Will of Thomas Taylor, 7 August 1815, Davidson County, Tennessee

Earlier this year, while researching William Shaw, I discovered that Thomas Taylor was my 5th great grandfather. That whole line was kind of giving me a headache after having to lop off an entire line of the wrong Shaws, so I set it aside for a while. Recently I’ve been researching Thomas’s family, and found some pretty interesting stuff. I’ll start with Thomas Taylor’s will and probate records.

Note that Thomas was a slaveholder, naming “negroes” in his will. The most recent tax list preceding the will, for 1812, lists two “black polls.” This would normally be enslaved men of working age, as the tax lists did not include women or children. Later, an 1816 inventory of his estate listed three negro men, three negro women, and three negro children, but no names were included.

Taylor, Thomas 24 Jan 1816 estate inventory
Davidson County, Tennessee Court Minutes, 1814-1816 at Family Search.

I have not yet found a record of the estate sale, which would likely have included the names of the enslaved people. The only name I have found is from a deed dated 17 Nov 1796, recording the purchase of a boy named Dick from P Turney.

Davidson County, Wills and Inventories 1794-1816 at Family Search.

And here is Thomas Taylor’s will, in which he fortunately named his daughter and son in law, Susannah and William Shaw, along with other children and in-laws.

Will of Thomas Taylor

In the name of Almighty God, Amen. I Thomas Taylor of the County of Davidson and State of Tennessee, being of of sound mind and disposing memory do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following to wit:

Item first: I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Taylor at the death of my beloved wife Martha Taylor the plantation on which I at present live—and possession now of that part he at present occupies lying west of the division fence running nearly south from the young apple orchard, only reserving to my beloved wife that part between the said division fence + my son Robert Taylor’s land including the present new ground to clear during her natural life if required.

Item second: I leave to my beloved wife Martha Taylor during her natural life that part of the plantation I at present tend and cultivate together with all the stock of Negroes, Money and notes and farming tools, household furniture after paying my just debts to live on during her natural life unless she should marry and if so I leave her a child’s part during her life and one third of the plantation I at present occupy together with the stock of Cattle and Household furniture and farming tools.

Items third: I leave to my son in law William Shaw two dollars.

Item fourth: At the death of my beloved wife Martha Taylor I leave all the Negroes, cash, notes, and household furniture and all property not heretofore devised to be equally divided between James Taylor, John Taylor, Evan Tracy and wife, Robert Taylor, Robert Branch and wife, Thomas Taylor, John Branch and wife, Jonathan Clay and wife, and Susannah Shaw and the heirs of her body.

Item fifth: No legacies to be paid without the consent of my beloved wife during her life and the consent of two or more of the Executors.

Item sixth: I appoint my beloved wife Martha Taylor Executrix, my sons James Taylor, John Taylor and Robert Taylor Executors of this my last will and testament.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this seventh day of August in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifteen.

Thos Taylor (seal)

Signed, sealed and published in presence of:

Fr Ws May, Jurat
Will Hart, Jurat

Recorded book no 6 page 393 Nov 17th 1815

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