Will of Joseph Townsend, Carroll County, Tennessee, 25 August 1843

(Note: this post has been updated from a previous version)

Joseph Townsend was my 6th great-grandfather. He was born in Virginia, and is likely the Joseph Townsend found on the 1810 census in Frederick County, Virginia. By 1814, he had moved to Overton County, Tennessee where he was granted 55 acres on the Roaring River. By 1836, he had moved to Benton County, Tennessee where he lived until 1840. He died about 1843, aged at least 90, in Perry County, where he probably living with his son, Jown Townsend. The name of Joseph’s wife is unknown.

Joseph may have been a Quaker. There are numerous Quaker records of a Joseph Townsend (as well other Townsends) and there was a sizable Quaker community in Frederick County, Virginia. However, I can’t say for sure just yet. For one thing, two of Joseph’s sons were killed in the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans, so they clearly had no problem with military service.

Joseph also held four slaves, which not the norm for Quakers, though it did happen on occasion. Interestingly, Joseph did specify in his will that his “negroes” should not be sold out of the family and “shall having the choosing of who their master or mistress will be.” This “special consideration” may be a belated nod to Quaker principles.

Joseph’s daughter, Nancy Townsend Walker, appears to have inherited Lucinda, a “negro girl” who was listed as being under 10 years old on Joseph’s 1840 census entry. Unfortunately, when Nancy herself made a will in Benton County in 1846, she said that Lucinda and her increase should be sold upon her death and the proceeds divided among her children.

Joseph’s will was apparently written in Perry County, but probated in Carroll County, for reasons which remain unclear. It can be found in Carroll County, Tennessee Will Book A, page 140, available at Family Search.

I Joseph Townsend, being through the blessing of God in a sound state of mind and memory on the 25 day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty three, but calling to mind the frail term of this life and that it is appointed to all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament, that is to say, principally and first of all I recommend my soul into the hands of almighty God who give it to me, and the disposal of my body I leave to the entire discretion of my friends with respects to my worldly estate I give, bequeath and dispose of it in the matter and proportion here following:

1st I will that all my Just debts be paid out of the effects, goods, chattels, or money.

2nd I will that none of the negroes I now own or their increase shall be sold out of my family or their heirs but shall have the choosing of their master or mistress amongst my lawful heirs and that the negroes should be valued.

3rd I give and bequeath to my son Albert Townsend five dollars in property.

4th I give to my deceased son Stephen Townsend his daughter Candis ten dollars in property

5th I will to Nathaniel Townsend’s widow, Polly Townsend, ten dollars in property.

Finally, I will and bequeath that all my negroes and all my other effects that afterwards remain shall be equally divided amongst Rachel Hern, to who has been endorsed a one hundred dollar cash note said note to be taken out of her part of the estate, John Townsend, Patsy Bilbrey, Nancy Walker and the heirs of my son Albert Townsend.

I do hereby appoint and ordain that John Townsend and Henry Coble to be appointed joint Executors of my estate and on the removal by death or refusal of one or both of them I do request that the County court of Perry County do appoint a successor or successors of said Executors to carry this my last will and testament into force and virtue agreeable to the request there contained in testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written.

Joseph Townsend

W. Daniel
D.W. Daniel

State of Tennessee
Carroll County, January Term, 1846

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