Tag Archives: Roger Williams

Roger Williams, Progenitor of the Cumberland County, VA Williams Clan?

Hypothesis: Is Roger Williams, born no later than 1690, the progenitor of the Williams family in Cumberland County, Virginia when it was formed in 1749?

I devoted about twenty years, off and on, to piecing together the various branches of the collateral Williams family that lived in Cumberland County, Virginia for several decades in the 1700s before migrating westward to many places.

Cumberland County was founded in 1749, being set off from part of Goochland County.

Although I “completed” my Williams project by 2001, I am drawn back to it off and on, always looking for new pieces of the puzzle to fit together. There are multiple records in neighboring counties to be found for Roger, Thomas and Matthias Williams, who were contemporaries, all born roughly around 1720.

With more and more records appearing online, I think some of the mystery about the family progenitor is being dissipated. I am also coming to the conclusion that one Roger Williams was the father of Thomas (born c1712), Roger (born c1720) and Matthias (born c1727) Williams.

Little is known about Roger Williams, except that he gave a tract of land to Roger Jr. in 1773, stating “me hereunto moving.”1 The relationship of the other two, Thomas and Matthias Williams, is certain because of a land transaction from Thomas to his brother, Matthias, in 1763.2

There are many families who have a folklore-type of tradition of three brothers coming to America.  That same story has also been handed down among the Williams family members.  However, in this case, there are pieces of information that indicate that these three men might have been sons of a Roger Williams, born in the late 1600’s.

Here are the tantalizing clues:

  1. Harriet Williams Pryor was the subject of a biographical sketch in the late 1800’s in one of Goodspeed’s books.3 Her sketch said she was descended from Roger Williams, although it identified Roger as Roger Williams of Rhode Island.  While there is no indication that she fit into any New England group, she may, indeed, have been descended from a Roger Williams. She is a great grandchild of Matthias Williams.
  2. There are a number of names common to early Hanover County, Virginia that later appear in Goochland County, from which Cumberland County was formed.  Virginia land patent records show a Roger Williams receiving 200 acres of land adjoining John Johnson and Robert Allin on the north side of Chickahominy Swamp in New Kent County, VA as early as 1719.4 By September 1723, John Johnson received 250 acres on Chickahominy Swamp, now in Hanover County, on the lines of John Hogg and Roger Williams.5
  3. There is a land deed dated February 1728/29 with Bouth Napier of Goochland selling land to Phillip Webber of King William County.6 The land was part of Thomas Mims’ patent on Tuckahoe Creek. This sale was witnessed by Elizabeth Napier, William Williams and Mary Williams.  A William Williams died intestate in Cumberland County in 1761.7 It is not known whether this is the same man, but it appears to be. Thomas Williams also owned land on Tuckahoe Creek.
  4. The Vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish in Hanover County mentions in 1730 that the tithes of Capt. Thomas Anderson are to assist Roger Williams in clearing the road of which he is surveyor.8 The will of one Thomas Anderson was written 25 October 1757 and recorded 9 March 1758 in Albemarle County, Virginia.9 He named daughter Susannah Williams, among others, with witnesses being John Gannaway Jr., John Gannaway Sr. and Roger Williams Sr. It is believed that this Susannah Anderson was the wife of Thomas Williams of Cumberland County.  Thomas Anderson and Roger Williams in Hanover County may be the same men as those later in Albemarle. Roger Williams, who was appointed to clear the roads in 1730 has to be an earlier Roger Williams than Roger, born c1720. I think this Roger is the father of Thomas, Roger and Matthias and, if Thomas was his oldest child, Roger was born no later than 1690.
  5. In Aug 1731, Michael Holland received 6,350 acres in Hanover Co.  The land was adjacent to many men, including Roger Williams, John Johnson, Robert Allen and Thomas Lacy Jr.10
  6. On 6 Nov 1734, one Thomas Williams was a witness noted in the Hanover Co. court minutes.11 “My” Thomas was born in 1712 according to a family Bible record.12 If the same man, Thomas would have been 22 and of legal age in 1734.
  7. In addition, there are numerous records in Goochland County naming other Williams men along with surnames connected to the Williams family by marriage.  Some of those early Williams men were Edward, John, William, Samuel and Robert.  All are given names appearing in the Cumberland County group a generation later.
  8. Surnames associated with Williamses in land deeds, wills and court records include Womack, Holman, Witt, Crouch, Woodson, and Wright.  Those same names are also closely associated with the families of Roger, Thomas and Matthias Williams in Cumberland County.
  9. Several records have been found in the adult lifetimes of Roger, Thomas and Matthias Williams which indicate a relationship among Roger and Thomas’s family and Roger and Matthias’s family. Thomas Williams sold land in 1765 that was adjacent to Richard Randolph’s property.13 Roger Williams’ land also bordered Richard Randolph’s.
  10. Additionally, Cumberland County, Virginia court orders for 28 August 1787 record Roger and Samuel Williams as administrators of the estate of Thomas Fitch, deceased.14 They had sued David Meade Randolph and Richard Randolph, as executors of the estate of Richard Randolph, deceased.  On this particular day, the judgement against the Randolph defendants was set aside.  Later, on 27 Mar 1788, Roger and Samuel Williams, administrators for Thomas Fitch, won another judgement against the Randolphs and Thomas Williams was paid 75 lbs. of tobacco for three days as a witness.
  11. A Bible record viewed on line (accession number 34530) at the Library of Virginia includes information on one Thomas Fitch. His wife, Darces (Dorcas?) Williams was born 15 Jan 1739. They married on 26 May 1757. Children included Susannah, Francis, Sarah, Samuel, Charles, Polly, Elizabeth, Samuel and Jane. All of those names are found in the Williams family of Cumberland Co., VA, with the exception of Francis. It appears that Darces may have been a daughter of Thomas and Susannah Anderson Williams.
  12. Here is a biggie – Court records of Halifax and Pittsylvania counties in Virginia show that one Thomas Williams, son of Roger, entered land in Pittsylvania Co. in 1752.15 Court pleas note in 1755 that Thomas Williams was the executor of Roger Williams, deceased.16 These records, if related to the Cumberland group, may actually refer to the earliest Roger, found in New Kent County in 1719, the same man that would have been born no later than 1690,  and Thomas (born 1712),  later of Cumberland County.
  13. Thomas Williams was a witness on behalf of Roger Williams in a 1755 lawsuit against William Hudgens in Cumberland County.17 This Roger is most likely the man born c1720.
  14. In Cumberland County Court in 1763, Thomas Williams was sued for debt.18 His bondsmen were John Gannaway and Charles Williams (probably the Charles who lived in Halifax Co., VA, later Pittsylvania Co., VA). A son of this Charles, also named Charles, married Susannah Williams, daughter of Roger Williams and Cassie Ann Blair in 1797.  This third Roger, who married Cassie Ann Blair,  was the son of Roger born in the 1720’s.
  15. Thomas Williams, son of Matthias Williams, married Esther Morrow on 6 August 1780 in Prince Edward County.  Roger Williams was the surety.
  16. Several citizens’ petitions that were generated and signed in Cumberland County survive, giving further evidence as to the time period that the Williams family lived there.22 On 10 May 1777, one petition was begun urging that Cumberland County be divided in two.  Roger Jr. (born 1749), Thomas, Samuel (son of Thomas) and Roger Williams Sr. (born c1720) all signed. On 10 November 1780, a petition was circulated regarding rights of clergy who did not sign allegiance to the state.  Samuel, Roger Jr. and Matthias Williams’ signatures are found.  This Matthias must be the Revolutionary War pensioner (born 1755) because his father (born c1727) Matthias’s will was probated earlier in the year.   A similar petition with the same date showed Thomas and Roger Williams Sr.’s signatures.  On 14 May 1784, rights of pecuniary legatees and residual legatees were questioned.  John, Roger, Samuel and Nathaniel Williams signed.  Lastly, opposition to the act incorporating the Protestant Episcopal Church on 9 Nov 1786 included Thomas, Samuel, Nathaniel, Roger and Matthias Williams. (Note: I haven’t figured out how or if Nathaniel fits in the family, as he pretty much disappears from the records.)

From these facts, it is easily proven that Roger, Thomas and Matthias Williams, and their next generation, knew each other and had business and social interactions to the point where Susannah Williams married her cousin, Charles Williams.

It is also proven by the Cumberland County land deed that Thomas and Matthias were brothers, as it clearly states their relationship.

Further, the only Thomas old enough to fit the picture (born 1712) is named as the son of Roger Williams, deceased, in 1755, of Pittsylvania County. Charles Williams, father of Susannah who married her cousin, lived in Pittsylvania County, as did one of the daughters of Matthias Williams after she married.

As a point of reference, my research has tied the Williams family of Cumberland County to Amherst, Amelia, Bedford, Goochland, Campbell, Powhatan, Appomattox, Pittsylvania, Buckingham, Prince Edward, Halifax and Albemarle Counties through land, tax, probate and marriage records. This family got around, so the fact that these early records are in several different counties isn’t really a concern, except for not wanting to merge two men of the same name.

What do you think? Am I on the right track in believing that Roger Williams, born no later than 1690, is the father of Thomas, Roger and Matthias Williams? I sincerely doubt that primary documents will ever surface that prove their relationships without any doubt.

Or is this too much of a stretch?

Please comment!


1”Deed from Roger Williams to Roger Williams,” Deed Book 5:149, Cumberland County, Virginia.

2”Deed from Thomas Williams to Matthias Williams,” Deed Book 2:239, Cumberland County, Virginia.

3Memorial and Biographical Record, An Illustrated Compendium. . . .of the Cumberland Region of Tennessee, George A. Ogle and Co., Chicago, 1898, p. 856.

4Virginia Patent Book 11:11.

5Virginia Patent Book 11:219.

6”Deed from Bouth Napier to Phillip Webber,” Deed Book 2:12, Goochland County, Virginia.

7Cumberland County Court Orders 1749-1762 (February and March 1761), pp. 294, 309, FHL Film #30,759.

8C.G. Chamberlayne, The Vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover County, Virginia 1706-1786, (Richmond: The Library Board, 1940) p. 29.

9“Will of Thomas Anderson,” Will Book 2:38, Albemarle County, Virginia.

10Virginia Patent Book 14:241.

11Hanover County, Virginia Court Records 1733-1735; Deeds, Wills and Inventories, Rosalie E. Davis, Heritage Trails, Manchester, MO, 1979, p. 49.

12Family Bible record in possession of Roe Williams, Tennessee.  Copy held by Linda Stufflebean.

13”Deed from Thomas Williams to Saymer Scott” Deed Book 4:34, Cumberland County, Virginia.

14Cumberland County, Virginia Court Orders 1786-1792 (28 August 1787), p. 204, FHL Film #30,763.

15Old Pittsylvania County, Virginia Survey Book, p. 36.

16Halifax County, Virginia Pleas Book 1, May Term 1752 and March Term 1755, pp. 376, 400.

17Cumberland County, Virginia Court Orders 1749-1762, (1755), pp. 304-305, FHL Film #30,759.

18Cumberland County, Virginia Court Orders 1762-1767 (July Term 1763) , p. 243, FHL Film #30,760.

19“Deed from Thomas Williams to Archibald Wright,” Deed Book 6:520, Cumberland County, Virginia.

20Cumberland County, Virginia Court Orders 1786-1792 (November Term 1790), p. 333, 365, FHL Film #30,763.

21Cumberland County, Virginia Court Orders 1792-1801 (March Term 1798), p. 73, FHL Film #30,764.

22“Magazine of Virginia Genealogy,” v. 30, no. 2, May 1992, pp. 82-100.


52 Documents in 52 Weeks #14: Williams vs. Williams, VA Chancery Court

Many researchers don’t bother to read filmed court records as they might or might not be indexed and they might or might not be legible. Often, particularly in the early years of existence, minutes have been transcribed, indexed and published in book format.

The problem with the published books is that (1) human error can creep in when transcribing or abstracting records and (2) most published volumes only include the bare bone essentials about the people and event noted in those court minutes.

I have another chance here to plug the Library of Virginia, as it is a topnotch and ever-growing resource for genealogists. One of the Library’s digital projects is to make available all extant chancery court records from Virginia’s many counties.

Chancery court records are, to me, vastly more interesting than county court minutes, which typically mention land transactions, tax situations, orders to maintain roads and so on. Chancery court is where the juicy stuff happened – lawsuits. Americans seem to have always been a litigious society and snapshots, no entire movies, of ancestors’ lives can be found in those records if they were involved in any lawsuits. When money is involved, lawsuits are even more likely.

Roger Williams was a very well-to-do man. When he died in Bedford County, Virginia in 1835, he left a will and an estate that was valued at roughly $9000, which in today’s money would be about $235,000. One of his children, Patsey, married Benjamin Witt. Benjamin appears to have been the instigator of a lawsuit that was finally stricken from the court docket in 1883 with the notation that there had been no activity during the past seven years. That was probably because everybody involved had died!

The Library of Virginia has all 410 pages of this lawsuit digitized and available online:

This huge packet became my BSO (bright, shiny object) to investigate today. There are all kinds of details that come out in court lawsuits that wouldn’t otherwise be easily found by researchers. I was actually surprised about one thing in this packet – the locations where all these people lived were never, ever mentioned. By 1840, half of the litigants were living in several different counties in Missouri.

Even more annoying is the fact that the five sons of the deceased Thomas Williams, son of Roger, are all named in papers as late as May 1860:

William, Thomas, John, Samuel and Woodson Williams,
alive in May 1860

If only their places of residence were included because they all appear to have left Virginia!

What other bits of genealogical information can be found in this packet?

Well, for one, Cassie Ann Blair Williams, wife of Roger, deceased, is known to have survived him. However, her death date is unknown. Take a look at this entry of payments made by Roger’s estate:

Expenses of Roger Williams’ Estate, 1837

It appears that Cassie Ann was passed around from child to child, as several were reimbursed for her care and needs. Look at the entry for 8 June 1837 in the middle of the page. Thomas F. Creasey was paid $40.00 “for keeping Mrs. Williams & servant to the time of her death.” There were several entries here and on the page before noting the care of Cassie Ann. I’d say she died in the spring of 1837. Thomas F. Creasey was married to her daughter, Elizabeth.

In 1843, as the lawsuit continued on, there was a public posting of the notice in the Lynchburg Virginian newspaper. The clipping was added to the court papers and it listed those involved as plaintiffs and defendants:

Public Announcement, 1843

Note that Patsey Witt is listed as the widow of Benjamin Witt. That might be what triggered this public notice.

Roger Williams owned 235 acres of land, a nice sized plantation; he was also a slave owner. There are several lists and references to his slaves in the financial accountings:

1836 Inventory

This is an early inventory, but there are further records in this digital file.

Sons Samuel and George Williams were co-executors of Roger’s estate; they were the ones being sued by the Witts and their other siblings. I knew George had died as a fairly young man, probably in his 40s or 50s, but here it is noted in the court record:

George Williams, deceased

Given the length of this lawsuit, George probably died in the summer of 1842 as his death was noted at the 2 September 1842 term of court. The family spent a lot of time in court for the first 8 or so years, based on the dates on the documents that were filed.

Roger isn’t my husband’s direct line, but if he were, I’d be taking a closer look at the many extant Bedford County, Virginia records.


Descendants of Roger Williams – No! Not That One! Part 4

If you have been following the Williams’ posts for the last few days, then you’ve learned a lot about the children and grandchildren of Roger and Cassie Ann (Blair) Williams. Here are their grandchildren through their five youngest children.

6. Elizabeth was born 4 March 1786, Virginia; died 27 January 1854, Lafayette County, Missouri; married Thomas F. Creasey, 7 August 1804, Bedford County, Virginia.  Thomas was born c1780; died before 4 December 1843, Lafayette County, Missouri. The Creaseys were apparently fairly well to do.  Thomas’s estate included 19 slaves and Elizabeth’s estate was valued over $1700 in 1854. Elizabeth was in Lafayette County in 1850, heading a household with Larusha Creasey, 17, born in Virginia and Martha Williams, 20, also born in Virginia.  Neither was named as an heir.  Paschal Gibbs stated that all of Thomas’s and Elizabeth’s heirs resided in Lafayette County, Missouri at the time of their deaths.  If this couple had other children, they apparently died young without issue.

Children: (Creasey)

  •  Roger W(illiams?), born c1807, probably Virginia; died June 1837, Bedford County,  Virginia; in February 1854, Paschal Gibbs was named guardian of his minor children in Lafayette County, Missouri; married Susanna G. Wade, daughter of Archibald Wade, 2 December 1833, Bedford County, Virginia; Roger was surety at the marriage of Nancy Hudnall and Thomas Weeks in 1829.
  • ?Susanna, born c1809; died probably by January 1837; married Gustavus Burton, 12 January 1830, Bedford County, Virginia. Charles Williams was surety. He was perhaps her uncle.  Susanna apparently died young, leaving no children, as she was not named as an heir of her parents, nor were any Burton children.  Gustavus married (2) Avaline Wade, daughter of Alexander Wade, 23 January 1837, Bedford County, Virginia.
  • Cassie Ann B(lair?), 19 January c1812; died 18 February 1877, Lafayette County, Missouri; married Paschal A. Gibbs, 2 December 1833, Bedford County, Virginia. Paschal was born 21 November 1807, Virginia; died 10 November 1883; buried Greenton Cemetery, Lafayette County, Missouri.
  • Calista, 29 July 1805, Virginia; died 21 November 1872, Lafayette County, Missouri; married Jesse Roberts, 27 February 1832, Bedford County, Virginia. He was born April 1794, Virginia; died 26 July 1877, Lafayette County, Missouri. Jesse and Calista are found in Lafayette Co. in 1840 enumerated as 0000001-000001. They have boarders in 1850 and 1870, but no children.

7. William – died young and apparently had no children.

 8. George W. was born 24 March 1791; died c1844, possibly Grundy County, Missouri, although no court records have been found and he has not been placed in the 1840 census; married Nancy A. Austin, 4 November 1826, Bedford County, Virginia. Nancy was born 1800-1810; the daughter of Thomas and Nancy North Austin; died before 1 April 1858.  It is possible that George died in Virginia and never went to Missouri.  There is a Nancy Williams, 1840 Bedford County, Virginia census (p. 245) who may be Nancy Austin Williams (100000-012001).  Nancy’s heirs received her portion of her father’s estate in Bedford County, Virginia in 1858.  In 1830, George’s family lived in Campbell County, Virginia.   The December 1844 Chancery Court term shows Charles B. Williams was appointed guardian of infants Susan Catherine, Martha Elizabeth, Roger and George Williams, children of George Williams, deceased. Charles B. Williams accepted the guardianship at the March 1844 term of court in Missouri.


  • Susan Catherine, born August 1827, Virginia; died after Theodore; married Theodore Penniston, 17 February 1848, perhaps in Daviess County, Missouri. He was born 6 May 1812, Jessamine County, Kentucky, the son of Robert P. and Nancy Nuttall Penniston; died 9 November 1892, Daviess County, Missouri.
  • Martha Elizabeth, born 11 December 1829, Virginia; died 6 September 1900, Eddy County, New Mexico; married Charles A. Witt, 5 August 1852, Lafayette County, Missouri.
  • Daughter, born 1831-1835, Virginia; died before March 1844, when Charles B. Williams was appointed guardian for her siblings.
  • Roger, born 12 February 1836/7, Virginia; died 20 February 1915 (death certificate #4282); buried at Civil Bend Christian Cemetery, Daviess County, Missouri; married (1) Elvira Creasey, 7 April 1859, Daviess County, Missouri (2) Mrs. Martha C. Conner, 1 August 1878, Daviess County, Missouri. She was born 18 October 1840; died 16 February 1938. Roger apparently lived in Nebraska for a time, as son Blair was born there in 1861 along with daughter Laura in 1866.
  • George, born 8 August 1841, VA; died 18 October 1931, Daviess County, Missouri; lived with Susan and Theodore Penniston in 1860; unmarried at that time,  but married Frances Pernesia, c1886. She was born 13 January 1867; died 27 March 1902. Both are buried at Civil Bend Christian Cemetery, Daviess County, Missouri.

9. Martha was born 20 March 1793; died after 1880 census, probably Bedford County, Virginia; married Benjamin Witt, 27 December 1810, Bedford County, Virginia. Benjamin died before December 1843, probably Bedford County, Virginia, as the court ordered an inventory of his estate at that time. In 1870, Catherine Creasey, 17, lived with Martha in Otter Twp. as a domestic servant. In 1880, Patsey headed a household consisting of herself, grandchild Cassie Creasey, and another relative, illegible.

Children: (Witt)

  •  Elizabeth, born c1812, Virginia; died after 1850. Apparently never married.
  • Cassie Ann, born c1815, Virginia; died after 1880; married Matthew Creasey, 2 January 1836, Bedford County, Virginia. He was born c1810, Virginia; died 1870-1880.
  • Elvirah F., born 18 September 1814-22, Virginia; died 31 May 1904, Virginia; married William M. Stevens, 28 October 1850, Bedford County, Virginia. She was named as the daughter of Martha. William was born 24 May 1823, Virginia; died 29 September 1879, Bedford County, Virginia.
  • Martha Jane, born c1816, Virginia; died after 1850; married William Creasey, 19 January 1837, Bedford County, Virginia. William Creasey was the son of Pleasant and Elizabeth (Betsy) Newman Creasey. Pleasant and William Creasey are mentioned as father and son in a couple of lawsuits in Franklin County, Virginia in the 1840s. Pleasant deposed that William left Virginia in 1842, but had since died.
  • William W., born c1816, Virginia; died 19 June 1889, Bedford County, Virginia of dropsy.
  • Nancy, born 26 February between 1818-1822, Virginia; died 1 December 1895, Bedford County, Virginia; married Jacob Clinkenspeal/Clinkenbeard, 25 January 1840, Bedford County, Virginia. He was born c1822, Virginia, the son of John and Molly Clingenpeel; died 11 July 1895, Bedford County, Virginia.
  • Thomas W., born c1820, Virginia; died after 1880; married Martha J. Wright, 20 January 1856, Bedford County, Virginia. She was born c1824, Virginia; died 4 May 1881, Bedford County, Virginia of unknown causes. Martha was the daughter of Price and Sarah (Hudnall) Wright.
  • George W., born c1822, Virginia; died 13 October 1882, Bedford County, Virginia of fever, aged 60 years; married Margaret C. Wade, 14 December 1846, Bedford County, Virginia.
  • Garnett Lee, born c1824, Virginia. In the 1860 Daviess County, Missouri census, G.L. Witt, 25, carpenter, born Virginia,  was living with John Ballinger, hotel proprietor. By 1870, Garnett had removed to Smyth County, Virginia and then until 1910, lived in Roanoke. He likely died between 1910-1920.
  • John Roger, born July 1825, Virginia; married Nancy Jane Christian.
  • ?Benjamin, born c1826, Virginia; died after 1860; married Frances Roberts, daughter of Thomas Roberts, 12 July 1847, Bedford County, Virginia. Benjamin is not a proven son.  However, he is of an age to be a son of Benjamin and Martha.
  • ?Charles A.; born 8 Dec 1827, Bedford County, Virginia; married Martha E. Williams, 5 Aug 1852, Lafayette County, Missouri. He was of Boone County, Missouri according to the marriage license.  Martha was born 7 December 1829; died 6 September 1900, Eddy County, New Mexico.  She appears to be the daughter of George and Nancy (Austin) Williams, in the family above.
  • Susanna D., born c1833, Virginia; died after 1880; married John M. Stevens, 11 October 1853, Bedford County, Virginia. He was born c1832, Virginia; died after 1900. Both probably died in Bedford County, Virginia.

10. Charles B. – apparently never had any children.

I have information on another couple of generations of Roger and Cassie Ann’s descendants. If you are related to this family, please leave a comment.