I am still digging around in Rives records. Unlike most other lines in my family, the Rives (sometimes spelled Reeves) had a fair amount of property. They could be called minor Virginia gentry. As such, a good bit of research has also been done on them already, including a 1929 book, “Reliques of the Ryves.” Though I always look up the original source and do my own transcribing, it is sure nice to get a hint now and then!
Thomas Rives and Eleanor Neal were my 6th great-grandparents. Thomas was a more peripatetic than most of my ancestors, probably being born in Prince George’s County, Virginia then moving to Dinwiddie and Mecklenburg counties in Virginia, and finally to Warren and Chatham counties in North Carolina.
Tracking down records across at least four counties is going to take a while, so I’ll start by posting his lengthy and detailed will. He names his second wife, Mary Edwards Rives, all his children, his sons in law, and many “negroes.” The postscript is somewhat entertaining, as he apparently made all his sons and sons-in-law promise in writing not to argue over their shares after he was gone, under threat of forfeiting their inheritances.
Chatham County, North Carolina Will Book A
Image 195/643 at Family Search (download PDF)
10 Jun 1807
In the name of God Amen I Thomas Rives of the County of Chatham and State of North Carolina being of sound and perfect mind and memory (blessed be God) do this tenth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seven make and publish this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following viz:
Ist. I give and bequeath unto my son Thomas Rives in addition to the land I have before given him One Negro Man named Step to him and his heirs forever previously delivered unto my said son Thomas.
2nd. I give and bequeath unto my son Edwards Rives in addition to the Land I have before given him, one Negro Man named Pompey to him and his heirs forever previously delivered unto my said son Edwards.
3rd. I give and bequeath unto my son John Rives in addition to the Land before given him one negro Man named Adam to him and his Heirs forever previously delivered unto my said son John Rives.
4. I give and bequeath unto my son Reuben Rives one Negro Man named Anthony and all that tract of Land whereon I now live known by the name of the Barrar with all the other Lands belonging to me adjoining said Tract, one good Feather Bed and Furniture, one good Horse, Four Head of Cattle with other furniture necessary for a new beginner as to Housekeeping and working Tools sufficient for his plantation and unto him my said son Reuben his heirs and assigns forever.
5. I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Martha Four Negroes (to wit) Lucy and her two children named Jerry and London, also a negro Girl Priscilla and their increase unto my said daughter her heirs and assigns forever.
6th I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary Two Negro Women that is Frank and Clarissa, also one Negro girl Sarah and two negro Children one named Lewis and the other Dilly and their increase unto my said daughter her Heirs and assigns forever.
7th I give and bequeath unto my daughter Rebecca a negro Wench called Silvey, a negro girl named Viney and a negro boy named Osborne and their increase unto my said daughter Rebecca her Heirs and assigns forever.
8th. I give and bequeath unto my Two children William Rives, Johanna Turner Fifty dollars to be divided equally between them having given each of them their portion of property at the time of my residence in Virginia.
9th. I give and bequeath unto my Grand Daughter Mary Rives daughter of my son Thomas Rives, one Negro Girl called Lizza and her increase unto my said Grand daughter and her heirs forever.
10th. I leave unto my wife Mary Nine Negroes that is two fellows young Phil and old Phil and three boys Caleb, James & John, also two Negro Women, Jude and Hannah & Hannah’s two Daughters, Jinny and Jude and at my said Wife’s decease I will that the nine Negroes should be equally divided among her children to have and to hold them and their Heirs forever.
I also lend unto my Wife Mary Rives as much of my Household furniture, Waggon, Still, working Tools, Horses and Stock those things I lend during her life or rather such a part, as she shall deem necessary to support her comfortably during her life and at her decease to be equally divided among her Children.
And I further devise that my wife should have the use of the Land and plantation or as much thereof as is necessary for her support comfortably during life and after that to be immediately be possess by my son Reuben as before mentioned.
Further I give and bequeath unto my present Wife’s Children, seven negroes that is old Ned, Young Ned, Peter, Tom, Stephen, Pero & a Negro Winch Clark with her increase.
Also I will that all my remaining Stock, furniture, Money &c. should be equally divided after paying all my Just debts among my present Wife’s Children to have to hold to them and their heirs forever.
And I hereby make and ordain my Four Sons Thomas, Edwards, John and Reuben Rives and also my Three sons in law James McMath Robert Wilkinson and Abraham Gerret executors of this my last Will & Testament.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal the day & year before written.
Signed, Sealed & published
in presence of us
J. B. Edwards
To those whom it concerns, be it remembered by them that as part of the Negroes included in my Will were left unto my Wife Mary by her Father during her life and at her decease to her Children Jointly; as such to prevent any contention among my said children after my decease relative to said negroes I do hereby promote this obligation.
It is therefore that my said Children do hereby obligate and bind themselves their heirs &c. firmly to abide by the contents of my last Will and Testament in full. And they do hereby agree if they should ever intentionally either of them deviate from the same that then and in that case their property contained in the Will shall devolve unto the other Legatees, otherwise to remain firmly and substantially theirs as by the Will. In witness whereof they have hereunto set their hands and seals this 10th June 1807.
John McMath I