Will of William Lanier of Davidson County, Tennessee, 12 February 1811

William Lanier was my 5th great-grandfather, himself the grandson of a Barbadian immigrant. He came to Nashville before 1807 from Beaufort County, North Carolina. Previously, I had an abstract of his will, but I recently found the original online at Family Search with more detail, including the names of several enslaved people (in bold, below).

William seems to have been unusually concerned with the welfare of his daughters, requiring that his sons pay them a share of the estate. Perhaps this is because his wife had already passed away. She is not mentioned in the will, and an 1812 court record describes his son Robert as an “orphan.”

More notes about the will below the transcription.

In the name of God amen I William Lanier of the County of Davidson being of sound and perfect mind and memory do this 12th day of February in the year 1811 make and Publish this my last will and testament in manner following, that is to say

First, I give and bequeath to five of my sons, to wit, William Lanier, John Lanier, Robert Lanier, Garrison Lanier, and Churchill Lanier my two plantations the one on which I now live, the other lately purchased from Willis Banner (?) and both contain two hundred fifty acres of land, to be Equally Divided amongst them share and share alike.

2nd, I give and bequeath to four of my sons and four of my Daughters (to wit) John Lanier, Robert Lanier, Garrison Lanier, Churchill Lanier, Susannah Parker (formerly Susannah Lanier), Penelope Lanier, Lemiza Lanier, and Martha Lanier the following named negroes (to wit)

One negro man called Will, one negro boy named Tom, one negro boy Adam, one negro boy Joe, one negro boy Alford, one negro woman Aff (?), one negro woman Fanney, one negro woman Patt, one negro woman Barsheba, one negro gal Lusinda, one negro gal Peggy. These negroes to be Equally Divided share and share alike amongst my four sons and my four Daughters above named.

3rd, I give and bequeath to my son John Lanier a negro man named Jube, which negro man is to be by Disinterested men valued and the said John Lanier is to pay such sum, which said negro man may be valued at, to my three sons and four Daughters above named after Retaining there from the one 8th part where will be his share of the price of said negro Jube.

4th I give and bequeath to my three youngest Daughters Penelope Lanier, Lemiza Lanier, and Martha Lanier to each of them one feather bed and furniture.

5th, It is my Will and Desire that my five sons first mentioned pay to my four daughters before mentioned an Equal proportion in money of the value of the (illegible) which I have by this my last given to my sons, the land to be valued by Disinterested men and the proportion paid to my four Daughters by my five sons before named.

6th, It is my Will and Desire that my stock of every Description my household and kitchen furniture which is not by this will Disposed of and all the rest of my property be sold as the Law Directs, and all the monies arising from such sale to be Equally Divided amongst my sons and Daughters before mentioned.

7th, I give and bequeath to my son Buchanan Lanier fifty dollars in cash to be paid to him by my Executors hereafter named.

8th, I give and bequeath to Charles Parker, a son of William Parker, a small negro boy child named Edmond.

9th, It is my Will and Desire that all the money is owed me be Collected and after paying my Just Debts, the balance to be Equally Divided amongst my five sons and four Daughters first mentioned.

10th, I hereby make and ordain my worthy Friends David Parker, William Parker, and my son John Lanier Executors of this my Last Will and Testament. In Witness Whereof I the said William Lanier have to this my last Will and Testament set my hand and seal this day and year above written.

Wm Lanier (seal)

Signed, sealed, Published and Declared by the said William Lanier, the testator as his last will and testament in the presence of us who was Present at the time of signing and sealing thereof. The words of the hand were (illegible) before signed.

Illegible signature
William Ray
illegible signature

William Parker was William Lanier’s son-in-law, husband of his daughter, Susannah. Charles Parker was therefore William Lanier’s grandson. David Parker is no doubt connected in some way to the same family.

John Lanier, who inherited Jube, is my 4th great-grandfather. it is very interesting that he is found with a male slave aged 26-44 on the 1820 census, and then with a free man of color aged 55-100 living in his household in 1830. Jube had already been given “special consideration” in William Lanier’s will. Was he given his freedom late in life by John?

William’s eldest son Buchanan Lanier must have been in the doghouse, because he is paid off with $50 and not given a share of the estate. He disputed the will in court, per this letter found in the probate file.

David Parker, William Parker, John Lanier, who are named Executors therein produced in Court, for the purpose of probate, a paper writing purporting to be the last Will and testament of William Lanier, deceased. And Buchanan Lanier, who is the son of said deceased, who will be entitled to a distribution share of his estate, if the said William Lanier died intestate, comes into court and says that said paper writing is not the last Will and Testament of said William Lanier and of this he puts himself upon his Country.

Grundy Parkinson and ?

And the said David Parker, William Parker, and John Lanier Executors in said writing do the like

W W Cooke & Brayer Att.s

Buchanan apparently lost his appeal, because a Jan 1816 entry in Davidson County court records appoints a different lawyer to settle the estate with David Parker, William Parker, and John Lanier as administrators.

William Lanier settlement

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