Tracing the Ancestry of Strachan Monk (1787 – 1850/1860) to Northampton County, Virginia: Nottingham Monk Sr. (abt. 1720 – 1793) (1)

Monk, William, Northampton Co., Va., Wills and Inventories 27-R, #19, 1740-50, p. 531 (1)
Will of William Monk, Northampton County, Virginia (Wills and Inventories 27-R, #19, 1740-50, p. 531) (first half)

Or, Subtitled: So That’s Why the Name Sorrowful Margaret Pops Up in My Monk Research!

In my series tracing the ancestry of Strachan Monk (1787 – 1850/1860), I’ve now told you almost all that I know about his parents Nottingham Monk (abt. 1755 – 1818) and Rachel Strachan (abt. 1755 – 1816). In this posting, I’m going to move on to the story of the older Nottingham Monk (abt. 1720 – 1793) who was father of the Nottingham Monk who married Rachel Strachan.

As a previous posting notes, Nottingham Monk Sr. died in Bertie County, North Carolina, between 1790, when he’s enumerated on the federal census, and 20 July 1793, when his son Nottingham Jr. inventoried his estate. I also noted in a previous posting that, for a period leading up to the death of the elder Nottingham and after the younger Nottingham began appearing in Bertie County records in the 1770s, it’s sometimes uncertain whether documents are referring to the older or the younger man. In the posting I have just linked, I provided you a list of the instances in documents in which I find ambiguity about whether the older or younger man is being named.

Estimating Nottingham Monk Sr.’s Birthdate from Northampton County Records

Here’s what I know of the life of the older Nottingham prior to his death in Bertie County, North Carolina, sometime before 20 July 1793: he was of age in Northampton County, Virginia, by 3 September 1739, when court records show his mark for cattle, hogs, and sheep (a swallow forked on the left ear and a hole in the right) recorded.[1] Note that this record, which is the earliest I have found for Nottingham Monk elder, places his birth around or before 1720-1721.

As we’ll see in a subsequent posting when I discuss what I know of Nottingham Monk’s father William Monk (abt. 1690 – 1750), William’s will suggests to me that Nottingham was his first-born son (if not necessarily his oldest child). Northampton County records have William of age by February 1708/9, suggesting that he was born by or before 1690. This ball-park date of birth for the father fits well with the estimated date of birth of of the son.

How do we know that the Nottingham Monk showing up in Northampton County, Virginia, records by 1739 is the man found in records of Bertie County, North Carolina, by the 1780s — who appears to have been in Bertie by the 1770s (if not earlier) when his son Nottingham Monk Jr. enlisted in Capt. Howell Tatum’s company of the 1st North Carolina Battalion on 15 January 1777? A number of indicators that strongly suggest this to me.

  • First, there’s the fact that the name Nottingham Monk is not by any means common. I find no other men with this name living in the Albemarle region of North Carolina or on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in this time frame — none other than Nottingham Monk elder and younger.
  • Second, there’s the fact, which I’ve noted in previous references, that there are repeated mentions in Bertie County records of connections between Nottingham Monk Sr. and Jr. and a Belote family. When the younger Nottingham gave bond for administration of his father’s estate on 7 August 1793, one of his two bondsmen was John Belote (see the first link at the head of this posting for more information about this). The Belote family of Bertie also came there from Northampton County, Virginia, and was connected to the Nottingham family in Northampton County.
  • Third, these two areas are not far from each other: Bertie is about 120 miles down the Atlantic coast from Northampton. The early records of both counties suggest much migration and interchange between these parts of Virginia and North Carolina and places up and down the coast.

More Records of Nottingham Monk Sr. in Northampton County, Virginia

A loose-papers court case file in Northampton County shows a court case in April 1742 in which Thomas Cable complained that Nottingham Monk owed him from 1738 forward for a dozen pipes, two cups, three quarts molasses, and rent for 1740 and 1741, to a rate of £ 1.5.0 yearly.  The court found in favor of Cable.[2]

On 18 September 1749, Nottingham Monk’s father William Monk made his will in Northampton County, Virginia.[3] The first stipulation in the will reads,

Item I give to my Son Nottingham Monk my hand Mill and one Small Sword, if my son should Come Down to live; if not, then to be for the use of my Wife and children. I give to my Son Nottingham Monk one Shilling.

The will confirms that Nottingham Monk was of age by this date, since it does not specify that he was a minor, and it shows him with two married sisters. The will gives the impression that most if not all of William Monk’s children were of age by 1749; none is named as a minor. It also suggests that Nottingham was the older of the sons named in the will (a son William is also named, along with daughters Anne Eshon, Bridget Nottingham, and Catherine and Elizabeth Monk).

I am not certain what to make of the statement that Nottingham Monk must “Come Down to live” in order to receive his inheritance. It may imply that Monk was not living in Northampton County at the time the will was made, though the 1742 case of debt filed by Thomas Cable states that Monk was renting some property (land? a house?) from Cable in the period 1738-1742. Or perhaps “Come Down to live” means that Nottingham had moved away from his family in Northampton County, but was still in the county, and some kind of estrangement had occurred. If that was the case, then, as I’ll note in a moment, it seems significant that he had inherited land in Northampton by 1763 that came to the Monk family from his mother Elizabeth Nottingham. If he was away from home or estranged from his family at the time his father made his will, it appears that after the will was made, he did return to Northampton County or return home and mend what may have been a strained relationship.

The next record I find of Nottingham Monk in Northampton County is another reference to him in a case file from the county’s loose court papers showing him charged in February 1759 with assault and battery on Richard Nottingham.[4] Because the given name Richard, which was the name of the immigrant ancestor to Northampton County, recurs in many of the family lines descending from Richard Nottingham the immigrant (1621 – 1692), I have not been able to identify this Richard Nottingham. Nottingham Monk’s mother Elizabeth Nottingham Monk had an uncle Richard, for instance, and he had a son also named Richard. Nottingham Monk’s sister Bridget married their cousin Joshua Nottingham, and that couple had a son Richard, who was a minor when this 1759 case took place. Though I’m not sure precisely who this Richard was, he was clearly a relative of Nottingham Monk.

In addition to this February 1759 court, a 1760 vestry record from Hungars Episcopal parish indicates that Nottingham Monk was still living in Northampton County following his father’s death in 1750: on 25 November 1760, the parish vestry paid him for keeping William Page.[5]

According to Ralph T. Whitelaw in his magisterial analysis of the land records of the Eastern Shore counties of Virginia, by or before 1763, Nottingham Monk had evidently come into possession of a tract of land in Northampton County that he had sold to Addison Nottingham by 1763, when Addison Nottingham sold the tract to Littleton Eyre. The land had descended to Monk from his mother Elizabeth Nottingham Monk, who appears to have died between 18 September 1749 when her husband William Monk made his will, and 11 December 1750, when the will was probated. The will makes Elizabeth William’s executrix, but when Robert Widgeon proved it in December 1750, the probation document states that “the Executrix therein appointed being dead, on the motion of William monk son of the said Testator, and he having given Bond with Security, and taken the Oath for the true Performance of the said Will according to Law, Certificate is granted him for Obtaining letters of administration of the Estate of the said William Monk, with his Will annexed in due form.”

Elizabeth Monk had gotten the tract of land her son Nottingham sold to Addison Nottingham in or prior to 1763 from the 5 November 1718 will of her father William Nottingham, which left to his daughter 75 acres of his estate, naming her as Elizabeth Munk, with the remainder of his land going to his daughter Susanna.[6] Whitelaw says that the land left to Elizabeth and Susanna had been willed to William Nottingham in 1684 by Teigue/Teague Harmon. According to Whitelaw, when Addison Nottingham deeded 51½ acres from this tract to Littleton Eyre in 1763, he noted that he had bought the land from Nottingham Monk.

Whitelaw identifies the tract as the north half of Hungars Plantation and states that it was adjacent to a piece of land Eyre had bought from Obedience Roberts, which Whitelaw thinks was the portion of William Nottingham’s estate bequeathed to his daughter Susanna. According to Whitleaw, the land Addison Nottingham sold to Eyre descended in the Eyre family and was sold to W.L. Savage in 1834. During its Eyre ownership, it was bequeathed as the Monk and Roberts land. In 1839, Savage sold this land (143 acres) to Maria B. Nottingham Widgeon, calling it Baker’s Field.[7]

The fact that Nottingham Monk ended up with this piece of land that had been bequeathed by his grandfather William Nottingham to Nottingham’s daughter Elizabeth Nottingham Monk further suggests to me that Nottingham Monk was the elder of William and Elizabeth Monk’s two sons.

The Bertie County, North Carolina, Years

I have not found any further records of Nottingham Monk in Northampton County, Virginia, after this 1763 land record discussed by Ralph Whitelaw. His sale of a piece of family land and his apparent disappearance from county records from this point on suggest to me he had moved out of the county. I don’t have absolute proof that when his son Nottingham Jr. enlisted in the 1st North Carolina battalion in January 1777, the younger Nottingham was living in Bertie County — and as I’ve noted previously, at least one source states that he was in Hertford County when he enlisted — but I think it’s very likely both father and son moved to Bertie County after the sale of this piece of land in Northampton County, Virginia, by 1763.

In addition to Bertie County records I’ve discussed in previous postings pertaining to both the elder and younger Nottingham Monk in the 1780s and 1790s — these include the 1787 North Carolina census and the 1790 federal census, both of which show both men in Bertie County (see the link provided in the previous paragraph) — and the 1793 estate record of the elder Nottingham in Bertie County, which I discussed in detail here, I find only one other record I can clearly attach to Nottingham Monk Sr. in Bertie Count, which I have not yet discussed: on 10 August 1785 Henry Speller returned Nottingham Monk Sr. as insolvent on Speller’s tax list for his district in Bertie County.[8]

Nottingham Monk died not many years later in Bertie County, as I note in the posting linked in the last paragraph — sometime before 20 July 1793 — leaving a modest estate that, as far as I can determine, included no landholdings. I have not found the name of his wife (or wives). His children who survived to the point of his death appear to have been his son Nottingham Monk Jr. and a daughter Elishe Monk, both of whom I’ve discussed in previous postings.

[1]See Frank V. Walczyk, Cattle Marks of Northampton County, Virginia., 1665-1742 (Coram, NY: Peter’s Row, 1999), p. 45. Walczyk is abstracting records of Northampton County court order books. I have a notation that the record Walczyk is abstracting here is from Northampton Record Book 5, p. 172. I cannot find a listing of Northampton County, Virginia, court or deed records that shows a record book in 1720 corresponding to that record book number. The Library of Virginia has on its website a helpful listing of Northampton County records available on microfilm at the library. For a valuable discussion of Northampton County’s early records, see also Traci Johnson, Frances Bibbins Latimer, and Jean Mihalyka, Exploring the Oldest Continuous Court Records of America (Eastville, VA: Hickory House, 2007), online at the Northampton County website. There is a Northampton County record book called Deeds, Wills, Etc., No. 5, but the dates for the records in that book run from 1654 to 1655, so I do not think it can be Walczyk’s source for the 1739 cattle mark he’s transcribing here.

[2]See Jean M. Mihalyka, Loose Papers and Sundry Court Cases, Northampton County, Virginia, vol. 2 (Eastville, VA: Hickory House, 2000). Mihalyka indicates that the case is filed as packet 28. Cable managed the Eastern Short affairs of Col. John Custis IV, whose sister Sorrowful Margaret he had married; he also apparently managed John Carter’s interests on the Eastern Shore: see John Custis, The Letterbook of John Custis IV of Williamsburg, 1717-1742, ed. Josephine Little Zuppan (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), p. 212, n. 1. Cable was clerk of Northampton court in 1729: see Exploring the Oldest Continuous Court Records of America, p. 7.

[3]Northampton County, Virginia, Wills and Inventories 27-R, #19, 1740-50, p. 531. The will was proven 11 December 1750.

[4]See Jean M. Mihalyka, Loose Papers and Sundry Court Cases, Northampton County, Virginia, vol. 3 (Eastville, VA: Hickory House, 2002).

[5]See Howard Mackey, Vestry Book of Hungars Parish, Northampton County, Virginia 1757-1875 (Rockport, ME: Picton Press, 1997), p. 10. For a history of the parish, see M.C. Howard, “Hungars Church, Northampton County, Virginia,” in Colonial Churches in the Original Colony of Virginia: A Series of Sketches by Especially Qualified Writers, 2nd edn., ed. W.M. Clark (Richmond: Southern Churchman Co., 1908), pp. 98-111.

[6]Northampton Co. Record Bk. XXIII-R, Deeds, Wills, etc., p. 1.

[7]Ralph T. Whitelaw, Virginia’s Eastern Shore (Richmond: Virginia Hist. Soc., 1951; repr. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1968), vol. 1, p. 328.

[8]Bertie County, North Carolina, Court Order Book 5, p. 550.

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