Additional Notes re: Phillips Families of Granville and Chatham Counties, North Carolina

Jeremiah Phillips, Plat for 400 Acres, Chatham Co. NC, 4 March 1784
Plat for Jeremiah Phillips, 400 Acres, Chatham County, North Carolina, 4 March 1784, Chatham County land grant file 793

Or, Subtitled: Questions Piled on Questions

As a follow-up to my postings about Robert Phillips, who married Margaret, daughter of Dennis Lindsey of Granville County, and about David Phillips (and here), I’d like to share with you now some scattered (and desultory) notes on Phillips families in Granville, Orange, and Chatham Counties, North Carolina. As the two postings I’ve just linked tell you, there are many connections between David Phillips and his kinship network and the kinship network of Dennis Lindsey, and David followed the very same migration path that Dennis followed in the same time frame, from Richmond to Spotsylvania (later Orange) County, Virginia, then to Edgecombe (later Granville) County, North Carolina (and, in David’s case, finally to Orange County, North Carolina).

I’m calling these notes desultory because they provide you with bits and pieces of information I’ve picked up in various places, without having done anywhere near the kind of exhaustive research I still need to do about Phillips families in Chatham County, North Carolina, who are thought by many researchers to be either relatives or descendants of the Robert Phillips who married Margaret Lindsey. I need to do much more work to uncover information about these Phillips in the records of Chatham and also Orange County, since various researchers think they were in Orange records before Chatham was cut out of Orange in 1771. And I hope no one will think I am at all expert in unraveling Phillips (or allied) families in those regions. There are many gaps in what I know, and probably many mistakes.

The Pendergrass Connection, Richmond County, Virginia, and Granville/Bute Counties, North Carolina

That said as a preface, I want first to point you back to a previous posting in which I mention a Pendergrass family found in Granville County records in the 1760s and 1770s, with connections to Dennis Lindsey. As I tell you in the posting I’ve just linked (with documentation provided there), when Dennis Lindsey sold his March 1761 Granville grant in April 1762, the first deed he made (12 April 1762) from that grant was to his son-in-law Robert Phillips. This deed was witnessed by another of Dennis’ sons-in-law, Roger Thornton, and by John Pendergrass and Aaron Fussell.

Then when John Hawkins Jr. entered land on Sandy Creek at Becham’s Branch and Thornton’s Mill Creek in Bute County on 7 May 1778, the land entry states that the land adjoined Edward Jones and land formerly belonging to Lindsey, Duke, Robuck, and the Widows Pendergrass and Garriott.

In light of these Granville and Bute County records, I find the following 1 September 1714 Richmond County, Virginia, court record interesting:

John Pendergrass, an Orphan Son of James Pendergrass, late of this County, was brought before Court by Susanna Phillips who prayed that the said John Pendergrass should be bound to her husband William Phillips. James Pendergrass, brother of the said John, objected against it and prayed that he might have the charge and tuition, which was granted, he paying William Phillips for the maintaining and bringing up of said John.[1]

The William and Susanna Phillips of this record are William Phillips and Susanna(h) Williams, parents of the David Phillips (b. abt. 1700), who moved from Richmond to Spotsylvania County, Virginia, in the 1720s and then by 1742 to Edgecombe (later Granville) County, North Carolina. In addition, as I have told you in a previous posting, Susanna(h)’s sister Anne married Henry Thornton, grandfather of Dennis Lindsey’s son-in-law Roger Thornton. As did the Phillips, Williams, and Thornton families, the Pendergrass family mentioned in this 1714 record lived in North Farnham parish in Richmond County.

I have not done sufficient research to place the John Pendergrass who, along with Roger Thornton, witnessed Dennis Lindsey’s 12 April 1762 deed of land to Robert Phillips in Granville County. But I’d certainly be inclined to wonder whether his roots run back to the Pendergrass family of North Farnham parish in Richmond County.[2]

Jeremiah and Robert Phillips of Chatham County, North Carolina

Second, I noted in a previous posting that the Dennis Phillips who died in Chatham County, North Carolina, in 1831, and who is thought by various researchers to have been a son of Robert Phillips and Margaret Lindsey, did not name a son Robert or a daughter Margaret, and I don’t find these given names showing up among his descendants in the first generations after Dennis. I should note, however, that Jeremiah Phillips, who died in Chatham County before 14 November 1805, and who may be the Jer Phillips who was a chain carrier with Robert Phillips for Samuel Huckaby’s survey in Granville County on 5 March 1757, did apparently name a son Robert.[3] Some researchers think that Robert Phillips (who married Margaret Lindsey) and Jeremiah were brothers, so the fact that Jeremiah named a son Robert is very well worth noting.

Because it seems to me likely that Jeremiah might have been a close relative of Robert Phillips, and because his move to Chatham County strengthens the deduction that the Dennis Phillips of that county was the son of Robert Phillips and Margaret Lindsey, I’ve been trying to learn more about Jeremiah. Here’s information I’ve gathered about him and his son Robert:

By 11 November 1768, Jeremiah Phillips was living in either Orange or Cumberland County, along the border of the two counties. On that date, he signed a petition to the state legislature of inhabitants living along the shared border of both counties to create a new county.[4]

By 1772, Jeremiah Phillips was living in Chatham County, where he appears on the militia list of Capt. John Montgomery, along with Joel, Lewis, and William Phillips.[5] In 1775,

Jeremiah Phillips appears in Chatham court minutes (?) as a member of a crew of men assigned to work on the road from the Anson road to the Moore County line (Moore was formed from Cumberland in 1784).[6] Other Phillips men assigned to the same road crew were Nathan, William, and Joel. The overseer of the crew was Benjamin Sanders/Saunders, whose daughter Mary married Dennis Phillips. Benjamin’s daughter Rachel married Lazarus Phillips, son of Jeremiah Phillips.[7]

In May 1777, Chatham court minutes order the laying out of a road from Chatham Court house across Rocky River near Aaron Evans’ mill and across Barr Creek between Stephen Powell’s and John Nall’s to the county line, with a road crew including William and Jeremiah Phillips.[8]

On 30 July 1780, Jeremiah Phillips entered 401 acres on Indian Creek in Chatham County. The land was surveyed 4 March 1784 with Joel Phillips and Ezekiel Hilliard as chain carriers for W. Finley’s survey. On 1 November 1784, Jeremiah Phillips was granted 400 acres.[9] (A copy of the original land plat from this land-grand file is at the top of the posting).

It’s not clear to me when the Robert Phillips said to have been Jeremiah’s son was born. A number of sources I find online (e.g., here) identify a Robert Phillips found on the 1850 federal census in Marshall County, Tennessee, with the Robert of Chatham County believed to be Jeremiah’s son. This Robert is aged 81 in 1850 and was born in North Carolina, and is living in the household of a Thomas S. Collins.[10] If this is Jeremiah’s son and if the census information is reliable, it appears he was born about 1769.

The Robert thought to be son of Jeremiah was definitely of age by 8 February 1790, when he witnessed a deed by Jeremiah Phillips and wife Ann in Chatham County to Lewis Phillips.[11] Robert doesn’t, however, appear to be head of a household in Chatham on the 1790 federal census, though by 1800, he is listed as a household head and is aged 26-44 (born 1756-1774).[12] In 1790, Jeremiah’s household has three white males under 16 and three over 16.[13]

In November 1793: Jeremiah Phillips appears along with Willis, William, and Sion Phillips in a list of men charged by Chatham court to open a road from Samuel Person’s plantation to Cox’s old road.[14] The name “Willis Phillips” is noteworthy here, since Jeremiah’s son Robert was a buyer at the estate sale of Willis Phillips in Chatham County in 1804, along with Dennis Phillips.[15]

Dennis Phillips named a son Willis, but this Willis was of a previous generation, and appears to have been of the same generation of Jeremiah Phillips. A list of lineages of members of group 10 at the Phillips DNA Project includes this Willis Phillips, and states that he was born before 1755 and may have married Phebe, daughter of Benjamin Sanders/Saunders — whose daughter Mary married Dennis Phillips and whose daughter Rachel married Jeremiah Phillips’ son Lazarus. Jeremiah and Dennis are in the same list of lineages of members of group 10. On 16 August 1804, William Phillips, Benjamin Sanders, and Phebe Phillips appealed for the administration of Willis Phillips’ estate in Chatham County.[16]

As noted above, when Jeremiah Phillips died in 1805, his nuncupative will in Chatham County names sons Lazarus and Nimrod as two of his children, and states that they were the only competent witnesses present when Jeremiah asked that his verbal will be committed to writing.[17] The will does not name a son Robert, though other pieces of evidence have led researchers to conclude that the Robert Phillips whom I’m tracking here was Jeremiah’s son. On 14 November 1805, Lazarus appealed for administration of Jeremiah’s estate. Jeremiah’s loose-papers estate file contains no other documents, and no list of heirs.

Robert Phillips was again a buyer at a Phillips estate sale in Chatham County in June 1820: he purchased items at the estate sale of Alexander and Elizabeth Phillips on 9 June 1820, Chatham. Also buying at this sale were Robert’s brother Lazarus Phillips and Dennis Phillips’ sons Lenzible/Lindsey Bell and Joel Phillips.[18]

The estate documents of Benjamin Sanders, who died in Chatham in 1822, provide further evidence of connections between the families of Dennis and Jeremiah Phillips. When Sanders made his will on 4 March 1822, witnesses to the will were Tel and Dennis Phillips. Researchers of the Phillips and Sanders families of Chatham County think that Tel was Terrell Robert Phillips, a grandson of Jeremiah, son of Jeremiah’s son Lazarus Phillips.[19] At the sale of Benjamin Sanders’ personal property on 28 December 1822, buyers included Dennis, Lazarus, Joel, and Henry Phillips.[20]


Some questions these documents leave me with:

  1. What, if any, was the relationship between Jeremiah Phillips of Chatham County and Robert Phillips of Granville County, who married Margaret Lindsey?
  2. How does the Willis Phillips who is said to have been born before 1755 and who died in Chatham in 1804 connect to Dennis Phillips, who was a buyer at Willis’ estate sale and who named a son Willis, and to Jeremiah Phillips? If Willis’ wife Phebe was a daughter of Benjamin Sanders, then an obvious connection is that Dennis married Phebe’s sister Mary and Jeremiah’s son Lazarus married Benjamin’s daughter Rachel. But, given that descendants of Willis, Jeremiah, and Dennis all match the DNA profile of group 10 in the Phillips DNA Project,[21] it seems these men are all related through the Phillips family, too?
  3. Who is the Joel Phillips who was in Capt. John Montgomery’s 1772 Chatham County muster list along with Jeremiah Phillips, and who was a chain carrier for Jeremiah’s 1780 survey of 400 acres in Chatham? Dennis Phillips had a son Joel, but the Joel of these records is of a previous generation.
  4. Who is the John Phillips discussed on the “Moore County Phillips Family” page at the Early North Carolina Phillips Group Wiki site? This source states that he was born about 1730 and had a wife Patience. His descendants are also part of the group 10 set of Phillips in the Phillips DNA Project. The Moore County Phillips Family page notes that there are close ties between Phillips families in Chatham and Moore Counties, which share a boundary line, and proposes that John may be a brother of Robert Phillips of Granville County.
  5. Finally, who’s the Nicholas Brewer who is said to have come to Chatham County from Brunswick County, Virginia, and who had a son Dennis Brewer? I find conflicting information about him. A set of Brewer/Lanier pedigrees at the Brewer DNA Project site states that this Nicholas was born about 1760 and was son of an older Nicholas Brewer born 1735-1741 in Brunswick County and his wife Winifred.

However, a page for Nicholas Brewer maintained by indicates that the Nicholas who married Winifred was born about 1741, and that they were the parents of Dennis Brewer of Chatham County. A page for descendants of George Brewer and Sarah Lanier maintained by the Brewer Family Tree DNA Project states that Dennis Brewer was the son of a Nicholas Brewer born about 1760, but also states that the lineage from that Nicholas going back in Brunswick and Surry Counties, Virginia, is not yet fully established.

There are suggestions of connections between this Brewer family and the Phillips family in Chatham County, and the given name Dennis obviously catches my eye — though it should be noted that there were families with the surname Dennis in Chatham County who came there from the same area in Virginia from which the Brewers came.

Obviously, I have more questions than answers, and nothing I’m reporting here should be seen as set in stone and well-documented. I am reporting to you in many cases information I’ve gleaned from internet sites that do not offer documentation to substantiate their claims, and what those sites report needs to be assessed and matched with citations pointing to bona fide documents. I suspect that many of the questions I’m asking have long since been answered by more thorough researchers of all these families, and welcome corrections and additional information from anyone with better information than I have.

[1] This entry from Richmond County court minutes is transcribed at a number of websites online, including this page for Roger Williams (d. bef. 6 June 1677, Richmond County, Virginia). No site that I’ve seen with information about this court record provides a specific citation of the source.

[2] I have not read Robert A. Pendergrass’s Family History, John Pendergrass of Bute County, North Carolina and Lancaster County, South Carolina(priv. publ., Atlanta, 1980). From references to this work I can see online, I gather that he may reach a different conclusion about the roots of the John Pendergrass found in Granville and Bute records.

[3] I have not seen a document definitively stating that Jeremiah Phillips had a son Robert. Many researchers suggest that this was the case, on the basis of documents showing Robert closely associated with Jeremiah in Chatham County, and in an age range to be Jeremiah’s son. Jeremiah made a nuncupative will in Chatham County on 5 September 1805. The will was recorded by his sons Lazarus and Nimrod, who state in the will that they were the only competent witnesses present when Jeremiah stated his last will. The will does not name a son Robert. I am citing the original will in on file in the loose-papers will file held by the North Carolina Archives.

[4] See Morgan Jackson’s page for Jeremiah Phillips at his “Wallace Family of Moore County, NC” website. The page contains a link to a digital image of the original petition. See also William L. Saunders, ed., The Colonial Records of North Carolina, vol. 7 (Raleigh: Josephus Daniels, 1890), p. 929, transcribing minutes of the North Carolina General Assembly for 11 November 1768.

[5] See Sue Ashby, transcriber, “Militia Officers of Chatham County in the Revolutionary War

and Other County Officials,” at the NCGenweb site for Chatham County.

[6] See Dena A. Edwards’ “Genealogy Report: Descendants of Joel Saunders Jr.,” at the site. This report does not provide specific documentation about the source of this record.

[7] See ibid.

[8] See the entry for Nicholas Brewer in Chris Chester’s “Brewer-Lanier Database” at This source cites Chatham County, North Carolina, Court Minutes 1774-1779, as transcribed by Marvin T. Broyhill, The Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776: Supporting Documentation Part II (Estill Springs, TN: Brewer Researcher, 1996), p. 110.

[9] See the original documents in Chatham County land grant file 793, and the grant in North Carolina Patent Bk 55, p. 93, file 709; a digital image of the original is at the North Carolina Archives’ “North Carolina Land Grant Images and Data” site. The grant is also recorded in Chatham County, North Carolina, Deed Bk. 3, p. 3.

[10] 1850 federal census, Marshall County, Tennessee, district 14, p. 117, dwelling and family290.

[11] Chatham County, North Carolina Deed Bk D, p. 636. Morgan Jackson’s page for Jeremiah Phillips  at his “Wallace Family of Moore County, NC” cites this deed and proposes that Robert is Jeremiah’s son.

[12] 1800 federal census, Chatham County, North Carolina, Hillsborough district, p. 222. Jeremiah is listed on the preceding page.

[13] 1790 federal census, Chatham County, North Carolina, p. 222.

[14] See Sue Ashby, transcriber, “Chatham County, North Carolina, Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions Minutes Aug. 1792 –,” at the NCGenweb site for Chatham County (p. 210 in the original minutes).

[15] I’m citing the original loose-papers estate file held by the North Carolina archives. The sale account does not have a specific date, but it’s clear the sale was held in 1804. Other buyers at the sale included the widow Phebe Phillips, as well as John, Matthew, William, Sion/Sihon, and Meredith. Phillips. The estate file contains a February 1807 petition naming Willis Phillips’ ten children as Rebecca, wife of Zadock Deaton, Charity, wife of John Deaton, Susanna/Sukey Phillips, Matthew Phillips, Meredith Phillips, John Phillips, Laban Phillips, Benjamin Phillips, Fereby Phillips, Edmond Phillips. The last four children were minors when their father died.

[16] See ibid. The original administration bond is in the loose-papers estate file. Phebe’s widow’s portion was allotted the same day by Michael (?) Jones, John Sanders, Sion Phillips (signing as Sihon), and Sampson Brewer.

[17] See supra, n. 3.

[18] See the original loose-papers estate file held by the North Carolina Archives.

[19] See Dena Edwards’ “Genealogy Report: Descendants of Joel Saunders Jr.” and the family group sheet for Lazarus Phillips and Rachel Sanders/Saunders at The original will is in Benjamin Sanders’ loose-papers will file held by the North Carolina Archives.

[20] Edwards, “Genealogy Report: Descendants of Joel Saunders Jr.

[21] See supra, n. 16.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.