A New Beginning
If I were to ask you to explain what you know of the 1600s in one
word, what word would that be? Discovery? – Ok, but many discoveries
were made prior and afterwards. Exploration? Not bad as well,
but it really depends on the context of the word for this word describes
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. How about the word Understanding?
Although the 1600s did not start out with awareness or understanding, by
the end it describes the times fairly accurate. There was more understanding
through greater education, perception and realization of ideas, awareness
of issues and problems of the day. How did this happen? The previous
century had seen great improvements in the culture and well being of the
ordinary citizen. Education (via the printing press) began to spread
like a rash, which is exactly how the Catholic Church viewed the expansion.
This, along with the dilution of the feudal system, allowed many to seek
profit for their selves and thus the will to “learn more to earn more”
took over. Queen Elizabeth took the period to its peak of “Renaissance”.
In her long 44 years of rule, many began to have enough money to support
their selves in order to pursue other adventures. Most of these adventures
were in the sciences and the arts.
If I were to mention the word Science, who would be the first person
you would think of? Einstein or Newton? I asked my daughter
this and she gave me the same answers in that order. I understand
Einstein as he really is part of our day. We basically credit him
for being the smartest man of our time. Well what about that second
guy? Newton [see picture]. Why was he second on the list and
not first? In his day he was first (obviously Einstein wasn’t around)
for over 300 years. The difference is that Newton’s name was first
on the list during the 1600s. How does a person have his name last
for so long? Well you would probably have to do something really
good like discover gravity or something really bad such as kill many people.
But then, if you kill a few people they call you a murderer and if you
kill thousands, they call you a conqueror – go figure. Sir Isaac
Newton was of the something good category. Unknowingly he received
his fame for proving the basis of modern science and mathematics.
He received the Sir in his name because he was the most modern thinker of
his day. He embodied all that the 1600s was about to the world – discovery,
exploring, and understanding – a new beginning.
There was so much innovation that it may be better to list some of
the people rather than attempt to discuss the endless quantity of information.
A man many know as Sir Francis Bacon was a statesman, but he devised
the Scientific Method that we still use today to experiment (even used
my Newton). Most people who listened in high school science class
heard the name Galileo [see picture]. You know - something about
a telescope. He didn’t invent it as many believed, but he did improve
it so much that he was given credit for it. Yet most don’t know
he was a great mathematician and astronomer. He even proved Copernicus’
theory correct, but was condemned by the church for it. He had
help with other great astronomers such as Kepler, Cassini, Halley, and
Flamsteed. Then there were the even greater mathematicians such
as Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes, and Christiaan Huygens. Next, the
sciences of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics had their beginnings with Robert
Hooke, Robert Boyle, and Newton again.1 The list can go further,
but I believe you get the idea that the Seventeenth century was an era
of enlightenment. More inventions than ever before arose in the
1600s from simple understanding, such as the telescope, submarine, slide
ruler, blood transfusions, steam turbine, micrometer, adding machine,
barometer, air pump, pendulum clock, cuckoo clock, champagne, and the universal
joint (in mechanics or physics).
So there was appreciation of the mind, but what about the body and
soul. Just a few years earlier, a reformation began that changed
religion for ever. It was still the Catholics versus everyone else,
namely the aptly called Lutherans. In the year 1600, an Italian philosopher
named Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for
having some scientific ideas that disagreed with the Catholic Church.
So the church was still very much in control in many areas of the European
world. In England though, Protestantism reigned and became almost
as aggressive towards Catholics as the Catholics were towards them.
All in all religion was always a driving force behind many decisions and
events of the seventeenth century, yet it seemed to take a back seat at
times to learning and exploring. It was loosing its control and by
the end of the era, the leaders of the religious realm understood that they
must adapt to survive. In 1611, King James of England promoted the
printing of the now most popular version of the Bible, the King James Version.
As we remember, Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church and basically
won and lived. Again, there was John Knox and John Calvin.
Then Henry VIII took over as the Head of the Church in England as his daughter
Elizabeth carried on the tradition. Her successor, King James was
obviously of the same inclination with his Bible. France and Spain
were still devoutly Catholic. The only place that was confused as to
who they were was Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bohemia, and
Hungary). Many of the bishops and priests were converting to Lutheranism and
Calvinism. Central Europe was like a wounded duck in the middle of
a pack of starving dogs. Each of the major powers were watching as
the confusion took place and wanted to seize the opportunity to take a bite
out for themselves. Each had their own reasons; the French wanted to
subdue the growing powers of the Habsburgs (rulers of Austria, kings of
Croatia, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, and Hungary). The Spanish wanted
more land as they had holding in the north and would improve their position
after the great defeat in 1588. England attempted to remain neutral
to religious wars by allowing different beliefs to spread about, but was
still officially Protestant as were Sweden, Denmark, and many provinces with
in Central Europe; therefore, there was an opportunity for England to gain
more control on the mainland. With the three major religions (Catholicism,
Lutheranism, and Calvinism), the tensions became so great that in 1618 war
broke out which we now call the Thirty Years War. This isn’t an essay
on the war so we won’t go into much greater detail, but do you remember in
the book (or movie) the Three Musketeers, the bad guy – Cardinal Richelieu?
Well, he was a major player in this war for France. He played both sides
for his personal gain while maintaining his post as Cardinal and Chief Advisor
to Louis XIII of France. This war, clearly lasting thirty years
till 1648, caused devastation across the land. Casualties, for example,
in Germany encompassed thirty percent of the population. Not all due
directly to the war, but the deaths were a cause of armed conflict, and
indirectly from famine, and disease.2
England although supportive of any thing against the Catholic Church
for a large part, stayed out of the war, but they felt the effects just
the same. Trade had decreased and the famine and diseases didn’t
care if you supported the war or not. As the Spanish and French were
the first to arrive over in the Americas, the war kept them busy with other
things and didn’t pursue much further at this time. But the English,
however, went to work. In 1587 we learned of the first English Colony
that failed. In 1606, the London Company sponsored another settlement
in Virginia. By 1607, Capt. John Smith established Jamestown.
By the end of the year, famine and disease were among them and almost didn’t
survive. The original 105 settlers, now only 32, were about to leave
when another ship arrived as they were pulling out. This ship carried
more supplies and 110 settlers. The colony survived. It was
here when we get our famous story of John Smith and Pocahontas; true story
by the way. The colony began to produce iron ore, lumber, and tobacco
for trade with England. Sir Thomas Smythe, in charge of the London
Company as well as the East India Company sponsored further exploration of
North America through Henry Hudson. Because of the vast potential of
the land in America and as the slave trade already existed in other countries,
the first session of the first legislative assembly in America met in 1619
in Jamestown (called the Virginia House of Burgesses) consisting of 22 representatives
covering 11 plantations and approved the shipment of the slaves to increase
their trade potential. As things were looking up in Virginia and other
explorations in the North proved promising, the London Company sponsored
a settlement in the now Massachusetts at Cape Cod. 101 settlers came
over in 1620 on the Mayflower ship. They immediately arrived and all
signed a “Mayflower Compact” which was a form of local government to act
under a majority rule system and to operate in the general good of the colony.
This system set an example for the future colonies to follow and began to
pave the way for separation from England. These colonies began to
do so well governing themselves and producing the exports, that in 1624
when Charles I came to power in England, he revoked the Virginia Company
charter and declared the colonies a royal colony. This would be his
attempt to bring the settlers back under his control (money and power).
Charles became so greedy back in England that in 1629 disbanded the people’s
parliament in an attempt to be an absolute monarch.
With the political troubles in England, accompanied with
the outbreak of religious wars, famine, and disease it is no wonder the
Americas looked very appeasing for many left England for the American
Colonies. In 1633, people like Galileo were being forced to recant
their beliefs or face death by the church, while in America schools and
universities, such as Harvard in 1636, were being established. Where
would you want to be? The English were pushed to a point in 1642 that
a revolt began led by Oliver Cromwell which ended in the beheading of Charles
I and a republic being established with Oliver as the head. For
a few years, feelings calmed down in England, but never went away.
The Thirty years war ended in 1648 out of pure exhaustion of money and
manpower with the end result of Catholics having to accept the Protestants.
Protestant views were still growing with many studying hard as the studying
of the Bible by the Anglican Bishop James Ussher [see picture] produced
a date the earth was created from 4004 B. C. causing controversy in the already
chaotic religious world.3 But in 1660, the English had enough of the
Cromwell’s and invited Charles II back from France to retake the throne.
Upon his return, he approved a Navigation Act placing limits on the amounts
of tobacco and sugar and other commodities to England and its colonies as
well as limiting trading in the colonies. The colonies could only trade
with England using English ships. By 1663, Charles II even restricted
all imports into its colonies to use English ships. These restrictions
were tough but the colonists accepted them for a while. To further bring
the colonies back under his control, Charles established the colony of Carolina
in America and granted the territory to eight of his loyal supporters which
helped him regain the throne. Of course they had to pay taxes, but
the grantees could profit from the land how they saw fit.
Of course, some people just can’t accept change. King Phillip
IV of Spain, a devout Catholic, wanted to disrupt all things that were
English and protestant. And what better way than to take away English
colonies. His war put the English in America up against the Native
Americans. As the English were ever increasing their land (thus taking
away from the Indians), the Spanish and eventually the French, used this
annoyance to encourage the Natives to attack the English in the New England
area. Raids occurred so frequently that the English fought back hard to where
for every Englishman killed there was 5 Natives killed. The war ended
with the death of the Native Chief, Metacomet, but raids continued well on
till the 1700s. The war actually brought the colonist together and
made them feel they could defend themselves. This independence grew
for close to 100 years till the American Revolution. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania
was charted by William Penn from King Charles. As he was a Protestant,
many Protestants came over to New England in 1682. The French at the
same time began to explore the lower Mississippi region (land of many waters)
and claimed the area for France naming it Louisiana for King Louis XIV.
As King Louis became more confident in his powers, in 1685 he revoked the
Edict of Nantes and went full Catholic. The Protestants feared for
their lives and left for America. America was vastly becoming the land
of the free. Most of those who arrived were inclined to personal freedoms
and self governing. Traits that would serve them well in years to
come. That same year, Charles II of
England dies and James II assumes the throne. As he assumed
the same colonial policies as Charles, he tried to make the whole of New
England and Virginia into one state; thus, taking away all local political
rights they had enjoyed earlier. He tried to take away their independence.
In 1687, the colonist were still loyal to the homeland, but were growing
upset towards the now Taxation without Representation. Before a
real militia could be assembled, King James II [see picture] was run off
in 1688 to France by the parliament leaders who were feeling the pressure
back home as well. The English people wanted a Crown but they wanted
a voice in the Government. The next of kin were place on the throne,
King William and Queen Mary. As hostilities remained between England
and France, King William went to war. This European war spilled
over into the Americas as the French allied with the Native Americans resume
attacks on the English Colonists. These attempts were aimed at England,
but all they really did was help forge the colonists into Americans.
These Americans were fighting from all directions; the French and Indians
on one side and the ever increasing restrictions from the homeland.
In 1696, a Third edition of the Navigation Act gave the tax collectors in
the colonies rights to forcible entry (into your homes) and now bond money
of certain produce. By the end of the seventeenth century the war
with the French was over for now and England could now focus on its colonies.
The parliament passed the Wool Act, which for the Americans meant there
was to be no imports of wool. The 250,000 people in the new world
were being strangled.
It is clear that things were bad as far as freedoms and living conditions
in England and in all of Europe. America was the place to be for
a new beginning. You could believe as you wished work as hard as
you wanted to get ahead and profit and you could own land. You could
be someone, grow your own food, and breath fresh air. These feelings
of independence and the many conflicts forcing them to act as one against
the outside forces as well as their own would soon become the downfall of
English rule in America. Immigrants from all over the world began
to flock here for all its promises. People began to better understand
the universe around them, better understand the situations they were in
and the freedoms they could have, and better understand the efforts it would
take to break the yoke. Our ancestors were no different. We
discovered our ancestors in England in Wiltshire County. As their situation
improved, we moved to Kent County. But as the Smyths’s responsibilities
expanded with their service to the Crown, we found out they moved to Lancashire
County in the north, or at least some of the children were born there.
At last we discussed Sir Thomas Smythe as being the son
of Thomas “Customer” Smythe and we used some data of his children to help
prove the linage. It seemed a bit sketchy but we were to smooth it
out in this section. Thomas’ children shown below in the chart were
as follows: John Smythe (b. abt. 1580) who was still alive
in 1619 but I do not know when he died. Christopher Smith, was born
on 18 Mar 1591 in Lancashire County and died on 16 Apr 1648. The last
son, Robert Smythe, I have no idea of his dates (birth or death). Sir
Thomas’ career was a hard one which kept him very busy. As a result
it appears that not only did he have children later in life (which was the
norm in these days), but he only had three, where many families consisted
of more than 6 children. It is reported that he had a daughter as
well, but I know nothing of a name or dates.
Now John Smythe became a Sir John Smythe, the same that married the
daughter, Lady Isabelle Rich, of the Earl of Warwick. I assume they
had children, but have done little research into this matter. Robert
Smythe has shown little records, for I have found none on himself
but rather that of his son, of the same name, who was the governor of Dover
Castle; “Guardian of the 'Gateway to England', this giant of a castle displays
a solid strength and determination that has obviously carried it through
many troubled times. Proudly standing atop the White Cliffs, overlooking
this busy port, Dover has withstood the test of time remarkably well throughout
its long and eventful history. Dover Castle, as it stands today, dates
from the rebuilding work during Henry II's reign, but the site has been
of vital importance since the Iron Age. The first castle was probably an
Anglo-Saxon fortress and, on the arrival of William the Conqueror, the existing
fortifications were improved with the building of an earthwork castle. This
Norman 'motte' (mound) which supported the castle is today known as 'Castle
Hill'.”4 And the last child, Christopher is the one we are really
interested in. He was born on 18 May 1591 in Lancashire County, England.
First of all, we noticed some differences. The most obvious was
the spelling. Why is it different? I have no Idea. The only
explanation that I can think of is that they were interchangeable.
I have noticed that many other Smith families about the same time also
began to change the spelling of their names to the more traditional “i”.
Some prefer the notoriety to stand out, while others (as myself) prefer
to be just left alone. I will not surmise as to which Christopher
was. The next difference was that he was born in Lancashire.
I have no birth place for the other children so I don’t have them to compare
to, but it is not far fetched to believe as his father was a very important
man of the day and would have surely travelled for months at a time
and could have brought his family on the travels. Remember, England
is just a small Island. The last difference was that Christopher bore
a coat of arms of the Smiths of Tote, Devon County, England. To have
a coat of arms was to mean he was of an important family. This is
good. I have been unable to locate these Smiths of Devon England.
As a matter of fact the closest Smith’s I can find that resemble our
family is in Kent and Wiltshire Counties – our family. This further
supports my theory. But the problem I can’t understand (unless he created
his own) was the description of the arms. Now Sir Thomas Smythe’s coat
of arms is show above and described as follows: The shape of the shield
is with a flat top, straight sides, and a tapered bottom to a smooth point.
The shape resembles those made in the late 13th and early 14th Century.
The background color is of Azure (Blue). The charges are of lions
with attitudes of Guardiant and Passant with a chevron in between them.
The crest (that which is on top of the shield) is of and English Helm with
visor decorated with an Azure and Or (Gold) mantle. On top of the helmet
is a Leopard head chained and collared. With some research, I have
discovered the following interpretation for these characteristics:
Azure = Blue = Strength and Loyalty
Or = Gold = Noble, the Sun (originally meant only for princes)
Chevron = Roof of a house = Protection and/or faithful service
Guardant = looking at viewer
Passant = walking or running (common for non-carnivorous beasts)
Lion = exotic, King of beasts, ferocity, bravery
Leopard = exotic, of German origin, Valiant and hardy warrior who
enterprises hazardous things by force and courage
Helm = Knight
This, in view of our Smith’s, means it appears that Sir Thomas Smythe
wished to be seen and remembered as a Loyal, Noble, Knight to the crown
of England who not only received protection but gave protection through
faithful service to the crown. His loyalty portrayed through the dominant
Azure color, the golden chevron, and the attitudes of the beasts, and the
beasts themselves. The portrayal of the lions and leopard with teeth
and tongues were to show the ferocity or bravery at which he would defend
his crown. Yet the lions are displayed in a Guardant and Passant nature.
This is interpreted as his personal nature is passive and easygoing but
always watching and overlooking to protect his country. The very sight of
the lions is a reference to the English throne; thus, another attempt at
showing his loyalty to the crown. His nobility portrayed through the
"Or" color, the helm, the lions, and the leopard head. The gold color
and the helmet of the Knight are both obvious notions of nobility, but being
allowed to portray the lions and leopard are also representations of nobility.
The leopard head is an exotic animal as well and originated with the gift
of leopard from the German Emperor to the English King in 1235. This
could represent some German orientation (although I have found no connections)
or it could represent the lavishness and dangers of some of his travels
and works in the world abroad as the Customs officer and Governor of several
merchant outfits. Yet this Leopard is in custody. He has a
collar, surmising domestication or control and is further chained to the
Helm. This would mean that the defender (the Leopard) is wielded
by the Loyal Knight who defends the English crown. This is the mild
version, but an even shorter version to describe Sir Thomas’s arms would
be: Azure, a Chevron between three lions, Guardant and Passant. Now
this last description sounds very much like his son’s, Christopher.
Christopher’s was described as “Azure a Chevron between three acorns
slipped and leaved”. Azure or blue in color matches Sir Thomas’,
father. The single chevron matches as well. It was the Acorns
the bothered me. Sir Thomas had three Lions as shown above.
The Acorns denote antiquity and strength; they hold a high significance
as a Scandinavian and a Celtic symbol for life, fertility, and immortality.
While attempting to research this in heraldry, I found that the Smith’s
of America (which means our family to put it short) replaced the acorns
with three yellow lozenges (Constancy). I want to believe the change
was to help better distinguish them selves from the others in the world,
such as those from Ireland, South Africa, and back in England. But
it may also be that Christopher, however tied to the merchant way of life,
chose to step back from the lime light and chose a quieter, more religious
life. This trait may have carried on to his children, namely Christopher
II as he spent many years involved with the church as we will find out.
Originally all the Smyth Arms included what we would call a Unicorn symbol;
which suggests that each of the sets of Smyths in the area may have similar
lineage in earlier times, but I don’t know. We discussed this symbol
briefly in the History of the Smith Name. The Unicorn seems to have
been replaced with the Lions back before the early 1500s. But our
Smiths changed them again to acorns as we see on Christopher’s. There
is much to be learned here. Christopher could have separated
from his father [either over some argument or by arrangement of marriage
perhaps], changed the spelling of his name as well as the symbols on his
crest, yet kept the arms still a claim to his father which still brought
respect. This hypothesis would account for the records found of Sir
Thomas’ children recording the three boys but only naming two. Remember
this is just an assumption. There is just too much that matches for
them not to connect, yet I can not explain the differences. With the
connections built up over the years, it appears that each generation began
to move up due to marriages within “good” families. It would be fair
to assume then that many marriages were arranged (remember this is still
the 1600s – arranged marriages were still recorded in the early 20th century).
We will see such marriages in our ancestry and see how wise our ancestors
were. Christopher married Ms. Elizabeth Townley (b. abt. 1599 in Lancashire)
on 3 May 1624 in Lancashire, England. Elizabeth was the daughter of
Lawrence Townley IV and Jennet Halstead, a well to do family. I had
done a bit or research into her family because her father was an “IV”.
I found nothing much but a long line of Lawrence Townley’s of which Elizabeth
carried on with her children. What I did find out was that the Townleys
were based in Lancashire but had many branches of the family spread across
England. One such branch was at Stone Edge, which in Wiltshire.
Guess what? This is the same place our Smiths were. Now I followed
Lawrence Townley’s line a bit further and discovered many interesting things
(Queens, Presidents, Explorers, Generals), but that will have to wait till
we get to the Smith Branches Section.
The children of Christopher and Elizabeth are as follows: John
Smith, Lawrence Smith, Christopher Smith, Richard Smith, and Thomas Smith.
He had no daughters
that I am aware of. John was born on 12 Sep 1624 in
Burnley Parish, Lancashire, England. I don’t know if he was named
after his paternal uncle, his paternal great - great grandfather
or his maternal grand father (on the mother’s side), although I assume the
uncle as he was closest to the family but the maternal grandfather
fits the naming scheme of the day. Nevertheless this is all I know
of him. The Second son, Lawrence was born 29 Mar 1629 in Lancashire,
England. He most likely was named after his maternal grandfather, Lawrence
Townley IV. He had an interesting life of which I will get into
later. The third son Christopher (of whom I will refer to as Christopher
II from now on to keep them straight), was born 29 Jan 1630 in the same
place, Lancashire, England. Now since he is of our direct line, I
view him as the most important and will discuss him last. The fourth
son was Richard was born in Lancashire as well on 24 May 1635. I
assume he is named after his great uncle for that is the only close relative
I have found of the that name. And again, like John, this is all I
know about him. The last child was Thomas who born in Lancashire
on 17 Dec 1637, I believe, was named after his paternal grandfather.
Usually the first grandson is named after the paternal grandfather, but
if my theory is correct, Chris saved it for last. And as Thomas is
name of both grandfather and grandson, it further strengthens the connection
between Christopher and Sir Thomas. I found a record showing the young
Thomas as having a son named John Smith who married a Mary Warner.
But alas, this was extent on Thomas. Ok, we have talked a bit about
each child except two. Let’s start with Lawrence.
Lawrence being born 29 Mar 1629 was age 22 when he married Mary Dedman.5
Mary was born on 8 Feb 1635 (and died about 1700). They were married
on 28 Sep 1652 in Abingdon Parish, Gloucester Co., Virginia. That’s
right. He made it to America by the age of 23. Now I know
that most people record in their genealogies that he was married in 1651
in Virginia, but how can that be so when it is recorded that he didn’t
arrive in America until early 1652. He was the first Smith in our family
to reach America. As per the book “Early Virginia Immigrants”, Lawrence
is listed as being “Imported [in 1652
] by Capt. Augustine Warner [see picture] who was married to Mary Townley,
sister to Elizabeth Townley, Lawrence’s [and Christopher’s] mother.
They were the daughters of Lawrence Townley, the grandfather of Lawrence
Smith. Lawrence Townley is also the direct ancestor of both George
Washington and Robert E. Lee through Mary Townley, wife of Augustine Warner.”6
That last part we will get to later. So Lawrence grows up with his
brothers (John, Christopher, Richard, and Thomas) and his cousins.
Lawrence was an ambitious boy growing up, after all look as his pedigree.
His Uncle, Augustine Warner, came to America or Virginia when he was 18
years old in 1628. As his family name was of some reputation in England
(his father was a respected minister in Cambridge, England), he obtained
passage on a ship commanded by Capt. Adam Thouroughgood. Not much
is known about him between 1628 and 1635, but it is recorded that he received
his first land grant in Gloucester Territory in 1635 of which he was instrumental
in the settlement of Gloucester Co. VA in 1651. A note here about
land grants in early America. As the English first settled permanently
in 1607, things had not changed much in 1628. The attempt was to get
more and more people over to America to further colonize the area.
As an enticement, those who sponsored others to come over were granted land
[as that was the most valuable thing of the day]; therefore, the more you
sponsored the more land you gained. If you were sponsored, you were
like an indentured servant for a specified time or what ever the terms may
have been agreed upon. By the 1650’s Augustine had acquired over 1000
acres of land (some believe he ended up owning over 33,000 acres).
Through his sponsorship and land gains, he became very influential in the
colonies. Once established, what better way to gain more land than
to sponsor one’s own family. They had a family member there that could
give them a head start and land was plenty; thus, those who were ambitious
could move up in the world. Lawrence Smith had just such a chance.
His Uncle was already established in America and he wanted his piece of
the pie. It was a win-win situation. In 1652, Lawrence
arrived. By the end of the year, Lawrence had found and married Ms.
Mary Dedman (born about 1630) whose father had arrived around the same
time as Augustine. His uncle began to show him the way to get ahead
in the new world and at the age of 27 in 1656, he applied for and was granted
119 acres for importing 3 people to America.7 Who these three individuals
were I don’t know, but it worked so well for him that on 26 Mar 1666, he
and his best friend Robert Taliaferro went in together and sponsored between
126 to 173 [records vary] people to come over and was granted 6,300 acres
for doing so. They split it (3,150 acres each). Lawrence’s
popularity and reputation grew rapidly in the ever expanding Virginia colony.
Remember times were still tough and the Indians were always a constant threat
due to this expansion. A general or grand Assembly was called in James
‘Cittie’ (I believe this was Jamestown, although unsure) on 20 Sep 1674 that
lasted till 17 Mar 1675 over the Indian attacks and how they should handle
it. In the end, and Act was passed declaring war against the natives.
Under the Act, orders were given and provisions made for 111 men out of
the Gloucester territory to be stationed at a fort near the Rappahannock
falls of what is now believed to be the present area of Germana. The
commander for this outfit was none other than our Lawrence Smith at the
rank of Major. Now the rank of Major just isn’t given out, it is
earned. This would indicate that Lawrence was already a member of
the British Army or Local Militia. He must have joined the military;
I would venture to say, after 1666. Only men of some stature in the
community were given the officer ranks. To be of stature meant you had
to have some money or power. Lawrence had the good name of his uncle,
his own, his good friend Robert Taliaferro (who belonged to a family of notable
power and wealth), and the newly acquired land. He fit the bill
perfectly for a military officer after his last land acquisition. In
1676, he began to rebuild the fort he was at to re-fortify his position.
If you remember your history, you would know that this is the exact time and
place of something called Bacon’s Rebellion. As the story is relevant
in describing the times building up to Lawrence’s appointment as well as
his part in defending the Governor of Virginia, Sir William Berkeley, against
Nathaniel Bacon I have decided to include the short story of Bacon’s rebellion
written by Susan McCulley in 1987 (and revised by Jen Loux in 1995):
BACON'S REBELLION 8
Bacon's Rebellion was probably one of
the most confusing yet intriguing chapters in Jamestown's history. For
many years, historians considered the Virginia Rebellion of 1676 to be
the first stirring of revolutionary sentiment in America, which culminated
in the American Revolution almost exactly one hundred years later. However,
in the past few decades, based on findings from a more distant viewpoint,
historians have come to understand Bacon's Rebellion as a power struggle
between two stubborn, selfish leaders rather than a glorious fight against
The central figures in Bacon's Rebellion were
opposites. Governor Sir William Berkeley, seventy when the crisis began,
was a veteran of the English Civil Wars, a frontier Indian fighter, a
King's favourite in his first term as Governor in the 1640's, and a playwright
and scholar. His name and reputation as Governor of Virginia were well
respected. Berkeley's antagonist, young Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., was actually
Berkeley's cousin by marriage. Lady Berkeley, Frances Culpeper, was Bacon's
cousin. Bacon was a troublemaker and schemer whose father sent him to Virginia
in the hope that he would mature. Although disdainful of labor, Bacon was
intelligent and eloquent. Upon Bacon's arrival, Berkeley treated his young
cousin with respect and friendship, giving him both a substantial land
grant and a seat on the council in 1675.
Bacon's Rebellion can be attributed to a myriad of causes, all of
which led to dissent in the Virginia colony. Economic problems, such as
declining tobacco prices, growing commercial competition from Maryland
and the Carolinas, an increasingly restricted English market, and the rising
prices from English manufactured goods (mercantilism) caused problems for
the Virginians. There were heavy English losses in the latest series of
naval wars with the Dutch and, closer to home, there were many problems
caused by weather. Hailstorms, floods, dry spells, and hurricanes rocked
the colony all in the course of a year and had a damaging effect on the
colonists. These difficulties encouraged the colonists to find a scapegoat
against whom they could vent their frustrations and place the blame for
The colonists found their scapegoat in the form of the local Indians.
The trouble began in July 1675 with a raid by the Doeg Indians on the plantation
of Thomas Mathews, located in the Northern Neck section of Virginia near
the Potomac River. Several of the Doegs were killed in the raid, which
began in a dispute over the non-payment of some items Mathews had apparently
obtained from the tribe. The situation became critical when, in a retaliatory
strike by the colonists, they attacked the wrong Indians, the Susquehanaugs,
which caused large scale Indian raids to begin.
To stave off future attacks and to bring the situation under control,
Governor Berkeley ordered an investigation into the matter. He set up what
was to be a disastrous meeting between the parties, which resulted in the
murders of several tribal chiefs. Throughout the crisis, Berkeley continually
pleaded for restraint from the colonists. Some, including Bacon, refused
to listen. Nathaniel Bacon disregarded the Governor's direct orders by
seizing some friendly Appomattox Indians for "allegedly" stealing corn.
Berkeley reprimanded him, which caused the disgruntled Virginians to wonder
which man had taken the right action. It was here the battle lines were about
to be drawn.
A further problem was Berkeley's attempt to find a compromise. Berkeley's
policy was to preserve the friendship and loyalty of the subject Indians
while assuring the settlers that they were not hostile. To meet his first
objective, the Governor relieved the local Indians of their powder and
ammunition. To deal with the second objective, Berkeley called the "Long
Assembly" in March 1676. Despite being judged corrupt, the assembly declared
war on all "bad" Indians and set up a strong defensive zone around Virginia
with a definite chain of command. The Indian wars which resulted from
this directive led to the high taxes to pay the army and to the general
discontent in the colony for having to shoulder that burden.
The Long Assembly was accused of corruption because of its ruling
regarding trade with the Indians. Not coincidentally, most of the favoured
traders were friends of Berkeley. Regular traders, some of whom had been
trading independently with the local Indians for generations, were no longer
allowed to trade individually. A government commission was established to
monitor trading among those specially chosen and to make sure the Indians
were not receiving any arms and ammunition. Bacon, one of the traders adversely
affected by the Governor's order, accused Berkeley publicly of playing favorites.
Bacon was also resentful because Berkeley had denied him a commission as
a leader in the local militia. Bacon became the elected "General" of a group
of local volunteer Indian fighters, because he promised to bear the cost
of the campaigns.
After Bacon drove the Pamunkeys from their nearby lands in his first
action, Berkeley exercised one of the few instances of control over the
situation that he was to have, by riding to Bacon's headquarters at Henrico
with 300 "well armed" gentlemen. Upon Berkeley's arrival, Bacon fled
into the forest with 200 men in search of a place more to his liking
for a meeting. Berkeley then issued two petitions declaring Bacon a rebel
and pardoning Bacon's men if they went home peacefully. Bacon would then
be relieved of the council seat that he had won for his actions that year,
but he was to be given a fair trial for his disobedience.
Bacon did not, at this time, comply with the Governor's orders. Instead
he next attacked the camp of the friendly Occaneecheee Indians on the Roanoke
River (the border between Virginia and North Carolina), and took their
store of beaver pelts.
In the face of a brewing catastrophe, Berkeley, to keep the peace,
was willing to forget that Bacon was not authorized to take the law into
his own hands. Berkeley agreed to pardon Bacon if he turned himself in,
so he could be sent to England and tried before King Charles II. It was
the House of Burgesses, however, who refused this alternative, insisting
that Bacon must acknowledge his errors and beg the Governor's forgiveness.
Ironically, at the same time, Bacon was then elected to the Burgesses
by supportive local land owners sympathetic to his Indian campaigns. Bacon,
by virtue of this election, attended the landmark Assembly of June 1676.
It was during this session that he was mistakenly credited with the political
reforms that came from this meeting. The reforms were prompted by the population,
cutting through all class lines. Most of the reform laws dealt with reconstructing
the colony's voting regulations, enabling freemen to vote, and limiting
the number of years a person could hold certain offices in the colony. Most
of these laws were already on the books for consideration well before Bacon
was elected to the Burgesses. Bacon's only cause was his campaign against
Upon his arrival for the June Assembly, Bacon was captured, taken
before Berkeley and council and was made to apologize for his previous
actions. Berkeley immediately pardoned Bacon and allowed him to take his
seat in the assembly. At this time, the council still had no idea how much
support was growing in defence of Bacon. The full awareness of that support
hit home when Bacon suddenly left the Burgesses in the midst of heated debate
over Indian problems. He returned with his forces to surround the statehouse.
Once again Bacon demanded his commission, but Berkeley called his bluff
and demanded that Bacon shoot him.
"Here shoot me before God, fair mark shoot."
Bacon refused. Berkeley granted Bacon's previous volunteer commission
but Bacon refused it and demanded that he be made General of all forces
against the Indians, which Berkeley emphatically refused and walked away.
Tensions ran high as the screaming Bacon and his men surrounded the statehouse,
threatening to shoot several onlooking Burgesses if Bacon was not given
his commission. Finally after several agonizing moments, Berkeley gave in
to Bacon's demands for campaigns against the Indians without government interference.
With Berkeley's authority in shambles, Bacon's brief tenure as leader of
the rebellion began.
Even in the midst of these unprecedented triumphs, however, Bacon
was not without his mistakes. He allowed Berkeley to leave Jamestown in
the aftermath of a surprise Indian attack on a nearby settlement. He also
confiscated supplies from Gloucester and left them vulnerable to possible
Indian attacks. Shortly after the immediate crisis subsided, Berkeley briefly
retired to his home at Green Springs and washed his hands of the entire
mess. Nathaniel Bacon dominated Jamestown from July through September 1676.
During this time, Berkeley did come out of his lethargy and attempt a coup,
but support for Bacon was still too strong and Berkeley was forced to flee
to Accomack County on the Eastern Shore.
Feeling that it would make his triumph complete, Bacon issued his
"Declaration of the People" on July 30, 1676 which stated that Berkeley
was corrupt, played favorites and protected the Indians for his own selfish
purposes. Bacon also issued his oath which required the swearer to promise
his loyalty to Bacon in any manner necessary (i.e., armed service, supplies,
verbal support). Even this tight reign could not keep the tide from changing
again. Bacon's fleet was first and finally secretly infiltrated by Berkeley's
men and finally captured. This was to be the turning point in the conflict,
because Berkeley was once again strong enough to retake Jamestown. Bacon then
followed his sinking fortunes to Jamestown and saw it heavily fortified. He
made several attempts at a siege, during which he kidnapped the wives of
several of Berkeley's biggest supporters, including Mrs. Nathaniel Bacon
Sr., and placed them upon the ramparts of his siege fortifications while
he dug his position. Infuriated, Bacon burned Jamestown to the ground on
September 19, 1676. (He did save many valuable records in the statehouse.)
By now his luck had clearly run out with this extreme measure and he began
to have trouble controlling his men's conduct as well as keeping his popular
support. Few people responded to Bacon's appeal to capture Berkeley who
had since returned to the Eastern Shore for safety reasons.
On October 26th, 1676, Bacon abruptly died of the "Bloodie Flux"
and "Lousey Disease" (body lice). It is possible his soldiers burned
his contaminated body because it was never found. (His death inspired
this little ditty; Bacon is Dead I am sorry at my hart that lice and flux
should take the hangman's part".)
Shortly after Bacon's death, Berkeley regained complete control and
hanged the major leaders of the rebellion. He also seized rebel property
without the benefit of a trial. All in all, twenty-three persons were hanged
for their part in the rebellion. Later after an investigating committee
from England issued its report to King Charles II, Berkeley was relieved of
the Governorship and returned to England where he died in July 1677.
Thus ended one of the most unusual and complicated chapters in Jamestown's
history. Could it have been prevented or was it time for inevitable changes
to take place in the colonial governmental structure? Obviously, the
laws were no longer effective as far as establishing clear policies to
deal with problems or to instil new lifeblood into the colony's economy.
The numerous problems that hit the colony before the Rebellion gave rise
to the character of Nathaniel Bacon. Due to the nature of the uprising,
Bacon's Rebellion does seem at first glance to be the beginnings of America's
quest for Independence. But closer examination of the facts reveals what
it really was: a power struggle between two very strong personalities.
Between them they almost destroyed Jamestown.
Neville, John Davenport. Bacon's Rebellion. Abstracts of Materials
in the Colonial Records Project. Jamestown: Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.
Washburn, Wilcomb E. The Governor and the Rebel. Chapel Hill: University
of North Carolina Press, 1957.
Webb, Stephen Saunders. 1676-The End of American Independence. New
York: Alfred A. Knope, 1984.
After reading the essay, it should be easy to see why Lawrence was
first called to service in the military, then to his promotion as Major
and Commander, and then his partaking in the defence of the Governor.
The Smith’s have always been where the “famous” stuff was happening, but
we were always behind the scenes as it were. Yet, because of his
loyalty to the Crown (or King’s Governor) and his good service, Lawrence
was empowered in 1679 [as a result to sequester any other dissenters within
the ranks] to command fifty men, able and well armed, who were instantly
ready or “at the beat of a drum” and another two hundred men who were no
further that the distance of 1 mile from the fort at which were always
primed to march twenty miles in any direction. This meant that he
also was empowered to “execute” martial discipline among his soldiers (in
peace or war). A court would be assembled with Lawrence and two others
of the same rank presiding over all cases, civil or criminal, that arose
within their territories and even create by-laws. To further
persuade others to join the cause, the military settlers were allowed the
privilege of not being arrested for any debts (save those to the King and
those contacted amongst themselves) as well as taxes and levies.9
I kid you not when I say that these dealings were of great importance.
This was the actual beginnings of two things: (1) Bacon’s rebellion along
with the Indian attacks spurred the feelings of recognizing the right of
Americans to bear arms and (2) one of the earliest forms of the UCMJ (Uniform
Code of Military Justice) of which all military personnel today must abide
by. As you seen above that Bacon died and Berkeley was victorious,
Berkeley called a meeting of which he was to Court Martial composed on board
Captain John Martin’s ship (for safety I suppose as the government seat
was burnt down during the rebellion) on 11 Jan 1677. The court martial,
I assume, was to punish those leaders of the rebellion of which were hanged.
In this meeting were the following members: Sir William Berkeley,
Col. Nathanial Bacon, Sr. (the dad), Col. Southey Littleton, Col. Thomas
Ballard, Lt. Col. John West, Col. Phillip Ludwell, Maj. Lawrence Smith,
Col. Augustine Warner, Maj. Robert Beverly, Col. Mathew Kemp, Capt. Anthony
Armistead, Col. William Claiborne, and Capt. Daniel Jenifer.10
There were three names of importance to us in this list, Lawrence was obvious,
Col. Augustine Warner (who was Lawrence’s cousin and son of Capt. Augustine),
and Capt. Anthony Armistead. The last was important because it was
from his letters that his family recorded much of what we know today about
Lawrence in the book “The Armistead Family” dated 1907.
Because Lawrence had taken on such a big task, he was granted
1,666 acres (measuring approximately 5 miles long by 3 ½ miles wide
which included the present fort of Rappahannock near the falls) to establish
the militia. [The adjacent picture shows the Rappahannock area].
Half of the acreage was to be his. The condition was that he had
to move to and settle the area himself; thus, he would have a vesting interest
in taking up the task and defend it. This land extended to present
day Fredericksburg. There he made three seats (towns), Epsom, Newpost,
and Smithfield. Guess which one was named for Lawrence. The
town of Smithfield was actually built by Lawrence’s son, Augustine Smith.
With the Indian issue settled for the time being he had idle time after
setting up the standing army and fort. In 1685, he obtained the titles
of Lawyer and Surveyor of the Counties of York and Gloucester.11
He had dabbled in both when he was importing people from England back
in 1666. The new status added to his holdings and pocketbook for
in 1686, he acquired what was called the “Temple Farm”.12 Temple
Farm has a very unique history and is worth telling.
Temple Farm began in 1633 as it was patented or “granted to” the
then Governor of Virginia, Governor Harvey. He sold the 1700 acres
of land to a George Ludlow who built the first home there. At his
death, his nephew, Lt. Col. Thomas Ludlow inherited the land. The
Ludlow farm (or sometimes called Middle Plantation) lasted until Thomas’
death. During this day and age, women and men usually remarried
quickly after their spoused death as a matter of pure survival. Ludlow’s
widow remarried to the Rev. Peter Temple who gave the land its name by the
time Lawrence came on the scene.13 In 1676, the house was overtaken
for a period by none other that Nathaniel Bacon (Of Bacon’s Rebellion) and
used as a headquarters. In the Virginia Magazine of History (Vol. 3,
No. 1, July 1895), it is recorded, “In July, Maj. Thomas Hawkings had
a commission gr-ted for ye destroying of our neighboring Indians as well as
the Susquehanoths (yit our neighboring Indians left their towns within 4
days after ye first murder was committed). We ytt Major Smith went downe
with 50 horse & Foote to congratulate ye good news together with an Intention
to suppress ye Insolence committed. Several houses were burned, People killed
and wounded in Pascataway on ye 10th July, ye worshipful Major Hawkings and
Major Smith were by Nathaniel Bacon, Junior, carried away Prisoners.” Remember
in the essay above that it stated that Nathaniel “confiscated supplies from
Gloucester and left them vulnerable to possible Indian attacks”. It
was Lawrence’s fort that Nathaniel raided and took the supplies; therefore,
it is no wonder when the Governor called upon Lawrence that he took to arms
quickly and went to fight Nathaniel. As the Bacon Headquarters
was at the “Middle Plantation”, Lawrence evidently went there to fight him.
This is where Lawrence would have first seen the land and knew of its beauty.
In 1686, Lawrence purchased the land (it is believed for his second wife,
Mary Hitchon) from Rev. Temple as he moved back to England and lived there
till his death in August of 1700. Yet this isn’t the most notable event
in the Farm’s history. The house passed down to Lawrence’s granddaughter,
Lucy Smith, who married Mr. Augustine Moore. The new name was the Moore
House or Moore Farm and is still known as the Moore House today. If
you are deep into the Revolutionary War period of history this name would
sound familiar, for this is the house where General George Washington drew
up, met and had signed the Articles of Surrender ending the Revolutionary
War by Lord General Cornwallis in 1781. Most record books say that
Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, which is correct, but where in Yorktown,
is not always disclosed. Why didn’t I mention the name Yorktown earlier?
It is because at the time of Lawrence’s purchase, it didn’t exist.
But low and behold there is story there to be told.
Yorktown was established in 1691 through an “Act of Ports
and Town” that was passed by the Virginia General Assembly. The main
purpose of the town was to establish a port where the colony could
better distribute its tobacco crop to England. This provided several
benefits for the area. As the seas were rough and subject to storms,
the deep channel allowed the ships to pull far enough inland to have refuge
from the storms. By establishing a port so far inland, this meant
further expansion of the colony as well. This port would centralize
the traffic of both ships and traders as the ships we see could get in and
the network of creeks all allowed access to the area as well as the James
River side. It was a good decision and was named after the Duke of
York who later became King James II.14 The area upon which
it stands was first explored by Capt. John Smith in 1607 and over the next
80 years many had settled in the area due to its rich soil for growing crops.
Lawrence was privy to all such information when he purchased his portion.
As fate would have it, Lawrence’s Temple Farm adjoined the lands of Nicholas
Martiau (and eventually Benjamin Reade) upon which Yorktown now stands.
Why did I tell this history? So you would understand why when the
Governor asked Lawrence (as County surveyor and Patron of the area) to lay
out the plans for the town. That’s right. The town was designed
and planned by our Lawrence Smith. As payment, he received 50 acres
of the same land. The original drawing by Lawrence hangs above the
clerk’s office in Yorktown. [See sample in picture below].
Major Lawrence laid out 83 town lots and received lot 72
for his efforts. His son, Col. Lawrence Smith inherited this lot
and on 10 Feb 1706 purchased lot 53 as well for the original land holder
(William Simpson) forfeited his title by failing to build on the site to
expand the city.15 Today the Mannsfield Hall Country Club or
Golf Course is located on the land owned by Maj. Lawrence. As
the family seat was built here, Smithfield – built by Lawrence’s son
Augustine just next to Yorktown – the land was passed down to Ann Hay
Taliaferro who married into Robert Taliaferro’s family (Lawrence’s best
friend and brother-in-law). Ann married Richard Brooke and it became
the Brooke Family home. The nearby town of Mansfield was destroyed
(by what I know not), the name was given to the Smithfield as recommended
by the Governor.
In 1699, the Governor of Virginia recognized Lawrence as a “Gentlemen
of Estate and Standing” and thus recommended him for the King’s Council
to advise the Governor.16 Lawrence Smith died in August, 1700.
His will is dated August 8, 1700; and the honor of which the father was
deemed worthy fell upon his son, John Smith, of Gloucester, who became
Counsellor and County Lieutenant, and he died in 1720. His son Col. Lawrence
Smith inherited large landed estates in the Parish of Abingdon and County
of Gloucester."17 Some of his wishes were written down and
preserved as follows:
Essex County Deeds, Wills, 1702-04, XI - Pg 242 Assignment
- Lawrence Smith to Charles
Smith - 1700
I Lawrence Smith of the County of Gloucester do hereby assign and
make over unto my son Charles Smith forever one moiety being 3150 acres
of a patent to Robert Taliaferro and Lawrence Smith for 6300 acres granted
26th March 1666. [signed] 16th June 1700 Lawrence Smith
Page 242 POWER of ATTORNEY- Lawrence Smith to John Battaile - 1700
I do hereby empower my son-in -law Capt. John Battaile for me and
in my name to appear at Essex County Court and acknowledge above assignment
or deed of gift unto my son Charles Smith
16, June 1700 No signature
No witnesses Test Richard Buckner CC
Deed of Gift John Smith to Charles Smith - 1704
As Mr. Robert Taliaferro and Mr. Lawrence Smith had formerly granted
unto them 6300 acre in the county of Rappahannock …one half part of which
Lawrence Smith did in ____ make over to his son Charles Smith but he
the said Lawrence Smith dying before power of Atty. was proved…and assignment
acknowledged… the half part of the said patent said doth fall an d descend
by act of Law unto John Smith of the County of Gloucester eldest son
and heir apparent of Law: Smith decease d…Now know ye that I the said
John Smith in consideration o f the natural love and affection which I
bear to my well be loved _______ Charles Smith of the County of Essex…for
that I would comply with ..All things equi______ ___ and the intention &
desire of my father. That such Estate & right t o the 3150 ___ pass
to Charles Smith … by these presents give grant and confirm. Unto Charles
Smith right and estate interest in said land 8th April 1704 John Smith
Ackd by Thomas Gregson by letter of Atty
From John Smith in Essex County Court
10th June 1704 R.B. Cl Cur
Lawrence held the coat of arms of the Smith’s of Tote, Devon County,
England as did his father and brothers.18 This placed him again
with our Christopher Smith
back in England born in 1591. The last record I have found
of him, other than his children, was in book called “The Marshall Family”
where a deed dated 28 Sep 1682, from Francis Taliaferro, of the County of
Gloucester, Gent., son and heir apparent of Robert Taliaferro, to his bother
John, 1,000 acres as an advancement on account of his marriage to Sarah,
dr. of Lawrence Smith. The deed recites that said Robert Taliaferro and
Lawrence Smith had on the 26th of March, 1666, surveyed and patented 6,300
acres, in what is now Essex Co., Virginia". But alas, all of
these documents give us most of the names of Lawrence’s children with Mary
Dedman: Charles Smith (b. abt. 1655 in York Co., VA), Lawrence (Col.)
Smith (b. abt. 1657), John (Sir) Smith (b. abt. 1660 in Gloucester Co.,
VA), Sarah Smith (b. 1 Jan 1661 in Essex Co. VA), Augustine (Maj. or Col.)
Smith (b. 16 Jun 1666 in Essex Co. VA), Elizabeth Smith (b. abt. 1668), and
William Smith (b. abt. 1680 in Spotsylvania, VA – his mother was Mary Hitchson).19
As seen earlier, John was bestowed the honor of being the County Lieutenant
and Member of the Governor’s Advisory Council concerning Gloucester Co.
VA. Lawrence, as we found out, became a Colonel in the British Army
for York County VA as well as Justice of the Peace and Sheriff of York County.
Afterwards, he distinguished himself by becoming a member of the House of
Burgesses. He inherited large land estates in Abingdon Parish and
Gloucester County. Augustine became a Colonel as well in the military
as well as helps his father build their homestead, Smithfield [see the earlier
map of Yorktown]. He further ended as one of the first bench of justices
for Spotsylvania County in 1772. It has been suggested that he was
also a member of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe. Sarah married
John Taliaferro, her first cousin whose father and Lawrence Sr. did business
together and became good friends. Lawrence’s wife and Robert’s wife
were sisters. Elizabeth married Capt. John Battaile of Essex Co. VA.
She had many children: John, Lawrence, Hay, Nicholas, and others.
Charles was born in Essex co and was granted all the land that his father
had acquired out of the deals he made in 1666 (3150 acres).20
That just about does it for Lawrence Smith. So why did I go
into so much detail about a relative of ours that is not in our direct
line. No, its not a twist as before. The reason is two fold:
he was member of our family that had a very interesting life with many
stories of historical significance and the fact that he was the first Smith
to arrive in America, which was instrumental in our direct line coming
to America. If you remember back we were discussing the children
of Christopher Smith I, of which Lawrence and his brother, Christopher
were among them. It is now time to discuss Christopher Smith (II).
Christopher was born only 10 months behind Lawrence, on 29 Jan 1630
in Stonirakes, Lancashire, England. As the brothers were so similar
in age, it would be sensible to presume they may have been close while
growing up. Presently, I know very little about him up until 1660,
but it appears that he was a quiet, calm, and patient man; well educated
with many important connections. If I am not mistaken, I do believe
Christopher also wore the arms of his father (Azure, single Chevron, 3 acorns,
slipped and leaved). He was listed on the 1660 poll tax of Stonirakes,
England with his wife, Elizabeth and their two sons, Richard and Thomas,
and a servant named Isabelle Hargreaves; therefore, we know he did not come
over to America with Lawrence. Christopher would have been 30 years
of age at this time and to have a servant indicates that he was still of
some means or status. He could have still been in the Merchant business
as his ancestors were. Then I loose him again. The next
time we find him is in America teaching English to the Indian children at
the newly established William and Mary College in 1700 until 1706.21
The college had orders from the Virginia Company of London (which happened
to be governed by Sir Thomas Smythe) in 1618. But it did not eventuate
until 1 May 1699. On 5 Dec 1700 the college building became
the temporary headquarters of the Colonial Government since Jamestown still
had not been rebuilt since Bacon’s rebellion in 1676. The first president
of the College was the Rev. James Blair, who not only was a clergyman for
the Church of England but he was a member and president of the Governor’s
Council. But what was Christopher doing between 1660 and 1699?
I have no proof but I have a theory I would like to share based on facts
we do know.
Lawrence, Chris’ brother, was shown a niche where he could make money
(earn land) by his Uncle Augustine and he put this knowledge to use back
in 1665 when he imported 3 people from England. If he could do it
with three people, why not more; and if he could bring over any one, why
not his family? England and America supported this train of thought.
More settlers meant more tax revenue to the King. The more of them
that left England for America, meant they still had control over the people
but they were outsourcing many problems, such as over population and famine.
What better way to get your family over on a good thing and get more land
to boot! We can see the benefit of moving to America for Lawrence.
What was the benefit for Chris’ to move to America? He had a family
to support. Why would he want to leave England? In 1663, the
Dutch (Holland) were ravaged with the Black Death, or the Plague.
Although never totally free from the disease since the 1300s, England had
just learned to live with it. The King stopped all trade with the
Dutch as a control measure, and eventually ended in a small conflict.
However, in the spring of 1665, people began to die rapidly. The disease
had made it to England. The monarchs left, the merchants, the lawyers,
the clergy, and even doctors fled the country. The English in London
were so scared, thinking the cats and dogs were the cause, killed every
cat and dog in the town which only helped it spread as rats were the cause.
The People even treated the letters that arrived from London with contempt.
By summer, there was an average of 1000 deaths per week. It is estimated
that at least 100,000 people eventually died in 1665. Those who lived
were quarantined to their houses, the entire country was in a panic.
By August, the count is estimated at 6000 deaths per week. The King
didn’t return until February 1666. [Just as a side note, the plague
really didn’t stop in London till the Great Fire of London in September
1666.22 It is amazing how God works in our lives: Two great plagues
with one cancelling the other out. It sounds more like God was trying
to say something.] Although the worst was over, the fear of it returning
was always on the minds of the English. Does this sound like a good
enough reason to leave? By why go to America? Chris’ family
was there. He had his closest brother there, his Aunt and Uncle Warner,
their children, and he probably knew more. Land was readily available,
the air was clean, and the land was rich. It was a chance at a new
beginning; thus, leaving behind the old dirty and infested cities of England.
I would say the positive list outweighed the negative list. Now remember
they had no telephones back then. Communication took place via “Snail
Mail”. An average trip across the Atlantic took about 3 months to
arrive at the destination. For example, if Lawrence knew of the problems
in England by July 1665, his letter to his brother requesting him to come
over would have reached him at the earliest October 1665. Then another
trip to reply and make some plans would have been around January 1666 back
to Lawrence. Then Lawrence’s reply in agreement of the arrangements
would have got back to England by April 1666. I would guess that in
June 1666, Christopher had packed up his family and sailed for America arriving
about September 1666. Keep in mind the deal that Lawrence and his
brother-in-law, Robert Taliaferro had. They were granted 6,300 acres
for sponsoring or paying for the travels of between 126 and 173 (found two
conflicting records) and expecting each to be of some agreement of pay back
for the expense. Wouldn’t you agree if at all possible, each would
have tried to get their families out of England? I believe, Chris
and his family were among these hundred or so immigrants. Don’t forget
who his grandfather and father were or his Uncle Augustine; each had connections
that would have helped them obtain transport easily. But what was he
doing between 1667 and 1699? The only thing I have found to answer
this (other than raising a family) was that he worked as a Clerk of the Jamestown
Church (part of the protestant Church of England). Today that seems
meaningless, but in that day and age, the Clerk was a descent job.
This verifies his connections as well as his education. Now as the
head of the Church was, none other than the Rev. James Blair as we read
earlier, who just happened to be on the Governor’s Council and not to mention
his brother’s reputation and connections, it is possible to see how Christopher
would be found teaching at the newly formed William and Mary College.
But he was teaching Indian children how to speak English. Have you
ever tried to speak another language? Now have you tried to teach
it? Imagine trying to teach those of a race who hated you and wanted
you to leave (via the Indian attacks) your own language. Patience
would most definitely be a virtue. But to be able to teach a different
language, the teacher must be able to speak both sides, wouldn’t you agree?
I assume then, if Chris was a clerk for the church, he spent much of his
time attempting to minister to those around him, including the Indians of
which he had to learn the language over time. Rev. Blair knew of his
qualities and probably brought Chris with him to the college.
This is the best theory I can derive for the 30 odd years Christopher was
missing. An obvious question would be that if he were a Clerk
for the Church of England, surely there would be some documentation recording
his name at the Church. And being in a family that full well knew the
value of Land, he should have been granted some land during this stage as
well. I am still looking.
In 1708, dated June 6th we find a court record from the Library of
Congress in Virginia with Christopher’s name as follows:
June 6, 1708, Indenture between Major George Marable, Mr.
Benjamin, Mr. Christopher Smith and Lydia, his wife, Trustees of William
Broadribb, Gentleman, late of James City, deceased, of the one part and
Joseph Chemerson of the county aforesaid of the other part--Whereas William
Broadribb by his last will and testament May 3, 1703--Christopher Smith
and Lyddie his wife, then wife of ye said testator, sold unto the said Joseph
Chemerson the said land being formerly granted by patent June 5, 1654--24
acres to Anthony Coleman, assigned to John Fitchet and by him assigned to
John Phipps and William Harris and by said Phipps assigned his right and
share to ye said Major Morrison. Wit: W. Lightfoot, Wm. Trayser, George
Marable, Benjamin Eggleston, Christopher Smith, Lydia Smith. James City,
VA, Court June 6, 1709, to be recorded. Ambler Manuscript # 78--Library
This tells us a few things other than the obvious sale of land:
(1) it reconfirms Chris’ existence in America in our time frame, (2) it
tells us he was still alive in 1709, and (3) it lets us know that he was
married a second time to a Lydia Smith after 1708. Mr. Broadribb wrote
his will in 1703 but was still married to Lydia and died in 1708. So
if Christopher’s name is on this court case as her husband dated 1709, you
can see that people didn’t waist time back then in finding a new spouse.
Times were tough to survive; you had to just expect and get over the death
of a husband (or wife) and move on. Although I don’t know when she
was born, we know that in 1703, Christopher’s first wife, Elizabeth, died
in at the age of 73; therefore, Chris’ must have been about 78 when he
married Lydia of which I assume was within the same age group. With
this in mind, it is evident that all of his children were of the first
wife. I have seen many reports from other researchers that say Lydia
was the mother of some of his children, but with the proof we have here,
we can sort these out.
Again, I found Christopher on a petition this time dated 27 Oct 1712
on behalf of him and at least 11 others for the value of a horse lost
in the County’s service to the County officials of King William Co. VA.
He signed it “Christopher Smith, Lieutenant of Rangers in King William
County”.24 This presumes many things. First of all,
he is still here in 1712 (now age 81 – the air must have agreed with him,
for most people didn’t live that long). Next, we discover that he
was in King William County, VA as an officer in the Rangers. The rangers
were a Militia outfit (under the British Army) established as a first line
defence mainly against the Indians. Next, that even at 81, he was able to
get around and be a valuable asset to the community. His education
and ability to deal with others is apparent in these records, first he
is a teacher at a college, handles the affairs of his wife’s late husband,
petitions the local government on behalf of others, and next we see he
is chosen a the writer of two more petitions. This is where he obtained
his title as Lt. Christopher Smith, at age 81. On 6 May 1716, Chris
who signed as Master of the Indian Children Ordination, petitioned for
£25 per year to acquire pasturage for his horse, firewood for his
chamber, and for the liberty of teaching now English Children. His
request derived from the now even fewer Indian children (tensions were
growing between the Red man and White man) as he now didn’t travel much to
the Native settlements and that those who did come to his place were now
mixing with the growing English children and he felt that a partition be
built to separate the two races. This was purely for safety’s sake.
He petitioned that the cost of the wall be charged to the College [William
& Mary].25 I do not know if he was granted his request,
but I did find that he put in a second petition later that year on 3 Nov
1716. He and a Benjamin Arnold received a grant for 2,400 acres of
land in King William County on this day and then re-petitioned for another
5,000 acres in the same county of which was granted.26 What
these two men were going to do with 7,400 acres I have yet to find out.
The last document found that bore his name was this:
On May 6, 1730, on petition of David Woodruff that Christopher Smith
deceased about 13 years ago, surveyed 400 acres of land lying on the
East-North-East River in Spotsylvania County, VA, but the said Christopher
Smith never in his lifetime, nor his son, Ambrose Joshua Smith, since
his decease sued out any patent for the said land and praying that he
may leave to enter for the same. It is ordered that Ambrose Joshua Smith,
son of the said Christopher Smith, deceased, have notice to attend the
board at the next court to show cause when the petitioner ought not to
be admitted to an entry for ye land. Virginia Council Journals, Virginia
Magazine, v. 36.27
Chris had apparently survey more land in 1716 yet never closed
the deal and someone wanted the land as no one had claimed or paid for
the land. This document stated that Chris had been dead for 13 years
at the time this petition was submitted; therefore, this is how we found
out how we deduce he died between Dec. 1716 and early May 1717. This
little piece of information, not only gave us the ending of Christopher
Smith but gave us the confirmed connection we needed to continue his linage,
via his son Ambrose Joshua Smith.
Before I jump too far ahead, just who was his family? I mentioned
briefly earlier Chris had a wife named Elizabeth. Her actual name
is Mary Elizabeth Fairbanks. She was born 13 Feb 1622 and died 1703.
She was the daughter of Jonathan Fairbanks and Grace Lee Smith. More
on the Fairbanks family can be found in the Smith Branches Section.
The children of Christopher and Elizabeth are as follows: John Smith,
Richard Smith, Thomas Smith, Ambrose Joshua Smith, Christopher Smith, Charles
Smith, and Ann Smith. Eight children was about average in the colonial
days. Here we have some calculations to do. We know that Chris
(II) was born in 1630. He had a son, John, of whom I have no idea
of his birth, but is recorded as having died in 1746; this tells me he
lived to at least an average length life as most of his children were
born in the late 1650s and mid 1670s. John married an Elizabeth Smith
and had 4 children: Samuel, Joseph, John, and Mary. The second son,
Richard, was recorded earlier along with his brother, Thomas, of which both
were born in 1656 and 1658, respectively. As Chris was still in England,
it is assumed that both boys (and John as well) were born in Lancashire,
England. I know nothing else of these two boys. The fourth
child, Ambrose, was born about 1661. We proved his existence with
the last record of his father. Now based on our theory of when Chris
brought his family over to America, we would assume that he was born in
Lancashire, England as well. That would have put a family of 6 on
the migration from England to America. We will discuss more on Ambrose
in a while. The Fifth child or son, Christopher, was born about 1670
and died about 1739. Clearly he was named after the linage (his grandfather
and father) and he had an interesting life, but that will have to wait for
the Smith Branches section of the book. I will, however, tell
you that on 20 Jun 1796, on a petition about Christopher Smith, he was nominated
and approved as the New Kent County, VA Surveyor.28 This information
will be useful in time. Notice before we go further the distance between
Ambrose and Christopher – 9 years. It is during this time that I
proposed that the family migrated to America. See how nicely this
all fits together. Now the Sixth child, Charles, was born about 1675
and died around 1768. He married a lady named Sarah and had 6 children:
William, Elizabeth, Lucy, Susannah, Ann, and Sarah. The last child,
Ann, was born about 1676. This is all I know for the moment on Ms.
Again, before I go further, I want do two things. I want to
show the ages of these Smith’s and I want to recap where we are in history
and who is now in America. If we go back to Richard Smyth in the
1460s, we see that he lived to be 67 years old, while his son, John, lived
to the age of 65. These were great ages considering the times.
If we go back to Thomas “Customer” Smythe, we find that he lived to the
age of 69, and his son, Sir Thomas Smythe lived to 67. So far the
average age is 67 years old. Then with our next ancestor, Christopher,
he lived to 57. Very short, Why? Consider the times he was
living in. England was at the height of the renaissance with a new
industrial age emerging, yet they knew very little in hygiene and medicine.
Also, you must consider that in England during this time, there was almost
a black cloud around as there was a new energy source – coal. Then
you have to consider all the diseases that were festering and finally erupted
only 20 years after his death. Then we go to his sons, Lawrence
and Christopher (II). Lawrence lived till the age of 71 and Chris
lived till he was 86. Wow, what a jump. What was the difference?
I don’t think it was the technology at the time, I believe it was the quality
of life. America was fresh, clean, and new. The land produced
a good quality food. The water was clean. People in the south
still live on average till there late 70s and even to the late 90s.
Then lets look at Chris’s children. Of those we have the dates for;
Ambrose lived till he was 97, Christopher lived till he was 69, and Charles
lived till he was 93. Whoa… this is a dramatic difference.
There is just something about living in America.
Next I want to just summarize where we are in the family. Sir
Thomas Smythe was a man who became of some notoriety. He was as smart
as his father. His father not only was good in business, he was good
in placing his family where they could benefit the most. Sir Thomas
is proof of this, and he too knew the value of having the right people
around you. Classic example is how his children married off.
His first born, John, married into royalty. His second born, Robert,
did the same. His third son, Christopher, did not marry into royalty,
but into a very influential family, the Townleys & Warners [both families
are described in detail in the Smith Branches section]. And this
is just our direct line, you should see those branches of the brothers/sisters
and cousins in the 1500s. I cannot comment on Christopher’s (I)
other children as I have no data, other than Lawrence and Christopher (II).
Neither of these children carried on the tradition of marrying into the
“right” families, yet did better for them by bringing them to America.
As we see above, their lives were much better for it. Yet we still
had some connections here as some of our relatives made names for themselves
(this was the real gold found in the new world – being able to be the best
you could be). Through the Townleys we had family connections with
the Warner family who were of some influence and became even more prominent
in America. Through these Warners we also had connections to the Grymes
and Lee Families (of which were mostly Generals in the Military, and ancestors
of General Robert E. Lee), the Lewis and Meriwether Families (of which
became notable explorers), the most influential family at the time being
the Washington Family (President Washington’s family), and links to the
current Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II. And we cannot forget
the Taliaferro Family of which we married into as well. Lawrence
and Christopher rubbed shoulders with the privileged as the Smith family
name still carried some weight.
The following is a report written by Hector Bolitho discussing in
detail the connections I have spoke of but in the interest of the Queen
and not the Smiths:
The Queen's American Ancestors
by Hector Bolitho
When Queen Elizabeth II visited Virginia in October 1957, there was
one episode overlooked in the brilliant celebrations; she was given an
oil painting--no more than a copy, of a copy, of a portrait by Sir Godfrey
Kneller; but it was of her American ancestor, Augustine Warner II, and it
adds a surprising face to the immense collection of portraits of the Queen's
forbears whose roots were otherwise still in Britain or Europe.
Mr. Anthony Wagner, Richmond Herald, was the first to trace this
remarkable link with colonial Virginia that relates Queen Elizabeth,
through a Bowes-Lyon marriage, back to both George Washington and General
Robert E. Lee. Augustine Warner I, born in England or Wales, in 1611,
and who immigrated to Virginia when he was 39, was the ancestor of all
three of them, through the marriages of his son and daughter. As Mr.
Wagner wrote at the time of his research; "It is somewhat ironical that
among Washington's nearest of kin now living should be numbered the Queen
of Great Britain".
The first Augustine Warner must have been a gentleman of some importance;
he used the arms of an English family--now difficult to identify--and
he left England in the first year of Oliver Cromwell's "reign", no doubt
to satisfy his beliefs, and to save his fortune. When he arrived in Virginia
he built a fine house on an arm of the Severn, that flows into the York
River and then into Chesapeake Bay, where the first English emigrants had
sailed, in 1607, and formed the tragic settlement of Jamestown. There were
dangers still, but Augustine Warner prospered; he became a Colonel of the
Militia, a Justice, and a Burgess in the General Assembly. He sent his only
son, also Augustine, back to England to be educated at the Merchant Taylor's
School, for it was the habit with these southerners to cling to their Englishness,
while the emigrants to the northern states tried to mould a separate American
character, and forget the land of their nativity.
Augustine II also became a public man; when he returned to Virginia,
with his smattering of English education, he prospered and was elected
Burgess for Gloucester County, then Speaker to the House. He was a gallant
ancestor for any family tree, with more vigour and will than the faint
copy of the Kneller portrait reveals. As soon as Nathaniel Bacon began
his armed rebellion against the royal governor, in 1676, Warner led troops
against him, in the King's name. There is a record of him returning to
Warner Hall after the rebellion was quelled: he was described as "a rather
thorough Royalist . . . an honest, worthy Person and most Loyal sufferer
by the Late Rebels; who was plundered as much as any, and yet speaks as little
of his losses, tho' they were very great".
General Robert E. Lee
Augustine Warner II, had a sister, Sarah, who married Lawrence
Townley, and they were the ancestors of General Robert E. Lee. Augustine
himself married Mildred Reade, daughter of a neighbour. She also was a
person of character, worthy to be the ancestress of both Queen Elizabeth
II and George Washington. When Augustine died in 1681, his widow, with
her daughters to defend, kept her husband's arms and ammunition and refused
to give them up until they were taken from her, by force.
The name Warner disappears from the story: the only memorials to
Augustine I and Augustine II are an early Victorian mansion, still called
Warner Hall, built on the site of their mid-seventeenth century house--and
the little graveyard near by. I went there, the winter before last, and
scraped the snow from the flat tomb stones so that I could read the names,
and the dates of their birth and death.
The interest moves to the daughters of Augustine II, and his
widow, who had the care of them when her husband died. The eldest, named
Mildred, after her mother, married Lawrence Washington and was grandmother
of the first President of the United States of America. Mary was married
to John Smith, of Purton, another fine plantation nearby. They are the
branch of the tree that interests us most because it is from them that we
trace the way, through the Bowes-Lyon family, to the present Queen.
The life of these 17th Century planters on the Tidewater of Virginia
was comfortable and almost elegant. There was still danger from a2 chance
savage arrow, for the Indians were not yet all subdued. But the houses
of the prosperous settlers from England were set in splendid gardens;
they were furnished with libraries and treasures brought across the Atlantic
and served by numerous negro slaves. Many of the houses remain, in 20th
Century Virginia, alienated from the less tranquil Yankee north and preferring
the ghosts of what was, to the realism of the rest of America.
Mary Warner, married to John Smith, remained in Virginia, but their
daughter, Mildred, brought the blood back to England; she was the wife
of Robert Porteus, another Virginian planter and a member of "His Majesty's
Council or Upper House or Legislature in that Province". His house on the
Tidewater had the nice name of New Bottle. Robert Porteus was married in
1700 and he stayed in Virginia until 1720, long enough for Mildred to
present him with the first of his big brood of nineteen children.
Changes in Virginia
By 1720, the pattern of life in this part of Virginia had changed.
From the early vicissitudes of the Jamestown colony had emerged a small
landed aristocracy, of families like the Warners, the Smiths and the ancestors
of Robert Porteus. But the hinterland was now being opened up by hordes
of new settlers, and there were three times as many negroes as there had
been at the beginning of the century. Small farmers and planters interfered
with the patriarchal pattern in which Robert Porteus had been brought up,
so he decided to emigrate to England, with his family, "quitting a situation
so perfectly independent and comfortable" so that his children could have
"better instruction" at English schools.
Robert Porteus settled with his family, first at York and then at
Ripon. He was buried in the south aisle of the Cathedral and his white
marble memorial, high on the wall, tells us, in an amiable flow of words,
the details of his life. We read,
Near this Place are deposited the Remains of ROBERT PORTEUS ESQR.
a native of Virginia, & a Member of His Majesty's Council or upper
House of Legislature in that Province. From thence he removed to England,
and resided first at York, afterwards in this town, where he died August
8, 1758, Aged 79 years.
Duchess of Marlborough
With the return of Robert Porteus a new theme came into the history
of the relationship between Virginia and England. He was an absentee landlord
and the victim of "negligence or dishonesty" on the part of his agents
who sent him, as he complained, "little more than a fourth part of what
ought to have been his real income". But he remained in England and when
his first wife died, he was married again, to another Virginian--Elizabeth
Jennings, said to be distantly related to Sarah Jennings, Duchess of Marlborough.
They produced a second family, including one remarkable son--the eighteenth
of the brood of nineteen. He was Beilby Porteus, the scholar and poet
who became Bishop of Leicester and then, in 1787, Bishop of London. The
vigorous blood enlivened by the generations in Virginia had not become
pale: Beilby Porteus was a belligerent leader in the ecclesiastical changes
of his time; he was an ardent evangelist, a supporter of Sunday schools,
and was strong-willed enough to turn against the source of his family
fortunes in his fight to abolish slavery.
The Bowes-Lyon Family
The important son, who belongs to the theme of this story, leading
to the Bowes-Lyon family, had been born in Virginia in 1705. He was named
Robert, after his father, and he also went into the Church, but more modestly
than his younger half-brother.
We walk near the Cambridgeshire-Bedfordshire border for the next
scene in the story: from Potton, three miles to the parish of Cockayne
Robert Porteus had been admitted to Cambridge University in 1725;
in 1736, when he was thirty-one years old, he married Judith, daughter
of Thomas Cockayne, whose family had been lords of the manor for 300 years.
The story loses its colonial flavour and becomes quietly English. Within
the park of Thomas Cockayne was the little church of St. John the Baptist,
with its Flemish carvings, to which Robert Porteus was appointed rector.
From then, through four modest generations, we come to the marriage
of importance. The Reverend Robert Porteus had named his daughter Mildred,
in memory of Virginia, and she married Robert Hodgson of Congleton, in
the County of Chester. Their daughter, Frances Dora, married Claude Lyon-Bowes--later
Bowes-Lyon--13th Earl of Strathmore, in 1853.
Thus we come, through nine generations, from Augustine Warner, rejecting
England in Cromwell's time, to his descendant, married to Lord Strathmore
when Queen Victoria had been on the throne for sixteen years. The Queen's
notions about the marriages of her children were to change soon after
this; there came a time when, disgusted by the jealousies and intrigues
of princes in Europe, she encouraged a different fate for her family,
she wrote that "Money without goodness or affection was useless" and that
"a young lady of the nobility, well brought up," was far better as a wife
for one of her sons than "an unsuitable princess".
The pattern of alliance was being formed, quietly: in 1855,
the 14th Earl of Strathmore was born and in 1881, he married a daughter
of the Rev. Charles William Frederick Cavendish-Bentinek. They were the
parents of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother whose marriage to the Duke
of York, in 1923, inspires the monarchy with a power of character and graciousness
that has enriched it into our own time.
Back to Christopher’s (II) children, lets discuss Mr. Ambrose Joshua
Smith. Ambrose, being born about 1661 in England and migrating
with his family to America when he was around the age of 5 or 6, grew
up among all the afore mentioned friends and family and learned his lessons
well. After some further research and deliberation, I found in
a book written by a Nell Marion Nugent that claimed that “Joshua Smith
was transported to Virginia [on] October 10, 166? by Captain Edmond Bowman
who was granted land in Accomack County, VA for the transport of 24 persons.”29
Wait a minute! I had a theory earlier about Christopher Smith (Ambrose’s
father) and when he came over and I explained the process upon which I
based my theory which ended up with an arrival date close to September
1666. This document gets me to the 1660s, as it doesn’t have the
final year and it claims the month of October. I would say my theory
based on all that I knew and accompanied with this new data as support
would say that I am pretty close with out having a specific document.
Information like this makes me feel better about some of my other presumptions.
The next record I gathered on Ambrose was dated 1675, when he would have
been just 14 or 15 years old. In Mrs. Nugent’s book (which I will
use a good bit as she has done some deeper research which involving Ambrose),
said on 21 Mar 1675 a Mr. Robert Price obtained 450 acres in Middlesex County,
VA where the boundaries thereof were described as between other owners
boundaries which included Joshua Smith.30 Thus, it is fair
to assume that he owned land at an early age. No doubt he listened
to his kinfolk as they sat around and discussed ways of making a living.
It appears he had a head for business like his ancestors as we will see.
(Just a note: we will be running in to the 1700s here for a while,
but only because Ambrose was born in the 1600s and lived a long life well
into the 1700s.) Next we find him staying busy on 23 Apr 1703 as he
transported 12 people to America and was granted 600 acres in King William
County, VA (location as per book: between Herring Creeks, beginning on the
south side of the run of Upper Herring Creek, 1/4-mile above the mouth of
the Machacomico, southwest to Turkey Perch Branch). On the 24th of
April 1703, Ambrose Smith, John Hurt, and Benjamin Arnold were granted an
untold amount of land and on 23 October of the same year, these gentlemen
allotted 150 acres of their grant to a Thomas Thomason (location per book:
in King William County, VA, on a branch of the Governors SW, beginning at
Col. Johnson's plantation to the old field near Thomason's house) for transporting
3 people to the colony.31 There are many genealogist who claim
Ambrose to have been born on 11 Jun 1703, but it is quite clear that this
cannot be true based on the evidence already seen.
Hold on again. First of all, don’t you recognize the name of
Benjamin Arnold? I am sure it was Benjamin that in 1716 petitioned
along with Ambrose’s father, Christopher for about 7,400 acres and got
it. It appears that there is a little racket, however legal, going
on. I would just settle for a measly 40 acres. Now, not only
did Ambrose have his family to rely on, he had some friends that he was
doing business with. But Ambrose wasn’t satisfied with this.
It appears that he and a group of business partners began to grant and sell
land they had earned as seen with Mr. Thomason. On 16 June 1714, it
was recorded that Ambrose Smith, George Smith, and a few others, granted
a Mr. John Madison and Daniel Coleman of King and Queen Country 2,000 acres
near the fork of the Mattopony River for the transportation of 40 people.32
What was going on? Ambrose had moved up in the world learning from
all those in his family. As power and wealth in America was valued
by the amount of land one had, it seems that Ambrose took it one step further.
Now not only could he get any land he wanted, he was controlling who it
went to. This position must have been a highly sought after and lucrative,
for instead of going to the bank, he now was the bank. The last
grant found in Mrs. Nugent’s book, was on 9 Jul 1724, where Ambrose was
granted 400 acres in Hanover County, VA.33 Ambrose was
working the system from both angles. He must have been making a killing.
For him to do all this, Ambrose could not have done it on his own.
I am sure he utilized his family relations (sounds like a mob story doesn’t
it) to pull a few strings. As America was still a colony, she was ruled
by a Governor who in most cases only held the title as honorary and never
actually set foot in America. It was usually left to the Lt. Governor
to carry out all the duties. The Governor and/or the Lt. Governor,
if not aristocracy, were part of the British Army and therefore used their
subordinate officers as local regents. This was sort of like being
under martial law yet being so far from the motherland, it was more or less
as an appointed official who had the King as his backup. What did we
learn about our family ties? Many of these were in the Military, and
some were high ranking officers. These ties were in essence in control
of the land and its wealth. It becomes a bit clearer as to how Ambrose
was able to pull those strings. He had everything figured out.
All he had to do was be loyal to his family which appeared to everyone else
he was loyal to the Crown. This is where the ground usually starts
to fall out from under your feet. And it soon did as we will see later
during the revolution era with his son.
In the late 1690s, it is believed that Ambrose married a Ms. Judith Spann.
She was born about 1675 and she died between 1718 and 1720. She
gave Ambrose two children that I am aware of: Nicholas and Catherine.
Not long after, in his late 50s, Ambrose began to settle down a bit believe
it or not. Ambrose married Judith Anderson, daughter of Thomas Anderson
and Agnes Gannaway, sometime between 1718 and 1720, in Louisa County
VA. Judith was born in 1704 in Hanover County, VA. She died in August,
1758 in Chatham County, NC but not before giving Ambrose 7 children.
The first recorded mention of her being Ambrose's wife was July 1, 1735,
when they witness the deed between Edward McGehee of King William County,
VA and Samuel McGehee of Hanover County, VA. Imagine this; by 1720
Ambrose is 59 years old. He must have found that fountain of youth
as he lived an even longer life. In 1737, Charles, Christopher and
Francis Smith [children of Ambrose] had adjoining land in Hanover County,
VA. In 1749, Ambrose Joshua, Charles, Francis, and Christopher Smith
all owned land near each other in Louisa County, VA. On August 14,
1725, Ambrose Joshua Smith was granted 2,000 acres on Elk Creek adjacent
to Overton Fork (History of Louisa County, VA, Harris). Ambrose was one
of the church wardens for Fredericksville Parish, Louisa County, VA.34
Do you remember what was going on in America about this time? We will
get in to depth in the next chapter, but for now the main issue surrounding
Ambrose was Indian revolts. Being roughly 69 by 1730, he was a tough
old man. He was a well known land broker (surveyor and speculator),
still producing children, a warden of the church, and had become a renowned
Indian fighter of sorts in Virginia. What 70 year old do you know could
keep this up? Ambrose was a bad, bad man! - Quite the opposite of his
father who tried to teach the Indians. But this was far from an ending.
It was reported that in the Hanover County area, he owned on one deed over
3,000 acres, close to he same amount in Anson Co. NC (there is no date as
to when he purchased it), and again about 3,000 acres in Albermarle County,
VA on Priddy’s Creek. Most of this land was Wilderness where the Indians
lived. Starting out at an early age and obtaining some of his positions
in life, it is not that hard believe he had so much land. As he was
in control over some of it, he would always get the land just outside the
current boundaries (outside the control of the colony and within the range
of the livid Indians). Cheap land of which he knew the colonies would
be expanding to and he could sell for a huge profit. The location
of this land also gives weight to the story of Ambrose being a big Indian
fighter. He could look good in the public eye as he was “protecting
the community” but it was more likely he was protecting his investments;
you couldn’t sell your land to a nice family if the Natives were there trying
to run you off.
We found him again on 5 July 1734. He had been granted a track
of land by a patent on 17 Aug 1725 in St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover Co. VA.
He sold part of his land to a George Brack (date unknown) who was reselling
a portion (150 acres and a plantation) of the same land to a Champness
Terry of St. Martins’s Parish for a sum of £30 current money. The
record gave the exact location and a list of those who had previous owned
the land.35 In 1741, we find that Ambrose acquired 4,372 acres
in Hanover Co. on both sides of the Pritties Creek from a Robert Rowe
and Thomas Walker which was close to the 600 acres owned by his brother,
Christopher Smith (also a Surveyor), which was on both sides of the Snelson’s
Branch and Harrowing Creek bought in 1730. Then in a book by a Mr.
Gwathmey, we found that Ambrose at the age of 81, on 13 Dec 1742 was elected
on the Justices of the first court ever held in Louisa County, VA.36
It is quite evident that Ambrose was a leading citizen in the community.
Still going strong, he leased and eventually sold on 26-27 January 1746,
2,086 acres of land on the Pritties creek (1986 acres from the 4,372
acres he purchased on 5 Jun 1741 plus another 100 acres) to John Dixon
of Hanover County. It was signed and acknowledged by “Ambrose Joshua
Smith, Gentleman, and Judith, his wife, relinquished right of dower.”37
The suffix “Gentleman” is not a special sign today, but in the 1600s and
1700s, you were considered a step above the rest, but not of rank.
It was the equivalent to having a military rank without being in the military;
it was a respect thing. I don’t fully understand the last part about
his wife. If this land was part of her dowry, how did Ambrose acquire
it in 1741? There are some questions to be answered still here.
And again on the 30-31 October 1747, it is recorded that Ambrose Joshua
Smith of Fredericksville, Louisa Co. VA leased and eventually sold more
of the same 4,372 in the amount of 600 acres plus another 13 acres he had
purchased from a Joseph Martin. This left Ambrose with 1786 acres of
the original large grant. On the same day he conveyed this amount (1,786
acres) plus a separate 200 acres to a John Henry, Gentleman.38
Why do we mention all this detail? This is where he was living at
the time with a water mill, grist mill, and all that goes with it.
He was moving out. But to where? Any other deeds after 1747
only bore his children’s name in the Virginia area except for one.
A deed between two other men in 1751 mentioned the Corner of one of Ambrose’s
plots as a reference point for the sale of land.39
Remember earlier I mentioned that he had some land down in Anson
Co. NC? Well, by 1750 we found Ambrose and Judith in Edgecombe
County, NC. Why did the 86 year old man move in 1747? I do
not know, but I assume it had something to do with either the Indians
or the frontier. One other possibility, is that he had relatives
in the Edgecombe Co. area on his wife’s side (Spann or Anderson I don’t
know). If we consider the earlier assumption, Ambrose had always
been involved in the development of the frontier. After a while,
the colonization began to catch up with him. He was surrounded by
people now. Used to his freedom, he may have seen a chance to escape
to the frontier again. He did own land in North Carolina any way and
there was much to do to colonize it. By why stop in Edgecombe County?
If we consider the earlier reason of the Natives, we need to pay attention
to the surroundings. It was in 1755 that the French and Indian War
broke out; thus, there must have been events that boiled up to the war.
As many of the land owners and colonists were in Virginia, this is where
I would have begun my attacks if I were an Indian. Now if he moved
because of both reasons, it even fits better. Yet I still don’t know
why he stopped in Edgecombe Co. (Possibly the second reason, family).
I do know that while he was there he was elected as Captain of the local
Militia where many of his relatives (sons, brothers, nephews, etc.) were
in his company. This may suggest that he had family there and stayed
for a while to help with the attacks. As he would have been the oldest
(and dare I say wisest) people in the area, you can see why he was elected
Captain. This is why we give him the title of Captain Ambrose Joshua
Smith, Esq. At the age of 91, he was elected Esquire Justice of Edgecombe
Co. NC in 1752. In a list of Militiamen, formed from the Bertie Co.
North Carolina Company in 1741, written in 1754 it shows that Captain Smith
was removed from the county. So where was this old man going?
I knew a man who lived to the ripe old age of 95 and up until he died, he
could still split wood better than me, drive a tractor better than me, correct
me on my gardening techniques, and give sound advice on any matter you could
think of. When I think of Ambrose I think of my friend, Earnest Cannon.
We found his children later in what is now Moore Co. North Carolina, but
then it began as Bertie Co., then to Cumberland and Anson counties by the
1760s. It was this land I believe he was headed for. As a matter
of fact, I almost believe his children were already there living on the land
and he was going to his family.
Just to put a cap on the fact that Ambrose was in North Carolina,
on 1 Dec 1755 (and recorded on 27 Jan 1756) a deed was found stating that
was for some land that previously belonged to Ambrose. To prove it
was his, they also placed in the deed the currently whereabouts of Ambrose
at the time of the deed, which was the province of North Carolina.40
But over in the province of North Carolina, we found our own proof through
land dealings. There were many deeds belonging to Ambrose in Rowan
Co. Orange Co., Edgecombe Co., Anson Co., and Chatham Co., all of which
are in North Carolina. On 20 July 1758, we saw two deeds: (1)
Ambrose purchased from the state government 302 acres in Rowan Co. NC.41
and (2) he purchased 450 acres in Orange Co. NC (location description:
in the Parish of St. Matthew's on both sides of Horse Branch between Rocky
River and Bear Creek, joining near a small glade, both sides of both forks
of Horse Branch and both sides of two small branches.) He signed
it A. J. Smith.42 This is not his last recording, but it was
before his death. During his travels surveying land, he was murdered
along with his wife. That’s right, I said murdered. Ambrose
always knew the dangers of living on the edge of the wilderness and for
97 years avoided the inevitable. Yet in 1758, the French and Indian
Wars were into their 3rd year of discontent. Those caught in its
path were given no mercy. As Ambrose was surveying new lands (which
the Natives felt belong to them) he was seen as the enemy and a Cherokee
Indian Raiding Party showed no mercy even towards his old age, nor his wife.
It seemed that a man that looked as if he was going to live forever finally
met his end at the hands of the very ones he profited from. A Smith
researcher, Jennings Smith, who just happens to be of the Ambrose line
had this to say about Ambrose: “Ambrose was found in Louisa Co. VA.
He was well documented in VA records. He has tremendous land holdings
in VA. Later in life he started selling off and dealing some in Old
Anson Co. NC and other parts of NC. Somewhere and somehow, he and
his wife were massacred by a Cherokee raiding party.... He had numerous
sons, of which most have been identified among the earlier settlers of Old
Cumberland Co. NC. Some of these have been traced to MS. I believe
the earliest Smiths (Old Moses Smith for example) came into the area from
the Natchez District were of our line. Most of these were loyalists
who were running from the Americans after the Revolution. They had
been ordered to leave the country, but instead headed for the Spanish Territory
As Ambrose died with many holdings to his name, you would assume
that his children would be given the proceeds or at least there was some
sort of will to say who was to get what. But the man whose name
is accredited for taking care of his estates was a John Spann Jr.
I have been unable to find out just who he was. Due to the age of
Ambrose, I assume that John Spann was not a brother to his late wife, but
rather a nephew. His name suggests he was the son of a John Spann
Sr., but again this is just assumptions. The following records were
of Ambrose and his estates in NC:
Ambrose J. Smith's estate was appraised and recorded
May Court, 1763, in Orange County, NC, return made by John Spann, Jr. He
left 610 acres in Rowan County, NC and 250 acres in Orange County, NC (later
Chatham County). Bondsmen on his estate were Benjamin Blake and Benjamin
Saxon. The estate was to be sold on Monday, December 15, 1760.
One tract of land lying in Orange County containing
250 acres; 1 tract lying in Rowan County containing 610 acres; 5 cows
and calves; 8 young cattle; 7 horse kind; 17 hogs; 3 feather beds and
furniture; 3 pots; 1 looking glass; 2 pewter basins; 8 plates; 2 butter
dishes; 7 spoons; a teapot; 4 earthen dishes; 2 plates; 2 butter pots; 1
box iron and heater; 1 brass candlestick; 1 salt sallor (cellar); 1 box
of seals; 2 Wright; 1 box of money seals; 2 flax; 1 gun site; 1 frying pan;
1 cut saw; 1 hand saw; 1 ____ and 1 marrow; 1 auger; 1 chisel 1 drawing knife;
1 share and colter mattock; 1 _____; 2 iron wedges; 5 flint plates; 6 wooden
plates; 1 pr. of fire tongs; surveying instruments; 2 sets razon, hone and
strap; 1 wheel flax; 1 pr. of guard wheels; 1 chest of drawers; 1 pr. of
mill stones and iron works; 1 case bottles; 1 loom; 2 man saddles; 1 pr.
of cotton cards; 2 bells; 3 chairs; 4 books and grindstones; 1 candle mould;
1 pr. of pot hooks; 1 pr. of flask hooks, 3 read books; 4 knives; 6 forks;
1 pr. of iron, brass, some shoemaker tools; money, dues. Signed: Joseph Boogs.
Exor. John Spann, Jr.43
My next question is where is the Smith Children? So then it
is time to discuss his family. As we found out, Ambrose was married
twice. The first wife was Ms. Judith Spann. And they had two
children that I am aware of: Nicholas Smith and Catherine Smith.
Nicholas was born about 1700 in what we assume Hanover Co. Virginia as
this is where Ambrose was living at this time. Catherine was born
about 1702 and died about 1795. She married a William Mullins (b.
1677 / d. 1734) on 9 Feb 1720. They had 6 children: John, William,
James, Agnes, Mary, Joshua. After Judith’s death around 1719, Ambrose
remarried again to a Ms. Judith Ann Anderson who was born about 1704.
So Ambrose married at the age of roughly 30 at his first marriage and then
his second marriage he was about a 60 year old man marring about an 18 year
old girl. This must have been an arranged marriage. Times were
tough on the frontier and to be able to marry a daughter off to a man who
could take care of her was a big plus. But as Ambrose had another 37
years of “spunk” in him, Ms. Anderson was able to give him 7 more children:
John, Judith, Francis, Zachariah, Christopher, William, and Charles.
The first thing I noticed was that many of the names matched those of his
uncles. John, Christopher, and Charles are from his ancestors.
Judith is obviously from the mother’s side upon which I believe Zachariah
and William also come from the mother’s side.
The youngest children were Charles and William. I have only
their names and no dates; thus, I cannot comment as to who they were or
where they lived. I do find some Smith’s of these names in and around
the surrounding counties of Moore Co. NC where our next chapter will pick
up, but I cannot verify these are one in the same. Christopher B.
Smith was born about 1735 and died around 1809. Christopher married
a Ms. Mary Mauldin and they had 12 children: Meade, Charles, Jesse,
Christopher, Hampton, Harmon, Francis, Mary, Zachariah, Joshua, Nancy, and
Rebecca. Notice the many recognizable names – just a small fact that
helps verify the connections. Zachariah was born 19 Aug 1734 and died
abt. 1812. Now he married a Mrs. Francis Prestwood and together they
had 12 children: William Moses Smith, John, Elizabeth, James, Peter,
Sarah, Zachariah, Mary, Barbara, Martha, Francesca, and Nancy. Notice
the middle name of the first child. Could this be the Moses Smith
that Jennings Smith was talking about earlier? Only time will tell.
Then the next oldest child was Francis Marion Smith. Francis was born
abt. 1733 and died on 26 Jan 1791. At first glance, I began to be excited
as I though he may have bee the Original “Swamp Fox” (General Francis Marion)
in the revolutionary war (Mel Gibson portrayed him in the movie “The Patriot”).
But alas, the original swamp fox is of French origins as well from South
Carolina. The original’s birth date was about 1732 in S.C. and he died
on 26 Feb 1795. Pretty close in the dates, but no cigars. Our
Francis married a Ms. Frances Dumas and they had one child that I have found
named Unity. It is still uncanny that our Francis was born basically
the same time as the General and died fairly close and then named his child
Unity, which could signify the times of Union amongst the colonies.
I know it is a pretty big stretch, but I can dream can’t I? Francis’
older sister was named Judith Smith. Any guesses where that name came
from? She was born about 1732 and I have been unable to discover any
more about her. Now the oldest son of Judith Anderson was John Smith
born about 1721. As there were an abundance of John Smith’s in world,
I believe he was nicknamed John “Little River” Smith because he lived on
the Little River in NC. This would easily help Identify him.
The "Lower Little River” rises in South West Moore Co. and flows East
through Moore Co. which forms the Northern boundary of Fort Bragg in Hoke
and Cumberland counties and in part along the Cumberland / Harnett county
line to the Cape Fear River. John has an interesting life, but we will
discuss him later. His children were living among our direct ancestors
in NC and will come in handy when identifying our own line. His children
are as follows: Jasper, Joseph, Charles, James, Polly, William, Gabriel,
Jesse, Thomas. The last child, who was the oldest born and only
child of Judith Spann was, Nicholas Smith who was born about 1700.
Nicholas lived an uneventful life but appears to have been some sort of
land broker of which he no doubt learned from his father. How
ever, Nicholas is of the utmost importance to us as he is our direct ancestor.
And we shall pick up his story in the next chapter.
By: Jerry A. Smith,
Smith Family Researcher
1. Gribbin, John: Science - A History 1543 to 2001; the Penguin
Press, 2002, p. 68 - 106.
2. McLeod, Toby: The Thirty Years’ War; p.1.
3. Linder, Doug; Essay: Bishop James Ussher sets the date for Creation;
2004, p. 1-2.
4. Dover Castle: Heritage Trail Publications, Ltd.: 1998.
5. McCurdy, Mary B. D.: “The Townleys and Warners of Virginia
and their English Connection”, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography,
Vol. 81, p. 361, footnote 151.
6. Greer, George C.: “Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623 – 1666”, 1912
7. Pilcher, Margaret C.: “Historical Sketches of the Campbell, Pilcher,
and Kindred Families”, 1911, p. 431.
8. McCulley, Susan: Essay on Bacon’s Rebellion. 1987.
9. Green, Raleigh T. : “Dr. Philip Slaughter’s History of St. Mark’s
Parish in the Genealogical and Historical Notes on Culpeper County Virginia
– Embracing a revised and enlarged Edition”, Baltimore Southern Book
Company, 1958. p. 98.
10. McIllhany, Hugh M.: “Some Virginia Families”; Stoneburner and
Prufer Printers, 1903.
11. Garber, Virginia Armistead: “The Armistead Family 1635 – 1910”,
p. 97 – 98.
12. Virginia Historical Magazine, Vol. 3, p. 36. &
William and Mary Magazine, Vol. 1. No. 2, p. 6.
13. William and Mary Quarterly, I, 5; Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 4.; Vol.
5, No. 3; Vol. 8, No. 2; Vol. 9, No. 1; Vol. 10, No.1 & 4; Vol.
20, No. 4; Vol. 11, No. 1 & 2.
14. Green, Raleigh T. : “Dr. Philip Slaughter’s History of St. Mark’s
Parish in the Genealogical and Historical Notes on Culpeper County Virginia
– Embracing a revised and enlarged Edition”, Baltimore Southern Book Company,
1958. p. 98
15. Trudell, Clyde F. “Colonial Yorktown”; Thomas Publication, Gettysburg,
PA. p. 111.
16. McIllhany, Hugh M.: “Some Virginia Families”; Stoneburner and
Prufer Printers, 1903.
17. Henning’s “Statutes of Virginia”, Vol 6, p. 407.
18. Garber, Virginia Armistead: “The Armistead Family 1635 – 1910”,
p. 97 – 98.
19. McIllhany, Hugh M.: “Some Virginia Families”; Stoneburner and
Prufer Printers, 1903.
20. William & Mary Quarterly, Vol. 2, p. 5 and Vol. 9, p. 42.
Also from Calender of Virginia State Papers, Vol. I, p. 44.
21. William and Mary Quarterly, volume 14, page 37
22. Ross, David: English History-London Plague of 1665, 2001.
23. James City, VA Court docket dated 6 Jun 1709: Recorded
in the Ambler Manuscript #78 in the Library of Congress in VA.
24. William and Mary Quarterly, v. 21, page. 249.
25. William and Mary Quarterly, v. 7, page. 235.
26. McIlwaine, Mr. Unknown: Executive Journals of the Council of
27. Virginia Council Journals, Virginia Magazine, v. 36
28. Virginia Historical Magazine, v. 4, page. 175
29. Nugent, Nell Marion: Cavaliers and Pioneers, p.455
30. Nugent, Nell Marion: Cavaliers and Pioneers, p.175
31. Nugent, Nell Marion: Cavaliers and Pioneers, p.74 & 7
32. Nugent, Nell Marion: Cavaliers and Pioneers, p.151
33. Nugent, Nell Marion: Cavaliers and Pioneers, p.265
34. Louisa County, VA – Fredericksville Parish Minutes: 28 Jan 1745;
35. Hanover County, VA, records 1733-1735, p. 96-98.
36. Gwathmey: “Twelve Virginia Counties”, p. 266.
37. Louisa County, VA, deed book A, p. 268-272.
38. Louisa County, VA, deed book A, p. 297-299
39. Louisa County, VA, deed book A, p. 455-456.
40. Louisa County, VA, deed book B, p. 88-90
41. Rowan County, NC, deed book 4, p. 357-359
42. Granville District, SC, book 11, p. 32
43. Orange County, NC, estates 1758-1785, p. 112