Lancaster County, Virginia Will Book 10, 1709-1727


From the author's Introduction:

  • "Thus begins the 560 pages that comprise Lancaster County Will Book 10, which spans the terms of three clerks and 18 years during the morning of Virginia’s “Golden Age.” Other than what brief treatment is given to its contents in Ida J. Lee’s 1959 Abstracts Lancaster County, Virginia, Wills 1653-1800, the full contents of Will Book 10 have never before been compiled or published.
  • No truly accurate picture of these records can be complete without the corresponding court orders that initiated their being put to record in the first place. In this case, those are Order Books 5, 6 & 7 which cover the period 1702-1729. Only the first 148 page of Order Book 5 have been published (up to 1706), and the order book itself is not indexed. Order Books 6 and 7 have not been published, but thankfully are at least somewhat indexed. It is in these Order Books that a great deal of explanatory information is to be found regarding relationships not otherwise explained in the record itself. They are also an excellent way to cross-check uncertain or illegible spellings of names in the will book.
  • The three clerks whose unique handwriting graces the pages of Will Book 10 were (1) Joseph Tayloe who served from 1696 to 1716; (2) William Dare (1716-1720) and (3) Thomas Edwards (1720-1746).
  • This volume includes three appendices which shed additional light on original records preserved at the Library of Virginia, many of which have never been published and are not easily available to most researchers.
  • Appendix A is a general Index to the principle parties and records, much as one would find in the record book itself. Unlike the original record book, it is a complete listing of all documents with dates associated with them.
  • Appendix B is a digest of unrecorded—but extant—original wills. These were sent to the Library of Virginia some time in the 1960s, where photo-static images were made and then bound into a paginated volume. They were, however, never microfilmed. When Mrs. Lee wrote her book in 1959, these were still at the Court House in Lancaster, but apparently in no organized fashion, for her book omits many of them. For the period covering 1709 to 1727, there are eleven such wills, of which only two were included in Mrs. Lee’s book. Included in the digest is the page of the bound volume, date signed and presented when known, and list of principle heirs named.
  • Appendix C is similar to Appendix B, but is an index to original inventories and some accounts and administration bonds. There are 145 such documents, mostly inventories and most of these were recorded in the will book. However, twenty-one of them were never recorded and in the case of intestates they are the only probate record outside of the Order Books (sometimes) that identify these decedents. These are on microfilm at the Library of Virginia in Virginia and the Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library in Lancaster. They cover all of reel 301 and the first part of reel 302 at both repositories.
  • These original papers of course include original signatures (or marks) of the appraisers and often-times the executors or administrators. These can of invaluable use in distinguishing between two people of the same name living at the same time. For that reason, I have compiled a complete list of these with the reel number and frame numbers of the reel as a quick finding aid for those wishing to pursue this interesting and overlooked avenue of research.
  • The entire text including the three appendices are fully indexed in the back of the book. I developed what I call the “expanded index” after years of using books of a similar nature. In this index, the reader can readily see what role a person is playing in a document without having to flip through all the pages just to find out someone was a witness to a will. Not that such information is not important—it is. But it isn’t nearly as fun as getting straight to the good parts.
  • The expanded index includes separate categories for places and ships. Slaves are indexed under their owner’s name, which in my view is much more valuable contextually for researchers than lumping all slaves under one category with nothing but first names."

Craig Kilby