Context: Joseph Hargreaves, a white Liberty County planter who died in 1828, had left a will naming a young enslaved boy, Shadrach, as his son by the enslaved woman Binah. The will left 1/4 of his estate to Shadrach and directed that he be freed and sent to England to the care of Hargreaves’ nephew, a Liverpool brewer named Joshua H. Hargreaves, who had inherited the other 3/4 of the estate.
The will also directed that Shadrach’s mother, Binah, and her mother, Nanny, be freed. In 1831, Joshua Hargreaves sued the will’s local Liberty County executor, Thomas Mallard, alleging that he had refused to provide an accounting of the estate and was misrepresenting its size. Mallard’s response to Hargreaves’ complaint denied the charges. Both men agreed that, according to Georgia state law, Shadrach was ineligible to inherit, but disagreed on who should inherit his part of the estate.
When Joseph Hargreaves’ will was probated, the portions considered illegal were omitted, but the original will, with the omitted text, was included as an exhibit to the court case. See the will, with the omitted text included, click here.
[NOTE: The name Shadrach is spelled variously as Shadrach, Shadrich and Shadrack in these documents. Transcribed as seen.]
Liberty County Sup[erior] Court
December Term 1831
J.H. Hargreaves, complainant
Thomas Mallard, Exor [Executor] of Hargreaves, Defendant
Recorded 25 December 1832
6714 words = $8.37 ½
Origl. Bin filed this 16 Day of June 1831
E. Baker Clk
Georgia, Liberty County } To the Honorable the Judge of the Superior Court of said County
Joshua H. Hargreaves, complainant
Thomas Mallard, Exor [executor] of Joseph Hargreaves decd [deceased], defendant
Humbly complaining show unto your Honor that Joseph Hargreaves late of the County of Liberty in the State aforesaid being possessed of a considerable estate both real & personal duly made & published his will & testament in writing bearing date the thirteenth day of December eighteen hundred and twenty five and by his said will gave and bequeathed amongst other things to a mulatto boy named Shadrich one full fourth part of his estate both real and personal to be possessed by him his heirs and assigns forever but should the said boy Shadrich die before he attains the age of one and twenty years then and in that case the said Estate so given & bequeathed to the said Shadrich & in and every part thereof shall become the estate rights and property of your orator Joshua H. Hargreaves his heirs and assigns forever, and the said testator also gave and bequeathed unto your orator the other three fourths of his said estate real and personal to him his heirs and assigns forever, and thereby nominated & appointed the said defendant Thomas Mallard[,] Thomas Bacon, John Dunwody and your orator his executors with power and authority to them to sell the slaves being a part of the personal estate at private sale or public auction, all which will more fully appear reference being had to the said original will a copy of which is hereunto annexed marked exhibit A which your orator prays may be taken as a part of this Bill of Complaint and your orator further showeth that the said Joseph Hargreaves departed this life on or about the [left blank] day of [month left blank] in the year eighteen hundred twenty [blank] without revoking or altering his said will whereupon the Defendant Thomas Mallard one of the executors named in said will duly proved the same in the proper form[,] qualified himself as executor[,] possessed himself of all the estate real & personal and took on himself the sole burden of the execution of the same. That the said estate was of a considerable amount and more than sufficient to discharge the testator’s just debts[,] funeral expenses & legacies all which will more at large appear by reference to the appraisement a copy of which is hereunto annexed marked exhibit B and which your orator prays leave to refer to as occasion may require, and your orator further showeth to the Honorable Court that the boy Shadrich to whom the said legacy is given by the said will before[,] at the time and after the execution of the same and before[,] at the time & after the death of the said testator was a slave and under the laws of Georgia incapable of taking or holding property either real or personal, thus the legacy so given by the said will to the said boy Shadrich was null and void and the devise over of the same to your orator took immediate effect upon the death of the said testator, that your orator is entitled to receive not only the legacy of three fourths of the said estate but also the one fourth devised over to him as before mentioned after the payment of the debts[,] legacies & funeral expenses of the said testator. And your orator further showeth that he has applied to the said Thomas Mallard the Defendant Executor as aforesaid to render an a/c [accounting] of his actions and doings in relation to the said estate and to deliver & pay over to him the said Legacies to which he is entitled with which just & reasonable application your orator well hoped that he the said Thomas Mallard Executor as aforesaid would have complied as in justice and equity he ought to have done, but now so it is the said Thomas Mallard absolutely refuses so to do pretending the said estate of the testator was very small – insufficient to satisfy his just debts & funeral expenses and that the said legacy given to the said boy Shadrich in & by the said will is not null & void but good and valid and that the same did not vest in your orator as devised over on the death of the said Testator whereof your orator charges the contrary thereof to be true. All of which actings and doings are contrary to equity and good conscience and tend to the great injury of your orator. In tender consideration whereof and for as much as your orator is remediless but by the interposition of the Honorable Court where matters of this kind is ?answerable?.
To the end therefore that the said Thomas Mallard upon his corporal oath [Transcriber’s NOTE: oath taken while touching a sacred object such as a Bible] may set forth whether the said Testator did not make his will of said date[,] purpose & effect as heretofore stated or of some other [one word illegible] in particular, whether the said testator did not depart this life at the time before mentioned or at what other time and whether he altered or revoked his said will, whether the said boy Shadrich before[,] at the time or after the execution of the said will and before at the time and after the death of the said testator was not a slave, whether he the said Thomas Mallard did not prove the said will and whether he is not the sole qualified executor under the same, and whether he has not possessed himself of all the estate of the testator and the amount, whether your orator has not applied for an a/c of said estate and delivery and payment of the legacies given by the said will to your orator and whether the said Thomas Mallard has not refused to comply with the same and the reason thereof, and that the said defendant Thomas Mallard may set forth a particular a/c of the estate come to his hands and the manner by which he has disposed of the same and that the said Defendant may answer the ?premises? and that an a/c may be taken of the Estate & effects of the said testator come to the hands of the Defendant as well as of his funeral expenses[,] debts & legacies and that the same may be applied in due course of administration and that the said Defendant may be ?decreed? to sell and dispose of the Estate real & personal of the said testator to which your orator may be entitled and pay over to your orator the amount of the legacies so bequeathed to him under & by virtue of the said will or deliver over to him the estate real & personal ?embraced? by said legacies in said will mentioned, and such other relief as the nature of the case may require. And your orator humbly asks the Honorable Court grant him a writ of subpoena to be directed to the said Defendant requiring him under a certain penalty therein to be named to [one word] and appear before the Superior Court to be held for the County of Liberty in December Term next then there to answer the premises and to stand to and abide such order and decree therein as to the said Court shall seem agreeable to equity and good conscience, and your orator ?with our proxy? Etc.
Sol. [solicitor] for Complt. [Complainant]
Context: Following is Executor Thomas Mallard’s response to Joshua Hargreaves’ complaint.
Liberty Sup[erior] Court, April Term 1832
Joshua H. Hargreaves, Compl[ainan]t.
Thomas Mallard, Exor, Joseph Hargreaves Dec’d. Def[endan]t.
Answer of Defendant filed this 16 day of April 1832.
E. Baker Clk.
In the Superior court of Liberty county having jurisdiction in Equity.
The answer of Thomas Mallard executor of the last will and testament of Joseph Hargreaves, deceased, defendant to the complainant’s Bill of Complaint.
This defendant saving and reserving to himself now and at all times hereafter all and all manner of benefit & advantage of exception to the manifold errors, imperfections, uncertainties and insufficiencies in complainant’s Bill of Complaint contained, for answer unto the same, or unto so much thereof as he is advised it is necessary for him to make answer unto says – that it is true as is stated in complainant’s Bill that Joseph Hargreaves, late of the county of Liberty did duly on the thirteenth day of December, eighteen hundred and twenty five, execute his last will and testament, a copy of which the complainant has annexed to his Bill marked Exhibit A, that the said Joseph Hargreaves after the publication and execution of said Will did depart this life on the [left blank] day of [blank] in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and twenty [left blank] that this Defendant with Thomas Bacon, John Dunwody and Joshua H. Hargreaves were appointed the executors of the said Will, that this Defendant was the only one of the said appointed Executors who was qualified on said will, and that he has been and continues to be the sole acting executor thereof, and this Defendant further saith, that in pursuance of the execution of the trust reposed in him by the said Testator, he took into his possession the estate real and personal of the said Joseph Hargreaves, the personal part of which was duly appraised and a copy of the inventory or appraisement of which is annexed to complainant’s Bill marked Exhibit B, and this defendant annexes to this his answer a schedule marked exhibit A comprising all the real estate of which he became possessed by reason of his being Executor of said Joseph Hargreaves, as also an account of his proceedings as such executor marked Exhibit B, to both of which Exhibits, this Defendant prays leave to refer as occasion may require, and this Defendant further saith that immediately after the deaths of said Testator, he wrote to the complainant then in England, in which country he still resides and where he is at this time, as this defendant believes, acquainting him with the decease of his Uncle, the said Testator, and with the bequests made in his favor; that subsequently thereto, the said complainant appointed one Anthony L. Molineaux and one Edmund Molineux, junior, or either of them, his attorneys or attorney for him in this country, to come to a settlement of his uncle’s estate, and to receive his proportion of the estate of the said Testator under the said will; that in conformity with the will of the said Testator, this deponent duly accounted with the attorney of the said complainant for three fourths of the estate of the said Testator and hath actually paid to him more than three fourths of the net proceeds of said estate having entire confidence in the said attorney that he would on a final settlement of said estate account with him for any balance which might be overpaid him. And this Defendant further saith that he has been always ready and anxious to come to a final settlement of the estate of said Testator but that he hath been advised that altho’ the said Shadrack was before and at the time of the said bequest mentioned in said will a slave still that in as much as the legacy to such slave is under the laws of this State void, that such part of said estate as was thus bequeathed would go over to the next kin and general heirs of the said Testator, several of which are living as this Defendant has been informed and are entitled by law to distributive portions of the said fourth of said Estate; that under these circumstances this defendant did not feel authorized to meet the demands of the said complainant, that he this defendant is anxious to come to a final distribution of said estate and only prays the protection of this court in so doing; and this defendant further saith that he has been informed that the said complainant is an alien and as such incapable of inheriting real estate under the laws of this State, and therefore this defendant does not feel authorized to put the complainant in possession of any part of the real estate of said testator without the sanction of this court; and this defendant prays that this Honorable Court will by the decree in this matter require from the complainant such security as will indemnify the defendant against any future claims that may be urged against the estate of said Testator, and this defendant denies all unlawful combination and confederacy in the said Bill charged without that, that any other matter or thing material or necessary for this defendant to make answer unto, and not herein or hereby well and sufficiently answered unto, confessed, or avoided, traversed or denied, is true, to the knowledge of belief of this defendant, all which matters and things this defendant is ready to aver, maintain and prove, as this Honorable Court shall direct; and humbly prays to be hence dismissed, with his reasonable costs and charges, on that behalf most wrongfully sustained.
McCallister & Bulloch
Sol. For Defendant
Personally appeared Thomas Mallard who being duly sworn, saith that what is contained in his answer, as far as concerns his own act and deed is true of his own knowledge, and that what relates to the acct or deed of any other person or persons, he believes to be true.
[Signed] Thos. Mallard
Sworn before me this
16th April 1832
John Dunwody, J.J.C.L.C.
Exhibit A: Included with the documents pertaining to this case was this unmarked paper, which may be Exhibit A, a listing of the land Thomas Mallard became possessed of as executor for Joseph Hargreaves’ will:
One tract of land on the waters of North Newport, containing 760 acres, bounded on the west by lands of Est Wm. Anderson, North by G.W. Walthour, East by Wm. Fleming and Estate Wm. Foster,
240 acres of quality inland swamp:
40 acres of quality cotton land
50 acres of quality cotton land
220 acres of quality cotton land
210 acres Pine Land
One tract of land on Bulltown Swamp containing 298 acres, bounded on the west by lands supposed to be Maybank’s, on all other sides by lands of John and Lew LeConte:
82 acres of quality inland swamp
216 acres of pine land
Exhibit B: Thomas Mallard’s annual accounts for the estate.
To see the original documents for this case: “Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99Q4-ZXLB?cc=1999178&wc=9SBV-HZ3%3A267679901%2C267964401 : 20 May 2014), Liberty > Estates 1775-1892 Goulding, Peter-Harris, Ann > image 877 of 1101; county probate courthouses, Georgia. [NOTE: Starts on page 877; ends on page 911.]