Monday, February 11, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - 1812 Will of William Cook

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.

William Cook, of Surry County, North Carolina, was the brother of Thomas Cook, my 4th great-grandfather. I thought it interesting that William felt that it would be best if his executors rented out his property and the profits therefrom given to his widow; I have not previously seen that provision made in a will.

 “In the name of God Amen. I William Cook, of the County of Surry, and State of North Carolina being weak in body but of sound mind and memory, blessed be God for the same, do this seventeenth day of February, in the year of our Lord 1812, make and publish this my last will and testament, in manner following, Viz.
First of all, I recommend my soul to God who gave it, and my body to its native dust, to be buried in a decent and Christian like manner, at the discretion of my Executors; and as to my worldly goods that it hath been pleased God to bless me with, my will and desire is that they be disposed with as follows,
Item I give unto my beloved wife Elizabeth Cook my molatto boy Lewis to be her own property forever. I also lend to her my said wife my negro woman Milley together with the whole of my moveable or perishable property of every discription (negro Bob excepted) also the profits of my land and plantation, dwelling house, out houses, and so forth, where I now live during her natural life or widowhood; and in order that the same may be managed to the best advantage I direct that my Executors rent out continuealy my said land and plantation and return to my said wife the profits of such rent during the above said term. Also I desire that if is should appear to my Executors to be necessary that they should sell such part of my stock and working tools as they may think usless to my said wife and the product of such sale to be equally divided among my children.
After the death or widowhood of my wife Elizabeth Cook, I give and bequest the aforesaid negro woman Milley to my daughter Mary Holeman and my land and plantation where I now live containing three hundred and twenty acres I give unto my sons Wiles [Miles?] and John Cook to be equally divided between them.
Item. I give unto my daughter Lucy Holeman my negro man Bob. I also direct that my two Lotts in the Town of Huntsville be sold and the product of such sale to be equally divided among my children as above saidtioned
I also do nominate and appoint my said wife Elizabeth Cook Executrix and my son John Cook and Thomas Wright Executors of this my last will and testament and I do hereby revoke and disannul all others wills by me made and do acknowledge this only to be my last will and testament.
In testimony whereof I the said William Cook hath set my hand and seal the day and date above written in presents of
Test     Henry Hampton                                  William Cook {seal}
            John Angel

State of North Caroline Surry County May Session AD 1812.
John Angel (one of the subscribing witnesses to the foregoing last will and testament of William Cook) made oath that he saw the said Cook sign publish and declare the same to be his last will and testament, that he was of sound and disposing mind and memory and at the same time he saw Henry Hampton sign the same as a witness thereto which was ordered to be recorded; done accordingly
                                                                        by Jo Williams CC”

[Source: North Carolina, Surry County, Wills, 1792-1827, William Cook, Vol. 03, pg. 100, image 126; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 Jan 2013).]

© 2013 Denise Spurlock

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