Casefile Clues

04 June 2014

Primogeniture and Slaves in New England in 1702

This is a wonderful deed of partition from Suffolk County, Massachusetts in 1702. It was created by the heirs with the intention of "preventing all Future difference that might arise among our Selves, or our Children after us..." That's  a very subtle way of stating it. One always wonders if some squabble precipitated documents of this type or if someone simply decided it was time.

Research in New England can be different from research in other areas of the United States-largely because better records were kept, particularly vital records. Sometimes researchers avoid using land, court, and other records, simply because so many genealogical summaries have been complied and published. These records should never be ignored.

It is even better when one runs across a document such as this one. In 1702 the heirs of John Floyd partitioned his estate amongst themselves.

His widow was to have her "thirds" and the oldest son Hugh (stated as such in the document) was also to have a double share. Both those practices were common during the time period in question. It's too bad that there were not inheritance distinctions among other children so that the complete birth order could have been determined explicitly. Seriously, there is a good chance that the children are listed in order of birth, but there is no requirement that any such specific ordering be used in records of this type

The partition also mentions several slaves owned by Floyd at his death. Most of them are referred to by name and one is even referenced as being the child of two of Floyd's slaves.

This was another little gem I copied while on my trip to the Family History Library. Never ignore original records. Neat little things like this document are often highly summarized in some published genealogies.