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William Estill m. Martha Jennings 1787 NJ - Parents?
Posted by: mike browder (ID *****2352) Date: January 14, 2006 at 23:10:15
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Every now and then, I get an email from someone asking if I have any documentation for John Estill and Rebecca Christian of Augusta County, Virginia, being the parents of a William Estill, born 1764 in either New York or New Jersey, who married a Martha Jennings in 1787 and then moved to Fleming County, Kentucky.

I believe the information floating around online citing his relationship is in error, for the following reasons:

The families of both John Estill and Rebecca Chrstian were in Augusta County, Virginia by 1745 (documented). John Estill rented land in Augusta County in 1765 (documented) and had land surveyed in that county in 1766 (documented). This certainly gives him time to have gone to New Jersey and married Rebecca and had a son in 1764, then moved back to Augusta, but this seems very unlikely.

This William Estill, at the age of 23, married Martha Jennings in New Jersey in 1787. Apparently, right after the marriage, they moved to Kentucky. Does it make sense that John and Rebecca (who was underage at the time - her father, John Christian, continues to appear in Augusta County, Virginia records from 1762 - 1768, including the year 1764 [documented]) would go to New Jersey to get married and have a child, then immediately return to Augusta County, Virginia, and then their son would return to New Jersey, get married, and then move to Kentucky?

John Estill died in 1780. His will, written several years earlier (1774 in Botetourt [later Greenbrier] Virginia), names only his wife, Rebecca, and daughter Priscilla.

After John died, his widow, Rebecca, was appointed guardian of his daughter Priscilla. There is no record of any other children of John Estill having a guardian appointed. If William Estill, who would have been 16 when John died, was a son of John Estill and Rebecca Christian, he would have inherited all of John's undevised land. Being under age, he certainly would have had a guardian appointed. Perhaps William returned to New Jersey prior to his father's death, and he was appointed a guardian there. Has anyone found a guardians bond for William in New Jersey (or anywhere else)?

Since John Estill did not have any living (legitimate) children at he time of his death, his brother, Boud Estill, inherited his undevised land in accordance with the inheritance laws of the time (documented). Since title to land passed to the heir automatically upon the death of the testator (or intestate) outside of the probate process or the courts, William, had he been John's son, would have become the owner of these lands. The only way to dispose of inherited land was by deed (only personal propoerty could be renounced), and there is no record of any William Estill selling any land that belonged to John Estill.

Some of these same sources indicate John Estill had a son named James born 1783 in New Jersey. Since John was dead as of December 1780, this is obviously not the case.

The William Estill who married Martha Jennings in New Jersey in 1787 may well have been the son of a John Estill, but it was not the John Estill who married Rebecca Christian and lived in Augusta and Greenbrier, Virginia.

If anyone has any documentation that would prove any of this wrong, please let me know.

mike browder




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