and Daniel Gayman, not doubting but I shall receive the same again at the general resurrection by the mighty power of God, and as touching such real estate where of it hath pleased God to bless me in this life I dispose of the same in the following manner and form.  Unto my well beloved wife Betsy Benham I give and bequeath all my household goods and furniture and two cows.  To my sons, my heirs, namely Robert, James, Peter and John Benham.  I give the residue of my estate under the following restrictions.  My brother Robert Benham of said Campbell County whom I constitute and appoint sole executor of this my last will and testament is to take the residue of my estate and ascertain the amount of the same in the court of said Campbell County and purchase land for the same where it may seem to him best for the use of my said heirs, and if in one place to get a joint title in their names for the land and the same to be equally among them, my said heirs, to be bound to trades by my executor such as they shall severally choose with and by the consent of my wife at such periods as they shall judge them or any of them fit for the same.  And whereas my wife is at present

benham-2pregnant, if it shall be a boy to enjoy an equal share with my said heirs, but if a girl her portion to be as followeth.  My three oldest sons, namely Robert, James and Peter, shall pay my daughter Ann Benham twenty-five pounds to the child my wife is big with if a girl, when she comes of age, and my son John when he comes of age to pay his equal part, or one fourth of the said sums to his brothers.  Each to give security for the payment of his respective proportion payment before he gets possession of his part of the lands and in case any of my said children shall die before he or she arrive to the full age such a childs part or portion to be equally divided amongst the survivors, if a boy among the boys, if a girl among the mother and surviving daughter.  And whereas my estate is all personal or movable property and part of the same in the hands of the following.  In the said County of Washington, viz., in the hands of John Heaton, Esq., two hundred and forty two dollars to be paid in flour delivered at Rice’s landing on the Monongahela River.  In the hands of John Arnold ten pounds, in the hands of Robert Schooley four pounds, in the hands of Myles Hardin five pounds four shillings and three pence worth of linen as per bill in different pieces and eight dollars in cash in the care of Barber Lawer twenty five and ½ gallons of honey in a cask in the hands of Samuel Barr, eleven pounds and one shilling and nine pence.  In the house of Myles Hardin thirty one dollars and as brown ale and every of the above several sums of money and the above mentioned flour and honey I do hereby authorize Jacob Cuvert to ask, demand, recover and receive together with my gun and clothes and convey the same to my said executor giving receipts for each of the said numerated articles and also to pay and discharge every just debt which may or shall

benham-3appear against me in the said County of Washington and take receipts for the same and lay out the money which shall remain in his hands for flour, liquor or other goods and convey the same to my said executor and best a proportional expense of a boat and etc., for conveying the said goods and take an exact inventory of all his transactions concerning the same, and deliver it with said goods to my executor and my said executor shall dispose of the residence of my estate in the said Campbell County as above directed it being well known to him and here needless to route in except the crop of corn and some working utensils to be left for the present use of my family and if my wife shall in any wise murmur concerning her dowry then the whole of my estate to be estimated and allow her what seems lawful.  Myles Hardin and Daniel Gayman to adjust the expense of my sickness and burial and make a bill of the same which the said Jacob Cuvert shall pay revoking all former wills or testaments and executors, etc., ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament.  In witness whereof I, the said Peter Benham, have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my seal this tenth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety five.

Peter Benham

Signed, sealed, pronounced and proclaimed by the said Peter Benham as his last will and testament in our presence who in his presence, and in the presence of each other, have hereunto subscribed our names.           Myles Hardin, Daniel Gaymen

Washington County State of Pennsylvania to wit

On the twenty-seventh day of October anno domini one thousand seven hundred and ninety five personally came before me,

benham-4the subscribed register for the Probate of Wills and granting letters of administrators in and for the county aforesaid Myles Hardin and Daniel Gayman, the subscribing witnesses to the within instrument of writing who being duly sworn according to law did declare and say that they were personally present and heard and saw the within named Peter Benham sign, seal, publish, pronounce and declare the within instrument of writing as and for his last will and testament that at the time of doing thereof the said Peter Benham, the testator was of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding according to the best of these deponents knowledge and belief and subscribed their names thereto as witnesses to the execution thereof in the presence of the testator and at his request.

Myles Hardin, Daniel Gayman

Sworn to and subscribed before me – Samuel Clarke, Register

Washington County, State of Pennsylvania to wit.

I, Samuel Clarke, Esquire, Register for the probate of wills and granting letter of administration in and for the county aforesaid do hereby certify that the within is a true copy of the original duly proved and remaining in my office at Washington carefully compared by me.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of the said county the 27th day of October 1795.                            Samuel Clarke

Received Marth 19, 1796, of John Newton, one boat w 7/6 afoot ten barrels of flour at four dollars per barrel and one hundred and fifty seven dollars in cash being in full for the money within mentioned received by me.                              Jacob Cuvert

Test.  James Fawnworth

benham-5Campbell May Court 1796

This certified copy of Peter Benhan’s will was produced in court and sworn to by Robert Benhan, Esq., Executor therein named who entered into bonds in the penalty of 400 pounds with Nathan Kelly his security and was ordered to be recorded.

Teste.  James Taylor, County Clerk

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