Virginia Pioneers


Henrico County Genealogy, Wills, Estates, Marriages, Probate Records


Henrico County was founded in 1611. The county seat is Richmond, Virginia. The earliest of records which include deeds, orders and wills has been microfilmed even though the documents themselves are quite faded.

Henricopolis: A Second Town
By Jeannette Holland Austin

Henricus Church Henrico County Davis House Pictured is a reconstructed church of the 17th century. The original settlement was founded by Sir Thomas Dale in 1611 as an alternative to the swampy and dangerous surroundings of Jamestown and was named for Prince Henry, the eldest son of King James I. This site later became part of the Shire of Henrico (1634), renamed Henrico County in 1637. In 1749, the portion of Henrico County that lay south of the James River was detached to form the present-day Chesterfield County. After the visible 1609 decay of the town, the erection of a second town was commenced in Henricopolis, the name given the new town in honor of Prince Henry. Within four months the structures, hospital, framed dwellings on the edge of the river, and one brick home, were more substantial than Jamestown. Nevertheless the new settlement soon showed the same symptoms of decline as Jamestown. The buildings were decaying and in need of constant repair. Source: Ralph Hamor's "True Discourse", p. 30.

One of the early investors in Virginia, Sir Thomas Dale, departed Jamestown in the later summer of 1611 with a strong force of 300 men to proceed up river to establish a new settlement. This settlement was expected to be the chief seat of the Colony and its purpose was to remove the fear of Spanish invaders to the colony. In other words, it would serve as a defensive fortress in the wilderness country. The reason was that the settlers were generally dissatisfied with the Jamestown location. The town was to be named Henrico in honor of a protector and patron of the colony, Henry, Prince of Wales. Marshal Dale took a party upstream by boat while the larger part of settlers went overland, led by Captain Edward Brewster. But the latter party was met with resistance from the Indian chief, Munetute whom the Englishmen referred to as "Jacke of the Feathers". After various skirmishes with the Indians, however, Dale and Brewster rendezvoused at the appointed place where they commenced building a fort on a peninsula which jutted into the James River from the north side several miles below the Arrahatock village while the Indians continued their protests. In about fifteen days, Dale had impaled seven acres of ground and then set to work to build watch towers upon each of the five corners of the town. They also constructed a church and some storehouses. After this was accomplished, they commencing building the houses and lodgings for himself and his men. The site was two miles inland and it ran from river to river making an island of the neck on which Henrico stood. Presumably this palisade faced a ditch. But the project cost Dale his life, but Dale Laws prevailed, punishing deserters and law breakers. George Percy related the results in graphic terms. Some "in a moste severe manner cawsed to be executed. Some he appointed to be hanged, some burned, some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked and some to be shott to deathe; all theis extreme and crewell tortures he used and inflicted upon them to terrefy the reste for attemptinge the like." Yet these stern measures produced results and few of his contemporary associates took issue including John Rolfe, Ralph Hamor, Reverend Alexander Whitaker and even Sir Edwin Sandys. To them, motivated by the spirit of the time, hard conditions required stern handling. During the year of 1612, Robert Johnson evaluated the new settlement as he saw it: "the colony is removed up the river forescore miles further beyond Jamestown to a place of high ground, strong and defensible by nature, a good air, wholesome and clear, unlike the marshy seat at Jamestown, with fresh and plenty of water springs, much fair and open grounds freed from woods, and wood enough at hand." In 1614 Hamor described the town here as having " three streets of well framed howses, a hansom Church, and the foundations of a more stately one laid, of brick, in length one hundred foote, and fifty foot wide, beside store houses, watch houses, and such like." Near it, and behind the pale, was a great quantity of ground corn, enough to support the whole Colony and easy for manuring and husbandry. Yet not more than two years had passed before the " "Citty of Henricus" had retrogressed, perhaps, out of emphasis on Bermuda City just down river. At this time there were only 38 men and boys in Henrico. Even though the "citty" continued its decline, the Incorporation carried on its name. In 1619 Henrico was reported to have had but a few old houses, and a "ruinated" Church. It continued, however, as a fixed community until it was finally destroyed by the Indians during the famous massacre of March 22, 1622. After the tally was made, however, only five were killed at Henrico Island.



Marriages
  • Index to Settlements and Estates 1770 to 1787
Miscellaneous Wills and Estates
  • Michaux, Abraham (1717)
  • Perkins,, Nicholas, LWT, transcript (1711)
  • Randolph, Peter
Digital Images of Wills 1650 to 1717

Testators: Bowen, John;Childers, Abraham; Clerk, Allison;Cooke, Richard;Frazier, William;French, Christopher Jr.;Ham, Martin;Holmes, Thomas;Jones, Thomas; Knight, Anthony;Lester, Edward;Lettus, Thomas;Moons, Abraham; Nolls, Philip;Perrin, Ann;Perrin, Richard;Pew, Henry;Pleasants, John;Randolph, William;Watson, Benjamin;Wells, Thomas

Digital Images of Wills 1678 to 1693

Testators: Bridgewater, Samuel;Clerk, John;Cole, John;Davis, John;Ealane, William;Epes, Elizabeth;Harwin, John; Partridge, John;Randolph, Judith;West, John

Digital Images of Wills 1717-1726

Testators: Archer, John;Barnes, John;Bowman, Edward; Brickett, John Sr.;Browne, Martha;Childers, Abraham Sr.;Corse, Margaret;Dutoit, Peter;Esley, Ann;Farriss, John;Goss, Peter; Griggs, Charles;Hancock, Johan;Hill, Henry;Hudspeath, Ralph; Leister, Aaron;Lufter, Henry;Martin, Richard;Pleasants, Joseph; Pledge, John;Porter, John;Powell, Charles;Pursel, Philip;Roberts, Morris;Roberts, Morris;Stovall, Bartholomew;Tanner, Edward;Turpin, Philip

Digital Images of Wills and Settlements 1770 to 1787

Albert, Francis;Allen, Isham;Allen, Julius;Allen, Littleberry; Allen, Timothy;Arbathriot, Dorotha;Austin, Mary; Bailey, Joseph; Bailey, Joseph, estate; Bailey, Peter;Baine, Robert;Bentley, Thomas;Bethell, Thomas;Binford, James;Bottom, John;Bowles, Thomas;Bridgewater, James;Brockett, John;Brown, JosephBrown, Robert;Brown, Robert, inventory;Brown, Samuel;Bullington, William;Bullington, William, estate;Burton, John;Cahill, Barney; Carter, John;Chelsey, Thomas;Childress, Frederick;Clark, Peter; Coutts, Patrick;Coutts, William;Cox, George;Duval, Robert, estate;Duvall, Samuel;Edwards, John;Ellis, George;Ellis, Jesse; Ellis, John;Ellis, Thomas;Evans, Thomas;Farriss, William; Farriss, William, estate;Fenton, Thomas;Ford, David;Ford, Samuel; Fussell, Solomon;Gathright, Ann;Gathright,Benjamin;Gathright, John, inventory;Gathright, William;Gathright, William Sr.; Giles, Nicholas;Goodes, Edward;Greenley, David;Gunn, James;Hales, John;Harbert, Mathew;Harris, Joshua;Harwood, John;Harwood, Samuel;Hay, John;Hay, Peter;Hughes, Charles, estate;Hutchings, John;Hutchings,Joseph;Hutchings, Joseph, inventory;Johnson, Benjamin, inventory;Johnson, Michael;Jones, Samuel;Kent, John; Lewis, Robert;Liggins, John;Lockley, John;Logan, John, appraisement; Maddox, William;Matthews, Anthony;Matthews, Charles Matthews, Thomas;Mitchell, Samuel;Moon, Richard;Mosby, Benjamin; New, William;Owens, William;Parker, John;Pleasant, John;Pleasant, Jonathan;Pleasant, Joseph;Powell, Robin;Price, Elizabeth;Price, John (inventory);Price, Samuel;Puryear, Peter;Puryear, Thomas; Randolph, Peter;Randolph, Peyton;Randolph, Peyton, appraisement; Randolph, Richard;Randolph, Ryland;Redford, Milner;Roberson, William;Robertson, William;Rockett, Baldwin;Scheror, George; Shackleton, John;Sharpe, Henry;Sheapard, Samuel;Shepard, Joseph, inventory;Sheppard, William;Simons, John;Smith, John;Sneed, Thomas;Sneed, William;Spears, John;Thornton, Sterling;Stone, Thomas;Turman, John;Warnock, Frederick;Warriner, Richard; Warriner, Thomas, inventory;Watkins, Thomas;Watkins, Thomas Jr.; White, David;White, Elisha;White, Elisha Jr.;Whitlock, Mary; Williams, John, estate;Williams, Thomas;Williamson, John; Winston, Peter;Wise, John;Woodcock, Isaac;Wright, Patrick; Young, Judith

Historic Scenes of Virginia









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17th Century Buttons
By Jeannette Holland Austin Jeannette Holland Austin (profile)

There were a number of merchants in England who transacted business with the Virginia colonists. Mr. Isaac Cullen kept a store and was the agent of John Harris and John Cooper, merchants of England, in 1675. The goods which he kept were canvas, cottons, hollands, kerseys, Scotch cloth, jeans, broadcloth, blue linen, tape, ribbon, thread, buttons, combs, hose, shoes and other articles for wear. Likewise, the store kept by Colonel Francis Eppes of Henrico County discloses (in 1678) had a more extensive inventory consisting of 120 ells of dowlas (linen), 51 ells of oznaburg, 60 ells of canvas, 312 ells of holland and 80 yards of table and napkin diaper. 17th century buttons Source: Records of Henrico County, vol. 1677-1692.

Horse Races at Bermuda Hundred
By Jeannette Holland Austin

One of the most popular horse tracks in Henrico County was situated at Bermuda Hundred, among the oldest settlements in the valley of the lower James River. It was July of 1678. The race was run between horses belonging to Mr. Abram Womack and Mr. Richard Ligon. In this instance the owners did not ride their horses. One was ridden by Thomas Cocke and the other by Joseph Tanner, a servant of Mr. Thomas Chamberlaine, both of whom were still mere boys. The horses made a rush, but the one ridden by Cocke, after running four or five lengths, shied from the track. Cocke quickly reining him in, cried out "This is not a fair start." Chamberlaine shouted to his servant, who was riding the other horse, to stop, but the young man, when he returned, boldly declared that the race was fairly begun, and in this contention was sustained by Mr. Childers. Source: Henrico County Minute Book 1682 to 1701, p. 38.

The 17th Century Featherbed
By Jeannette Holland Austin

Feather Beds The inventory of the average planter in Virginia during the 17th century revealed a variety of household articles among the different apartments of a dwelling. The home of Thomas Osborne of Henrico County left a personalty calculated to be worth 125 pounds sterling. There was furniture, tableware, bed and table linen and the utensils in the kitchen and dairy. The room designed as the "best" contained a feather-bed, bolster, pair of pillows, curtains and valance, a blanket and a worsted rug. There were also two chests with locks and keys, a framed table, one small sideboard table, one chest of drawers, six high and six low leather chairs, a small old-fashioned looking glass, pair of andirons with brass bosses, pair of bellows and a small leather trunk. Source: Records of Henrico County, Vol. 1688-97, page 350.



Map of Henrico County

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