Henry Taylor of England and Robertville

Henry Taylor. He was a wealthy planter who also owned a good deal of stocks.

In 1827, he listed his Laurel Hill plantation and property for sale. He decided he wanted to cut back on the ownership of plantation property.



Tide Lands and Negroes for Sale.

THE Subscriber, wishing to curtail his Planting interest, offers for sale his Laurel Hill PLANTATION, on Savannah river, in South Carolina, consisting of six hundred and forty acres, in the best pitch of the tide; four hundred and fifty of which are cleared, and in good order, and was planted the last year. It bounds to the south on the estate of the late James H. Ancrum, Esq; on the north and east by Jacob Guerard, Esq.; and on the west by Savannah river. If desirable to the purchaser, the gang of Negroes, consisting of eighty, will also be sold–they are well inured to the situation, having principally been raised on tide lands, and planting Rice; mostly in families; nearly fifty of them are workers. Reference may be had by applying to JOHN P. WILLINNON {NOTE: Should read WILLIAMSON}, Esq. in Savannah, or to the subscriber, near Robertville, Black Swamp, South Carolina.


January 18

When he was about 60 years old, he married 16-year-old Mary Carolina Robert of Robertville. She was the daughter of Benjamin Nathaniel Robert and Eliza Paisly. In 1840 she presented him with a son, Henry Jr.

In 1841, Henry Sr. died.


Image from ancestry.com

Valuation of Sundry articles belonging to Estate late Henry Taylor Esq. made by order Executor John P. Williamson Esq.

1 negro Woman Molly 500.00

1 negro Man John 500.00

1 negro Woman Phoebe 300.00

1 negro Boy John 400.00

1 negro Boy Fayton 300.00

1 negro Boy Adam 250.00

1 negro Girl Molly 200.00

1 negro Girl Nancy 150.00

1 negro Girl Phoebe 150.00

1 negro Boy Henry 100.00

1 negro Child Frances 50.00


How do we know these so many details about Henry?

Because in 1847, there is a newspaper account of a court case. His widow had remarried, a Mr. Wilkins.

Charleston_Courier_1847-05-25_Court Case RobertMaryCaroline

G. A. Wilkins and Caroline M., his Wife, vs. Jno. M. Taylor, et al.–This is a most curious and interesting case. HENRY TAYLOR was an Englishman born, but, migrating to this country, he was naturalized in Georgia, January 11, 1807. He owned a very large estate in both Georgia and South-Carolina, and lived in the latter State about 30 hears, towards the latter part of his life. It consisted principally of Laurel Hill, a plantation, and negroes, in St. Peter’s Parish, South Carolina, and of money and stocks in Savannah and Liverpool. His second wife, whom he married not long before his death, and when he had reached the age of three-score years, was a young lady of St. Peter’s Parish, Beaufort District, in this State, named MARY CAROLINE ROBERT, who was just blooming into womanhood, at the tender age of 16 years. Several years before his death he had sold out all his real estate, in South-Carolina, and returned to England, with a view of permanent residence there. Some difficulties, however, in the arrangement of his monetary concerns, called him back to this country, and he was obliged to re-possess himself of his plantation in Beaufort District, in consequence of non-payment of the purchase money The July before his death, his youthful wife presented him with an heir to his name and fortune; and the certificate of baptism, by the officiating Clergyman, described the child (he dictating the words) as son of HENRY TAYLOR and MARY CAROLINE TAYLOR, of South-Carolina. Returning South, he took lodgings, at first, at the Pulaski House in Savannah, and then resided “in his own hired house,” in that city, where he died, on the 19th Jan. 1841. By his will, date January 24th, 1840, describing himself, as HENRY TAYLOR of South-Carolina, he directed his whole estate, real and personal, to be sold, and $30,000 thereof to be invested in stock, for the use and benefit of his wife, during her life, and, after her death for his children; and the bulk of the residue of the estate he directed to be invested for the benefit of his children, by her, liberally allowing her $700 a year, for the maintenance and education of each of them. He left, however, but one child, HENRY TAYLOR, a minor. The testator named his friend, JOHN P. WILLIAMSON, of Savannah, his nephew JNO. M. TAYLOR, of Pipe Creek, South-Carolina, and his friends ANDREW LOW and WM. SMITH, of Liverpool, his Executors. The execution of the will was attested to by JOHN P. WILLIAMSON, (the Georgia Executor,) J. BALFOUR and AMOS SCUEDER. In Georgia, the will was admitted to probate, and J. P. WILLIAMSON qualified and acted as Executor; and the instrument has been adjudged, in the State, to be good and valid as to both real and personal estate. There was, however, nothing but personally, chiefly in stocks in that State. The will was also admitted to probate in solemn form, in this State, by the Ordinary of Beaufort District. An appeal was taken from that decision to the court of  Common Pleas, before WARDLAW, Justice. Two questions were made, first as to the domicile of the testator, which the Jury found to be in this State, and secondly, whether the Executor, J. P. WILLIAMSON, was a competent witness to prove the will, (he taking no legacy or other interest, beyond his commissions as Executor, uder the will,) under the State of 25 Geo. 2 c. 6 (2 Stat. 580) avoiding legacies or other interest, given to witnesses of wills, and making the wills good Judge WARDLAW held the British Statute to be in force in this State, ruled the witness competent under it, and directed judgment to be entered in favor of the will.

From this decision an appeal was taken and ultimately carried up to the Court of Errors, on the ground “that the case is not within the Stat. of Geo. 2, even if that Statute be of force in South-Carolina, and that J. P. WILLIAMSON was not a competent attesting witness to the paper propounded as the will of HENRY TAYLOR. ”

The case was ably and eloquently argued by J. L. PETIGRU and WM. C. PRESTON, Esquires, for the appellate, testator’s widow, and by R. DE TREVILLE and W. F. COLCOCK, Esquires, for the appellee, JNO. M. TAYLOR, the named executor in this State.

The Court of Errors, per FROST, J., in May 1845, adjudged that, although in England, an executor, who takes no legacy or other interest under a will, is a competent witness to prove it, in an issue between the heir and devisee; and, prior to Stat. 1, Victoria, c. 26, an executor, with like exemption of interest, or who had released, and who was not a necessary party by having made probate of the will was admitted, in the Ecclesiastical Courts, in support of a will of personal property; yet, in this State, his right to commissions creates an interest which renders him an incompetent witness for that purpose. It was also adjudged that, although the Stat. of Geo. 2, was of force to this State, wills of personal estate were not within the mischief or the remedy of that Statute, either at the time of tits passage or its adoption in this (then) Province, as no attesting witnesses were then necessary to their execution. The judgment of the majority of the Court was–“That one appointed Executor, by his right to commissions, takes an interest by the will, which renders him an incompetent attesting witness, under the act of 1824, (requiring the same form of attestation to wills of personal estate as to those of real estate); and that the Stat. 25, Geo. 2, c. 6., is in force in this State, but the competency of the attesting witness (to a will of personal estate) is not thereby restored.”

JOHNSON and DUNKIN, Chancellors, concurred.

RICHARDSON, J. and HARPER, Ch., were absent at the hearing; but the former heard the argument in the Law Court of Appeals, before the case was ordered to the Court of Errors.

O’NEALL, J., delivered a separate opinion, concurring in the incompetency of the Executor to attest the will, but dissenting as to the Stat. of George 2, being of force in this State.

JOHNSON, Ch., concurred except as to the power of the British Parliament to enact laws for the government of the State, when a British colony.

RICHARDSON, J., concurred.

EVANS, J., dissented on the ground that the Statute of George 2, was of force in this State, and restored the competency of the Executor as a witness by avoiding his Executorship.

BUTLER, J., concurred.

WARDLAW, J., dissented in an elaborate opinion, maintaining his views on Circuit.

After this decision, which only settled the question as to the personal estate in South-Carolina, and the intestacy of HENRY TAYLOR as to the same, whereby one-third devolved on his widow, and two-thirds on his infant son, the letters testamentary to J. M. TAYLOR were revoked and administration of HENRY TAYLOR’S estate granted to the Rev. PEYTON L. WADE; and the widow intermarried with G. A. WILKINS of New York.

The contest next arose as to the effect of the will on the real estate. G. A. WILKINS and CAROLINE M., his wife, filed their bill and supplemental bill in Equity originally against J. P. WILLIAMSON, Ex’or of H. TAYLOR, and, he dying, they revived it against J. M. TAYLOR, the Executor who had proved the will and qualified in South Carolina, HENRY TAYLOR, the minor, and the REV. PEYTON L. WADE, Administrator of HENRY TAYLOR, deceased, to try the question at issue.

The Circuit Decree, entered pro forma, supported the validity of the will as to the real estate.

On appeal, however, to the Equity Court of Appeals, the Court, per HARPER, Ch., adjudged that the will, having directed all the lands of testator to be sold, and converted into money or personally, was to be construed altogether as a will of personal estate, and that the law Court, (which the Equity Court was bound by law to follow,) having decided this very will to be void as to the personal estate, it was equally void as to the realty, converted by its own provisions into personalty. The Circuit Decree, will, therefore, reversed–J. JOHNSTON and DUNKIN, Chancellors, concurring.

The result of this Decree is that HENRY TAYLOR, deceased, died intestate, as to both his real and personal estate in S. Carolina, and the same goes one-third to this widow and two thirds to his son.

But, the will having been adjudged valid in Georgia, the property there goes according to the will, and a difficult and complication, yet to be adjudged, arises as to the $30000 bequeathed the widow for life, which, we understand, will be litigated before the Judiciary of Georgia.

This is a detailed account of the period after Henry Taylor’s death. I’ll attempt to transcribe at a later date, because it is late and I am tired.

While I was poking around ancestry.com last night, I found more details about the will, inventory, and settlement of Henry Sr.’s estate. Lots of details.

TaylorHenry WillTaylorHenry Will P2 and P3TaylorHenry Will P4

For tonight, I’ll end by saying that Henry’s last remaining executor hired an attorney who was none other that Alexander Robert Lawton, a native of Robertville who moved to Savannah, who was also a cousin of Henry’s widow. Remember him? His grandmother was Sarah Robert Lawton, a sister to Mary Caroline Robert’s great-grandfather John Robert.


Strange how time and tide draw us closer together.


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