Tag Archives: Henry Perkins

Will of Mary Billington, Widow of Thomas St. John and Mr. Billington, Essex County, VA 1727

My husband’s Southern lines often get cut short because his ancestors seem to pick only places with no records kept, like on the frontier, or places with lost records, due to fire and what have you.

His Perkins family is an anomaly because the early family hailed from Essex County and Old Rappahannock County before that in Virginia in the 1600s.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Normally, I would be really excited because the Perkins family left scattered crumbs on the paper trail. However, Mary (MNU) St. John Billington is unfortunately not a direct ancestor of Dave’s, but a stepmother to his Henry Perkins who married Cary Ferguson.

Here is the tie to the Perkins family and his line:

Henry Perkins married (1) Mary (MNU), mother of his children and (2) Mary (MNU) St. John Billington. Henry and the first Mary are the 8X great grandparents to my husband.
Henry Perkins married Cary Ferguson
Henry Perkins married Elizabeth Gatewood
Henry Perkins married Mary Ransone
John Perkins married Rhoda Walters Woosley
Samuel Henry Perkins married Martha Hamby
Mary Woosley Perkins married Emsley Harrison Brasher
Joseph Henry Brasher married Minnie Mae Williams
Pearl Lillian Brasher married Earl Marcus Stufflebean
Edward Earl Stufflebean married Ruby Jewel Sturgell
David Stufflebean – my husband

Although widow Mary Billington was not the mother of Henry Perkins’ children, she must have thought highly at least of her stepson, Henry Perkins Jr., as she named him one of the executors of her will.

Since Mary left several children and there are likely descendants today, here is her will.

Essex County, Virginia Will Book 4:248-50

Will of Mary Billington

Will of MARY BILLINGTON in the parish of South Farnham and County of Essex, now being sick and weak in body, dated 23 July 1727.

To my son in law Nathanll. Newbill one parcell of land lying on the south side of the Dragon Swamp it being the land that I bought of one William Cheandy and after his decease to his son Thomas Newbill.

To John and Thomas St. John the sons of Thomas St. John deced, 120 acres at the lower part of my track where I now live to be equally divided when they come in the age of twenty and one years and the remainer of the track to William St. John the sone of William St. John decst, and if either of them should dye without issue their part to Thomas Newbill.

To William St. John one Negro and one feather bed and furniture excepting curtains and valing.

To Tabitha the wife of Henry Purkins Senr., one feather bed and furniture except curtains and valings; 10 pounds cash.

To my granddaughter Mary Deshazoo a young Negro which she how hath in possession.

To Hannah Harper the wife of Edward Harper, one Negro.

To Hannah Covington the daughter of Thomas Covington, one young Negro on the day of marriage or when she comes to the age of eighteen years.

To Barbary, Catherine and Thomas Newbill each one Negro.

To John and Thomas St. John the sons of Thomas St. John decest, one Negro between them equally divided.

If after my desese Elizabeth St. John the widow of William St. John desest doth acquit my heirs from all claims due to her and hir children in my estate by inheritance from William St. John decest and also enter into bonds that neither she nor her children shall bring action nor no way claim part of my estate, and when her five sons comes to age of twenty one years every one of them, to wit Richard, James, Thomas, Abraham and Isaac St. John, acquit my heirs from all claim in my estate, then my executors pay each of the above mentioned Richard, James, Thomas, Abraham and Isaac St. John one Negro, but if any one of her sons or herself should refuse then my executors pay each of the above five sons one shilling.

To Nathan Newbill four of my best Negros during his life and after his decese divided between Thomas Newbill and Catherine Newbill.

All my personal estate not before given equally devided amongst Nathan Newbill and all his children share and share alike. William Newbill and Henry Purkins Junr. executors.

Signed: Mary (X) Billington

Wit: Jer. Shepard, James (N) Newbill, James (J) Dicks. 16 Jan. 1727 (1728).

presented by Nathl. Newbill and Wm. Brooke, Gent., justices.

For 200 pounds sterling. 20 Feb. 1727 (1728).


Henry Purkins & Cary Farguson, Essex County, VA

We’ve now moved back into the 17th century with the third Henry Perkins in this branch of the family tree.

Henry Purkins was born c1685, probably in Old Rappahannock County, Virginia, the son of Henry and Mary (MNU) Purkins.

An important piece to know about Virginia history – Old Rappahannock County was formed in 1656, but in 1692, it was abolished and divided into Essex and Richmond Counties. Therefore, it is likely that the Purkins family didn’t move – the county just changed named.

Henry Purkins married Cary Farguson, daughter of John and Ann Farguson, before 20 September 1720, when she was called Cary Purkins, administratrix of the estate of Class Caston, probably in Essex County, Virginia. She had previously been married to Class Caston, c1705, and who died in 1715 and with whom she had four children, John, Class, Cary and Elizabeth.

Henry and Cary were parents to four children before Henry’s untimely death in 1738, when he was only in his 50s. Henry survived his own father by only two years.

Will of Henry Purkins, 1738
Essex County, VA Will Book 6:171-172
Source: FamilySearch

In the name of God Amen I Henry Purkins of the County of Essex in P’ish of South farnham being sick & weak in body: but of perfect sence & memory thanks be to God Almighty; and Calling to mind the unsartain State of this Transitory Life & tis appointed for men one to dye do make this my Last will and Testament

Imprimis first I bequeath my Soul to God who Gave it me hoping through the Meritts & mercys of my blessed Saviour to have full pardon and Remission for all my sins; secondly I committ my body to th eEarth from whence it was first taken to be decently buried by my Executors Thirdly as toutching what Small Estate it hath pleased God to bless me with I give & dispose as follows Vize ——-

Item I give all my lands to my Son Henry Purkins and his Lawfull heirs for Ever & I will that my Loving wife Cary have as much of my Estate as by Law is allowed; and as toutching Slaves & other Estate Desire that it may be Equally devided among all my Child that hearafter mentioned to witt Henry Sarah & Tabitha provided my daughter Rachel Griggs dyeth without Lawfull Issue of her body; 7 if she hath Lawfull Issue of her body & liveth to be of full age that then that Issue have one fifth part of my Estate Except my land it is my will that all the negroes that my wife holds for her dower & their increase after her death Shall be divided as my other Estate is tis my will that whereas I have given an assignment to a Sartain person for one of my negroes that that assignment Shall be fully Complyed with: which assignment beareth date the Twelfth day of this Instant Lastly I do appoint my loveing wife Cary my son Henry Purkins my whole & Sole Executors of this my Last will & Testament Wittness my hand and Seale this 21 day of Semtpeber 1738

Item I give my Daughter Rachel Griggs one Shilling for her Share of my Estate
Henry Purkins Seal

Item I give to
Joannah St. John the wife off John Sr all my & of an her Dower of the Land that I bought of our Sheriff at oction Witt my hand & Seale this 23 day of Septemr 1738 Henry Purkins Seal
Frances X Griggs
John Griggs
Elebeth X (Hortine?)

Henry Purkins either died from the effects of an accident or else he quickly passed from a sudden illness if he was apparently renting out an enslaved person just two weeks before he wrote his will.


1. Henry, born c1718, probably Essex County, Virginia; died after 2 June 1780, when he wrote his will, in Essex, County, Virginia; married (1) Elizabeth Gatewood, c1740 (2) Mary (MNU), c1758
2. Rachel, born c1720; died after 18 November 1738; married Mr. Griggs, before 1738, probably Essex County, Virginia
3. Sarah, born c1722; died after 18 November 1738; unmarried at that time
4. Tabitha, born c1724; died after 18 November 1738; unmarried at that time

Tomorrow, we will look at the family of the fourth and final (yes!) Henry Purkins, the man who married (1) Mary (MNU) and (2) Tabitah St. John, daughter of Thomas and Mary (MNU) St. John, also of Essex County, Virginia.


Henry Purkins & Elizabeth Gatewood, Essex County, Virginia

As we have moved back in time with the Perkins family, the spelling of their surname has changed to Purkins.

Henry Purkins was born c1718, probably in South Farnham, Essex, Virginia, son of Henry Purkins and Cary Ferguson. He married Elizabeth Gatewood, c1740, and probably in Essex County, Virginia. (Note: Marriage records don’t begin in Essex County until 1814.) Elizabeth was the daughter of William Gatewood and Catherine Carter. Her father died in 1743 and called her Elizabeth Purkins in his will.

Henry married (2) Mary, c1758, probably also in Essex County, Virginia. There is some suspicion that her maiden name might be Dunn, as one of the executors of Henry’s will was a William Dunn.

He had children with both Elizabeth and Mary and it appears that his second set of children were all under legal age when Henry died in 1780.

Henry Purkins died after 2 June 1780, the day on which he wrote his will.

Will of Henry Purkins, 1780
Essex County, VA Will Book 13: 311-312
Source: FamilySearch

Will of Henry Purkins

In the name of God Amen, I Henry Purkins of Essex County being very sick & weak but of Perfect mind & memory, thanks be to god, Calling unto mind the Mortallity of my body, & knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make & ordain this my last will & testament that is to say, principally & first of all, I give & recommend my soul into the hand of almighty God that gave it & my body I recommend to the earth to be buried in decent Christian burial at the discretion of my Exors: nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again, by the mighty Power of God.

And as touching such worldly estate wherewith, it has pleased god to bless me in this life I give [???] demise, & dispose of the same in the following manner.

First, I give & bequeath to my son Will: Purkins & to his heirs Lawfully begotten forever, the Land that he has now in his possession, land of by Luke Covington Provided he pays the money with Interest according to agreement. if not the land to return back into my estate again: it is my will & desire that my son Will. shou’d have no more of my lands, except that land I give him in Buckingham County. Also it is my will & desire that my son Henry Purkins shou’d have no land only what I have Given him, in Buckingham County. As to the rest of my Land, all that I have in possession or have any right to I give to my six youngest sons & to their heirs Lawfully begotten forever, but if any of them should die before they come to age or marry that then their parts to be equally divided between their surviving Brothers.

Item I give to my son Gideon Purkins my horse Folly to be sold by my Executors & the money put into the loan office.

Item I give to my daughter Cary Purkins one Cow & Calf at the death of my wife or at the day of Marriage.

Item I give to my son Youngdimmach Purkins one Cow & calf, at the death of my wife or when he is of age.

As to the rest of my personal estate I lend to my loving wife Mary Purkins during her life or widowhood, & after her decease or marriage to be equally divided between the children she had by me it is my will & desire that my Exors bring suit against George Wright’s Executors for the Negroes I Pawn’d to him forty five pounds, and also suit against John Burke for the Negroe Girl [???] & her Increase that I lent to my Daughter Mary Burke to wait upon her when she married the Sd Burk which negroes when recovered with the rest of my Negroes I have in possession to be equally divided between all my children at the death of my wife or at the day of her marriage. It is my will & desire that my wife Mary Purkins shou’d have the Use of my Land, Negroes & personal estate except Legacies during her Life or widowhood for the support of my young children.

And Lastly I appoint Flem. Ranson, Will. Purkins, Will. Dunn (B) to be my Exors of this my last will & testament, as witness my hand & seal this 2nd Day of June one Thousand seven hundred & eighty.

Signed Sealed Published & declared to be the above Henry )
Purkins Last Will & Testament – in the presence of us )

Thos Wood
Jacob Shearwood
Lucy Dunn

Children, with Elizabeth Gatewood:

1. William, born c1742; died after 2 June 1780
2. Henry, born c1745, probably Essex County, Virginia; died before 25 July 1803, Halifax County, Virginia; married (1) Unknown (2) Mary Ransone, c1780, possibly in Buckingham County, Virginia
3. Mary, born c1747; died after 2 June 1780; married John Burke

Children with Mary (MNU)(Note: Birth years are estimates):

4. Gideon, born c1768
5. Youngdimmach, born c1770
6. Cary, born c1772; married Thomas L. Dunn. there is a Cary Dunn enumerated in Essex County in 1850, born c1794. This might be the (unmarried?) daughter of Thomas and Cary. If it is Cary Purkins Dunn, then her age is off by about 20 years.

Next in the Purkins trip back in time is Henry Purkins who married Cary Ferguson.