Frances Hoggatt v. Exrs. of Anthony Hoggatt Chancery Lawsuit
Frances and her son David Whitlock filed suit against Nathaniel Hoggatt and Charles Venable as executors of Anthony Hoggatt in Prince Edward chancery court in June 1755. Anthony Hoggatt had died testate in Albemarle County on 2 March 1755, and Frances alleged that her portion of Anthony Hoggatt’s estate was being withheld from her. This case continued through 1758, when Prince Edward chancery court made a settlement in April 1758 that upheld Frances’s claims and ordered Nathaniel Hoggatt to pay her due share of Anthony Hoggatt’s estate. I’ll discuss this settlement in more detail in a moment. There are actually two interconnected Prince Edward chancery files for this lawsuit. The first, the one I’ve been discussing and which I cite in note 1 below, is listed as a 1757 case file. The second is labeled 1758, and provides the paperwork outlining the case settlement.
Among the important pieces of information found in the 1757 case file is that, prior to marrying James Whitlock’s widow Frances, on 16 June 1738 Anthony Hoggatt made a premarital agreement with Frances and gave bond in the amount of ￡500 to secure the premarital agreement. This fact is stated in the bill of complaint Frances and son David Whitlock filed in June 1755, only the latter portion of which is filed in the case file. The first page or pages of the complaint bill are missing.
Testimony given by Reverend Patrick Henry (1707-1777), pastor of St. Paul’s parish in Hanover County, of which Frances’s husband James Whitlock was a vestryman, which is archived in the case file, shows Rev. Henry testifying that before Anthony Hoggatt married Frances Whitlock, he made an instrument in writing, which was attached as a document in the chancery case but is not found in the case file, and which contained articles of agreement Anthony made, obviously at Frances’s request, before she agreed to marry him. Frances was a widow of some means with a good inheritance from James Whitlock, and without such a premarital agreement, all of her property would legally belong to Anthony Hoggatt when the couple married, and she would lose control of it. Rev. Henry also testified that Anthony Hoggatt had told him that he intended to make Frances a jointure to a grist mill he owned and some land of which he was possessed. According to Rev. Henry, after Anthony Hoggatt signed the premarital agreement, Frances placed it in the hands of Edward Simes (whose surname is spelled Symes elsewhere in the case file and Sims in other places).
Edward Simes and his wife Mary testified along with Rev. Patrick Henry in Hanover court on 18 May 1756. Both gave their ages as 73. Edward stated that he was present when Anthony Hoggatt wrote his marriage agreement prior to marrying Frances Whitlock, and that when it was signed, Frances then gave it for safekeeping to Edward’s wife Mary, who kept it until James Hunt, husband of James and Frances Whitlock’s daughter Sarah and, by James’s will, trustee of James’s minor children, asked for the agreement. Edward Simes also said that he accompanied Anthony Hoggatt to (William) Meriwether’s, a justice of Hanover County, to obtain a license for the marriage, and that as he did so, Anthony told him that he intended to or had already made Frances a jointure of the worth of her estate from James Whitlock, which was considerable.
Mary Simes verified the information about the signing of the premarital document and about its being entrusted to her until James Hunt requested it. She also testified that “the said Frances Whitlock was poſseſsed of a good Estate and did live like a gentlewoman and further Saith not.” Rev. Patrick Henry (uncle of the famous Patrick Henry who was governor of Virginia) and Edward and Mary Simes had been issued a summons on 20 January 1756 to testify in Hanover court about the premarital agreement Anthony Hoggatt made with Frances Whitlock as he married her.
At issue in the trial as testimony was whether the premarital agreement Anthony Hoggatt had made with Frances Whitlock bound Nathaniel Hoggatt as executor and oldest son of Anthony Hoggatt and Charles Venable as they handled Anthony Hoggatt’s estate. Nathaniel Hoggatt’s answer to the complaint filed by Frances Hoggatt and David Whitlock — the answer, dated 12 July 1757, is in the case file of the 1757 lawsuit — states that, while it may be true that Anthony Hoggatt entered into a marriage agreement with Frances Whitlock, giving bond of ￡500 with the condition that she have a jointure of the full value of her estate from James Whitlock, Nathaniel did not know what that estate was. The 1758 case file contains a 9 June 1756 attachment of Nathaniel Hoggatt to appear in Prince Edward chancery court on the second Tuesday in July to answer the complaint of Frances Hoggatt.
On 11 October 1757, Prince Edward chancery court summoned James Hunt and David Tyree to testify, and these two gave affidavits on 16 April 1758. As noted previously (and see James Whitlock’s 21 March 1733/4 will transcribed in the previous posting), James Hunt was a son-in-law of James and Frances Whitlock, and James Whitlock’s will made Hunt the trustee of James’s children. The will of Anthony Hoggatt, Frances’s second husband, also made James Hunt an executor along with Nathaniel Hoggatt and Charles Venable, but it appears James Hunt did not act as an executor of this estate. David Tyree was a witness to the will and a neighbor of James Whitlock per other documents cited in the posting I’ve just linked. Hunt and Tyree were called to court to testify whether Frances had been entitled to a third of James Whitlock’s estate and to an enslaved woman Abigail.
As the will of James Whitlock transcribed in the posting linked in the preceding paragraph states,
Item I give the Guardian Ship of all my Children to by well beloved wife Frances unleſs my Trustee See apparent Cause to the Contrary after duly Calculating as the Circumstance may happen of my other Estate as Negros money in England and Virginia Estate and Debts due from me I give the one third part to my well beloved wife Frances Whitlock and the other two thirds I give Equally among my other Children as well them as Shall be born to me hereafter as them now born Excepting my Son James.
Item I give to my beloved wife Frances Whitlock one melato woman named Abigail and all the Increase that She Shall have after my Decease.
It was to verify these two stipulations that a transcript of the original will on file in Hanover County but now lost was made for the Prince Edward County case and archived in this chancery case file.
James Hunt testified that the will of James Whitlock had made him trustee of James Whitlock’s children, that when Frances prepared to marry Anthony Hoggatt, she was sole executrix of James’s estate, and James Hunt applied to Hanover court to settle the estate of James Whitlock with James Hunt acting as trustee of the children. The court appointed Isaac Winston, William Winston, and William Winston Jr. to settle the estate.
Frances then married Anthony Hoggatt and received ￡110 12s 6d from the personal estate of James Whitlock, and James Hunt received the other two-thirds of the personal estate on behalf of James Whitlock’s children. As part of the state division, Frances received enslaved boys Tom and Dennis valued at ￡44, each aged about twenty and considered very valuable because they were planters. The enslaved woman Abigail bequeathed by James Whitlock’s will to Frances, described here as a house servant, was considered valuable as well and had had two children before Frances married Anthony Hoggatt, and James Hunt believed she was still capable of producing children. James Hunt testified that after marrying Frances, Anthony Hoggatt sold Abigail with an infant child of hers for ￡30 as soon as he received his proportion of James Whitlock’s estate by marrying Frances.
James Hunt also testified that as Anthony Hoggatt approached death, Frances urged him to make his will and Anthony decided to give Frances ￡150. James Hunt imagined this was what Anthony considered her jointure in James Whitlock’s estate.
David Tyree provided similar testimony about Abigail, noting that she was about thirty years old when James Whitlock died and had two children. Tyree also knew Tom and Dennis (these were apparently not Abigail’s children), who were, as James Hunt testified, valuable planters.
Prince Edward chancery court settled the case of Frances Hoggatt v. Exrs. of Anthony Hoggatt in April 1758 with an order to Nathaniel Hoggatt to pay Frances Hoggatt ￡140 12s 6p, and to allow her to retain ownership of an enslaved man named Shreve who had been bequeathed to Frances by the will of Anthony Hoggatt, and whose name in Anthony’s will is given as Sheriff. The case file contains a copy of a 20 January 1743 indenture that Anthony Hoggatt of Goochland County made with Henry Chiles of Amelia County, who was acting on behalf of Matthew Whitlock, minor son of Frances Whitlock and living in Hanover County, in which Anthony Hoggatt sold to Henry Chiles on behalf of Matthew Whitlock, for Frances Hoggatt’s use, an enslaved mulatto boy named Shreve. Anthony sold Shreve to Chiles for a shilling.
To recap, here are some important details we learn from the 1757-8 chancery court case files in Prince Edward County for the case of Frances Hoggatt v. Exrs. of Anthony Hoggatt:
1. Frances, widow of James Whitlock, married Anthony Hoggatt in Hanover County on or about 16 June 1738 when Anthony drew up a premarital agreement as a condition of the marriage.
2. And Frances was living as late as April 1758 when this lawsuit was settled.
Some Notes about Anthony Hoggatt
As to how and when Anthony Hoggatt and Frances Whitlock met, I do not have concrete information. I have done little substantial research regarding Anthony Hoggatt. In a document entitled “Anthony Hoggatt and Eleanor Crow(e)” at her Hutchinson – Laird – Griffin – Eggleston site, Judy Griffin states,
Anthony was born March 15, 1683/84 in Berkshire, England.
I have not found a source documentingthat date and place of birth. According to Judy Griffin, about 1715, Anthony married Eleanor, daughter of John Crow and Elizabeth Dobyns (or Russell) of Essex County, Virginia. The first mention of Anthony that Judy Griffin has found in Virginia records occurs in 1735, when John Utley of Henrico County named Anthony as his executor.
Judy Griffin states that John Utley had two patents for 400 acres each in Henrico County on 24 March 1725. The first parcel of land was on the north side of the James River on Tuckahoe Creek. The second tract was on Little Tuckahoe Creek.
On 15 June 1731, in response to a court decision regarding a legal dispute between these two men, John Utley deeded these 800 acres to Anthony Hoggatt. The land then lay partly in Goochland and partly in Hanover County. The deed for the land, which Judy Griffin transcribes, states that Hoggatt lived in Goochland County at this point.
Prior to this in 1726, Anthony Hoggatt had built a grist mill in a part of Henrico County that became Goochland the following year, according to Judy Griffin. Hoggatt signed an agreement on 12 April 1726 in Henrico with Edward Scott to build this gristmill on Tuckahoe Creek. On 27 September 1728, Scott and Hoggatt then sold Thomas Randolph four acres with a grist mill standing on Tuckahoe Creek in Goochland County. Later the same year on 19 November, as son and heir of Thomas Randolph, William Randolph sold this property to John Carter of Charles City County.
Anthony Hoggatt appears in Goochland County court order book minutes from 1731-1744, and would, I think, have been living in Goochland County when he married Frances Whitlock in Hanover County in 1738. Goochland borders Hanover on the south. Anthony was a justice of Goochland in this period and was among justices appointed on 25 June 1733 to hear the trial of Champion, Lucy, Valentine, George, Sampson, and Harry, enslaved people belonging to various men in Goochland county who were charged with having murdered Robert Allen of that county. George, Sampson, and Harry were found not guilty. Champion confessed and was hanged, and though Valentine pled not guilty, he was found guilty and also hanged. Lucy was found not guilty but was ordered to be lashed because she had, it was claimed, known about the murder and told no one.
Judy Griffin states that in 1738-9, Anthony was involved in land transactions in Goochland County which included announcing his intent to build a mill on the Appomatox River in Goochland. A 1749 Albemarle County deed of Anthony Hoggatt to John Bostick shows Hoggatt living by that date in Albemarle, where he made his will on 5 October 1754 and died 2 March 1755. This deed suggests to me that after marrying James Whitlock’s widow Frances, Anthony lived with Frances in Albemarle County where Frances’s grandson Charles Whitlock would be living in 1759 or 1760 with, it appears to me, his brothers Thomas and Nathaniel.
The will of Anthony Hoggatt shows that he held land in Prince Edward County by the time of his death, since it makes a bequest of Prince Edward Land to Hugh Scott. The will leaves Anthony’s son Nathaniel the 1,000 acres on which Nathaniel was then living without stating where that land was located. Various pieces of information suggest to me that Nathaniel had settled in Buckingham County, Virginia, by this time. Frances and her son David Whitlock filed their suit against Nathaniel Hoggatt and Charles Venable in Prince Edward chancery court because Buckingham County, where Nathaniel Hoggatt lived, was included in that chancery district.
As noted previously, Anthony Hoggatt’s will bequeaths to his wife Frances an enslaved boy or man named Sheriff (Shrieve in other documents). Though the will describes Frances as a well-beloved wife, its provision for Frances is parsimonious, and this may well have been part of her motivation in filing suit almost immediately, with her son David, against the will’s executors. As noted previously, the will made James Hunt an executor along with Nathanial Hoggatt and Charles Venable, but Hunt appears not to have acted in that capacity. Among the documents found in the case files of Frances Hoggatt v. Exrs. of Anthony Hoggatt are a copy of a bond Nathaniel Hoggatt made on 14 March 1755 in Albemarle for ￡1,000 for his execution of the will, with Abraham Venable Jr., John Hunter, Thomas Sanders, and Robert King as his securities.
Anthony Hoggatt’s estate was appraised 1 April 1755 and valued at about ￡160 pounds. Nathaniel Hoggatt might understandably have been reluctant to honor Frances’s request to be given a portion of the estate equal to the ￡110 12s 6d she received as her third share of James Whitlock’s estate, given that her request would virtually have depleted Anthony Hoggatt’s personal estate of all its monetary holdings.
I have seen in various places claims that Frances was a daughter of James Whitlock’s Hanover County neighbor Thomas Lacy/Lacey, or that her maiden name was Jones, but have seen no documentation providing proof of Frances’s maiden name. I wonder what the link to Edward and Mary Simes/Sims/Symes was, and why Frances entrusted her marriage agreement with Anthony Hoggatt to that couple. I wonder if that relationship may contain some clues about Frances’s family of origin.
 Frances Hoggatt v. Exrs. of Anthony Hoggatt, Prince Edward County, Virginia, Chancery Court case 1757-01; the case file is available digitally at the chancery records section of Library of Virginia’s Virginia Memory site.
 Anthony Hoggatt’s will is in Albemarle County, Virginia, Will Bk. 2, pp. 12-3.
 Frances Hoggatt v. Exrs. of Anthony Hoggatt, Prince Edward County, Virginia, Chancery Court case 1758-02; the case file is available digitally at the chancery records section of Library of Virginia’s Virginia Memory site.
 For biographical information on Patrick Henry, see “Rev. Patrick Henry (1707-1777),” at the St. George’s History.
 See supra, n. 2. “Shrieve” is an obsolete form or the word “sheriff.”
 Judy Griffin cites Historical Files of Clinton R. Haggard, as compiled by his daughter Susan E. Haggard Hayashi.
 Citing Edward P. Valentine, The Edward Pleasants Valentine Papers, vol. 1-4: 1864-1908 (Richmond: Valentine Museum, 1927).
 Griffin, citing ibid., vol. 2, p. 848.
 Goochland County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 3, p. 403.
 See Judy Griffin, “Joseph Dabbs and Nancy Ann Hoggatt,” at Hutchinson – Laird – Griffin – Eggleston site.
 Citing Historical Files of Clinton R. Haggard; and Virginia Council Journals and Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 14,3 (January 1906), pp. 238, 239, 339, 340.
 Albemarle County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 1, pp. 153-5.