Facts and Events
William Daniel was born before 1755, most probably in the 1730's. He married Sarah Postles, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Postles. William and Sarah had a least three sons, William, Thomas, and Abraham. They may also have had another son, John. Other known children of William and Sarah include daughters Sally, Rachel, and Selah or Ceely. They may have had another daughter named Hessey. Family lore suggests that William may have been the owner of a large plantation near Richmond, Virginia, but no evidence has yet been found to support this idea. On 5 May 1761, William bought a 300 acre tract of land in Cedar Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware from Solomon Truitt for 50 pounds.
Sarah's father, Thomas Postles, died in 1774. In his will, Thomas mentions his daughter Sarah, his son-in-law William, and his grandson William Daniel, as well as unnamed granddaughters. In 1790, there are four Daniels listed as heads of households in the Cedar Creek Hundred of Sussex County, Delaware: Abram, Thomas, William Jr., and William Sr. Also living in that area is Thomas Veach Jr., who witnessed William's will two years later.
In 1792 William Daniel of Sussex county, Delaware wrote a last will and testament. In it he left his 'dwelling houses and plantations' to his sons Thomas and Abram. They, in turn, are to each pay his other son John twenty pounds. To each of his daughters, Sally, Rachel, and Selah, he left 'one bed and furniture and one cow and calf' as well as one negro boy each. His wife, Sarah, received the same as his daughters as well as one horse and saddle. She was also to 'hold and fully possess on third part of my land during her natural life.' He also mentions two granddaughters, Selah Willy and Mary Willy.
In 1800 there are five Daniel families in the Cedar Creek Hundred. The most likely to have made the will is William Daniel Sr., who is listed with two women who are probably his wife and one of his daughters or granddaughters, aged 10 to 16. The family also had two slaves. Sarah is believe to have died about 1801. William died in March 1804, sometime between the twentieth, when he wrote a new will, and the twenty-sixth, when the will was recorded. In this will William again divides his lands between his sons Thomas and Abraham, leaving other his son William a two year old colt. Thomas' land is described as '...all my lands laying on the west side of the main road leading from Milford towards Naticoke Forge', while Abraham received the lands on the east side of the road. The rest of his estate was to be equally divided among his three daughters, Hessey, Rachel, and Ceely.
The differences between the 1792 and the 1804 wills are interesting to note. Granddaughters Mary and Selah Willy are not mentioned in the 1804 will. Also of interest is the differences in the names of William's children. Sons Thomas and Abraham are the same, as is daughter Rachel. Sally and Selah from the 1792 will are probably Hessey and Ceely in the 1804 will. The question of John Daniel, mentioned in the 1792 will, and William Daniel, mentioned in the 1804 will, is more confusing. There are three possible explanations: 1. the 1792 will is not an authentic document; 2. John Daniel and William Daniel are the same person, with William John Daniel being called John within the family to differentiate him from William Sr.; or 3. John Daniel and William Daniel are separate people, but both are sons of William and Sarah (Postles) Daniel.
Descendents of William Daniel are included in J. M. Runk's "History of the State of Delaware". Information on the older generations of Daniels conflicts with other sources, but may provide some clues to early family history. The Daniel family may be of English ancestry and may have early connections to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Richmond, Virginia.
Will of William Daniel, 1792
"Will of William Daniel," 5 Apr 1792, unprobated, found in the effects of George W. Daniels (1858 - 1940), great-great-grandson of William Daniel. Photocopy of handwritten copy from Tom Daniels.
In the name of God, Amen. I, William Daniel, of the county of Sussex and State of Delaware, being in perfect health, praised be God, do make this, my last will and testament as followeth. Imprimis, I give, demise and bequeath to my two sons Thomas Daniel and Abram Daniel my dwelling houses and plantations with the land to me belonging or in any wise appertaining, to be equally divided, to them and their heirs and assigns forever, they paying to my son John Daniel Twenty Pounds specie each. Item. I give to my daughter Sally Daniel one bed and furniture and one cow and calf. Item. I give to my daughter Rachel Daniel one bed and furniture and one cow and calf. Item. I give to my daughter Selah Daniel one bed and furniture and one cow and calf. But my will is, and I order the same, that my wife Sarah Daniel shall hold and fully possess on third part of my land during her natural life, likewise one bed and furniture, on horse and saddle, and one cow and calf, and one negro boy named Isaac till he arrives at the age of twenty one years. Item. I give my other three negro boys, named Plymouth, Major, and Obed, to my three daughters, Sally Daniel, Rachel Daniel, and Selah Daniel. item. All the rest of my estate not already disposed of in this my last will and testament, after the payment of my lawful debts, I give to be equally divided among my three daughters and two grand-daughters, namely, Sally Daniel, Rachel Daniel, Selah Daniel, and Selah Willy and Mary Willy. And lastly I nominate, ordain, and appoint my two sons Thomas Daniel and Abram Daniel my only and whole executors of this my last will and testament, in testimony whereof I do herewith put my hand and person this fifth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two (1792).
William Daniel witnesses present: Charles M. ---?, Thos. Veach Jr.
Will of William Daniel, 1804
"Will of William Daniel," 20 Mar 1804, probated 26 Mar 1804, Sussex Co., DE, Will Book F, pg. 125, FHL microfilm 0006620. Some parts difficult to read.
In the Name of God, Amen. I William Daniel of the County of Sussex in the State of Delaware, being weak in body, but of sound mind memory, do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following -- Imprimis I give and devise unto my son Thomas Daniel all my lands laying on the west side of the main road leading from Milford towards Nanticoke Forge, being part of the land whereon I lately dwelt, unto him the said Thomas Daniel his heirs and assigns forever -------- I give and devise unto my son Abraham Daniel all my land laying on the East side of the main road leading from Milford towards Nanticoke Forge being part of the land whereon I lately dwelt to him the said Abraham Daniel his heirs and assigns -----------------
I give unto my son William Daniel one two year old colt called Tom to him and his heirs and assigns --------
I give unto my three daughters, viz. Hessey, Rachel and Ceely all the residue and remainder of my estate both real and personal to be equally divided between them share and share alike ----
I hereby approve my son Abraham Daniel sole Executor of this my Last Will and Testament hereby Revoking all former wills by me made. In Witness whereof I have here unto set my hand and Seal this Twentieth day March one thousand Eight hundred and four
Signed Sealed Published and Declared \
by the above named William Daniel |
to be his Last will and Testament | Wm. Daniel
In the presence of us who have hereunto |
Subscribed our names as Witnesses in |
the presence of the Testator /
Daniel Rogers William Stapleford
Memorandum this 26th day of March
Before me Phillips Kollock Register appointed for the Probate of wills and Granting Letters of Administration for the County appeared Daniel Rogers Engl. and William Stapleford two of the witnesses to the within will Subscribing the said Daniel Rogers on his affirmation and the said William Stapleford on his solemn oath. Deposeth and Saith that in their sight presence and hearing they saw the Testator William Daniel Sign seal publish pronounce and declare this instrument of writing to be his last last will and testament and that at the doing thereof he was of a sound [Deposing] mind memory & Judgment to the best of their knowledge and that they and each of them with Polly Black signed the same as Evidences in the presence of the Testator and at his request.
Leo DeValinger, Jr., Reconstructed 1790 Census of Delaware, (Washington, D.C.: National Genealogy Society, 1962), pg. 63.
1800 U.S. Census, Delaware, Sussex County, Cedar Creek Hundred, pg. 294, National Archives microfilm series M32, reel 4.
Delaware 1800 Census Index, (Bountiful, UT: Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1972), pg. 10.
Biographical and Genealogical History of the State of Delaware, (Chambersburg, PA: J.M. Runk & Co., 1899), pg. 390.
Wright, F. Edward, Land Records of Sussex County Delaware, 1769 - 1782, Deed Books L No. 11 & M No. 12, (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1994) pg. 116. Brewer, Mary Marshall, Land Records of Sussex County Delaware, 1753 - 1763. pg. 132.
deValinger, Leon Jr., compiler, Calendar of Kent County Delaware Probate Records, 1680-1800, (Dover, DE: Public Archive Commission, State of Delaware, 1944), pg. 363, reference to probated will 18 Nov 1784, Arch. vol. A55, pg. 59-61, Reg. of Wills, Liber M, folios 32-33.