Will of Elizabeth Magruder d.1827

Elizabeth Magruder inherited 6 slaves from her father, Nathaniel Maguder, only one of whom is named in the will–a girl named Poll (b~1769). She does not appear in Elizabeth’s will.

Named in her will:

Bob Forrest (“negro man”) : manumitted at her death

Charles Carroll (“negro man”) : manumitted at her death; possibly the same as a boy named Charles(b ~1776) in the 1786 inventory of her father’s estate.

Lucy Gray, “negro woman” : manumitted at her death.

  • Census and other records turn up glimpses of a Lucy or Lucinda (Morris) Gray, born in Virginia around 1800, but I have no way to determine if it is the same woman. See Gray Family Page for sources and more details.

Toby Gray, “youngest child of the said Lucy” : manumitted at her death

Ned Smythe, “negro man” >> her nieces Maria Watterston & Eliza Hamilton (both née Shanley, daughters of Elizabeth’s sister Margaret Magruder Shanley).

  • Ned was to pay them $24/yr for 5 years and then be free, or continue a slave until $120 was paid, and then be free. If the will was carried out, he was free ~1832 or later.

Edward Young, “negro man” >> Maria Watterston, to serve 5 years, then be free.  If the will was carried out, he was free ~1832.

George Gray, “negro boy”  b~1826 in Washington, D.C. >>Eliza Hamilton, to serve 30 years, then be free. If the will was carried out, he was free ~1857, the year Eliza Hamilton made her will.

William Gray, “negro boy” >>Eliza Hamilton, to serve 30 years, then be free. If the will was carried out, he was free ~1857, the year Eliza Hamilton made her will.

Silvester Gray  b~1824 in Washington D.C. >> David Watterston (s/o Maria Watterston), to serve 27 years, then be free. If the will was carried out, he was free ~1854.

  • In the 1860 census, George and William Gray were living together in Washington, D.C., both designated “mulatto.” In the 1870 census, George was living with Silvester Gray and Thomas Nichols.
  • See Gray Family page for sources and for much more about this family.

Thomas Gray, “negro boy” >> Eliza H. Watterson (d/o Maria Watterston), to serve 32 years then be free. If the will was carried out, he was free ~1859.

Amelia Gray, “negro girl” >> Eliza H. Watterson (d/o Maria Watterston), to serve 32 years then be free. If the will was carried out, she was free ~1859.

Richard Dodson, “negro boy” >>Maria Watterston, to serve 18 years, then be free. If the will was carried out, he was free ~1845.

Manuel Dodson, “negro boy” >>Eliza Hamilton, to serve 27 years, then free. If the will was carried out, he was free ~1854.

Lavinia Dodson, “negro girl” >> Sarah Maria Watterston (d/o Maria Watterston), to serve 20 years, then be free. If the will was carried out, she was free ~1847.

James Dodson  >> Sarah Maria Watterston (d/o Maria Watterston), to serve 20 years, then be free. If the will was carried out, James was free ~1847.

* * * *

After all the provisions for individual slaves, the will states:

It is further my will and desire that the increase of all the female slaves above named, shall be free at the age of thirty five (35) years.

* * * *

I believe this James Dodson is the James Dodson who appears on the census for D.C. in 1850, 1860, and 1870, with a wife named Charity Dodson and a large family. There is also a free Dodson family, descendants of Marjary Dodson, “a free born woman of color” in Prince George’s county. I believe these families intersect in the person of Henry Dodson, a free black man, son of Marjary, who was living with James and Charity in 1850. See Dodson Family Page for sources and for my attempt to sort it out.

I also believe that the mother of James, Lavinia, Manuel, and Richard was Susan Dodson, manumitted 5 years before Elizabeth’s will was signed. In District of Columbia Free Negro Registers 1821-1861, the abstract of her registration reads

Elizabeth Magurder, for twenty dollars, frees Susan Dodson, aged forty.

It was written on 14 September 1822 and recorded on 28 November 1823.

* * * *

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Record Group 21, Entry 111, Transcripts of Wills Probated, Vol. 3, p452-53, Will of Elizabeth Magruder (d.1827).

Prince George’s County Register of Wills (Estate Papers) 1789-1831. Estate Papers of Nathaniel Magruder. MSA C2119-60.

Dorothy Provine. District of Columbia Free Negro Registers 1821-1861, 2 vols. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1996. Registration #117; vol.1, p. 27. Abstracts from National Archives Record Group 21, District of Columbia, Washington County, Manumission and Emancipation Record, 1821-1862, 5 vols (vol. 4 missing). Registration of Susan Dodson, Vol 1, pp. 125-26.


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