Monday, September 19, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Will of John Eaton - 1775

On his TransylvanianDutch blog, John Newmark defines an amanuensis as “a person employed to write out what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.” For more information about this daily blogging prompt, see John’s post Amanuensis – Why?.

I have amassed quite a collection of scans of handwritten documents related to my ancestors—primarily marriage records, deeds, and wills. As I have been transcribing these documents, it occurred to me that most of these documents were not actually written by my ancestors, but rather dictated to someone else, and then transcribed by a clerk into official records.

This week I have transcribed the will of my 6th great-grandfather John Eaton of Rowan County, North Carolina; the will is dated 6 April 1775.

In the Name of God Amen, I John Eaton of
the County of Roan in the province of North
Carolina planter being very sick and weak of
body but of perfect mind & memory thanks be
given unto God calling into 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 Testa
ment that is to say principally & first of all
I give and recommend my soul into the hand
of God that gave it and my body I recommind
to the earth to be buried in decent christian
burial at the discretion of my Executors,
nothing doubting but at the Resurrection
I shall receive the same again by the mighty
power of God and as touching such worldly
estate whewith it hath pleased God to bless
me with in this life I give devise[?] & dispose
of the same in following manner and form
First I give and bequeath to Elizabeth my dear
-ly beloved wife one feather bed and furniture
one cow and the third part of the incomes of
the place to dispose of at her discretion and a
room in the house as long as she lives.
Also I give to my well beloved son Samuel Ea-
-ton one hundred acres of Land at the upper
or north end next to Ab[?] Wood. Also I give to
my well beloved son Daniel Eaton all the remainder
of my land with the improvements that is on it, and
he is to give to his mother the third part of the income
of the place as long as she liveth. Also I give to my
dearly beloved wife Elizabeth two cows & one horse
one mear for her property to dispose of as she pleas
-es, the remainder of the Stocs and waggin to be sold att
publick vandue[venue?] and the debts paid of. the rest of
the money divided equal among other children &
the mony that I have now by me is to pay of the
quits in land office. I likewise constitute make &
ordain David Jones and Isaac Eaton sole Executors
of this my last will & Testment, and I do hereby
utterly disalow revoke and disannual all and
any other former Testament Wills Legaces bequests
and Executors by me in any way before named
willed and bequeathed ratifying and confirm-
ing this and no other to be my last will and
Testament. It witness where I have hereunto
set my hand & seal this six day of April in
the year of our Lord one thousand seven hun-
dred and seventy five.              his
                                       John  X  Eaton
Syned sealed published pronounced
and declared by the said John Eaton as his last will
and Testament in presence of us
John Reed, Samuel Reed, Ebenezer Fairchild

[Source: "North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970," digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 Aug 2011); John Eaton, will dated 6 April 1775; citing Probate Records, Rowan, Wills, 1780-1807, Vol. C, page 16, image 27 of 65.]

© 2011 Denise Spurlock


  1. MY 7 G-Grandfather! How cool. Excellent.

  2. Then we're cousins! I descend from John though his son Isaac. What about you?