Liberty County Will – Charles Odingsell Screven

Enslaved Persons Mentioned: Cyrus, Hetty, Juno, Sally, Sophy, Venus
Slaveholder: Charles Odingsell Screven
Year: 1830
Location: Liberty County, Georgia

[Will Summary]

Testator: Charles Odingsell Screven, “preacher of the everlasting gospel,” Liberty County, State of Georgia


  • Wishes to be buried at Retreat Plantation, near the “remains of my departed children, and that a brick or tabby wall be made to enclose the ground where the bodies are interred.”

  • Wishes his property to remain undivided until his debts are paid.

  • Gives to son James Odingsell Screven one half of “my plantation called Retreat; that portion containing the buildings subject to restrictions afterwards specified; one half of the island adjoining called Belle Isle [or Belleisle]; and one half of the pine land purchased of the Cubbedges in Bryan County; he to have the choice of the part of the island & also of the pine land, to him, his heirs & assigns forever.”

  • Gives to son Benjamin Smith Screven half of the Retreat Plantation, half of the adjoining island called Belle Isle, and half of the pine land purchased from the Cubbedges.

  • The landing place at Retreat Plantation and the causeway leading to the island Belle Isle shall be for the mutual use of the two legatees Benjamin and James Screven.

  • To be divided between them: the stock of cattle and plantation utensils at Retreat Plantation. His large flat & boat there, and the horses & mules that are used there, shall be for use by both.

  • I give and bequeath to my dear son James Odingsell Screven the following negroes: Sally, with all her issue; Hetty, and all her issue; Cyrus, & Juno with all her issue; Sophy and all her issue; together with all their future increase. Also one fifth of my books in Sunbury.”

  • I give & bequeath to my dear wife Barbara R. Screven the Erin plantation near Medway Church, and the cattle thereon, and the negro woman Venus, who waits on her, to her, her heirs & assigns forever.”

  • Gives to his wife Barbara R. Screven, during her natural life, his dwelling house in Sunbury and all his lots there, with their improvements. After his death, they will be the joint property of his minor children.

  • Gives to wife Barbara R. Screven the furniture in the house at Sunbury, the choice of one fifth of his books, his gig & harness, and any of his riding horses she may choose.

  • All his land near Sunbury, called Seabrook, is to be equally divided, “in point of quality & quantity, as far as practicable” between his children: Ann Elizabeth Screven, William Edward Screven, and any children born of his wife within nine months after he dies, in addition to the stock of cattle, horses, mules & hogs on the plantation and those in Sunbury not already bequeathed, except the cattle ranging in Sunbury, which shall be for the joint use of his wife and his minor children.

  • The rest of his landed property not already bequeathed goes to his minor children. Its disposal is at the discretion of his executors, without waiting for “the formalies of law,” if they consider it in the best interests of the children. Also to his minor children any books not already bequeathed.

  • Any of his “negroes” not already bequeathed are to be equally divided, as much as practicable, between his wife Barbara R. Screven, daughter Ann Elizabeth Screven, son William Edward Screven, son Benjamin Smith Screven, and any child his wife might have within nine months of his death.

  • But as my dear wife Barbara R. Screven has frequently expressed her desire that my last named dear children, to wit, Ann Elizabeth Screven, William Edward Screven and Benjamin Screven, should remove to a more healthy residence, it is my will that she should be gratified, should the desire continue, and that these my dear children should reside, & be brought up, in any place my dear wife might select,” subject to the executors’ approval. They may sell the property bequeathed to them, both real and person, and invest the proceeds in any manner they, the executors, see fit.

  • Gives to the Trustees of the Sunbury Baptist Church two hundred dollars, for the use of his Church. If any of his children die before the age of majority or having children by “lawful marriage,” then the Church is to be given two hundred dollars from that child’s portion.

  • If property needs to be sold to pay his lawful debts, then “the special legatees, as well as the residuary, should attain their proportion of the same.”

  • It is my will that my dear wife Barbara R. Screven be at liberty to plant with the portion of negroes that falls to her share on the plantation called Seabrook, during her natural life, if she is so inclined, free from rent.”

Executors: wife Barbara R. Screven, son James Odingsell Screven, and “esteemed friends” Samuel S. Law, Charles F. [or T.] Hart, Joseph E. Maxwell

Date signed: 6 March 1830

Witnesses: Oliver Stevens, Alexd. [Alexander] M. McIver, Oliver Stevens Jun.

Probated by Oliver Stevens Jun. On 6 September 1830

Recorded on 13 September 1830

See original will at:

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