Joe Thompson v. Walter Clarke. Memorandum


I have read and considered the Will of John Thompson

From my knowledge of the man I assume it as a fact he owed nothing or what is next to nothing when he died.

If his wife is governed by her own interest she will renounce the will and take the provision made for her by the law. This will be beneficial to her and in no respect injurious to any of the representatives of her husband. If she stands to the will she must take her third of the slaves entitled to their freedom as limitted by the will of her husband and controlled[?] by the operation of the law. If she renounced the will she will take one third part of the slaves not subject to the provisions of the will at all but slaves to her absolutely. As to the other parts of the testators estate real and personal the provisions of the will and those of the law are precisely the same. If she renounces the will such renunciation must be made within ninety days after the probate of the will and it must be made in writing in a certain form which the register of the wills I am sure will furnish her. The estate being clear of debt and she renouncing the provision made for her, it seems to be clearly her interest also to renounce the exertorship. My advice to her is to renounce both.

As to the slaves all those who will be forty five years old at the time or times limitted by the will for them to be free must remain slaves during life, for by the law a man cannot emancipate a slave forty five years old without giving security to keep him off the county which the testator in this case has not done. All the children born of these during the period of their slavery and before the time limitted by the will for them to be free will be born slaves and must remain so.

One of the legatees having died in the life time of the testator that legacy is lapsed and goes to the residuary Legatee James Thompson & his family.

In appraising the slaves, as the testator was not in debt, and the whole, after paying certain monied legacies, is to be divided between James Thompson and the widow, it seems very unimportant how they are valued; whether as slaves for life, or according to the time each has to serve   serve respectively. Some uniform rule should be adopted by which all the slaves should be valued, either all should be valued as slaves absolutely or all should be valued according to the time they have by the will and the operation of law to serve. Otherwise injustice will be done the widow. If she renounces the will she is entitlled to one third in value of all the negroes considering them all as slaves. But if those which she has, and valued as slaves, and the rest only according to the time they have to serve, this will lessen the quantity of negroes she will get. That will not be right or according to law. If they are all valued according to the time they have to serve by the will, and by the operation of law, and then one third assigned to her by that evaluation, she will only get one third of the whole, and tho her share, being slaves absolutely, will stand valued very low, yet that does no injustice to any person; not to creditors because there are more to be effected by a contribution[?] in whatever way made; not to James Thompson or his family because tho' the testator had no power to trust[?] the wifes interest in his slaves, he had power over those which James Thompson must take under his will. So if they are all valued as slaves absolutely no injury can occur to James Thompson or any other person, for as the testator owed no debts, and his monied legacies bear a very small proportion to his estate valued and appraised in any way, they must be paid, and if the slaves alloted to James Thompson are appraised to more than they are worth, seeing they are valued as slaves absolutely when they have only a certain number of years to serve, yet it is of no consequence to him as to the price, he takes them as a gift, and has nothing to pay for them to any person. So that in truth view the subject in any way it is important how the slaves are appraised so that they are all appraised in the same way and by the same rule.

John T. Mason
25th Jany 1805.