Category Archives: Thomas

About the Thomas Family

One Violin, One Tomahawk, and a Side Saddle


1732After working the records in Wake, Chatham and Moore counties to near exhaustion, it’s time to move in earnest towards the task of proving the Thomas family lineage another generation back to Bertie County. We know of Joseph Thomas who came to Wake in 1772. It’s he who died ca. 1819 in Chatham County. But, where did Joseph come from prior to living in Wake? Research coalesces around the idea that Joseph Thomas who died in Chatham is the son of a Joseph Thomas who died per last will and testament drawn up in Bertie County on 12 Dec 1752 (probated on 5 Jan 1758). And looking back a generation further, all online histories indicate that the Joseph who died ca. 1752-58 is the son of yet another Joseph who drew up a last will and testament in 1732 Bertie Precinct.

In revisiting all the deeds, estates, court and any other legal records pertinent to the study of our Thomas ancestry, it quickly hit me that what I was seeing cannot support the storyline so often seen online and found in the writings of prominent researchers of the past. Is it me or is there a real problem? In this post I’ll express my concern through scrutiny of the 1732 last will and testament of Joseph Thomas as it relates to those of his believed sons Joseph and James. By way of comments (so we can all learn), I ask for your thoughts and rationale whether or not you believe I’m right or wrong on this matter.


At the top of this page is the 1732 last will and testament of Joseph Thomas . For closer scrutiny, Joseph’s will and those of others are transcribed at the bottom of this post. Much can be gleaned from the wills, but keep in mind, I’ll go no further into findings than what is necessary to raise my concern. Much more will be rolled out later.

From the above last will and testament, we see that in 1732 Joseph Thomas names his wife Eales (Alice) and children Michel, Joseph, Luke, James, Jacob, Jonas and Charity.
From the Thomas and Bridges Story 1540-1840 written in 1972, author Edison H. Thomas indicates that Joseph’s and Alice’s son James died ca. 1780 after writing his will in Bertie County. What’s important for my concern is the 1780 date of this James Thomas’s will. See James’ will at bottom for details and please keep this point in the back of your mind as we go forward.

Now, let’s look at James’ brother Joseph as identified in the 1732 last will and testament at the top of this post. This younger Joseph II is believed the same person who wrote a last will and testament on 26 April 1752 in which is named wife Ann along with children Michael, Josiah, Joseph, Mary and Elizabeth. In item “sixthly” of the will, Joseph bequeaths to daughter Elizabeth:

joseph 1757 2 - Copy

The important part of the item reads: “Whereon Judith Thomas now lives it being the land that passed to me by the death of my brother James Thomas.” So, if Joseph II and James are brothers [sons of Joseph and Eales (Alice) Thomas], and James died prior to the writing of Joseph’s will, then it’s simply impossible for James to have penned a will in the 1770’s. In case you’re having difficulty following the logic of my concern, take a look at the following:


Seeking further information on a James Thomas who died prior to Joseph II’s 1752 last will and testament, I found the following:

Estates (653) Bertie – James Thomas. Account of sale 1750 by John Sallis, Deputy Sheriff. Buyers were Judith Thomas, Joseph Thomas, John Jameson, Jethro Butler, William Holmes, Mr. Searson, and James Boyt. Also, among the loose estate papers of Bertie County is the following account of sale for James Thomas’ estate. The name of Judith Thomas appears on the backside indicating it was her who either made the sale or at least had it recorded.”

james thomas estate1

Implications: It appears that Joseph Thomas I who died in 1735 had a son named James who died ca. 1750. James may have married a person named Judith. James likely died intestate and left no last will and testament. James and Judith likely had no children as any land passed to James’ oldest living brother Joseph. Judith would have been given a widow’s allowance to live on the land for her lifetime or until her remarriage.

How much longer did Judith live and is there anything else we can glean from her life record? Dated 20 April 1762, Thomas Pennington drew his last will and testament naming Judith Thomas though not specifying that she is his daughter. I’m not sure at this time whether or not Thomas Pennigton’s last will and testament refers to James Thomas’ wife Judith. Requiring a little research, more information on this will be forthcoming.
It simply is not true that James Thomas (who married Sarah Barnes) is the son of Joseph Thomas I who left a will in 1735. James Thomas whose will appears in 1780 Bertie must be the son of another person other than Joseph I. So, who is James’ father and who are James’s siblings if any? How does he relate to Joseph Thomas who died ca. 1735? How will this change the story?

Though to me this is all a cool find, I can’t help but think more about the timeframe and where this all happened. James Thomas’ estate sale included icons of two worlds …both a violin and tomahawk. I can envision James sitting peacefully by the fire admiring the sounds of melodies wafting through the forests pine. And this was a time when the Tuscarora Wars were only thirty years in the past (actually fifteen at the time of Joseph Thomas I’s last will and testament). Was the tomahawk a useful tool used by James or was it a trophy or keepsake from the Tuscarora Wars? James was born just prior to the wars and the Thomas family lived near present day Windsor NC. He lived amongst “friendly Indians” who remained and had been allowed to live on a reservation known as Indian Woods. I know you can tell a story through music but I bet the tomahawk also spoke proudly in its own way. And, then I wonder of Judith’s side saddle and where it carried her and who she traveled to see. I have to wonder about my Thomas family, and of any blood connections to the Indian culture they lived amongst.

james thomas 2

Last Will and Testament of Joseph Tomas
10 Dec 1733, pro. Feb 1735 in Bertie County NC

I the name of god Amen I Joseph Tomas of North Carolina of Bertie Precinct being very sick and weak in body but of perfect mind & memory thanks be to god for it knowing it is appointed for all men once to die do make this my last will and testament first I command my body to the earth to be buried in a Christian like manner and my sole in the hands of almighty God that gave it I give and bequeath as ______________

Item I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife Eales Thomas my plantation that I now live upon at her own disposal during her life and likewise all my stock and ___________
Item I give and bequeath to my son Joseph Tomas the above mentioned plantation after my wife’s decease and the privileges of ____ part of it in her lifetime provided he does not __________ her upon any_____________

Item I give and bequeath to my son Michel Tomas and my son Luke Tomas and my son James Tomas one tract of land six hundred and forty acres lying upon to be equally divided among the three and my son Michel to have the first choice and likewise if my wife doth buy a negro woman with the estate and she breeds for them to be and to Jacob Thomas and Jonas Tomas and if the sd negro woman has any more children their two to the next children ________ and likewise after my wifes decease of the two negros I giving son Michel his choice of the follow that I have at this time and the negro wench _______ one of the two him and his heirs and if Joseph Tomas, Luke Tomas or James Tomas should die either one of them or without.

Item I do that the land that I left them shall be to Jacob & Jonas and Luke and likewise after my wife’s decease al the estate to be equally divided amongst my children one shilling I leave to my daughter Charity Tomas and likewise appoint my son Michel Tomas and John Spivey to be my whole executors of this my last will and testament as written hand.
December the 10th 1733
Francis Hobson
William (x) Simmons                                                                  Joseph (I) Tomas

Bertie Precinct
Febry Court 1735 The written will of Joseph Thomas was proved by the oaths of Francis Hobson & William Simmons the two subscribing witnesses thereto and the Michael Thomas one of the exe’r therein named took the oath of an Ex’tr by law required.
Test: Jno Wynn


Last Will and Testament of Joseph Thomas
26 April 1752, pro. April 1758 in Bertie County NC

North Carolina
In the name of God amen. I Joseph Thomas of Bertie County Planter being sick of body but of perfect manner & judgement first recommending my soul to God that gave it and my body to be buried at the discretion of my Executors hereafter mentioned do make this my Last Will and Testament this 26 day of April anno Dem 1752;

Imprimus I bequeath to my loving wife Ann Thomas the use or the plantation whereon I now live during her natural life and all the land thereunto belonging except what land lies on the south & southeast side of the plantation called the Spring Branch & also give to my sd. wife six cows and calves six sows & their pigs two breeding mares and as to my household furniture I lend the use of all to my sd. Wife during her natural life and after her decease my will is that all of my sd. household goods be equally divided among my children share & share alike. I also lend to my sd. wife the use & labor of my negroes she using them as they might to be used Viz; Rose, Jack, Boson until my children who I shall in this will give them to arrive to the age of twenty one years or the day of marriage or are capable to choose their guardians towards the raising my sd. children to her heirs or assignees.

2nd I give and demise unto my son Michael Thomas six hundred & forty acres of land now the occupation of Griffin Summerell it being the land I purchased of Thomas Kearney I also give to my son all my stocks cattle hoggs that is in possession of the sd. Summerell on his land one negro woman named Rose and all her increase thereafter except the first two children the sd negro woman shall bare thereafter that shall live to the age of three years old which children I reserve for my daughters hereafter mentioned. I also give to my sd. son two breeding mares and one young horse by the name of Blaze and my servant melato boy named Jacob till he shall be lawfully free to him his heirs & assignees forever.

3dly I give and devise unto my son Josiah Thomas my land and plantation whereon Nathaniel Keel now lives, it being bounded and joining the land I gave to my son Michael and Thomas Blounts land and all my stock of cattle on the sd land that is in possession of Nathaniel Keel six sows & piggs two breeding mares one young horse by the name of Ball & one negro boy named Jack to him his heirs & assignees forever

4th I give to my son Joseph Thomas my land & plantation whereon I now live and all my stock of mare cattle that belongs to the sd. plantation except what cattle I have given to my wife and two three year old horses two breeding mares one young horse six sows and piggs one negro boy named Bason and Liberty if he sees proper to make a plantation on the south east side of the spring branch in case his mother is living when he is at age to him and assignees forever.

5th I give and demise unto my daughter Mary Thomas my land that now belongs John Spivey a minor my said land I now give to my said daughter Mary is now in the occupation of Hardy Keel I give also to my said daughter the first child that shall be born of my negro woman named Rose that shall also live to the age of three years old viz; the first child that is born after this date and two breeding mares & one young horse to her and her assignees forever
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

7thly My will and desire is that all the remaining part of my estate after my just debts funeral charges & legacies are paid/ be equally divided amongst my five children before mentioned share & share alike to them their heirs & assignees forever

Lastly I constitute ordain & appoint my loving wife Ann Thomas my Executrix and my loving friends Thomas Whitmell & Arthur Williams my executors of this my last will and testament hereby declaring this to be my only will in being. In witness whereof I have unto set my hand & seal the date above written.
Signed sealed declared & published
in the presence of }
Jos. Collins jurat
Nathaniel (x) Keel                                                                                   Jos. Thomas
Joseph (III) Keel
Richard (R) Sparkman


Last Will and Testament of James Thomas
22 Oct 1780, pro. November 1780 in Bertie County NC

In the name of God amen I James Thomas of Bertie County of the state of North Carolina, being very sick and weak in body but of perfect mind & memory Thanks be given unto God, calling unto mind the mortality of my body and knowing that is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my last will and testament that is to say principally and first of all I give and recommend my soul into the hand of almighty God that gave it and my body I recommend to the earth to be buried in descent Christian like manner at the discretion of my Executors nothing doubting but at the General Resurrection I shall receive the same again, by the almighty power of God and as touching the worldly estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life, I give, demise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form (to wit)

Item first of all I leand unto my beloved wife Sarah Thomas during her life or widowhood once third part of my land and plantation whereon I live one feather bed and furniture that belong to it one mare bridle and saddle one lining wheale, one iron pot & hooks & two puter plats, one puter dish one puter bason one cow & one calf.
Item I give and bequeath unto my beloving son Ezekiel Thomas one feather bed and what belongs to it one puter dish & two puter plats one Noohothed Heffer to him and his heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my loving son Luke Thomas five shillings sterling to him and his heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my loving son James Thomas all my land and plantation after his mothers death ad two parts of my land from the time that the will is proved one feather bed & what belongs to it one horse bridle & saddle to him and his heirs forever except my son James Thomas should die without heirs the land to be equally divided between my two eldest sons Ezekiel Thomas & Luke Thomas.

Item I give and bequeath unto my beloved daughter Selah Dement wife of Charles Dement one small chist one eow and lamb to her and her heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my loving daughter Luridill Thomas one feather bed and what belongings to it one linning wheel one puter dish and two puter plates one cow & calf one eows & lamb one chis to her & her heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my loving daughter Sarah Thomas one heffer yearling about three years old to her and her heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my loving daughter Lidda Thomas the feather bed lent to my loving wife to her and her heirs forever.

All the remainder part of estate of what nature or kinds soever I leave to be equally divided between my son James & Liddy Thomas at my son James coming two age of twenty one years and the said Liddy part to be continued in the hands of sd James Thomas during the discretion of the Executors hereafter nominated or arrives at the age of eighteen years of marriage but in case that either of the sd James Thomas or Liddy Thomas should die without lawful heir then my will & desire is that his or her part of the dividend be and remain to the said James or Liddy Thomas to them and their heirs forever.

Lastly I nominate constitute and ordain David Outlaw & my son Ezekiel Thomas my whole and sole Executors of this my Last Will & Testament to see the same compiled with and I do hereby utterly dislow and revoke all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my Last Will Testament in witness whereof I the sd James Thomas I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 22nd day of October in the year of our lord Christ one thousand seven hundred and eighty.
Signed Sealed Published Pronounced & declared by the sd James Thomas as his last will and testament in the presence of us:
Abner Eason Snr
Joseph Eason Jur                                                                               James (J) Thomas
Mary Pritchard

Bertie County November Court 1780: proved by Abner Eason Esqr & Joseph Eason
Test : Stevens Gray CC.




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.


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.



Porto Bello, photograph taken approximately 1900

A recent post introduced the lands of John Thomas on Queen’s Creek in York County VA. It was described in a 1649 patent as being adjoined

“on the north by west upon the land of Joseph Croshaw, south by east upon Queen’s creek, west by south upon a little creek and swamp leading to the Indian cabin and east upon the by north land of M. Jernew, three hundred acres of the said land being granted formerly unto John Broach and by the said Broach assigned to Anthony Barckhurst and purchased of the said Barkurst by the said John Thomas and fifty acres the residue being deed unto ye sd John Thomas by and for the transportation of one person into the Colony”.

Without substantiated proof, this has been considered by many to be the earliest known lands upon which lived John Thomas who is believed to be my family’s emigrant ancestor. This belief may or may not be true as new finds are leading us down a path to a much greater understanding of this piece of land and what it means to our family.

Remember from an earlier post that our family has traditionally located John Thomas’ 1649 patent to be on the north side of Hwy 132 near Williamsburg. Wrong. Remember that Mark Kostro, Project Archaeologist for Colonial Williamsburg, stated that “John Thomas’ land is highly unlikely to be the location previously portrayed. However, [he firmly stated], it does lie somewhere along the north side of the short run of Queen’s Creek. And from a previous study aimed at connecting original land holdings, it’s highly likely that John Thomas’ 350 acres does indeed lie on the grounds of the secretive base known as Camp Peary” [a CIA training camp which immediately made us exclaim …. we’ll never step foot on that land!]. Mark Kostro was clear in that he had no certain information other than knowing the land could not be where we thought. He did though, give us an idea of where land may be located based on a past project carried out by a trusted intern.


Just as I was about to roll out this stuff, we received word from Mark that he had contacted other researchers who both validated his beliefs while offering significant changes. Instead of being where the intern’s study had placed it, the 1649 patent is closer to the mouth of Queen’s Creek near the York River. It’s now seen as adjoining Queen’s Creek near the present-day docks of Camp Peary.

So, what’s the scoop on this new angle of information? As it turns out, Camp Peary, like many government installations, is keenly interested in its own history. And to that end, the highly-respected James River Institute for Archeology was contracted to research the history of a site on Camp Peary known as Porto Bello. Traced back to John Thomas’ 1649 patent, the lands upon which Porto Bello stood are historically significant.

The next few posts will connect Porto Bello with the land of John Thomas while giving us the opportunity to take a little side-trip into John’s day and time. Courtesy of the James River Institute for Archeology, pertinent information abstracted from their report will be offered (with discussion) in hopes that we’ll understand more clearly the title history for the land of John Thomas. Wanting to be as thorough as able and realizing my own limitations, future posts will delve into the report one or two paragraphs at a time.

As we move forward it’s important for you to know that there is nothing yet known connecting this land on Queen’s Creek to our North Carolina descendancy as is traditionally believed. And, just as with the prior post, now, new information from noted York County historian Martha McCartney leads us to believe that there were at least three early arrivals with the name John Thomas. Their lives are distinguished in Martha’s book of biographical sketches titled Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers 1607-1635.

As originally stated, our goal is to establish a clear starting point for our family history. It’s all we want for now. Many others have offered their take on the lands of John Thomas. And, once again, let’s take a close look at yet another “new research” in hopes of establishing a starting point from which to study our Thomas family. Let’s begin with paragraph two of the “History of Porto Bello Plantation.” (See next post)


thomas story.jpg

It was just months ago, when I posted about a Quaker named Thomas Story. I have a copy of his 1st edition autobiography in my possession. Little did I know then, that our family’s starting point, believed to be the lands of John Thomas in York County Virginia, is documented to be Thomas Story’s first stop and the location of his first sermon in America. Information on Thomas Story from Wikipedia: “In November 1698 Story sailed for Pennsylvania, where, at the request of Penn, …was chosen the first recorder of Philadelphia by a charter of 25 Oct. 1701, was a member of the council of state, keeper of the great seal, master of the rolls, and in 1706 elected mayor of Philadelphia, but paid a fine of £20 for declining to serve.”

The following passages are from A Journal of the Life of Thomas Story:

Page 152. HAVING sailed through many and great Storms, variable and uncomfortable Weather, over most of the great Western Ocean, under the Protection of the divine Providence; and all the Ship’s Reckonings being out, on the 7th Day of the Twelfth Month, the next Day, about Four in the Evening, we Struck Ground with the Lead at nineteen Fathom Water.

THIS was glad Tidings to us all: and being in our Latitude we stood in towards the Land all Night, and the next Morning we saw the Capes on either Side of the Bay of Chesapeak, and were standing right in as could have desired; and that Afternoon we came to Anchor in Mockjack Bay, a little above Point Comfort.

ON the 11th of the Twelfth Month, about Sunrising, (the Seventh Day of the Week, and exceeding cold) we set sail in the Long-boat for Queen’s Creek in York River; but the Wind coming contrary, we, with one of the Men, went on Shore about two Miles below Gloucester, and went up thither on Foot, and Soon after went on board our Friend William Dowell’s Ship, lying at Anchor in that River, to write Letters for England; after which he sent some Hands in his Boat with us to Queen’s Creek, being about twenty Miles; and setting out about Eleven in the Night, and very cold, (being a hard Frost and Snow) it was troublesome to find the Entrance of the Creek; and, often running upon Oyster Banks and other Shoals, it proved very fatiguing and dangerous.

BUT thither at length we got, about Five in the Morning, vz. To the House of our Friend Edward Thomas at Bangor-house, but with some Difficulty after we landed; for our Men not knowing the Place, we went to Several other Plantations in the Woods before we found it. When we came to the House and called, Edward arose out of his Bed and came to us, concluding before, that we were Friends from England, (for he had had some Apprehension that Way in himself, a little before, but knew not who in particular) and he and all his Family made us kindly welcome; and having a good Bed provided, we rested comfortably till about Nine in the Morning. And our Friend Edward, being zealous for Truth, and the Good of his Neighbors, gave Notice of us, and of a Meeting to there that Day; where the Lord owned us, and gave us very comfortable Season of his Goodness with the Family and a few of the Neighborhood; who, though not Friends, were, Several of them, much tendered: which was the first Fruits of our Ministry in that County, and good Encouragement.

HERE we remained to refresh ourselves, and put out Things in Order till the 15th Day of the Month, and then had a Meeting about sixteen Miles off, at Daniel Akeburst’s, at Warwick River; which was a good Meeting, but small.

Page 164. THAT Evening we arrived at the Dock where the Ship was building, and lodged that Night with Captain Clayborn; and, next Day, had a Meeting at the Dock, near the Place; which was small, but comfortable; And, being weary with hard Travel, (but especially our Horses, for want of Food, or Forage) we determined to stay there till the First Day; and, intending another Meeting at the Dock, we gave notice of it to the Country.

WE had a Meeting accordingly, which was large and well; the People being generally sober, and several tendered, and after the Meeting, expressed their satisfaction; and some of Note among them said, “That since we had so good Things to publish, they were in hopes we would not finally leave those Parts “without more Meetings thereaway”; several of them adding, “That we should be welcome to their Houses, and the best Entertainment they had, though we had laid open their Priests to the lowest Capacities, and especially their Pseudo Baptism.

THE next Day, accompanied by Edward Thomas of Bangor-House, on Queen’s Creek, and his son, and some other Friends, who had come up, and given us their Company Some Days, we set forward for Queen’s Creek; but, in our Way, had much Thunder and Rain; and, though it was very dark in the Night in the Woods through the good Providence of God, we got well to that Journey’s End.

Edward was son of John Thomas who left a last will and testament in 1665 York County Virginia. From Thomas Story’s memoir, we know that John’s son, Edward Thomas, was prominently Quaker.

This took place at a time when there were very few Quaker ministers and meeting houses. Filling the void, Quakers met at the homes of respected elders where meetings were led by those called by God to do so.

The land owned by Edward Thomas can be traced back to John Thomas and his 1649 patent for 350 acres. This realization is credited to research contracted by Camp Peary. Expect much more in future posts.


Journal of the Life of Thomas Story



There’s a HUGE amount of research pertaining to the lands of John Thomas 1649 which now can be seen as not true. Ancestry , Geni, and other genealogy sites  are nothing more than thoughtless compilations of  what’s been wrongly said from the past. Furthermore, you may even see reference to following 8 pages of my research notes which in truth counters must of what’s been written.

Before using any of the following 8 pages of my working notes, please set aside time to read all sections in entirety.  If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact me personally at


We could start writing about John Thomas and his arrival in Virginia from any of many perspectives. But, as good fortune would have it, my first venture into this cause was initiated by David Queen whose knowledge and determination enabled a visit with Mark Kostro, Project Archaeologist for Colonial Williamsburg. Mark is likely the best qualified person in the region to address one of the top Thomas family mysteries.

But before moving forward, it should be pointed out that many questions can be asked about John Thomas ….when was he born, when did he arrive in the new world, and on board what ship did he sail? Was he one person, two different people, a father and son, man and cousin or nephew? And when did he marry and what was his life like following his sail to the new world? Did he make the trip once or many times? There is also question of his land holdings. Where did he first live and what later transactions are related to our ancestor versus the possibility of being confused with others of same name. And ultimately, what was the route of our ancestor out of Virginia into North Carolina where more modern records are increasingly available to search. Despite what anyone may say, the records on John Thomas do not collectively paint a clear picture. Much of what we know will be revisited in years to come and with that said, let’s now look at what’s traditionally believed to be the starting point for John Thomas in America.

Arriving sometime in the early years of the 17th century, it wasn’t until 1649 that a person by name of John Thomas is recorded as being granted land. A general location for the tract has been suggested for years by various family historians. Seeking clarity, and wanting to lay our eyes and hands on something tangible, arrangements were made for David and myself to meet with Mark who was well prepared. You’ll hear from Mark in a bit, but first look at the grant and transcription:


To all & c. whereas & c. Now know ye that I, the said Sir William Berkely do with the consent of the council of State – accordingly give and grant unto John Thomas three hundred and fifty acres of land lying on the north side of Queen’s Creek and in the County of Yorke bounded vizt: north by west upon the land of Joseph Croshaw south by east upon Queen’s creek, west by south upon a little creek and swamp leading to the Indian cabin and east upon the by north land of M. Jernew, three hundred acres of the said land being granted formerly unto John Broach and by the said Broach assigned to Anthony Barckhurst and purchased of the said Barkurst by the said John Thomas 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 to have and to hold & c yielding of which payment is to be made seven years after ye first ex. grant or sealing of the same & dated ye 4th 8ber 1649                                                    Dorothy Wife


I cannot begin to write in detail about methodology and of how the above land was physically located. But, Edison H Thomas himself offers the following rationale and photo in his book “The Thomas and Bridges Story 1540-1840”:

“John Thomas and wife Dorothy settled on his 350 acres of land which was located near what is now the city of Williamsburg, Virginia. Today, it is a part of a military reservation and not accessible to the public. However, the general area can be plainly seen from a concrete bridge that carries State Road No. 132 across Queen’s Creek. The area lies on the east or right side of the creek as one looks upstream.”Thomas-Bridges story-59

This site is easily located on today’s landscape using an updated photo, a Google based map and Google interactive street view. And one note, of all the places on Queen’s creek to take a photo, the bridge crossing Hwy 132 offers the most representative view with the least amount of modern visual obstruction. As pointed out by David Queen, from any other vantage point, the appearance of a bridge upstream or down would detract from the image’s background.

Did Edison Thomas choose the photo location because he wanted readers to imagine the creek in John Thomas’ day and time …in the 1600’s? Was it a simple mistake or was there some other reason he located land in the secretive governmental base as being north of Hwy. 132?

Williamsburg archaeologist Mark Kostro, offered the following that both confirms and yet diverges from Edison Thomas’ take on the land. His assistance was very helpful in providing both historical context along with specific information pointing to another physical location. The impromptu presentation is in two parts, Make sure to see both!

So, as Mark Kostro clearly points out, archaeological research supported by historic record locates an early poor house on the land in question north and east of the Hwy 132 bridge. As Mark put it, John Thomas’ land is highly likely to not be the location previously portrayed. However, it does lie somewhere along the north side of the short run of Queen’s Creek. And from a previous study aimed at connecting original land holdings, it’s highly likely that John Thomas’s 350 acres does indeed lie on the grounds of the secretive base known as “The Farm” or officially, Camp Peary.

As offered in the presentation, and as based upon independent research from the past, John Thomas’ ca. 1649 grant of 350 acres is located within or near the green shaded area on the image below. Following the meeting at the Colonial Williamsburg Department of Archaeological Research, David Queen did not waste time and drove us to a public marina on W. Queen’s Drive. That location offered the best view north across Queen’s Creek towards Camp Peary and the lands once owned by John Thomas.

camp peary



(top) Google image locating the John Thomas lands (in green) on Camp Peary along with location of marina and direction of viewpoint of the (bottom) photo looking across Queen’s Creek towards Camp Peary and the John Thomas lands.


In closing, I’d like to again express admiration and a sincere thanks to the efforts of both David Queen and Mark Kostro. I’d also like to express admiration for researchers such as Edison Thomas who made so much happen in a time when records were much more difficult to access. The takeaway for me is to tell the whole story. The background of how a story comes together is often as valuable and appreciated as much as the story itself. And with the same critical eye, we’ll need to move from this point to ask more questions. And for each one, we’ll need to base the answers from a large circle of possibilities, making sure to tell it all.

As for John Thomas’ land, was this the starting point for our many generations in America? Or, was this but a point along his journey south. Was this the land of our John Thomas or could it be the makings of history for someone else’s family? Our goal was to establish a clear starting point which we now have. It’s time to move forward and know that these are the challenges we will face. And please realize that new information will likely change your perspective of what you’ve just read.   Stay tuned!