This transcription of James Hunter Terrell's will is part of the James Hunter Terrell collection in Special Collections, Alderman Library, University of Virginia. The will, dated 1854, contains Terrell's directions for the emancipation and resettlement of his slaves, along with other directions regarding his estate.
I, James H. Terrell of the County of Albermarle and State of Virginia do make and constitute this my last will and testament in manner and form following, hereby revoking and annuling all other wills heretofore made by me.
Item lst. I desire all my just debts and expenses be paid out of a fund hereinafter provided for that purpose.
Item 2nd. I hereby liberate and forever set free all the slaves which I may own at my death and their increase.
Item 3rd. My plantation in the County of Louisa commonly called the "Ducking Hole Place" I direct to be sold by my Executors and the proceeds I give and devise for the benefit of my slaves hereby emancipated.
Item 4th. The plantation wheron I reside in the County of Albermarle known as Music Hall, I give and bequeath to Dr. Jas. Hunter Minor and his heirs forever.
Item 5th. The plantation upon which Jas. H. Lewis now resides also in the County of Albermarle, I direct to be divided into two parts of equal size, the point where the road leading towards the Green Springs crosses the creek to be taken as a point in the dividing line, and the line run in such manner as to make a fair division. One half of this tract so divided I give and bequeath to Jas. H. Lewis and his wife Sarah, the said Jas. H. Lewis to have choice of the two halves when divided.
Item 6th. The other half of this last named tract of land, also a parcel of land owned by me near Mr. Campbell's, all the bonds, stocks of various kinds and other property of all sort not herein before otherwise devised, I direct to constitute a fund out of which all my debts shall be paid, including suitable neat, but plain tomb-stones for myself and wife. And all the residue of this portion of my estate not so needed for debts etc. I direct to be equally divided between Mrs Margaret D. Nelson, Robert Lewis, and Dr. T. W. Merriwether, all of the county of Albermarle, and living in my immediate neighborhood.
Item 7th. As to the exact time at which my negroes are to come into possession of their freedom, I leave it entirely to the discretion of my Executors, the only limitation I place upon them, is that it shall not be postponed longer than four years after my death, as that will be a period long enough for this part of my estate to be wound up.
Item 8th. Should any of my slaves when the time of their departure from this state arrives prefer to remain with their families, it is my will and desire, that they may, if they prefer, be allowed to select their own masters, to whom they shall be sold for a mere nominal price, the proceeds of any such sales, to constitute a part of the fund for the benefit of the slaves set free. I have said in such case the price shall be merely nominal, because in such case I would desire to make a gift of such negro to the person selected as owner. In making this selection of owners I wish my negroes to be allowed as much freedom in choosing as is practicable, but at the same time I give my Executors the right to control them in this respect if my Executors should be fully satisfied that the negroes are making a bad or very injudicious choice of owners.
Item 9th. And lastly, I appoint my friends, Francis H. Nelson, Dr. Jas. H. Minor, Dr. T. W. Merriwether, andRobert Lewis and Jas. H. Lewis, Executors of this my last will and testament.
In witness whereof, I have hereto affixed my hand and seal, this the 9th day of August, 1854.
Signed sealed and acknowledged in the presence of
Wm. C. Rives
Wm. C. Rives Jr.
N. H. Mapie
Chas. J. Merriwether
lst Codicil to this my will, made on the 12th day of August 1854. In the 6th clause of my foregoing will I have directed the residuary part of my estate therein mentioned to be equally divided between three persons, Margaret D. Nelson, Robert Lewis and Dr. R. W. Merriwether. I now desire, instead thereof, that the part of my estate therein described shall be divided into five equal parts, giving one fifth to each the following persons: Margaret D. Nelson, Robert Lewis, Dr. R. W. Merriwether, Betty Brown, the wife of Andrew J. Brown and Ann Watson, the wife of James H. Watson. I direct however, that the portions thus devised to Mr. Brown and Mrs. Watson, shall be for their sole benefit and use free from the control of their husbands, and to carry out that purpose I hereby appoint N. H. Mapie of Charlottsville a Trustee to hold said portions in trust for the use and benefit of the said Betty Brown and Ann Watson. In liberating my slaves, I have not directed where they shall be sent to, because I desire they shall select their own homes, at the same time I should prefer their going to Liberia because I think it best for them, but I leave it to them to decide.
Witness my hand and seal this 12th day of August 1854.