John Walker III (c1705-c1776)/notes

< John Walker III (c1705-c1776)

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1. The DOD of John III is known only approximately. His will is commonly dated to 1773, but the basis for this is unknown. His will was probated in 1778, in Old Washington Co, VA, indicating that he had died by that date. There is, however, reason to believe that the actual DOD was several years prior to this. In particular, a number of wills are entered into the records of Old Washington Co. in 1778. This is believed to be related to changes in inheritance laws imposed by the State Legistlature about 1776. These laws dealt with cases where an individual had claimed a parcel of land based on corn rights, or other type of warrant, and had died prior to having received full rights to the land. In frontier areas it was not uncommon for several years to pass between initial settlement, and securing final rights to the land. The new laws required that in these circumstances, the heirs of the original claimant, could secure title to the land only when a will existed that demonstrated that they were the claimants heirs. Heretofore, the need to demonstrate the existence of a will was probably not high on the list of priorities for settlers on Virginia's frontier. This new law, however, made it necessary for the existence of such wills to be established. As a result, numerous wills were entered into probate in 1778, where prior to that date, there had been none. This seems to be the case with the property owned by John III. At the time of his death he had not secured final rights to the property. John IV therefore submitted his will to the County Court, in order to demonstrate that the was indeed heir to John III, and therefore enitled to the land on Sinking Creek. Additional data that supports the idea that John III died prior to 1776 is found in the fact that his will names his son Samuel who was killed in 1776, as well as his grandson William who was captured by Indians at the same time. Since John III mentions both in his will, it is presumed that the will was written before these events. This does not necessarily prove that he did not died after 1776, but it seems likely that his death occurred before that date.

William Cowan is believed to have married Jane Walker, daughter of John Walker III and Ann Houston, about 1773. Their first child is believed to have been born in 1774. Since William Cowan witnessed John Walker III’s will it would seem likely that the will was written after his marriage in 1773. John's will mentions two grandchildren, William son of John IV, and Ann Bell daughter of Hetty/Catharine Walker and Robert Bell. It does not mention Jane Cowan born c1774 to William and Jane Cowan. This seems to restrict the date of the will to sometime in late 1773 to early 1774, and probably indicates that John III died sometime during this period, or shortly thereafter.

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