A Collection Transcribed
by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.
List of Letters
About This Collection
Electronic Text Center
, University of Virginia Library
Marriage Contract Between Robert Carter and Elizabeth (Landon) Willis, April 9, 1701
In this jointure (marriage contract or prenuptial agreement), Robert Carter promises to his intended wife, the widow Elizabeth (Landon) Willis, the use during her lifetime of certain pieces of Lancaster County land should he predecease her.
Marriage Contract Between Robert Carter and Elizabeth (Landon) Willis, April 9, 1701
This Indenture made this IX day of April in the year of our
Lord God MDCCI Between Robert Carter of Lancr County Esqr of
the one part and William Armistead
of the County of Gloster
Gent William Ball
of the County of Lancaster gent & Mary
of the County of Middlesex Spinster of the other part Witnesseth
that the sd Robert Carter for & in consideraton of a marriage
already agreed upon & shortly by gods grace to be had & Solemnized
between the sd Robert Carter & Betty Willis
late the wife of Richard
of Middlesex County, gent decd for the love & affection wch he the
sd Robert Carter hath & beareth to her the sd Betty Willis for a full &
to be made unto her the sd Betty Willis for a full &
her natural life after the decease of the sd Robert Carter in case
she shal survive him & in ful satisfaction & recompense of the dower
of the sd Betty Willis & for diverse other weighty considerations him the
sd Robert Carter Especially moving Hath granted alienated enfeoffed
released & confirmed & by these presents doth grant alienate
release & confirm unto the sd William Armistead William Ball
& Mary Jones their heirs and assigns all that tract tenement Neck or
parcel of land situate lying and being in the Parish of Christ Church
within the sd County of Lancaster being part of the tract of land
whereon the sd Robert Carter liveth commonly called & known by the
name of Johns neck
lying & being upon the Creek that goes up to the
Church of the sd psh bounded as followeth Beginning at the spring in a
branch or swamp of the Southermost side of the sd neck about or near
a quarter of a mile Northerly from the Quarter called the Old house
Quarter running from the sd spring Northerly along the easternmost
side of an old field & into a Creek or Cove into which the gate fence the
eastermost end thereof now runs & so down along the old Creek or Cove
on the Southern side thereof into the main Church Creek & so down along
the sd Creek the several courses & meanders thereof & then Westerly along
the Northermost side of the Creek or Cove called the Old house Creek the
several courses thereof up to the aforesd Beginning Spring the sd neck
containing by estimation about sixty acres be it more or less & including
an old feild wch was a Comefeild to the old house gang when John Ashford
was an overseer of that gang & was first taken into Corne when William
Short was overseer there with all & singular the right members & appurts
thereunto belonging & all the woods pastures unto the sd neck or parcel of
land belonging & every part thereof And also all that messuage
parcel of land lying near the Eastermost branch of Corotoman River in the
County aforesd formerly purchased of Nicholas Wren
by John Carter
eldest brother to the sd Robt Carter & by him the sd John devised & bequeathed
unto him the sd Robt Carter by his last wil & Testament being the -- -- --
plantation whereon John Plewgher
now lives wch sd land was first
taken up by one Will. Clappam
& one Edwards & by the sd Clapparn sold
unto the sd Wren containing by estimation one hundred and twenty acres
be it more or les together wth all houses edifices pastures woods under
& other the members & appurtenances unto the sd tract or parcel of land
belonging or appertaining & every part & parcel thereof to have & to hold
the sd neck tract & parcel of land & all & singular the premises before mentioned
or meant or intended to be granted alienated infeoffed released & confirmed
& every part thereof wth the appurtenances thereunto belonging unto the said
William Armistead William Ball & Mary Jones & their heirs &
assigns to the only uses intents & purposes hereafter in these presents
limited expressed & declared and to no other use intent or purpose
wtsoever that is to say to the only use & behoofe
of him the sd Robt
Carter & his heirs until the sd marriage shal be had & solemnized
between the sd Robt Carter & Betty Willis & after the solemnization
of the sd marriage between them to the use & behoof of the sd Robt
Carter during his natural life without impeachmt of or for any
manner of waste & after his decease to the use and Behoof of the sd
Betty Willis for & during the term of her natural life for her jointure &
in lieu & recompence of her dower & title of dower and after her
the sd Betty Willis decease to the use & behoof of the heirs of the sd
Robt Carter forever And the sd Robt Carter doth further Covenant &
grant for himself his heirs Executors & Administrators by these presents to and
with the sd William Armistead William Ball & Mary Jones their
Executors & administrators that he the sd Robt Carter his heirs Executors administrators & Assigns
shal & wil at all times hereafter & from time to time sufficiently save
harmless & indemnifyed the sd tracts & parcels of land & other the.
premises & every part thereof of & from all fonner other bargains false
gifts & grants & of &
from all other charges & incunibrances whtsoever had
made or done by the sd Robt Carter or by any other pson or psons wtsoever
by his consent or procuremt. and the sd Robt Carter for himself his heirs
Executors & Administrators doth covenant promise & grant to & with the sd William
Armistead William Ball & Mary Jones their heirs & Assigns by these
presents that he the sd Robt Carter shal & wil from time to time & at all
times hereafter during the space of five years next ensuing the date
hereof further do make acknowledge and execute all & every such other
reasonable act & acts thing & things devise & devises assurance and
assurances in the Law wtsoever as by the sd William Armistead William Ball
& Mary Jones or either of them or their or any of their Council learned
in the Law shal be reasonably desired or advised and at the cost and
charges of the sd Robt Carter his heirs Executors or administrators for the better and
and more pfect assuring & making sure of all & singular the pmises to the
sd Betty Willis for term of her life only in form aforesd And further that
the sd Betty Willis from & after the decease of the sd Robt Carter during
her natural life shal & may lease hold & quietly eqjoy the sd Lands tenemts
& all other the premises without any Lawful Ct suits trouble eviction
interruption or disturbance of the heirs & Assigns of the sd Robt Carter
or of any other person or persons wtsoever lawfully obtaining by from or
under him the sd Robt Carter his heirs or assigns And further the sd
Robt Carter doth for himselfe his heirs Executors and administrators by these presents
covenant promise & grant to & with the sd William Armistead William Ball
& Mary Jones their heirs & Assigns that if at any time after the date of these
presents the sd
Robt Carter or the sd Betty Willis during their or either of their
natural lives shal be lawfully evicted or put out of or from the sd premises or
any part or parcel thereof that then & from thenceforth the sd Robt Carter
his heirs & assigns shal stand & be seized of & in such & so much of that
tenemt. or parcel of land lying and being in the par[i]
sh & County aforesd
upon or towards the head of the Eastern branch of Corotoman river which
now Doctor Innis
lives upon containing by estimation two hundred acres
be it more or les the sd tract or parcel of land formerly belonging to Mrs
decd and by her sold to the sd Robt Carter together wth the
houses orchards gardens woods underwoods & other the appurtenances to the
& land last mentioned belonging as shal amount to the
value of such & so much of the sd messuage & other the prenises first
above mentioned as shal be so evicted or taken away as aforesd to the
use of the sd Robt Carter for term of his natural life & after to the use of
the sd Betty Willis for term of her natural life & after her decease to the
use of the right heirs of the sd Robt Carter forever And lastly the sd Robt
Carter for himself his heirs Executors & administrators doth covenant promise & agree to &
with the sd William Armistead William Ball & Mary Jones their heirs &
assigns by these presents that at the time of such eviction or taking away
of the sd messuage & other the premises first above named or any parte thereof
& after the sd messuage
& other the prenises last mentioned during
the natural life of the sd Robt Carter & after his decease during the
natural life of the sd Betty Willis shal remain & be clearly discharged
kept harmless & indemnifyed of & from all & all manner
of estates interests charges titles & incumbrances wtsoever had made
done or willingly suffered or hereafter to be had made done or willingly
suffered bv the sd Robt Carter his heirs or assigns or by any person or persons
having or lawfully obtaining or wch hereafter shal or may have or
claim any estate right title or interest by from or under the sd Robt
Carter his heirs or assigns In Witnes whereof the parties to these present
Indentures have interchangeably set to their hands and seales the day
& year first above written
Signed sealed & delivered in the Robt Carter (seal)
Recognit in Cur Cum Lancr. nono
die April 1701 per Idem Robert Carter
Win. Brownsford et Recordat 14th die sequenti
per Jos: Tayloe
Know all men by these presents that I Mary Jones of the County of
Middlesex spinster do nominate constitute & appoint Alexander Swan
of the County of Lancastr. my true & lawful attorney for me & to my use
& behoof to rec. an acknowledgemt. of a deed from The Honble Colo Robt
Carter of Lancr Esqr of Conveyance to Mr William Armistead Capt William
Ball & me the sd Mary Jones bearing date wth these presents in the sd
County Court of Lancrr: rattifying & confirming all that my said
attorney shal lawfully do in the promises as if I myselfe were
personally present as witness my hand & Seale this 9th day of April
Mary Jone (seal)
Signed Sealed & Delivered in the
presence of us Probated first [ . . . ] Lettr. de Attor . --
William Brownsford Cur Cour Lancrr: nono die April Anno
John Base Domini 1701 per Sacram Johannes Bave et
William Ball Jr Guliel.[m]us Ball junr in Cur Test Jos Tayloe Cl Cur
1701 et recordr Ao. domine 
die sequenti per Idem Jos. Tayloe
Source copy consulted:
Lancaster County Deed Book 2, 1653-1702, pp. 412-416. Lancaster County Court House, Lancaster, Virginia, and Library of Virginia, Richmond.
The clerk who copied this document into the court order book used many abbreviations which have been expanded for the modern language version of this text. He also used a convention of the time of abbreviating a word and placing a horizontal line over it, or curling back the tail of the last stroke over it, to indicate that the word was to be expanded. Words with these conventions have been expanded silently in these transcript versions as there is no way of depicting such conventions in this software. The clerk also used the "fancy p" at the beginning of a word to stand for "per," "par," or "pro" as appropriate, and these uses have also been silently expanded.
The bracketed numbers following the page numbers of the transcripts are those of the pages from the original Lancaster County deed book where this indenture was recorded.
There has recently (2011) been published a large format, twenty-page pamphlet about the jointure agreement: Lloyd T. Smith, Jr., ed.
A Ring for Her Finger: An 18th Century Prenuptial Agreement. The Jointure Agreement for Betty Landon At the Time of Her Marriage to Robert Carter.
[Irvington, VA: Foundation for Historic Christ Church, 2011. Hereinafter this work will be referred to as Smith.]
 William Armistead (1671-1711) was born in Gloucester County and lived at "Hesse." His older sister, Judith, was Robert Carter's first wife. He married Anna, Daughter of Hancock Lee, Lee about 1693. ( "William Armistead"
at Surnames.com, 7/26/2011.
 Elizabeth (Landon) Willis (1684-1719) was Carter's second wife by whom he had ten children. She had their last child, George, in 1718. See Smith pp. 1-4 for a discussion of the background of the Landon family in England and Virginia, and of Betty's first marriage to Richard Willis.
 (1656-1701) Darrett and Anita Rutman write of Richard Willis's position in the power structure (justice, militia officer) of Middlesex County, and his growing wealth. "Just before his death in 1700 . . . [he] abandoned his old house of four rooms for one of six that also had a separate kitchen and dairy." As Willis married his third wife, Betty Landon
(1684-1719) shortly before, he probably anticipated bringing his bride to a fine new establishment. ( "Tithables of Lancaster County, 1654. Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.
; "Selected Families and Individuals";
7/26/2011, and Rutman and Rutman, A Place in Time: Middlesex. . . .
pp. 190, 208-9.
 Jennifer Drobac has written, "Simply defined, a jointure 'was a property provision for [the] wife, made prior to marriage in lieu of dower." Henry Black, author of the standard law dictionary, defined dower as "the provision which the law makes for a widow out of the lands or tenements of her husband for her support."' In a review of Susan Staves's Married Women's Separate Property in England 1660-1833
, Margaret A. Doody wrote: "In the older system that prevailed before the mid-seventeenth century, women had 'dower rights.' At common law, a widow was entitled to a life estate amounting to one-third of all the real property of which her husband had been the legal owner. Staves shows how such a provision came to be felt an unreasonable clog on an estate . . . The result was the invention of the 'jointure,' a settlement upon the wife if her husband predeceased her, as agreed upon in advance by prenuptial contract." (Jennifer Drobac. "The 'Perfect' Jointure: Its Formulation After the Statute of Uses." 19 Cambrian Law Review.
26 , p. 26; and Eighteenth-Century Studies.
28[ No. 1, Autumn, 1994] p. 156.)
 To enfeoff under "property law [is] to invest (a person) with possession of a freehold estate in land." ( Collins English Dictionary
online through The Free Dictionary, 7/26/2011.)
 To "alienate" property is "to transfer title." (Black's Law Dictionary
, 2nd ed., online, 7/26/2011
 According to Mary R. Miller, John's Neck is a neck of land in Lancaster Co. between the Corotoman River and Carter Creek, stretching southward to the Rappahannock River." (Miller. Place-Names . . . .
p. 76. For maps of the location of the specific tracts of land referred to in the agreement, see Smith, page 17.
 Messuage "is synonymous with dwelling-house; and a grant of a messuage with the appurtenances, will not only pass a house, but all of a messuage with the appurtenances, will not only pass a house, but all the buildings attached or belonging to it, as also its curtilage, garden and the buildings attached or belonging to it, as also its curtilage, garden and orchard, together with the close on which the house is built." ("Law Dictionary."
 The will of a Nicholas Wren was recorded in Lancaster County Court on April 12, 1701. He had a son of the same name as a Nicholas Wren Sr. was listed as one of the executors of Henry Bell (Nicholas Sr.'s father-in-law) recorded July 10, 1695. The name does not appear in the 1715 list of titheables of Lancaster County. ( Ida J. Lee. Abstracts Lancaster County,Virginia, Wills. 1653-1800.
[Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 2004.] Reprint of the original 1959 edition. pp. 13, 53, 235
; and "Tithables in Lancaster Co., 1716." William and Mary Quarterly
[1 ser., 21July 1912]: 106-11.
 The recording clerk had difficulty with this man's last name which may have been "Plover."
whatever the name, little information has been found. A John Plover was a witness to a 1673 power of attorney
in Old Rappahannock County, and there was a ship captain of this name who appears in Virginia records.
 Several recorded instruments for the name William Clapham (Clappam) are included in Lancaster County court records. The most likely possibility seems to be that of the Clapham whose inventory was recorded October 1, 1656, as Thomas Carter, Nicholas Wren, and John Carter were listed as appraisers. ( Ida J. Lee. Abstracts Lancaster County,Virginia, Wills. 1653-1800.
[Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 2004]. Reprint of the original 1959 edition.) pp. 53.
 According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online,
"behoof" means "use, benefit, advantage."
 A "Doctor James Innis" was one of the executors of Henry Bell's will probated in Lancaster County Court July 10, 1695. and the name appears in other records of this period. James Innis was listed with four tithables in Christ Church Parish in 1700. He apparently moved to Richmond County as his will was recorded there in 1710. ( Ida J. Lee. Abstracts Lancaster County,Virginia, Wills. 1653-1800.
(Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 2004. Reprint of the original 1959 edition.) pp. 13, 36, 110; "Lancaster County, Virginia, Tithables November 1700
and Robert Kirk Headley. Wills of Richmond County, Virginia,
[Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983 and many reprints], p. 31.
 The land mentioned in the agreement had been granted June 1, 1666, to David Miles, who bequeathed it to his wife, Martha, and daughter, Elizabeth. Elizabeth married Thomas Husbands and survived him. Her mother Martha married secondly Thomas Norris and outlived him. Robert Carter purchased November 30, 1695, 250 acres from Martha Norris, and Tobias Purcell had earlier bought 150 acres on February 5, 1689, land that Robert Carter acquired from Purcell in 1696. ( Gertrude Entz Gray. Virginia Northern Neck Land Grants,
Volume 1, 1694 -- 1742.
[Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987] p. 87. Google Books, 8/11/2011;
and Jones, John Carter II. . . .
p. 13 for Martha's second marriage.)
 No information has been found about John Bave and William Brownsford. Perhaps they were indentured servants to Robert Carter as clerks as he later would use clerks to witness instruments they had copied out for him.
 Joseph Tayloe (d. 1716) was the clerk of the Lancaster County Court from 1696 until his death in 1716. He is usually referred to as "Gentleman" in court records. ( Ida J. Lee. Abstracts Lancaster County,Virginia, Wills. 1653-1800.
[Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 2004.] Reprint of the original 1959 edition.) p. 216;
and Dobyns et al.
Within the Court House at Lancaster.