The following will was copied by Col. John C. Bell. I have a photocopy of the original will obtained from Louisa County, VA which has even more of the right margin missing. However, my reading of the handwriting is basically the same as Col. Bell's and the following is quoted from the information he provided me which begins with his remarks and then his interpretation of the will.
Rhoda Taylor Fone RhodaFone@aol.com
"Will of Jo Bickley, Louisa WB1-15. Interpreted from Xerox of WB1.
A variable inch is tattered off the right margin, removing some 12-14 spaces of text thereby. The logical, or sometimes reasonable, words have been supplied, in parentheses. Where the first few letters only of a word severed by the tattering remain, the entire word is placed inside parentheses simply for ease of reading. The will is not paragraphed, but paragraphing has been done to facilitate reference. The date of record is partially destroyed but from reference to preceding and following entries as well as the fact that April is the only logical month in 1750 where Tuesday falls of the 24th, there is little question of the correct date. Spelling herein: Bickley, Beckley, Beckly."
[from John C. Bell]
"In the name of God Amen. I Joseph Beckly (of ________) in Louisa County being very sick & weak but in my perfect (Senses do see) fit to make this my last will and Testament making void all other (wills made).
IMPRIMUS I Lend to my welbeloved wife Elizabeth Beckley (four negroes) Richard, Mapping, Harry & Judith, also one Mullatto boy (named) Lohney who by Indenture is to serve, until he is thirty one (years old), also all my Land dureing her natural Life, and after her (death it is my) will that the said four negroes, the Mullatto boy if not free (before then and) my Land be Sold, and the money arising from such Sale or (Sales is to be) divided between my Children then living, and if any of my (Children shall die) before and leave issue Lawfully begotten, it is my desire, that (they have the) part, that the parent or parents should have had, had they (been alive).
ITEM It is my desire if my Wife should be with Child at my (death such) child should have an Equal Share of everything which I (have herein) equally divided amongst my children, also the value of a (negro to make) it equal with the rest of the Children.
ITEM I give to my (Loving/?/Son) William Bickley and his heirs forever one negro Boy named (________). [Note: handwritten note in margin by Col. Bell `This was Dick.']
ITEM I Give to my beloved son Francis Bickley and to his heirs forever (a negro boy) named Joe.
ITEM I give to my beloved son John Beckley and (his heirs forever) one Negro Boy named Will.
ITEM I give to my (beloved Son Joseph) Beckley and to his heirs forever one negro Girl named Philliys & (her increase). ITEM I give to my Beloved Daughter Elizabeth Beckley & (her heirs) forever one negro girl named Kate and her increase.
ITEM It is my Will that my negro Wench Jane be kept by my Executors to (serve for the) Benefit of my children until my daughter Elizabeth Beckley (shall reach) the age of fifteen years, and then that the said negro Wench (and her issue) if she has any after my death be sold, and the money arising (from such) Sale together with her Labour be equally divided amongst (my Children) then Living except as is Before excepted, if any of my (children shall die) and leave Lawfull issue, that then they come in for there (Parent's share).
ITEM It is my Will that if any one or more of my (children die before) they come of age marry or Will away what I have (bequeathed to them) then it shall be equally divided amongst the Survivors.
(ITEM It is my) Will that my Executors do Sell Dorothy Bradley deducting (from the Sale) her time which I give her, also to sell by Watch, my (rifled gun, my) York horse & all the rest of my personal estate, the amount of (money after) paying my just debts I Leave to be divided between my (wife & Children) equally.
ITEM I make constitute & appoint Mr. David (Cosby & Mr.) John Pettus Executors of this my Last Will, as witness (my Hand & Seal) this 30th January 1749."
Chs. Barret ................................................................................................................... Jo Bickley (Seal)
Last Updated: Saturday, February 24, 2001