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September 6, 2015

The Will of William W. Swain Sr. (with images of the original will)

I have wanted to see the actual will of William W. Swain Sr. for as long as I've been interested in family history. The first time I entered his name in a search engine 15 years ago and discovered the amount of information on the internet about the Swain family I also found a transcription of William's will. I couldn't, however, seem to get my hands on an actual copy, and the more I researched this family the more questions I had about the will. So when ancestry.com sent a couple emails this week about their new wills and probate records that are now online I couldn't wait to see if perhaps my William Swain's will was in their collection! Sure enough SUCCESS!!

This will belongs to William W. Swain who was born around 1783 in North Carolina, married Rebecca Williamson in Georgia in 1808 and then moved to Lincoln, Henderson, and finally McNairy, Tennessee. He lived in McNairy for nearly 30 years. There has been much confusion about this William W. Swain's children. Some have said his son William who was named in this will was born in 1800 and married a Rachel Anderson. This will further proves that his son William is actually the William Swain born in 1826 that married Mary Martha Caroline Alexander. (see page 3 of the will). It also was written in 1861 (probably right after his wife Rebecca died) NOT 1871 which would explain why his sons William and Edwin were still listed on the original will. Both died after 1861. There are also 3 additions to the original will. The one that is most interesting to me is the one where he mentions his deceased son William and lists the remaining heirs of his son's household (which are the children of William and Mary Alexander Swain).  He also names the wife of his deceased son William. (YAY for more proof!!!)

From this will it's safe to say that:
WW Swain, son of William & Rebecca Williamson Swain, married a Mary [Alexander] and had the following children:
Cornelia [Sarah P C Swain], Deonitia [Nancy D L Swain], Milus, William H., Permilla.


I love original records!! Here are updated transcriptions of each of the pages of the will.
Here's the link to the file on ancestry.com: Will of William W. Swain Sr. of McNairy, Tennessee


In the name of God. Amen.
I William Swain Sr. of the County of McNairy and State of Tennessee, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make and publish this my last will and testament hereby revoking and making void all other and former wills by me at any time heretofore made.

First - I direct that my funeral expenses and all my just debts be paid as soon as possible out of any moneys of which I may die possessed or which may first come into the hands of my executor herein after named.

Secondly - I will and bequeath to my daughters, Lucinda Brown, Patsey Melton, Sylvania Page, Vernetta Brown, and Matilda Graves, to their sole and separate use, free from the debts of their husbands all the real estate of which I may die seized, to be equally divided between them. To have and to hold said lands after and during their natural lives and at their death to go to their children.

Thirdly - I will and direct that all the personal property of which I may die possessed shall be sold and the proceeds divided as follows, to each of my said daughters, named in the 2nd clause of this will I give the sum of two hundred dollars if living or if any of them be dead then the children of such of one dead to have the share to which their mother would have been entitled if living. The balance to be divided

 amongst all my children, except that the share of my son E.C. Swain shall be chargeable with the sum of fifty dollars (which sum I have recently paid as security for him) and the share of my son Wm W. Swain shall be chargeable with the sum of forty dollars , for a waggon, which sums shall be deducted from the respective shares of said EC and WW Swain and the fifty dollars to go to Patsey Melton and the forty dollars to be divided amongst all my said daughters.

Fourthly - I have heretofore given to my sons WW Swain, EC Swain, and RP Swain in land and other property what I consider an equal share of my estate and direct that they receive nothing more, except as above in the third clause of this will, I considering what they have already received an equal share with my said daughters.

Lastly - I hereby nominate and appoint my sons WW Swain & RP Swain executors of this my last will and testament given under my hand and seal 19th September 1861.
William W. Swain seal

Signed sealed and published in our presence and we have hereto set our hands as witnesses in the presence of the testator and at his request date above written.
Witness: Calvin Shull [or Spruill??]
Alfred Moore


 I hereby execute this as a codicil to the foregoing will to wit, I give and devise to the children of WW Swain decd to wit, Cornelia, Deonitia, MILUS, William H and Permilla Swain the one hundred acres of which I have permitted my son the said WW Swain to cultivate lying adjoining his , and being the one hundred acres on which I formerly lived, the widow of said WW Swain to have possession of the same during her life or widowhood 2nd Jany 1866.
William W. Swain  x his mark

Signed and published in our presence and we have subscribed our names as witnesses in the presence and at the request of the testator.
J.F. McKinney
W.D. Jopling

I hereby execute this as a 2nd codicil to the foregoing will, to wit, I consider that I have given to Matilda Graves my daughter and her children their full share of my estate and my will and desire is that my said daughter Matilda and her children shall have nothing more of my estate either of real or personal property. This 24th day of Decbr 1866
William W. Swain x his mark

Signed and published in our presence and we have subscribed our names as witnesses in the presence and at the request of the testator date above.
J.F. McKinney
GM Moore

 I hereby execute this as a 3rd codicil to my last will and testament to wit, the tract of land which I have given to my son W.W. Swain, I direct shall be rented out after my death until the rent shall amount to one hundred dollars, (my said son WW Swain owing me this amount) said sum to be equally divided as before provided in my said will and codicils, said land after the payment of said sum to give to Mary Swain widow of W.W. Swain during his life or widowhood and at her death to the children of said WW Swain and their heirs forever.
William W. Swain  x his mark

Signed sealed and published in our presence this 23rd day of July 1867
Witness: C Shull,CG _______

William Swain Sr.
Will & Testament

Entered Oct Term 1871
pages 695-6-697

The within will with the several codices was proven by the subscribed witnesses & _____ in open court Oct term 1871.