Thomas Whitlock (abt. 1745 – 1830) of Louisa and Wythe Counties, Virginia, and Cumberland County, Kentucky: His Early Life and Marriage (to 1776)

It’s not remarkable, really, that little information exists about Thomas in the early period of his life on which I’m focusing here. If he was born in or around 1745, as I have proposed, he would not have been of age until about 1763-5, and would not likely have appeared in the records of whatever county he was living in until he came of age.

I say “of whatever county,” though I think it’s safe to assume that Thomas and his siblings, all of whom were not of age when their father James Whitlock died in St. Martin’s parish, Louisa County, between 7 March-20 November 1749, remained with their mother Agnes Christmas Whitlock in Louisa up to her death or their marriage. James made his will 7 March 1749 and it was probated 20 November 1749.[1] As the previous posting explains, the will indicates that all of his children were still minors when he made it.

I do not have any specific information about when Agnes Christmas Whitlock died. She was living on 26 June 1750 when she and her father Thomas Christmas submitted to Louisa court the inventory of James Whitlock’s estate compiled on 18 April 1750.[2] The 20 November 1757 document dividing the estate of James Whitlock among his heirs does not, however, mention Agnes at all. In my previous posting, I suggested that this might mean Agnes had remarried and this is why James’s estate was being apportioned among his six children in November 1757. I’m actually inclined to think Agnes died between 26 June 1750 and 20 November 1757, and that this is why James’s estate was divided on the latter date between his children. Agnes was certainly dead, I think, by the time her father Thomas Christmas made his will on 29 December 1768, naming the children of his daughter Agnes by James Whitlock but not naming Agnes.[3]

Note that neither the November 1757 estate division document nor Thomas Christmas’s will states explicitly where James and Agnes’s six children were living when these documents were compiled. Since no mention is made of any residence outside Louisa County in the former document, I take it to indicate that all were still living in Louisa County when the estate division occurred. It can be shown, though, that by 8 July 1760 when he bought land in St. Ann’s parish in Albemarle County, James and Agnes’s son Charles was living in that county and parish, a point I’ll discuss in more detail in a moment.[4] So when Thomas Christmas made his will in December 1768, at least one of his Whitlock grandchildren and possibly others were no longer in Louisa County, Virginia.

Thomas Whitlock’s Marriage to Hannah Phillips

So when and where did Thomas Whitlock marry his wife Hannah, and why do I think Hannah was née Phillips? I have not found a marriage record. Thomas and Hannah’s probable first child, a daughter who married John Hammons but whose given name does not appear in Thomas’s 24 January 1824 will in Cumberland County, Kentucky, which I’ll discuss down the road, seems to have been born around 1772. That date of birth suggests that Thomas married his wife Hannah — her name appears in a number of documents throughout their married life, and I have found no evidence that he had any other wife — about or a bit before 1770. Note that Thomas Whitlock would have been 25 years of age in 1770, if he was born in or near 1745.

Wythe County, Virginia, Death Register 1854, unpaginated, in Bureau of Vital Statistics, Virginia Death Registers 1853-1906, held by State Library of Virginia and digitized at FamilySearch

As I’ve told you several times, in my view, the surname of Thomas’s wife Hannah was Phillips. In concluding this, I’m following the lead of Whitlock researcher Gwen Hurst, who pointed out to me in correspondence in the 1990s that the death record of Thomas and Hannah’s daughter Mildred Whitlock Hurst, Gwen’s ancestor, gives Mildred’s parents’ names as Thomas and Hannah Phillips.[5] Mildred died 8 June 1854 at Reed Island in Wythe County, Virginia, aged 70, with her husband William Hurst reporting the information recorded in the death record.

Surry County, North Carolina, Marriage Bonds 1780-1868, loose bonds held by North Carolina Archives, digitized at FamilySearch

Whether William Hurst, who was 76 years old when his wife Mildred died, reported Phillips as his wife’s surname, or whether the death record garbles information he submitted, is not clear from the death record itself. But William Hurst would have known full well that his wife’s maiden name was Whitlock, a surname that appears clearly on William’s 22 April 1805 bond to marry Mildred Whitlock in Surry County, North Carolina.[6] Gwen Hurst read the death record, with its garbled information about Mildred Whitlock Hurst’s parents, to indicate that Mildred was the daughter of Thomas Whitlock and Hannah Phillips. I suspect she’s correct in making this deduction.

I have not found any concrete information about Hannah’s ancestry. As the previous posting indicates, a William Phillips, a justice of the Louisa court, was one of the three men who compiled the 20 November 1757 account of the settlement of the estate of James Whitlock, father of Thomas. If Hannah Whitlock was née Phillips, it’s certainly worth asking if she was related to the William Phillips of this record, and if Hannah’s roots lay in Louisa County as Thomas’s did. So far, I have turned up nothing conclusive about this matter or, as I’ve just noted, about her ancestry in general.

The Bedford County, Virginia, Clue

As I stated previously, there is one intriguing clue, however, to Thomas and Hannah’s whereabouts following their marriage and before they settled in Montgomery (later Wythe) County, Virginia. As the previous posting notes, the bible of their daughter Sarah and husband Thomas Brooks states that Sarah was born 9 June 1774 in Bedford County, Virginia. This information was evidently recorded by Thomas Brooks. 

Bedford is several counties southwest of Louisa, bordering Botetourt County on the east and close to Montgomery, the county in which Thomas and his family were living by 1776 — as I’ve stated previously, I suspect they were already situated on Little Reed Island Creek in a part of Montgomery that fell into Wythe County when that county was formed from Montgomery in 1790. Something had evidently attracted Thomas Whitlock to Virginia’s southside, and then to southwest Virginia, following his marriage to Hannah Phillips.

Thomas’s Brother Charles Moves to Albemarle County by 1760

Part of the attraction would probably have been the lure of better prospects following his father’s (and, I think, also his mother’s) early death in Louisa County. As I noted above, we learn from an 8 July 1760 Albemarle County deed that Thomas’s oldest brother Charles was living by this date in St. Ann’s parish in that county: on that date, Charles bought from John Grills of the same parish and county for £20 319 acres on branches of Moore’s Creek in St. Ann’s parish, Albemarle.[7] John Grills signed the deed with witnesses Joel Terrill, Henry Carter, and John Francisco. Note the name Joel Terrill/Terrell: I’ll discuss it more in a moment.

Albemarle County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 2, pp. 265-6

This deed explicitly states that Charles Whitlock was of St. Ann’s parish in Albemarle when he purchased this land. Researchers of Charles’s line think he married around 1757, and at that point, moved to Albemarle County with his wife Easter or Esther, whose name we learn from the 12 March 1778 Albemarle deed in which Charles and wife Easter sold the 319-acre tract he had acquired from John Grills to William Gooch.[8] They sold the tract for £160. Charles and Esther signed; the deed gives her name as Easter, but the signature as Esther. Witnesses were David Allary, Mark Leak, and Phillip Gooch. On 19 March, Charles and Easter relinquished possession of the land and its tenements to William Gooch, with Charles signing with the same witnesses, and Charles acknowledged receipt of the full £160. Charles proved the deed at March court in Albemarle. The details about relinquishing the land and its tenements to William Gooch indicate that Charles and Easter/Esther were selling their homeplace in Albemarle and moving away.

Albemarle County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 7, pp. 151-3

Other records show that Charles and Easter/Esther moved their family from Albemarle County, Virginia, to Surry County, North Carolina, which borders Carroll and Grayson Counties, Virginia, both counties bordering on Wythe County. Grayson was formed from Wythe and Carroll from Grayson. As we’ve seen, Thomas Whitlock’s daughter Mildred married William Hurst in Surry County in 1805; the couple then lived in Wythe County, with both William and Mildred dying there. So Thomas Whitlock’s migration to Bedford County by 1774 and then to Montgomery (later Wythe) County by 1776 was paralleled by a similar migration of his brother Charles.    

Montgomery County, Virginia, Deed Bk. A, pp. 162-3
Montgomery County, Virginia, Deed Bk. A, pp. 164

I told you a moment ago to note the name of Joel Terrill (this surname is more commonly spelled Terrell) as a witness to John Grills’s sale of land in Albemarle on 8 July 1760 to Charles Whitlock. The first solid piece of documentation that I have for Thomas Whitlock’s whereabouts after his father’s 20 November 1757 estate division — other than the statement of the Brooks bible that Thomas Whitlock’s daughter Sarah was born in Bedford County, Virginia, on 9 June 1774 — is a 1 March 1776 deed in Montgomery County, Virginia, to which Thomas Whitlock was a witness. On that date, Jonathan Jennings of Fincastle County deeded to Charles Lynch of Bedford County for five shillings 150 acres on the south side of Woods River at the mouth of Reed Island Creek in Montgomery.[9] The land was from a grant to Colonel John Buchanan, whose executor William Preston sold it to Jennings on 7-8 October 1771. (A digital image of the first pages of this deed are at the top of this posting.)

In addition to Thomas Whitlock, who signed his witness by mark, James Callaway, Sarah Pearce, James Newell Jr., and William Sayers witnessed this deed. The following day, Jennings and wife Dianah (Dyaniah is the spelling in the deed) made a relinquishment of title to this land and its appurtenances to Lynch, with the price given as £245.[10] This relinquishment has the same witnesses.

The Significance of Charles Lynch of Bedford County

Note the reference to Bedford County: Charles Lynch lived in Bedford, and was acquiring a piece of land on Reed Island Creek in Montgomery County, with witnesses to the transaction, including Thomas Whitlock, who, as we’ve seen in previous postings, all lived near each other on Little Reed Island Creek in Wythe County some years down the road — PearceNewellSayers: these are surnames we’ve met over and over in postings about Thomas Whitlock’s son-in-law Thomas Brooks (1775-1838), whose father Thomas Brooks (abt. 1747-1805) lived near all of these people, and also near Thomas Whitlock, in Wythe County.

Charles Lynch (1736 – 1796) was a man of some fame, about whom quite a bit of historical documentation exists. He’s the Bedford County, Virginia, judge who has long been credited with spawning the verb “to lynch,” though that historical linkage is dubious. Charles Lynch was son of an older Charles Lynch (abt. 1716 – 1753) who was a servant from Ireland indentured to Louisa County planter Christopher Clark. Lynch married Clark’s daughter Sarah and settled with her in Albemarle County, where he was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. The place at which he settled, Chestnut Hill, was acquired by Charles Lynch’s son John (1740-1820) and later became known as Lynchburg, Virginia. Lynchburg borders on Bedford County.[11]

Charles Lynch Jr. was born at Chestnut Hill in Albemarle County. On 12 January 1755, he married Anne Terrell, daughter of Henry Terrell, and moved with her to Bedford County, where he was a justice in by 1767 and a member of the House of Burgesses in 1769, 1774, 1775. He served in the Virginia Senate from 1784-1789. A biography of Charles Lynch of Bedford at the website of the Avoca Museum and Historical Society (Altavista, Virginia), states regarding Charles Lynch’s father Charles Sr. “[Charles the immigrant] prospered and gained significant tracts of land in the counties of Caroline, Goochland, Louisa, Orange, Albemarle and Bedford by merit of land grants made by George I and George II.”[12]

As historians note, settlement of Bedford County began rapidly increasing following the cessation of hostilities in the French and Indian War in 1763. In a lecture by the noted Wythe County historian Mary B. Kegley that I attended in Wytheville in 1996, I recall Kegley stating that Carroll County, formed from Grayson, which was formed from Wythe, was settled largely by Virginians of English descent who came there from Bedford, Pittsylvania, Hanover, New Kent, and other Virginia counties. Kegley noted that most Carroll County settlers did not come to southwest Virgina via the Great Wagon Road that brought Ulster Scots and German settlers up the Shenandoah Valley from the middle colonies, but was settled by Virginians, largely of English descent, whose progenitors had first settled in the tidewater and then moved into the piedmont counties of Virginia — as the Whitlock family itself had done.

Note the following, then: Charles Lynch of Bedford County, to whom Jonathan Jennings sold land in Montgomery County in March 1776 with Thomas Whitlock as one of the witnesses to the land sale, came there from Albemarle County, where Thomas’ brother Charles Whitlock moved from Louisa by 1760, and where Charles Lynch was born and grew up after his father, who had been indentured to a Louisa County planter, settled. There’s an interesting pattern here, isn’t there? 

Moreover, the Joel Terill/Terrell who was a witness to Charles Whitlock’s purchase of land in Albemarle on 8 July 1760 was a first cousin of the Anne Terrell whom Charles Lynch of Bedford married. The Joel Terrell witnessing this 1760 deed was a son of an older Joel Terrell whose brother Henry Terrell was father of Anne Terrell Lynch.

If I had to make an educated guess about where Thomas Whitlock lived prior to moving to Bedford and then Montgomery County, I’d guess that after both of his parents died in Louisa by November 1757, when the oldest son in the family, Charles Whitlock, married around the time of the division of his father’s estate and then settled in Albemarle County, Charles’s younger siblings accompanied him to Albemarle and lived with him until they married. It is perhaps not without significance that Thomas Whitlock named his one son Charles, after his older brother, and not James, after their father. 

And there was evidently a connection of Thomas Whitlock to the family of Charles Lynch, who moved from Albemarle to Bedford and who acquired land in March 1776 in what would become Wythe County, land in the vicinity of where Thomas Whitlock settled after he moved from Bedford to Montgomery County. Charles Lynch, whose wife’s uncle Joel Terrill witnessed Charles Whitlock’s purchase of land in Albemarle in 1760….

In a subsequent posting, I’ll say more about Charles Lynch of Bedford and his ties to Wythe County, including his connection to the lead mines operation in Wythe Country founded by Colonel John Chiswell, whose roots lay in Hanover County, the parent county of Louisa. For now, having gotten Thomas Whitlock from Louisa to what would become Wythe, by way of Bedford and also, I’m proposing, by way of Albemarle, and having gotten him married and starting his family life, I’d like to note one curious detail of several of the documents I’ve cited. I’ve told you that Charles Whitlock and wife Easter/Esther signed their 1778 deed in Albemarle to William Gooch. But when Thomas Whitlock witnessed Jonathan Jennings’s 1776 Montgomery deed to Charles Lynch, Thomas signed by mark. 

I call this detail curious since the November 1757 settlement of the estate of James Whitlock in Louisa County shows his estate paying Thomas Rice £3 for schooling James’s children. If James Whitlock’s children were schooled — and his son Charles’s ability to sign his name suggests that Charles, at least, had schooling — why was James’s son Thomas apparently illiterate?[13]

In my next posting, I’ll begin discussing the extensive documentation I have of Thomas Whitlock’s life in Wythe County, Virginia, from 1776 forward.

[1] Louisa County, Virginia, Will Bk. 1, p. 13.

[2] Louisa County, Virginia, Inventory Bk. 1743-1790, pp. 39-40.

[3] Warren County, North Carolina, (Old Bute County) Will Bk. A, pp. 105-9.

[4] Albemarle County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 2, pp. 265-6.

[5] Wythe County, Virginia, Death Register 1854, unpaginated, in Bureau of Vital Statistics, Virginia Death Registers 1853-1906, held by State Library of Virginia and digitized at FamilySearch.

[6] Surry County, North Carolina, Marriage Bonds 1780-1868, loose bonds held by North Carolina Archives, digitized at FamilySearch

[7] See supra, n. 4.

[8] Albemarle County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 7, pp. 151-3.

[9] Montgomery County, Virginia, Deed Bk. A, pp. 160-2. 

[10] Ibid., pp. 162-4.

[11] See Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, vol. 5 (New York: Lewis, 1915), pp. 963-5; Thomas Walker Page, “Real Judge Lynch,” Atlantic Monthly 88 (December 1901), pp. 731-743; and R.H. Early, Campbell Chronicles and Family Sketches: Embracing the History of Campbell County, Virginia, 1782-1926 (Lynchburg: J.P. Bell, 1927), pp. 368, 456-9.

[12] “Colonel Charles Lynch,” Avoca Museum and Historical Society website.

[13] On the estate settlement document, see supra, n. 2.

3 thoughts on “Thomas Whitlock (abt. 1745 – 1830) of Louisa and Wythe Counties, Virginia, and Cumberland County, Kentucky: His Early Life and Marriage (to 1776)

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