On 28 January 1854, Coffield Ellis of Edgecombe County penned a will that included these provisions:
- to wife Penninah Ellis, enslaved people Minny, Lewis, Robbin, Jacob, Young Minny, Turner, Jane, Laurence, Bright, Chaney, Greene, Mary, Jonas, Charlott, Frances, Robert, Ellen, Annah, Calvin, Cherry, Faroby, Littleton, Bryant and George. After Penninah’s death, Robert and Charlotte were to go to son William Ellis.
- if “at any time during her life [wife Penninah] became tired of keeping any of the said negroes she may call three disinterested men together and point out to them said such of said negroes as she wishes to get clear of,” to be divided between their daughters Sally, wife of William Barnes, and Louisa, wife of James Barnes.
- to son William Ellis, the right to take any of Coffield Ellis’ slaves to use, when water level is low, to complete a canal in Toisnot Swamp
- “if my faithful servant Old Miney shall survive my wife,” she shall be able to choose a master from his three children
- to daughter Sally, wife of William Barnes, an enslaved woman named Gilly
- to daughter Louisa, wife of James Barnes, an enslaved woman named Caroline
Coffield Ellis Will, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.