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The Heirarchy of Inheritance During the 17th and 18th Centuries

Scales of Justice The Laws of Inheritance in the American Colonies followed those of Great Britain. Generally speaking, when a father left a last will and testament, his married daughters could not inherit. This situation was frequentlly resolved by the father bequeathing the items to her husband to be used for the care and support of his daughter. In certain instances, he is more specific and employs such phrases as "The husband of my daughter is to have no control over her inheritance. " One might suppose that such traditions were unfair, but gentlemen were responsible for the affairs and well-being of ladies. It was the tradition of a more gentile era. Another example is that it was customary for the eldest son to inherit the home plantation. Irrespectively, the widow was not to be excluded the comforts of her home. A frequent statement in an old will "my wife shall have the use of the plantation, tools, furniture, etc. so long as she lives." In the event no provision was written into the will for the care of the widow, then she applied to the court for a year's support. The result was usually that certain assets were set aside for her, such as furniture, animals and land. Annual Returns, receipts, vouchers and sales of estates should be thoroughly examined for clues as to burial, business in other regions, to whom the debts were paid, receipts from in-laws and others, and so on. Plantation life was a huge undertaking. It involved crops, supplies, animals other collateral and debt. The inventories usually listed money owed to the deceased in the form of promissory notes as well as the debts of the testator. In those days, tobacco was easily grown and served as a popular form of payment. One might assume a certain cruelty in providing the eldest as the major recipient of the plantation, however, such an inheritance was an enormous responsibility. While other sons inherited lesser amounts of land, it respresented farms in other regions. Thus, it was incumbent upon younger sons to either find respectible positions of honor, like that of a clergyman, or to migrate into other regions of the country. Although the colony of Virginia was highly successful in the tobacco business at home and abroad, by 1800, the land was pretty well worn out. Therefore, the driving force of immigration from Virginia was the search for fertile land elsewhere, particularly with the removal of Indians and drawings in land lotteries and such.

Map of Bath County, Virginia





"In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir; nothing but Facts!"

Girl at School Desk Charles Dickens said it in so many wonderful ways. "Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!" The described scene by Dickens was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a school-room, and the square forefinger of the speaker emphasizing his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on his sleeve. The emphasis was helped by the wall of his forehead and the commodious cellarage of his eyes inset in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall and wide, thin and hard set lips. His voice was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial and the sound of it caused the schoolmaster and the third person present to back off a little. Dickens seemed to understand the utmost desires of the probing genealogist, who also insists upon facts to complete an accurate family group sheet. But where does he find all of these facts? Not from the voices of relatives whose fading memories confuse facts and dates. Perhaps the best beginning is the graveyard, where someone (a relative of sorts) provided the undertaker with names, birth and death dates. So many researchers complain about the inaccuracy of census records. That is because a non-relative went into the field, visited homes, asked questions and entered the data on a form in his own handwriting, based upon his own knowledge upon how names were spelled and so on. Also, it was rather common to "unintentionally skip a few families " , especially those residing near borders. The search for accuracy takes the genealogist to each 10-year census enumeration to compare names, ages and additions. The further back in time, the less likely of finding true birth dates. Yet, there is even a better resource, that is, county records where people were married, divorced, purchased land, wrote their last wills and testaments, and were engaged in civil matters. The age appearing upon the marriage license most assuredly is correct because it was written by the applicant. This is the way "to think." Because of the difficulty in locating true facts, the quest is to carefully complete each family group sheet, making certain that the correct names are included with the correct generation. A task, I am sure!

Source: Hard Times and Reprinted Pieces by Charles Dickens (1905).


Do the Magic Centipede



The Village of Warm Springs a 1880

Warm Springs



Bath County Genealogy, Wills, Estates, Deeds


Bath County Bath County was created in 1790 from parts of Augusta, Botetourt, and Greenbrier counties, and it was named for the English city of Bath.

Bath County Records available to members of Virginia Pioneers

Images of Bath County Wills, Estates, Inventories, Bonds, Deeds 1791 to 1813

Testators: Anderson, Thomas | Arlane, Joseph | Armstrong, John | Armstrong, Robert | Armstrong, William | Barnet, Robert | Baxter, John | Baxter, Polly | Bell, William | Benns, John | Benson, George | Benson, Matthias | Benson, Nelly | Black, Alexander | Blake, Samuel | Bracken, James | Brown, Henry | Brown, John, sheriff | Brown, Joseph | Burnsides, John | Carlile, James | Carlile, John | Carlyle, Robert | Cartwell, Thomas | Casebott, Hannah | Clack, Christopher | Clark, James | Cleck, Jacob | Cochran, Thomas | Cowardice, John | Crawford, John Henderson | Crawford, William | Cury, Richard | Danner, Thomas | Davis, Jesse | Davis, Richard | Dean, John | Dean, John to John Bollard (deed)| Dean, John to John White | Dickinson, John | Dickinson, Martha | Dinwiddie, Elizabeth | Dinwiddie, Robert | Dinwiddie, William | Elliott, James | Ewing, James | Ewings, Joshua | Fenster, Thomas | Garnet, Absalom | Gatewood, Thomas | Ginn, Abraham | Gittington, Andrew | Given, George | Givens, Robert to George Poage (deed) | Givens, William | Graham, James | Green, William | Green, William to John Berry (deed) | Griffin, Abner | Guin, John | Guin, William | Hamilton, Charles | Hamilton, John | Hannah, David to William Hutchison (deed) | Harrison, Charles | Harrison, Charles to Jacob Warrick (deed) | Harrison, Nat | Hicklin, Hugh | Hornig, Leonard | Hutchison, William | Jackson, Abel | Javins, Daniel | Johnson, B. | Johnson, R. | Kelly, Owen | Kenison, Nathaniel | Kimes, Henry | Kincaid, Elizabeth | Kincaid, John | Kincaid, William | Kiser, Solomon | Laverty, Ralph | Lewis, John Banks to David Cochran, Agreement | Lewis (deed) | Lewis, John | Lewis, Margaret | Lewis, Thomas | Littlepage, John | Lockman, Thomas | Macon, William | Mann, Archibald | Mann, Thomas | Massingbird, George | Mayse, Richard | McAllister, James | McAvey, John | McCallour, John | McClintock, Alexander | McClinton, William | McDonald, John | McCloughlen, Hugh | McFarm, Samuel | McGuffin, Peter | McOliver, Michael | Moore, Mary | Moore, William | Morris, Robert | Morris, William | Nance, Samuel | Nottingham, William | Nutting, William | OHare, Daniel | Oldham, William | Oliver, John | Oliver, John, Sheriff | Oliver, John to Moses Mann (deed) | Patton, Matthew | Peebles, John | Piles, Francis | Poage, James | Pullin, John | Pullins or Puttin, Ann | Pullins, Loftis | Rabb, Andrew | Rackey, Henry | Rartley, Lugursus | Rhea, Elizabeth | Rhea, John | Rhea, William | Right, Nancy | Rittin, Ann | Roberts, John M. | Roberts, John (deed) | Robinson, William | Rurstan, Nelly | Sexton, William | Shrewsbury, Samuel and John (deed) | Shrewsbury, Samuel | Sittington, John | Slaveris, John | Smith, Alexander | Smith, Sally | Sprowl, John | Sprowl, Robert | Steele, James | Stewart, William | Stiff, John | Stone, James | Stuart, William | Thompson, John | Thomson, John | Townsend, Ezekiel | Trogg, Elizabeth | Trogge, John | Tullis, Elizabeth | Vance, Samuel | Wade, Edward Wallace, Thomas | Whitman, Catherine Wilson, William | Wiseman, Mary | Woods, Stephen | Wright, James

Images of Bath County Wills, Estates, Inventories, Bonds, Deeds 1813 to 1822

Testators: Benson, Margaret | Benson, Mathias | Berry, John | Boller, John | Callaghan, Dennis | Caryle, Robert | Cavendish, William | Click, Jacob | Crawford, William | Dixon, William | Donavan, Charles | Dougherty, Michael | Edmiston, John | Freel, Susannah | Friel, Jeremiah | Galford, Thomas | Gillespie, John | Gittington, Elizabeth | Givens, Joseph Sr. | Gwinn, David | Knox, John | McCansland, Robert | McClintie, William | McDonald, Samuel | McDuff, John | McKee, James | Miller, Patrick Holland, Thomas | Morris, George | Morris, James | Mouge, Moses | Piles, Francis | Redding, James | Rider, William | Slowers, Jennet | Tallman, William | Thomson, Benjamin Warrish, Andrew | Williams, Elisha | Wilson, John | Wooddall, Alice

Images of Bath County Wills, Estates, Inventories, Bonds, Deeds 1822 to 1830

Testators: Bratten, James | Dinwiddie, William | Gain, Mary | Gatewood, William | Given, Joseph | Gwin, David | Hamilton, Osbourne | Harnest, William | Knox, John | Mathany, Daniel | McDonnald, Hugh | McGriffin, Robert | McKee, James | Morris, George W. | Ruckman, David | Shaw, George | Surber, Joseph | Wade, Otho | Warwick, Andrew | Warwick, Jacob | Williams, Hazel | Wilson, Barbara | Wilson, Elizabeth | Young, William

Jamestown Map
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