Following the trail of the George Fox’s of Hunterdon County, I have come to the will of George No. 3, who was born c.1700 in England, came to America with his parents, George and Jane Palmer Fox, and died in Kingwood Township, Hunterdon County in 1754.
He wrote his will on April 27, 1754, describing himself as George Fox of Kingwood, yeoman, being very sick and weak of body. He was 53 years old. To his wife Mary he left all his movable estate, requesting that she allow their sons the use of a team (of horses) to carry on the business of his mills. He also requested that if she was still in possession of these items (the movable estate, otherwise known as personal property), that she divide them as she saw proper among his daughters. This is the only mention in his will of his daughters. He did not name them.
George Fox stipulated that if his wife were to remarry, then “all the horses except one which she shall chuse” should be left to the executors to divide among the heirs. He ordered that if it was necessary to sell land to pay his debts and to “carry on the affairs of the mills,” the executors should sell the part adjacent to Joshua Waterhouse’s land, which was the furthest away from Route 519, “or else land that I lately took up.” I have no record of land purchases shortly before 1754.
The next item in the will is the most problematic. It reads: “I will that Mary my wife shall have the use of my lands and Dwelling house and other Buildings till My Sons come to the age of Twenty one Years.” It is logical to conclude from this that all his sons were born after 1733. However, at the end of the will, he named sons George and Gabriel as his sole executors, without any adult supervision. If they were not yet 21 years of age, they must have been very close to it. There is no problem with Gabriel, who is thought to have been born in 1736. However his son George was probably born closer to 1729, based on the date of his death and presumed ages of his children. A birth date of 1734 is commonly given for him, but I have my doubts.
Fox made specific bequests to his sons. To beloved son George, undoubtedly his eldest son, he gave five acres of land “to be Surveyed off the upper end of my land joyning his plantation on which he now liveth in one year after my Decease in his actual possession.” This certainly implies that son George was an adult, living on his own, probably on a tract of land given to him earlier out of the northern portion of the Stanbury lot. In fact, George had probably married his wife Rachel by 1750, which makes it odd that he would be under 21 years old. George Sr. made no mention of grandchildren.
To his “Dearly beloved son Ambros” (who was probably about 17 years old) he bequeathed one half of his lands except for “ten acres of Land which is to Go with my half the mills Except my Executors See proper to Sell part for the use as above said then he to it.” (Who wrote that?) He was to receive this property two years after turning 21. He did not mention who owned the other half interest.
To “Dear Son Amos” (age 15), he left the other half of land left to son Ambrose, without stipulation as to when it came into his possession.
To “dear son Absalom” (probably about 20 years old) George Fox left all his rights and interest in a saw mill and a grist mill, which was in fact only a half interest, with ten acres “most convenient to said mills.” This was to be in his possession when he turned 21.
At the end of the will, he noted that if the value of the mills came to more than the value of his land, then the difference should be made up to Ambrose and Amos. And if the reverse, then Absalom was to pay his brothers the difference.
An excerpt from the Beers Atlas for the Milltown area in 1873. Fox’s home was probably near the Kingwood Hotel, on the east side of the road. His mill was south of Milltown, perhaps near where “G. Mill” is shown on the Lackatong Creek. Please note that the map has been rotated. North is off to the upper right. (For a larger view, just click on the map. When you’re done, click on your browser’s previous-window button.)
Continuing with the will, to “Dear son Gabriel” (age 16), George Fox left only £5. This is certainly puzzling, since he had named Gabriel an executor along with son George. At 16, Gabriel was too young to have already acquired property, and would appear to be way too young to administer an estate.
The will was witnessed by Malakiah Bonham, Nehemiah Bonham, and William Lock. George Fox died probably in June of 1754, at the age of 53, in Kingwood, Hunterdon, NJ. On June 24th, the will was recorded, and on June 31st, an inventory was made by Malakiah Bonham and Richard Green. Not long afterwards, George and Gabriel Fox, as executors, sold off 76 acres to John Waterhouse [Lequear 53].
Mary Fox, widow of George, survived him 15 years, dying in 1769, at the age of 62 (I do not know the source of this date). As far as I can tell, she left no estate, and did not remarry. Her husband’s will required that during her widowhood, she have the use of his lands and dwelling house and other buildings. Also, she shall “have the Benefit of their Lodging and apperell during the whole term Except She shall think Proper to bind them to trades that is Left to her discretion.” Fox did not mean that his wife could wear his children’s clothes, but that she would be allowed to have, as in get, clothes for her children. It is interesting that he thought the children should be “put to trades.” One would expect that the boys would have already been working at the Fox mills. George stipulated in his will that his wife “have her living with my son Amos, and out of his share if she remains my widow.”
Next post will discuss some of the children of George and Mary Fox.