Category Archives: Early Virginia

Taking in DNA, and going back to early ship and Virginia land records, this category offers ideas on our beginnings as one of the first Thomas families to arrive in in the area of Jamestown Virginia.

JOHN THOMAS: A STARTING POINT IN VIRGINIA (PT. 7)

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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).

JOHN THOMAS: A STARTING POINT IN VIRGINIA (PT 6)

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)

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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 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.

JOHN THOMAS: A STARTING POINT IN VIRGINIA (PT. 2)

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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)

BANGOR-HOUSE ON QUEEN’S

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.

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Journal of the Life of Thomas Story

 

JOHN THOMAS: A STARTING POINT IN VIRGINIA (PT. 1)

Just prior to posting, we received information that will likely change the whole scenario of this post. It may also change our history in ways you’d never believe. However, so that you’re aware that this is an evolving storyline, I’ve decided to post the following in belief that your understanding now will go a long way in helping you to comprehend upcoming posts. The posts may not happen immediately and there may be other posts prior. This is because there are other leads that must be chased and verified. Their use must also be approved. So, please read, enjoy, and know that what you’re reading now may or may not apply at all to our THOMAS family. Know that the story WILL get much deeper. And, know that, unlike in the past, there’s a HUGE AMOUNT of research professionally completed pertaining to the lands of John Thomas 1649.

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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:

MicroFiche

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

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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

 

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(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!

GOING BACK TO OLD VIRGINIA

Filled with a curious hunger to fully understand our Thomas family, once again we come together to review and build upon prior efforts of telling our story. Some of us have seemingly clear paths through northern tier counties of North Carolina back to Virginia where records become fewer and therefore more difficult to link. There are others, like myself, whose only connection lies in DNA and the educated guess that somehow, we will someday clear a more perfect path into this family.

For us all, there is John Thomas who appears in 1620’s ship lists, a census/muster list, and a later land record near Jamestown VA. And, then there’s the story of Sea Venture, a storm, and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Of all the possibilities, the connection to this place and time is nothing less than magical. It’s a great challenge! We’re talking John Rolfe and Pocahontas, the formative years prior to Colonial Williamsburg, the opening chapter of our American story.

Much has been written about this earliest of American Thomas families. Published 1984, there’s Edison H. Thomas and his “Thomas and Bridges Story 1540 –1840.” And in 1977, Robert E Thomas wrote “The Thomas family in 300 years of American history.” There’s the writings of notable researchers like historian Hugh Buckner Johnston whose mother was Ruth Thomas born in Wilson County NC. And, there’s also indispensable research materials such as “Cavaliers and Pioneers. Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants” dealing specifically with records sourced in early Virginia.

As we move forward, we’ll need to work with others in the family who have differing viewpoints. There will be differences with what was believed and written in the past. There will be disagreements both with the traditionally accepted story as well as among ourselves in deciphering the meaning of new finds. Yes, there will be new finds and new stories to tell. Some will merely add to the story while others may figuratively shake the ground from where we believed our beloved ancestors once lived.

For many years I’ve looked towards Virginia with fear and an anxious internalized kicking and screaming of Noooooo….. don’t drag me there!!! It’s a big leap going back through records I have little knowledge. It expands the tree exponentially and with that is a much larger circle of information that’ll need to be verified. There’s much written on this stuff and until now (ha-ha), I was not part of the history. But things have changed, like myself, there is a growing crop of cousins who’ll be paying us a visit in the years to come. We’ll learn of each other through DNA and by improved understanding of the records. We’ll know each other and the story of each other’s family. So, if any THOMAS finds a kinship and is interested in learning more, please don’t be shy. Join us, share, and most importantly, participate in the painless Y DNA testing. We need more participants across the far-reaching spectrum of our Thomas family.