Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bequests to Illegitimates

The last will and testament of Robert Wooding of Halifax County, Virginia, left a special bequest to "my beloved friend, Elizabeth Hill" and after Elizabeth's death to go to her daughter, Frances Hill. Also, "to Thomas Hill, illegitimate son of Elizabeth Hill, land in Pittsylvania County and "all of my books, surveying instruments, spy glass and paper case".  He went on to name that Elizabeth Hill as his "natural daughter".  Owing to the fact that his mother was also named Elizabeth Hill, this record implies a number of possibilities. This 1797 will also specified the emancipation of a number of slaves. Judging from the other bequests, Robert Wooding apparently owned thousands of acres of land in Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties.  The quest to learn who Elizabeth Hill was to Robert Wooding will require some reading into the old wills and estates of other family members (including the married daughters) as well as deeds).  Learning the true identity of Elizabeth is important to those researching African-American lineages as she could have easily be an emancipated slave.  Locating a deed or plat of Thomas Hill in Pittsylvania County might offer an important clue. The will itself is replete with generous bequests to various relatives.  Thus, a bequest designated to a "cousin" needs digging into, because of the lineal identify. For example, first cousins share the same grandparents and so on. The will of Robert Wooding (as well as other wills in Halifax and other counties) is found on Virginia Pioneers

 The will listed in this resource indicates that it was dated ca 1776, however, the above will should be considered as that of Colonel Robert Wooding.   Wooding of Halifax County.

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