Thomas Whitlock (abt. 1745 – 1830) of Louisa and Wythe Counties, Virginia, and Cumberland County, Kentucky: Cumberland County Estate Documents

The Estate Inventory and Appraisal

On 15 June 1830, William Wood and Pleasant H. Williams inventoried and evaluated Thomas Whitlock’s estate at his late residence in Cumberland County (see the digital copy at the head of this posting).[1] The appraisal record states that this was done at the request of administrators Abner Bryson and Thomas Brooks. It’s not clear to me why these two sons-in-law were administering the estate when Thomas Whitlock’s will had appointed George Swope and William Wood his executors. George Swope (1776-1858), who was elected a state representative from Cumberland County in 1826, never appears in the estate records. William Wood (1773-1851) was a founder of Cumberland County who also represented the county in the Kentucky legislature for quite a few years.

The estate appraisal document reads as follows:

William Woods and P.H. Williams both signed the appraisal on 15 June 1830, stating that it was a true account of the items in the estate exhibited to them, and it was recorded 19 January 1831.

Note that the inventory shows Thomas Whitlock’s estate owning books, and the sale account will indicate that these included a large bible. Though Thomas Whitlock and wife Hannah appear to have been illiterate, were some of their children literate? 

Note, too, that the inventory lists seven enslaved persons: Ben, Lucy, Pelina, Alfred, Kizza, Amy, and David. All of these enslaved persons except for Amy and David are mentioned in Thomas Whitlock’s will, which bequeaths Lucy and her “largest child” Pelina to Sarah Whitlock Brooks, Alfred and Kizza to Nancy Whitlock Bryson, and Ben to William Hannah. As we’ll see in a moment, at the estate sale, Abner Bryson bought an unnamed enslaved girl and Thomas Brooks bought an unnamed enslaved boy. My deduction is that Abner Bryson bought Amy, and that Thomas Brooks bought David. Was Amy a sister of Alfred, and was David a sister of Pelina and therefore a son of Lucy? I think the spelling of Perlina’s name given in Thomas Whitlock’s will is the correct spelling, by the way, and that Pelina, the spelling found in the estate records, is a misspelling of Perlina.

Were Ben and Lucy the parents of all the younger enslaved persons named in these documents? If so, Thomas Whitlock’s choice to bequeath Ben to his son-in-law William Hannah and Lucy to his son-in-law Thomas Brooks separated members of this family, though the will states that Thomas did not want any of the enslaved persons sold away from his “family of children.” As I’ve noted in a previous posting, Thomas Brooks never appears on tax lists in Wayne County, Kentucky, enumerated as owner of these enslaved people nor are they mentioned in his 1838 estate accounts. I suspect that, due to his convictions as a Methodist minister, he may have manumitted Lucy, Perlina, and the enslaved boy (David, I suspect) after he acquired them. 

Note, too, that the 1820 federal census lists only one enslaved person in Thomas Whitlock’s household, a male aged 14-25. Either he had acquired more enslaved persons by the time he made his will in January 1824, or the 1820 census does not provide an accurate count of the enslaved persons belonging to Thomas Whitlock (and some of the younger enslaved persons may also have been born after 1820).

The Account of the Estate Sale

Cumberland County, Kentucky, Will Bk. B, pp. 430-3

The estate sale was held the day after the inventory was made, on 16 June 1830, with Thomas Brooks and A. Bryson, designated here as executors, signing it.[2] The sale account reads as follows: 

After Thomas Brooks and Abner Bryson submitted this sale account to Cumberland County court on 16 June 1830, it was recorded on 19 June.             

I haven’t done extensive research regarding Zebulon Norris, who bought Thomas Whitlock’s homeplace at the estate sale — but who did not end up with this land: see the final settlement discussed below. (Curiously, the estate sale makes no mention is made of the lot Thomas Whitlock owned in Burkesville, which appears in the estate inventory.) I think the purchaser of Thomas’s land was likely the Zebulon Norris who married Sarah, daughter of Eli Shugart, a Cumberland County justice, though that Zebulon was a fairly young man aged 28 at the time of the estate sale.[3] Zebulon and Sarah Shugart Norris are buried in the Norris family cemetery in Cumberland County.[4] Like Thomas Whitlock’s son-in-law Abner Bryson, Eli Shugart came to Cumberland County from Surry County, North Carolina, which supplied a large percentage of the early settlers of Cumberland County.

On 4 February 1833 in Cumberland County, Shadrack Claywell made a Revolutionary pension affidavit before Eli Shugart, stating that during the Revolution, he served as a private in a Bedford County, Virginia, militia, where he lived up to his removal to Cumberland County, Kentucky, and was stationed at Chiswell’s lead mines in Wythe County — where he would no doubt have known Thomas Whitlock, who lived near there and who had lived in Bedford County before coming to the New River area and settling in what would become Wythe County.[5] The pension affidavit states that Zebulon Norris was a neighbor of Claywell — who was, it should be noted, a buyer at Thomas Whitlock’s estate sale — and could affirm Claywell’s affidavit.

It interests me that, at this estate sale, Alexander Mackey purchased a large bible that was, I suspect, the Whitlock family bible. I have assumed that this Alexander Mackey is the man of that name whose siblings Reid and Mary married two children of Abner Bryson and Nancy Whitlock, Elizabeth N. Bryson and Thomas Whitlock Bryson. Thomas W. Bryson appears as a buyer in the estate sale, as noted above.

But as the previous posting I’ve just linked notes, in the years in which Thomas Whitlock’s brothers Charles and Nathaniel (and, I suspect, Thomas as well) lived in Louisa County, Virginia, before Thomas moved to Bedford County and then Montgomery (later Wythe) County, the Whitlock family had connections to a Mackey family in Albemarle County that also used the name Alexander. I tend to think that this Mackey family and the one that settled in Cumberland County, Kentucky, are related to each other — and the given name Alexander seems to have been used in both of these families.

The only sons-in-law of Thomas Whitlock who appear as buyers in the estate sale are Abner Bryson, who lived next to him and to whom Thomas sold land, and Thomas Brooks. The estate sale shows the enslaved man willed by Thomas Whitlock to his son-in-law William Hannah being rented by Thomas Cain, and William Hannah does not show up in the estate sale, though as we’ll see in a moment, a 9 March 1832 estate account shows the estate paying William Hannah $439 for Ben. My reading of the sale account is that Ben was valued at $439 and was William Hannah’s share of the estate.William Hannah has been very elusive for me to research. I suspect he was not living in Cumberland County when Thomas Whitlock’s will was written, and it appears that Thomas’s daughter who had married him predeceased her father. I have not found her given name.

Thomas Whitlock’s son-in-law John Hammons, who is named in the will, had moved from Wayne County, Kentucky, to Warren County, Tennessee, by 1807, and died in Jackson County, Alabama, in 1828. His wife, too, seems to have died prior to her father Thomas Whitlock, and I have not found her given name. The final settlement of the estate indicates that John “Hanna’s” heirs received $420.41 as their share of the estate.

Thomas’s son-in-law William Hurst and wife Mildred Whitlock Hurst were living in Wythe County, Virginia, when Mildred’s father died. The sons-in-law living at a distance from Thomas Whitlock wouldn’t have appeared at his estate sale for that reason, and one son-in-law, John Hammons, died between the time Thomas’s will was made and his estate sale held. Thomas Brooks was in nearby Wayne County, Kentucky, and Abner Bryson in Cumberland County, and were therefore the two sons-in-law who were buyers at the sale.

As the sale account shows, in addition to buying an enslaved girl, Abner Bryson bought items including a woman’s saddle with riding blanket and bridle, household goods including a dish and six plates, and a horse. The estate inventory and sale account suggest that Thomas Whitlock was a farmer of the middling class who raised tobacco, cotton, corn, oats, flax, and apples, had livestock including cattle, horses, sheep, and hogs, and maintained a well-furnished and comfortable household.

The Estate Settlement Record

Cumberland County, Kentucky, Will Bk. C, pp. 21, 23

On 9 March 1832, John Noland and P.H. Williams settled an account current of the estate with Bryson and Brooks administrators.[6] The account reads as follows:

The settlement account ends with a note, “See certificate at Page 23,” and is signed by John Noland and P.H. Williams. The additional portion of the estate account found on page 23 states that as executors of Thomas Whitlock, Abner Bryson and Thomas Brooks had appealed for a final settlement of the estate at February court 1832.[7] John Irvin, William Wood, John Noland, and P.H. Williams then settled the estate, apparently as recorded on p. 21, with the settlement record dated 9 March 1832.

Cumberland County, Kentucky, Deed Bk. G, pp. 297-8

Evidently as a finalization of the estate, on 12 March 1832, as administrators of the estate, Thomas Brooks and Abner Bryson sold to Edward Vincent for $105 the 250 acres belonging to Thomas Whitlock on Illwill Creek in Cumberland County.[8] The deed states that the land was the moiety of a 500-acre tract deeded to Vincent on 12 March 1832 by the trustees of Lexington Academy. Abner Bryson and Thomas Brooks both signed and affirmed the deed on the day it was made, and it was recorded on 29 March. A marginal note states that the deed was delivered to the grantee (i.e., Vincent) on 4 March 1832 — which predates the date given in the deed.

[1] Cumberland County, Kentucky, Will Bk. B, pp. 428-430.

[2] Ibid., pp. 430-3.

[3] See Marilyn Monson at the Shugart family forum at on 20 March 2004.

[4] See Find a Grave memorial page of Zebulon Norris, Norris cemetery, Cumberland County, Kentucky, created by Roots and Branches.

[5] See Revolutionary pension application of Shadrack (Shadrick) Claywell (S 30939), NARA, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, RG 15, available digitally at Fold3.

[6] Cumberland County, Kentucky, Will Bk. C, p. 21.

[7] Ibid., p. 23.

[8] Cumberland County, Kentucky, Deed Bk. G, pp. 297-8.

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