Before moving on to the next generation (family of Joseph Thomas [II] who died ca. 1755-1757 in Bertie County), I’d like to revisit my last two posts built upon family records pretty much in an order of events and their discovery. There are still loose ends and though the information provided was important, it’s failed to convey the dynamic of our family as a whole. At this point I’ll begin at the same starting point before quickly breaking it down in the format more generally used in family trees. Each child will be given a subtitle and bio.
With that in mind, and dated 10 Dec 1732 (probated Feb 1735), Joseph Thomas [I] penned his last will and testament mentioning wife Eales (Alice); sons Joseph, Michael, Luke, James, Jacob; and daughter Charity. There was yet another child named Mary as in Feb 1742, Bertie County County court minutes records the widow Alice’s household as follows: “Alice Thomas proved her rights vizt: Alice Thomas, James Thomas, Jacob Thomas, Mary Thomas whites & York, Rose, Ned, Simon, Philis & Penny Blacks.”
In his father’s 1732 last will and testament, Michael Thomas was bequeathed 640 acres “now in the occupation of Griffith Summerel (Summerlin). Michael was also appointed Executor indicating that he was of legal age and therefore would have been born in the early 1710’s.
In Aug 1742, Michael Thomas was listed in the household of his brother “Joseph Thomas on oath proved his rights to wit: Joseph Thomas, Anne Thomas & Michael Thomas & Mary Thomas white persons.” Maybe Griffith Summerell was still living on the land of Michael Thomas?
Dated 9 Oct 1762, Michael (x) Thomas sold to John Hill (planter) 547 acres on the “north side of Pellmell & known by the name of Moburn Hills.” Note that this is not the same John Hill who was high judge for many years in Bertie County. However, and not knowing much about him, this particular person named John Hill must have been a close collateral relation (much more later). The deed [K-188, Bertie] was witnessed by Michael’s brother-in-law Solomon (x) Asbell and their neighbor Thomas (x) Bass.
Two years later, in May 1764, the last will and testament of Thomas Bass was produced in open court & proved in due form of law by the oath of Henry Bunch (free Afican American) & Michael Thomas two subscribing witnesses & ordered to be recorded by the oath of David Gaskins one of the subscribing witnesses & ordered to be registered.
Dated 24 Jun 1766, Michael Thomas planter sold 70 acres to “John Capehart County & Province afsd Smith of the other part.” The land was situated on the south side of Cashy Swamp adjoining Spring Branch and Robert Hardy’s land. The transaction was witnessed by William Starke and Hezekiah Ponder.
Indicating the passing of Michael Thomas, in Mar 1767, it was “ordered that Annie Thomas Exx of Michael Thomas sell the perishable part of the estate of the said Michael.”
JOSEPH THOMAS [II]
In his father’s last will and testament, Joseph [II]’s mother Alice was deeded the family’s homeplace and after her death the land was to revert to Joseph [II].
Dated 12 May 1735, a tract of 220 acres that had passed from Richard Melton to Francis Parker and then from Francis Parker to Henry Averett had now passed to Joseph Thomas. Occurring after the death of Joseph [I], this was either a deed to Joseph [I] recorded post-mortem or it was a deed to Joseph [II]. If to Joseph [II] the transaction indicates that Joseph [II] was of legal age at the time of purchase. He would have been born no later than 1718.
Three years later, in Feb 1738, Jos. Thomas [II] was appointed “Constable in the ye room of Rt. Howell.“ This record further establishes Joseph Thomas’ birth as occurring in the mid 1710’s. Joseph was likely born along the Oropeak Swamp or further north into Nansemond County VA.
Out of her house and separated from his mother, in Aug 1742, the household of Joseph Thomas [II] is recorded as “Joseph Thomas on oath proved his rights to wit: Joseph Thomas, Anne Thomas, & Michael Thomas & Mary Thomas white persons.” You’ll see living in his household are Joseph (himself) and wife Anne, his younger brother Michael and their sister Mary. Why was Mary now listed in the home of Joseph Thomas [III]? Had their mother died?
In October of 1842, Joseph Thomas and his wife Ann witnessed a gift deed from Mary Owl to her children James, Anelina and Sarah. I can’t help but imagine the young Thomas couple and their neighbor, church friend or possibly somehow being family. And having wondered about the ethnicity of the name Owl, is it possible Mary Owl is actually part of the Howell Family? Does Joseph’s earlier work in the stead of Robert Howell have anything to do with this?
Also in Oct 1742, a breach was “committed in the verge of court by Joseph Wimberly upon Joseph Thomas a constable in this court.” In Feb 1743 Joseph Thomas was appointed constable for the ensuing year. A few months later in May, and pursuant to an Act of Assembly for gathering an exact list of tithables, Joseph Thomas was appointed constable for the “district from the mouth of Rocqques up Cashay to Thos. Jones thence across the woods to Nathan Mirs & down Rocques to the first station.”
In 1746, John Bell sold to Joseph Thomas 178 acres on the north side of Cashy Swamp adjoining Maj. West. Witnesses were Thomas Castallew, Thomas Simons and Peter Day.
On 26 Apr 1752, Joseph Thomas wrote his last will and testament. I believe he recovered from whatever was ailing him at the time. This, because on 29 Sep 1753, Joseph Thomas as administrator provided an account of sale for the estate of Hardy Keel. Buyers were Joseph Thomas, Hardy Keel, Elizabeth Keel, John Percy and Jonathan Kitrell.
Joseph must have died quickly of sickness or accident as there were no further preparatory deeds or actions taken by Joseph Thomas on behalf of his children or wife’s future needs. Joseph died at some point prior to the Apr 1758 probation of his will. I’ll write much more in detail in an upcoming post detailing Joseph’s death and what happened to his family afterward.
And, at a time between the writing and probation of the will, on 9 May 1756, a person named Joseph Thomas purchased from James Davis 200 acres on SWS Flat Swamp being a plantation purchased of Richard Roberts adj. Edward Outlaw. Witnesses were Michael Collins and Absolum Collins. I’ve included this because it’s a possible match though I’m a little reluctant at this time to proclaim the transaction as belonging to our Joseph Thomas [II]. It’s possible, but Flat Swamp is situated up against the Northampton County line nearer to the lands of a cousin named Lazarus Thomas.
In Feb 1742, a tax record lists Mary as living in the household of her mother Alice Thomas vizt: Alice Thomas, James Thomas, Jacob Thomas, Mary Thomas whites & York, Rose, Ned, Simon, Philis & Penny Blacks. Ind. And, six months later, Mary was listed as living in the household of her brother Joseph.
In 1752 Edgecombe County, Mary and her brother Jacob are mentioned in their Brother Luke’s last will and testament. Mary is bequeathed livestock while Jacob receives land. More on this in the section for Luke Thomas.
There are no records for Mary until on 29 Mar 1760 Solomon (x) Asbell (Aswell) and his wife Mary (x) sold to William Holmes 640 acres [I-423 Bertie]. The description reads: “being part of which was devised to sd. Mary by the will of her father Joseph Thomas dec’d joining Roanoke River, John Blount, Thomas Busby, Richard Melton.” Witnesses were John Francis Spivey, Samuel Hail, and Mordecia (x) White [a female]. And tracing the deed out a bit further, on 12 Oct 1760, William (x) Holms sold the land to Adam Raby of Hertford. It “being 420 acres which sd Holmes received from Mary Aswell & her husband Solomon joining Roanoke River, John Blunt, Thomas Benby, Jacob Thomas, Richard Milton.” Witnesses were William Jenkison and Matt (x) Turner. Note in this transaction the land now adjoins Jacob Thomas who we know to be Mary’s brother.
From unsubstantiated research, it appears that Solomon and Mary Thomas Asbell may have removed to South Carolina where they were massacred by Indians. According to descendants, their twin sons are Joseph and Solomon Asbell. They were age 6 and 5 in 1769, having been brought back to Bertie County (possibly by their uncle John) to be apprenticed out to Malachiah Frazer …both to learn trade of cooper.
From his father’s 1732 last will and testament, Luke and brothers Michael and James were to divide 640 acres of land. Then, on 13 Nov 1738, Littleton Spivey sold to Luke’s mom Alice Thomas 220 acres on NS Morrattock River adj. James Bents (Blount), Thomas Busbys and a dividing line between Spivey and Page [E-395]. Witnesses were: George House, James Carter, Luke Thomas, jurat.” Then, just two years later, Widow Alice Thomas gifted the same land to her son Luke Thomas [F-450].
At this point there are no further records of Luke in Bertie County. Just two years after recording the gift of land from his mother, on 20 Aug 1744 Luke purchased 320 acres in Edgecombe County from Hardy and Batrick Council [3-293 Edgecombe]. Situated on the southwest side of the Cypress Swamp and joining Thomas Doules and Robert Hilliard, the land was first patented by James Denton on 6 Apr 1722. Witnesses were Tere Taylor, John Tanner, Thomas Cockrell, and William Bird. This is the only record for Luke Thomas in Edgecombe other than the publication of his last will and testament which was written 28 Jun 1751:
In the name of God amen the 28 day of June one thousand seven hundred and fifty one ) I Luke Thomas of North Carolina in the County of Edgecombe being sick and weak in body but in sound mind and memory at this time thanks be to God calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die do make and appoint this my last will and testament and I do personally and revoke all other wills by me in my hand and made before and I do declare this and no other to be my last will and testament, viz—
— principally and first of all I commit my soul to God &c and my body to be buried in descent and Christian like manner at the discretion of my executors nothing doubting but I shall receive the same again by the great power of God ——and as touching my worldly estate where with it hath like please God to bless me in this life I give and dispose in form following ——
Item I give to my brother Jacob Thomas my plantation whereon I now live with all the land thereunto belonging and one negro girl called Penny and one stallion called spiser which is my riding horse.
Item I give to my sister Mary Thomas one negro girl called Fillis and one stallion called Blais Likewise one roan mare called Fillis and two cows and calves and two yearlings and likewise two puter dishes and two basons and all the __________ _______________ within door and without I leave to be divided betwixt my brother Jacob Thomas and my sister Mary Thomas except ten pounds in money Virginia currency which I give and bequeath to Ezekiel Keel and I do appoint my brother Jacob my whole and sole executor of this my last will and testament and do sign seal publish and pronounce this to be my last will and testament as witness my hand the day & year above written.
Edw’d Brown Luke Thomas (seal)
John (I) Tanner
Elizabeth (x) Keel
From Luke Thomas’ last will and testament we learn of bequeaths of his plantation to brother Jacob for whom there’s no further records in Edgecombe. We also see Luke’s sister “Mary Thomas” who appears not to be married at the time of writing in 1751. Mary would soon marry Solomon Asbell before they met their destiny in South Carolina.
The will also takes into consideration the person Ezekiel Keel with one of the witnesses being Elizabeth Keel. Back in Bertie County, Luke’s brother Joseph Thomas administered the 1753 estate of Hardy Keel with buyers being Joseph Thomas, Hardy Keel, Elizabeth Keel, John Percy, and Jonathan Kitrell. How does Ezekiel and Elizabeth connect to this family and situation?
Also of interest in the last will and testament are the other witnesses Edw’d Brown and John Tanner. About Fishing Creek Baptist Church, Edward Morgan wrote in his 1770’s Notebook on North Carolina Baptists:
“This is a church by a kind of transformation from general to particular Baptists, this transformation happened at Quehuky by means of Robert Williams who sowed the seeds of Calvinism, after him a private man, (whose name was William Wallis) conversed with them and made some impression; then Edward Brown preached it, then Thomas Pope; then William Walker; afterwards Gano clenched it in 1753.”
Edward Morgan also mentions John Tanner who was an assistant to Rev. John Moore. Within the footnotes you’ll find:
The Swift Creek church here mentioned was near the mouth of that stream and in Kehukee Association is called “Edgecombe County” with Elder John Tanner as pastor. It had become a Separate Baptist church in 1777. It is not to be confused with the Swift Creek which is mentioned above as a branch of Lower Fishing Creek, and which was located somewhere near the site of the town of Battleboro.
For many years this line of the Thomas family has been the largest and most written about. It was believed that James Thomas married Sarah Barnes before passing sometime in the late 1770’s per his last will and testament. But, the records simply do not support that scenario. James Thomas who died ca. 1780 is another person whose parents are now unknown.
With that said, James Thomas, son of Joseph and Alice appears very few times in legal records.
On 29 Dec 1740, Alice Thomas (widow) gifted 220 acres to her well-beloved son Luke Thomas [f-450 Bertie]. The land adjoined that of James Blunt Thomas Busby, ______Spivie, and ____Page, which land Alice Thomas bought of Littleton Spivie. Witnesses were William Carter and her son James Thomas.
In Feb 1742 James Thomas is listed in tax records as living in the household of his mother: Alice Thomas proved her rights vizt: Alice Thomas, James Thomas, Jacob Thomas, Mary Thomas whites & York, Rose, Ned, Simon, Philis & Penny Blacks. Ind.
Dated 1749, Judith Thomas administered an inventory of the personal estate of James Thomas Deceased. From that I believe surely that Judith is the wife and widow of James Thomas.
And then in 1750, “an account of sale an account of the personal estate of James Thomas deceased was [made] by John Sallis, Deputy Sheriff afrsd County (late of Bertie County.” Buyers were Judith Thomas, Joseph Thomas, John Jameson, Jethro Butler, William Holmes, Mr. Searson, and James Boyt. It’s interesting that several years later that deputy sheriff John Sallis also administered the estate sale for James’ brother Joseph. In Joseph Thomas’ last will and testament written in 1752, item six reads:
“6thly I give and demise to my daughter Elizabeth Thomas my land and plantation whereon Judeth Thomas now lives it being the land that fell to me by the death of my brother James Thomas. I also give to my daughter Elizabeth the second child that shall hereafter be born of my negro woman (named Rose) that shall live to the age of three years old two breeding mares one young horse to hers and her heirs and assignees forever.”
As James left no will, apparently his land was split among his siblings with Joseph receiving a share. It’s there where Judith lived until the death of her brother-in-law Joseph Thomas who was the lands’ rightful owner.
In Jan 1761, George Spivey received a Lord Granville grant in the amount of 700 acres. The grant was not listed in the card catalogue at North Carolina Archives because it was in another series that had never been included in the catalogue. The folks graciously walked through their online finding aid aptly called MARS where numerous early grants for Bertie County appeared. You’ll notice for George Spivey’s grant that the description reads: “Lying in Bertie County joining the lines of Jethro Butler, Thomas Page, Judith Thomas and others and on or near Jumping Run and commonly called Cabin Neck. So from this record, are we seeing Joseph Thomas’ land where Judith is living?
No Information known beyond her mention in her father’s last will and testament.