Item of the Day: Lee’s Memoirs (1793)

Full Title:  Memoirs of the Life of the Late Charles Lee, Esq. Lieutenant-Colonel of the Forty-Fourth Regiment; Colonel in the Portuguese Service; Major-General and Aide de Camp to the King of Poland, and Second in Command in the Service of the United States of America During the Revolution.  To Which Are Added, His political and Military Essays. Also, Letters To and From Many Distinguished Characters, Both in Europe and America.  New-York:  Printed by T. Allen, Bookseller and Stationer, No. 12, Queen-Street. 1793.

Copy of General Lee’s Will

I, Major General Charles Lee, of the county of Berkley, in the commonwealth of Virginia, being in perfect health, and of sound mind, considering the certainty of death, and the uncertainty of the time it may happen, have determined to make this my last will and testament, in manner following:  that is to say, I give and bequeath to Alexander White, Esq. one hundred guineas, in consideration of the zeal and integrity he has displayed in the administration of my affairs, also the choice of any two of my colts or fillies under four years of age.

Item, I give and bequeath to Charles Minn Thruston, Esq. fifty guineas, in consideration of his good qualities and the friendship he has manifested for me; and to Buckner Thruston, his son, I leave all my books, and know he will make a good use of them.

To my good friend John Mercer, Esq. of Marlborough in Virginia, I give and bequeath the choice of two brood mares, of all my swords and pistols, and ten guineas to buy a ring:  I would give him more, but as he has a good estate and a better genius, he has sufficient, if he knows how to make a good use of them.

I give and bequeath to my former aid de camp, Otway Bird, Esq. the choice of another brood mare, and ten guineas for the same purpose of remembrance-ring.

I give and bequeath to my worthy friend Colonel William Grayson, of Dumfries, the second choice of two colts; and to my excellent friend William Steptoe, of Virginia, I would leave a great deal, but as he is not so rich, it would be no less than robbing my other friends who are poor.  I therefore entreat, he will only accept of five guineas, which I bequeath to him to purchase a ring of affection.

I bequeath to my old and faithful servant, or rather humble friend, Guisippi Minghini, three hundred guineas, with all my horses, mares, and colts of every kind, those abovementioned excepted; likewise all my wearing apparel and plate, my waggons and tools of agriculture, and his choice of four milch cows.

I bequeath to Elizabeth Dunn, my house-keeper, one hundred guineas and my whole stock of cattle, the four milch cows abovementioned only excepted.

I had almost forgot my dear friends, (and I ought to be ashamed of it) Mrs. Shippen, her son Thomas Shippen, and Thomas Lee, Esq. of Belle-View.  I beg they will except ten guineas each, to buy rings of affection.

My landed estate in Berkley, I desire may be divided into three equal parts, according to quality and quantity one-third part I devise to my dear friend Jacob Morris, of Philadelphia; one other third part to Evan Edwards, both my former aid de camps, and to their heirs and assigns; the other third part I devise to Eleazer Oswald, at present of Philadelphia, and William Goddard, of Baltimore, to whom I am under obligation and to their heirs and assigns, to be equally divided between them; but these devisees are not to enter until they have paid off their several legacies abovementioned with interest from the time of my death, and all taxes which may be due on my estate.  In case I should sell my said Landed estate, I bequeath the price thereof, after paying the aforesaid legacies, to the said Jacob Morris, Evan Edwards, Eleazer Oswald, and William Goddard, in the proportions abovementioned.

All my slaves, which I may be possessed of at the time of my decease, I bequeath to Guisippi Minghini and Elizabeth Dunn, to be equally divided between them.

All my other property of every kind, and in every part of the world, after my decease, funeral charges, and necessary expences of administration are paid, I give, devise, and bequeath to my sister Sidney Lee, her heirs and assigns forever.

I desire most earnestly, that I may not be buried in any church or church-yard, or within a mile of any Presbyterian or Anabaptist meeting-house; for since I have resided in this country, I have kept so much bad company when living, that I do not chuse to continue it when dead.

I recommend my soul to the Creator of all worlds and of all creatures; who must, from his visible attributes, be indifferent to their modes of worship or creeds, whehter Christians, Mahometans, or Jews; whether stilled by education, or taken up by reflection; whether more or less absurd; as a weak mortal can no more be answerable for his persuasions, notions, or even scepticism in religion, than for the colour of his skin.

And I do appoint the abovementioned Alexander White and Charles Minn Thruston, executors of this last will and testament, and do revoke all other wills by me heretofore made.  In witness whereof I have here unto set my hand and seal this                  day  of           in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two.

                                                                                                                                                              CHARLES LEE.





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Filed under 1790's, American Revolution, Charles Lee, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

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