Incidents of documented name DICKERSON in the 
descendants of Benjamin and
Elizabeth Terry. 

by Margie Brown

Original Wills or Copies?

No Will in ANY Will Book in ANY county of the USA is an Original Will.....these originals are in what are called loose papers...if you go through the minute books you can often find when the Will was recorded (put in the Will Book by a copyist)., sometimes years after the date of death.

If the original Wills survived, you can get the early signatures, but if they have been lost you are left with what was put in the the Deed and Will books by the clerk of the court. That was his job. Although many a loose Will has been found that the clerk neglected to record. As to the exact rewriting of the Deed Books & Will Books, that would be a research project in its self.

This Will of Benjamin's was written 229 yrs ago, and often like you and I, there could be errors, of omission or because of difficulty reading the handwriting, or a momentary lack of concentration.

Only the original Will, could be considered "cast in stone", every step after that is prone to error. If the evidence of a Dickerson connection was less apparent we probably would never question this writing of Irby, but the 1771 time period and the definite laws concerning inheritance comes into play.

Women could only have Dower, meaning she got 1/3 benefit of the property during her lifetime, but she could not sell it or dispose of it. Elizabeth was named Executrix  she did not serve, nor was there a dower settlement. This implies that she died before the Will was settled. Now in the long run, I think that this will not make much difference, because of the loss of records of Caroline, Prince George, K&Q, this line will not be proven further back with what is left..... Sometimes we have to know when to say when.... So the goal really should be to prove back into these early lines.

As to the question of who Benjamin's wife was, you have to make a strong argument for a preponderance of evidence, or probability. I do not intend to get into a long running disagreement on this issue, let each descendant decide for themselves

Questions raised about elements in the copy of the Will

Aside from the Elizabeth Irby at the beginning of the transcription in every other mention of Elizabeth in the Will, Elizabeth is named as Elizabeth Terry and it would almost be unheard of in the 1770 time period for a man to call
his wife by her maiden name, I know of no other incident, do you? Elizabeth Terry has no dower settlement in the Pittsylvania Co books, implying the suspicion that she also has died before the estate settlement. 

One more thing, if you say the name Elizabeth Irby's name cannot be questioned in the document, then you also have to say Ben didn't have a daughter Kezia.... Of course he did and it is proven by other court why is it so difficult to believe the copyist did not make other mistakes, when he is called her Rozia not once but each time she was mentioned.? You can't have it both ways....the recorder of this Will, obviously had a difficult time reading it, look at all the interlining.

Patterns of the naming of children in Benjamin's line

Benjamin born ca 1700 died testate 1771 Pittsylvania Co, VA. I can track all of their children except for the son Joseph who was in SC in 1772.

The naming pattern in just ONE son below:

Heir-at-law son Nathaniel b 1724/25 died 1780 md 1747 in Chesterfield Co, VA Sarah Royal daughter of Joseph & Sarah (BAXTER) Royal. Their Children:


1. William b 1749 d 1810 md 1771 Susannah Thompson daughter of Wm & Rachel (Coleman) He was a Virginia legislator and an officer in the Rev. War. He died suddenly in Richmond 1810, obit in ARGUS, Susannah died 1845 was a pensioner,  [submitted the family Bible.] Among their children was DICKERSON b 25 Dec 1789 d test Halifax 1844, left no issue . There were 9 children in all.

2. Joseph b 1753 d 1817 md 1783 Sarah Coleman (Williams) [Hill] a widow of James Hill. And the daughter of John & Diane (Coleman) Williams , 6 children, two being Diane Royall and James Anthony Terry. These were named as the parents of Benjamin in the family lore of Halifax in this century.

James A. and wife Nancy are found in Carroll Co, TN. Diane md a cousin Robert  son of her Uncle Benjamin of Pittsylvania. One son, 2 daughter's.

3. Nathaniel D. b 1755 d 1837 md 1784 Ann Thompson daughter of Wm & Rachel (Coleman)  He and she both have pensions, plus a glorious lawsuit over the slaves in the 1855-1860 time period. The naming pattern is very strong in this family. One son Nathaniel DICKERSON Terry. He was called Dick by family. [source 2 Bibles and 1854 letter from KY and Court suit.] 8 other children

3. Robert b 1770 died before 1850 census md 1793 Nancy Hopkins Smith had son Nathaniel DICKERSON. This family to Henderson Co, KY [Source dozens of family letters 1809 - 1817.]

4. Royal b 1765 d 1780 unmarried

5. Nancy b 1758 d 1836 md as his 2nd 1789 Berryman Green. Daughter Elizabeth DICKERSON Green. 6 children . She md a son of her Uncle Joseph above. It is from this family that most of the incorrect family lore was started in the 1920's and 30's.[ Source Bible and Court suit]

6. Mary b 1767 d 1848 md 1786 James Thompson. A daughter Elizabeth DICKERSON Thompson., and a granddaughter by same name. [Bible record and Court suit]

7. Elizabeth DICKERSON b 1760 d bef 1806 md 1779 as his 2nd John Martin [Bible and Marriage bond] 9 ch. Son named Wm DICKERSON Martin

8. Sarah b 1763 d 1854 md 1787 Keeble Terry. No issue [Court papers, Bedford Co, TN]

All of the COLEMAN girls above were sisters, another sister Susannah Coleman md Armistead Watlington. Thompsons, Watlingtons and Colemans are out of Gloucester Co, VA.

The records are wonderful and I can track most all the Terry's out of Halifax and Pittsylvania, but if you don't go to the Court House, you never see it. And, as I said in the beginning ... there is no documented IRBY name in this Terry family to my knowledge, if anyone knows of one , I would certainly like to see it.