Saturday, November 5, 2011

Our Family's Colonial Era, Part XXV

by Glenn N. Holliman

The Will of Christopher Holliman, Sr.
Isle of Wight County, Virginia 1691

Below is Christopher Holyman's (Holliman, Holleman, etc) Virginia will of 1691.  This is an easy to read version, but it is authentic and  prepared, I believe, by a distant cousin.  The original was filed in the Isle of Wight when William and Mary occupied the thrones of England.  The colonies were almost a century away from George Washington, another Virginia, becoming President of the United States.  Let's examine the will and see what we can learn.  (Click on will to enlarge.)

We note first of all a salutation common to English and colonial wills of the time, a statement of faith and belief in Christ Jesus. These faith statements are less common today. Christopher's grave is lost.  Until the late 18th century, grave stones were rare in the colonies and virtually none at all in the 1600s Virginia.  A family cemetery is now located adjacent to the current 1830s two-story brick Holleman house on the site of the original 1,020 acres that Christopher Holliman, Sr. owned.  One suspects this might be the location of the first home, certainly a log house, and family grave sites  (Click Archives and visit articles  April 2010.)

Distant cousins visit at the original Christopher Holyman, Sr. (1618 - 1691) plantation in July 2011.  Pictured above at the Holleman farm in Isle of Wight County, Virginia are left to right, Bryan Payne (Tennessee), Alice Holliman Murphy (Texas), and Spenser and Corey Holleman, brothers who live at the original site.  This Holleman family cemetery, with the earliest headstones from the first decades of the 1800s, may have been the location of the grave of Christopher Holyman, Sr.

 Let's look at the bequests:

Thomas - Christopher had deeded already a plot of land to this son.  The number of acres is not mentioned for any of the bequests.

William - This son received that portion of land between Thomas's plantation and the neighbor, William Gualtney (later spelled Gwaltney and of Welsh origin).  The Gualtney's in the late 1800s will become merchants, first selling peanuts and later hams.  These are now the famous Smithfield Hams of Isle of Wight County.  Many of the Queen Anne style homes of downtown Smithfield were constructed from the financial success of the family.  Records indicate Holliman daughters married Gualtney's from time to time.

Christopher, Jr. - This first borne son received his cleared land and buildings already constructed.

Richard - The youngest son received land for tobacco growing, timbering and clearing more if he wished.  His bequest is the only mention of the principle crop - tobacco - and a bequest of a tobacco barn.  Richard continued  what became my branch of the family tree as he is my 6th great grandfather.  More on him later in my writings.

Next posting, more analysis of this 17th Century family will....

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