Note:  These pages were authored by Linda J. Coate. 
Please do include her as your source if you use any of her biographical descriptions or data.  
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Margaret WATKINS
(Cir 1692-)
William COATS Sr.


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William COATS Sr.

  • Born: 17 Sep 1749
  • Marriage: Sarah UNKNOWN before 1778 1
  • Died: Dec 1812, , Halifax, VA, USA at age 63 2

bullet  General Notes:

There is one William Coats who owned land in the 1790 tax lists for Halifax Co., Virginia. There are two William Coats living in Halifax Co., Virginia in the l800 and 1810 tax lists, one in the north and one in the south. In the 1800 census, William in the north had 3 white males living on his property over the age of 16. The one in the south had just one. The William living with 3 white males over 16 in Northern Halifax Co., Virginia is this William Sr. who left a will below. In the 1810 census, William Sr. and Jr. are listed as living in Northern Halifax County with 1 male in each household over the age of 16. There is a different William living in southern Halifax Co. suggesting that the 1800 tax list was for William Sr. in the north and an entirely different William (H.?) in the southern half of the county. The census records for 1790 and 1800 are lost and can't be used to help sort this family out.

This William's birth date has sometimes been published as 1765, but I am more inclined to believe the 1749 birth date. He would have only been 14 at the oldest when his daughter Nancy was born if he was born in 1765. This is assuming she also was only 13 when she married in 1791. I've seen him listed as a son of John or Samuel, but extensive research by some of his descendants has proved that he is the son of Samuel and that his wife's name was Sarah.

William lived in Spotslvania Co., Virginia until 1788 when he sold his land there. He first lived in Halifax Co., VA around 1789. A William is a witness to a deed in 1789, and he witnessed a land purchase from Peter Hudson to Henry Hopson Jr. on July 26, 1790 in Halifax, Co., VA. One helped settle the estate of Bartlett Corley in 1789. (C-2509, 2511). There is a William who was listed as white in the 1790 census in section A of Halifax Co., Virginia. There is a William Coats listed with no whites in his family in part B of Halifax Co., Virginia. There was a William who was a juror in a trial in 1791. A William witnessed the sale of land from Spencer Griffin to Thos Watkins on Jan 15, 1795 in Halifax. (C-2510) He possibly helped post bond in the following guardianship record. "Volume XXIX #2 5/1/1991, Halifax County Virginia Guardian Bonds, 1790-1799, 22 Jan. 1798 William Huton, Gdn. of Dabney Pettus, orph. of Charles Pettus, dec'd. Wm. Coates & Benjamin Morton Sec. Bond $1,000".

The following tax record could apply to him, the other William or his or the other's son William, "Volume XXVII #4 11/1/1989. Qualified Voters Halifax County Virginia 1804, 1808, 1812: William Coates Jr. -- 1808." All his children's marriages that have been located occurred in Halifax Co., VA. We can verify from their marriages, the court records and William's will that this family definitely lived in Halifax Co., VA from 1789 to 1812. It is interesting to note that all of his children except for Nancy had their surname spelled as Coates when they married.

There are a couple Samuel Coates in the Halifax Co., VA records for the 1790's that could easily be his brother. Ex: Samuel purchased land from Joseph Hunt on Jan. 26, 1793 on page 500, Halifax Deed Book 15 on the banks of Buckskin Creek.

This William died between Dec 2 (when he wrote his will) and Dec 28, 1812 when his will was probated in Halifax Co., VA. (C-739, 996, 1086, 1635, 1650, 1660, E)

His offspring lived in VA, NC and then Tennessee. A transcription of his will provided by Terry Coats of Nashville, Tennessee follows: "Will of William Coats, Halifax Co. VA. 1812

I, William Coats of Halifax County, being of possession of my memory and senses: but advanced in age and in a low state of health, do make and proclaim this my last will and testament in manner and form following, to wit.

First, It is my Will and I do hereby appoint my son, William Coats and my son-in-law, James Franklin, trustees to hold in trust for the benefit of my son John and his wife and children; during the life of my said son, John and his wife the following slaves: Gilbert, Peg and the increase. Also that part of my land on the south side of the creek, above the road adjoining Wm. Royalls land, including a small part of the low ground on the north side of the said creek, as the road runs from the ford to a turnip patch, thence from said turnip patch to Royalls fence on said creek, including the whole of the low ground. And after the death of my said son John and his wife, my will and desire is that the property so put in trust should be equally divided amongst all his children to them and their heirs forever.

Second. I do hereby appoint my son William and my son in law James Franklin trustees to hold in trust for the benefit of my son Richard and his children, during the life of my son Richard; one Negro boy named Anthony, also that part of my land purchased of William Royalls and known by the name of Murphy's tract, except the low grounds from the clearing by the Wimberts plant patch up to the court house road. And after said land and Negro so put in trust to be equally divided between all my son Richard's children, except his oldest son Peyton, to them and their heirs forever.

Third. My will is that all the remainder of my land and the following slaves to wit. Billy, Cato, Cloe, Wenney, Lucy, and Sam also two yoke oxen and cart be equally divided between my sons William and Guilford to them and their heirs forever.

Fourth. I do hereby appoint my son William, and my son in law James Franklin trustees to hold in trust for the benefit of my daughter, Nancy Seymore and her children, the following slaves, to wit; Jinny and her children Pheobe, Suckey and Herbert and all increase and their increases in trust as long as my daughter, Nancy Seymore and her husband Champ Seymore shall both live. And if my said daughter, Nancy dies before her husband it is my will that my son, William and son in law Franklin do hold in trust the last mentioned four slaves and increase and their increases until the death of the said Champ Seymore. And that after his death the said slaves and increase and their increases be equally divided among all the children of my daughter, Nancy Seymore. And if the aforesaid Champ Seymore shall die before my daughter Nancy Seymore, it is my will that during her lifetime and widowhood, she should have the benefit of the four last mentioned slaves and increase for the support of herself and her children. And at her death the said slaves and increases be equally divided among all her children to them and their heirs forever.

Fifth. I bequeath to my daughter, Betsy (Elizabeth) Franklin and to her children the following slaves. To wit; Millie, Henry, Merriah, and Randolph and their increases from the present time

Sixth. It is my will that the remainder of my estate, of every sort and description, be sold at twelve months credit and out of the money arising there from; the sum of twenty pounds be given to each of the children of my daughter, Lucy Coats. And that such of the said children that are of age shall receive at the said legacy of twenty pounds as soon as it can be collected. And the rest of the said children receive the said legacy as they respectfully come of age. It is also my will that out of the money arising from the aforesaid sale, that the sum of twenty pounds between six each of the children of my deceased daughter, Sally (Sarah) Huddleston. And that the said legacy be delivered to them as they respectfully come of age. And it is my will that if more money should arise from the aforesaid sale than will be sufficient to pay the legacy of my daughters Lucy and Sally's children, it is my will that the surplus be equally divided among the said children of my two deceased daughters.

Seventh. It is my will that the slaves bequeathed to my sons William and Guilford and to my daughter Betsy (Elizabeth) be valued by two good men, such as shall be chosen by the parties. And that each shall pay to the other in proportion to the valuation of the slaves so divided so as to make the three lots of Negroes of equal value.

Lastly I nominate and appoint my son William and my son in law James Franklin executors, to this my last will and testament hereby revoking all others. In Testimony I have hereunto set my hand and seal this second day of December 1812 signed and acknowledged in the presents of Armistead Barksdale Ephriam Crewz Benjamin Hunt at a court held for Halifax County, the Twenty Eighth Day of December 1812, the within written last will and testament of William Coats deceased, was exhibited in court and proved by the oaths of three witnesses thereunto subscribed and ordered to be recorded. And the motion of William Coats and James Franklin the executors therein named. Who made oath according to law. Certificated is granted them for obtaining thereof in due form they giving security wherefrom they together with William Rice, Elyert Hunt and Thomas Hunt to their securities entered into and acknowledged their bond and the penalty of fifteen thousand dollars, conditioned according to law."

William was possibly the father of an additional daughter not named in his will. I state this because there is a marriage record for a Milly Coates on Apr. 28, 1788 in Halifax Co., VA to Robert Stawfield. All the other marrriages for Coates of this time period in Halifax Co., VA were William's children. However, it should be noted that Milly is more likely to have been a slave of William, as William does bequeth a slave named Millie to his daughter Betsy in his will. If I was guessing as to William's wife's name I would suspect that it was Elizabeth (Betsy) as that is the name of the third daughter. The first 2 daughters might have been named after their grandmothers. 3 4 5


bullet  Noted events in his life were:

Will, 2 Dec 1812, , Halifax, VA, USA. 4

Probate, 28 Dec 1812, , Halifax, VA, USA. 4


William married Sarah UNKNOWN before 1778.1 (Sarah UNKNOWN died after 1790 of Essex Co., VA 6 7.)



1 Coats, Terry, Coats DNA Project (

2 Coats, Charlotte, Email dated 2000+.

3 Coats, C. Stanton, History of the Coats and Related Families (Raleigh, NC: Glover Printing Co., 1982).

4 Coats, William, "Will written on Dec. 2, 1812" (Halifax Co., VA).

5 McIntyre, Susan, "Email dated 2003" (from in which she quotes a listing of various records published in books about Maryland and Virginia).

6 Sipple, Jason, Email from

7 Deed, Essex Co., VA.

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