Today we examine the will of John Smith of Prince George’s County, Maryland. This will is interesting to me since John Smith married the widow of Jonathan Prather, Jane (I do not know her maiden name). Their son Jonathan Prather is named in the will, evidently young enough to have no descendants. It is mentioned that if the younger Jonathan Prather was to die before receiving his inheritance, it would go to his brother, Thomas Prather – Ritchey’s 8th great-grandfather.
Mattapany is the area where the Patuxent River flows into the Chesapeake Bay. This is where John Smith and his family lived. Per the will he owned land on the Patuxent River at Nottingham – somewhere just below Jug Bay. John Smith also owned land on the eastern branch of the Potomac River, which he bequeathed to John Prather. Evidently John Smith was a very wealthy man, not surprising since he was a tobacco planter and merchant.
Jane Prather Smith was the widow of Jonathan Prather. She married John Smith after August 24, 1682. The couple had no children, since the marriage occurred when they were older. Since there is no mention of children in his will, John Smith, had no direct descendants, and even though he probably married earlier in life, if there were children from this first marriage they did not survive until 1707.
Richard Chaffee, whose two daughters are mentioned in the will died 1698. His daughters were Mary and Margery, his wife, Ann.
In addition to owning slaves, he also had indentured servants who still owed time for their travel from England or Europe to Maryland.
Will of John Smith
Prince George’s County, Maryland, Wills 1698-1769, pages 30-32
In the name of God, Amen. I, John Smith, of Mattapany Landing in Prince George’s County, planter, being sick and weak in body, but through mercy in perfect sense and memory, calling to mind the uncertainty of this life, and that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make, ,ordain, constitute and appoint this my last will and testament in manner and form following, hereby revoking and making null and void all former wills by me or in my name made or pretended to be made. And declaring and publishing this only to stand and remain in force.
Imprimis. I give and bequeath my soul into the hands of the Almighty God the Creator, with true and hearty sorrow for all my sins committed against him, trusting that in and through the merits and mediation of my dear Redeemer (who laid down his life for those that by true and sincere faith lay hold on him) I shall receive pardon and absolution; and at the last day be raised up and live with him in glory. And for that temporal estate which God has been pleased to bestow on me, I give and bequeath it in manner and form hereafter expressed and set down.
First. I give and bequeath to Ellinor Mullikin, daughter of James Mullikin, a parcel of land I bought of Capt. James Keech, being part of a Tract of Land called Thorpland, containing one hundred and ten acres, to her and to the heirs of her body lawfully begotten, but if she dies without such heirs, then I give and bequeath the same to Mary Mullikin and to her heirs.
Item. I give and bequeath to Ann Sullivan one two-year-old heifer. I give and bequeath to the oldest daughter of Richard Chaffee, deceased, one cow called Scragg.
Item. I give and bequeath to the youngest daughter of the said Chaffee one cow yearling, all which cattle are to be delivered immediately after my
Item. I give and bequeath unto John Prather one Negro which I paid for him and have his obligation to repay me or deliver said Negro to me, it is my will and desire that said obligation may be given up to him and he to enjoy the said Negro.
Item. I give and bequeath to John Prather, son of Jonathan Prather, the one-half part of a tract of land called the Hope yard lying on the eastern branch of Potomac River, containing five hundred acres to him and his heirs forever, he to have the southeast part. The other moiety being said northeast part of the said tract, I give and bequeath to Thomas Lucas, son of Thomas Lucas, and to his heirs forever.
Item. I give and bequeath to John Prather one parcel of land lying on the eastern branch of Potomac River called Hope’s Addition, containing one hundred fifty-four acres to him and to his heirs forever.
Item. I give and bequeath to my nephew, John Bowie, all that tract or parcel of land I bought of Robert Brook, being part of land called Brooks Wood, together with the corps of corn, tobacco, beans, etc., now on the ground. Also, I give and bequeath to my said nephew four Negroes called Charles, Lamboo, Dick and Sambo, also one Negro Woman called Peg, and one Scotch boy named Robert Maconaugh. Also I give and bequeath to my said nephew one lot of land with the house on it at Nottingham Town on Patuxent River, all which tracts and parcels of land with their appurtenances, together with the said Negroes and boy Robert, I give and bequeath to the said John Bowie and to the heirs of his body lawfully begotten, and in case of failure of such heirs then to his next heir at law.
Item. I give and bequeath to my loving wife, Jane Smith, the two parcels of land on which I live being part of Brookfield, containing three hundred and fifty acres of land, for and during her natural life, together with the crops of corn, tobacco and beans. Also, I give and bequeath to my said wife and to her heirs forever three Negroes name Cooke, Jerrie and David, also two women servants named Betty Gard and Jane Gallary, also two men servants named Thomas Daniel and George Dunbar.
Item. I give and bequeath to my said wife during her natural life one Negro named Nick.
Item. I give and bequeath to my said nephew, John Bowie, after the decease of my said wife, the two parcels of land being part of Brookfield above named, and the above-named Negro Nick to my said nephew and to the heirs of his body lawfully begotten forever.
Item. I give and bequeath to my loving wife Jane and my nephew John Bowie all the remainder of my estate be it in money goods, chattels, debts, household furniture, etc., wheresoever it be, the same to be equally divided between them.
Item. It is my will and desire that my Executor, hereafter named and appointed, do in three months after my decease, pay to the Reverend Mr. Nathaniel Taylor, minister of the Gospel, twenty pounds sterling.
Item. It is my will and desire that what I have given and bequeathed to my wife may be her full part and dividend of my estate, without addition of paraphernalia, and I do hereby constitute and appoint my said loving wife Jane Smith and my nephew John Bowie my joint Executors of this my last will and testament, to whose care I leave my body to be decently laid in the ground. It is my desire that my nephew John Bowie do immediately after my decease enter and possess all the lands, Negroes and chattels above bequeathed to him, but that he neither buy, sell, barter or dispose of any of the above said bequeath without the advice and consent of my friends Robert Bradley and James Stoddart, or one of them.
It is my will that if John Prather, the son of Jonathan Prather, die without heirs, that the above moiety of the Hopeyard may descend to his brother, Thomas Prather, and I do hereby publish and declare this to be my only and last will and testament. Witness my hand and seal this third of September 1707.
It is my will and desire that my wife may have liberty of putting what tobacco she maketh into the house at Nottingham Town, although given to my nephew John Bowie. And also that my nephew John Bowie may have three weeks work of George Dunbar every year so long as he hath to serve, although he be given to my wife. Signed, sealed and declared to be the last will and testament of the within named John Smith, in presence of us – George Dunbar, R. Bradly, William Lonley.
On the back of this will was endorsed to wit September 23, 1707, then came Mr. Robert Bradly, William Conley and George Dunbar, ye above witnesses and prove the within will of the said John Smith in common form before me, Edward Willett, Deputy Commission of Prince George’s County, examined Mr. John Smith Will 1707.
Categories: Old Wills