John Howe Peyton's Montgomery Hall



John Howe Peyton suffered a stroke in August, 1845 after which he resigned from the Virginia Senate. Peyton mostly recovered from this stroke. He suffered a second stroke in 1846 that left him paralyzed, but mentally capable and able to speak. Peyton died April 3, 1847, less than a year after dictating his will. William Madison Peyton and John Lewis Peyton qualified as executors. William Madison Peyton later delegated all duties to brother. John Brown Baldwin, John Howe Peyton’s son-in-law, later qualified and assumed sole responsibility as executor. After Baldwin’s death in 1873, George Moffett Cochran, by then the husband of John Howe Peyton’s daughter, Margaret Lynn, administered the estate until final settlement.


Transcription below by Jane Gray Avery from a copy in Will Book 27 in the Augusta County Courthouse and an additional, original copy of Peyton’s will:



I John Howe Peyton, a native of Stafford County, but now of the County of Augusta and Same State, being duly impressed with the uncertainty of human life, and owing to my having been twice married, desirous of making a will; do this 2nd day of May 1846, make this my last will and Testament.


1st I desire my executors, if I should die at home, or at any convenient distance, to deposit my remains without pomp or parade in the Episcopal burying ground in Staunton, between my mother and my first wife; having already appropriated by enclosure, sufficient ground for that purpose; and to erect plain marble slabs designating the spot where each lies.


2nd As it regards my worldly estate: after payment of all my Just debts I dispose of the same as follows: Having already advanced to my son by my first wife, Wm M Peyton of Roanoke, that portion of my estate to which I consider him in equity and Justice entitled, and he being in easy circumstances, it is not my intent or will that he have any more of the property which I now hold or may hereafter hold, or die possessed of, except my present riding horse. I do this, as he well knows, not from want of affection, but to fulfil my Ideas of Justice towards my other children. I own six hundred acres of land in the Valley of the Sweet Springs in Monroe County- three hundred thereof devised to my wife by her father John Lewis decd of Sweet Springs, and the residue purchased by me from Higginbotham, Hogshead, Ware and John Herbert-I own a house and lot in the Town of Harrisonburg and County of Rockingham-I own Several houses and lots in Staunton, viz: one occupied by John B. Baldwin and wife, the 2nd by my son John L. Peyton, the 3rd by John Dull, and the 4th on which there is a stable and garden occupied by John Baldwin, and the 5th is a lot lying between Dull’s and John Baldwin’s garden. I own, where I now reside, two tracts making together 820 acres-I own of State bonds and university bonds assumed by the State, and of James River & Kanawha bonds guaranteed by the State, twelve thousand two hundred and ninety five dollars: The State bonds and the university bonds will be found in my Strong box-The James River & Kanawha, will be found in the Farmers Bank of Virginia; and Wm H. McFarland, its President, has been in the habit of drawing for me the Semiannual interest thereof-I own ten shares in the James River and Kanawha Co. Three shares in the Staunton and Scotsville turnpike-five shares in the Staunton and Winchester macadamized road-Six shares in the Warm Springs Mountain turnpike, and ten shares in the New Shenandoah company-together with outstanding debts and Slaves, besides other bonds in Augusta and Alleghany and other personal property not heretofore mentioned. Out of my property I make the following disposition:


I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Ann M. Peyton, during life and widowhood, the tract of land on which I reside near Staunton, including the Fenton tract-together with four negro men and four negro women to be selected by herself from all I may own in Augusta County, at the time of my decease-also my carriage and carriage horses-my mule team, my house hold and kitchen furniture-my wheat machine and a sufficiency of plantation utensils, to enable her to carry on the farm during the minority of my children-also a dozen cattle, a dozen sheep and a dozen hogs, to be selected by herself, on the farm on which I reside. I also give to my wife my range farm in Augusta, embracing two tracts on the great Calf Pasture-one containing 211 acres called the Ailer place, and the other lying contiguous to the former and containing 900 acres-And to provide a fund in aid of the property embraced in the preceding clauses of my will, for the support of my wife and the education and support of my unmarried children. I direct my Executors to rent out my lands hereafter devised to my son Yelverton in Alleghany county, during his minority-I also direct them to hire out, or to sell, as they think will most conduce to the interest of my family, all my Slaves not herein specifically disposed of-I also empower my executors to sell the 600 acres of land above described, lying in the Sweet Spring Valley-also my house and lot in Harrisonburg, and my house and lots in the town of Staunton, the purchase money to be invested in an interest bearing fund. I wish my executors to collect the Semiannual interest on my State bonds and university bonds and the James River & Kanawha bonds, and the interest on my outstanding debts, when they may consider the debt well secured-but when they deem them or any one unsafe, they will collect principal and interest and reinvest the principal, upon landed security-and to apply one third of the proceeds arising from rents, interest, hire and dividends on my road Stocks, to the support of my wife, while she continues unmarried, and to the maintenance education, and support of my unmarried children-The remaining two thirds of said profits, to be applied, if necessary, to the same purpose as above named. If there should be a surplus of these profits, of which I have no doubt, if economically used, it is my desire that, my executors convert it into some productive fund or mortgages upon real estate, and thereby constitute it, an interest bearing fund; the interest of which may be used as above, but the principal to be sacredly preserved, for the children of my last marriage, at the death of their mother. In case my wife should marry again then a separate interest will arise, which may result to the prejudice of my children, unless guarded against-In that event, it is my desire that my said wife shall have no other interest in my estate than what she is entitled to by the law. I do not mean to express a disapprobation to second marriages under any circumstances, but my object is solely to-


End of 1st sheet           signed John H. Peyton


Benjamin Crawford

A Waddell

G M Cochran

Jos A Waddell


protect my children, as far as I can, from the fraud and injustices they might incur in such an event, whilst on the other hand, the law in my case makes ample provision for the support of the wife.


It is further my will and desire, in the event of my wife’s marriage that the guardianship of my unmarried children be confided to my brother Bernard Peyton and my son William Peyton of Roanoke and in case they both be dead before such an event, then to my son John L. Peyton.


It is further my will and desire that the land herein devised to my wife for life, together with the negroes and other personal property devised for the same period, shall at her death, or before, if she desires it, be sold in whole or in parcels, for the best price to be obtained upon credit; giving to her the interest of the purchase money during her life and widowhood, reserving the principal under any contingency, for the benefit of the children by the last marriage.


I give and devise to my son John Lewis Peyton and his heirs forever, my lower farm upon Jackson’s River in Alleghany County, and Falling Spring run, whether the same be acquired by purchase or location: containing about 2000 acres, and all joining each other-including my mills and a tract purchased from Andrew Dameron.


I give and bequeath to my son Yelverton my upper farm upon Jackson’s river purchased from Charles T. Taylor and others, to him and to his heirs forever-this tract is made up of several tracts bought and located at different times lying principally in Alleghany County.


I confirm to John B. Baldwin the negroes I advanced to my daughter Susan M. Baldwin upon her marriage; viz: Jane and her children Serena and her children, Ellen, and $500 the purchase money for Aaron, paid by me to him upon a resale of said Aaron to me.


It is my will and desire that all my children upon arriving at age or marriage shall receive an equal advance in value, to that made to my daughter Susan Baldwin; and my executors are hereby directed to make such equitable distribution, as to fulfill my object in this provision of my will. I moreover give and bequeath to my sons John L. and Yelverton Howe, all the household property contained in the house where I usually stay at the Upper farm, to be equally divided between them-and I also bequeath to my son Yelverton the gold watch which I usually wear.


In addition, I give and devise to my sons John L and Yelverton, a tract of land lying in the Falling Spring Valley, and containing 1400 acres, which I purchased from Thomas E. Massie, to be equally divided between them according to quality and quantity, to them and their heirs forever. But would recommend to my sons to use and improve the land Jointly.


All the residue of my estate-real, personal monied/mixed whether in possession or action, I direct to be divided into ten equal shares, and to be distributed amongst the following named children of my last wife viz. Susan, John, Anne, Mary Preston, Lucy Garnett, Elizabeth Trent, Margaret Lynn, Yelverton Howe, Virginia Frances, and Cornelia Bernard.


My Miscellaneous Library, I direct to be kept unsold, for the use of my wife and children during the minority of my children and the widowhood of my wife-and after the death or marriage of my wife, to be equally divided amongst such of my children as may be alive.


My Law Library, I give to either of my sons, by the last marriage, who may practice that profession. But if neither of them should, then it is my wish that it be sent to Richmond and sold during the setting of the Legislature.


It is my will and desire that my executors appropriate a sufficient sum from the profits of my estate, for furnishing to my son Yelverton an opportunity of obtaining a liberal education.


I appoint my brother in law John Cochran and my sons Wm. Madison and John Lewis, executors of this my last will and Testament and having entire confidence in their honor and integrity, I desire that they may be permitted to qualify as such without giving any security whatever.


It is further my will and desire that if my present married daughter or any of the younger daughters after future marriage be left in needy circumstances through misfortune or mismanagement, in such an event my executors are hereby directed to appropriate to their support and their children, a due proportion of the fund herein before created for the support of the unmarried children-and not exceeding the interest she would have had if she had remained unmarried.


I revoke all previous wills, and declare this to be my true last will and Testament written upon two sheets of paper & both sheets signed and attested.


In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 2nd day of May 1846


(Signed) John H. Peyton


Signed, published and declared by

John H. Peyton on this 2nd day of

May 1846 to be his last will & Testament

in the presence of us who were called

on by the Testator to attest to the same as witnesses.

The interlineations on pages 6 & 8 being made before signing and attestation, which signing and attestation has been done in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.


Benjamin Crawford

A Waddell

G M Cochran

Jos A Waddell


















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