HOW TO SEARCH THE DATABASE
You can search by all or part of a person’s name including given name, surname, middle name, and/or maiden name. Under plantations, you can search by name of property or location.
Search terms must be separated by commas. For example to search for John Kelley, you could enter “John” or “Kelley” or “John, Kelley”. Fewer search terms will likely yield more results. Also try alternate spellings.
The search function is not case-sensitive.
There are 8 different categories that can be searched, one category at a time. The name you are searching may be in any or all of the categories:
- DECEDENT: Person who died
- BENEFICIARY OF DECEDENT: Person who inherits or receives funds, property, or other benefits from the decedent’s estate; most often a relative of the decedent.
- SPOUSE OF DECEDENT: Husband or wife. Note: The only marriages included in the database are bonds recorded in Lancaster and Northumberland (as cited by Nottingham) or indicated by the estate documents. Therefore the lack of a spouse record does not necessarily mean the decedent was not married.
- PARENTS OF DECEDENTS: Mother or Father.
- SLAVES: Slaves owned by decedents; most are listed with a given name but a few have surname.
- SLAVE EMPLOYER: Person for whom a slave worked, if hired out by the owner.
- SLAVE NEW OWNER: Person to whom a slave was bequeathed, sold, or traded after death of decedent.
- PLANTATION: Name of plantation, land, or property of decedent. Not given for all decedents.
This project assigns each person named within each estate a unique ID number for reference. The ID numbers are not part of the original documents. Under this system, the same name can appear multiple times in the database. For example:
- Decedent #501 = Sarah Downman, who left a will dated 30-JAN-1847
- Beneficiary #1332 = Sarah Downman, sister of Decedent #124 James Downman
- Beneficiary #1585 = Sarah Downman, sister of Decedent #492 George Downman
It is the task of the database user to decide if these entries are the same person or different people with the same name. In some cases when a relationship is quite clear, the project authors have included comments in the abstracts. Mostly, though, it is left up to the user to research the connections using the clues available in the database and outside sources.