Born ca. 1747, Joseph Thomas died in Chatham County NC prior to the inventory and sale of his estate dated 3 Dec 1819. We have learned much about Joseph’s family from land grants, conveyances, court entries, and the names of those who purchased from his estate. But, do such records capture the entire family as indicated in so many online genealogies? And what ever happened to Joseph’s children Micajah, Catherine and William who we know so little about? I’ve been assured that the early generations of Joseph’s descendants all remained in the area of Moore and Chatham Counties NC, but, is that the truth? I’ve also come to believe otherwise and new research will begin to bridge family gaps extending well beyond the state of North Carolina.

About Micajah Thomas, he appears in numerous land records in Wake before buying and selling land among family prior to receiving a land grant in Moore County. By 1805 it appears he disappears from record other than his listing in the 1810 Moore County Census. And after that point his whereabouts appears to be unknown. Beyond Micajah, what do we know of Joseph’s children William and Catherine?

From Joseph Thomas’ 1819 estate sale listed in part below, both William and Catherine are listed as purchasers. And with that bit of information, I decided to trace available records for neighbors and others listed in the last and important Thomas family document. Joseph Thomas Estate Page 3

From the above estate sale you’ll see Catherine and William Thomas buying alongside a person named Micajah Baggett who was likely born in Wayne County NC. And in the 1820 Moore County census, Micajah Baggett is enumerated among the families of John, Joseph and Frederick Thomas.   By 1830, he is still enumerated (in yellow below) in Moore County alongside Wm Thomas, John Thomas, Martin Thomas, Frederick Thomas and Capt John Thomas. Other neighbors include John Shephard, Wm Womack and Wm Yarborough.  t

Believing the name Micajah Baggett to be uniquely different and therefor easy to locate, it didn’t take long to discover the next move. In 1840, young William Thomas is enumerated in Marion County Georgia next to William Wommack. Also living in Marion County are Micajah Baggett, John Shephard, and Andrew M Shephard.

Apparently Micajah Baggett and Joseph Thomas’ daughter Catherine met and married in either Moore or Chatham County NC around 1820. John Shephard above is likely the son of Andrew Shephard who sold land in Moore County to Philip Johnston who then sold it to Joseph Thomas. And remember that Voluntine Braswell’s tract on Bush Creek in Chatham County passed through the hands of John Shephard before being owned by the Thomas family and later Ishmael Roberts.

In Marion County GA, the 1842 last will and testament of John Sheppard names daughter Mary Thomas. In 1850, the 65 year-old Mary Thomas is enumerated in Buena Vista, Marion County in the home of Osborne and Mary Blair. Mary Blair is Mary Thomas’s daughter. The 1850 Marion County census also enumerates 54 year-old William B Thomas with wife Sarah and children Moore, Asa, John, and Laurel. In 1854, Chattahoochee County was created from western Marion and it’s there where Wm. Thomas and M. Baggett are found:ttt


It seems the Thomas family in Marion and Chattahoochee Counties begin to disappear in the 1850’s and beyond. What happened to William Thomas’ children?

Going back to the first probate record (on page one) found in the earliest Marion County record online it the estate of Henry Thomas. Please take a look below and notice who purchased from his estate and likewise who did not:henry

This post is pretty mangled and for that I apologize. However, in the roundabout way, it’s clear that at least two of Joseph’s children moved to Georgia. And for our THOMAS family Facebook Usergroup, an important challenge lies in connecting several lines in Alabama linked presently by DNA only. One of the families is that of Henry J. Thomas who died in Elmore County Alabama. Henry’s father is Andrew Thomas who married the widow Jane Wood Daily in 1854. The young family appears in 1860 Montgomery County as:


Born 1822 in North Carolina, Andrew Thomas’ given name is a clue I’ve thought would eventually reveal his story. Is it possible Andrew is the son of William in Marion County? And, of all the luck, who is Henry Thomas who died in early Marion County? And, note that one of the buyers of the estate happens to be Micajah Bagget, husband of Joseph Thomas’ daughter Catherine! Could Henry be a member of our family? And, what do you see in the name Andrew? Andrew Shepherd was a large figure in the area along the early Chatham/Moore County line. If his son’s daughter Mary married into the family of Joseph Thomas, would it not make sense for them to have a son Andrew Thomas? The age is right and just maybe Andrew Thomas in Montgomery County Alabama is the son of Henry. And did Henry marry Mary Shephard?

There’s still very much to learn if we are so blessed. Someone with better ties to Marion County GA needs to plow ground there in hopes of further connecting the dots. Note that John Shephard is interred at County Line Primitive Baptist Cemetery, Marion County GA.


In my last post, conveyances by Joseph Thomas in Wake County indicated that ca. 1798 his family was in process of moving the short distance across the Cape Fear into Chatham County. And now, we’re about to go there, to plow new lands thick with our Thomas heritage. In what’s now Lee County NC, the largest family file at the county library is that of the Thomas family.   The family is huge and still going strong today. But before moving forward, let’s take a quick look at Joseph Thomas Senior and what most researchers believe to be his immediate family. Also so as not to confuse, the Joseph I refer is identified in records as literate (able to sign his own documents) and goes by title senior in order to distinguish himself from a son of same name. Note that it’s strongly believed that Joseph Senior is himself the son of a man named Joseph Thomas.

In no particular order, the children of Joseph Thomas Senior are believed to be:

  1. John Thomas b. 1770-1775
  2. Frederick Thomas b. 1770-1780
  3. Micajah Thomas b. 1770-1784*
  4. Martin Thomas b. 1770-1800
  5. Catherine Ann Thomas b. 1770-1800*
  6. Joseph Thomas b. 1771-1772
  7. Benjamin Thomas b. 1775-1776
  8. William Thomas b. 1790-1800*
  9. Allen Thomas b. 1796-1800

We’ve already been introduced to Joseph Senior, John, Micajah, and Joseph Junior in the records of Wake County. And now in Chatham and Moore counties, we’re about to learn of Frederick, Martin, Benjamin, and Allen Thomas. And later, we’ll learn of Catherine and William. Of all these kids, little info has been provided for three (in red asterisks). What happened to them and what’s their story? The storyline is about to get much more interesting; but for now, let’s look at the family’s initial land acquisitions as they move beyond Wake County:

DSC_9123Grant #1511 Chatham NC, ent – – -, surv 18 Oct 1797, iss 13 Dec 1798. Issued to Jno. Thomas, assignee of Joseph Thomas, being 95 acres on the Moore County line adjoining his own and the lands of Micajah Thomas and — Parham.

DSC_9121Grant # 1514 Chatham NC, ent —, surv 19 Oct 1797, iss 13 Dec 1798. Issued to Joseph Thomas being 275 acres on the Moore County line adjoining his own, Micajah Thomas’ and Thomas Partridges’ lands.

micajahGrant # 1035 Moore NC, ent 29 1798, surv 3 Jul 1798, iss 13 Dec 1798. Issued to Joseph Thomas, being 70 acres on both sides of Bush Creek and the Chatham County line adjoining the lands of Jno Cameron and a hill on the SW side of Wm Parham’s. Chainbearers: Micager Thomas, Elisha R. Yarborough.

DSC_9119Grant # 1691 Chatham NC, ent 11 Nov 1799, surv 2 Feb 1801, iss 14 Nov 1801. Issued to Joseph Thomas, being 150 acres on the waters of the Cape Fear adjoining his own, Walker’s, and Partridge’s lands. Chainbearers: Frederick Thos, Bejn Thos.

I love to draw on paper the physical shapes of old land grants and conveyances. Using a scale of 1 pole (16 ½’) equals a millimeter, I draw my ancestral lands and even the lands of their neighbors as far out as I can stand. Once in hand, the paper “plats” are like pieces in a child’s puzzle and can be joined together in map form. But, it’s not so easy. These puzzles offer the clever beauty of a chameleon lizard as the look of each piece (and entire puzzle) changes appearance over time. Each new conveyance offers the opportunity for mutation by way of the ever-changing interpretation of preceding records. At first a plat map made of original grants is pretty simple. Most of the pieces fit together nicely and the resulting display is somewhat predictable. But sometimes there are lost records or mistakes and grants that are issued wrongly or something legally happens requiring the land to be reissued in a new form. Sometimes reissued or later conveyances of grants are similar in appearance but are not exactly the same as the original. Also, conveyance by way of deeds and estate distributions infuses an enormous opportunity for change. People acquire multiple tracts of land only to someday die and have it all uniquely divided by committee to satisfy the numbers and demands of their heirs …a totally different shape matrix is introduced!

So, with the help of my little deck of playing cards, let me show you the lands along the Moore /Chatham County line. The videos below are about our Thomas family and also about the community where they lived. I want you to see it all the way I do, to understand how the changing landscape evolved with our history. I want you to understand how I come to my conclusions. So please, it’s important that you start with video one and work your way through them all. Please hit reply at the bottom of this post and let me know if you have any questions, concerns or additions. This is an initial reading of the puzzle and I’m sure there are mistakes. More can be gleaned through the collective eyes of others. Also, note that hopefully by later this year, and presented online, I’ll have all the lands within this area platted out to include original legal descriptions along with their later conveyances.


It’s time to turn attention back to research here in North Carolina …to the family of Joseph Thomas and of their move from Wake County to land along the Moore/Chatham County line. Arriving in Wake County around 1772, by the 1790’s, court minutes chronical the coming of age of Joseph’s children. Listed in crews working the road to Braswell’s Ferry in Chatham County, by the late 1790’s, members of the family are also documented as being insolvent. Such records foretell of change and of the family’s move across the river.

-June 1790. Ordered that the following hands be added to the Road where William Hays Esq. is overseer of towit: Joseph Thomas, Micajah Thomas, John Thomas, Joseph Thomas Jun. and Nathan Allen.

-December 1794. Ordered that the following jury, to wit, Andrew Peddy, Elijah Watson, John Burt, Joseph Thomas, Joseph Thomas Junr., Micajah Thomas, John Thomas, Daniel Oaks, Stewart Hamiliton, Carnaby Stephens, and Richard Hucaby turn the road leading from James Gaines’ esqr. to Braswell’s ferry and report theron to the next Court.

-INSOLVENTS allowed James Huckabie Collecr. Of the Taxes in Capt. Farrers District for the year 1795: Elkin Jones one poll, Joseph Green 1 poll, Andrew Hambleton one poll, Hardy Lil one poll, Jesse Jent one poll Jesse Lewis one poll, Henry Powel one poll, Hugh Mills one poll, Nathan Powell one pol, Asa Thomas one poll, Ezekiel Smith one poll, Jasper Turner one poll,

Also in Capt. Peddy’s District for the year 1795: Jos. Thomas one poll, John Thomas one poll, Hillery Thomas one poll, Thomas Berney one poll, William Cook one poll, Thomas Hays two poll, Stewart Hambleton one poll, John Lett one poll, Stephen Matthews one poll, Edwin Stephens one poll, William Spivey one poll.

-September 1797. In Capt. Peddy’s District: Revil Coleburn one poll, John Cook one poll, William Cook one poll, Micajah Thomas two poll, Simpson Wood one poll, George Williams two polls, Amey Gross one poll, William Smith one poll.

We have a clear record of Joseph’s land entries and of the various tracts he acquired through grants issued by the Secretary of State. He and other players in his life likely bought and sold an even larger amount of land though such possibilities go unknown as a court house fire in Wake County destroyed a few of the early deed books. Also, as Joseph and family moved piecemeal to neighboring Chatham County, the selling off of their holdings in Wake County does not fully account for all the land that had originally been granted them. With that in mind, here’s the only three surviving deeds recording the family’s divestment of land in Wake County.

Deed R-35 Wake County NC, 31 Dec 1800, recorded Aug 1808. Joseph Thomas of Chatham County NC to William Hayes of Wake. Being 366 acres on the waters of Buckhorn Creek adjoining the lands of Hayes (formerly Sellers), Wommack, Peddy, Daniel Oaks, Phillip Smith’s (now William Hayes). Witnesses: Elleck (x) Howard, Willia (x) Sugg.

Deed R-320 Wake County NC, 20 Feb 1800, recorded Feb 1803. Joseph Thomas of Chatham County to James Huckabee of Wake. Being an unidentified amount of acreage on both sides of Little White Oak Creek. Witnesses: Jesse Winbourn, James Parker.

Deed U-277 Wake County NC, 1 Jan 1802, registered Feb 1808. Joseph Thomas, David Mimms, & Jacob Leven to William Ragland of Chatham County. Being 169 acres on the east side of the Great White Oak Creek adjoining the county line and Moses Hicks and Woodard’s lands. Witnesses” Thomas (L) Ash, David (x) Waldon, Richard Adams.

At this point it’s time to focus beyond Wake County to Chatham and Moore and to the dynamics of life there. Rather than inundating you with a huge amount of land conveyance data, in this series of posts, I’m trying a new approach in rolling out future chapters of this family story. Please take a look at the following short video. I cannot begin to imagine how to communicate the broken trail of land records in a clear and succinct manner. This video, and others following, will illustrate the move, the changing times as well as my thoughts on how all the loose parts come together. I believe that how we come to learn something is as important as the intended lesson itself. So, please click on the following link and enjoy …I hope this works!







Virginia Gazette advertisement, 9 March 1769 [Rind]: 3.

It was 1688 and Edward Thomas in a display of difference of faith was accused of slandering Bruton Parish minister James Sclater. Edward did not live much longer as his will is probated in 1693. Soon after his death, Edward’s home on Queen’s Creek (now belonging to his son named Edward) was visited by prominent Quaker leader Thomas Story. It’s from Thomas Story’s journal that Edward Thomas’ home is identified as “Bangor House.”

The 1700’s witnessed a transition of the Queen’s Creek property away from the hands of the Thomas family as the History of Porto Bello Plantation indicates that by the mid 1700’s the family was no longer in the area. Please note that I do not have ready access to records for the period and will need assistance if we are to have a chance at determining this Thomas family’s next move.

The History of Porto Bello Plantation further indicates that by 1750 a home on what was once the Thomas property is at that point known as “Porto Bello.” Courtesy of the James River Archeology Institute, the following two paragraphs tell of the transition including the change in name for the old home place on Queen’s. Further gleaned from the report, I’ll conclude this series of posts with a few highlights marking the significant history of what was once John Thomas’ Queen’s Creek land from 1750 to present. 

John Thomas [son of Edward II] lived only a short time after inheriting his father’s house and land: in September 1718, his widow Ann informed the court that he had died intestate. Under the terms of Edward Thomas’ will, if his sons died prematurely, his son-in-law Giles Moody was to have the use of the plantation until his grandson John Thomas came of age [Giles Moody was married to Mary Thomas, the daughter of Edward Thomas II].  It appears that Moody—who operated a ferry and tavern at the nearby Capitol Landing on Queens Creek—took advantage of this provision after John Thomas died. In March 1725, the court was informed that Giles Moody had “committed waste” on the lands of John Thomas’ orphans, i.e. failed to adequately maintain the property. Nothing appears to have come of this charge, however, and for the next 25 years it is unclear what happened to the estate. The York County records provide no indication as to who was living there, or when the property was sold. All that is known with certainty is that it had left the Thomas family by 1750, as it was then in the hands of John James Hullett and known as “Porto Bello” (YCDOW 15: 313, 342; York County Orders and Wills 16: 326).

It is likely that the property was named after 1740, the year in which British forces—including a Virginia contingent—attacked the Spanish town of Cartagena in what is now Colombia, whose harbor was known as “Porto Bello.” In fact, the leader of this expedition, Admiral Edward Vernon, lent his name to another well-known Washington family seat: Mount Vernon. Although it is not yet clear who may have named the estate on the north bank of Queens Creek, the first known reference to the plantation dates to 1758, when Alexander Finnie purchased it from John James Hullette, a questionable character who had earlier been sued for “excessive or deceitful gambling.” Finnie himself appears to have suffered perennial financial problems. In June 1764, he mortgaged four slaves (Tom, Will, Juba, and Mars), along with his cattle, harness, household goods, and kitchen furniture at Porto Bello, pledging the entire estate as collateral. Finnie’s debts continued to mount, and in December 1767 he advertised for rent a three-story house, “pleasantly situated on a rising hill, in the middle of a fine peach orchard, facing the south, and Queen’s creek before the door, where there is plenty of the best fish and oysters.” Finnie added that this property was “but a small distance from my house at Porto Bello, and has a garden, smokehouse, dairy, and all other necessary out-houses belonging to it” (Campbell 1961: 460-63; Virginia Gazette [Purdy], 12 December 1767: 3).

 Courtesy of James River Archeology Institute, here is a remaining timeline of brief highlights from the History of Porto Bello:

  • Porto Bello went to public auction in December 1769, and was purchased by the Williamsburg mercantile firm of John Prentis and Company.
  • In November 1770, William and Rachel Drummond bought Porto Bello, which included 319 acres and nine slaves: Jenny and her three children, Sam, Mary, and Isabella; Lucy and her children Aggy and Hannah; George; and Cato. [William Drummond married Rachel Tyler and may be the grandson of William Drummond who, in 1664 was appointed to be governor of the Albemarle County colony (which would eventually became North Carolina.]
  • William Drummond died in 1772, leaving the estate to his widow Rachel Drummond who in September 1773 advertised Porto Bello for sale.Virginia Gazette advertisement, 4 November 1773 [Rind]: 3.dunmore
  • SetWidth300-lorddunm0282bLord Dunmore [John Murray, Lord Dunmore] purchased Porto Bello on 18 November 1773. For the next year and a half he used the property, located only six miles from his official residence in Williamsburg, as a rural retreat or hunting lodge. And to facilitate his passage, he personally financed the construction of a stone bridge across Queen’s Creek at Capitol Landing. But his days at Porto Bello—and indeed in Virginia—were now numbered. As revolutionary tensions mounted in the colonial capital in the late spring of 1775, Dunmore thought it advisable to leave Williamsburg, and in June he installed himself and his family aboard ship in Yorktown harbor. By July, the Virginia Gazette reported that “all his Lordship’s domesticks had now left the palace, and are gone, bag and baggage to his farm at Porto Bello.” Around that time, Dunmore decided that he would return to his York County estate to survey the situation. Captain Montagu, commanding the frigate Fowey on which the governor was living, accompanied him with a number of crewmen and carpenters who planned to cut one of Dunmore’s trees to serve as a mast on the ship’s boat. The party rowed up the York River in a barge, and then up Queens Creek to Porto Bello. Montagu and Dunmore sat down to a leisurely dinner while the men scouted the woods for a suitable tree. Before long, however, a servant burst in and announced that the enemy was rapidly approaching. “We had just time to get into our boat and escape,” Dunmore recalled. It would be the last time he set foot at Porto Bello (Campbell 1961: 465; Noël Hume 1966: 226-29, 257, 259-60).
  • In June 1776, the Convention seized Dunmore’s Virginia landholdings and appointed commissioners to lease his lands and sell his slaves and personal property at auction. In November 1779, York County escheator James Shields advertised the property for sale. No record of the subsequent transaction has survived, but it appears that Porto Bello soon came into the hands of Francis Bright, whose family would occupy the property for several generations (Campbell 1961: 466).


1And1more_fusedFollowing the death (prior to 1665) of John Thomas, his son Edward was bequeathed the Queen’s Creek land where he too lived out life. And as you’ll read in the following two paragraphs from the History of Porto Bello Plantation, it wasn’t John’s son Edward whose home was visited by prominent Quaker Thomas Story; rather, it was his son of same name. Please take a moment to read the following courtesy of the James River Archeology Institute:

What prompted Stephen and Edward Thomas to finally legalize their arrangement after so many years is unclear. Perhaps it was ill health, as Edward lived only three years longer. In his will dated September 1693, he left the Queens Creek property to his sons Edward and John with a unique stipulation. Although it was his desire that they hold the land jointly, should a dispute arise that required a division of the land, the portion of the property with no buildings would go to the brother who had started the disagreement. No such measure appears to have been necessary, however, if only because John had died or left the area (he subsequently vanished from the York County records). In any case, it was Edward Thomas II who would occupy the Queens Creek plantation (YCDOW 9: 283).

During Edward Thomas’[Junior] tenure the property would host its most significant visitor prior to the American Revolution. In 1698, his Queens Creek home was the site of the first American sermon preached by Thomas Story, a friend of William Penn who has been described as one of the most important Anglo-American Quakers. As he related in his autobiography, Story had felt a divine calling to visit the colonies in that year. After a stormy Atlantic crossing, his ship arrived off Point Comfort in December. “On the 11th of 12th month,” he recalled, “we set sail in the long boat for Queen’s Creek in York River, where we got with some difficulty, and were made welcome at the house of our friend Edward Thomas; had a meeting with the family, and a few of the neighborhood, who, though not of the society, were several of them much tendered; which was the first fruits of our ministry in that country, and good encouragement.” After his sojourn with the Thomas family, Story visited a number of other Quakers in the area, including John Bates of “Scimmino in York County.” Interestingly, Bates would later be a witness to the will of Edward’s son John, suggesting that there was an active network of dissenters in the area. Story had not originally intended to remain in America. William Penn invited him to stay, however, and he served in a number of official positions in Pennsylvania before finally returning to England in 1714. During this time he continued his ministry, returning to Virginia in 1705 and visiting “Queen’s Creek” on at least two occasions, including their “yearly meeting” (Weeks 1896: 64-65; Kendall 1805: 103-4, 196-97; Anon. 1869: 77-78).

 Having hoped for a clear and simple resolution on our start in Virginia, I’m a bit stunned by the above findings. We know of the 1649 patent on Queen’s Creek to John Thomas mentioning wife Dorothy. And then in 1651, a John Thomas received a patent across the York River on Poropotank Creek in part for transporting Katherine and James Thomas. And then in 1665, John’s last will in testament names wife Katherine along with sons Stephen, James and Edward. The story of whom and what for Dorothy remains a mystery. But for the original homeplace patented along Queen’s Creek, it passed through the hands of Edward and then again through his son of same name. Putting a bit of meat to the bones, let’s take a look at a few more records attributed to John and his descendants:

[YCR] 19 Sep 1672 – Edward Thomas, having attained the age of 21, is ordered to be possessed of his estate by Ben Lillingston, his father in Law and gaurdian, Mary Hawthorne having made oath he is of age to Mr. Vaulx, in court.

[YCR] 25 Oct 1675 – Two references are granted to Edward Thomas till next court at suit of Mr James Vaulx, and other suit of Henry Benskin, as marrying the relect of Mr. Benjamin Lillington.

[YCR] 24 Jan 1675Edward Thomas was appointed surveyor of highways in upper precinct of Bruton Parish, in place of Mr. Thomas Taylor.

24 January 1688/9. James Slater, Cl[erk]. Brought an action of defamation against Edward Thomas and declared that Thomas did wickedly and mallishously scandalize and abuse Slater in his ministerial function by several opprobrious and defamatory words at several times by saying that he had heard the plaintiff speacke blasphemous words and blaspheamie to the paintiff’s great losse, staine to be his credit and reputation and to his great injury in his pastorhall charge and to his damage L500 sterling. The defendant confessed the words but seeing matter of fact ought to be found by a jury, a jury was impaneled: Hen: Howard               Ralph Walker Thos. Ray                       Jno. Underhill Jno: Wyte                     Wm. Heywood Robt: Hyde                   Wm. Hawthorne Phill: Moody                 Wm: Wade Henry Taylor                Geo: Hambleton

Wee find for the plaintiff L50 sterling and the defendant to aske the plaintiff forgiveness two several Sabbath dayes in Bruton Parish and likewise on next York Court day, or else to double the fine. The defendant moveing nothing in arrest thereof and being asked by the court whether hee would prove the words, replyed how could hee prove them, from which judgement the defendant appeales to the 5th day of the next Generall Court and enters Willm. Comon his securitie for prosecuting his appeal and James Slaterenters Hugh Norrell his securytie for answering the same.

Vol. 8 p. 261 [YCDOW] – 24 May 1689. Edward Thomas of York County unto the Honorale Nathaniell Bacon Esqr. In satisfaction of L66.1.10 sterling and 308 pounds of tobacco which is the balance of all accounts to this day. One English man servant named William Colligrig and one woman servant named Elizabeth Corne, about three yeares apiece to serve, and one Indian boy commonly called Dick, four feather beds and furniture, and seven cowes, markt cropt and keeld of the right and slitt and underkeele of left.       Edward Thomas Wit: Wm. Bassett, William Davis. 24 May 1689. Proved by the witnesses.m

Vol. 9 p. 182 [YCDOW] – Stephen Thomas and Eliz: his wife their deed for land 10 January 1690 [1691] was with the bond for performance of covenants acknowledged by Stephen Thomas unto Edward Thomas.

Vol. 9 p, 281 [YCDOW] – Will of Edward Thomas of Bruton Parish in the County of Yorke, dated 21 Sept. 1693.   Unto my true and well loved sons Edward and John Thomas all my land wheron I now live in Bruton Parish upon Queen’s Creek, jointly and in coparsonary to have the same with all houses, edifices, buildings, gardens, orchards & c In case Edward and John cannot or doe not agree in the joynt possession, then for quieting the differences betwixt my well beloved friends Dannll. Ackurst and John Pleasant shall enter upon the premises and the same according to the quantity of land into two parts equally divide. The moiety of the land whereupon are noe buildings shall be given to him who is the first mover or stirrer up of discord, notwithstanding the seniority or priority of age and birth and after such division Edward and John shall deliver unto each other a firme indenture of partition. And to the end that the land shall not alienate nor come into the hands and possession of strangers, if Edward or John dye without a lawfull issue the survivor shall enjoy the whole land and if either of them offer to sell his part then upon proofe made of such offer the other shall immediately thereon enter and possession take as if he were naturally dead and such offender eject. Because upon such division there must needs be difference and inequality by reason of the buildings upon one moiety, to moderate and ballance the same I desire that my friends Dannill. Ackhurst and John Pleasant shall sett a value upon the buildings, clearings & c and one halfe of such vallue be allowed by him to whome that part of the land falls to the other whose lott is where there are no buildings.

Unto Edward and John and unto each 40 shillings sterling in full Mary and Rebeckah Thomas to each 40 shillings sterling in full of their portion of my estate when they attaine to the age of twenty one years or day of marryage and if any of them dye before such time, his or her parte to goe amongst the survivors.

All the rest of my estate, cattle, horses, mares, sheep, hogs, woolen, linings, brass, iron, pewter, wood, stone, bills, bonds, obligations and whatsoever in my owne hands or in the hands of any other unto my loving wife Ann Thomas.

My wife executrix ad my two friends Dannll. Ackhurst and John Pleasant coadjutors and assistants to her.       Edward Thomas 24 Nov. 1693. Acknowledged in court by Edward Thomas.

 30 Aug 169-. Deed of Lease. Robert Vaulx of Dorchester Co. MD planter for 5 shillings farme letten to Stephen Fouace of Yorke Co. clerke all that tr of land which was formerly by patent dated 29 Oct 1647 granted to John Davis from who it descended unto Thomas Davis in fee, & by him was conveyed in fee simple unto James Vaulx, and from him legally & rightfully descended & come unto the sd Robert Vaulz containing 150 a. of land o the upper most side of Queen’s Creek bounded by the land of Jernew, John Judson & Joseph Croshaw & also one other tr of land in Bruton Parish (or Brereton) formerly called Merston Parish in Yorke Co adj 150 a. of land formerly ye estate of John Thomas & by him conveyed to John Davis, from whome it descended unto the afsd Thomas Davis who conveyed over in fee unto the afsd James Vaulx from whome it descended rightfully & lawfully unto the sd Robert Vaulx, containing 100 a, & sold by the sd Robert Vaulx to Arther Lunn… . Wit: John Tahlor, W Bladen. Port of Annapolis 31 Aug then came into court the within named Robt Vaulx & did ackn to within to be his act & deed to the use within mentioned. Law Gregory clk of the court. Ackn 24 Mar 1699 by the atty Benjamin Harrison on behalf of the within named Robt Vaulx & Elizth his wife unto Stephen Rouace & committed to record. Attest: William Sedwick clerk (pg 241)

24 Nov 1709. Deed of Lease. The honorable Philip Ludwell esqr atty of Stephen Fonase of Sutton in the Parish of Heston in the Co. of Middlesex in England clerk for L42:10 farm let unto Capt William Timson of Bruton Parish, York Co., VA & Capt James Archer of same place a 150 a. tr of land formerly by patent dated 29 Oct 1647 granted to John Davis & his heirs forever & by several mean conveyances conveyed unto the Stephen Fonase in fee simple situate on the uppermost side of Queens Cr bounded by land fornerly of Mr Jernew, land of John Judson & land of Joseph Croshaw, also one other 100 a. tr. Of land in Bruton Parish ad ti & upon the afsd tr of land being formerly the land of John Thomas by several mean conveyances conveyed unto the afsd Stephen Fonase in fee simple …for the term of 21 years paying the annual rent of one grain of Indian corn upon the feast day of the Nativity of our Lord God …& that the [blank] w/o the sd Stephen Fonase shall & will relinquish her right of dower …Wit: Fra Ballard, M. Ballard, Michl Archer. Ackn 24 Nov 1709 by Philip Ludwell esqr atty of Stephen Fonase of England clerk & admitted to record. Attest: Phi Lightfoot clerk. (Pg 333)

25 Feb 1702. The former order to summon Edward Thomas to this court to give an account of ye estate of Francis Brewer dec’d at ye suite of Mary Brewer in behalfe of her four sons ye lawfull brothers of ye said dec’d is continued to the next court ye def being now sick (Pg 92)

24 May 1703. A true account of ye estate of FRANCES BREWER late dec’d. 2 cowes, 1 ½ year old boul, 1 ½ year old steer, 2 calves, in all six head, 1 old silver spoone. Edward Thomas. Ordered to be recorded 29 Jun 1703. (Pg 119)

24 Jun 1703. The return of ye estate of Francis Brewer decd by Edward Thomas is ordered to be committed to record & it is further ordered that ye said Edward Thomas deliver up ye said estate in kind to Mary Brewer who formerly made suite to ye court for ye same in behalfe of sd dec’ds four brothers namely Sakefield, Edmund, Peter & Thomas heirs at law to sd estate the sd Mary Brewer paying to sd Edward Thomas 3 pd for his charge of sd decd’s last sickness & funerall expenses. (Pg 130)

24 Mar 1704. Thomas Dunsford his petition for his freedom from Edwd Thomas is granted as ye sd Edward being summoned to this court and making no defense, it is ordered ye sd Edward pay cost. (Pg 319)

24 Aug 1704. Edward Thomas Junr by his petition setting forth that there is due to him by marrying ye orphan of Thomas Reynolds decd an estate of 43 pd 4 sl 11 pn which said estate is found to be in ye hands of Edward Thomas Senr by marryage with ye relict of said Reynolds and the sd Edward Thomas Senr not shewing cause why judgment should not pass agt him for payment therof said Edward Thomas Junr hath judgment granted agt sd Edward Thomas Senr for present payment therof with cost. (Pg 248)

25 Mar 1706. Nathaniel Norris servant of Edward Thomas Senr on his petition obtained judgment agt sd Edward (who being present & making no defense) for his freedom & corn & cloths according to ye customs of ye country and is ordered to be paid with cost. (Pg 403)

Will of Edwrd Thomas [Junior] of Bruton Parish, York Co. To my son John Thomas & to my son Abraham Thomas all that tr of land whereupon I now live lying in Bruton Parish upon Queen’s Cr divided ys same way between my two sons Jno & Abraham Thomas as followeth, I give to my son Jno Thomas my dwelling house & plantation & land to be bounded by Spring Br & Stephen Foarce, to my son John Thomas & his heirs being maile & in case of no such heir then to my son Abraham Thomas & his maile (heir) of his body but if no such then to my grandson James Thomas & his maile heir but if no such to my grandson Jno Thomas & his heir being maile. I give ye other pt/o my land called Fish Neck bounded with Queen’s Cr.., Archers Swamp & sd Foarce’s line, to my son Abraham Thomas & his heirs being maile but if no such heirs then I give to my grandson James Thomas & his maile heirs, but if no such then I give it to my grandson John Thomas & to his maile heirs, but if it should happen that my son Abraham should die without heirs then then my will is that my son in law Giles Moody & my daughter Mary Moody to have ye use of my estate til my grandson James or John Thomas come to age. To my son John Thomas 5 shillings. To my dau Mary Moody 5 shillings. To my dau Martha Thomas 5 shillings. To my dau Rebecca Ree 1 shilling. I give all ye rest of my estate to my son Abraham Thomas after my debts are paid & also what debts are doe to me I give to him also & do make my son Abraham at age ye day of my death & I do appoint my sons Jno Thomas & Abraham Thomas executors. Dated 12 Apr 1714. Wit: W. Timson, Wm Unthanks, Jno Robinson. Proved 17 May 1714 & admitted to record. Attest: Phi Lightfoot (p. 329)

15 Sep 1718. Bond. Ann Thomas, James Bates & John Bates Junr of York Co are firmly bound unto the justices of sd co for 300 pd …the condition of this obligation is such that if the afsd Ann Thomas adminr of the estate of John Thomas decd to make a tru & perfect inventory of all & singular the goods, chattles & credits of the sd John Thomas decd which have or shall come to her hands, & the same so made do exhibit into co court & do well & truly administer according to law, & further do make a true & just acct of her actings & doings therein, & all the rest & residue of the sd goods, chattles & credits which shall be found remaining the same being first examined by the justices shall delier & pay unto such persons the sd justices by their order or judgement shall direct, then this obligation to be void … Ackn 15 Sep 1718 & admitted to record. Attest: Phi Lightfoot clerk. (pg. 326)


As can be seen in record, John Thomas’ son Edward lived out a very interesting life on his Queen’s Creek plantation. You can see Edward’s 1688 interaction with the established Anglican Church. Was that actually Edward or his son of same name? Edward Junior   interacted legally with Mary Brewer. Her maiden name is Smith and she married first George Bates, brother of Quaker John Bates. She married second to Edmond Brewer. Also, Edward II’s son John died not long after his father and it looks like Quaker John Bates (or his children) witnessed the estate settlement.

There’s also a land dispute that was settled with the services of attorney Phillip Ludwell Esq. who may have been the Governor of Carolina? His adversary in court is Benjamin Harrison who may be the great grandfather of President Benjamin Harrison? And then there is a legal suite involving Nathaniel Bacon Esq. who was at one point acting Governor of the Colony.

It’s a rich history and not to be known as that of a simple immigrant family as I had imagined.  For me, I’ve been able to find little further on John’s sons Stephen and James as it appears they either died or removed themselves from the area.

The History of Porto Bellow does leave open the possibility that Edward’s son John may have either died early or moved beyond the legal records of York County. This leaves open the slim chance that Edward’s son John is he who’s believed to be in our family tree. But, that’s quite a longshot as I have no immediate access to any supporting research bearing the missing linkage.

In the next post we’ll look briefly at the title history of land on Queen’s Creek beyond its ownership by the Thomas family. It’s got a fabulous history though there’s but little genealogical information remaining to be gleaned. And, after looking at the land history, I’ll conclude with a final post on implications for our Thomas family research along with a bit of discussion on where we might go from here.



Floor plan of extant Porto Bello house prior to 1915 fire (Campbell 1961: 467.

From John Thomas’ 1651 patent for 450 acres on Poropotank Creek, we are introduced to Kath. Thomas and James Thomas who were among nine others transported as headrights by John to America. More than ten years later, the relationship between these people named Thomas becomes clear as is found in an entry of the Bruton [& Middleton] Parish Register:

Burials in 1663 – March 14, Robert Thomas sonne of John & Katherine Thomas  

A few years later John Thomas himself died as is recorded in his last will and testament. Opening a whole new chapter in the life of John Thomas on Queen’s Creek, let’s take a look at paragraph three from the History of Porto Bello Plantation (courtesy of the James River Archeology Institute}.

John Thomas died in October 1665. According to the terms of his will, his wife Katherine was to share the Queens Creek property with their sons, James, Stephen, and Edward as long as she remained a widow. Katherine subsequently married Benjamin Lillingston, and James died prematurely, leaving Stephen and Edward the sole owners. Although the division of their inheritance was not formalized until 1690, it is likely that the two brothers had reached an accommodation some time earlier, with Stephen settling on their father’s Poropotank River property in what is now King and Queen County, and Edward living on the Queens Creek plantation, which by that time had been reduced by sale to 223 acres (York County Deeds, Orders, Wills [YCDOW] 4: 63; Barbar 1923: 71; YCDOW 1: 308, 332; YCDOW 9: 153).

Let’s look at supporting records:

-p. 55 Will of John Thomas 3 April 166_married My houses and 250 acres at Queen’s Creek, where I live, to my three sons James, Stephen and Edward Thomas, equally divided between them and my wife for widowhood. All my land at Portupotamcke, 490 acres, to them above, also my household goods. Wit: William Gibbes, John (O) Lewis. Signed: John (IT) Thomas Recorded 26 Feb 1665.

-By court order of 26 Feb. 1665 we have divided estate of John Thomas dec’d:

To James Thomas, L31/4/20 and 1432 ½ lbs tob., with same to Edward Thomas, and Stephen Thomas, children of dec’d. to the relict: L46/17/3 and 2239 lbs tob. To each of them livestock 12 March 1665 Signed: Richard Croshaw, Ralph Graves*, Henry (H) white*, Ashell Batten.

*brother in laws of Richard Croshaw, son of Joseph Croshaw.

-p. 57 Bod of Benjamin Lillington & Ralph Graves of Maston Parishm, Yock Co. 13 March 1665 for Lillington’s administration of the estate of John Thomas dec’d. Wit: Richard Croshaw, Jno. Baskervyle. Signed: P Efford Recorded 13 April 1665.

24 January 1666. It appearing on report of Mrs. Katherine Lillington that James Thomas is 21; and it is ordered he be possessed of his estate by Mr. Benjamin Lillington, his guardian and father in law.

25 January 1666. On petition of Stephen Thomas his brother James Thomas is appointed his guardian.

I, Thomas London, testify that it is 19 years ago and as much as since 9th day October last, since Katherine Thomas, the mother of James Thomas, brought him forth out of England. 23 Jan 1666. Thomas (x) London.

20 April 1666. John Baskervyle, for his trouble in Inventory of John Thomas. Dec’d to be paid 1000 lbs. tob.

On petition of James Thomas, son of John Thomas, dec’d, Richard Roberts is appointed his guardian, and he is to have benefit of his own labor, being over 17 years of age.

James Thomas desired me to acquaint you that I have nothing to say in contradiction to his age. I thought good to write you, otherwise my not coming there might, as he suggests, do him injury. I would have waited upon the court myself, but am already troubled with a cold and this weather might a caused more. March 24, 1666 Signed Ben Lilllington.

-p. 63 Inventory of John Thomas, dec’d, (whole page), valued at L140/11/09 1665, by Richard Croshaw, Ralph Graves, Henry (H) White and Aschell Batten. Signed: Katherine (K) Lillington, relict of John Thomas 24 April 1666.

Henry White, age 34, says he was to seale the upper rooms with riven boards and make wainscote partitions between the two rooms and a wainscotte portal on the stair head and put banisters on the stairs, and Bourne was to pay him 606 lbs tob. Signed Henery (H) White, wit: Jno. Baskervyle.

-p. 64. Bond of Benjamin Lillington, Daniel Wyld and Richard Roberts for Lillington, 24 April 1666, that as he married Katherine, a relict of John Thomas, dec’d, he will cause to be paid to James, Edward and Stephen Thomas, sons of John, their shares of estate. James is eldest son. Signed: Ben Lillington, Daniel Wyld, Richard Roberts. Recorded 24 April 1666.

19 Sep 1672. Edward Thomas, having attained the age of 21, is ordered to be possessed of his estate by Ben Lillingston, his father in Law and gaurdian, Mary Hawthorne having made oath he is of age to Mr. Vaulx, in court.

I, Thomas Davis of York Co. and Maston Parish, sold to James Vaulx, land in the above parish, between Capt. William Corker and Edward Thomas, 150 acres as by patent, and 1—acres more, purchased by my father, John Davis, from John Thomas, being bounded by this 150 acres 29 Oct. 1672. [In 1674, Marston Parish was combined with Middletown to form the present Bruton Parish. Bruton Parish church still stands in Williamsburg, Virginia. Bishop Meade, an early Episcopalian minister of Virginia, says in his book, Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia, that James Vaulx was a vestryman of Bruton Parish church.] Wit: Elizabeth Wall, William (I) Showall. Recorded 21 Nov. 1672.

24 Jan 1675. Edward Thomas was appointed surveyor of highways in upper precinct of Bruton Parish, in place of Mr. Thomas Taylor.

From estate related records, we learn that Katherine is indeed the wife of John Thomas whose last will and testament was probated in 1665 York County VA. In testimony from Thomas London, Katherine brought her oldest son James out of England around 1646. This record and date agrees with John Thomas’s 1651 Poropotank Creek patent naming Katherine and James. And, we know that John’s son Edward came to leagal age of 21 in 1672. This means he was born ca. 1651 about the time John patented land on Poropotank Creek.

The legal attorney Benjamin Lillington was administrator of John Thomas’ estate. Benjamin soon after married Katherine, John Thomas’ widow. And, it appears Katherine’s son James married Benjamin Lillington’s daughter.

I find it interesting the size and scope of John Thomas’ estate. He appears not to be the mild mannered indentured servant our family has made him out to be. He was evidently prosperous, mixing in circles of the famed and powerful. And in preparing the estate, neighbor Joseph Crowshaw’s son-in-law Henry White documented structural repairs giving us a glimpse into what John Thomas’ home was like. Two stories, wainscotte and a portal at the stairhead; looking at the ca. 1900 photo of Porto Bello, I have to ask if the house or at least a knock-down rebuilt version of it was built upon the foundation of John Thomas’ homeplace? Or, as building technology advanced, could the archeological remains of an old barn or other outbuilding be the home place of John Thomas?

John Thomas in mention of his lands will appear in records into the 1700’s. His land will be visited by a notable Quaker and will later become home away from home being the Governor’s retreat. We do not exactly know John Thomas’s religion or beliefs. However, upcoming posts will shed light upon the lives and beliefs embraced by his children.



Before moving forward, let’s take a bit of time to place locations previously mentioned:

A. John Thomas’ 1649 patent – Located on the north side of Queen’s Creek. This patent names “wife Dorothy.”

B. Ware Creek – About 15 miles up-river being the location of John Broach’s Patent with headright for Anthony Parkhurst. John Broach would soon sell land on Queen’s Creek to said Parkhurst from whom it passed to John Thomas per 1649 patent. Also, just a year before John Thomas’ patent on Queens Creek, William Hoccaday patented land on Ware Creek with headright for John Thomas.

C. Skimino Creek – Location of dissenting Quaker activity, second stop (after with Edward Thomas) of Quaker Thomas Story, and place where “John Thomas of Queen’s Creek purchased a horse.

D. Poropotank Creek – Not yet mentioned, and as will soon become perfectly clear, John Thomas of Queen’s Creek received a land patent in on this creek. Situated on the north side and about three miles upstream from its mouth on the York River, the land was in then Gloucester County on the county line in what became King and Queen County Virginia in the 1650’s. Note there are very few records surviving for early Gloucester and King And Queen County. John Thomas must have had a keen business sense with the ability to make it as one of Virginia’s early farmers. He hedged his options through the diversification of land holdings. We traditionally see him as cloistered on the banks of Queen’s Creek. That’s not so.

The following are but a few records I found for John Thomas and his land on Poropotank:

JOHN THOMAS, 450 acs. Gloster Co., 6 Nov. 1651, p. 343. Upon W. N. W. side of Poropotank Cr., about 3 mi. up the same, along the Cr. Side opposite to land of Mr. Nicho. Jernew. Trans, of 9 pers: Edward Hide, Kath. Thomas, James Thomas, John Richards, George Locke, Wm. Peale, Abigale Longdale, John Brocas, Grace Musgrove.

JOHN LEVISTONE, 400 acs. Gloster Co., 16 Dec. 1653, p. 227. On the W. side of Poropotank Cr., behind land of John Thomas, etc. Trans, of 8 pers: Anne Silke, Jno. Backster, Barbery Scott, Ralph Bottock, James Joane, Rose Allen, Wm. Lamb.

RICHARD WILCHIN, 300 acs. Gloster Co., 30 Sept. 1654, p. 289. On N. E. side of Poropotank Cr., adj. land of John Thomas &c, to a Cr. dividing this & land of Mr. Canho & Mr. Vaus. 200 acs. by vertue of the rights of a bill of sale for so much from Mrs. Eliz. Vaus, the Atty. of Robt. Vaus, & confirmed by Mr. Hump. Vaus & Mr. Joseph Croshaw; & 100 acs. for trans, of 2 pers: Richard Wilchin & his wife Rachell.

JOHN LEVISTON, 453 acs. New Kent Co., 30 Aug. 1664, p. 348, (363). N.W. side of Poropotanke Cr., adj. John Thomas’ land, running S.W. by S. &c. to Timothy Landells land, thence W. by N. &c. 400 acs. ranted him the 16 Dec. 1653 & 53 acs. for trans, of 2 pers: Joane Browne, Henry Pratt.

JOHN LEVISTON, 453 acs. New Kent Co., 30 Aug. 1664, p. 348, (363). N.W. side of Poropotanke Cr., adj. John Thomas’ land, running S.W. by S. &c. to Timothy Landells land, thence W. by N. &c. 400 acs. ranted him the 16 Dec. 1653 & 53 acs. for trans, of 2 pers: Joane Browne, Henry Pratt.

Note that neighbors from Queen’s Creek such as Joseph Croshaw and Nicholas Jernew owned land near John Thomas on Poropotank. And most interesting is the 450 acre patent by John Thomas. Just two years after patenting land on Queen’s Creek, and maybe being just three years after a John Thomas came to the area by headright for William Hockaday, now John Thomas is himself transporting nine persons to America. Among them are persons named Katherine Thomas and James Thomas. Who are they? How do they play into our story?

Sorry for the sidebar but this is much needed before moving on. And now, as prior said, let’s look at information gleaned from the death of John Thomas and let’s start to view him from what we’ve learned of the family thereafter.