Will the Real Strawhorn Monk Please Stand Up? Documenting the Ancestry of Strachan Monk (1787 – 1850/1860), Son of Nottingham Monk and Rachel Strachan (5)

Monk, Nottingham , Share to Heirs, 1830
William Anderson’s 9 March 1830 account as administrator of Nottingham Monk showing distibutive shares paid to Monk’s heirs: Amos Rayner was paid the shares of Monk’s widow Nancy, son Nebuchadnezzar, and daughter Rachel; Thomas Bond received the shair of Monk’s daughter Elizabeth; Strachan/Strahon Monk received a share; and William Anderson received a share on behalf of wife Jennet — original in Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

Or, Subtitled: How to Have Fun with Old Estate Records

The loose-papers estate file held by the North Carolina archives for Nottingham Monk is an extensive, genealogically rich collection of documents — 319 items in all. I went through the file some years ago, before such records began to be digitized and made available through websites like Family Search or Ancestry, and had large portions of the file photocopied, making notes on it. For anyone researching this or other Bertie County, North Carolina, families in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the digitized copies of this estate file available at Family Search and Ancestry are a treasure trove of material with valuable information.

I should note that this estate file contains estate documents of both Nottingham Monk elder and junior, a point I brought to the attention of the staff of the North Carolina archives when I first read the file some years ago. The elder Nottingham died in 1793 in Bertie County with his son Nottingham younger as his administrator (I discussed the estate documents of Nottingham Sr. in a previous posting). The younger Nottingham Monk died in 1818 with his son-in-law William Anderson, husband of Monk’s daughter Jane/Jennet, as his administrator. When I pointed out to the archives staff that the papers from the two estates had been intermixed in a single file, I was told that the staff would separate the documents into separate files for Nottingham Monk Sr. and Jr.

Since the digital copies of the combined estate file available at Family Search and Ancestry indicate that it continues to contain records of both estates, it appears that this separation of documents never occurred, though I myself sorted the documents for the staff. I noted in my discussions with them that it’s easy to see that the file contains documents from two different estates, if one looks at the dating of the documents in the file. The documents pertaining to the modest estate of Nottingham Monk elder are dated 1793, while the documents from the much more robust estate of Nottingham Monk younger are from the period 1810-1830; the estate settlement continued to 1830 (and perhaps beyond) because disputes and litigation ensued about the extensive estate of Nottingham Monk Jr. following his death early in 1818, and, as such probate disputes often do, these went on for some years.

The Date of Nottingham Monk Jr.’s Death

The estate documents allow us to pinpoint rather precisely when Nottingham Monk younger died — between 28 January and 11 February 1818. As I noted in my previous posting in this series, the estate file contains promissory notes he signed up to 28 January 1818. The last note of debt I find Nottingham Monk signing, which is preserved in the estate file, was a note he made on 28 January 1818 to pay back money he had borrowed from Joshua Leggett and Solomon Cory/Corey. Though many other documents show him capable of signing his name — and suggest that he was more than minimally literate — he signed several notes of debt in January 1818, including this one, by mark, which suggests to me that he was feeble in the final days of his life.

Monk, Nottingham 28 Jan 1818 to Corey and Leggett
28 January 1818 promissory note of Nottingham Monk Jr. to Joshua Leggett and Solomon Cory, Bertie County, North Carolina, from his loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

The estate file has William Anderson’s bond for administration of the estate given in February 1818 with securities Amos Rayner, Nebuchadnezzar Monk (Nottingham Monk’s son), and Thomas Sorrell (husband of Nottingham Monk’s daughter Elizabeth). The precise day the bond was made is smudged. To me, the number looks like 11, but I may be mistaken in concluding this.

Monk, Nottingham Administration Bond
William Anderson’s bond for administration of Nottingham Monk Jr., 11 February 1818, Bertie County, North Carolina, from his loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

In any case, it is clear that Nottingham Monk had died by 15 February, since a 9 March 1830 account of the estate’s income and expenses filed by William Anderson begins with a notation of Nottingham Monk’s cash on hand on 15 February 1818.[1] This demonstrates that Monk had died by that date. On 17 February, Anderson was summoned to Bertie court to answer for the estate’s debt to the firm of Rascoe and Leggett in Windsor.[2] In addition, the estate file has a record of an appeal Nottingham Monk’s widow (his second wife Nancy) made at an unspecified date in February 1818 for her widow’s portion, and it also has the allotment ordered by Bertie court in the same month for the widow’s portion, with Joseph Jordan, William Pender, Starkey Skiles, and Whitmell Swain appointed to allot this.[3]

Monk, Nottingham Cash Found on Hand 15 Feb 1818
9 March 1830 account of income and expenses of estate of Nottingham Monk filed by William Anderson, noting cash on hand on 15 February 1818, from Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

The Estate Inventory and Sale Account

William Anderson inventoried the perishable property of the estate on 4 March 1818 and sold it the same day.[4] The inventory, sale account, and other documents in the file show that Nottingham Monk died owning a large amount of property, including 17 enslaved people, bonds, notes, accounts, and judgments amounting to $5,000-$7,000, as well as a large stock of all kinds of goods. The list of perishable property suggests that Monk was an affluent planter, with a typical array of farm implements and livestock including six steers, ten cows and several calves, a yoke of oxen, ten sows and piglets, two boars, two horses, two mares, eleven sheep, three hound dogs, and two muscovy drakes. Household goods include five feather beds with bedsteads, various tables and chests, a buffet, china, decanters, pewter, and two looking glasses.

Monk, Nottingham, Inventory (1)
Inventory of perishable estate of Nottingham Monk, 4 March 1818, Bertie County, North Carolina, by William Anderson (p. 1); original in Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

The inventory lists seven books, but does not mention a bible. The sale account, however, specifies that one of the seven books was a bible and William Anderson bought it. One of the more interesting items in the inventory is a cotton machine; is this a gin? The inventory also notes forty-six barrels of corn, twenty of which had been delivered to the widow, along with seven barrels of corn designated as offal. (For a transcript of the estate inventory, see this attached posting.)

Monk, Nottingham, Inventory (2)
Inventory of perishable estate of Nottingham Monk, 4 March 1818, Bertie County, North Carolina, by William Anderson (p. 2); original in Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

The list of perishable property names one enslaved woman, an elderly woman, Violet, who is evidently included among the list of perishable property because she was sold at the estate sale. At the end of the inventory is another list of enslaved persons: Venus, in the possession of Thomas Sorrell, Monk’s son-in-law, with a note that she had been claimed by his daughter Rachel as a gift and delivered to her in Monk’s lifetime; Canaan, given to Monk’s daughter Jennet Anderson; and fourteen other enslaved people, in addition to Violet.[5] Other documents in the estate file, which I’ll discuss below, allow us to give names to some of the remaining enslaved people and to learn what became of them following Monk’s death. The estate file has an undated note from William Anderson indicating that the property sold at the estate sale netted $5921.63.

Monk, Nottingham, Inventory (3)
Inventory of perishable estate of Nottingham Monk, 4 March 1818, Bertie County, North Carolina, by William Anderson (p. 3); original in Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

As I noted in a previous posting, Nottingham Monk Jr.’s considerable property, including the plantation on which his family lived, had come to him from his wife Rachel Strachan, whose father George Strachan was a wealthy planter of Bertie County. Rachel was also fortunate in her first marriage to George Kittrell, son of Jonathan Kittrell and Ann Durant, who were people of means. The considerable property that Nottingham Monk owned as a mature man did not come to him from his father, whose estate documents show him to have been a man of modest means.

Monk, Nottingham, Inventory (4)
Inventory of perishable estate of Nottingham Monk, 4 March 1818, Bertie County, North Carolina, by William Anderson (p. 4); original in Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

Documents in Nottingham Monk’s estate file also provide information about the dates of death of Monk’s wife Rachel and their son Stewart, a point I noted in a previous posting. The file has a notation of a payment made to Dr. Benjamin B. Hunter for visits to Rachel on 20 and 21 December 1816; the receipt tells us that Hunter administered castor oil, an astringent mixture, and something called ortaceous mixture. On 24 December, Monk had William Davis make a coffin for Rachel, according to a receipt in the estate file. Another receipt shows Monk making payment on the 27th for a coffin for an unnamed slave woman. In January 1817, he paid for a coffin for his son Stewart.

Monk, Nottingham Receipt to Dr. Hunter
Nottingham Monk, record of payment to Dr. Benjamin B. Hunter for visits to wife Rachel, 20 and 21 December 1816, Bertie County, North Carolina; from Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.
Monk, Nottingham for Coffin for Wife and Son
Nottingham Monk’s payment to William Davis, 24 December 1816, for coffin for wife Rachel, and January 1817, for coffin for son Stewart (a coffin was ordered 27 December 1818 for an unnamed enslaved woman, too); original in Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

The estate file also contains a receipt dated 10 April 1818, showing William Anderson  paying Daniel Young $10 for a lined and bound coffin for Nottingham Monk. The payment date is not, of course, the date of death or the date on which the coffin was commissioned, but the date on which Anderson paid Young for a coffin he had evidently made in February 1818.

Monk, Nottingham Payment to Young for Coffin
Receipt of Daniel Young to William Anderson, 10 April 1818, for coffin for Nottingham Monk, Bertie County, North Carolina; original is in Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

Store Accounts of Nottingham Monk’s Family

Some of the most interesting items in the estate file are accounts of items Nottingham Monk and his family purchased at various local stores (some if not all evidently in the nearby county seat, Windsor) in the years leading up to his death. Found in the estate file are the family’s 1815-1818 account at an unidentified store that may be Corey and Leggett, and at the firms of Brian/Bryan and Copeland for 1815-1817, Capehart and Watson, 1816-1818, Rascoe and Leggett, 1817, Sanderson and Lavergnes,[6] 1817-1818, and Corey and Leggett, 1818.

What stands out in all these accounts: the stunning amounts of spirits the family was purchasing in these years — brandy (some of it specified as apple or peach), West Indian rum, New England rum — gallons and gallons of these items from one merchant after another. As an example: the ledger from the unidentified firm that may be Corey and Leggett shows Nottingham Monk and his son Nebuchadnezzar charged for the following in 1815-1818:

Monk, Nottingham Account Unidentified Store 1815
Account of Nottingham Monk family’s purchases at an unidentified store, 1815-1818 — probably in Bertie County, North Carolina; from Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

Here’s the account of purchases from Sanderson and Lavergnes (?) in November-December 1817:

Monk, Nottingham Account with Sanderson and Lavergnes
Account of Nottingham Monk at firm of Sanderson and Lavergnes (?), November-December 1817, from Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

And here’s what the family bought from Corey and Leggett in early 1818:

Monk, Nottingham Corey and Leggett Account 1818
Nottingham Monk family’s account with Corey and Leggett, 1818, from Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

I know full well that our ancestors were, many of them, hard-drinking folks who drank noteworthy amounts of alcoholic beverages on a daily basis. Even so, the amounts of liquor this family was buying (and consuming?) in the years leading up to Nottingham Monk’s death seem staggering. It’s not as if the family was large: of Monk’s children (all by Rachel Strachan), only Nebuchadnezzar, Rachel, and Stewart remained at home, and Stewart died in 1817. Rachel was also a minor in this period. The household, excluding the seventeen or so enslaved people living on the plantation, consisted of only five people, two of them minors. Hospitality was important to plantation culture, and liquor flowed freely at both weddings and funerals; alcoholic beverages were also used as medicine in this period.[7] But, unless the family was operating an ordinary (and I have no evidence that that was the case), the amount of brandy and rum it was buying in the period 1815-1817 seems remarkable, if the spirits were being purchased for familial consumption.

Litigation Regarding Nottingham Monk’s Estate

As noted previously, as often happens when a person of means dies intestate, there was considerable litigation about the disposition of Nottingham Monk’s estate following his death — hence the bulky estate file now held by the North Carolina archives. Much of the initial litigation had to do with debts that creditors understandably wanted to call in after Monk had died, and which they wanted Anderson, as administrator, to honor and pay in a timely way. For instance, by 17 February, Rascoe and Leggett were seeking to have their account with Monk from 11 April 1814 to his death in February 1818 acknowledged and paid. The court issued a subpoena to Anderson on 17 February 1818 to answer for this debt, and documents in the estate file show Anderson proving the account on 5 March 1818.[8]

In addition to squabbling about promissory notes and store accounts that all and sundry expected Anderson to pay expeditiously, the estate file reveals that there was, almost from the outset of Anderson’s administration, dispute over his handling of payments to those who claimed a share as heirs. These disputes were made more complex because, soon after Anderson began handling the estate, several heirs signed over their share of the estate to Amos Rayner, who seems to have filed suit against Anderson as administrator as early as 1818.[9]

Documents in the estate file suggest that Rayner’s initial complaint was that Rayner was entitled to a half share of the estate, and Anderson had not paid this to him. Rayner maintained that two of the six heirs (the widow Nancy and Nebuchadnezzar Monk) had made over their portion to him and another one (Monk’s daughter Rachel) had died and Rayner was administering her estate. The estate file has a mortgage made on 15 September 1818 by Nebuchadnezzar Monk assigning to Rayner enslaved people Hagar, Simon, and Caesar along with livestock, household and kitchen furniture, and other property due him from the estate, to satisfy his debt to Rayner. Monk was to have the use of the estate and control of the slaves under Rayner’s authority during his lifetime.[10]

Monk, Neb Transfers Inheritance to Rayner (1)
Nebuchadnezzar Monk’s 15 September 1818 mortgage to Amos Rayner (p.1), from Nottingham Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.
Monk, Neb Transfers Inheritance to Rayner (2)
Nebuchadnezzar Monk’s 15 September 1818 mortgage to Amos Rayner (p.2), from Nottingham Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

In addition, in a deposition he gave on 29 August 1829 at John Folk’s tavern in Windsor, Philip McPherson — who had witnessed the September 1818 mortgage by Nebuchadnezzar Monk to Amos Rayner — testified that he saw John Matthews, who married Monk’s widow Nancy sometime in 1818 following Monk’s death, sign a deed of conveyance of his and his wife’s portion of the estate to Amos Rayner on 28 June 1819.[11]  McPherson also testified that he saw Nebuchadnezzar Monk sign an agreement on 25 March 1822 to abide by the word of William L. Rhodes, Standley Kittrell, and Whitmell Swain wherein these agreed that Amos Rayner should have all the legacy money due Nebuchadnezzar Monk from his father’s estate.

Previously, in a 15 September 1826 deposition found in the estate file, McPherson had testified that John Matthews had married Nottingham Monk’s widow Nancy following Monk’s death. A 2 March 1818 receipt in the file shows the estate buying various goods from John Matthews two days before Monk’s perishable estate was sold.[12]

The estate file has the sale bill made by John Matthews on 8 June 1819 assigning to Rayner his and wife Nancy’s share of the estate and noting that Nancy was Monk’s widow. The sale bill states that John and Nancy Matthews were selling to Amos Rayner enslaved persons Brister, Ben, Watson, Nelson, Dawson, Venus, Artee (i.e., Arthur), and another Venus. John Matthews signed the document by mark with Philip McPherson witnessing it.

Underlying Rayner’s animus as he filed suit may have been some intrafamilial dispute. The estate file has an undated answer by William Anderson to a report of Charles W. Jacocks, clerk of court in Martin County, about various matters. In this statement, Anderson indicates that Rayner was seeking to claim a portion of the estate as a distaff retainer of Nottingham Monk. The word “distaff” is crossed through, and the word “retainer” is possibly meant to replace it, and not to be an adjective modifying the noun “retainer.”

Anderson’s use of the word “distaff” to describe Rayner suggests that there may have been some maternal family connection between Rayner and Nottingham Monk — or does the word mean that either Monk’s wife Rachel or his wife Nancy had a kinship connection to Rayner? Anderson’s answer also states that he held a promissory note from Nebuchadnezzar Monk for $500 that was given prior to Nebuchadnezzar’s mortgage to Rayner and which cancelled the latter out.

It also appears that, in addition to having signed as security for William Anderson’s administration of Nottingham Monk’s estate, Amos Rayner had played a significant role in helping Anderson deal with estate affairs. The estate file has a 12 September 1829 deposition made by Rayner’s son William stating that his father was “action in the management” of Nottingham Monk’s estate and he and his father gone frequently to Monk’s plantation. Rayner had delivered a parcel of corn on Anderson’s behalf.

On the same day, James Williams testified that he had frequently been at the house of William Anderson and he understood that Amos Rayner was assisting Anderson as he attended to the settlement of the estate, with the assistance of Rayner. Williams also understood that Rayner had acted as a manager in the estate sale and the hiring of the estate’s enslaved people — in fact, Williams understood that Rayner had nearly the whole management of the estate.

When John Rascoe, Edmond Weston, and William Pender deposed on 7 August 1828 at John Folk’s tavern, with Anderson and Rayner both putting questions to them, Rayner sought to establish that he was, in fact, the main agent at the estate sale. In the same deposition process, Nebuchadnezzar Monk was present, but refused to give a deposition as an interested party in the litigation. In a deposition he gave on 29 August 1829, Richard Foreman also stated that he was at Nottingham Monk’s estate sale, and Amos Rayner transacted all the business.

In addition to Amos Rayner, by February 1820, Thomas Bond had filed suit against the estate, claiming that he, too, was owed a share, since Monk’s daughter Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Sorrell had, he claimed, assigned their share of the estate to Bond, and Anderson was refusing to pay him. Sorrell’s complaint to the Bertie county court, which is in the estate file, indicates that the case was to be heard the second Monday in May. Documents in the estate file show Bond continuing the lawsuit in August 1820, and also show Anderson being summoned to court to answer Rayner’s plea stating that the estate was indebted to him.[13]

Rayner’s lawsuit was continuing on 1 April 1823, when he deposed in Martin County, stating that he had bought out two of the estate’s heirs and was administrator of another. Since the estate had six heirs, he was entitled to half of it. He had requested that Anderson divide with him the enslaved people belonging to the estate, but Anderson had sold them, instead. Rayner claimed, too, that he had bought Watson and Nelson, two enslaved people who were in the estate, on 1 January 1821, but Anderson had recently taken Nelson from Rayner and was refusing to return him.[14]

A 17 January 1825 legal complaint filed by Amos Rayner in Bertie’s equity court as he sought (and received) an injunction against William Anderson provides enlightening information about his continuing determination to pursue legal action against Anderson. In this complaint (which I’ve transcribed and uploaded in a separate posting attached to this one), Rayner states that Monk died intestate

some time about the year 1817 as well as he recollects leaving a very considerable personal estate consisting of between 15 and 20 valuable Negro Slaves, a large stock of all kinds, bonds[,] notes[,] accounts & Judgements in the whole of the value between $5000 and $7000 as he understands and believes.

Rayner goes on to state that “on or about the year 1817 [Anderson] duly took out letters of administration on the estate of the said Nottingham Monk” in Bertie County court, with Rayner, Nebuchadnezzar Monk, and Thomas Sorrell as securities. Rayner filed suit because, as he maintained, Anderson had not settled the estate by 1825, Nebuchadnezzar Monk had become insolvent and assigned his interest to Rayner, and Thomas Sorrell had died.[15] Rayner was concerned that he would be responsible for the bond he had sworn if Anderson had become, as he believed, insolvent. (In his response to Rayner, which is also in the estate file, William Anderson denied that he was insolvent.) This suit had apparently continued from 1825 up to 1830, since Rayner’s complaint is prefaced by a note that, though it was originally filed on 17 January 1825, he had renewed it at “Kesiah” (i.e., Cashie) on 9 March 1830.[16]

Anderson’s answer to Rayner’s bill of complaint (I’ve also transcribed it and uploaded it in a posting attached to this one), lists the estate heirs as Nancy, widow of Nottingham Monk, Jennet, Anderson’s wife, Strahon Monk, Nebuchadnezzar Monk, Betsy, wife of Thomas Sorrell, and Rachel Monk. Anderson states that Rachel had died and Rayner took out letters of administration on her estate. Anderson also confirms that Rayner had purchased Nancy’s interest in the estate and was claiming Neb. Monk’s interest.

Information about Enslaved People in Nottingham Monk’s Estate File

As I note above, William Anderson’s 4 March 1818 inventory of the estate of Nottingham Monk provides the names of three of the people held in slavery by Nottingham Monk when he died: Violet, who was elderly and was sold at the estate sale (the sale document lists her as “1 old Negro woman Vilit”) to Nicholas Bengson; Venus, who was in the possession of Thomas Sorrell but had been claimed by Sorrell’s sister-in-law Rachel, who apparently had her in March 1818; and Canaan, who had been given to Monk’s daughter Jennet Anderson. The inventory states that there were fourteen other enslaved people, but does not name them.

The documents provided below give names to most of these enslaved people, and show that by early 1819, there were twenty-one enslaved people, of whom one, Violet, had been sold in March 1818 and with three more sold on New Year’s day 1819. Since it’s important that people held in bondage and reduced to the level of chattel property be called by nam, when their names can be found, I want to name the enslaved persons belonging to the estate of Nottingham Monk, such as I can piece them together from these lists: Amy, Arthur, Ben, Brister/Brewster, Canaan, Dawson, Joe (Amy’s son), Mariam, Mary (with two unnamed children in late 1818), Nancy (with two unnamed children by early 1819), Nelson, Tatty (Myna’s daughter), Venus (with two unnamed children in late 1818, one of whom appears to be a younger Venus), Violet, and Watson. Arthur and the older Venus appear to have been a couple.

There are several accounts in the estate file showing several of the remaining enslaved persons of the estate being hired out by Anderson under his estate administration. These accounts name these persons. In addition, there are several documents showing some of these enslaved people being sold, with affidavits that speak of other sales. Because there were disputes about who owned these enslaved persons, subsequent sales seemed to cancel out previous ones, making it difficult to ascertain what became of the enslaved people named in each sale document.

The following account dated Christmas day 1818 shows Anderson hiring out eight enslaved people, each of whom is named except for Amy’s child. The account also indicates that three other enslaved women, each with two children, were in the possession of the widow Nancy, Nebuchadnezzar Monk, and William Anderson respectively. Each of these women is named; their children are not.

Monk, Nottingham Hire of Negroes 1818
Account of William Anderson’s hiring out of enslaved people belonging to estate of Nottingham Monk, 25 December 1818; from Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

Two documents dated 1 January 1819 shows Anderson selling six enslaved people belonging to the estate on that day — Nancy and her two children (with a note that Nancy was pregnant), Amy and her child, and Myna’s (?) girl Tatty. These documents list eight other enslaved people who had been hired out, naming them and those who had hired them.[17]

Monk, Nottingham Sale of Negroes 1819
Account of William Anderson’s sale and hire of enslaved persons belonging to estate of Nottingham Monk, 1 January 1819, from Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.
Monk, Nottingham Sale of Negroes 1819 (2)
Account of William Anderson’s sale and hire of enslaved persons belonging to estate of Nottingham Monk, 1 January 1819, from Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

A separate bill of sale in the estate file dated 12 November 1819 shows the enslaved woman or girl Venus being sold by Constable William Stanton to William A. Rascoe at Windsor for $300 on that date. On 17 February 1820, Anderson filed an account of the “sales of hire” of the estate’s enslaved people providing names of eight people and to whom they had been hired. One of the people in this list, Mariam, who was being maintained by William Anderson, was a woman advanced in years, who had come to Nottingham Monk’s wife Rachel Strachan from the estate of her step-father Daniel Hendricks, who died in 1768. In fact, Anderson’s spring 1825 answer to Amos Rayner’s complaint in Bertie’s equity court states that Mariam and two other enslaved people of the estate, Venus and Arthur, were all “invalid” by that year, and that Venus and Arthur had been sold to Ethelred Powell to be supported for the rest of their lives, and Mariam had been given to Thomas Sorrell to keep and support.[18]

Monk, Nottingham Sale of Negroes 1820
William Anderson’s 17 February 1820 account of the “sales of hire” of enslaved people in the estate of Nottingham Monk, from Monk’s loose-papers estate file, North Carolina archives.

Information about Nottingham Monk’s Children by Rachel Strachan

As I’ve stated above and in a previous posting in this series, several documents in Nottingham Monk’s estate file name his children — all by wife Rachel Strachan — as Jennet (m. William Anderson), Strachan/Strahon (m. Talitha, daughter of Jesse Cherry and Elizabeth Gainer), Nebuchadnezzar, Elizabeth (m. Thomas, son of James and Ann Sorrell), and Rachel. We know, too, that a son Stewart to whom Rachel Strachan Monk deeded land on 13 February 1815 (Bertie DB W, p. 368: see this previous posting for further information) died in January 1817, as an unmarried minor still living at home. He may have been the last-born child. More information about him is provided above.

In previous postings (herehere, and here), I’ve told you the story of Strachan/Strahon Monk, such as I know it. He was my 3-great-grandfather. I’d like now to end this final posting about Nottingham Monk Jr. by discussing briefly the little that I know about his children Jennet, Nebuchadnezzar, Elizabeth, and Rachel. I am assuming that these children of Nottingham and Rachel Strachan Monk were born in the order named, since that order is maintained in most of the lists naming the heirs of the estate found in the estate file.

Jennet Monk Anderson: The 1850 census tells us that Strachan/Strahon Monk was born in or around 1787. From various documents (and I’ve discussed this in previous postings about Nottingham Monk), we know that Nottingham Monk and Rachel Strachan married between 22 February and 23 November 1786. If Jennet is the oldest child of the couple, she would have been almost certainly born in 1786. She married William Anderson 18 October 1808 in Bertie County, with Anderson giving bond with Thomas West on 12 October. Jennet is a common Scottish rendering of Jane; Rachel Strachan’s father George Strachan appears to have been Scottish-born, hence the Jennet form used by the Monk family.

Both William and Jennet appear to have been alive up to 1830. A William Anderson living in Martin County, contiguous to Bertie, in the latter part of the 1700s and early 1800s appears to have had close ties to the Cherry family in Martin County, into which Jennet’s brother Strachan/Strahon married. On 20 March 1810, a William Anderson of Martin County witnessed the claim of Strachan/Strahon Monk’s father-in-law Jesse Cherry to a land warrant for the Revolutionary service of his brother Daniel. Whether this William is in any way connected to the man of that name who married Jennet Monk, I don’t know.

There’s also the William Anderson who witnessed the will of Philip Ward in Bertie on 17 June 1776, signing himself as William Anderson, Jr. An older William Anderson of Bertie married Mary, Philip Ward’s daughter. Ward’s will states that he was a friend of George Kittrell, first husband of Rachel Strachan. Whether these William Andersons have any connection to the man who married Jennet Monk, I don’t know, but the connections to the Ward and Kittrell families, both closely connected to the Strachans and Monks, are interesting.

Nebuchadnezzar Monk: the 1830 federal census indicates that Nebuchadnezzar was born 1790-1800, which supports the conclusion that the children of Nottingham Monk are listed by order of birth in the several lists of heirs in his estate file.[19] As we’ve seen, he appears frequently in documents in the estate file of his father, and was evidently living with his step-mother Nancy on his father’s plantation following his father’s death — though he married sometime shortly after 1 August 1818, when he sold to Amos Rayner enslaved women named Jinny and Zilphy, with the deed stating he was about to marry Mary Rogers. The deed was signed by Nebuchadnezzar and wife-to-be Mary by mark, though documents in the estate file show him signing his name. Penny Sorrell witnessed the deed.[20]

Nebuchadnezzar appears as Nezar Monk on the 1820 federal census in Bertie County, with a white male 16-25, a female aged 26-44, and 5 enslaved persons in the household.[21] If the birth range given here is accurate, then it appears Nebuchadnezzar was born between 1795 and 1800. After his listing on the 1830 federal census, I find no record of Nebuchadnezzar.

Elizabeth Monk: Elizabeth was married by the time of her father’s death. If her birth followed Nebuchadnezzar’s, then it appears she would have been born after 1795, perhaps close to 1800. The 15 September 1826 deposition of Philip McPherson in the estate file cited above states that Thomas Sorrell died in the winter of 1823. A death notice in The Star and North Carolina Gazette appears to indicate that he died 15 December 1823.[22]

Elizabeth Monk Sorrells was still living on 16 February 1830, according to a deposition William Pender gave regarding the estate of her half-brother Jonathan Kittrell. The deposition is in the estate file of Jonathan.

The 23 Jul 1802 will of James Sorrell in Bertie County (proven at August court 1802) names Thomas Sorrell as James’s son.[23] The will states that Thomas was not yet of age in July 1802.

Rachel Monk: Amos Rayner’s 17 January 1825 equity court complaint in Bertie County states that Rachel, “an infant of very tender years,” had died prior to that date and Rayner had appealed for the administration of her estate. Rachel was still living on 1 January 1823 when William Anderson produced an account of the estate noting her distributive share of the estate. By 1 April 1823, she had died, since the deposition of Amos Rayner on that date discussed above states that he had taken out administration on her estate and she had died. She appears not to have married and not to have been of age at the time of her death. This would suggest that her year of birth was after or about 1805.

[1]The original account is in the estate file. William Anderson’s 1 January 1823 account of the estate’s income and expenses also states that the order to sell the estate was given 15 February 1818, which further confirms that Monk had died by this date.

[2]The original summons is in the estate file.

[3]The estate file has the original widow’s allotment document showing that it was made on 2 March. The document reads, “Nancy Monk and Family, widow of Nottingham Monk decd. their Years Provision in the following Manner and say, She shall have Twenty Barrels of Corn, Four hundred Pounds of Bacon, one hundred Pounds of Pork, all the Lard on hand, one Stack of Fodder. Two Bushels of white Pease Two Bushels of Red or cow Pease, Two and a half Bushels of wheat. One & a haf Bushels of sweet Potatoe Plants. one Bushel of Irish Potatoes, thirty three Pounds of Sugar, Two gallons of Molasses, Seventeen & a half Pounds of coffee. Five gallons of Brandy, one Thousand Five hundred Herrings Three Bushels of salt and a Beef supposed to weight Two Hundred Pounds, which is submitted given under our hands and seals this the 2nd March 1818.”

[4]The original inventory and sale account, both by William Anderson, are in the loose-papers estate file held by the North Carolina archives. The copies in the estate file indicate that they are recorded in Bk. 2, pp. 418-9 and pp. 920-1. It is not clear to me to what particular county record book the notation refers.

[5]If Venus was in possession of Thomas Sorrell, was it actually Thomas’ wife Elizabeth Monk Sorrell to whom Venus had been given, and not her sister Rachel? Was Rachel’s name recorded here in error?

[6]This surname is very difficult to decipher; Lavergnes is my best reading of it, but I could be mistaken. Perhaps someone reading this posting with better knowledge of Bertie County in this period will know the correct name — though it’s possible this is a firm dealing in sale of spirits that was not actually based in that county.

[7]The estate file has an account showing William Anderson buying a gallon of brandy for Amy on 23 February 1818, along with sugar, and coffee; on both 3 and 4 March he bought three more gallons of brandy. Amy was one of the enslaved people on the Monk plantation. A note attached to the account states that Anderson purchased a gallon and half of brandy for the funeral. The brandy bought on 3-4 March was evidently for the estate sale.  On 19 February 1819, Amos Rayner signed a receipt for payment of these expenses. A 7 March 1819 receipt by William Anderson in the estate file shows that John Rascoe cried the sale of the estate’s perishable boods.

[8]The estate file shows a summons on 6 March 1818 to William Anderson to answer Thomas Rascoe’s plea of debt, which appears to indicate that his 5 March acknowledgment of the account of Rascoe and Leggett was deemed insufficient by that firm. The estate file also has a 3 April 1818 summons to Anderson to answer Benjamin Folk’s plea vs. the estate. Folk was a tavern keeper in Windsor. Bryan and Copeland also immediately called in the estate’s debt from 13 November 1815 to 1818 to that firm, and in February 1819, this account was proven.

[9]By 26 January 1819, William Anderson seems to have filed a countersuit against one Rayner had already filed against the estate. The estate file has a claim Anderson made on that date for reimbursement for costs and commissions on the execution of his complaint against Amos Rayner. On 24 Dec. 1819, Anderson filed an account with A. Reynolds (an attorney?) for his fees in various cases, including the case of Amos Rayner vs. the estate. A receipt in the estate file dated November 1819 shows  Anderson paying court fees at that time on behalf of the estate.

[10]Monk’s mortgage to Rayner was witnessed by Philip McPherson and Amos Rayner’s son William S. Rayner. This document is also recorded in Bertie County, North Carolina, DB Y, p. 165. Biographical information about Amos Rayner is in John R. Jordan, Jr., “Rayner, Kenneth,” in Dictionary of North Carolina, vol. 5: P-S, ed. William S. Powell (Chapel Hill: Univ. of NC Press, 1994), pp. 182-183. Kenneth Rayner served in both the U.S. House and the North Carolina House. Jordan states that Amos Rayner was a Baptist clergyman who married Hannah Williams.

[11]This deposition was taken by Rayner after the Bertie equity court had summoned McPherson on the third Monday in March 1828. Attached to the court summons is a note from Rayner to William Anderson dated 7 August 1828 stating that he planned to depose McPherson and other discreet persons in the hallr of John Folk’s tavern in Windsor on 29 August 1829. William Anderson’s 1 January 1823 account of the estate’s income and expenses shows John Matthews being paid on 1 January 1819 as Nancy’s husband, so their marriage had taken place before that date.

[12]Various documents in the estate file indicate that Nebuchadnezzar Monk and his step-mother Nancy with her husband John Matthews continued living on the Monk plantation following Nottingham Monk’s death, and that they were all impecunious, and seeking loans from Anderson. For instance, the estate file has a document effected on 4 March 1818 in which Nancy Monk and Monk’s son-in-law Thomas Sorrell (both signing by mark) acknowledged debt to William Anderson. Nebuchadnezzar Monk witnessed this document.

[13]Various documents in the estate file show Gavin Hogg acting as Anderson’s attorney at this time.

[14]The deposition was taken at the house of William Walls in Williamston before Walls and Samuel Hyman, two justices of the Martin County court. A document in the estate file shows William Anderson recovering $500 from Rayner (in Bertie’s superior court at the September 1824 court term) in the suit he had filed against Rayner. Documents in the estate file show the litigation continuing in 1824-1825. On 13 October 1824, Rayner filed another complaint bill in Bertie’s equity court. On 2 January 1825, Rayner was granted a writ of injunction, and it was issued on the 7th, but in its March court term, Bertie’s equity voided the injunction and ordered Anderson to file a bond to Rayner. On 20 July 1825, Wm. Anderson gave an indemnifying bond for $500.

[15]Sorrell died 15 December 1823.

[16]The estate file has a court filing made at February 1820 court by Thomas Bond which states that Nottingham Monk died in blank year and that William Anderson filed for administration in blank month and year: there are blanks where the dates should have been written. Bond was filing suit against Anderson as administrator because Thomas Sorrell, husband of Nottingham Monk’s daughter Elizabeth, had made over to Bond his heir’s portion, and Bond wanted Anderson to pay the share to him.

[17]A receipt in the estate file shows Anderson reimbursed on 12 February 1819 for his expenses in selling and hiring the estate’s enslaved people on 1 January.

[18]The estate file also shows Anderson paying a note to E.A. Rhodes on 27 June 1820 for hire of an enslaved person..

[19]1830 federal census, Bertie County, North Carolina, p. 339.

[20]Bertie County, North Carolina, DB Y, p. 188.

[21]1820 federal census, Bertie County, North Carolina, p. 90.

[22]See Sherry Smith Finchum’s “Sorrel/s Genealogy Page.”

[23]Bertie County, North Carolina, WB E, p. 170.

2 thoughts on “Will the Real Strawhorn Monk Please Stand Up? Documenting the Ancestry of Strachan Monk (1787 – 1850/1860), Son of Nottingham Monk and Rachel Strachan (5)

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