The Southam Parish vestry records contain three references to Orlando Hughes outside the work of establishing property lines. On December 2, 1755, the vestry listed payments made or to be paid, and among these was “To Orlando Hughes for work when finished” payment of £14 and 4 shillings. There was nothing further to suggest what Orlando had done for the parish. Nearly a year later on November 29, 1756, the vesty book recorded, “To Ditto [cash] to pay Orlando Hughes for a gallery at Ham Church when finished” payment of £13 and 6 shillings. Over a year later on December 15, 1757, in a listing of parish payments and bills another entry “To Orlander Hughes for work when Finnished [sic]” a payment of £6 and 4 shillings. For the second time in the vestry record Orlando’s name was spelled wrong, but the interesting thing was the work he performed for the parish. It is possible that all three references had to do with the same work-a gallery at Ham Church-but that can’t be proven. However, since the gallery was mentioned, a few words should be included on the church south of the James River in what became Southam Parish. The first church in this area was the Peterville Church built on the site where outdoor meetings had been held for several years. The meetinghouse was constructed sometime between 1730 and 1735. Initially it was in St. James Northam Parish, but after 1744 it served as the primary church for Southam Parish. The Peterville Church was 40 feet by 20 feet which would soon prove too small for the population.
Among the first business of the new Southam Parish, after being formed, was the building of two more chapels. The first built was below Peterville Church and came to be called Tar Wallet Chapel and it was constructed in the same dimensions as Peterville Church. The other chapel would be between Peterville and the James River and called initially “Willis” but shortly Ham Chapel. The parish entry detailing its construction is torn but most likely stated that it was to be constructed “as the other” in size and shape, etc. Its site using the names of the time was along Pruett’s Path and Widow Dillion’s Path or today’s along Virginia Road 45 north of U.S. Highway 60 near Ashby. Ham Chapel was finished sometime in 1747, but repairs, modifications and additions were frequently needed. At a vestry meeting on February 8, 1755, it was ordered “That George Carrington and Nicholas Davies Do agree with Workmen To Build a Gallery in Ham Chappel in the land of the Building and in A Workmn [workman] Like mannar [sic] of Such Dementions [sic] as shall be Directed by The Said Persons Impowered.” The next meeting of the vestry came on December 2, 1755, in which the payment of £14 and 4 shillings to Orlando Hughes was mentioned due when his work was finished. The next meeting of the vestry came in April of 1756 and all of the entries dealt with the returns of the processioners. The rest of the business of the parish was done at the November 29, 1756, meeting of the vestry. Here the only reference to work on the gallery at Ham Chapel was that of Orlando Hughes with a payment as soon as he finished. It appears that Orlando constructed the gallery at Ham Chapel. But what was a gallery in the 1750s? It probably was a balcony installed to increase seating capacity within the building. In December of 1759 three benches were added to Ham Church at a cost of thirty pounds of tobacco. Then in August of 1760 the vestry ordered an enlargement of Ham Church by an addition of 24 feet at one end and in November of 1760 William Terrell was paid £49 .19 .6 for this addition. However, the problem of inadequate space continued to plague the church even though a fourth chapel was constructed in the southeast area of the parish and called South Chapel. In December of 1762 the vestry ordered a man “to Build a Gallery or Pew in the North side of Ham Chappel Joining the old Gallery. . .” The “Gallery or Pew” most likely should be considered an option of one or the other, not that a gallery was the same as a pew.
During the colonial era the official religion was the Church of England or Anglican Church by law, and all residents were required to support it with yearly taxes. By the mid 1700s a little indulgence of other or dissenting religions was creeping in slowly whereby at least one dissident congregation was tolerated by the established church. In the confines of Southam Parish in Cumberland County a small group of Presbyterians had established themselves by July of 1755 with an official minister, Rev. John Wright. In 1759 these Presbyterians purchased land for a church from Charles Anderson, who had served as a vestryman in Southam Parish from 1745 to 1749. Anderson had resigned his vestry seat in 1749, and it is not known if he was connected or converted to the dissident sect. However, the land deed indicates that a church building was already on the site at the time of the deed, giving some cause for wondering. The tide of religious dissenters came in areas not well covered by the established church and then the relationship with the Mother Country became strained. The Revolution brought serious changes although the local parishes attempted to continue with their work and efforts as they had for well over a century and a half. But they were swimming against a strong tide and in 1785 Virginia enacted freedom of religion and disestablished the Episcopal Church (the old Church of England in America with a new name) with the mandatory public financial support. Their record keeping became brief and intermittent with no records for 1784 and then after a January 1785 meeting, a gap of six years existed to April of 1791. In 1792 Southam Parish went out of business after posting the processioners returns in April of that year.
By law Orlando and his family had to belong to the Church of England. In the frontier area of Virginia the church was slow in following the settlers. In 1720 the first church in the western portion of Henrico County was appointed to be built, being 50 feet long and 24 feet wide and costing an estimated 54,990 lbs. of tobacco. This area of the county had only 326 tithables, and a man was appointed to preach once per month for 540 lbs. tobacco and “cask” (to hold the tobacco). The church building was completed in 1724, and the number of tithables had increased to 635. The following year Mr. George Murdock was received as minister of the parish church, meaning the previous sermons were probably given by a lay reader. Mr. Murdock proposed that on the last Sunday of each month he preach successively at two other locations-the first month at Rob. Carter’s on the south side of the James River and the following month at “Major Bollings Quarters” on the north side of the James. Early religious meetings in the western area, when held, could be monthly or bimonthly at best. In Orlando’s will, made shortly before his death, he expressed great praise to his Creator and recommended his soul to that source. He requested that his body be buried in a Christian manner, and with “nothing doubting” that at the general resurrection that body and soul would be reunited. The vestry records of Southam Parish in Goochland County reveal that Orlando was active in the civil land function performed by the Church of England, but these records reveal next to nothing of the spiritual side. Orlando’s expression of piety in his will, common to many early last testaments, remains about all we have to assess his regard toward religion.
It is only after this much information has been obtained from the available records that the true story of Orlando Hughes in American can begin to be revealed. The Orlando Hughes family, along with most early Virginians, was closely tied to the watercourses, and in their case it would have been the James River with residence probably in Henrico County until 1728. This county took in both sides of the James River clear back to the Blue Ridge Mountains. While living in Henrico County no specific details are known of how Orlando Hughes made his living, if by a trade, laborer or working the land. He could have remained in the same basic area and had his county of residence change-first to Goochland in 1728 and then to Cumberland County in 1749.
A look at Orlando Hughes’ will suggests a more realistic time period for the arrival of Orlando Hughes would have been in the second or third decade of the 1700s. Orlando made his will on July 25, 1768, and he died within two months of this date for on September 26th the will’s two exceutors-son Leander and son-in-law John Murray-had the last will and testament of Orlando proved by the Cumberland County, Virginia court. He bequeathed all of his personal estate (moveable property) to his wife Elizabeth except for two beds for his “two youngest sons Josiah and Anthony.” Then he directed that Anthony be given the tract of land whereon Orlando lived with the stipulation it should he his and his heirs “lawfully begotten of his body” unless “no such heir should happen.” In this event the home place property was to pass to his son Josiah with an identically worded requirement. If the second son failed to produce lawfully begotten heirs, then the home place was to be given to son Caleb and his heirs with no restrictions. Apparently neither Josiah nor Anthony had any children in 1768, and they possibly could have been unmarried. Those family genealogical listings that place Josiah and Anthony among the first three sons born to Orlando and Elizabeth have failed to adequately research their roots. Placing Orlando as an adult (born around 1679 or so) in essence had a 99 year-old Orlando telling his two sons (aged between 64 and 58 years according to these listings) that either they produce heirs lawfully begotten of their bodies or they could forget about possessing the home place. It is far more reasonable to back away and reassess the situation using the admittedly few documented sources in the land, will and court records and see if “about 1700” arrival of Orlando needs to be re-thought. The early arrival date also produces questions about the extremely long time before acquiring title to land. But if Orlando arrived in Virginia in the second decade of the 1700s-probably close to 1720-then at the time of making his will and death, he would have been in his early 70s. Most likely his oldest son was Leander, who was between 50 and 55 years-of-age at the time of his father’s will, with sons of his own all in their 20s. Then Orlando’s youngest sons could have easily been in their 30s or early 40s. The giving of Anthony and Josiah beds from the household property could be interpreted that they had not married, still lived at home, or even that the two youngest were significantly younger than Leander and Caleb.
Even with this much later arrival in the Virginia scenario, it was over two decades before they had title to their own land, but that is much more understandable than some 40 years. If they had paid for their own passage to America, each brother was entitled to claim a headright of 50 acres of land. The headright was not an actual deed to the land but a right or license allowing the possessor to take any 50 acres not yet occupied or claimed by another person. To establish or “seat” the headright claim and receive a title to the land, the person had to mark the boundaries, prepare the ground for cultivation, plant a crop and build some type of dwelling upon it. The land was free but required much labor and some capital. No such headright has been discovered for Orlando or his two brothers. The headright system induced landless Europeans (including Welshmen) to relocated to America. But unless they had sufficient means to pay their passage, they may have been forced to so do as indentured servants whereby someone else paid for their trip across the ocean. If they had just enough funds to pay for passage, they may not have had the resources to secure or “seat” a headright, or acquire other land. Surely if the Hughes had come with the wealth and position that some claim, they would have secured land at the offset and would have been easily found in the public records. Instead, the late acquisition of land titles suggests Orlando (and his brothers if they existed and came together) likely arrived with very little and had to work to obtain sufficient funds before obtaining land. If Orlando arrived in the second decade of the 1700s and served an indenture of five years, then he was probably no longer in getting his own land than many of the immigrants to Virginia. A contemporary who can be traced in the same area was born about 1696, married in1721, and received his first land title in 1742 in Goochland County. Apparently this individual’s experience closely paralleled Orlando Hughes’ in regard to obtaining title to land.
While religion, lack of roads and dependence upon the rivers for movement were important, the most essential element was the land. Most immigrants came for it. County divisions came when there was sufficient population to justify divisions, and in 1728 the western portion of Henrico was split off to form Goochland County. The new county retained the huge expanse west to the Blue Ridge Mountains and covered both sides of the James River. Whether due to this county division or relocation, Orlando Hughes and his family became part of Goochland County. By 1740 when Orlando’s name first appeared in the public record as a witness to a deed, the location in Goochland County was south of the James River, where apparently he resided.
Orlando Hughes’ name in the public records not only give some idea of where he was living, but his 1740 signature as a witness reveals he could read and write. His signature can be found on his will, land purchases and witnessing other legal documents. A typical example as a witness came on a deed dated November 3, 1744, where three other witnesses made their marks (X’s) and only Orlando Hughes and the man transferring the property signed their names. In early Virginia the majority of people went without formal schooling and the ability to read and write was not common. The inventory of his estate listed books in it. Very likely his literacy came as a result of being born and growing up in Britain. His son Leander was born in frontier Virginia where rural schools were non-existing. Leander signed his will and all land deeds with his mark, and his estate inventory has no hint of reading materials. Environmental factors must have been the crucial factor in Leander not possessing the literacy possessed by his father.
Both Orlando and his son Leander were included in a list of tithables for Cumberland County in 1759. In this listing Orlando Hughes was responsible to pay for 8 tithes and Leander 5. This tax list was nine years before Orlando’s death and bearing in mind what he stipulated in his will about his two youngest sons, they could well have been among the tithes the father paid. If so, then the remaining five tithes were most likely slaves. Leander’s five tithes probably included his three oldest sons-Powell (age 19), Stephen (age 18) and Archelaus (age 16)-with his youngest son being under the age of 16 and not tithable yet. Then with one tithe for himself and three for his sons he must has had only one slave. It appears that Orlando resided on the south side of the James River throughout his life although residing in three counties-Henrico, Goochland and Cumblerland. The latter county was formed from Goochland in 1749. Albemarle County had also been formed from Goochland 1744, and in this county Orlando owned some land. In 1760 Orlando sold this land and because two counties were involved there were preliminary processes that had to be taken care of before the deed could be given for the land. An abstract of these preliminaries leading to that eventual transfer were as follows:
GEORGE the second by the Grace of God of Great Britain France & Ireland King Defender of the Faith etc. to George Carrington, Thomas Tabb & Thomas Prosser Gentlemen Greetings. Whereas Orlander Hughes of the County of Cumberland by his Indenture of Feoffment bearing the date the Eleventh day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty hath conveyed the Fee simple estate of four hundred acres of land lying in the County of Albemarle And Whereas Elizabeth the Wife of the said Orlander cannot conveniently travel to our County Court of Albemarle to relinquish her right of Dower to the said Estate Therefore we do give you or any two of you power to receive the relinquishment which the said Elizabeth shall be willing to make before you of her Right of Dower in the Estate contained in the said Indenture which is hereunto annexed And we do there command you to personally go to the said Elizabeth & Examine her privately and apart from the said Orlander Hughes her husband and whether she doth the same freely & voluntarily without his persuasion or Threats and whether she be willing the same to be recorded in our County Court of Albemarle And when you have received her relinquishment and examined her as aforesaid that you distinctly & openly certify our Justices thereof in our said County Court under your seals send then there the said Indenture and this Writ.
Witness John Nicholas[,] Clerk of our said Court at the Courthouse
the thirty first day of December in the
Thirty fourth year of our Reign.
In Obedience to the Commission hereunto annexed to us directed we have caused to come before us Elizabeth the Wife of Orlando Hughes and taken her privy examination for relinquishment of her Right of Dower in Four hundred acres of land conveyed by the said Orlando Hughes to George Walton and she declares that she doth relinquish her right of Dower in the said land freely & voluntarily without the threats
or persuasions of her husband.
Given under our hands & Seals February 23rd 1761
All such official documents in the Royal Colony of Virginia were executed in the name of the King, and in this situation King George II. George II died suddenly in October of 1760, the year of the initial document, and was succeeded by his grandson, George III of Revolutionary War fame or infamy. The first document originated by the Albemarle County Court had the seller of the property as “Orlander” while the court officials in his resident Cumberland County had his name correctly as Orlando Hughes. George Carrington was a member of the vestry for Southam Parish in Cumberland County and a justice in the County Court and most assuredly knew Orlando personally. The county courts went to great lengths to protect a wife’s right of dower to her husband’s property as illustrated in these two documents.
The first son of Orlando and Elizabeth Hughes was Leander, probably born in Virginia between 1715 and 1720 in western Henrico County. This would be in partial agreement with Mrs. Horton’s claim that Leander was born and reared in Powhatan County (page 21 of her book). The accord coming only that he was born in Virginia, since he died two years before Powhatan County was formed. Leander’s birth and rearing had to take place in Henrico and Goochland Counties with the last twenty-six years of his life and burial coming in Cumberland County. He married Nancy Edith Powell sometime before 1740, and they had four sons and at least one daughter. The oldest son was named Powell for his mother’s side of the family, and he was born January 22, 1740, in Goochland County. Another son, Stephen, was born in either in 1741 or 1742, and Archelaus in 1743 and John about 1745. There was no mention of the daughter’s name, but her son was mentioned in her father’s will in 1775. As with his father, we are at a loss as to what Leander did prior to owning his own land, but he was likely engaged in some form of agriculture, either renting land or working on someone else’s land.
Into the story comes Mrs. Horton’s account: “Leander Hughes, son of Orlando, and father of Col. Archelaus Hughes, moved from his father’s home in Powhatan county, Va., at the time of his marriage, to their estate in Goochland county, Va. Here all his children were born.” Once again Mrs. Horton’s geography and history were totally confused. Neither Orlando nor Leander ever saw or resided in Powhatan County; it was created after their deaths. Both father and son came to possess property which was located first in Goochland County south of the James River, and later became part of Cumberland County in 1749. Their properties were always in the same counties and fairly close to one another. Even belatedly none of the streams mentioned in the two Hugheses’ deeds were ever within the bounds of Powhatan County after its formation in 1777. As for Mrs. Horton’s stating that Leander, after his marriage, left his father’s home and took his bride to “their estate” in Goochland County, all that can be said is for once the county was correct. He did not own any land at the time of his marriage, let along an “estate,” and he and his wife had two children before Leander obtained his first land title on March 20, 1743. Leander’s first known land purchase is recorded a year and a half earlier than his father’s first land acquisition. Leander purchased for £55 a tract of land from John Woodson of St. James Parish in Goochland County. Seven months later on November 25, 1743, he purchased 390 acres on both sides of Pidy Run of Willis River by a patent from the Royal Land office upon payment of 40 shillings and promises of rent and cultivation improvements. He would both buy and sell land thereafter, and had enough presence to be cited in the Goochland and Cumberland counties’ public records. All of Leander’s land and his father’s were in Goochland County and south of the James River. Most likely both Orlando and his son Leander probably remained where they had established themselves, and only the name of the county changed in 1749 when Goochland was divided to form Cumberland County, which placed Goochland County north of the James River with Cumberland County south of the river.
Orlando Hughes made a will dated July 25, 1768, and then within two months passed away. The exact date of his death remains unknown, but the Cumberland County Court proved the will on September 26, 1768. He was a resident of Southam Parish in Cumberland County when he died. His will named his wife Elizabeth and four sons by name -Leander, Caleb, Josiah and Anthony-with a daughter inferred as Mrs. John Murray. Orlando willed the land upon which he lived to his son Anthony with the stipulation about final inheritance being to a son with lawfully begotten heirs as discussed earlier. The two youngest sons did not have any children at the time of the will but the two other sons did. The personal estate was to be equally divided among all of Orlando’s children. The executors of the will, son Leander and son-in-law John Murray, made a “true and perfect inventory” of Orlando’s estate and gave it to the county court, which in turn appointed three men to officially inventory the estate and appraise the value of all moveable property. Their inventory and appraisal came in April of 1769. Some information can be gleaned from the inventories, such that he possessed 22 head of cattle, four horses, 21 sheep and 31 pigs. Along with some farming or “planter” tools he had a single “cart” for transport. Besides the normal household goods, he owned a gun, sword and “a parcel of old books.” Between the two inventories he had 850 pounds of tobacco, 50 bushels of wheat, 40 bushels of oats, and a “parcel of corn.” Included in the inventory list was an amount of “old pewter.” This could suggest either the appraisers lumped together several utensils and other pewter items into one parcel for the inventory, or Orlando (or his son or sons) may have been engaged in making pewter items such as plates, utensils, cups, chamber pots or even decorative objects. Pewter, an alloy of tin and copper, was easily workable, but unless much time and effort was expended, few became adept at creating fine ware from it. Orlando owned three slaves and the total value of his estate was a very modest £189 and seven shillings with the estimation for the slaves being slightly over half the amount of the estate. Home, land and buildings were not counted in these estate valuations. The initial inventory by the executors listed two pounds of cash in Orlando’s home, and two accounts against other Hughes-one against Rees Hughes for £15 and one against Micajah Hughes for £ 4 ½. Plus there was a £15 bond against Nicholas Morris due March 15, 1769. When the court appointed appraisers submitted their evaluation, the bond was not listed, so apparently it had been paid. In reality the cash and account payable to the estate added £21 ½ to the estate. One could guess from the inventory that the family traveled but short distances since they only had one cart and one saddle and bridle. Their primary crops were tobacco, wheat, oats and corn. Orlando’s possessions could legally be listed as an estate, but in the vernacular they hardly deserve the name, and strongly suggest no assistance from a royal Welsh heritage of wealth and prestige claimed by some. Instead, the immigrant Orlando Hughes came with little or nothing, and by the mid 1740s began to accumulate property and possessions so that within a little over two decades, he had enough resources to lend small amounts of money and secure a bond.
Almost seven years after the death of his father, Leander Hughes (only in his late fifties to sixty) of Littleton Parish in Cumberland County made out his will dated March 24, 1775, and within three months he died. After Leander’s death his will was proved before the Cumberland County Court on June 28, 1775. Since there was no mention of his widow, wife Nancy Edith preceded him in death. Sons, Powell and Archelaus, were named executors of the estate. According to the father’s wishes, the tract of land upon which he had lived was divided among sons, Powell and Stephen, with the former to receive the upper portion and the latter the remaining half whereon Leander lived with the “houses” being part of Stephen’s inheritance. The will has the plural “houses” in which Leander had lived, suggesting he probably built another house to replace the first house. While he lived in one, he had two sons (Powell and Stephen) in their mid 30s, and likely at least one lived in the first home. The plural could extend to more than two houses, so the other son could have also lived nearby, and there were quarters needed for the slaves. The father’s will gave four slaves to son John Hughes, and the value of the remaining eight slaves being equally divided among three sons-Powell, Stephen and Archelaus-with grandson John Watkins to receive a sixth part of the eight slaves’ value. Then Leander desired that his tract of land in Charles City County should be sold at public sale, and this along with the proceeds from his moveable property-cattle, horses, sheep, hogs along with household and kitchen furniture be used to pay his debts. The remainder was to be equally divided between his four sons-Powell, Stephen, Archelaus and John Hughes. The father Orlando lived in Southam Parish in 1768 and son Leander resided in Littleton Parish in 1775. The two parishs’ names do not indicated they lived far apart as the latter parish was created in 1772 in eastern Cumberland County. Leander Hughes made his mark (X) to seal his will and one of the witnesses did the same.
At face value son Archelaus received the least from the father’s will, but he may have received some portion of his inheritance when he relocated to southern Virginia in the early 1760s. The most intriguing thing in Leander’s will was the instruction to sell his land in Charles City County. This land comes as a surprise unaccounted for by any known grant or purchase, and he possibly inherited it from his mother Elizabeth. Just over a year after Orlando Hughes died, an “Elizabeth Hughes” placed her mark witnessing a land transaction in Charles City County on October 3, 1769. Six years later Elizabeth Hughes’ son Leander has land in his will in the same Charles City County that he may have obtained by way of his mother. While not proven, it is perhaps a lead to try and determine Elizabeth’s maiden name.
The Cumberland County Court ordered an inventory of Leander’s estate, and shortly three assigned persons took the inventory and appraised its value and returned the same to the court on June 28, 1775. Among the items listed were three horses, 20 head of “old cattle” and six calves, 18 hogs and 23 shoats (young hogs), 12 sheep and 20 geese. Also included were 20 pounds of feathers worth 50 shillings, one horse cart, one “men’s old saddle,” and two guns. There were the usual farming and wood working tools, but a great number (18) and variety of hoes. Two feather beds were included in the listing of household and kitchen furniture along with a loom and tools to process wool, cotton and flax. The number of items made of pewter included 17 pewter plates, three pewter dishes and one pewter chamber pot. Also there was a “parcel of old pewter,” suggesting he may have made some pewter items. He owned 12 slaves with one listed as a child of one of the female slaves. The value of the slaves was placed at £ 525, while the estate’s total movable property was appraised at £ 638 and four shillings. The slaves accounted for over 82% of the estate’s movable property. Leander’s estate inventory was three times the value of his father’s, and while he was not a wealthy man, he certainly had considerable means. The second generation of this family of Hugheses in America had made substantial progress; they had come for that very reason and Virginia had proven a good choice.
Leander’s life had been spent around the James River, and land transportation was of minor importance to him, hence he had one men’s saddle and one horse cart, but no wagon, buggy or other horse-drawn vehicle. While during his lifetime water transportation remained important, there began to be changes and more travel overland via trails and roads. In the mid 1700s a beginning to what came to be called the “Great Wagon Road” began in Pennsylvania. While difficult to pinpoint such development, a Treaty of Lancaster seemed to be the official start of this important road. The road connected Philadelphia with other Pennsylvania towns and over to and down Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley where the Great Wagon Road joined the Great Valley Road to Big Lick (Roanoke, Virginia) where the Great Wagon Road branched. The southern branch went through Staunton Gap and on south into North Carolina and was called the Carolina Road, while the Valley road continued southwest through present day Kingsport, Tennessee. By 1775 the Great Wagon Road stretched some 700 miles down through South Carolina and on to Georgia. At the local level in and around Cumberland and Goochland counties there were advances in roads. A map printed in England in 1771 shows a road from Richmond along the north side of the James River to Goochland Courthouse. There it turned to the southwest crossing the James River (crossed at first by ferry) and through Cumberland County between Willis River and Muddy Creek before turning to a westward direction. In addition, other roads began to interconnect with each other and with the main thoroughfares. The roads did not have much bearing on Leander Hughes, but they did for his son Archelaus. At first only a trickle of travelers with perhaps most in simple carts journeyed on the road, but in time they conveyed a mass migration and the simple two-wheeled vehicles gave way to four-wheeled wagons up to large Conestoga wagons. In the period from 1760 to 1776 the Great Wagon Road was the heaviest traveled road in America and the southbound traffic numbered in the tens of thousands.
Archelaus Hughes was the son of Leander and grandson of immigrant Orlando Hughes. He was not residing in Cumberland County when his grandfather and father died but lived in southern Virginia near the North Carolina line. Archelaus’ birth came in Goochland County in the southern section which six years later became Cumberland County. The year of his birth creates some uncertainty. Most family descendants copying Mrs. Horton place Archelaus’ birth in 1747, but this is unquestionably wrong as it would make his age at death as only 49 years. His headstone only lists his death as December 25, 1796, but cites that he was in his “55rd” year of his life. The number of years and the suffix to form the ordinal number don’t go together. Either it should be 53rd year or 55th year of his life. Obviously someone made a mistake, either the wrong suffix was inscribed or the number of years. Due to knowing the date of birth of his older brothers (Powell on January 22, 1740, and Stephen in 1741 or 1742), we believe he was in his 53rd year when he died, thus placing his birth in 1743. Notwithstanding the error on his headstone, it is a more reliable source than any other known to this time. His name could have come from the Bible as the son of Herod the Great mentioned once in St. Matthew 2:22, or from figures in classical history, or a family name. Whoever the first Archelaus in the Hughes family was named after, it became in time one of the more common names in the family but rather rare otherwise.
We know nothing of Archelaus’ early years from birth in Goochland County and growing up in Cumberland County. While we do not know the particulars of his education, we can conjecture a little. He was literate above just signing his name and reading a few words. His father was illiterate, so perhaps his mother was the early tutor in teaching her son to read and write or possibly his grandfather Orlando’s example had an influence. Schools were non-existent in Cumberland County, Virginia, where Archelaus lived after the age of six. His father eventually achieved a financial status whereby he could have hired a tutor to teach his son, and it is possible that he could have traveled to one of the larger towns in eastern Virginia to attend a school for a period of time. This possibility is suggested because as an adult Archelaus functioned in activities that revolved around words both oral and written where meaning and interpretation were crucial. His literacy was well above minimum normal for the time. Possibly the key was his own internal desire and drive to achieve literate skills. He functioned very well as a learned person in the following areas: business ventures; officer in the militia, rising to the highest rank in his county; justice of the peace; two years as county sheriff; and serving for years as a gentleman justice of the county courts of both Henry and Patrick counties. Whether schooled or largely self-taught he was intelligent, capable and continued to increase his knowledge as he possessed a library in his home.
Mrs. Horton in her Family History erroneously stated that Archelaus was born in 1747 in Goochland County and died in 1798. She observed that, “When quite young, Archelaus Hughes went to Pittsylvania county, Va. to live.” Mrs. Horton missed the year of birth for Archelaus by at least four years and made a two-year error on his death plus missed the southern Virginia county where he relocated. Instead, Archelaus Hughes was born in 1743 and unquestionably died in 1796. In or about the age of twenty, young Archelaus Hughes relocated 135 miles to the southwest near the North Carolina border and came to reside in Halifax County, Virginia. This county had been created in 1752 from adjacent Lunenburg County. In the 1750s and early 1760s this huge county stretched along the North Carolina border approximately a hundred miles to the Blue Ridge Mountains. While the settlers in the western reaches were few in number and scattered, the frontier area offered at once the better opportunity for new settlers and the greater danger. Among the latter was the increased threats from the natives due to their alliance with the French in the French and Indian War which began in earnest in 1754, and two years later involved conflict in Europe in the Seven Years War. The Indians resented the eastern colonists pressing over the mountains into Kentucky and the Ohio country, and spurred on by the French, began raiding and attacking the western settlements in Virginia. To counter this situation, the Colony of Virginia established a few forts along the scattered frontier settlements including Fort Mayo established in Halifax County (near the present day Patrick County and Henry County line) and garrisoned for several years. The Indian raids produced much loss of property and a number of white settlers were killed and some captured and carried away as prisoners. Between British troops and colonial militia the struggle continued though 1761 when the American phase of the struggle pushed the French out, and without aid and supplies, the Indian threat quickly diminished. Relations with the natives remained quite tranquil until 1774 when the Indians from the Ohio Valley began raiding the settlers in southwestern Virginia.
Archelaus Hughes shows up in the Halifax County records in 1763 when he was one of four witnesses in a court proceeding in which a land deed was declared void on September 30, 1763. He was again a witness in a land transaction in Halifax County on March 15, 1764. In this Archelaus’ name was joined by another witness John Wimbish, and over the next two decades their two names would be recorded on four land patents and in buying and selling land plus some commerce in goods purchased in England for resale in Virginia. On October 9, 1764, Archelaus Hughes and two others witnessed a bill of sale for five horses, nine cattle and thirty hogs. Although living in Halifax, the young man had not established himself to the point of being taxed or able to vote. In the election held in the county on November 28, 1764, he did not vote, and his name was not recorded on any list of voters for Halifax County between 1764 and 1767. There were restrictions on who could vote-largely determined if an adult male was a freeholder. To vote, a person had to have an estate of at least fifty acres if he had no residence or building thereupon, or twenty-five acres with a plantation and house (at least 12 feet square) thereupon in his possession or in the possession of his tenant. The voting privilege did not extend to women, and blacks and excluded males under the age of 21 and those deemed “recusant”-which included those who were former Catholics, convicts or person convicted of a crime in Great Britain or Ireland.
Archelaus’ name has not been found on any records of the Church of England for Halifax County or on a list of tithables for the county. The Established Church was decreed by law and everyone had to be a member. Furthermore, public tax moneys or tobacco were used to support this religion. When Halifax County was formed, a new parish was created to embrace the same area known as Antrim Parish. If Archelaus had established a sufficient presence in the county, he would have been listed on the tithable list and assessed this tax. The tithe was not a church tax, but more a head or poll tax (it was later called a poll tax). It did not take much to get on the tithable list as one study found that two thirds of those listed on it were not freeholders with assets of at least fifty pounds sterling. Therefore, most of those paying this tax could neither vote nor serve on juries. On March 18, 1765, the Colony of Virginia imposed an assessment for each tithable, and the “Collector of Public Levy” was charged with collecting 46 pounds of tobacco for each tithable from the person responsible for it. And the “Collector of County Levy was charged to collect 20 pounds of tobacco for each tithable. Apparently Archelaus was not tithable and so missed out on these taxes.
His name has been found several times associated with land deeds wherein he was a witness to land transactions. The final Halifax reference to Archelaus Hughes came on January 7, 1767. Archelaus Hughes along with Haman Critz, John France and Haman Critz, Jr. were witnesses to a land transaction in which a man from the “Colony of South Carolina” sold 210 acres on “both forks of Mayo river & up the river.” The deed was recorded in the county deed records on March 19, 1767. All of the witnesses had a long association together and with western Halifax County (the area that eventually became Patrick County), suggesting that by at least this time they were living in this same area. It can only be speculated as to what Archelaus did for a living during this period from 1763 though 1767 and where he was living. To this point no record has been found of a patent or grant of land from the Virginia Colony or of land purchased from a private party. He may have rented or leased some land, and/or he may have tried his hand in some other business, perhaps even spent some time as an apprentice or junior partner. His early association with John Wimbish and their long connection is an intriguing possibility. But in the absence of records and details, all would be mere assumptions and guesswork.
It has proven difficult to determine if Archelaus had title to any land in his own name while residing in Halifax County. No title has been found in the Halifax County deed books and his not voting suggests that he possessed no land title. However, there appears one intriguing source worthy of consideration and some speculation. In the Pittsylvania Court House in Chatham, Virginia, there is a photographic copy of an original that contains land entries for a large section of southern Virginia, beginning with Lunenburg County and its subsequent subdivision of new counties, namely, Brunswick, Halifax, Pittsylvania, Henry, Franklin and Patrick. This land entry book was entitled Entry Record Book 1737 - 1770 and the photocopied book has also been transcribed verbatim and available in several libraries. In an entry dated November 2, 1766, the much abreviated entry made by the recorder stated: “Arch’s Hughs Enters 400 ac of Land on Green Cr. Beg. At a white Oak mark’t A.H. on Randolphs Line at a place commonly Known by the Name of the Little Meadow Th.e[sic] down said creek on both Sides.” Because this was a land entry and not a title to the property, there was not a detailed description of the property lines. A land entry was no more than a statement of intention. Actual ownership of the land came only with satisfying the requirements for settlement on the land and improving it. Because of this many land entries were never carried over into ownership of the property that a person placed a claim upon with his land entry. Regarding the above land claim placed in November of 1766 a couple of comments are made: first, the white oak marked with an “A.H.”. It is tempting to suggest that the two letters were just the initials of the man making the claim, but may not be so since Archelaus was just getting established in the area. Secondly, the beginning of the last sentence of the entry has two letters “Th” followed by a period and then an “e” to make “Th.e” which very likely was an abbrevation for “Thence”, not a new way to write “the.”
Two months later on January 3, 1767, Archelaus Hughes filed six additional land entries, all of which were recorded while the area of the land claims was still in Halifax County. Whatever ventures he had followed in Halifax County in the early period from 1763 to November of 1766, it became clear that he intended to be a large landowner. These land entries will be cited from the entry book with some clarfying comments in brackets. The January 3, 1767, land entries went as follows:
1. Archelaus Hughs 400 ac [acres] on a br [branch] that comes in on the No. [North] Side the No. Mayo Rr. [River] beg [beginning] Where the Order Line cross’s Ye sd [said] br. [branch. Th.e [Thence] up on both sides for Qty [Quantity].
2. Archelous Hughs 400 ac on the Draughts of Mayo Rr. Beg. At his own & Wimbish’s Cor. [Corner] W.O. [White Oak] Th.e [Thence] along the sd Lines and off for Qty.
3. Archeleus Hughs 400 Ac on the So. Fork of Spoon Cr. Beg. Just above Landfords Surv. [Survey] Th.e up on both Sides.
4. Also 400 Ac on Matthews Cr. just Below John Parrs Surv. Th.e down on both Sides.
5. Archeleus Hughs 400 Ac on the So. Fork of the No. for of the Mayo Rr. Beg. where the hill Closes to the Cr. Th.e up on both Sides.
6. Archeleus Hughs 400 Ac on the head of the No. fork of Spoon Cr. Runing to the So. Fork of the No. Mayo.
All seven land entries were made in western Halifax County while it administered that western section, but no land titles were granted prior to June 1, 1767, when the western area became Pittsylvania County. Each of Archelaus’ claims was for 400 acres and in this same time period almost all were for the same acreage. Possibly this limited and apparent standard grant was imposed by the Lords of Trade in London or the Virginia Council or even by the counties. In 1723 the Lords of Trade imposed limits on land grants to no more than 1,000 acres, and later this was changed to allow larger grants. Perhaps there was one in the 1760s to reduce this in certain areas down to no more than 400 acres. But whatever the number of acres, the requirements to “seat” or secure the claim remained constant. It required three acres of every fifty to be cultivated, or pasture three heads of cattle to be maintained with a house of certain dimensions built upon the granted land. It will be noted that all of the land entries were in the vicinity of where Archelaus Hughes established himself and later built his Hughesville plantation. An eighth land entry was entered for Archelaus on May 16, 1768, in this land entry book. For the second time his first name was spelled correctly but through all seven his last name was spelled “Hughs.” This entry stated: “Archelaus Hughs 400 Ac Beg. In the fork of Mayo Rr. At a Large W.O. [White Oak] marked G. A. Running up the Br. on both sides for Qty.” He would secure some of these eight land entries and received land titles while the area was in Pittsylvania County.
On June 1, 1767, the western portion of Halifax County became Pittsylvania County, named after a British statesman who had been supportive of the colonists in their struggles with the Mother County in the matters of trade and duties. The new courthouse was established at Callands (about five miles east of the present day Henry-Pittsylvania County line). The Pittsylvania County Court included among its members John Wimbish, Haman Critz, Jr. and John Hanby. The justices in the new county called for a list of tithables. The 1767, and first, tithable list for Pittsylvania County showed not only those assessed as tithable but also that the new county had 938 whites and 316 slaves within its limits. On Haman Critz’s list Archelaus Hughes was shown with one tithe for himself and no land. Because of several others on the list among whom were John Parr (2 tithes, 400 acres), Haman Critz (2 tithes, 200 acres) we can determine that the people on this list were from the extreme western portion of Pittsylvania County (the area which would eventually become Patrick County). Three years later Archelaus Hughes was appointed by the County Court to make the list of tithables in his precinct of the county. The 1770 Pittsylvania County Tithables was unusual for some of the precincts. For at least one precinct only the names and number of tithables were noted. Another listed the names, tithes and amount of land, but for at least three precincts they listed names, land and number of squirrel scalps collected by each individual listed. The list compiled by Thomas Dillard, Jr., was prefaced by “A List of Tithables, Land and Squarrils [sic] Taken by Thomas Dillard for the Year 1770 June 10th.” He listed 125 tithes and 263 squirrels scalps with the notation that there was “Due the County for want of Scalps 362 lbs[.] of Tob[acco].” Another tithing list cites the scalps as from “Squarl.” A representative sample from Archelaus Hughes List for 1770 follows:
Haman Critz, Senr., Haman Critz, Jr.
Jona. Hanby, David Hanby, Jack,Sal.....4........................20
James Lyon, Humberstone Lyon,Sr.
Arch’l Hughes, Jesse Woodson, Tom......3............310.........13
Ralph Shelton, Senr....................2............700........100
Eliphaz Shelton, Ezeriah Shelton.......2............100
James McCran, Dick, Jemmy, Sue,
Chloe,Bess, Bob, Luce..................8........................36
John Parr, Senr., Jno. Parr, Jr.,
In regard to Archelaus’ three tithes, one was for himself and another for Jesse Woodson, who has not been identified. Because a surname was present it is almost assured the individual was a white man, and very likely from the area of Archelaus’ family home in the Cumberland and Goochland counties where both his father and grandfather had contact with many Woodsons. The third tithe for “Tom” was most likely for a black slave. The inclusion of squirrel scalps was designed to help control the pesky rodents which at times were like a plague descending from their forest hideouts to raid the gardens, growing crops and especially stored grain or vegetables of the settlers. In some of theVirginia counties crow heads and squirrel scalps were designed by law to have the person accountable for the tithes produce the squirrel scalps or crow heads for the person taking the tithable list. A prescribed number of the pests per tithe was set by the county, usually three per tithe. The delinquents were fined for each scalp or head below their quota-usually two pounds of tobacco for each scalp or head. This quota system for the pests was not a bonus or a credit upon taxes as some assume. It made the listing of the tithables more arduous for the person taking it, and more interesting for later generations looking at the compilations.
2004 Henry H. George
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