Last Will and Testament of Edward Owens

As promised I uploaded the picture of the Last Will and Testament, unfortunately, my digital camera is kind of old so the quality is not that good. I do have one fragment that’s really clear so you can look at what the handwriting was like.

Here is my transcription of the section of the will that pertains to Edward Owens exploits on the Chesapeake. Since I was unable to take it with me, I had to make notes. Here is the most important part:

My Dear Family,


Though you have known me all my life as a simple man, in this, my final will and testament, I must confess to a darker path that I took when I was just a young man. You may have heard rumor of that path through our Community’s long fascination with the Chesapeake Bay Pirate.

I was the pirate that they speak of- though I must admit that most of the stories are fanciful, with no basis in fact. It happened in the 1870s. After my fortune took a turn and I had lost my job during the market crash, I turned to that way of life that I am not proud of. With a small cache of guns, I robbed several ships on the Chesapeake Bay over the years with the help of a few men that I have remained close to until this day. Though I robbed only when I needed the income, the guilt from these actions haunts me even now.

I want to assure you that I did not hurt or murder anyone. I only threatened. However, I know this small assurance cannot erase the crimes I have committed. I was never caught nor punished by the authorities. I left the life after my prospects picked up and met my dear Elizabeth shortly after I began working again. Since that time, I have tried to live an upright and moral life.


There is no money left from my former exploits- I blended what I had with my own fortunes and spent it for the good of my family within a decade. The House my children grew up in was bought with these illicit proceeds. But, to my youngest son, I leave, upon my death, any land for them to occupy and use and enjoy, and appropriate to his own use any portion of the cleared and uncleared Land which is not already in possession of the Church.


Relatives- please try to refrain from judging me for my sordid past. I have done my best to repay my debt to society without turning myself in- by living well and making restitution to God through donations to the Church over the years. As an old man now, I ask that you help me continue to keep this secret, in order to uphold our family’s reputation in the community.



Edward Owens

And here are some images of the will…

4 Responses to “Last Will and Testament of Edward Owens”

  1. Kelly K says:

    This is AMAZING!! I wish I had found something like this for my paper. Most of my information for my paper is coming from interviews from people in the area. Which I think would be something helpful for your paper. If you need more help talk to the people in the area.

  2. Clinton says:

    That really must have been a wild experience. I imagine something like being up in a dark attic like where the Goonies found that treasure map. What a find, and I i know how tough it is to read that handwriting, I had to use a magnifying glass to make out some of the script for my research. Really cool find though you definitely have the coolest and most successful project of our class.

  3. Betsy says:

    This is such a goldmine of information, one that I’m especially glad you’ve uncovered for your project. :)

  4. Lisa says:

    Wow! I am speechless and super excited for you… that you were able to find documentation pertaining to Mr. Owens. I think my heart probably would have stopped if I was researching Edward Owens and came across his last will and testament!