Will of John Burney, Robertson County, Tennessee, 6 January 1819

William Latimer was a prosperous Middle Tennessee farmer, and my 4th great-grandfather. His wife, Catherine, had been one my brick walls, until, as part of my Pandemic Project of identifying female ancestors, I came around to examining the Latimer line again.

So many Ancestry tree hints identify people without providing any evidence to support the claim. But I got lucky this time: one of the trees included excerpts from an 1838 Robertson County, Tennessee probate case in which the heirs of John Burney sign off the sale of shares of their inherited land. These heirs included “William Latimer and Catherine Latimer his wife.” (Evidence, people! We love evidence!)

John Burney was born in Rowan (later Guilford) County, North Carolina, near Greensboro, before 1760, based on the birth dates of his children. He moved to Robertson County some time after 1800. He did not leave much of a paper trail. I’ve only found a mention of 100 acres of land, and the 1800 census showed that he held one slave. Judging from all the horses and cows listed in his will, and the fact that his son John McGee Burney was a “saddler and leatherworker,” I think John Burney the elder was likely either a livestock farmer, a saddler, or both.

Catherine Burney Latimer now has both her name and her nickname back: she is referred to as “”Kitty” in the will. Her husband, William Latimer, is one the executors, offering further evidence that she is John Burney’s daughter.

In the name of God amen, I John Burney of the County of Robertson and State of Tennessee being of sound and perfect mind and memory (blessed be god) do this 6th day of January eighteen hundred and nineteen make and publish this my last will and testament in the manner following, that is to say

I give Margaret Burney, Rebecca Burney, + Jane Burney one good horse, saddle and bridle, two cows and calves, one bed and furniture and five dollars in money cash when they become of age or get married which will be one equal part with Kitty, Betsy and Nanny who are married.

And likewise I give John McGee Burney, Robert A Burney, George E Burney each eight acres of land, one good horse, saddle and bridle, two cows and calves when they become of age or when they get married which will be an equal part with William Burney who is married.

The balance to be left in the hands of the widow for her lifetime if she remains single, if not she is to have one child’s part and the remainder to be equally divided amongst all of the children.

And I hereby make and ordain William Burney and William Lattimore Executors of this my last will and testament

In Witness whereof I the said John Burney have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written

John Burney (seal)

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said John Burney the testator in the presence of us who are present at the time of signing and sealing thereof

Andrew J Guthrie
John Parks

Proved February term 1819

Robertson County Will Book 2 (Family Search), page 35.


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