1. A man who receives by a will cannot be a witness to it.

    2. A nun-cupative will can dispose only of personal property {not land

    3. A married woman could not make a will without her husband's consent and
    even so, could dispose only of personal property unless there had been a
    pre-nuptial agreement.

    4. Title to land could be conveyed either by inheritance or deed or marriage.

    5. If a man sells land and there is no record in the Deed Book that he
    purchased that land, then he inherited it or his wife inherited the land
    and a record of that is in the probate files. Knowing this will help to
    discover the identity of the wives.

    6. A man did not have to be 21 to buy land, but he did have to be 21 to
    sell it. He did not have to own property to vote, but he did have to be a
    free man. He had to be 21 to serve on a jury, but he did not have to own
    property or to be naturalized.

    7. A woman was never a taxable or tithe. If her name appears on a tax list,
    it is because she is a widow; she has a male of taxable age in her
    household or a slave of taxable age.

    8. Quakers used numerical dating and did not take oaths and were not
    married in a civil service. A Quaker's last will does not begin with: "In
    the name of God, Amen," and there are no marriage bonds for Quakers.

    9. There are excellent indexed records for Moravians and Quakers; many
    records of both Lutheran and Reformed churches and ministers that have been

    10. All males and females enumerated in the census records prior to 1850
    are not necessarily members of the immediate family; they are merely
    members of the household and may not even be related.

    11. "Junior" did not necessarily mean "son of," but was a designation for a
    younger man of the same name in the same area. A man could be a "junior"
    at one period and "senior" at a later period.

    12. "Infant" did not mean a babe in arms but someone under legal age.

    13. An "orphan" was someone under 21 who had lost his or her father; the
    mother might well be living.

    14. An illegitimate child almost invariably took the surname of the mother.

    15. If a man died in Rowan County, NC and devised his land in Davidson
    County to his son, there will not be a record in Davidson County to show
    the transmittal of that property.

    16. In intestacy, the Court appointed as administrator(s) the widow &
    relict [who may have already remarried and may have a different name]
    and/or sons(s) who are of legal age. If they relinquish, the largest
    creditor is appointed.

    17. A posthumous child, even if not mentioned in the will, will share
    equally with the other children.

    18. Not just anyone can file a caveat to a will - only a person who stands
    to inherit from the estate, and only then if he would receive more by the
    laws of intestate succession than from the provisions of the will.

    19. If no executor is named in the will, the Court appoints an
    administrator "cum testamento annexo" to carry out the provisions of the will.

    20. According to the laws of intestate succession, the widow receives 1/3rd
    of all property, and the remainder goes to the children.

    21. The law of primogeniture was legally abolished in 1784 and had to do
    ONLY with the estate of an intestate.

    22. Normally, the widows of intestates were allotted a year's provision.

    23. Until 1868, a husband had a life estate in all real property owned by
    his wife at the time of their marriage; this is known as curtesy.

    24. Dower rights pertained to the belonging of the husband, whether he
    owned it before the marriage or acquired it afterward. Husbands did have
    identical rights to property owned by their wives, but when referring to
    those rights they are called curtsy rather than dower.

    25. Curtesy or Courtesy, Scotch Law. A life-rent given by law to the
    surviving husband, of all his wife's heritage of which she died in feft, if
    there was a child of the marriage born alive. The child born of the
    marriage must be the mother's heir. If she had a child by a former
    marriage, who is to succeed to her estate, the husband has no right to the
    curtsy while such child is alive; so that the curtesy is due to the husband
    rather as father to the heir than as husband to an heiress, comfortable to
    the Roman law, which gives to the father the use of what the child succeeds
    to by the mother.

    26. If an estate was debt-ridden, the personal property was disposed of
    first. The widow's 1/3rd was protected and usually 1/3rd for the children
    against any claims for debt.

    27. An "orphan" over the age of 14 could select his own guardian [as it is
    now]; if he were younger, the Court appointed the guardian. If an orphan
    were left little estate, he was often apprenticed by the Court to learn a

    28. Watch for a man disposing of more land than you can find him buying.
    Did land come to him by death? Did his wife inherit property that he is

    29. Taxable age for white men during the colonial period was 16; during the
    Revolutionary War it varied from county to county; after 1784, it was 21.

    30. Be very careful about accepting any information on a death certificate
    other than the date of death, as the information was given under stress by
    someone who may not have a full knowledge of the facts. The same holds true
    for obituary notices.

    31. Phonetic spelling can be tricky. The clerk wrote down what he HEARD,
    i.e., Anne Eliza or Annie Liza, Synderalugh or Cinderella.

    32. Watch for occupations being Capitalized as identification following a
    name, without a coma. Very few people had three names. John Williams
    Carpenter in 1785 was probably John Williams, carpenter. John Henry Taylor
    may well have been John Henry, tailor.

    33. Many times there are no commas separating a list of names of children
    in a will and you may have either ten daughters with single names or five
    daughters with double names or a mixture.

    34. If a man left underage children, you should expect to find a guardian
    being appointed and the children being referred to as "orphans" although
    their mother may still be living and be appointed their guardian. If she
    has remarried, her new husband is often appointed guardian of the minor

    35. Spelling can be very confusing, i.e., "hairs purchaced waggins at
    Estate sail."

    36. When checking an index, say the surname and envision every possible
    spelling. a friend eventually identified her ancestor Lewis Redwine as
    having been Ludwig Rheitweil

    37. Some names were shortened through usage. Mr. Reed Pickler had
    difficulty with his line until he realized the surname of the immigrant
    ancestor was Blankenpickler.

    38. In examining a Bible record, see if the handwriting is all the
    same. If it is, all entries were probably made at the time of the latest
    entry; if entries were made at the time the event occurred, they are more
    apt to be accurate.

    39. In NC, the marriage act of 1741 forbade "the abominable mixture"
    between white men and women and Indians, Negroes, Mustees and Mulattoes or
    any person of mixed blood.

    40. Words denoting relationship, such as "in-law" and "step," often had
    different meanings from what they have today. "Nephew" sometimes meant
    grandson or grandchild, such as "to my nephew Rebecca Hayes." "Brother"
    could be also brother-in-law or brother in Christ or a minister.

    41. Non-jurors or non-swearers were people who refused or failed to take
    the oath of allegiance, i.e., Loyalists or Tories. Many when faced with
    the possible confiscation of their property, embraced the Revolutionary
    cause, and some became super patriots.

    42. Inventories and estate sales reveal much about the occupation and
    status of the deceased and often suggest other records that might be searched.

    43. Analyze the naming patterns in the generations you have constructed as
    a possible clue for a given name of an earlier male or the maiden name of a
    wife. For example, the widow Hartwell Drake almost certainly had a mother
    whose maiden name was Hartwell.

    44. Often a later child was given the same name as one who had died earlier.

    45. If there is no marriage bond for a 2nd marriage, look for an age-gap
    between children to try to determine when the first wife died,

    46. Livery and Seizen was a practice between the seller and buyer of a
    piece of land. They met on the property and in the presence of witnesses
    declare the contents on which livery is to be made. This was a ceremonial
    act by which the seller delivers (livery) a clod, or twig or some other
    piece of turf or branch from some plant growing on the property and this
    transfer is accompanied with words much like the following: "I deliver
    these to you in the name of seizen of all the lands and tenements contained
    in this deed."
    It was a formalized ritual probably called for by the purchaser who may
    have had something to gain by having several witnesses to the event. These
    matters concern a vocabulary no longer used, and made manifest that which
    is now reduced to words on paper.

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