New Information About the Rice Family of Frederick County, Virginia

What I want to tell you about now is some very valuable information I’ve just received from a descendant of George Rice (1735-1792) and Elizabeth Brooks (1747/1850 – 1816). So this posting actually is Brooks-related, but it skips back to a family I had discussed some time in the past. Elizabeth Brooks Rice was a sister to Thomas Brooks (abt. 1747 – 1805), who married Margaret Beaumont/Beamon — parents of Thomas Brooks with wife Sarah Whitlock.

Recently, Margene Scott, a Rice descendant, contacted me to tell me that she has the bible of George Rice (1827-1917), a son of John Jehu Rice. As previous postings indicate, Jehu Rice was a son of Elizabeth Rice (1770/1775 – 1808), who was a daughter of George Rice and Elizabeth Brooks. According to Margene Scott, tucked into the bible of George Rice are two transcripts of previous Rice bible registers. One is a transcript of the bible register of Patrick Rice, father of George Rice (who married Elizabeth Brooks). The other transcript is of the bible register of Jehu Rice, son of Elizabeth Rice, whose parents were George Rice and Elizabeth Brooks.

Margene Scott has kindly sent me digital copies of both of these transcripts, and I’m including them in this posting. This is the first time I’ve ever seen this bible information. I don’t think other Rice researchers have seen it previously, either, since I find the information in it mentioned nowhere.

As you can see from the transcript of the register of Patrick Rice’s bible, it is headed by a notation that John Seaton transcribed the register of the bible of Patrick Rice in April 1898 at the house of Judge A.L. Reid. A.L. Reid is Adolphus Lafayette Reid (1824-1915), who was a son of Caroline Roach and Darius Bourne Reid. Caroline’s parents were Micajah Roach and Ruth Rice; Ruth was a daughter of George Rice and Elizabeth Brooks. It appears that in 1898, Adolphus Lafayette Rice owned the bible of George Rice’s father Patrick Rice, and he may also have owned Jehu Rice’s bible, since the two transcribed bible registers are in the same handwriting (i.e., John Seaton’s) and both are on the same kind of paper. According to Margene Scott, the present whereabouts of both bibles are not known.

As the transcript of Patrick Rice’s bible register states, the bible was printed by Thomas Baskett in London in 1759. The register also states that Patrick Rice bought the bible from Joseph Day on 13 September 1771. Joseph Day (1740-1798) and wife Catherine Yarnall were the parents of Joseph Day (1768-1854), who married Margaret Brooks, daughter of Thomas Brooks and Margaret Beaumont/Beamon. The Day family moved from Chester County, Pennsylvania, to Frederick County, Virginia, in 1766, and it would have been there that Patrick Rice bought his bible from Joseph Day in 1771. As the posting I’ve just linked indicates, at the time of their arrival in Frederick County, the Days were Quakers, but the Hopewell Friends’ meeting in Frederick County disowned Joseph Day in 1775.

In addition to providing the birthdate of Patrick Rice’s son George on 28 September 1735, the register of Patrick Rice’s bible contains another very important piece of information: this is that Patrick Rice married Elizabeth Decow on 3 December 1734. This piece of information corrects misinformation that often appears in accounts of Patrick Rice’s family: namely, that Patrick married Elizabeth Brooks. These accounts have both Patrick and his son George Rice married to women named Elizabeth Brooks.

The transcribed bible register tells us no more about Elizabeth Decow, but it’s fairly easy to find information about her in various places. Elizabeth was born 7 December 1708 in Burlington County, New Jersey, the daughter of Jacob Decow (1668 – 1735/6) and Elizabeth Powell (1677-1714) of Burlington County. At the time this couple married in Burlington County on 21 February 1699, Elizabeth Powell (who was the daughter of Robert and Prudence Powell) was the widow of James Newbold. The Decows and Powells were Quakers. Jacob Decow’s birth on 2 September 1668 is recorded in the minutes of the Quaker meeting of Fishlake and Rawcliffe in Yorkshire, England. The Decows were part of a large migration of Yorkshire Quakers, most of them from the vicinity of Sheffield, which is some 34 miles from Fishlake, to West Jersey in the latter half of the 17th century.

The history of the Decow/Decou family is discussed in S. Ella DeCou and John Allen DeCou’s The Genealogy of the DeCou Family: Showing the Descent of the Members of this Family in America from Leuren Des Cou, etc. (Philadelphia: Franklin, 1910). This work notes that Elizabeth, daughter of Jacob Decow and Elizabeth Powell, married Patrick Rice (pp. 52, 101). Genealogy of the DeCou Family transcribes a 9 April 1748 deed that George and Rebecca Morris made in Burlington County, New Jersey, to Isaac Decow for Rebecca’s share of 300 acres in Burlington County that Jacob Decow had conveyed by deed of gift on 12 July 1729 to his daughters Rebecca, Esther, and Elizabeth. Rebecca married George Morris, who bought the share of Elizabeth, who married Patrick Rice, with Patrick and Elizabeth Rice giving a release of their ownership to George Morris on 26 June 1744 (p. 52, citing Burlington County, New Jersey, Liber HH, f. 422).

Also transcribed in Genealogy of the DeCou Family is a letter Patrick Rice sent Elizabeth’s brother Isaac Decow in Mansfield, Burlington County, New Jersey, on 10 September 1744 (pp. 23-4). The letter is written from “Opecon” Creek, Frederick County, Virginia, and states that Patrick and Elizabeth had arrived safely back in Virginia after having spent time in New Jersey with Isaac Decow. In the letter, Patrick tells his brother-in-law Isaac Decow that he’d like Isaac to send to London for a copy of Josephus’s history in one folio, the largest edition possible, for which Patrick would reimburse Isaac with deer skins. The letter also states that a neighbor of Patrick Rice, Isaac Hollingsworth, who had a desire to “spake In publick amongst the ffriends,” wanted to visit the Quaker community in Burlington County, and Patrick recommends Isaac Hollingsworth to Isaac Decow. Isaac Hollingsworth (1722-1759) was a son of Abraham Hollingsworth and Ann Robinson. Isaac’s brother George Hollingsworth was father of Robert Hollingsworth who married Patrick Rice’s daughter Susanna.

This letter proves to us that, not long after they married in 1734, Patrick Rice and Elizabeth Decow settled in Frederick County, Virginia. Perhaps Patrick was living there already prior to his marriage to Elizabeth Decow. I find no indication of the marriage of Patrick Rice and Elizabeth Decow in Quaker records, though I do find the marriages of several of Elizabeth’s siblings in the Quaker records in Burlington County, New Jersey. I think it’s likely that Patrick and Elizabeth were not Quakers; Patrick may not have been a Quaker at all, though Elizabeth was raised a Quaker in New Jersey.

Another letter transcribed in Genealogy of the DeCou Family shows Patrick Rice writing Elizabeth’s brother Eber Decow in Mansfield, New Jersey, on 22 October 1767 (p. 24). The letter states that Patrick lived at Long Marsh in Frederick County, Virginia, and notes that his son George “may be in some part of the Jarseys att this time,” after George had left home on 1 September without giving his father an account of when he’d return. Patrick needed George’s assistance and hoped if George visited his uncle Eber that Eber would tell George his father needed him. As a previous posting states, various pieces of information suggest to me that George Rice married Elizabeth Brooks around 1767, the year in which Patrick Rice sent this letter to Eber Decow. Genealogy of the DeCou Family does not appear to indicate who owned these two letters of which transcripts appear in this work.

Now that I have a transcript of Patrick Rice’s bible register, I’ve been able to correct information I’ve shared here in the past about George Rice — in particular, about when George was born. The posting I just linked in the previous paragraph is the primary one in which I had provided information about George’s date of birth and early life, and if you revisit it now, you’ll see that I’ve corrected mistakes in it in light of the record of George Rice’s birth provided by Patrick Rice’s bible, which states that his son George, his oldest child, was born 28 September 1735. I’ve also added information from the bible register to other postings speaking of George Rice’s siblings Edmond, John, Rebecca (married Zachariah Connell), and Susanna (married Robert Hollingsworth).

Where George Rice was born, I don’t yet know, but two good possibilites would be Burlington County, New Jersey, or Frederick County, Virginia. How Patrick Rice met Elizabeth Decow, I also don’t know, just as I don’t know if persistent information that Patrick was Irish-born and came directly to Frederick County, Virginia, from Ireland, is correct. But even with the continued mysteries about this family, I’m very delighted to have these two transcripts of old Rice family bibles. As you can see, the register of Jehu Rice’s bible provides the names and birthdates of all of his children by wife Mary Elizabeth Biggs, information I did not previously have.

2 thoughts on “New Information About the Rice Family of Frederick County, Virginia

  1. This is new information to me and a of great importance. Thank you for posting it.

    I’ve found one Geni profile from 2017 that has the marriage of Patrick Rice and Elizabeth Decou listed but I don’t know what their original sourcing was.

    There is a mess with his son, John Rice. — Every online lineage I’ve seen has Patrick’s first son as “John Rice Sr” and John Rice sr’s son being “John Rice Jr” born ca 1745 – died 1802. He was the founder of Rice’s Landing, PA.

    If this transcription is accurate obviously these online lineages are incorrect and something needs to be made of this extra “John Rice Sr.” — Whatever the case, according to Pastor John Corbly researchers John Rice Sr, “Jr” and early Rices were neighbors of parishioners of Pastor John Corbly, an oft persecuted early Baptist minister, explorer, and pioneer church builder who was jailed multiple times. – He deeded his land to “John Rice Sr” and story has it after Corbly’s wife died the “John Rice Sr” family fostered Corby’s family while he was traveling the Frontier. When he made it back, he deeded his land. — A lot of Rice’s show up with Corbly in the right times and places and follow his migration to Louisville and Jefferson County, KY. Which is where my EKA line shows up.

    Thanks again!

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    1. Thank you for this response. Yes, such valuable material, and I agree that there has been much confusion about Patrick Rice’s son John. You probably know much more about the Rice family than I do. My primary goal in researching it has been to figure out the connection to the Brooks family, which obviously goes beyond the marriage of Elizabeth Brooks to Patrick Rice’s son George Rice. The two families lived near each other in Frederick County, show up in deeds and wills of each other, and had mutual ties to the Hollingsworths. This has made me want to know more about the Rices, and especially where Patrick Rice came from before he was in Frederick County.

      If he was an Irish immigrant directly to Frederick County, as many researchers have thought, then I wonder how it happened that he married Elizabeth Decow, who was clearly part of a Quaker family in Burlington County, New Jersey. I wonder how and when they met.

      I, too, have found a great deal of confusion about Patrick’s son John, as you say. It sounds to me as though your Rices of Rice’s Landing may well have had close ties to the family in Frederick County, Virginia, but I still know so little about the family in Frederick County that I’m not sure I could pinpoint how they were connected.

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