Double-sided last will and testament of Peter Thornton. 12 1/2 x 8''. Dated June 18th, 1833. Three codicils on the back, two dated August 1833, the last, Sept 3rd, 1838. Document is in good condition, with darkening from age, and two slight areas of paper loss along right hand side.
In this will, Thornton bequeaths his land and property to his family. This document is notable in particular because Thornton makes mention of how he will bequeath his slaves. The will begins, "In the name of God amen I Peter Thornton do make this my last will and Testament - Item the first - I give to my wife all the land that is contained in the track that I live on with one exception, that is I give to my son Edmund one hundred acres..."
Further on Thornton states, "I also give to my wife one third of my negroes, all my household furniture my stock of every description and plantation utensils for the support of herself and children that live with her and sell any part of the stock she may think proper it is also my will that my administrator purchase her a plain carriage..."
Later: "I have given my son James B.J. Thornton three negroes - To wit Reuben Mary + Joe. I wish their values to be deducted from his proportion the negroes to be valued agreeable to the size they were when I gave them to him - I have also given my son Edmund, Horace which I wish deducted in like manner from his proportion"
"I have also given my daughter Lucy Anne four negroes to wit Matilda and child Richard Joanna and Robert, which I wish deducted from her proportion in like manner. I leave my sons James and Edmund my Executors - / Peter Thornton / June 18th, 1833"
One of the following codicils specifies, "Codicil to the above It is further my will that my woman Abbey be sold and the money arisen from her sale be equally divided as the rest of my estate but should there be any money due from my estate I wish it to be paid out of the money arising from the sale of Abbey."
Certain words in this document have been underlined in red pen, seemingly at a more recent date. At the top in the same red pen is written the note, "1833 wills his slaves!"
A document from a time where black humans were treated as objects to be divided in a man's will, the same as money or livestock, this will is an important piece of American and particularly African American history.
From the Gregory Reed Collection. Gregory Reed was Rosa Parks' lawyer, and consequently had in his possession a number of documents relating to African American history and the Civil Rights movement. Additionally, he represented the family members and Estates of members of various Motown groups, such as the Temptations.