Virginia Pioneers




The Oldest Will in Virginia

Epraphrodibus Lawson, in Tarrascoe Neck Chuckeytuck Parish, Nansemond County. Lawson must have migrated to the Northern Neck. His will was in Lancaster County, in 1652. It is believed to be the oldest recorded will in the United States. The will follows:

"In the name of God, Amen, I Epraphrodibus Lawson, of Rappahannock, being sick of body, but of perfect memory, Glory be to God, do make this my last will and testament. I make and ordain, ye child of my wife; my heir; my wife; third; March 31st, 1652. Epraphrodibus Lawson."

Witnesses: Elos Lors; Joan Lee; Wm. Harper.
Recorded June, 1652.
G. John Phillips.

Note:This last will and testament has suffered the vissitudes of time, as part of it is torn off.

Challenged to a Duel

Richard Denham ran into the Lancaster County court room bearing a message which challenged Mr. Daniel Fox to a duel. At this point in history, in 1653, court was held in the home of one of the justices. The challenge came from his father-in-law, Captain Thomas Hackett.

"Mr. Fox, I wonder ye should so much degenerate from a gentleman as to cast such an aspersion on me in open Court, making nothinge appear but I knowe it to be out of malice and an evil disposition which remains in your hearte, therefore, I desire ye if ye have anything of a gentleman or of manhood in ye to meet me on Tuesday morninge at ye marked tree in ye valey which partes yr lande and mine, about eight of ye clocke, where I shall expect ye comeinge to give me satisfaction. My weapon is rapier, ye length I send ye by bearer; not yours present, but yours at ye time appointed. THOMAS HACKETT. Ye seconde bringe along with ye if ye please. I shall finde me of ye like." Mr. Fox was seated on the bench with his fellow justices, and one of them, John Carter, scolded Richard, saying " that he knew not how his father would acquit himself on an action of that nature which he said he would not be ye owner of for a world." The justices proceeded to question Richard who demanded that Fox send an answer back to Captain Hackett. But everything backfired, when court then made a quick and emphatic decision that Richard was "a partye with his father-in-law in ye crime," and that for bringing the challenge, whose character he well knew, and for delivering it while the justices were sitting. They ordered that for his contemptuous manner and bold words, he was to receive six stripes on his bare shoulders with a whip, at the hands of the sheriff. The sheriff was then directed to arrest Captain Hackett and have him detained without bail until he could answer for his crimes at the next session of the General Court at Jamestown. Source: Title: The Stronghold: A Story of Historic Northern Neck of Virginia and Its People by Miriam Haynie.

Trade

In the beginning, before England placed trade restrictions upon the colonies, the Northern Neck of Virginia trades with other countries who offered goods at lower prices. Tobacco and grain were trade items, however, there is a recorded in 1686 of the sloop Happy who transported to Barbadoes from Lancaster County, 2 firkins of butter, 2 barrels of pork, and 22 sides of tanned leather, as well as 144 bushels of Indian corn. This means that small sloops built in Virginia were used for trade in the West Indies. The routine trade route was that vessels left the West Indies to sail to Virginia and then on to New England. The Dutch actively exchanged linen, beer and brandy for tobacco. As early as 1653 Henry Mountford of Rotterdam was appointed an agent in Lancaster.

What Can You Remember?

Badami Kani Cave What great event caused you to remember something really important, like the death of a family member? Most people recall the sad funeral of President John F. Kennedy. It usually takes an associated event to recall dates and times. That unfortunate fact makes most personal memories inaccurate. That is why it is so important to review actual recorded events, such as deeds, wills and marriages at the court house. As time passes, we marvel at how much time has passed! And we are astounded at our own age. Yet we realize that time moves on, especially as we see it in old black and white photographs (now a redundant technology) and the clothes worn by our grandparents. That was not so long ago. Or, was it? When is an age "modern?" Today is modern, yet yesterday was old. Your own children will inform you of that revelation. As time flashes before our eyes we realize that our time on earth will also end, and that a hundred of years from now someone will be searching for us. As records are digitized, we conclude that it will be easier for them to find us. Yet, there are words and symbols written upon the walls of old caves and pyramids which remain undiscovered or untranslated to this date. Pictured is Badami Cave 3 in India. High above the water there are towering cliffs of comparatively soft sandstone. Royal shrines were made in these cliffs with grand view opening over the former capital city. The four cave temples of Badami were built by the son of Pulakesi I, viz: Kirthivarman (ruled in 567 to 598 AD) and his brother Mangalesha I (ruled in 598 to 610 AD). One cave is devoted to Shiva, two to Vishnu. Fourth cave is Jain temple. Thus Chalukyas, just like several other successful dynasties of Ancient India, demonstrated religious tolerance. Fossilized records cannot be destroyed, but until the Rosetta Stone, no one could read them. And tombstones have not worn the fabric of time too well. Since the 16th century, India Ink has survived longer than anything else, yet improper care of documents and illegible colonial handwriting causes much frustration. During the 1960s, wills were written on typewriters which generated spaces and incomplete letters. A marvel invention, we thought, yet an examination of the type struck upon these documents is disappointing. There are some computer-generated birth certificates (dated during the 1960s) being floated as being genuine. For this reason, the genealogists has to be aware of the eras of technological inventions and discover additional information to validate questionable documents. If one is lucky he can locate a public cemetery with surviving records and compare those files against the tombstone record. The spelling of names seems to be a major issue with genealogists, but one should realize that a census-taker is using his own version of the alphabet. As immigrants entered this country, they anglicized names. Such anglicisations could be varied and changed over the generations. Example, variations such Champney, Chambless and Chambliss should be suspect. It is better to write down the entries for all of the spellings, and later discern which ones are not the same person. This is learned by observing deed descriptions, wills, estates and witnesses.

Nomini Hall

Nomini HallRobert Carter, the owner of Nomini Hall, was the scion of one of the wealthiest and most influential Tidewater families. His great-grandfather, John Carter, emigrated to Virginia from England in 1649 and acquired 13,500 acres. John Carter established his home Corotomon in the Northern Neck, situated the fertile region between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. Robert or "King" Carter, the son of the emigrant, actually eclipsed his father by expanding the family fortune, ultimately acquiring some 333,000 acres of land. Under the custom of primogeniture, Carter arranged that the bulk of his lands (including Corotoman) should go to his eldest son, John Carter II. Nevertheless, he also bequeathed substantial estates to his other sons, Robert, Landon, Charles, and George.

Clerics from England

St. Mary le Tower Rev. Benjamin Doggett came from Ipswich, England to Virginia during the middle of the 17th century. He was a minister in Lancaster County and died in 1682. His baptism of Benjamin Doggett is recorded in the Register of St. Mary-le-Tower Church in Ipswich, Suffolk. Benjamin was the youngest of six children of William Doggett, serving as a church warden when Benjamin was born. Otherwise, he was a merchant of Woolen and other fabrics in Ipswich. According to the records of St. Johns College and the University of Cambridge, Benjamin attended a private school in Westminster (London) and his headmaster was Mr. Crouch. In 1654 He was admitted to St. John's College, University of Cambridge and was matriculated on 7 April 1655. Source: Origins (of first settlers) available to members of Virginia Pioneers.

Sir Edmund Coke and Friends

Sir Edmund Coke The term "gentleman" given by Sir Edmund Coke of England distinguished persons who were not entitled to a coat-of arms. Nevertheless, it appears that a substantial number of persons legally entitled to display coats-of-arms on deeds and other documents was in wide use by at least forty-seven families who resided in Essex, Lancaster and Middlesex Counties. In other words, the descendants of ancient nobility who were not the eldest son and thus did not inherit the family seat, became adventurers to the plantations. An examination of 17th century court house documents reveals the impression of the family "seal". In fact, those adventurers occupying the highest positions in the Colony were natives of England. Just as families of the same rank in England acknowledged the leading families in the surrounding shires, the prominent families of Virginia were well acquainted with the social antecedents of each other in the Mother Country. Before departing England, some of the emigrants took care to have their coats-of-arms confirmed. In 1633, Moore Fauntleroy obtained such a confirmation from the Office of the English Heralds, who reported that this coat-of-arms had been enjoyed by the Fauntleroys "time out of mind." Source: Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Vol. I, page 224.

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The Northern Neck of Virginia

Survey of Northern Neck

The region of the Northern Neck included area reached from the Potomac River south to the Rappahannock River and from the headwaters of these two streams in the western part of the colony to Chesapeake Bay. The counties are Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond and Westmoreland. A separate provision for this area began when Charles II was exiled in France following the execution of Charles I in 1649. As a reward to those cavaliers who had been faithful to the Stuart regime, Charles II exercised his royal prerogative by making a grant of the portions of tidewater Virginia that were not seated. Hence, the Northern Neck was granted to the following seven supporters of the King: Lord John Culpeper, Lord Ralph Horton, Lord Henry Jermyn, Sir John Berkeley, Sir William Morton, Sir Dudley Wyatt, and Thomas Culpeper. All things English affected the colonies. For a time the proprietary charter was ineffective but was restored in chancery during 1649 and was revived after the restoration of Charles II to the throne. Although during 1662 and again in 1663 Charles II ordered the Governor and Council of Virginia to assist the proprietors in settling the plantations and receiving the rents and profits. But portions of the area had been seated since 1645, and legal obstructions were brought forth by Virginia planters and the Council to defeat the efforts of the proprietors. A second appeal to the king was by Francis Moryson, a Virginia resident agent in London. The result was good, as the original patent of 1649 was surrendered and a new charter was issued on May 8, 1669 to the Earl of St. Albans, Lord John Berkeley, Sir William Morton, and John Trethewy. Still, there was more confusion with the proprietor and landholder grants and the grant of Charles II in 1672 for all of Virginia for thirty-one years to Lord Arlington and Lord Thomas Culpeper, son of the original patentees of the Northern Neck. These two proprietors of the whole colony were to control all lands, collect rents, including all rents and profits in arrears since 1669 and exercise authority that sprang from grants previously made. After all the confusion, the number of grants decreased. Then in March of 1675, the first land grant of 5,000 acres, later George Washington's Mount Vernon, was issued to Nicholas Spencer and John Washington of Westmoreland in the name of the proprietors with the common seal being affixed to the grant by Thomas Culpeper and Anthony Trethewy. By this date Thomas Culpeper had obtained from the proprietors of 1669 recognition of one-sixth interest in the Northern Neck for him and his cousin on the basis of their fathers having been original patentees. As opposition to the proprietary grant of the Northern Neck in Virginia continued, the proprietors became willing to sell and set the price of 400 pds. each for the six shares then held in the charter. Meanwhile, Thomas, Lord Culpeper was appointed Governor of Virginia but did not arrive in the colony until 1680. The next year Culpeper bought up the proprietary rights in Virginia, which included the rights of the other proprietors in the Northern Neck and the rights of Lord Arlington for all of Virginia. In 1684, however, he gave up the Arlington charter of 1673 to the crown in return for an annual pension of 600 pds. for twenty-one years.

The Rural Homestead

Lancaster House During the 17th century, the English rural homestead was usually placed along the Chesapeake By, or upon one of its tidewater tributaries. Behind the main house, or on either side of it, were out houses which were usually arranged in rows or around courtyards. The water served as the principal highway, and the plantation depended upon it. Certain Indian paths became narrow lanes for carts which assisted in reaching the oldest interior roards in Virginia which extended from Jamestown to Middle Plantation, now Williamsburg. Other than the mansion-house there were offices, kitchens and bake houses, slave quarters, school houses, dairies, barns, stables, granaries, smoke houses, spring houses, and dovecots. Also, dwellings for servants, spinning houses, smithies, tan houses, bin houses, well houses, hogsties, cornhouses, and guest houses. The gardens were sometimes called "hortyards" and included summerhouses, greenhouses, and arbors. Then there were bloomeries and ironworks, wharves for landing goods, called "bridges," warehouses, windmills, watermills, sawmills, glassworks, silkhouses, brick and pottery kilns, lime kilns, saltworks, and blockhouses. For all intents and purposes such grandiose estates were self-sustaining. Those goods not produced in Virginia were exported from England at considerable cost and were usually landed upon the wharf in front of the plantation-dwelling. The kitchen outhouse was frequently placed at a distance from the dining room because that was the medieval custom of carrying food across the service courtyard. The wooden parts of these edifices were painted, proven by importations of color pigments and oils to make paint.

Map of Lancaster County, Virginia


Whitestone, Virginia


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Lancaster County Genealogy, Wills, Estates, Marriages

Lancaster County Jail

Lancaster County was created in 1651 from Northumberland and York counties.

One of the most important personal estates which came before the court of Lancaster between 1690 and 1700 was that of John Carter, Sr., valued at 2260 pounds. Smaller estates in the counties of Lancaster and Westmoreland were those of David Myles, 320 pounds, John Washington, 377 pounds and John Pritchard, 476 pounds. In the case of the latter, the personalty included debts owed him of 30 pounds and 101,307 pounds of tobacco.

Sources: Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. II, p. 236; Records of Lancaster County, Vol. 1674-1687, p. 36 and 1675-1689, orders, 8 Feb 1674.

Lancaster County Court House Records available to members of Virginia Pioneers

Marriages
  • Marriages to 1699
Miscellaneous Estates
  • Ball, Hannah, LWT (1694) (image)
  • Cheatwood, Thomas- Inventory of Estate (1678) (image)
  • Haynes, Thomas, LWT (1679) (image)
  • King, William, LWT
  • Pinckard, James, LWT (1751)
  • Pinckard, Mary, LWT (1749)
Digital Images of Wills 1700 to 1719

Ashford, John |Ball, Joseph | Batt, Margaret | Bostwick, Robert | Brightman, William | Burkley, Thomas | Bradley, John | Carter, Thomas | Chapman, William | Chappell, William | Chilton, George | Christian, Oliver | Clark, Nicholas | Davenport, William | Dillon, Stephen | Draper, Josias | Fox, Hanah | Garton, William | George, Nicholas | Glass, Joseph | Harrot, Thomas | Hart, John | Harvard, George | Heard, William | Hill, Job | Horton, Robert | James, Daniel | Kilgore, Peter | Ladner, Hugh | Landor, Duke | Laurie, John | Lawne, James | Lawson, Rowland | Lawne, John | Lot, Thomas | Lyne, Thomas | Margae, John | Mewzoy, David | Moore, Francis | Moore, John | Morinton, Thomas | Nash, William | Nickolson, Francis | Parfitt, Thomas | Payne, Richard | Pitman, John | Pollard, Robert | Price, Elinor | Roberson, Landers | Robinson, John | Rott, Brian | Sharp, John | Sharp, Margaret | Shaw, John | Stonum, Henry | Straton, James | Sweatman, John | Taylor, Job | Tillman, Elizabeth | Timson, Percival | Wales, Benjamin | Walis, Francis | Wells, Robert | Williams, Rodger | Wills, John | Wren, Nicholas | Wren, William | Young, Robert
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