Dennis Linchey/Lindsey (abt. 1700-1762): Post-Indenture Life in Virginia

Virginia Statute, Irish Indentured Servants
William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia from the First Session of the Legislature in the Year 1619 (New York: Bartow, 1823), vol. 1, p. 411.

Or, Subtitled: A Failed Attempt to Patent Land, and Suits of Debt

To recap (and link to the two previous postings in this series [here and here]): as Brendan Wolfe and Martha McCartney tell us, the indenture of Irish servants in colonial Virginia was subject to a law that required Irish servants in the colony arriving without indenture papers to serve six years if they were above sixteen, and up to their twenty-fourth year in any case.[1]

As L. Maren Wood notes, commenting on indenture laws in North Carolina, which were very similar to those in Virginia,

Indentured servants could not get married until after their term of service, which was usually seven years. Many indentured servants were in their teen years or early twenties when they began their contract, and so they tended to marry later than free people, usually around the age of thirty.[2]

Because we don’t know precisely how old Dennis Linchey was when he arrived in Richmond County, Virginia, before 1 June 1718, we cannot say precisely when his term of indenture would have ended. Since most indentured servants arrived in Virginia in this period aged 18 or younger, a rough rule of thumb would be to estimate his birth around 1700 — and this would have meant that his indenture would have ended about 1724 or shortly thereafter.

As Wood notes, indentured servants were not permitted to marry until their indenture ended, unless their masters made special dispensations allowing them to marry. It’s likely that, having ended his indenture in the mid-1720s, Dennis Linchey would have married, started a family, and then sought to acquire land to support his family.

I have found no record suggesting that Dennis married as an indentured man (and have found no record giving the name of his wife or wives). The only record I’ve found for Dennis Linchey during his period of indenture, a notation in King George County court minutes stating that he had filed suit against John Suttle on 5 January 1721 (and that the suit was dismissed by 2 February 1721), suggests to me that he remained under indenture to members of the Suttle family at that point. As I noted previously when I pointed readers to that record, it seems to me likely that this John Suttle is the brother of the Francis Suttle to whom Dennis Linchey was indentured on 1 June 1718.

For reasons I’ll explain in a later posting, I suspect that the son William named in Dennis Lindsey’s August 1762 will in Granville County, North Carolina, was the older of his two sons. William begins to appear on tax lists in Granville County near his father in 1749, suggesting a birthdate for him of 1729 (if he was aged 20 when he first shows up on the Granville tax list), or 1733, if he was aged 16, the point at which young men came of age in North Carolina in this period.

It’s possible that Dennis’ daughter Catherine, who married Roger Thornton, was actually his oldest child. The baptismal register of North Farnham parish in Richmond County, Virginia, gives Roger’s christening date as 14 June 1725.[3] If Catherine Lindsey was close in age to her husband Roger Thornton, then it appears Dennis Linchey/Lindsey may have married by about 1725 or soon thereafter — something we’d expect for a young man formerly indentured seeking to establish himself after his release from indenture, if the release occurred about 1724.

Dennis Linchey/Lindsey’s First Appearance in Spotsylvania Records, 1728

By 24 May 1728, Dennis Linchey (his name now appearing as Dennis Lindsey) was seeking to patent a tract of land in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, in association with two other men, William Eddings/Edings/Edens and Edward Southwell/Southall. We know this because Elizabeth, widow of Robert Taliaferro, filed suit on that date against the three men to stop the patents. Her suit noted that the three had surveyed the land recently, but it fell into a survey her late husband had made.[4]

Lindsey, Dennis Spotsylvania Co VA Patent 1728
Virginia Council Journals, 1726-1753 (Continued), Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 36,2 (April 1928), p. 135.

On 12 June 1729, Moseley Batteley (who had married to Elizabeth Taliaferro by that date) and wife Elizabeth sued a caveat on behalf of themselves and Mary and Elizabeth Taliaferro, daughters of Robert, against a patent filed by James Dyer, to be heard at the next court session, which was apparently 11 June 1730.[5] The court judged that the patents belonged to Batteley, but allowed Lindsey, James Dyer, and Thomas Eddings to patent other land. Nothing in the Council Journal minutes explains why a Thomas and not William Eddings is now collaborating with Dennis Lindsey, and who James Dyer is and how he has supplanted Edward Southwell, who had died in 1728.[6]

I have not found any patent filed for the names in the original group of patentees, other than two patents for William Eddings in 1731. I have searched abstracts of Virginia land patents, the state index to land patents, and the deeds of Spotsylvania and Orange Counties (as well as an index of land patented in Orange County before its formation) without finding any reference to such a patent.

I do find that on 25 August 1731, William Eddings received a grant of 400 acres in the fork of the Rapidan in Spotsylvania County.[7] The grant states that he was of St. George’s Parish in Spotsylvania, and that the tract adjoined the boundaries of John Eddings, John Rucker, and Michael Holt. On the same day, William Eddings had another grant in the first fork of the Rapidan in St. George’s Parish, again for 400 acres, with no adjoining landholders mentioned.[8]

Neither of these two patents makes any mention of Dennis Lindsey or explains why he had been connected to William Eddings in 1728 in their abortive attempt to patent land that Elizabeth Taliaferro claimed as hers.[9]

The 11 June 1730 document stopping the patent states that the tract Lindsey, Eddings, and Southwell had tried to patent in 1728 was in the first fork of the Rapidan River. When Orange County was formed from Spotsylvania and other counties in 1734, that piece of land would have fallen into Orange, and eventually into Madison County in 1792.[10]

It is clear to me that the Dennis Lindsey of the 1728 patent documents is Dennis Linchey/Lindsey, who moved to Edgecombe (later Granville) County, North Carolina, by the mid-1740s, and that Dennis was living in Spotsylvania at the time the attempt to patent land occurred, since he is mentioned as a county resistant in a 2 September 1729 court document. He would then have been living in Orange County if he remained in Virginia up to 1734. He drops out of Spotsylvania records entirely after his final mention in court minutes on 1733. I then find a Dennis Lindsey who is, I believe, this Dennis, in Brunswick County, when a 6 February 1734/5 court order in that county requires him to be paid for 5 days’ attendance as witness in a lawsuit. By February 1744, he’s buying land in Edgecombe (later Granville) County, North Carolina, with the deed for his first purchase of land there suggesting he had already settled in the county prior to that date.

In her book Forgotten Companions: The First Settlers of Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburgh Town, Paula S. Felder provides a detailed account of the process by which Spotsylvania was first settled. By 1713, Governor Alexander Spotswood had begun forming land companies to patent the land in the western part of Essex County to settle people in that area to provide a barrier between the native peoples to the west and the eastern occupants of Virginia. The land on the Rapidan was important to this project.[11]

Much of this land had been bought earlier by Larkin Chew, who then sold it to Spotswood in tracts, including 4,020 acres that Spotswood and his partners bought from Chew on the first fork of the Rapidan on 28 May 1713.[12] At the same time, Spotswood began promoting the formation of Brunswick County and migration to that region in the southern part of the colony as he speculated on land there.[13] By the formation of Spotsylvania, Spotswood owned 85,000 acres in the new county.[14]

Felder also discusses smaller patents issued between 1725-8. She notes that prior to 1720, those who patented most of the land in Spotsylvania, in addition to Spotswood and his business associates, were favorites of Spotswood, including Beverly, Robinson, Cocke, Thacker, Chew, and Thornton.[15] After Spotswood left the colony in 1725 and up to May 1728, one could patent fewer than 1,000 acres without filing head right fees or paying quitrent, and there was a torrent of new patents by small landowners.[16]

I have researched William Eddings,[17] Edward Southwell/Southall,[18] James Dyer,[19] and Robert and Elizabeth Taliaferro[20] as well as Elizabeth’s husband following Robert, Mosely Batteley,[21] to see if I can spot any information about or connection to Dennis Lindsey other than the 1728 attempt to patent land in the fork of the Rapidan, without finding anything of significance regarding that matter.

The Final Records in Spotsylvania (and Brunswick) County

In addition to his attempt to patent land in Spotsylvania in 1728, I find several records after 1728 documenting Dennis Lindsey’s residence in the portion of Spotsylvania County that became Orange in 1734. On 2 September 1729, he was appointed by Spotsylvania court to help clear the way for a road called the county mountain road.[22]

On 5 April 1732, Dennis Lindsey, assignee of Archibald Hewton, sued James Phillips in a suit in Spotsylvania County that was apparently a suit of debt. Dennis Lindsey failed to appear in court, and the suit was dismissed.[23]

The last record I find of Dennis Lindsey in Spotsylvania County is on 3 July 1733, when the court minutes mention that the suit of Dennis Lindsey against John Sharp for debt had been dismissed since neither party had appeared in court.[24] Previously, at the same court session, the order books note that an attachment had been obtained on the estate of Dennis Lindsey by John Finleson for 800 pounds of tobacco, and the sheriff had been ordered to sell as much of the estate as necessary to satisfy the debt.

Shortly after this, on 12 July 1733, Caroline County order books record that Rebecca Conway, executrix of Francis Conway, had received an attachment against the estate of Dennis Lindsey for 469 pounds of tobacco, which was executed in the hands of Sarah Battaille. A question well worth asking, it seems to me: Did the judgments for debt against Dennis Lindsey in the early 1730s precipitate his move to North Carolina?

Rebecca Conway was née Catlett and was the widow of Francis Conway, a merchant and planter at Port Conway nine miles below Fredericksburg. Their daughter Nelly was mother of President James Madison, Was Dennis Lindsey supplying tobacco to Francis Conway’s business in the early 1700s?

By 6 February 1734/5, it appears Dennis Lindsey had moved from Spotsylvania (or Orange?) County to Brunswick County, Virginia, since a court order there on that date ordered him to be paid for five days’ attendance as a witness in a suit between Thomas Wilson, plaintiff, and Joseph Dunman, defendant. This is the only record I’ve found for him in Brunswick County, and by 1744, he was in Edgecombe (later Granville) County, North Carolina, where we’ll pick up his trail in our next posting.

[1] Brendan Wolfe and Martha McCartney, “Indentured Servants in Colonial Virginia, Encyclopedia Virginia, online at the Virginia Humanities website and pointing to William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia from the First Session of the Legislature in the Year 1619 (New York: Bartow, 1823), vol. 1, p. 411.

[2] L. Marren Wood, “Marriage in Colonial North Carolina,” NCpedia online at the website of ANCHOR.

[3] John Bennett Boddie cites the date in his article on this Thornton family in Historical Southern Families, vol. 12 (Baltimore: Geneal. Publ. Co., 1968), p. 70. Boddie does not, however, provide his source for this date. See “Marriages, Births and Deaths in Richmond County [North Farnham Parish], William and Mary Quarterly 13,2 (Oct., 1904), pp. 129-132.

[4] Virginia Council Journals for 24 May and 13 June 1728; see also “Virginia Council Journals, 1726-1753 (Continued),” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 33,2 (April 1925), p. 175.

[5] Virginia Council Journals for 12 June 1729. See also “Virginia Council Journals, 1726-1753 (Continued),” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 34,3 (July 1926), p. 211; and “Virginia Council Journals, 1726-1753 (Continued), Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 36,2 (April 1928), p. 135.

[6] See infra, n. 17.

[7] Virginia Patent. Bk. 14, pp. 246-7.

[8]Ibid., pp. 247-8.

[9] William Eddings patented 531 acres in St. George’s Parish in Spotsylvania on 30 June 1726. The land was east of Mountain Run and adjoined William Connicoe, Sharp, Capt. Lawrence, and Capt. John Taliaferro (Virginia Patent Bk. 12, p. 492). The same day he patented 312 acres in the same location, both sides of the Mine Run (ibid.). On 28 September 1728, he patented 240 acres in St. George’s Parish, Spotsylvania, on the southwest side of the Old Mountain Road on branches of Black Walnut Run (ibid., Bk. 14, p. 95). On 25 August 1731, he patented 400 acres in St. George’s parish, in the fork of the Rapidan, adjoiningJohn Eddings, John Rucker, and Michael Holt (ibid., p. 246).  These tracts are now in Orange County. On 5 Dec. 1726, Eddings sold 80 acres out of his 30 June 1726 patent (80 acres) to William McConicco, with John Taliaferro, John (X) Eddins, and John (X) Finnell witnessing (Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Deed Bk. A, pp. 228-229).

William Eddings seems to have been functioning as an agent or assignee of William Jordan in Orange County in 1735 (see the 6 October 1735 suit Eddings filed as assignee of William Jordan against Thomas Petty regarding a promissory note Petty had made to Jordan for 570 pounds of tobacco payable in Fredericksburg warehouse on 6 October 1735: see John Frederick Dorman, Orange County, Virginia Deed Books 3 -4, 1738-1741, Judgments 1736 [Washington, DC, 1961], p. 73). On the same day, Eddings filed a similar suit against Petty’s son-in-law Thomas Simms.On 10 January 1736, William Eddings patented 981 acres in Orange County near a small branch of the Walnut Run on the south side of Mountain tract and Eddings’ cart path adjoining John Sharp, George Wilson, Oliver Segar, Capt. John Taliaferro, Capt. Lawrence, William Connocoe, and Theophilus Eddings (VA Pat. Bk. 16, 493). This land fell into Madison at its formation in 1792. Orange County deed books have numerous land transactions involving William Eddings and other members of his family from the 1730s forward.

[10] On 25 November 2007, I sent a query to the Spotsylvania discussion group at Rootsweb about the location of the land Dennis Lindsey et al. were seeking to patent in 1728, and received the following reply about the location of this land from Thom (office@germanna.org): “The First Forks of the Rapidan would be the land between the Robinson and Rapidan Rivers. Check present day Madison and Orange Counties.” In his Land Grants and Surveys of Madison Co., Virginia (Fredericksburg: Sheridan, 2000), Dewey Lillard states, “Following land records is a nightmare [in this region] because it entails research in many counties; going backward in time from Madison (formed 1792) to Culpeper (formed 1749) to Orange (formed 1734) to Spotsylvania (formed 1724) to Essex (formed 1714). The land never moved, only the county seats changed as the wilderness receded” (p. iv).

[11] Paula S. Felder, Forgotten Companions: The First Settlers of Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburgh Town (Fredericksburg: Historic Publications, 1982), pp. 7-9.

[12] Ibid., pp. 10-11.

[13] Ibid., p. 11.

[14] Ibid., pp. 10-11.

[15] Ibid., p. 223.

[16] Ibid., p. 224. In 1721, Hugh Drysdale, who would replace Spotswood as governor the following year, complained to the Board of Trade that the land in Spotsylvania had been parceled out in exact contradiction to the intent of the Lords Justice, who had wanted it distributed in parcels of no more than 1,000 acres to encourage wide settlement on what was then the Virginia frontier. Instead, a few wealthy landowners patented huge portions of the land for speculation, leaving little for the settlement envisaged: see Warren F. Hofstra, The Planting of New Virginia (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2004), pp. 84-5, transcribing Drysdale’s statement.

[17] According to Brenda Keck Reed’s “Kith and Kin of Virginia,Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Beyond” at Rootsweb’s WorldConnect site, William Eddings was born abt. 1695 in England and died 1754 in Lunenburg County, Virginia (citing Lunenburg County Will Bk. 1, p. 133, 2 Feb. 1754). He married Rebecca Haws, who was born abt. 1700 in New Kent County, Virginia. Reed thinks he was a son of John Edens, who died in 1748 in Lunenburg County and was in Spotsylvania County by 1726 witnessing a land sale by son William. According to Reed, the family were Huguenots who came to Virginia in 1719 (citing Nell Marion Nugent, Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, vol. 3: 1695-1732 (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1979, p. 220.

[18] According to James P. C. Southall, “Concerning the Southalls of Virginia,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 45,3 (July 1937), pp. 277-302, and “Addendum Concerning the Southalls of Virginia,” ibid. 46,2 (April 1938), pp. 166-170, in 1725 Edward Southall and John James patented land in the western part of Spotsylvania County, now Orange, adjoining the Taliaferros, Lightfoots, Graysons, and other families. In 1727, Edward Southall of St. George’s Parish had a grant of 500 acres in Spotsylvania, and then died in 1728, intestate and unmarried.

Edward Southall patented 500 acres in St. George’s Parish, Spotsylvania (now Orange) on 13 October 1727 at the corner of Henry Downs (Virginia Patent Bk. 13, p. 163). An 8 July 1728 patent to William Banks in the same vicinity notes that the land was on the south side of Robinson River in the first fork of the Rapidan adoining Henry Downs, Thomas Taylor, and Edward Southall (ibid., p. 264). A 28 September 1728 grant to Thomas Weyland in the same vicinity notes that his patent was in the first fork of the Rapidan on Island Run adjoining Michael Holt, John Broyle, and Edward Southall (ibid., p. 433). A 16 June 1738 patent by John Picket in Orange County near a branch of Ivey Point adjoining Henry Downs notes that Edward Southall had patented the land on 13 October 1727 but failed to improve or cultivate it, and it then fell to Picket (VA Patent Bk. 18, p. 30).

Is there any connection between this Edward Southwell/Southall and the man of that name mentioned in Byrd’s history of the Virginia-North Carolina dividing line, who was clerk of the Privy Council from 1699 to 1729? Note that Charles Eden, governor of North Carolina, also plays a role in Byrd’s history; some researchers appear to think that the Eddings and Eden family are the same family. This Edward Southwell was principal Secretary of State and Privy Counselor to the kingdom of Ireland.

[19] James Dyer may have gone to the British Isles at some point after the 1730 actions stopping the patent on the tract in the forks of the Rapidan, since he is on a February 1735 importation list of immigrants to Orange County from Great Britain and Ireland (see William Everett Brockman, Orange County Families, vol. 2 [priv. publ., Minneapolis, 1957], p. 51). On 29 June 1739, he had a patent in Orange (Virginia Patent Bk. 18). By 1750, he was in Caroline County, when Henry and Martha Pendleton of King William sold land in St. George’s Parish, Spotsylvania, to him, adjoining  Zachary Lewis, Daniel Prewitt, John Shirley, and Nicholas Horn (Spotsylvania Deed Bk D, p. 182). The deed gives Dyer’s residence as Caroline. On 2 June 1752, Dyer and wife Eleanor, with Henry Pendleton, the former of Caroline and the latter of Spotylvania, sold land in Spotsylvania to John Davenport of Hanover (Spotsylvania Deed Bk. 16, p. 271). On 29 June 1739, Dyer patented 180 acres in Orange County in the fork of the Rapidan on a ridge of Neal’s Mountain adjoining Henry Downs, George Essom, Thomas Rucker, and David Tinsley (Virginia Patent Bk. 19, p. 359). James Dyer is mentioned in a 25 May 1734 patent to William Crosthwait for 400 acres north of the Rapidan (in present-day Madison County) adjoining himself and Darby Queen (Virginia Patent Bk. 15, p. 207). A 10 September 1735 patent by Henry Downs for 600 acres in the fork of the Rapidan called Newcastle by Maple Run says that the land adjoined William Crosswith, Nicholas Ware, and James Dyer (Virginia Patent Bk. 16, p. 271).

[20] The Taliaferro family had marriage and blood ties to the Thornton family into which Dennis Lindsey’s daughter Catherine married. According to “The Taliaferro Family,” William and Mary Quarterly 20,4 (series 1) (April 1912), pp. 270-1, Capt. Lawrence Taliaferro, son of John, son of Robert, was sheriff of Essex County in 1720. With John Battaille, he was executor of the estate of John Taliaferro, 20 November 1721. He married Sarah, daughter of Francis Thornton and Alice Savage (born 17 December 1680), and left a will dated 7 May 1726, probated in Essex County, 27 June 1726. Lawrence Taliaferro’s son Francis lived in Spotsylvania County, and married Elizabeth, perhaps Hay, but more likely Battaille, dying in Spotsylvania with a will dated 23 February 1756, probated 7 March 1758. The will names Elizabeth and Ann Batteley, daughters of his friend Moseley Batteley. Nicholas Battalie married Mary Thornton, and lived in Middlesex County. Their daughter Mary married (1751) Nicholas Taliaferro of Spotsylvania.

[21] According to William Buckner McGroarty, “The Line of Battaille,” Virginia Magazine of Biography and History 41,2 (April 1933), pp. 175-181, Moseley Batteley was in Spotsylvania at the time of its organization. Spotsylvania records show that he received license to marry Elizabeth Taliaferro on 22 October 1728 (see Felder, Forgotten Companions, p. 81, which has a biography of Batteley).

[22] Spotsylvania County Road Orders 1729, p. 341: see Nathaniel Mason Pawlett, Spotsylvania County Road Orders 1722-1734 (Charlottesville: Virginia Highways and Transportation Research Council, 1985), p. 38. Previously, on 7 April 1724, a William Lindsey had been among those appointed to oversee a road from the east northeast to the head of the Mattapany River towards Germana (Spotsylvania Road Orders, 7 April 1724, p. 66, in Pawlett, p. 8). This William Lindsey was in Spotsylvania by 5 November 1722, when he bought land in St. George’s parish from Larkin Chew, adjoining that of Chew. This man appears to be a William Lindsey with wife Mary who sold his land in Spotsylvania County in 1743 and begins to appear in Brunswick County, Virginia, records the same year. By 1754, he had moved to Halifax County, North Carolina, where he died by 1772. He also appears in records of Edgecombe County, North Carolina. DNA studies indicate that his Lindsey line and that of Dennis Lindsey are entirely separate and unrelated.

[23] Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Order Book 1724-1738, p. 115, 5 April 1732.

[24] Ibid., p. 226; see also Ruth and Sam Sparacio, Order Book Abstracts of Spotsylvania County, Virginia 1732-1734 (McLean, Virginia: Antient, 1991), p. 67.

2 thoughts on “Dennis Linchey/Lindsey (abt. 1700-1762): Post-Indenture Life in Virginia

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