An American Family History

Will of Nicholas Bonham

  from Wills and Inventories, 1670-1900, Middlesex Co., New Jersey
February 6, 1683
The Bonhams are Mayflower descendants: Samuel Fuller, Hannah Fuller Bonham, Hezekiah Bonham, Amariah Bonham.
ye is an archaic spelling of "the."

New Jersey's first permanent European settlement was in 1660.

In the name of God, Amen, the 6 day of February in the year one thousand six hundred eighty-three, I, Nicholas Bonham of yetown of Picastaway in County of Middlesex in East New Jersey being sick in body but of good and perfect memory thanks be to ye all mighty God and calling to remembrance the uncertain estate of this transitory live that all flesh must yield unto  death whn it shall please God to call, do make, constitute, ordain, and declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following, revoking and annulling by those present all and every Testament and Testaments Will and Wills heretofore by me made and declareed either by word or written and this to be taken only for my last will and testament and none other.

And first being penitent and sorry from the bottom of my heart for my sins past most humbly desiring foregiveness for ye same I give and commit my soul unto Almighty God my Savior and Redeemer in Whom and by ye mercies of Jesus Christ I trust and believe assuredly to be saved and so have full remission and forgiveness of all my sins and that my soul with my body at the general day of resurrection shal rise again with joy and through ye merits of Christ's death and passion passes so inherit the Kingdom of heaven prepared for his elect and chosen and my body to be buried in such a place where it shall  please my executor hereafter named to appoint. And now for ye- - - of my temporal estate and such goods chattels and debts as it has pleased God far above my desires to bestow upon me I do order give and dispose yesame in manner and form following. That is to say - - -

First I will that all those debts and duties as I owe in right or conscience to any manner of person or persons whatsoever shall be well and truly contented and paid or ordained to be paid within convenient time afier my decease by my executors hereafter named.

Item, I give and bequeath unto my dearly beloved wife Hannah Bonham the house and lot that I now live on and ye bed that we now lie on during her natural life and after her decease, son Hezekiah Bonham.

Item, I give unto my said Hezekiah Bonham all yerest of my land lying within yetownship of Piscataway or a to him his heirs and assigns forever.

Item, I will order and appoint that all my cattell with my household goods shall remain in ye hands of my executors hereafter named for ye support of my family and ye bringing up of my children and as any of them marries such parts of yecattell and goods to be given them as my executor shall think meet with and by ye advise and consent of my overseer hereafter named.

Item, I will and bequeath unto my grandchildren now living or shall be born within a year after ye date hereof, one bible to each of them to be bought and paid for out of my estate by my executors hereafter named.

Item, after ye decease of my said wife what chattels, goods, or lands that is then undisposed of I do will and bequeathunto my son Hezekiah Bonham, he being my sole heir excepting ye legacies before mentioned and ye other dispositions in ye articles above mentioned.

Item, I will constitute and appoint my wife Hannah Bonham and my son Hezekiah Bonham to be my whole and sole executors and dispose of my estate above mentioned accordingly as is above ordered and appointed with and by ye advise and consent of my overseer hereafter mentioned.

Item, I do request and desire my friends Isaac Smalley and Edward Slater to be my overseers to assist and advise my said executors about ye disposing of my estate and affairs as above said.

Given under my hand and seal the day and year above written. 

Signed and sealed in the presents of Edward Slater and Isaac Smalley.

Piscataway Township in New Jersey was first settled in 1666 by Quakers and Baptists who had left the Puritan colony in New Hampshire.

Personal property can be called personalty (personality), goods, chattels, articles, or movable property. It includes both animate or inanimate property.

Seals were used to authenticate documents and men were expected to have a personal die. Records in deed books are copies and signatures are usually in the clerk’s handwriting. The clerk drew a circle around the word “seal” to indicate that the original document was sealed.

A yeoman was a man who owned and cultivated a small farm. He belonged to the class below the gentry or land owners. A husbandman was a free tenant farmer. The social status of a husbandman was below that of a yeoman.

Tools were an important legacy because they were essential part of daily life.
A spinning wheel is a device for making thread or yarn. and was an essential part of Early American life. An unmarried woman would often take on the important job of spinning for the household, thus the term "spinster."

The will of Nicholas Bonham was proved before Samuel Dennis, John Bishop, and James Giles, Justices of the Peace, on December 18, 1684. Nicholas Bonham was called yeoman. Hannah Bonham, called widow and relict, was appointed executrix on August 23, 1686.

A true Inventory of all & singular the goods, Chattles & Credits of Nicholas Bonham yeoman, deceased, prised att Piscataway this 28th day of July 1684 by Isaac Smalley and Edward Slater as ffolloweth

His Apparall  02.09.00
Two beds & furniture 05.19.00
Table linen   00.12.00
One old Chest & Deske 00.06.03
#8 cotton wool  00.08.00
A parcel of old Caske 00.08.06
A great spinninge Whele with a Tobacco wheel and a pair of Scales with an Iron beam 00.07.00
6 lb. of Linen Yarn 00.09.09
One Old Chest  00.02.06
To his Armes  01.02.06
To Pewter & tin ware 00.13.03
One Iron Pot & Pestell Two Tamels, one old frying pan & 2 Gridirons 01.15.00
Two old brass Kettels and a brass skillet 00.07.06
Earthen Ware and glass Bottels 00.02.00
Two books 00.04.00
Wooden ware  00.02.00
Axes, Hoes, sickels & sithes   00.10.06
Carpenter Tooles 00.06.00
One Cow bell and brandiron 00.02.03
A five bottom & fineshing Iron 00.03.06
Two shovels & two old bridels 00.04.00
One old plow & plow tackinge  00.16.00
Two Oxen 08.10.00
Two Cows   08.00.00
Two yearlings and one two year old    03.10.00
One horse  03.10.00
Two small sows and five Pigs 01.10.00
Wheat in ye barn  01.02.00
Debts owinge him   02.00.00
Other goods  00.01.06
Summe Total    £43 6s 9d

We the Apprisors as above said herein set our hand the day and year above written 
Edward Slater
Isaac Smalley
The sum appears incorrect which suggests that some figures have been transcribed incorrectly.

Cattle were vital to a household and an important legacy.
Unweaned cattle are calves.
Female cattle are heifers and cows (had a calf).
Male cattle are steers (castrated) and bulls.
are trained draft animals and are often castrated adult male cattle.

Pewter is an alloy composed mainly of tin, but can include lead. It was used for dishes and utensils. Some colonists suffered lead poisoning from using it. It dents easily and lasted about ten years. It was expensive and wooden dishes were used most often.

Gridirons were used for grilling meat. They were iron grills which stood on 3 legs with a handle. A drip pan was placed beneath them.

A scythe or a sickle is a hand tool for reaping crops. The handle of a scythe is a snead.


Estate inventories give us a glance into the home life of Colonial Americans.
Tobacco is a native American herb that is cultivated for its leaves which are prepared for smoking, chewing or snuff. In parts of colonial America, it was used as money. Tobacco plantations in the colonial south fueled the need for enslaving people.

Horse Terms
Foal: less than 1 year old
Yearling: between 1 & 2
Colt: male under 4
Filly: female under 4
Mare: female over 4
Gelding: castrated male
: non-castrated male over 4



Colonial Maryland
Colonial New England
Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
Quakers & Mennonites
New Jersey Baptists
German Lutherans
Watauga Settlement
Pennsylvania Pioneers
Midwest Pioneers
Jewish Immigrants

©Roberta Tuller 2023
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