Excerpt from "Jockey John" Robinson's Will
In his will, John Robinson left Washington College his lands and the bulk of his possession at Harts Bottom, which is now the site of Buena Vista, Va. He also established a professorship of "Geology and Architecture" as well as prizes for two graduating seniors each year at the College. The ninth of 10 items in the will dealt with the enslaved people:
I John Robinson a native of the County of Armach in the north of Ireland, but now a resident of Harts Bottom in the County of Rockbridge, U State of Virginia, having migrated to America just in time to participate in its revolutionary struggle, (which I did in various situations) and having since that period, by a long, peaceful and prosperous intercourse with my fellow citizens, amassed a considerable estate which I am desirous of rendering back to them upon terms most likely to conduce to their essential and permanent interests - do, therefore, will and ordain...
9th. It is also my will and desire, that all the negroes of which I may die possessed together with their increased shall be retained, for the purposes of labour, upon the above lands for the space of fifth years after my decease - always saving and excepting, however, to the trustees aforesaid. The right of hiring out, within that time, such and as many of them as they shall consider supernumerary on the frams and of selling such others as may render themselves by crimes or by mutinous habits, unsafe or injurious to their connexion with their fellows. This right is to be exercised upon a sound discretion and in such manner as to give to the negroes who are allotted for hire the alternative of being sold to masters of their own choice. In any disposition which may be made of these slaves, and also in their treatment, it is my earnest desire that the strictest regard be paid to their comfort and happiness as well as to the interest of the Estate. At the expiration of these fifth years the Trustees aforesaid are released from all restraint as to the disposal of the negroes & may well or retain them as the results of their labour shall demonstrate to be best.