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The Petition of Amos and Patsey Hart Watkins

Henry Hart and his wife, Ann, died sometime before July 1812 leaving four children, Patsey Hart Watkins, and Peggy, Polly and Hamlin Hart. Neither Henry nor Ann left a will so it was necessary for Amos Watkins and his wife, Patsey Hart Watkins, to petition the Sussex County, Virginia court to allow Henry Hart's property to be sold at auction so that the proceeds could be divided equally between all four of his children. Henry's property consisted of ninety acres of land and a slave named Jack. The court agreed to this petition, and both the land and the slave were subsequently sold to Amos with the proceeds of the sale being divided among the four siblings.

This transcription is as accurate as could be made considering the lack of clarity of the writing and the various unknown abbreviations used throughout the document.

Petition of Amos Watkins and Patsey Hart Watkins

To the worshipful Court of Sussex County in Chancery sitting, humbly complaining shew unto your Worships your orator and oratrix, Amos Watkins and Patsy Watkins, his wife, late Patsey Hart, daughter of Henry Hart, deceased, that the said Henry Hart, father of your oratrix, departed this life in the County of Sussex on the --- day of --- in the year of our Lord ----, intestate, seized of a tract of land being in the said county containing ninety acres and possessed of negro man named Jack – that the said Henry Hart, at the time of his death, left a widow, Ann Hart, and four children, to wit, your oratrix Patsey, Peggy Hart, Polly Hart and Hamlin Hart; which said Peggy, Polly and Hamlin are all infants under the age of twenty-one years and are prayed to be made defendants to this bill – your orator and oratrix believe (?) further .... to the court, that since the death of Captain Henry Hart, the said Ann Hart, his widow, hath also departed this life intestate, so that the title to the said tract of land containing ninety acres as aforesaid and the said Negro man, Jack, has become entirely vested in your orator and oratrix, and the above mentioned infant children of the said Henry Hart, deceased, your orator and oratrix, also beg leave to state to the court that a sale of the said tract of land and the said Negro man, Jack, will be necessary in order to make a division among the heirs, as the said land will not yield a dividend exceeding $100 to each heir and as the said Negro man, Jack, is unsusceptible of a division in kind.  In tender consideration whereof and because matters of this sort are properly cognizable in a Court of Equity so the end therefore that the said Peggy Hart, Polly Hart and Hamlin Hart may be compelled to answer all and singular the allegations of this bill fully perfectly and unevasively that Your Worships will desire that the said tract of land and the said Negro man, Jack, may be sold at public auction on such credit as may be thought proper and the proceeds of the said sale divided equally between your orator and oratrix and the said Peggy Hart, Polly Hart and Hamlin Hart, infant children of the said Henry Hart, deceased, that any other and general relief may be granted in the  premises which may be found consistent with equity and good conscience.  May it please etc., in duty bound, your orator and oratrix will ever pray.

(signed)  Amos Watkins
Patsey Watkins

The joint and separate arrears (?) of Peggy, Polly and Hamlin Hart, the infant children of Henry Hart, deceased, to the foregoing bill of complaint exhibited against them by Amos Watkins and Patsy, his wife--the said defendants by James Coker, their guardian, saving and answering same for answer there to sayeth that they admit the allegations therein contain to be true and have no objection to any decree which the wisdom of the court may make in relation to the same having answered the court, they pray to be hence dismissed.

(signed) James Coker

Amos Watkins and Patsey, his wife complainants
vs
Peggy Hart, Polly Hart and Hamlin Hart, infant children of Henry Hart, deceased


This cause was this day docketed by consent of parties and assent of the court and came on to be heard upon the bill, the answer of the defendants by their guardian and arguments of council, whereupon the court doth adjudged, order and decree  that John Nicholson, Thomas Heath and Lemuel White, or any two of them, sell at public auction on a credit of twelve months a tract of land lying and being in the County of Sussex, containing ninety acres of which Henry Hart, late of the same county, deceased and that they convey the same tract of land to the purchaser (unknown word) take bonds with (unknown word) security for the purchase money and divide the same equally between the complainants in sight of the complainant, Patsey and the defendants.  It is further adjudged, ordered and decreed that the commissioners above mentioned, or any two of them, sell at public auction on a credit of twelve months, a Negro man named Jack, of which the said Henry Hart did possess taking bonds with approved security for the purchase money and divide the same equally between the complainants (in sight of the complainant, Patsey) and the defendants, and that they make report of their actions and doings in this behalf to the court in order to give a final decree. 

July 1812, by consent,  intestate decree
February 1813, report returned and filed

Final Report of Commissioners

Agreeable to they [sic] within decree, we, the undersigned Commissioners exposed to sale on twelve-month's credit the land within mentioned; whereupon Amos Watkins became the purchaser to the amount of $338.22; to whom we have assigned $84.55 1/2 cents, in sight of his wife, Patsey, and taken from him three separate bonds of that amount being the proportion due each of the defendants, Peggy, Polly and Hamlin Hart from said sale. 

(signed) Jonathan Nicholson, Thomas D. Heath and Lemuel White

We the undersigned have also exposed to sale on the same terms, the Negro man Jack, within named; where upon Amos Watkins became the purchaser to the amount of $150 to whom we have assigned $37.50 in sight of his wife Patsey and taken from him three separate bonds of that amount, being the proportion due each of the defendants, Peggy, Polly and Hamlin Hart from said sale.

(signed) Jonathan Nicholson, Thomas D. Heath



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