A Collection Transcribed
by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.
List of Letters
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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 Lancaster County Esquire of
the one part and William Armistead
of the County of Gloucester
Gentleman William Ball
of the County of Lancaster gentleman & Mary
of the County of Middlesex Spinster of the other part Witnesseth
that the said Robert Carter for & in consideraton of a marriage
already agreed upon & shortly by gods grace to be had & Solemnized
between the said Robert Carter & Betty Willis
late the wife of Richard
of Middlesex County, gentleman deceased for the love & affection wch he the
said Robert Carter has & beareth to her the said Betty Willis for a full &
to be made unto her the said Betty Willis for a full &
her natural life after the decease of the said Robert Carter in case
she shall survive him & in ful satisfaction & recompense of the dower
of the said Betty Willis & for diverse other weighty considerations him the
said Robert Carter Especially moving Has granted alienated enfeoffed
released & confirmed & by these presents do grant alienate
release & confirm unto the said 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 said County of Lancaster being part of the tract of land
whereon the said 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 said parish bounded as followeth Beginning at the spring in a
branch or swamp of the Southernmost side of the said neck about or near
a quarter of a mile Northerly from the Quarter called the Old house
Quarter running from the said spring Northerly along the easternmost
side of an old field & into a Creek or Cove into which the gate fence the
easternmost 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 said Creek the several courses & meanders thereof & then Westerly along
the Northernmost side of the Creek or Cove called the Old house Creek the
several courses thereof up to the aforesaid Beginning Spring the said neck
containing by estimation about sixty acres be it more or less & including
an old field wch was a Cornfield to the old house gang when John Ashford
was an overseer of that gang & was first taken into Corn when William
Short was overseer there with all & singular the right members & appurtenances
thereunto belonging & all the woods pastures unto the said neck or parcel of
land belonging & every part thereof And also all that messuage
parcel of land lying near the Easternmost branch of Corotoman River in the
County afore said formerly purchased of Nicholas Wren
by John Carter
eldest brother to the said Robert Carter & by him the said John devised & bequeathed
unto him the said Robert Carter by his last wil & Testament being the -- -- --
plantation whereon John Plewgher
now lives wch said land was first
taken up by one William Clapham
& one Edwards & by the said Clapparn sold
unto the said 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 said tract or parcel of land
belonging or appertaining & every part & parcel thereof to have & to hold
the said 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
whatsoever that is to say to the only use & behoof
of him the said Robt
Carter & his heirs until the said marriage shall be had & solemnized
between the said Robert Carter & Betty Willis & after the solemnization
of the said marriage between them to the use & behoof of the said Robert
Carter during his natural life without impeachment of or for any
manner of waste & after his decease to the use and Behoof of the said
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 said Betty Willis decease to the use & behoof of the heirs of the said
Robert Carter forever And the said Robert Carter does further Covenant &
grant for himself his heirs Executors & Administrators by these presents to and
with the said William Armistead William Ball & Mary Jones their
Executors & administrators that he the said Robert Carter his heirs Executors administrators & Assigns
shall & wil at all times hereafter & from time to time sufficiently save
harmless & indemnified the said 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 whatsoever had
made or done by the said Robert Carter or by any other person or persons whatsoever
by his consent or procurement and the said Robert Carter for himself his heirs
Executors & Administrators does covenant promise & grant to & with the said William
Armistead William Ball & Mary Jones their heirs & Assigns by these
presents that he the said Robert Carter shall & will 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 whatsoever as by the said William Armistead William Ball
& Mary Jones or either of them or their or any of their Counsel learned
in the Law shall be reasonably desired or advised and at the cost and
charges of the said Robert Carter his heirs Executors or administrators for the better and
and more perfect assuring & making sure of all & singular the promises to the
said Betty Willis for term of her life only in form aforesaid And further that
the said Betty Willis from & after the decease of the said Robert Carter during
her natural life shall & may lease hold & quietly eqjoy the said Lands tenements
& all other the premises without any Lawful Court suits trouble eviction
interruption or disturbance of the heirs & Assigns of the said Robert Carter
or of any other person or persons whatsoever lawfully obtaining by from or
under him the said Robert Carter his heirs or assigns And further the said
Robert Carter does for himself his heirs Executors and administrators by these presents
covenant promise & grant to & with the said William Armistead William Ball
& Mary Jones their heirs & Assigns that if at any time after the date of these
presents the said
Robert Carter or the said Betty Willis during their or either of their
natural lives shall be lawfully evicted or put out of or from the said premises or
any part or parcel thereof that then & from thenceforth the said Robert Carter
his heirs & assigns shall stand & be seized of & in such & so much of that
tenement or parcel of land lying and being in the par [i]
sh & County aforesaid
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 said tract or parcel of land formerly belonging to Mrs
deceased and by her sold to the said Robert Carter together wth the
houses orchards gardens woods underwoods & other the appurtenances to the
& land last mentioned belonging as shall amount to the
value of such & so much of the said messuage & other the prenises first
above mentioned as shall be so evicted or taken away as aforesaid to the
use of the said Robert Carter for term of his natural life & after to the use of
the said Betty Willis for term of her natural life & after her decease to the
use of the right heirs of the said Robert Carter forever And lastly the said Robert
Carter for himself his heirs Executors & administrators does covenant promise & agree to &
with the said William Armistead William Ball & Mary Jones their heirs &
assigns by these presents that at the time of such eviction or taking away
of the said messuage & other the premises first above named or any part thereof
& after the said messuage
& other the prenises last mentioned during
the natural life of the said Robert Carter & after his decease during the
natural life of the said Betty Willis shall remain & be clearly discharged
kept harmless & indemnified of & from all & all manner
of estates interests charges titles & encumbrances whatsoever had made
done or willingly suffered or hereafter to be had made done or willingly
suffered bv the said Robert Carter his heirs or assigns or by any person or persons
having or lawfully obtaining or wch hereafter shall or may have or
claim any estate right title or interest by from or under the said Robert
Carter his heirs or assigns In Witness whereof the parties to these present
Indentures have interchangeably set to their hands and seals the day
& year first above written
Signed sealed & delivered in the Robert Carter (seal)
Recorded in Lancaster ninth
day April 1701 per the same Robert Carter
Win. Brownsford and Recorded 14th day following
per Joseph 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 Lancaster my true & lawful attorney for me & to my use
& behoof to receive an acknowledgement of a deed from The Honorqble Colonel Robert
Carter of Lancaster Esquire of Conveyance to Mr William Armistead Captain William
Ball & me the said Mary Jones bearing date wth these presents in the said
County Court of Lancaster rattifying & confirming all that my said
attorney shall lawfully do in the promises as if I myself were
personally present as witness my hand & Seal this 9th day of April
Mary Jone (seal)
Signed Sealed & Delivered in the
presence of us Probated first [ . . . ] Power of Attorney . --
William Brownsford Court County Lancaster ninth day April Year
John Base of Our Lord 1701 by the oath of John Bave and
William Ball Jr William Ball junior in Court attested to by Joseph Tayloe Clerk Court
1701 and recorded the year of our Lord 
on the day following by the same Joseph 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.