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Captain Berry's Will
Debauchery, Miscegenation, & Family Strife
Among 18th Century Gentry

Dramatis Personae

Except William Berry Warman, who was too young, probably all supported the Revolution. Certainly Captain Berry, his brothers and brother-in-law, Archibald Boyd, Thomas Marshall, J. F. A. Priggs, and Colonel Beall did.


Captain William Berry.

Born in 1742, one of eight children (six sons and two daughters) of Jeremiah and Mary. Inherited Good Luck, at least 443 acres [ 8 ], and acquired hundreds of acres more in the County and a one-third interest in 3000 acres in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia). [ 9 ] A Justice of the Peace, and during the Revolution, a captain in the Middle Battalion of the County militia. [ 10 ]

William Berry Warman (Little Billy).

Born in 1769 of Captain Berry and Ann Warman. [ 11 ]

Secondary: deponents who witnessed Captain Berry's will.

Thomas Marshall.

Born in 1761, possibly of Mary Marshall, who was a widow by 1776. [ 12 ] A house carpenter (in today's terms, a building contractor) and in the Revolutionary War probably an ensign in the Middle Batallion of Prince George's County. [ 13 ]

Dr. John Stewart.

Born in 1748. A physician and resident of Bladensburg.

Archibald Boyd.

Probably born by 1755. Married to Ann Scott in 1777. [ 14 ] Practiced law before the Courts of both Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. [ 15 ]

John Frederick Augustus Priggs.

A "German Protestant," probably born in the 1720s. In Prince George's by 1749, naturalized in 1756, brother-in-law of Colonel Beall.[ 16 ] Married Sarah Greenfield, who inherited land from her father, James. [ 17 ] Joiner, surveyor, Blanket-collector (during the Revolution), and Gentleman. [ 18 ]

Secondary: two other deponents.

Henry Brookes.

Born in 1728. Married Martha Bowie. [ 19 ] Lived in the southeastern part of the County. [20] Planter, Collector of Quitrents.

William Cooke.

Born in 1746. Planter, tanner. [ 21 ]

Secondary: off-stage.

Colonel Joshua Beall. Born in 1719. Married Eleanor Greenfield, who inherited land from her father, James. [ 22 ] Captain in the County Militia during French and Indian Wars, then Colonel. During the Revolution, Lieutenant (that is, military commander) of Prince George's County. Justice of the Peace, Justice of the Orphans' Court.[ 23]


Captain Berry's kin; his mother, Mary; his sister Mary and her husband, Major Thomas Owen Williams; his brothers, Richard, Benjamin, Zachariah, and Elisha; and his nephews, Jeremiah and Zachariah.

Ann Warman Vinson.

The great-granddaughter of Stephen Warman, who from 1718 to 1721 was sheriff - among the most important officers - of Anne Arundel County, [ 24 ] and daughter of his grandson Stephen Warman of Prince George's County, who did business with Captain Berry but died a pauper and left a will devising land sold by his parents seventy-five years before [ 25 ]; mother of William Berry Warman; and by 1784 wife of John Vinson of Montgomery County.

Sibb, a woman slave to Captain Berry.

Nan Thompson, nurse to Captain Berry.

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Maryland State Archives, 2000