Primary Resource

Will and Codicil of Thomas Jefferson (1826)

In his will and accompanying codicil, Thomas Jefferson arranges for the dispersal of his money and property. In the codicil, he frees three enslaved men: Burwell, John Hemings, and Joe Fossett.

Transcription from Original

I Thomas Jefferson of Monticello in Albemarle being of sound mind and in my ordinary state of health make my last will and testament in manner & form as follows:

I give to my grandson Francis Epps son of my dear deceased daughter Mary Epps in fee simple all that part of my lands at poplar Forest lying west of the following lines to wit. Beginning at Radford's upper corner near the double branches of Bear Creek and the public road & running thence in a straight line to the fork of my private road near the barn thence along that private road (as it was changed in 1817) to its crossing of the main branch of north Tomahawk Creek and from that crossing in a direct line over the main ridge which divided the North & South Tomahawk to South Tomahawk at the confluence of two branches where the old road to the waterlick crossed it and from that confluence up the northernmost branch which seperates McDaniel & Perrys Field to its source & thence by the shortest line to my western boundary. And having in a former correspondence with my deceased son in law John W. Eps contemplated laying off for him with remainder to my grand son Francis a certain portion in the southern part of my lands in Bedford and Campbell which I afterwards found to be generally more indifferent than I had supposed and therefore determined to change its location for the better now to remove all doubt if any could arise on a purpose merely voluntary and unexecuted I hereby declare that what I have herein given to my sd. grandson Francis is instead of and not additional to what I had formerly contemplated.

I subject all my other property to the payment of my debts in the first place, considering the insolvent state of the affairs of my friend & son in law Thomas Mann Randolph, and that what will remain of my property will be the only resource against the want in which his family would otherwise be left it must be his wish as it is my duty to guard that resource against all liability for his debts engagements or purposes whatsoever and to preclude the rights powers and authorities over it which might result to him by operation of law and which might independently of his will bring it within the power of his creditors I do hereby desire and bequeath all the residue of my property real and personal in possession or in action whether held in my own right or in that of my dear deceased wife according to the powers vested in me by deed of settlement for the purpose to my grandson Thomas J. Randolph & my friends Nicholas P. Trist and Alex Garret & their heirs

Th. Jefferson

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during the life of my son in law Thomas M. Randolph to be held to and administered by them in trust for the sole and separate use and behoof of my dear daughter Martha Randolph and heirs and aware of the nice and difficult distinctions of the law in these cases I will further explain by saying that I understand and intend the effect of these limitation to be that legal estate and actual occupation shall be vested in my said trustees and held by them in base fee determinable on the death of my said son in law and the remainder during the same time be vested in my said daughter and her heirs and of course disposable by her last will and that at the death of my sd. so in law the particular estate of the sd. trustees shall be determined and the remainder in legal estate possession and use become vested in my sd. daughter and her heirs in absolute property forever. In consequence of the variety and indescribableness of the articles of property within the house at Monticello, and the difficulty of inventorying and appraising them separately and specifically and its inutility I dispense with having them inventoried and appraised and it is my will that my Executors be not hold to give any security for the administration of my Estate. I appoint my grand son Thomas Jefferson Randolph my sole executor during his life and after his death I constitute executors my Friends Nicholas P. Trist and Alexander Garrett joining them my daughter Martha Randolph after the death of my sd son in law Thomas M. Randolph.- Lastly I revoke all former wills by me hereby made and in witness that this is my will I have written the whole with my own hand on two pages and have subscribed my name to each of them this 16th day of March one thousand eight hundred and twenty six.

Th Jefferson

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I Thomas Jefferson of Monticello in Albemarle made and add the following codicil to my will controlling the same so far as its provisions go I recommend to my daughter Martha Randolph the maintenance and care of my well beloved sister Ann Scott Marks and trust confidently from affection to her as well as for my sake she will never let her want a comfort.- I have made no specifick provisions for the comfortable maintenance of my son in law Thomas M. Randolph because of the difficulty and uncertainty of devising terms which shall vest any beneficial interest in him which the law will not transfer to the benefit of his creditors to the destitution of my daughter and her family and disablement of her to supply him whereas property placed under the executive right of my daughter and her independent will as if she were a feme sole considering the relations in which she both to him and his children will be a certain resource against want for all. I give to my friend James Madison of montpelier my gold mounted walking staff of animal horn as a token of the cordial and affectionate friendship which for nearly now an half century, has united us in the same principles and pursuits of what we have deemed for the greatest good of our country. I give to the university of Virginia my library except such particular books only and of the same edition as it may already possess when this legacy shall take effect the rest of my said library remaining after those given to the university shall have been taken out I give to my two grandsons in law Nicholas P. Trist and Joseph Coolidge.

To my grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph I give my silver watch in preference of the golden one because of its superior excellence. my papers of business going of course to him as my executor all others of a literary or other caracter I give him as of his own property.

Th. Jefferson

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I give a gold watch to each of my grand children who shall not have already received one from me to be purchased and delivered by executors to my grand sons at the 21 and grand daughters at that of sixteen.

I give to my good affectionate and faithful servant Burwell his freedom and the sum of three hundred Dollars to buy necessaries to commence his trade of painter and glaser, or to use otherwise as he pleases. I give also to my good servants John Hemings and Joe Fosset their freedom at the end of one year after my death and to each of them respectively all the tools of their respective shops or callings and it is my will that a comfortable log house be built for each of the three servants so emancipated on some part of my lands convenient to them with respect to the residence of their wives and to Charlottesville and the university where they be mostly employed and reasonably convenient also to the interest of the proprietor of the land: of which houses I give the use of one with a heritage of an acre to each during his life or personal occupation thereof—I give also to John Hemings the service of his two apprentices Madison and Eston Hemings until their respective ages of twenty one years at which period respectively I give them their freedom and I Humbly and earnestly request of the legislature of Virginia a confirmation of the bequest of freedom to these servants with permission to remain in this state where their families and connections are as an additional instance of favor of which I have received so many other manifestations in the course of my life and for which I now give them my last solemn thanks.

In testimony that this is a codicil to my will of yesterdays date and that it is to modify so far the provision of that will I have written it all with my own hand in two pages, to each of which I subscribe my name this 17th day of march one thousand eight hundred and twenty six

Th Jefferson

— page 5 —

A court held for Albemarle county the 7th of August 1826.

This Instrument of writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Thomas Jefferson Deceased was produced into court and the hand writing of the testator proved by the oath of Valentine W Southall and ordered to be recorded.

Teste

Alexander Garrett CC