A Pinchbeck Will

“In the name of God Amen. I John Pinchbeck of the county of Chesterfield, being in common health and in perfect mind and memory, and considering the uncertainty of the mortal life and the certainty of death, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form as follows,..” (1)

My fourth great-grandfather, John Pinchbeck, of Chesterfield County, Virginia, wrote his will on July 23, 1822. He goes on to make following bequests:

“Item the first: My will and desire is that all my just debts and funeral expenses may be first paid out of my estate.

Item the second: I Give and bequeath unto all my children except William Pinchback, one Bed and furniture such my wife may think proper also one cow and calf, to them and their heirs and assigns forever.

Item the third: I Give and bequeath unto my wife Mary Pinchback for and during her natural life all the residue of my estate both real and personal for her to have hold and enjoy the same together with all money due me, and all estate that may hereafter come to my possession, during her life, recommending to her at the same time the support and education of my younger children.

Item the fourth: After the death of my wife my will and desire is that all my estate left to her may be equally divided among my children, share and share alike, my whole desire being to make them all equal.

Item the Fifth: I lastly appoint my wife Mary Pinchback my whole and sole executive and wish for her not to give any security as such; And also give her full power to sell or buy property as she may think will be most beneficial to my estate, My wish is that my property may not appraised.” (2)

John lived another two years, dying in 1824. (3) His will reveals a man who respected his wife and trusted her to manage his estate. John also tried to be fair with all of his children, immediately giving each a bed and livestock. William, as the oldest child, had probably already received his gift of a bed and livestock. Beds and livestock were valuable gifts in 1822.

John only names one child, William, but implies that there are other children, some still in need of education. These other children are identified in probate records following the death of Mary Rudd Pinchbeck, John’s wife, in July, 1829. (4)  William, George and Nancy Pinchbeck told the court that their father, John Pinchbeck, died in 1824 and that John’s wife, Mary, had just died in July 1829. William, George and Nancy, together with Thomas Pinchbeck, Robert Pinchbeck and Mary Pinchbeck “are the only children and legatees of the said John Pinchbeck.” 

This chancery case is the only known record identifying all of the children of John and Mary Rudd Pinchbeck of Chesterfield County, Virginia. The complete case can be read here.   It is especially noteworthy because it contains an original letter from George Pinchback to his siblings, directing them to handle the estate. George was living in Fayette County, Tennessee and could not make the trip to Virginia.

George’s letter is full of affection and tenderness for his brothers and sisters. He expresses great regret that he can’t make the journey to Virginia, saying,

“I am a poor wanderer in a wilderness from all my relations but I thank god I am perfectly satisfied & expect to end my days in this country…” George urges his family to come to Tennessee, writing, “Dear brother I would advise you to come out here as I know you could do a great deal better than you can there tho you would not make as much from your trade but you are a good carpenter and provider you was not to work at all at your trade you could make double from farming. if you or brother William or both will come out I will do all I can for you and take a pride in as I have no body to take care of but myself- “ (6)

Next week: more about the family of John Pinchbeck


(1) Chesterfield County, Virginia; Will Book 10 page 274.

(2) Chesterfield County, Virginia; Will Book 10 page 274.

(3) This will was proved in court on June 14, 1824.  Chesterfield County, Virginia; Will Book 10 page 274

(4) Pinchbeck vs Pinchback,  Chesterfield VA Chancery 1830-035, Library of Virginia.

(5) Pinchbeck vs Pinchback,  Chesterfield VA Chancery 1830-035, Library of Virginia.

(6) Pinchbeck vs Pinchback,  Chesterfield VA Chancery 1830-035, Library of Virginia.

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