Captain Thomas Hemphill’s Will – page 8

This is the eighth installment in a series of nine posts in which I transcribe the will of my Revolutionary War ancestor, Captain Thomas Hemphill. In the first post, we learned that Captain Thomas’ will was contested by two of his children and a son-in-law, and that the date usually seen for his death may be wrong. The copy of the contested will as it was transcribed into the court records began on page 2. Pages three and four continued the will copy and began to explain the reasons that the will was contested. Pages 5, 6, and 7 continued the court testimony 1 .

Captain Thomas Hemphill's Will, page 8


mention in his will the property he had given to his children

Henry told him it was not necessary.  He the testator then

observed that he already given his daughter Polly ninety

five or six acres of land over that he wished to give to

Rebecca about the same quantity which with what he

had given to Polly made one entire tract.  He said

he intended to give to his son Thomas the tract on which he

lived and that he had some difficulty in disposing

of his land in Georgia as it was of two great value

to give to one.  He then mentioned how he intended to

dispose of his personal property.  In the paper writing

offered as his will the land described was given to

Rebecca and the plantation on which he lived was

devised to Thomas.  It was argued for the caveators that

this was not proof of a valid will under our statute.  That

his mental and bodily weakness and loss of Sight had disable

led him from knowing whether the writing was his will

or not and having to depend on the witness for that know

ledge, they should have been able to Swear that it was read

to him and ready truly and fairly.  That Logan being acknowl

edged by those who had an interest in the will to have

made the will and not Hemphill the other witness ought

to have proved that the will was fairly read.  That a

loss of Sight or other physical incapacity to read the will

required that both witnesses Should have heard it read

and explained to him so that no one of them could have

imposed on him if desired to do so or in other words

there must be a mental presence proved by both witnesses

which to a blind man could only be affected by reading

to him.  And this must be done at the execution of the

will  The court charged the Jury that if the testator

had mind sufficient to dispose of his property rationally

and understandingly, the Law would permit him to make

a will of it, otherwise if he had been rendered from old age

Notes on page 8

No new genealogical information was presented on this page, but it does point to the crux of the court case.  Apparently Captain Thomas had already given property to some of his children and he wanted to balance out those gifts in his will.  The attorney for the plaintiffs continued to argue that Captain Thomas either did not have the capacity to make a will or that he was duped into signing a false will due to his blindness.

Frankly, this all sounds like a lot of hooey to me.  I can’t wait to see the disposition of the case.  Check back next Monday to see how this all plays out.


  1. Burke County Original Wills, Thomas Hemphill (c1824); box no. C.R. 016.801.1, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, Thomas Hemphill, 1824.
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