Henderson vs. Robertson, Bill - Chancery Court Amherst County, Virginia 1809

Article Covers
Amherst, Virginia, United States
Albemarle, Virginia, United States
Nelson, Virginia, United States
Augusta, Virginia, United States
Year range
1805 - 1812



In about 1805, a suit was brought in Chancery Court, Amherst County, Virginia, and which was apparently concluded about 1812 in Nelson County, Virginia, between Robert Henderson and his wife Elizabeth (Robertson) Henderson against Elizabeth's brother, Thomas Robertson to recover her legacy willed to her by her father James Robertson and her mother Rebeckah (Royston) Robertson. This suit, including several of the accompanying depositions, provides a key piece of evidence in proving several of the children of James and Rebeckah (Royston) Robertson of Albemarle and Amherst County, Virginia.

Link to Chancery Court Filing: Library of Virginia Digital Collections


Henderson vs. Robertson; Bill, February 1809:

To the Worshipfull Cout of Amhurst County in Chancery citing (?)

Humbly complaining showeth unto Worships your orator Robert Henderson and your oratix Elizabeth Henderson (his wife formerly Elizabeth Robertson, daughter of James Robertson deceased, late of the County of Albemarle, that her said father departed this life in the year ____ [blank] and by his last Will and Testament appointed: Rebecca Robertson his wife, who was your Oratrix’s Mother his Executrix, which said last Will together with the inventory of her said fathers Estate is made part of this Bill, and your oratrix saith, that her father by said will after making several specific legacys, to her said Mother and brothers, devised the remainder of his personal Estate, among his eight daughters, of whom your Oratrix was one your Oratrix saith, that her said father died, when she was very young; and that she lived with her mother until she arrived at the age of twenty five years : during which time she, constantly afsested [?} in making, of the crops to wit leafing [?] and hoang [?} and at other times, in spinning and weaving for the family: as the were poor people, and had no slaves: and her mother and old feeble woman; whome she and others, of her children, had to support: also to raise and support other of the children who were sickly: your oratrix saith that during the aforesaid period, by the joint industry of the others, of the said children & herself, the little stock, left unsold, that was devised to herself and Sisters, as aforesaid, was increased, which was chiefly owing: to the expenditure of the said family: which was small, as your Oratrix was barely, teached to read a little: the most of which instruction she received, from the family at home; and at the time she left the family; and intermarried with the said Robert she had but one Gown, that was bought, out of a Store the rest being made at home by herself: Your Orator and Oratrix saith that one of the specific devises made as aforesaid, was a tract of land containing two hundred and forty Acres, on which the testator lived; and he devised to his Wife the said Rebecca, during her widowhood; and at the expiration of Which, to his son James Robertson: who was in consideration, thereof to pay to; another of his sons, to wit, Thomas Robertson the defendant twenty pounds; but, the said James, being disposed to sell his said tract of land; and the said Rebecca, (his mother) being desirous, to procure a home for your Oratrix & Others of her children, who were small: if in case any thing should turn up, to deprive her or her said children of a residence on said place: did purchase said land of the said James, at the price of ____[blank] solely for the benefit of your Oratrix and her sisters together with the said Thomas the defendant: the said Rebecca her Mother; having paid, the said James for said tract of Land, out of the property; that was left them by your Oratrix and her sisters by their said father; except the said Twenty pounds, which the said James was to pay, the said Thomas the defendant, upon getting possession of land, which said sum her said Mother: was to indemnify the said James from paying, to the said Thomas the defendant; who was then an infant; having undertook herself to satisfy and pay the same herself to the said Thomas, the dft. when he the said Thomas should have a legal right to demand the same; Your Orator & Oratrix; to make this matter more plain would Observe, that her said Mother, during her life afterwards, wished her youngest daughter Susanna; to have a greater share of the said tract of Land than any of the rest of said children to wit the One Surd [?] part; which she Often mentioned. Your Orator & Oratrix saith that, the said Thomas continued to live on said tract of land with his Mother untill her death, which happened at a very advanced period of life; during which time the said Thomas did so impose upon his said Mother, in her advanced and feeble state in life, to make a Will appointing him her executor in the same, and by said Will did devise said tract of land unto him together with all her personal Estate, except two Cowes [?], One Bed and furniture, and her waring apparel; the whole of which she directed to be sold & the money arising from the sale thereof to be divided equally between her Daughters & the Wife of the said Thomas, which last Will is to be taken as part of this Bill: Your Orator & Oratrix also saith that altho the said Thomas duly Qualified: to execute said Will yet he never paid them any money, owing from the sale of the Cattle Bed & C [?] as was by said Will directed, nor were they said Articles sold: as far as your Orator & Oratrix know or believes: nor do they believe that an inventory or appraisement was never made of said Estate at least that there has not been as yet an inventory returned to Court. Your Oratrix admits that the said Thomas sent her and old Linsey [?] Gown: and a pair of old Cloath Shoes, which was part her said Mothers apparel which was all she received of what was left her by her said mother. Your Orator & Oratrix beg’s leave to further state the cruel & unjust treatment, they have met with, since & before the death of her said Mother: that her said Mother after, your Oratrix had intermarried, with the said Robert your Orator: agreed to give them a Gray Horse, of about ten pounds value in past of her profrolioable [?] part of the improved personal Estate left her & her sisters by their said father: which by their Joint indies [?] by they Sled [?] increased; at this part of said property had been by their said mother converted to the payment of said tract of land as already mentioned, among which was gray horse besides there, was a Waggon & Gear, sold of said property and the money arising from said sale, lent by the said Rebecca to her son Matthew Robertson, which sum from the best information, was Fifteen pounds; your Orater therefore; when about to receive said horse; was absolutely prevented by the said Thomas, who had the management of his Mothers affairs; who said he could not spare him; although he well knew at the same time, that your Oratrix had not got any part of her share of the personal property left her by her father, and although he well knew that, your Oratrix had contributed a considerable sum of money before that time which she had earned by spinning and Weaving and in conjunction with others of her sisters who furnished like Quotas; the said Thomas was inabled to purchase a horse in Augusta County, for the use of said Estate; of which said horse she has never got any satisfaction for her part as yet. Your Oratrix further saith that upon leaving her said Mother, she did take away either her Cotton or Flax wheel: nor did she receive anything except four old Pewter plates: _esting satisfied: that at the death of her Mother, ample and compleat Justice would be one her: Your Orator & Oratrix states that the have with the greatest degree of patience, have long waited wasted with the defendant; and in the most friendly manner pefsed [?] him for a settlement; but allung [?] of that kind, was once attempted the manner he brought the business, before Referees of his own appointment were such, as not to inable them to settle it upon any principle of Justice whatsoever, and the business fell through. Your Orator & Oratrix further saith, that the said Thomas has for a considerable time past treated them, in request of the principles, in a haughtly, contemptuous, and indecent manner; by sometimes, threatening to shew them, for demanding a settlement and what was their right; at other times that he would have them put in the Sefsians [?] in the Presbyterian Church; and they should be denied priviledges, they being then members of said church: of which, the said Thomas was a pillar; (to wit and Elder) that oaths Requested in a friendly manner refused to share the will of the said James Robertson: pretended he had Receipts, for partial payments of legacys but declared he would not show them, untill he should be called on so to do. – aterm [?], which from your Orator & Oratrixs, ignorance of Law they did not then understand: Your Orator & Oratrix would further state, that although the said Thomas; still has possession of said tract of land and says he has a fee simple Right in the same; yet the use well assured that there has never been any conveyance, as yet made from the said James, to the said Rebecca, his Mother. For the, same, but that as the said James, has been and is still willing to make the Right, __ to those whom said land was bought for. To the end therefore that the said Thomas on his corporal oath may true and perfect answers make to all and singular the Allegations contained in this Bill as if the same was here again repeated and interrogated: and in pertuculas: If he does not show or believe: that his said Mother purchased said land for the benefit of certain of her children: and often said that she allowed her daughter Susanna to have the One third thereof. If he doth not know or believe that; that part of the property left to your Oratrix and sisters was taken, towards discharging the piece of said land. Whether or not he has a fee simple Right in said tract of land and if so where or how he Obtained it. If he did not make use of undue influence over his Mother in her dotage, to will the land to him; besides giving him the chiefly the whole of her personal property. If he did not keep the horse about to be given them after their marriage by their mother If he did not threaten to have them put [?] in the Session and deprived of Church Priviledges; and also to sue them; for no other crime, then after waiting a great deal of time: Requested that he would come forward and settle the accounts of his Mother; as Executrix of his father also his own Accounts as Executor of his said Mother, and give them their Respective proportions which as yet the have not Received, and lastly to say what he has done, and how he has Executed that part of his Mothers will, which directed him to sell sundry property & to distribute the money arising therefrom, equally between your Oratrix and those as particularly [?] specified in said will. And wishes others Oratrix did not when she lived with her Mother, contribute, and sum of money as her proportionable part; with others of her sisters to purchase a horse for the use of Estate; which house he purchased in the County of Augusta; and being left in the Estate. If he has not ultimately record [?] the whole of the benefit thereof. Your Orator & Oratrix prays that Commissioners may be appointed to settle the Accounts of the Estates of the said, James Robertson deceased and Rebecca Robertson deceased; and make Report thereof also that Commissioners be appointed by a Decree to sell said tract of land and the money arising from said sale for your Orator & Oratrix to receive there proportionable part thereof together with their respective legacys arising from the personal Estate left them by their father & mother: and that this Worshipful Court will grant such further and other relief as is agreeable to Equaly of good conscience and your Orator & Oratrix shall we pray. (signed) Brooks for Complts {?}

Feb. 1809
Plts costs $6.94
Dfts. Do 26
Exclusive of Att’s f
W.S. Crawford, Clk.

Response by Thomas Robertson

[Partially transcribed, handwriting very poorly written]

Response by Thomas Robertson
That on to the horse intended to have been given the Compt. Eliz. by her mother in compmoration ‘’[?]’’ (or is Imtended by the Comp. Eliz) for the land on her part this of he knows nothing of. That as to the horse first should in Augusta he paid the money himself to the best of his recollection – That if the Comp. Eliz. on lubour ‘’[?]’’ it was in common with this Resp. & their sister Josformance, now Josepanna McCarthy, they all then lived with her mother & jointly lived upon their own industry. That as to the application of the Mother as willed it was to this Deft. – This Deft. Positively denies using any artifice or influence with his Mother to induce her to will the land & ____ of the property therein mentioned to him, but he believes it was done this principles of gratitude on this Respt. had her to support & live with by his own labour many ____ often Eliz. & Josefanna and all the rest of the children left her – on to the ____ business, this Respt.cant at this time recollect in particular what has past ____ ___, but thinks it ____ to answer the ___ as it ___ in no manner effect the case _ he denies all fraud [?] & prays to be ___ aforesaid with his cost.
[Signed] Thos. Robinson
Amhurst __ This day Thos. Robinson made oath before me or Justice of the Peace for the county aforesaid in the ___ of the above. :Answer Given under my hand this 25th day of Nov. 1805.
[Signed] Ja.Lewis
[Remainder omitted due to poorly written handwriting]

Deposition of Matthew Robertson

The deposition of Matthew Robertson of Lawful age taken in a ___ of Chancery now depending & undetermined in the worshipful Court of Amherst County between Robert Henderson et. __ Deffs, and Rebecca Robertson __ Deft.
This Deponent being Sworn on the holy evangelists of Almighty god, deposeth _Faith, that his father in his lifetime devised by his last will & testament to his son James Robertson the lands whereon Thomas Robertson (the execr. of Rebecca Robertson) now lives, directing by the said will a paiment ‘‘[sic]’’ to be made to the said Thomas of twenty pounds from the said James, that the sd. James appeared dissatisfied with the Legacy and offered it to this deponent for one dollar, that sometime often the said Rebecca Robertson who has a life estate in the said land during her widowhood became the purchaser of the said land from the said James in fee simple and by her last will and testament devised the same to the said Thomas Robertson the ___ and this deponent futher says that he knows that the said Rebecca Robertson, in the purchase aforesaid became bound by agreement to pay to the said Thomas the Twenty pounds, which the said James by the will of his father was directed to pay.
Question by the defendant:
Do you think my father allowed me at the time by his will an equal part with your brother James in the land that is do you suppose the twenty pounds at the time was equal to half of the value of the land
Ansr: yes I do so.
Question by same:
Do you know as believe that I undertook to use any undue influence over my mother on her death Bed respecting her will
Answer: I never heard nor ever knew of any thing of the last, being present & at the house about three weeks about the time of her death, and believe the will was made in that time, but was not personally present myself when the will was made.
Question by the Pltff:
Do you know what Sum of money your mother gave your brother James for the Land?
Answer: No I do not.
Question by the Defendant:
Do you know whether there was anything more than my own part that is the twenty pounds given by my mother for the Land?
Answer: I do not know.
Further question arising from the Bill
Did you receive or loan any money from Rebecca Robertson arising from the sale of her husbands Estate
Answer: not any and further saith not.
[Signed] Matthew Robertson

Deposition of Catharine Robertson

The Deposition Catherine Robertson of Lawful age taken in a suit in Chancery now depending and undetermined between in the Worshipful Court of Amherst County between Robert Henderson & Wife Plaintiffs and the Executor of Rebecca Robertson Defendant.
This Deponent being sworn on this holy Evangelist of Almightly God deposeth and saith That she was informed by Elizabeth Henderson one of the plaintiffs in this cause that the part of the Estate left by her Father was at the discretion of her Mother, and that she had received it of her Mother, and was Satisfied therewith.
And further that the Legacy under the Will of her Mother was given up by Thomas Robertson Executor thereto, to the legatees and divided amongst them __ that she had received her part thereof and was satisfied.
Question by the Defendant: Do you know what property of the Estate of James Robertson Dec’d was Received by the Plttf. Elizabeth
Answer: I recollect she received the following Articles to wit, Two Calico Gowns a feather Bed & furniture One Cow, a Side Saddle, four Pewter Plates, one Pewter Poringer, One Cloak with Sundrie other Wearing Apparel.
Question by the Plaintiff: Was Elizabeth Henderson at the Division of her Mothers Estate.
Answer: She was not, being unwell.
Further Question by the Plntff. Robert: Why was Indt ‘’[?]’’ sent for as she was unable to attend.
Answer: It was understood that her sister Rebecca was to act for her, & did so.
And this deponent further saith not.
[Signed] Catharine Robertson [Her Mark]
Amherst. The foregoing deposition of Catharine Robertson was taken before us, agreeable to a Commission to us directed at the House of ___ Martins in the County aforesaid the eighth day of June 1807, the said Robert Henderson and the said Thomas Robertson both being present and consenting thereto given under our hands the same date.
[Signed] Herofary ‘’[?]’’ Martin
[Signed] James Woods

Deposition of Sarah Robertson

The Deposition of Sarah Robertson of Lawful age taken in a Suit in Chancery now Depending & Undetermined in the Worshipful Court of Amherst County between Robert Henderson and Wife Plntffs and the Executor of Rebecca Robertson Defendant
This Deponent being first sworn upon the holy Evangelist of Almighty God deposeth and saith.
That she was present when the Goods & Effects of Rebecca Robertson was given up by her Executor Thomas Robertson the legatees all being Present Except the Plaintiff Elizabeth & Jane Robertson and Mary McNeely Residing in Kentucky & Sarah Dickey Residing in Carolina and it was understood that Rebecca Paxton was to Act for the Plaintiff Elizabeth and did so, and it was Concluded on that the legatees that was Convenient should divide the Wearing Apparel of their Mother & that two Cows of the Estate should be sold for the benefit of the Distant Legatees, to Wit Mary McNeely & Sarah Dickey and accordingly did so and that she the Deponent after the Cloths & were divided drew for the Absent legatee Jane Robertson and the reason why the goods were not sold at Publick sale was by the objection of the legatees present saying that the Clothes of their Mother should not be exposed to Publick sale but that they would divide them Amongst themselves and accordingly do so, and that she was informed by the Plaintiff Elizabeth she had received her part thereof & was satisfied.
Question by the Plntf. Robert Henderson: Do you know whether the Defendant Thomas Robertson ever settled with me for my part of James Robertsons Estate of that Rebecca Robertson for whom he was Executor.
Answer: No, I do not and further saith not.
[Signed] Sarah Robertson [Her Mark]
Amherst. Agreeable to a Commission to as directed use the subscribers have taken the foregoing deposition of Sarah Robertson at the house of Herojon Martins ‘’[?]’’ in the County aforesaid this 8th day of June 1807 the said Robert Henderson & the said Thomas Robertson both being present and consenting thereto, Given under hands the same date.
[Signed] Herefory Martin ‘’[?]’’
[Signed] James Wood

Additional Estate Records of James Robertson

January 11th 1764. Then Rec’d of my Mother Rebeckah Robertson the sum of five pounds fifteen schillings in dowry – I say Recd by me
[Signed] Thomas Paxton
January 11th 1769. Then Rec’d of my Mother Rebeckah Robertson the just and full sum of Five pounds fifteen shillings in dowry left by my Father by me.
[Signed] Jean Robertson [Her Mark]
January ye 12th 1764. Then Rec’d of my Mother Rebeckah Robertson the sum of Four pounds seven shillings in dowry – I say Rec’d by me.
[Signed} John Dickey
January the 12th day 1764. Then Received of Rebeckah Robertson satisfaction in full of our part of James Robertson’s Estate, I say Received by us.
[Signed] James and Mary McNeely [Her Mark]
January ye 16th 1764. Then Rec’d of my Mother Rebecca Robertson full satisfaction of my fathers Estate left to me by his Will at his Death – I say Rec’d by me.
[Signed] James Robertson [His Mark]
Teste: John Small
January ye 18th 1764. Then Recv’d of my Mother Rebeckah Robertson, full satisfaction of my Father’s Estate – I say Rec’d by me.
[Signed] Martha Janifrow ‘’[?]’’
May the 6th 1785 Received of Thomas Robertson two pounds eight shillings, it being full satisfaction left to me by my Mother. I say Rec’d by me.
[Signed] Rebecca Paxton [Her Mark]
Catherine McCarty
Sarah Robertson
February the 2nd 1786. Then Received of Thomas Robertson two pounds eight shillings, it being full satisfaction of Dower left by his Mother – I say Received by me.
[Signed] Thomas Robertson
John McClure

The foregoing are correct copies. Teste: Spotswood Garland, Clerk