I think we need a little background on Thomas Lewis. He was a son of John Lewis and Elizabeth Brown, born in Loudoun County, Virginia, about 1772. His siblings were John Lewis, who moved to Hancock County, Kentucky; Daniel and Vincent Lewis who settled near Bloomfield in Nelson County, as did Thomas; and a sister Rebecca Lewis, not sure where she lived. Daniel and Vincent Lewis are named as Thomas’ executors, and each receive ¼ of his estate. Brother John died in 1813, and his children received ¼ part. Sister Rebecca is given 1/8 of the estate, as is her daughter, Thomas’ niece, Rebecca Machan. I can find no marriage for Rebecca Lewis, but that must be her married name.
Thomas was considered the chief business advisor for his family. His death was a tragedy for his family in many ways. From approximately mid-1819 to the first years of the 1820’s Kentucky was in an economic panic. The great acres of land that Thomas left his family were possibly a curse rather than a blessing, since during this time the value of land was less to nothing, and yet property taxes still had to be paid.
Thomas Lewis married Ann Langley, the widow of John May. At her death he received half of her husband’s estate, the other half going to her two children, John Langley and Mary May. Thomas did not have children. My Captain John Hancock Linton is an uncle of Thomas Lewis.
Thomas Lewis’ Will
Will Book A, Pages 129-131, Nelson County, Kentucky
I, Thomas Lewis, late of the town of Petersburg and State of Virginia, now in the State of Kentucky, being in good health and sound mind, do make this my last will and testament in manner following. To wit, I hereby give and devise the whole of my estate (both personal and mixt rights and credits to me in anywise belonging, held either in my name or in the name of others for my use and benefit) unto my brothers Vincent Lewis and Daniel Lewis, their heirs, executors, etc., in trust for the following purposes. First to pay all my just debts and secondly (after retaining to themselves a reasonable compensation for their trouble in settling my business) to divide the balance into eight equal parts and to retain in their hands two eighth parts for the use and benefit of the said Vincent Lewis and his heirs forever. Two other eighth parts for the use and benefit of the said Daniel Lewis and his heirs forever, one eighth part for the use and benefit of my niece, Rebecca Machan; one eighth part for the use and benefit of my sister Rebecca Lewis and her heirs forever; and the other two eighth parts for the use and benefit of the children of my brother John, deceased; provided however if my said trustees should think proper they may within three years after they shall have qualified and undertaken said trust, put out one thousand dollars upon good security upon interest for the use and benefit of my said niece, Rebecca Macham or retain the same in their own hands, paying interest thereon each and every year to the said Rebecca or to some other person for her maintenance in place of the said eighth part of my estate, for and during her natural life and then to pay on the said one eighth or one thousand dollars (which ever they shall first elect to pay) to such of the relations of the said Rebecca Machan as they may think proper, provided it be not to them, the said Vincent and Daniel, or either of them or either of their descendants, and provided also that if my father shall by his will, give the plantation upon which he lives to my sister Rebecca, then in lieu of the one eighth of my estate, my trustee shall pay her the sum of five hundred dollars only, with interest. Thereupon from two years after they shall have qualified to act or if my father should give her any part of said plantation less than the whole, then my said trustees may either pay to her the one eighth part of my estate or one thousand dollars within three years after
They shall qualify to act as aforesaid at their option, and as to the two eighths part devised in the first for the use and benefit of the children of my deceased brother, John, my desire is that the same shall be considered as a part of my said brother’s estate and to go to his children precisely as directed by his last will and testament. And his executrix and trustee, heirs, etc., to have the same power over it as the other part of the said decedent’s estate. It is my will and desire that my said trustees do settle the business of my estate as soon as practicable with convenience to themselves and in order to enable them to do so they are hereby authorized to enter into compromises for the adjustment of titles to all my lands and land clams where the same shall in any manner be disputed to enter into arbitration respecting the same and finally to do and act with the said lands as well as with all part or parts of my estate, rights and credits as if the property was their own and they were acting for themselves. And in order to ascertain the amount of my said estate as soon as possible I would advise them to sell my lands and land claims from time to time, whenever in the opinion they can get what they are or shall be worth and upon such credits as they may think best and most to the advantage of my said estate and from time to time divide the proceeds of the said lands as well as of the slaves and other property, first deducting a reasonable compensation for their trouble, and all expenses attending the business from time to time. And I hereby further empower my said trustees to make sale of all my slaves in the State of Virginia if they should think proper to do so hereby appointing my said brothers Vincent and Daniel, Executors of this my last will and testament, and hereby declaring all others by me at any time heretofore made wills void. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand seal this twenty-seventh day of April in the year of our Lord Christ, 1814.
At a County Court held for Nelson County on the 20th day of December 1819
The above writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Thomas Lewis, deceased, being exhibited in Court and proved by the oaths of Vincent Davis, Richard Rudd and
General James Cox, all of this county, to be wholly in the handwriting of the said deceased and ordered to be recorded and on the motion of Vincent Lewis and Daniel Lewis, the executors therein named, they having given bond with Vincent Davis, Hezekiah Murphy, Thomas Duncan and James Allan, their securities in the penalty of $10000, conditioned as prescribed by law, and having taken the oath of the law in such case directs, it is ordered that a certificate of probate of said will be granted them.
Test. Ben Grayson, County Clerk