Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on the Will of Jane Randolph Jefferson, [ca. February 1790]

Notes on the Will of Jane Randolph Jefferson

[ca. February 1790]

Questions which will arise on the two residuary clauses of my mother’s will.

  • 2.1 It is a rule in law that wills shall be so construed as to make every part stand if possible. Under this rule, shall these clauses be so construed as that the first ‘I give everything else to be equally divided &c’ shall relate to her personal estate which she had power to ‘give’ and the latter ‘I make &c sole legatee of whatever else I have power to dispose of’ relate to her slaves which under the will of her husband she had power to appoint only.
  • Or.
  • 3.2 It being another rule that the first clauses in deeds and the last in wills shall take place, shall the latter residuary clause take place of the former as to both slaves and personal estate?
  • 1.3 To whom does the word ‘all’ relate in the clause ‘I give every thing else to be equally divided among all’? The testatrice had 6 children—but4 in her will names only three of her children.

MS (MHi); written entirely in TJ’s hand on a ragged scrap; undated; with calculations in TJ’s hand on verso.

TJ’s Mother’s will, which contained perplexing ambiguities despite its brevity, reads as follows: “I Jane Jefferson of the County of Albemarle do make this my Last Will and Testament, in manner and form following, I give to my daughter Anna Scott my 2 Negroes Lucinda old Sals daughter an Belin Jacks daughter sharlott, I give to my Son Randolph, my two negroes Simon old sals Son and Sirus Little Sals Son, I give to my daughter Elizabeth all my wearing Apparel, with one good bed an furniture, Every thing Else I give to my Executor, to be Equally divided Among all, perhaps there May be Some debts I am not Apprized of, and Lastly I do Constitute my Son Thomas Jefferson my Sole Executor, and Legatee of whatever Else I have power to dispose of” (Tr in Albemarle County Will Book, ii, 367, Albemarle County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Charlottesville; entirely in the hand of county clerk John Nicholas, with John Huckstep and William Henderson listed as witnesses; undated; at head of text in margin: “Jeffersons Will”; with subjoined note attested by Nicholas: “At Albemarle October Court 1778 This Will was proved by the Oath of One Witness thereto and Ordered to be Recorded; and upon the motion of Thomas Jefferson the Executor therein named who made Oath According to Law, Certificate is granted him for obtaining a Certificate in due form, whereupon he gave bond with Security and Acknowledged it Accordingly”). The appraisal of the estate inventory is in same, 356.

1Digit reworked from “1.”

2Digit reworked from “2.”

3Digit reworked from “3.”

4Preceding three words and digit interlined.

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