Liberty County Will – Joseph Hargreaves

Enslaved Persons Mentioned: Binah, Nanny, Shadrach
Slaveholder: Joseph Hargreaves
Year: 1825
Location: Liberty County, Georgia

[Important Transcriber’s Note: Joseph Hargreaves, the testator, attempted in his original will to name Shadrach, an enslaved youth, as his son by the enslaved woman Binah and to emancipate him, his mother, and his grandmother Nanny, in addition to leaving Shadrach one-fourth of his estate. It appears that when the will was probated, the sections related to emancipation were disallowed, and only the allowed portions of the will were recorded in the Liberty County will book. However, the original will, without the deletions, was attached as an exhibit to a court case in which Joseph Hargreaves’ nephew accused the executor, Thomas Mallard, of cheating him out of his inheritance. Both men – nephew Joshua and Thomas Mallard – asserted during the court case that Shadrach was not entitled to inherit because he was a slave.

The will below is the original will with the deletions denoted with strike-throughs. It has been formatted into paragraphs for readability. There are links to both the probated will and original will below. See also the estate inventory and the estate annual returns. End Transcriber’s Note.]

[Begin Transcription]

In the name of God Amen. I Joseph Hargreaves of the State of Georgia and County of Liberty, Planter, considerably indisposed in body but of sound mind[,] memory and understanding do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner following. It is my will and desire that my body be decently interred at the discretion of my Executors hereinafter named and that my funeral expenses and all and every of my just & lawful debts be paid and satisfied.

After which I will & ordain that my two servant women Nanny & Binah her daughter for their good and faithful services and for other good causes and considerations be forever set free and emancipated [and] granted to them & each of them all the liberty & privileges which free negroes and mulattoes are entitled to by the laws of this state or otherwise and that immediately upon my decease my executors [herein after named] do pay, from out of my estate, to the said Nanny & Binah the sum of one hundred dollars each free from all encumbrances & charges [whatsoever], the same being for their maintenance and support. And my executors are directed to sell a box of plate, now in my storeroom, at my plantation, and to distribute the money arising from the sale thereof, in equal proportions, to the said Nanny and Binah.

And further and that for good causes & consi[derations] I do will and ordain that my mulatto son Shadrach an infant about nine years of age[,] the child of the said Binah be set free & forever emancipated hereby granting to him all the liberties and privileges which mulattoes are entitled to by the laws of the State or otherwise and the said Shadrach being my son I do give & bequeath unto him for a support & maintenance the one full fourth part of my estate both real and personal that I may die possessed of the same to him[,] his heirs & assigns forever. I do hereby request my executors to take upon them the burden of guardians and trustees to the said Shadrack giving & granting to them & each of them all the powers[,] rights & privileges incident to guardianship or trust. It is my wish and desire that the said Shadrach may receive an English education the best to be obtained and that his estate [so given and bequeathed] may or can afford and that when he shall have attained to a fit & proper age he may be put to some business or trade such as he may with prudence with the assent of his guardian or trustee choose.

But should it so happen that the said Shadrach shall have departed this life before attaining to the age of twenty one years and which period of time I do appoint that he shall receive and take unto his possession the estate both real and personal so given with the increase & profits accruing therefrom after full & just payment of all demands for his maintenance & education & other necessaries & requirements with which he may have been furnished then & in that case the said estate so given & bequeathed to the said Shadrach and all and every part thereof shall become the estate, right & property of my nephew Joshua H. Hargreaves, hereafter named, to him, his heirs & assigns forever. It is my will & desire, and I do herein and hereby give[,] devise and bequeath unto my nephew Joshua H. Hargreaves of Liverpool England, brewer, all and every the other three fourths of my said estate, both real and personal the same to him and his heirs & assigns forever the same not being herein & hereby otherwise disposed of.

I do hereby also direct that a copy, properly certified, of this my last will and testament be transmitted to my said nephew immediately after the probate thereof; and he is hereby requested to come to this county if he can do so without manifest inconvenience in order to adjust the affairs of my estate or to assist in their adjustment. I give and devise to the Georgia Education Society the sum of one hundred dollars. It is my will and desire that should it so happen that any of my slaves should be necessarily sold or disposed of, that they be disposed of in families as nearly as possible as they may be connected, and to humane masters, and my executors are hereby vested with authority, in such case, to sell at private sale in preference to public auction. It is my wish and request, that the said boy Shadrach aforementioned, after my decease, and as soon as the same can be done with safety and convenience, be sent to Europe to my nephew Joshua H. Hargreaves, in him reposing all trust and confidence, when he the said Shadrach shall come under his care and charge.

Lastly I do hereby nominate, constitute and appoint my worthy friends, Thomas Mallard, Thomas Bacon, John Dunwody & my nephew Joshua H. Hargreaves, executors of this my last will & testament in them reposing every trust & fervently requesting them, that they will take the burden of this my last will & testament upon them together with the guardianship & trust therein & thereby requested and reposed and that they will in all and in every respect & in every thing do & perform the tenor of the same, as therein expressed, meant & intended and to do or cause to be done every act[,] matter & thing to the necessary accomplishment of the same as respects the freedom & emancipation of the person therein named should the same be found necessary to be done. In witness whereof I the said Joseph Hargreaves have hereunto set my hand & seal this 13 Decr. 1825.

Signed sealed and delivered by the testator as his last will & testament in the presence of us who in his presence and at his request & in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses to the due execution thereof.

Jos. [Joseph] Jones
Uriah Wilcox
E. [Elijah] Baker

Probated by Elijah Baker on 4 August 1828
Recorded 8 September 1828.

[End Transcription]

To see the original version of the will (attached to the court case):
“Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89Q4-ZFJ9?cc=1999178&wc=9SBV-HZ3%3A267679901%2C267964401 : 20 May 2014), Liberty > Estates 1775-1892 Goulding, Peter-Harris, Ann > image 888 of 1101; county probate courthouses, Georgia.

To see the probated version of the will (with the “x” denoting the omitted portions):
“Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9Q4-ZX9B?cc=1999178&wc=9SBV-HZ3%3A267679901%2C267964401 : 20 May 2014), Liberty > Estates 1775-1892 Goulding, Peter-Harris, Ann > image 893 of 1101; county probate courthouses, Georgia.

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