Matthew Wells of Henry & Pittsylvania Counties

Matthew Wells’ “mansion house”, mentioned in his will below, was in the vicinity of present-day Mapleton Drive, not far from Franklin Turnpike. He was a veteran of the American Revolution, having been appointed 2nd Lieutenant to a company of militia in Henry County, Virginia in October of 1779. His Rifle Gunn, Powder Horn, & Shot bag sold together for $15.50 after his death. He died in Pittsylvania County in April of 1828. The following is a transcription of his last will and testament.

In the name of God Amen I Matthew Wells of sound and perfect mind and memory but low in health and much afflicted in body and advanced in years have thought proper to make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following (Viz.) I give to my four daughters namely Clary Ray, Mary Petty, Judith Mitchell, and Martha Walker, four hundred acres of land lying in the County of Pittsylvania on the waters of Sandy River and adjoining the lines of my Sons John, Joseph & Joel Wells to them during their natural life and at their decease to their heirs in the following way. It is my wish and desire that at the decease of my daughter Clary Ray that two children by a former husband shall inherit that proportion of the above named four hundred acres of land which may fall in division of the same to the Mother. The names of these two children are Martha R. Allen [written in the original as Martha here, but Matthew below] and John P. Allen, the only surviving children of my daughter Clary by William Allen a former husband. It is my further will and desire that at my decease whatever proportion of my personal estate would in division have fallen to my daughter Clary Ray shall remain in the hands of my executors and by them be fully accounted for to the above named two children of my daughter Clary Ray, Matthew R. and John P. Allen when they shall arrive to the age of 21 years. It is further my will and desire that my daughter Mary Petty shall have the enjoyment and full benefit of one equal part and fourth of the above named four hundred acres of land during her natural life and at her decease to go to the heir of her body lawfully begotten and I further wish and desire that at my decease whatever proportion of my personal estate would have fallen to my daughter Polly Petty shall remain in the hands of my executors for her special benefit during life to be distributed as may be necessary for her support and children’s while she lives and at her decease whatever remains to her children as they may come to full age or marry, but my executors are to have the control and management of the whole matter during my daughter Polly’s life, but honestly and fully account as above required to her children afterwards. It is further my wish and desire that one hundred and fifty six acres of land which I hold in the County of Henry on the waters of Turkey Cock Creek and adjoining the lands of Henry Lawson, James Johnson & others shall be inherited by three Grand children namely George B. Wells, the only child of my daughter Tabitha, who intermarried with my Nephew Benjamin G. Wells, also Tabitha Eanes & Joel S. Eanes, the only children of my daughter Catherine, who intermarried with Abraham Eanes, my will and desire is that the aforesaid named one hundred and fifty six acres of land shall be equally allotted into two parts to my three grand children above named (Viz.) the only child of my daughter Tabitha to receive one half and the only two children of my daughter Catherine to receive the balance, it is further my wish and desire that whatever proportion of personal estate would have fallen to my two daughters Tabitha Wells & Catherine Eanes should remain in the hands of my executors and by them be honestly accounted for with legal interest to the child and children of my two daughters Tabitha and Catherine when those children shall marry or arrive to full and lawful age. It is further my will and desire that if it should for the interest of my above named three grand children be thought most advisable by my executors it shall be their privilege to sell the aforesaid one hundred and fifty six acres of land on the most judicious terms in their discretion and account for the amount with interest to my above named three grand children as they marry or come to full age. I further devize to my three sons John, Joseph & Joel the following lands (Viz.) to my son John I give one hundred and ninety two acres at the upper part of my plantation, to my son Joseph I give two hundred and twelve acres at the lower end of my plantation, to my son Joel I give the middle part of my land of two hundred and eight acres including my mansion house &c. All of which tracts of land I have conveyed by deed to the respective parties and wish them to stand precisely as deeded, it is further my will and desire that my son Joel should receive a small Negro boy named Henderson to make him every way equal with the rest of my children exclusive of the general distribution to be afterwards made and it is further my will and desire that the residue of my estate, after all my just debts are paid, shall be equally divided among my children subject however to the control and management of my executors in regard to a part of them as above particularly expressed and identified. It is further my wish and desire that should either of my three grand children die before they inherit what I have devized to them in the hand and at the control of my executors that such decedents proportion of estate shall return into general estimation and be equally divided among my surviving heirs.

I hereby moreover ordain and appoint my beloved sons John Wells and Joseph Wells executors to this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills by me made in testimony of which I have before witnesses signed sealed & acknowledged this to be my last will and testament this 8th day of April Anno Domini 1828

Teste
James Morton                                                                          his
John Carter                                                               Matthew  X  Wells         Seal
Stephen Austin                                                                      mark
Willis W. Dearing
John Gardner
Josiah Morton

At a Superior Court of law held for the County of Pittsylvania the 28th day of April 1828 This last will and testament of Matthew Wells Decd. Was presented in court and proved by three of the subscribing witnesses and ordered to be recorded – And on the motion of Joseph Wells one of the executors in said will named who made oath according to law and with Thomas S. Jones, James A. Mitchell, Samuel Beck, Thomas Ragsdale and Jabez Smith his securities entered into and acknowledged bond in the penalty of four thousand dollars conditioned as the law directs, certificate is granted him for obtaining a probate of said will in due form. Liberty being ____ to the other executor in said will named to join in the probate when he shall think fit.

Teste   Will Tunstall   CC

After Matthew’s death, an inventory and appraisement of his estate was made for auction in which the following Negro slaves were listed:

Name Valued at Sold for
Negro woman: Jinny $25.00 $5.00
Negro woman: Phoebe $25.00 $34.00
Negro man: Gabriel (aka Gabe) $250.00 $251.00
Negro man: David $275.00 $300.00
Negro man: Buck $125.00 $157.00
Negro boy: George $325.00 $375.00
Negro girl: Letitia $300.00 $316.00
Negro woman: Nancy (aka Nan) $200.00 $156.00
Negro boy: Henderson $175.00 willed to Joel Wells

 

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