The following document was found in the Craven County Estate Records dated 1779.

Based on the information I have, this John SPIER (or John SPEIR) was born 1 Feb 1741, probably in Edgecombe County, and died 2 Feb 1770 in Pitt County or Craven County. He married Penelope BARBER, daughter of John BARBER or Manoah BARBER (I’m still trying to sort out those relationships based on Pitt County deeds) and they had three children:

As the estate record below explains, from the time John died in 1770, until the time this document was submitted to the court, two of John and Penelope’s children died. Only William survived, and he was placed under the guardianship of his grandfather, William SPEIR (b. Abt. 1699 in Virginia) of Pitt County.


SPIER, John (1779)

To the Honourable the Superior Court of the District of Newbern. The Petition of James Gorham and Penelope his Wife.

Humbly sheweth that John Spier late of Pitt County the said Penelopes former husband by his last will & Testament among other things did divide & bequeath as follows Viz

Item. I lend unto my beloved wife — Penelope four negroes Voilate Fans Dowry and Tatt during her natural Life and after her decease I give the said negroes and their Increase to be equally divided among my Children — Item I give & bequeath all the rest of my negroes and their increase to be equally divided among my said beloved wife & my Children born or to be born share and share alike that of the negroes lent to these Penelope Spier has born an increase of six children
Your Petitioners further she that the said Testator left three children to wit William Elizabeth & John all of whom except John — hath since departed this life infants & under age whereby the said Penelope and James Gorham who are now lawfully espoused have become entitled to a share in the said deceased Children’s value in the negroes lent to sd Penelope Spier Increase portions agreeable to the Act for Distribution of Intestates Estates

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& have in a friendly manner applied themselves to William Speir Esq. of Pitt County Grandfather & Guardian to the surviving child praying to have their Just and equal shares in the Estates of the said deceased children laid off & delivered up to them, But so it is may it please your Sons w? that the said William who is in possession of the whole Interest divided to the three Children afd. as Guardian to them under pretense that he is not advised how much or what part of the same your said petitioners are entitled to, neglects & refuses to account & satisfie them in their reasonable demands

In tender consideration whereof, and in order that a Just & equitable settlement & distribution may take place between yr petitioners & the said surviving child Yr said petitioners humbly pray that a subpena may Issue agt. the sd William Spier Guardian as afd to appear and answer on oath to the several allegations ?? set forth & that such order Judgment or Decree may pass on the premises as shall seem just and equitable and that all such other offer them relief may be granted to yr petitioners ?? and Yr Petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray

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