"Will of Richard Taliaferro"

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Richard Taliaferro (c. 1705 – 1779), of Powhatan plantation, James City County, was a planter and amateur architect. He designed and built the George Wythe house in colonial Williamsburg, designed an addition to the Governor's Palace built in 1749-1751, and assisted with repairs to the President's House on the College of William & Mary campus, in 1756.[1]

In his will recorded August 9, 1775, Taliaferro deeded to his son-in-law George Wythe and wife, Elizabeth, their house in Williamsburg upon his death.[2] His executors were Wythe, and the Taliaferro's oldest son, Richard.

Article text, October 1903

Page 124


In the Name of God Amen. I, Richard Taliaferro, of the Parish and County of James City, being aged, but of sound mind and memory, do make my last Will and Testament as followeth:

I recommend my soul to the mercy of Almighty God, trusting to the merits of his Son Jesus Christ for pardon and remission of my sins, and my Body to be decently and modestly buried at the discretion of my Executors hereafter named.

I Give and desire my House and Lotts in the City of Williamsburg, situate on the West side of Palace Street, and on the North side of the Church yard, to my Son in Law, Mr George Wythe, and his wife, my Daughter Elizabeth, during their lives, and the Life of the longest liver of them, and afterward to my Grand son Richard Taliaferro and his heirs forever. I also give to my said Daughter my negro Wench Peg, and my negro boy called Joe to her and her Heirs forever. And I further Give her during her natural life the yearly sum or Annuity of twenty five pounds current money, to be paid her after my death by my son out of the Estate hereafter given him. I give to my Grand son Richard Taliaferro my negro Boy Sam, and my negro Girl Aggy, to him and his heirs forever, and to each of my other Grand children a negro Boy and Girl apiece, as near their own age as conveniently may be out of my Stock of Slaves, to them and their heirs forever.

All the rest residue and Remainder of my Estate real and Personal, I Give and Devise to my Son Richard Taliaferro and

* He was father-in-law of Hon. George Wythe. The house referred to in the will was the present "Wythe House," headquarters of General Washington in 1781.

Page 125

his heirs forever. And I do hereby constitute and appoint my Son in Law the said George Wythe, and my said son Richard Taliaferro, Executors of this may last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all former Wills by me made, and directing that my Estate be not appraised nor my Executors be obliged to give Security to the Court for the same. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal, the third day of February, 1775, and in the fifteenth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, George the third.


Signed, sealed, published and declared by the Testator to be his last Will and Testament, in presence of us who witnessed the same in his presence at his request.

Gabriel Maupin, Ben Waller, Ben C. Waller.

At a Court held for James City County, August 9th, 1779. This Will was proved according to Law by the Oaths of Benjamin Waller and Benjamin Carter Waller, Witnesses thereto, sworn to by Richard Taliaferro, an Executor therein named, and ordered to be recorded.

Liberty is reserved to George Wythe, the other Executor therein named, to join in the Probat when he shall think fit.

Ben. C. Waller, C. C. Com. A copy, Geo. Dunlevy, D. C. C.

See also


  1. Hugh Morrison, Early American Architecture: From the First Colonial Settlements to the National Period (New York: Oxford University Press, 1952), 347-348.
  2. Lyon G. Tyler, "Will of Richard Taliaferro," William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine 12, no. 2 (October 1903), 124-125.