Monday, April 23, 2012

Amanuensis Monday - 1797 Indenture - Thomas Cook to John Marlow

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 a 1797 deed in which Thomas Cook, my maternal 4th great-grandfather, sold 50 acres of land in Wilkes County, North Carolina, to John Marlow, whom I believe was one of his sons-in-law. As you can see in the image below, this document contained numerous ink smears and bleed-through of writing on the back of the original, making it especially difficult to read.

“This Indenture made this first Day of February One thousand seven hundred and Ninety seven Between Thomas Cook of the County of Wilkes & state of North Carolina of the one part and John Marlow of the County and State aforesaid of the other part witnesseth that for & in Consideration of the sum of Nine pounds to him in hand paid by the said John Marlow the Receipt whereof he the said Thomas Cook doth hereby Acknowledge & himself therewith fully Satisfied & paid hath Given Granted Bargained & Sold and by these [--?--] Presents do Give Grant Bargain & Sell unto John Marlow his heirs and Assiggns a Certain tract or parcel of land Containing fifty Acres more or Less lying & being in the County aforesaid on the Brushy Mountain [--?--] & sold by the shiriff to Thos Cook beginning at a Chesnut standing [unreadable] a [unreadable] of Rocks in the Iredale line running to Northwest by [--?--] to Thos Cooks Spring Branch then Down the branch to the Creek[?] then running so as to include the above Mentioned fifty Acres with the improvement Together and Every Right Title Proveledge the the said Thomas Cook [ink smear] [hi]mself his heirs Executors & Administrators well [ink smear] Warrant & forever Defend the aforesaid [unreadable, ink smear] all [ap]purtenances thereunto Belonging to him to [ink smear] Marlow his heirs & Assigns free & Clear from all incumbr[ance] [ink smear] whatsoever in Witness whereof he the said Thomas Cook hath Hereunto set his hand and seal
Signed sealed & Delivered                            Thomas Cook {seal}
in presence of
James Fletcher Jurat
Hiram [unreadable]              (made [ink smear]  Back as follows)

North Carolina          }
Wilkes County           }           January Term 1797
The within Deed was Duly proven in open Court by the Oath of James Fletcher Esqur and ordered to be Registered
                                                            Test Wm. B Lenoir C,,C”

Source: Wilkes County, North Carolina, Deeds, 1768-1964, D: 105,
 Indenture, Thomas Cook to John Marlow, 1 Feb 1797; FHL microfilm 20,133.

© 2012 Denise Spurlock


  1. Denise, I live in the Brushy Mountain community of Wilkes County, NC. My 4th g-grandfather, Hicks Combs, was a witness on the 1819 will of Thomas Cook that you posted earlier. Please contact me if I can look up any documents for you in Wilkes.

    1. Thank you for your offer, Debbie. It must be great to live in the same area in which your ancestors lived; I'm thousands of miles away!

    2. It is so nice to be able to drop by the courthouse for a single document when the need arises! I stopped and made a picture of the deed you transcribed; if you will email me at pruittdebbie AT gmail DOT com, I will send you a copy. It is a little easier to read, but still has that big ole' ink blob!

    3. Thanks so much, Debbie! I sent you an email.

  2. Denise, were you aware that Caldwell County NC (next to Wilkes County) has it's register of deeds available online with free access? There are not many records available much before the 1850's yet but it does have records from Wilkes and other counties so it might be worth a look. Like Debbie, if you ever need a look-up from Caldwell Counties courthouse, just drop me a line. j_laws AT charter DOT net

    1. Hi, Thanks for letting me know about Caldwell County deeds. I haven't yet found any ancestors there, but surely do appreciate your offer to look-up something if I need it!