Robert Latimer was my 8th great-grandfather on my one and only New England line. His detailed will and later estate inventory reveals a prosperous man, with numerous tracts of land, herds of livestock, and luxury items such as featherbeds “check’d coverlids” and 24 books.
The tracts of land mentioned are easily identified as being on the Connecticut coast along Long Island Sound. There is a Salt Meadow park and a Salt Meadow nature sanctuary between New Haven and New London. Black Point peninsula lies east of these sites near Old Lyme, which is also mentioned. Robert also appears to have owned land in the town of New London. The town of Hebron is further away, near Hartford.
I almost missed the fact that Robert Latimer was also a slave holder. Mixed in with the livestock on the inventory is “one negro man named Jack.”
During the 18th century, Connecticut had more enslaved people than any other New England state. Slavery was actually legal in Connecticut until 1848. You learn something new every day as an amateur genealogist.
The will and estate inventory are on Ancestry in probate records (Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999). So, it is a copy of the will made by a court clerk, not the original, which may account for some places where it appears words may be missing. View the PDF here.
In the name of God Amen. August the 12th day Anno Dom 1727 I Robert Lattimer of New London in the County of New London and Colony of Connecticut being advanced in years and sick of body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be to God there and calling to mind my mortality and knowing that all men must die I do make and ordain my Last Will and Testament.
First and principally I Give and Recommend my Soul to God that gave it ____ through the death and ______ of Christ my Saviour to have the free and full pardon of all my sins and to Inherit Everlasting Life and body I commit to the Ground to be decently buryed nothing doubt but at the General Resurrection I shall Receive the same again by the mighty power of God and as touching such worldly Estate as it hath blessed God to bestow upon me in this Life I Give and devise and dispose of the same in the following manner.
Imprimis: I will that all my Just debts which I owe to any person whomsoever be well and truly contented and paid in some convenient time after my decease with my funeral Charge by my four sons in proportion to what each of them shall Receive out of my Estate.
Item: I Give and Bequeath unto my Dear and Loving wife Elizabeth the one half of my dwelling house and half the Orchard during her natural Life and all my household goods of what kind of sort forever saving what I shall dispose of hereafter in this my will, and also all my whole flock of ___ Cattle, Sheep and hors kind (Saving what I shall dispose of otherwise in my will to be her dispose forever.
Item: I give unto my Eldest son Robert Lattimer and to his heirs forever all my Land lying and being at black point so called ___ paying to his mother my now wife five pounds per year during her natural Life (only for five years which Jonathan my son shall have the privilege of mowing and wintering of fifteen Cattle pr year in which time the sd Jonathan shall pay forty shillings pr year of sd sum) also one third part of my Rights in the Island of Salt meadow near black point also one score of Sheep and one feather bed.
Item: I give and bequeath unto my Second Son Jonathan Lattimer and to his heirs forever, one hundred acres of Land which I had of the Town of new London, as it is butted and bounded as also the twenty acres I bought first of Mr Griswold of Lyme, as also the Land I bought of Samuel ___dyke as also on third part of my Right in the Island of Salt meadow near black point as also two acres of Swamp in the Southwesterly Corner of Dean’s lot so called to Lie in a Square fence joining to the neck so called as also the privilege of mowing and wintering fifteen Cattle in black point (mentioned in that part of my will which respects my son Robert) for five years he helping his brother Robert make and mend fence in proportion to what his benefit is and he paying to his mother forty shillings pr year during the sd five years of the sd five pounds which my son Robert is obliged to pay her during her life as also my timber chain and one small chain he paying to my Loving wife forty shillings pr year during her Life.
Item: I give and bequeath to my third son Samuel Lattimer and to his heirs forever all that Land which I purchased of Mr Griswold of Lyme containing by estimation two hundred and one acres be the same more less which Lands adjoynes Southerly upon the Land given to my son Jonathan and I do further Give to my sd son Samuel Lattimer all the Land where his house and shop stand which is now in the possession and improvement of as also two acres of swamp in the Lot called Deed to be in a Square piece joining to that which I have to my son Jonathan as also the Remaining third part of my Rights in the Island of Salt meadow near black point, the paying to his mother twenty shillings pr year during her natural life.
Item: I give unto my fourth son Peter Lattimer and to his heirs forever all my homes eat of Land and buildings as it now be fenced and Improved which joyns Northerly upon John Richards his land Eastwardly with a highway Southerly and Westerly with the highway or Road and partly northwardly with Thomas Routt’s his Land he allowing hi mother the one half the Orchard and one half the House during her natural life’s also all my Land in the lot called Deans not before disposed of paying to his mother five pounds per year during her life.
Item: I give unto my daughter Anne Lattimer and to her heirs forever all my Land within the Township of Hebron and one feather bed and furniture, two cows and fifteen sheep.
Item: I give unto my daughter in law Elizabeth Buttolph one cow one feather bed and furniture and Liberty and the privilege of Dwelling in my houses as long as she lives single.
Item: I give unto my Grandson Jonathan latter one two year meat beast (?) and one Good Ewe.
Item: I give unto my two Granddaughters Anne and Elizabeth latter to each of them a Calf and a Ewe.
Item: I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Ann Lattimer and my Daughter in Law Elizabeth Buttolph the two thirds of my _____ and cooling in the house to be equally divided between them after my wife hath taken her third part of the whole first out
item: I give my wearing apparel of what sort or degree soever among my four sons to choose as there ages are Robert to choose first equally among them all.
And Lastly I do Constitute my two Eldest sons viz Robert Lattimer and Jonathan Lattimer to be my Executors to this my Last Will and Testament holding and confirming this to be my Last Will and testament and no other.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year first above written.
Robert Lattimer (seal)
Signed, sealed and declared by the sd Robert Lattimer as his last Will and Testament in presence of
David Richards Jun.
Proved 19 Dec 1728
Estate inventory dated 30 Dec 1728