I have been researching Arthur Butler, my 5th great-grandfather for close to a decade. Tonight, I went to reference something in his will, and realized I’ve never actually transcribed the thing. I’ve read it countless times, but that doesn’t help any of my cousins who descend from Arthur, does it?

This will is wonderful, because it names so many landmarks in old Swift Creek, including the Bay Bush, the Great Branch, and the Folly Bridge. (My grandparents’ farm is on Hwy 118, and the old Folly Road runs right through the middle of their farm in parallel to 118.) Arthur’s will also mentions well-known Swift Creek surnames like Averitt, Chapman, Weatherington (Witherington) and Roach.

Arthur must not have written this, as he signs with an “X” as his mark. In fact, I think he may have been unable to write. As such, it appears that John Chapman actually wrote this will. I love some of the creative spelling, like “cough” for “cow” and “firnitude” for “furniture.”

It is challenging to read in places, because the writing is quite faded in areas, and other places have creases or are torn.

Nevertheless, I hope this will be of interest to other Arthur Butler researchers. I think he’s one of my absolute favorite ancestors.


State of North Carolina , Craven County.

In the name of God Amen! I Arthur Butler of the state and County aforesaid being in a low state of health, but of a sound and perfect mind and memory blessed be God do this the twenty third day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty one make and publish this my last will and testament in manner following that is to say.

First I lend to my loving wife Sarah Butler all my lands that I now posess and all my stock of all sorts also all my household & kitchen firnitude and plantation tools during her natural life and after her death to be distributed as I shall hereafter mentioned.

First I give unto my son Frederick Butler all the land I own on the north side of the Grate branch and Baybus adjoining the plantation where I now live and including said plantation after the death of my wife the Foley Bridg branch next to the plantation where I now live that leads from the Grate branch into the Bay bush is to be the lower line of said Frederick’s lot of land.

I also give & bequeath until my loving daughter Sally Averitt the land I bought of Charles Roach adjoining Roundtrees lands on the South Side of swift Creek at the death of her mother.

Next I give and bequest unto my loving daughter Rachel Spears one hundred acres of land on the south side of the great branch more or less adjoining John Weatherington’s lands the lower line of said lot of land is to run with the dividing fence between Spears and Weatherington and then straight on the same course toward Jonas(?) Bay back to my corner a Laurel? standing near the ??? then with my back line to a branch which is nearest on the west side of the the said [illegible] field then down Said Branch to the Grate Branch Bridge then down the Grate Branch to the Corner whic includs the Lines Round of Rachel Spearses Lot of my Land.

Also, I Give and Bequeth unto my Son Jacob Butler all the Land I own on the South Side of the Baybush that I have not yet mentioned which Land Lies Joining John Chapmans Land and James Spearses Land and the aforeseaid Foley Bridge Branch and Baybush which is Frederick Butler’s Lines of his Lot of my Same

I also Giv and Bequith to my daughter Mary Wiggins fifty acres of Land Lying in the Creek Swamp ajoining of Elizabeth Fillingames and Charles Roach and Rontree Lands and forty acres Land more or less ajoining Henery Harrises and John? Weatherington’s Land which includes the old School house

I also Impower and appoint my Executors of this [illegible] make Charles Butler a good & Lawful [illegible] to fifty acres of land on the North Side of Swifts Creek which Land I have promist to make him a good Right to and I never did to make Said Butler [illegible] Right I impower my Executors to do so

I also Giv to my daughter Sally Averit one Cough and Calf and one feather Bead and firnitude

I also Giv to my daughter Mary Wiggins one featherbead and firnitude

Also I give to my Sons, Frederick and Jack Butler one feather Bead and firntude apeac

also I Giv to my Loving wife, Sarah Butler one note which I hold against John Cobb for one hundred and fifty dollers

All the Rest of my Stock of all Sorts and all my plantation tools and hous hold and Kitchen firnitude that hath not been mentioned of Befor I Leave to be Soale at [illegible] Sail after my wifes death and the money that [illegible] from Said sale is [illegible] to my Son Jacob Butler to Support him in Concequince of his being a Cripel.

and I hereby make and ordain my Loving Son Frederick Butler and David Averit Exectors of this my Last will and testament in witness whereof I the Said Arther Butler to have to this my Last will and testament Set my hand and Seal the day and year above written.

Signed, Sealed published and decleard by the Said Arther Butler the testator as his Last will and Testament in the presents of us who were present at the time of Signing and Sealing thereof

John Chapman                                               Arther { his X mark } Butler { Seal }
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Isaac {his x mark } Su? [page is torn – possibly Sutton?]

Craven County Court – August Term – A.D. 1823

The forgoing last Will and Testament of Arthur Butler deceased is offered for probate and the execution by said testator is proved in open court and in due form of law by the oath of John Chapman one of the Subscribing Witneses thereto. Frederick Butler and David Averitt appear and qualify as Executors.

Attest J. G Stanly Clerk


From Craven County Will Book C – pp 263-264

Will of Arthur Butler, Craven County - 1823 p1 Will of Arthur Butler, Craven County - 1823 p2 Will of Arthur Butler, Craven County - 1823 p3