James Whitlock (abt. 1718 – 1749) of Hanover and Louisa County, Virginia, with Wife Agnes Christmas

Will of James Whitlock

In previous postings discussing the birthdate and early years of James’s son Thomas, I discussed the 7 March 1749 will that James made in St. Martin’s parish, Louisa County, Virginia.[2] I noted that the will was probated at Louisa court on 28 November 1749, and the will and its probate date tell us that James Whitlock died between 7 March and 28 November 1749. As the digital images I’ve provided here of the two pages of the will in Louisa County’s first will book indicate, as with others in the will book, it is fragmentary and difficult to read, since portions of the margins of almost all pages in the will book are missing due to damage.

Here’s my best shot at transcribing the 7 March 1749 Louisa County will of James Whitlock:

In the name of God Amen I James Whitlock Saint Martins in the county of Louisa being sick of body but of per[fect mind] and understanding blessed be God do think it convenient to make this [my last will] and testament in the manner following viz: I Lend unto [my loving wife] Agness Whitlock dureing her Widowhood all my whole estate [of whatever] kind soever now belonging to me, and in case she shall marry there[after my will] and desire is that the Estate above mentioned shall be Equally de[vided between] my loving Wife Agness Whitlock and her Six children for their [and theirs?] for ever, also my Will and desire is, that if my loving wife should [?] untill one or all the said children shall attain to the age of twenty that she shall have the Liberty of letting them have what part of [the estate she?] shall think fit, not exceeding an Equal part and my Will [and desire is] that the part or parts So taken shall at that time be valued [?]. My Will and desire is that my Estate [shall be?] appraised. I hereby appoint my loving wife Agneſs and [John] Christmas my executors.

James Whitlock (his mark) and seal

[In p]resence of

[Dav]id Anderson

[Benja]min Johns (his mark)

[Ma]ry Johns (her mark)

Benjamin and Mary Johns proved the will in Louisa court on 28 November 1749.

About David Anderson, one of the witnesses to James Whitlock’s will: as we’ll see when I discuss the James Whitlock (bef. 1690 – 1736) who was father of James Whitlock with wife Agnes Christmas, an older David Anderson who was, I think, grandfather of the David Anderson witnessing James Whitlock’s 1749 Louisa County will, lived next to the older James Whitlock in St. Paul’s parish, Hanover County, Virginia. Vestry minutes for St. Paul’s parish contain a return of processioners for the part of the county in which James Whitlock elder lived, dated 14 March 1709, showing that when James Whitlock’s land had been processioned, David Anderson’s land was also processioned. This record suggests that the two lived either adjacent or close to each other.[3] The record also shows that David Anderson and James Whitlock were the processioners for the precinct of the parish in which they lived and submitted the processioning return to the parish vestry. The order for this processioning by James Whitlock and David Anderson was given by the vestry on 24 September 1708, so this places James Whitlock in St. Paul’s parish, Hanover County, by that date.

Processioning was a colonial Virginia practice in which the boundaries of land held by each landholder in a parish were marked to avoid any conflict over who owned what piece of land. As William H. Seiler explains, in 1662 the Virginia Assembly mandated that land boundaries be processioned every four years, with each parish divided into precincts and boundaries walked by each landholder along with those appointed to procession the land. As the bounds were walked, landowners agreed on them and they were then marked.[4] This practice was grounded in longstanding English practice of “beating the bounds” of landholdings in each parish during Rogation week. One of the great values of colonial Virginia vestry minutes, where they’re extant and where they include processioning returns, is that they enable us to see where people lived within a parish and in connection to each other.

The David Anderson who witnessed the will of James Whitlock in Louisa County on 7 March 1749 is, I think, likely the same David Anderson who witnessed the 29 December 1768 will of James’s grandfather Thomas Christmas in St. Martin’s parish, Hanover County.[5] This David Anderson (1715-1785) was a son of Robert Anderson, whose father David Anderson died in Hanover County in 1724, and who is the man who lived next to James Whitlock elder in Hanover County.[6] The Andersons and Whitlocks were among many families in Louisa County in the first half of the 1700s whose roots lay in New Kent County.

Inventory of James Whitlock’s Estate

On 16 April 1750 at James Whitlock’s house in Louisa County, his estate was inventoried and appraised by Richmond Terrell, Samuel Waddy, and Thomas Jackson in response to a court order for the inventory in November 1749.[7] The appraisers filed their account on 18 April 1750 and it was recorded on 26 June.

Louisa County, Virginia, Inventory Bk. 1743-1790, p. 16

The appraisal shows James Whitlock’s estate valued at £167 16s 7d. Five enslaved persons valued at £120 are listed, with their names given: Will, Dafney, Fanny, Janey, and Doll. As a previous posting notes, when James Whitlock’s Louisa County estate was settled on 22 November 1757, James’s oldest son Charles received Dafney as part of his inheritance.[8] And as we’ve also seen, Charles’s brother James received Fanny and his sisters Mary and Ann received Janey and Doll in the estate settlement.

The inventory also shows James Whitlock owning several horses, sheep, lambs, cows, and hogs, along with household items including featherbeds with their furniture, a looking glass, and pewter. A bible is listed; one wonders if this is the bible bequeathed to him by his father James Whitlock elder in that James’s will, whose bequest to his son James younger suggests to me that the son had done something to displease the father and was effectively disinherited by the father’s will. I’ll discuss this more in a moment.[9]

One set of items in the inventory is particularly noteworthy: the inventory lists sixteen yards of “drugot,” nine yards of shalloon; three yards of wadding; and three hanks of silk. Druggett and shalloon are woolen fabrics. Wadding, a term still in use among those who make quilts, is a cotton filling used by coat-makers or quilt-makers. The inclusion of so much fabric in the estate inventory makes me wonder if James’s wife Agnes may have done seamstress work.

Before I leave the inventory behind, I want to note the names of appraisers Richmond Terrell and Samuel Waddy. The Waddys were yet another early Louisa County family with roots in New Kent County. Richmond Terrell is a member of a family we’ve met in previous postings (and here) which discuss the interactions of James and Agnes Christmas Whitlock’s sons Charles, Thomas, and Nathaniel with members of the Terrell family. This Terrell family was closely connected by marriage to the Anderson family discussed above.

Settlement of James Whitlock’s Estate

I’ve previously discussed the 22 November 1757 settlement of the estate of James Whitlock of Louisa County (see here and here).[10] As the two postings I’ve just linked tell you, this document names the six children of James Whitlock and Agnes Christmas, who are not named in the will, and it allots to each child a portion of James Whitlock’s estate. As I’ve also previously noted, in both the estate settlement and the December 1768 will of their grandfather Thomas Christmas, the six children are listed in the same order, and it appears from various pieces of evidence that they are listed in both documents by order of birth.

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

The estate settlement document was signed by Abraham Venable, Thomas Paulett, and William Phillips, with a notation that it was submitted to court by James’s executrix and widow Agnes Whitlock and executor John Christmas, Agnes’s brother. This indicates that Agnes had not remarried up to this point. The fact that a settlement was made in November 1757 may indicate that Agnes was planning to remarry then. If so, I have not found evidence of that or the name of a subsequent husband. She appears to have died by the time her father Thomas Christmas made his will in 1768.

The settlement document shows Benjamin Johns, one of the witnesses to James Whitlock’s will, as we’ve seen, being paid quitrent money for land that Agnes evidently continued leasing following James’s death. It also shows Thomas Rice paid for schooling James and Agnes’s children — though the only child for whom I find evidence of literacy was Charles. The enslaved persons belonging to the estate, including Peter and Sarah, who are named in the settlement but not in the estate inventory, are also listed with a statement of their value. The one enslaved person not named in the estate settlement document, who appears in the inventory, is Will. An item in the settlement document states that the estate was paid £40 for “1 Negroe Executed for feloly [sic].” I suspect this statement refers to Will. This is a story I’d like to know more about, if documentation of it exists. An enslaved person had no right to a trial, no right to defense, no legal protection or standing at all.

The preceding is almost all I can tell you about James Whitlock. Up to 1742 when Louisa County was created from Hanover, he would have been living in Hanover County, I think, and the loss of almost all of that county’s early records makes it difficult to find information about people living in Hanover during the colonial period. As we’ll see in my next posting, the life of his father James Whitlock elder is, in part, documented in the vestry minutes of St. Paul’s parish in Hanover, a vestry on which James sat from 2 January 1733 up to his death at some point prior to 8 November 1736 when St. Paul’s vestry minutes tell us that he had died.

Question of James Whitlock’s Date of Birth

James Whitlock younger was very likely born in St. Paul’s parish in Hanover, where we know from vestry minutes that his father James was living as early as 24 September 1708 and continued living up to his death. I have not found any document that allows me to pinpoint precisely when James Whitlock younger was born. The 21 March 1733/4 Hanover County will of James’s father suggests to me that the younger James was the oldest son of James Whitlock elder, and perhaps close in age to his sister Sarah, who was named as Sarah Hunt in the will of her father.

The will states that two of James’s sons, David and Matthew, were not yet twenty-one years old when the will was made. The will also indicates that three of James’s daughters, Temperance, Mary, and Agnes, were not yet married.

Sarah Whitlock Hunt’s date of birth is estimated by researchers to have been anywhere from 1704-1715. I have seen no document that allows it to be pinpointed precisely. If James Whitlock younger was already eighteen or approaching that age in 1733/4, he would have been born about or before 1715 or 1716. The reason I’m assuming that the younger James was either of age or approaching maturity when his father made his will is that the will disinherits James younger, and that suggests to me that he was old enough to have done something that seriously displeased his father James and caused the father to disinherit him.

In her book on the Christmas family, Ginger L. Christmas-Beatie assigns a 1715 birthdate to Agnes Christmas Whitlock.[11] As I’ve noted in a previous posting, I think that James Whitlock and Agnes Christmas’s oldest child Charles was born around 1739. That birthdate for Charles suggests to me that James Whitlock and Agnes Christmas may have married around 1737. The slim evidence I’ve been able to find suggests to me, then, a birthdate for James Whitlock (married Agnes Christmas) of about 1718 or a bit prior to that date. At least three of James and Agnes’s children were minors when their father died in 1749, another indicator that both James and Agnes were not far advanced in years at the time of James’s death.

James Whitlock’s Disinheritance in His Father’s Will

And now about the will of James Whitlock’s father James Whitlock of Hanover County, which disinherited his son James: the elder James’s will states,

I give and bequeave [sic] to my Son James Whitlock Five pounds in Goods in a Store and one bible and book Call’d the whole Duty of man to be paid him by my Executrix hereafter named within Six months after my Decease in full of whatever he may Claim by or from me or in or by ye Decease of any of my other Children if the law will allow of it, and my Desire is that if any of my other Children Shall dye under age that my son James and the heirs of his body Shall be Intirely Excluded and Debard from Claiming anything that Ever was; or was deemed or Called part of my Estate.

Portion of will of James Whitlock, Hanover County, Virginia, 21 March 1733/4, from a transcript in case file of Prince Edward County, Virginia, chancery case, Frances Hoggatt v. Exrs. of Anthony Hoggatt, 1757 (Prince Edward County, Virginia, Chancery Court case 1757-01; the file is available digitally at the chancery records section of Library of Virginia’s Virginia Memory site)

This is clearly a disinheritance. If the son is, as I think likely, the oldest son of James Whitlock elder, he has to have done something portentous to have displeased his father sufficiently for the father to disinherit an eldest son who bore the father’s name. The system of primogeniture that obtained in colonial Virginia strongly favored giving preferred status to the oldest son of a family as inheritances were determined. It was a system in which father’s names were frequently passed down to eldest sons because that son was considered to be representing the father and the family’s name in the next generation. The James Whitlock who married Agnes Christmas was the third in a line of James Whitlocks in Virginia. The James making his will in Hanover County in 1733/4 was the son of a James Whitlock who died in New Kent County, Virginia, on 29 March 1716, having come there from England, where he was baptized in St. Bartholomew parish in Brightwell Baldwin, Oxfordshire, on 12 March 1651, the son of an Anglican parson who was a graduate of Oxford.

Given this heritage, it was a decisive step for James Whitlock of Hanover County, Virginia, to disinherit his son James Whitlock in 1733/4. In a previous posting, I stated that the punitive bequest of James elder to James younger — a bible, the book The Whole Duty of Man, and £5 of goods in a store — while the other children of the elder James got land and other valuable property, indicates that James younger may have displeased his father in an explicitly religious way, perhaps by becoming a dissenter (Baptist, Quaker, Presbyterian) from the Anglican establishment. James elder was, as noted above, a member of the vestry of St. Paul’s parish in Hanover County, so if his son James had stepped away from the Church of England by 1733, that action would have constituted a serious breach with his father.

Title page of The Whole Duty of Man, 1758 editiion, from Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, BV4500 .A4 1758, at Encyclopedia of Virginia website

The Whole Duty of Man, which was published anonymously in 1658 and which scholars attribute to Richard Allestree, was an Anglican devotional work highly popular in both England and colonial Virginia. As David Hackett Fischer notes, it was found more often in libraries in colonial Virginia than any other book.[12] The book was a marker of Anglican culture and shaped that culture for a number of generations. It seems to me significant that James Whitlock elder chose to bequeath that book along with a bible to his son James as he disinherited the son.

More than this, I can’t tell you about James Whitlock (abt. 1718 – 1749), because I haven’t found more records than the ones discussed above. In my next posting, I’ll tell you what I know about this James’s father, James Whitlock (bef. 1690 – 1736).

[1] The link for Thomas is a link pointing to the first of a long series of postings I did about Thomas and wife Hannah Phillips and their children. By clicking from this link to the next posting at the bottom of the page on which the linked posting appears, you should be able to follow my series on Thomas.

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

[3] The original vestry minutes for St. Paul’s parish in this period are held by the State Library of Virginia. See C.G. Chamberlayne’s transcription in The Vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover County, Virginia, 1706-1786 (Richmond: Virginia State Archives, 1989], p. 213, transcribing p. 166 of the original vestry minutes book. This processioning return was recorded in vestry minutes for 20 November 1749, as processioning returns from previous years were copied and entered into the vestry records.

[4] William H. Seiler, “Land Processioning in Colonial Virginia,” William and Mary Quarterly 6,3 (July 1949), pp. 416-436.

[5] Warren County, North Carolina, Will Bk. A, pp. 105-9. Though Thomas Christmas made his will in Hanover County, Virginia, stating that he lived in St. Martin’s parish in Hanover, and the will was likely filed in Hanover County, that county’s records almost all burned in 1865. However, the will was also recorded in Bute County, North Carolina, where Thomas Christmas owned property at the time of his death, and we have an extant copy of it for that reason in Warren County, North Carolina. Bute was divided in 1779 into Franklin and Warren Counties (Bute then ceasing to exist), and the will ended up in Warren County, North Carolina, records.

[6] See William Pope Anderson, Anderson Family Records (Cincinnati: W. F. Schaeffer & Co., 1936); and William Pope Anderson, Anderson-Overton, A Continuation of Anderson Family Records (1936) & Early Descendants of William Overton & Elizabeth Waters of Virginia & Allied Families (Cincinnati: Gibson and Perin, 1945).

[7] Louisa County, Virginia, Inventory Bk. 1743-1790, p. 16.

[8] Ibid., pp. 39-40.

[9] James Whitlock elder made his will in Hanover County 21 March 1733/4. Early Hanover County records for the most part burned in 1865. A transcript of the will was made in 1757 when James’s widow Frances, who remarried Anthony Hoggatt after James died, filed suit in Prince Edward County, Virginia, chancery court against the executors of Anthony Hoggatt (Prince Edward County, Virginia, Chancery Court case 1757-01; the file is available digitally at the chancery records section of Library of Virginia’s Virginia Memory site. A transcript of the will was published in 1937: see W.S. Morton, W.S. Morton, “Will of James Whitlock, of Hanover County, Virginia,” Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine 18,4 (April 1937), pp. 231-3. When this Tyler’s article was reproduced in the multi-volume set entitled Genealogies of Virginia Families from Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, this reprinting of the 1937 article stated that W.S. Morton of Farmville, Virginia, had discovered the will on 19 March 1934: vol. 4 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1981], pp. 463-5. A brief abstract in Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly states that Morton found the copy of the will he transcribed in “District Court papers”: Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly 5,2 (April 1967) p. 43.

[10] See supra, n. 8.

[11] Ginger L. Christmas-Beatie, Eight Generations After Thomas Cross Christmas (1690-1769) of Hanover County, Virginia (Forest Grove, Oregon: Ancestral Tracks, 1999), pp. 10-11.

[12] David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in Colonial America (New York and Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989), p. 334.

2 thoughts on “James Whitlock (abt. 1718 – 1749) of Hanover and Louisa County, Virginia, with Wife Agnes Christmas

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