JOHN THOMAS: A STARTING POINT IN VIRGINIA (PT. 3)

john'sThe report titled “History of Porto Bello Plantation” is brief, placing emphasis on the methodology used in creating a historical timeline. The Thomas family is included in the report only because the plantation traces nicely back to John Thomas, subject of our own family study. It’s not at all meant nor written to be a Thomas family history. Therefore, I’ll not confuse our story by merely copying verbatim the entire study. Instead, one or two pertinent paragraphs (quoted in brown type) will be offered along with the addition of a more complete account of Thomas family records. So, and by courtesy of the James River Archeology Institute, on to paragraph two:

The subject of the Porto Bellow study known as Site 44YO1084 was encompassed by the Queen’s Creek plantation of the Thomas family, a York County clan with strong ties to Virginia’s Quaker Community. In October 1649, John Thomas patented a 300-acre tract on the north side of Queen’s Creek. This prime waterfront property was bounded by the land of Joseph Crowshaw to the northwest, the land of Nicholas Jernew to the northeast, the creek to the southeast, and to the southwest by “a Little creek and swamp leading to the Indian Cabin.” The patent indicated that 300 acres of the property had originally been granted to John Broach [variously spelled Brocke, Broche]. In fact, in November 1637 Brocke had patented two tracts in this vicinity; one of 400 acres and at the point of land where Queen’s Creek empties into the York River, and the 300-acre parcel immediately to the east. According to Thomas’ patent, Brocke subsequently sold the 300-acre parcel to Anthony Barkhurst, who in turn deeded it to Thomas (Nugent 1992: 76, 185-86).

The above mentioned 1649 patent to John Thomas may not refer to Anthony Barkhurst but rather should read Anthony Parkhust. And note from records that follow, the above mentioned John Broach also received 1,000 acres on Ware Creek. That land was acquired in part as headright for transporting Anthony Parkhurst to York County. John Broach was a French Huguenot, a surgeon, and it is believed his descendants evolved to be among today’s Brooks families out of Orange and Chatham Counties NC.

It also happens that William Hoccaday (shown below) received a headright a year earlier (1648) than the above John Thomas’ 1649 patent. Located on Ware Creek in now New Kent County, a person named John Thomas was among those being transported by William Hoccaday. Ware Creek enters the York River about 14 miles upstream with Skimino creek entering about midway. Having ties to Anthony Parkhurst on Queen’s Creek, is it possible that John Thomas who connects with William Hoccaday is the same as he who lived on Queen’s Creek? And note that Skimino is an area where settled a dissident group or meeting of Quakers.

The following records relate to and provide background for the above discussed time period:

-JOHN BROACH, 1,000 acs. Chas. River Co., Aug. 18, 1642, Page 788. Upon Chas. River & Ware Cr. Trans, of 20 pers.: Sarah Symons, Edward Watkins, Tho. Griffin, John Hickes, Nicholas Bannister, John Sheppard, 5 Negroes, & Antho. Packhurst (or Parkhurst) 3 times. 300 acs. by order of June 5, 1640 assigned unto him by Mr. Rosier.

Apr 1638 John Brocke, Surgeon, freely bestowed upon my godson John Major, son of Richard Major of Queens Cr., boate right, age 3 3/4 yrs, one cow one heifer and one yearling, etc., to be delivered when he is 18 yrs.” In May 1638, he assigned his 400 acres in Charles River Co. to Nicholas Jarnes.

-NICHOLAS JARNEW (Jernew), 400 acs. Chas. Riv. Co., 6 May 1638, p. 545. E. upon sd. river, bounded S. E. with Queens Cr., running parallel to same until cut off by a Cr. called Jarnew’s Journey. Due by assignment from John Brocke.

-JOHN DAVIS, 150 acs. Yorke Co., Oct. 29, 1647, Page 133. Upon the upper side of Queens Cr., adj. Mr. Jernew, along John Judson & Joseph Croshaw. Trans, of 3 pers.*

-WILLIAM HOCCADAY, 1346 acs., whereof 246 acs. of marsh lying near the narrow of York river, N. E. by N. upon the river, S. & by W. & E. & by S. upon the Ware Cr. & N. W. by N E upon Warreny [Warronny Creek] Cr. 500 acs. granted him by patent 6 Aug. 1646 & 846 acs. for trans, of 17 pers: Thomas Seawell, Hugh Smister, Hugh Jones, Junr., Edward Wood, Hugh Arther, Hugh (?), John Limicar (?), William Jones, Senr., Nicho. Smith, Edward Wood, Hen. James, Jno. Williams, Mary Gardner, Peeter Green, John Arthur, William Richards, John Thomas. 10 Dec. 1648, p. 168

-ROBERT VAULX, 330 acs. York Co., 10 Apr. 1657, p. 87, (126). On S. side of York Riv. & N. side of Queens Cr. 225 acs. part granted unto Jno. Judson 21 Nov. 1637, assigned unto Arthur Price 4 Mar. 1639, who assigned unto Anthony Parckhurst 29 Aug. 1640, who assigned unto William Burwell 26 May 1643, assigned unto Jno. Davis 17 Dec. 1644, assigned unto Mr. James Stone 2 Apr. 1646 & unto sd. Vaulx as Admr. of sd. Stone; 105 acs. for trans, of 3 pers: Mr. Charles Woodington, Ann Michell, Jno. Clarke.

-17 Nov 1659 York VA. “In difference between Matthew Page , it is ordered that a servant’s indenture sold to Mr. Page be assigned him for the full time and also John Thomas is to pay Page a good of cotton and convers suit, a good sea bed, 2 pr. Shoes, 2 pr. Stockings, 2 good canvas shirts, a monmouth cap, a rug and pillow and also clothing and necessaries which belonged to said servant and not already delivered.”

2-4 May 1660 York VA. “It appears that Samuel Straney took a boat of Mr. Patrick Napier’s from the landing at John Thomas’. And it is ordered he pay Napier 350 lbs tob., in regard to great prejudice done to Napier for want of same, being then visiting his sick patient and forced to wait for his boat for a long time by reason of said Straney’s carrying same away.”

-Arthur Price of Skimino Gutt, sell to John Thomas of Queen’s Creek, Planter, one chestnut horse about 8 years old, called Rouse. 22 Jun 1660 York. Wit: Tho. Wharton, Ricahrd Roberts. Approved by Maj. Joseph Crowshaw.

-Deposition by James Stainsby, age 28, examined 1 May 1661, says that in difference between John David and John Thomas, by the devilish instigation, vile and cruel persuasions of William Pettipoole and Anne his now wife did suborne your deponent to swear falsely concerning his master John Thomas, that he should give your deponent a certain sum of tobacco to swear that John Davis had killed a steer, which now I do here pronounce under oath, that my said master Thomas, nor his wife, nor none belonging to them never offered me no such thing, nor never desired nor persuaded me to swear for or against anyone in any matter, knowing my master Thomas behaving himself civil and honest to all persons; and that William Pettipoole and Nann his wife swore concerning him to false, and proceeded out of silence and envy, because my master Thomas checked them from stealing several bags of tobacco from John Davis and called them “thieves”, and forbad them his house. Further saith that what tobacco and other things Pettipoole and his wife stole from John Davis, they sold aboard sloops in Queen’s Creek and converted it to their own use, and sold a case of drams to the negro Emanuel Anvill. Said Pettipoole often persuaded me to accept stolen tobacco at my master’s house but I denied the, thereupon they hid it in hollow trees about the plantation, and so by night would carry it aboard sloops. James (S) Stainsby sworn before me, Wm Barbar.

Not only do the above records give us a glimpse into the character of John Thomas, they also tell us a little about the neighborhood in which he lived. Note that John Thomas had a legal issue with Matthew Page. Matthew may be the brother of Colonel John Page, prominent merchant, supporter of the first Bruton Parish Church and chief proponent of the village now known as Williamsburg becoming the Virginia State Capital. There’s also the purchase of a horse on Skimino Creek that loosely connects John Thomas of Queen’s Creek to the area of Ware’s Creek.

We now know that John Thomas of Queen’s Creek had a boat landing, a dock whereupon early surgeon Patrick Napier’s boat had been taken without permission. Patrick Napier apprenticed under the surgeon general  of the Scottish army during its defeat by Cromwell in 1650. And, remember that John Thomas’ own land had earlier been the property of a French surgeon named John Broach.

John Thomas’ land was close to the mouth of Queen’s Creek and having seen the area with my own eyes, I can imagine the sloop cruisers and long boats anchored and docked along the shoreline. I can imagine John Thomas’ indentured servant and the pressure put upon him by William Pettipoole to steal and resale tobacco to those aboard the boats. Tobacco, early livelihood, and other records so real you can almost smell it!

But then there are the families of Jernew, Vaulx, Davis and other neighbors along Queen’s Creek. From the records, you can see and imagine how the families interacted. As you’ll learn in later posts, such familial interactions continued into the early 1700’s.

One thing omitted in the Porto Bello Report is the naming of Dorothy, wife of John Thomas as appears in his 1649 patent. The patent reads: and fifty acres the residue being deed unto ye sd John Thomas by and for the transportation of one person into the Colony whose name is in records mentioned under this patent … dated ye 4th 8ber 1649 –  Dorothy WifeThe standard for headrights was 50 acres per person transported along with 50 acres for taking a wife. It appears that John Thomas received 50 acres for transporting his wife to America.

In 1665 the life and story of John Thomas comes to an end …or does it?  In later posts you’ll see that his last will and testament mentions a wife having a name other than Dorothy. The disagreement with what we’d like to believe true will surely be important in further discussion. But, as will be shown, the lands of John Thomas who died in 1665 can be traced both to the present and back to the 1649 patent naming wife Dorothy. There’s no further information on the life of John Thomas as related to paragraph two of the Porto Bellow report. The report’s next paragraph opens with the death of John Thomas, so let’s move the timeline forward a bit.

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