Clarifying the proper relationships or lack of relationships between men named Richard Taylor in Colonial era Virginia; with an emphasis on the Charles City Ancient Planter, arrived 1608.

Unfortunately for certain of us American genealogical researchers, the name Richard Taylor is fairly common, even in Colonial Virginia. My 11th great grandfather, Charles City settler Richard Taylor I (abt 1625 – abt 1673) and several other Richard Taylors are consistently mixed up in many online trees. They don’t have to be.

Serious researchers will take the few minutes required to investigate geographic regions, wills, and old publications before connecting parents to their known ancestors. If they are there to be found, we’ll find them. Eventually.

If they aren’t, as legitimate family historians we simply must be okay with unanswered questions.

Too Many Richard Taylors

Some of the various Richard Taylors found in pre-Revolutionary Era documentation are:

  • My primary subject, Richard Taylor, an ancient planter colonist who survived the Massacre of 1622 and arrived 1608 on the Mary and Margaret;
  • Richard Taylor, sailed on the Truelove, landed Massachusetts in 1635 and remained in that area;
  • Richard Taylor, sailed on the Constance, bound for Virginia in 1635 but this was a failed voyage that never left England;
  • Richard Taylor, lived in Old Rappahannock County, subject of A Taylor Family

There are geographical and familial distinctions between these Richard Taylors to be found with adequate study. Some of the jumbled up, erroneous, and misattributed life facts for these various, unrelated Taylors include:

  1. Ancient Planter Richard’s daughter Mary, seen 3 months old in 1624 survived a 1622 attack and was on the ship in 1620 with her mother Dorothy or both parents. Really?
  2. Richard Taylor who immigrated in 1608 and was 50 years old in a 1624 muster left a will in 1679, making him more than 100 years old. He did not. That was Old Rappahannock Richard Taylor.
  3. Richard Taylor who immigrated in 1608 died in 1624. He did not. He is seen half a dozen times in later years, possibly as late as 1638 in burgess, land patent, and convention records.
  4. Old Rappahannock Richard Taylor married Sarah Barker. He did not. That was Charles City Richard Taylor I, 20 years after the Ancient Planter. The surname of “Old Neck” Rappahannock Taylor’s wife Sarah is unknown.
  5. Various parents located in Scotland and England for any of the Virginia Richard Taylors. Professional historians haven’t found proof. If you have, please attach it to your trees. England and Scotland are filthy with Richard Taylors, even those with wives named Sarah or Dorothy.

(Please make note that I did not diverge here to rant about common sense.)

Nathaniel Lane Taylor in A Taylor Family clarifies that there are several unrelated Taylor families in Virginia even before the Revolutionary War –

“…by the 1680s there were already at least three distinct Taylor families in what was then Lancaster and Rappahannock Counties; and by the turn of the century, several apparently unrelated Taylors had died and left Taylor heirs in what had become Lancaster, Northumberland, and Richmond Counties, as well as in Essex County, just south across the Rappahannock River.”

Charles City County (Shire) originally included land on both sides of the James River. Source: Library of Congress, A new map of Virginia, Maryland, and the improved parts of Pennsylvania & New Jersey (1685)

What he describes is a fairly distinct region, as opposed to the Charles City/Henrico Shire/Prince Georges’s County contiguous region. My Taylors and all of the families they intermarried with lived in this region for generations. I feel fairly comfortable assigning the Ancient Planter as a likely grandfather of Elizabeth Taylor Hamlin and Frances Taylor Bradford as so many trees have proclaimed; although, a legitimate researcher would not make the leap. So I have not connected them.

According again to author Taylor, a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists and editor of The American Genealogist —

“There is a fundamental problem in Virginia with any attempt to connect families found after say 1650 in the Northern Neck & Eastern Shore, as well as on the James, to ancient planters from the 1624 Muster Roll or even others found in records on the James from say the 1630s – 1640s, or to random names found as headrights in the land patent books. The dearth of documents pre 1650s means that almost all connections are speculative and fraught with peril.”

We may not be able to be certain, but some good circumstantial evidence exists that Planter Richard Taylor was related to Richard Taylor I that married Sarah Barker. I ask that if you happen to agree with me, that you make bold notations as to the ongoing research and lack of proof of the connection between them.

More importantly, leave The Planter in your tree unattached to any offspring other than daughter Mary, seen in 1624.

Richard Taylor, Ancient Planter

This Richard Taylor, the single Richard Taylor correctly labeled as Ancient Planter, arrived in Virginia in 1608 on the ship, Mary and Margaret. He settled on the Neck of Land, part of Bermuda Hundred in Charles City sometime before 1623 when he appeared on a list of survivors of the 1622 Powatan Massacre.

According to Brown in The First Republic in America, Captain Christopher Newport commanded the Mary and Margaret as part of the Second Supply to the Virginia Colony. It left England on August 1, 1608, with Captains Richard Waldo and Peter Wynne who were appointed to the King’s Council in Virginia.

When the Mary and Margaret reached Virginia in October with seventy emigrants, they found about sixty residents at Jamestown. Newport left Virginia in December with John Ratcliffe, arriving in England in late January of 1609. An Indian named Namontack was with them.

The ship Mary and Margaret with Richard Taylor on board arrived in the New World twelve years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts. Until researching The Planter I simply didn’t realize this was possible, let alone that I might (possibly) be related to him.

Muster of Early Virginia

At the time of the muster sixteen year later, Planter Richard was 50 years of age and his young wife, Dorothy only 21, having arrived in 1620. Baby Mary Taylor was just a few months old.

Here is what the record looks like:

Muster: Taylor Richard
Status: head
Location: Neck-of-Land
Corporation: Charles Cittie
Age: 50
Ship: Mary Margrett
Date of Arrival: September 1608

Notes: Boats: 0 Canoes: 0 House: 1 Storehouse: 0 Tobacco House: 0 Windmill: 0 Palisade: 0 Fort: 0 Notes: Arms Records Food & Livestock Records Powder: 1.5 pound Lead: 60 pound Shot: 0 Lead & Bullets: 0 Lead & Shot: 0 Shot & Bullets: 0 Piece: 0 Piece Fixed: 2 Piece Serviceable: 0 Pistol: 0 Armor: 0 Armor Complete: 0 Coat of Mail: 2 Coat of Steel: 0 Buff Coat: 0 Quilted Coat: 0 Coat of Plate: 0 Coat: 0 Head Piece: 2 Sword: 0 Snaphance: 0 Petronel: 0 Murderer: 0 Fauconett: 0 Jacket: 0 Ordnance: 0 Matchcocke: 0 Jack: 0 Corslet: 0 Chamber: 0 Target: 0 Roll of Matches: 0 Notes: Corn: 9 barrel Corn & Peas: 0 Peas: 0 Beans: 0 Peas & Beans: 0 English Wheat: 0 Engligh Meal: 0 Meal: 0 Oatmeal: 0 Oatmeal & Peas: 0 Dry Fish: 0 Wet Fish: 0 Biscuits: 0 Bacon Flitches: Notes: Cattle: 3 Neat Cattle: 0 Goat: 0 Kid: 0 Swine: 0 Pig: 0 Sow: 1 Poultry: 20

Notes: “cattell yong and old”

FAMILY:

Dorothy Taylor – Taylor Richard – his wife – Neck-of-Land – Charles Cittie – 21 – London Marchannt – May 1620 24 – January 1624/5
Mary Taylor – Taylor Richard – theire Child – Neck-of-Land – Charles Cittie – 3 months – not given – 24 January 1624/5

SERVANT:

Christopher Browne, age 18, on the ship Dutie, 1620

A son of the same name born after known daughter Mary (shown in the same muster) would be the right age to be the Richard Taylor who married Sarah Barker in Charles City two or three decades later. And yet, this is just conjecture.

Ruins of the original Jamestown church tower photographed by William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) Source: United States Library of Congress, public domain.

Other Appearances

McCartney summarizes the colonial records that exist for our Ancient Planter in in Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers:

Richard Taylor was living at Bermuda Hundred (aka Neck of Land) as early as December 11, 1623 when he testified that Captain Thomas Barwich – who was responsible for the men the Company of Shipwrights sent to the colony – had sold him some goods.

May 1625 when a list of patented land was set back to England, Richard Taylor was credited with 100 planted acres in Charles City.

On March 6, 1626 he testified about a slanderous statement made by Joane Vincent, another Bermuda Hundred resident.

On September 18, 1626, planter Richard ran afoul of the law by making statements against the government while inebriated.

In early 1627 he accused three men of planting on his land at Bermuda Hundred, even though he had earlier signed a lease allowing them use of the acreage if they cleared it. He lost his case and the men were each awarded five acres in returning for having cleared them.

Later, in January 1629 he successfully brought suit against William Sharpe and others, whom he claimed had kept him from farming use of the land to which Governor Sir George Yeardley had given him a patent.

Taylor’s last known court appearance was January 24, 1629 at which time he served on a jury.

A Speculative Last Appearance

A Richard Taylor, who may have lived in Charles City appears in an adjacent Henrico Shire land patent record in 1638. Whether it is Richard, the Ancient Planter is still up for consideration and discussion. It feels true to me, yet many historical scholars have written about the Virginia Colony and have not included this appearance in their documentation of the original Charles City Richard Taylor. Whether by oversight, or something I don’t yet understand is unclear.

Here is the record taken from page 555 of the Virginia Patent Book No. 1 — Part II:

SAME [JOHN COOKENEY],150 acs., same Co. [HENRICO] & page [555]. 18 May 1638. S. upon land of Joseph Chadd, W. upon land of Richard Taylor, E. upon the maine river & N. towards the 4 Mi. Cr. Due for trans, of 3 pers: Robert Martin, Walter Brookes, Tho. Mitchell.

McCartney described Bermuda Hundred as also being known by the names ‘Charles Hundred,’ the ‘Nether Hundred’, and ‘Neck of Land’ in Charles City. As modern day researchers it’s easy to get into the habit of sticking to counties in our research. Henrico County is adjacent, but nevertheless distinct from modern Charles City County.

Yet — looking at old maps of the Shires of Virginia, which were established in 1634, we see that Henrico Shire is adjacent to Charles City Shire and more specifically Bermuda Hundred where our Ancient Planter lived for all of his colonial life that we can document.

When I asked him about this notation, Nicholas Taylor stated:

I can’t remember that I had noticed this Richard Taylor as an abuttor in this Henrico patent in 1638. If there is a case to be made for continuity forward from the ancient planter Richard, this is how it would be done. Could be the ancient planter.

This is why I love genealogical research so much. Is it possible that genealogy mysteries can be solved simply by the right descendant at the right time scanning digitized records for the name Taylor and finds something that was perhaps missed by others doing more in-depth general research on the Colony? Maybe.

The Plausible but Unproven Son, Richard I

That the Norfolk, Old Rappahannock  and Massachusetts Richard Taylors are not related to The Planter is well documented, thanks to A Taylor Family.

Exactly when my first proven ancestor of this name was born is unclear. I give him the Roman numeral I in my tree as he is the first documented, known, tried and true Richard Taylor ancestor that can be proven prove with documentation. (If one day we prove that his father was the Ancient Planter, great. An Ancient Planter designation is more interesting than a Roman numeral anyway, right?)

Many of Ancestry’s “indexed” records or simple unsourced digitized personal genealogies give a birth date of 1619 or 1620. If this were the case, he would have been in the list of massacre survivors in 1623 or the 1624 Colony muster somewhere, even if as a child to another Taylor couple.

It makes more sense that he was simply born after sister Mary when looking at the totality of the other evidence. Yet genealogists cannot depend on common sense. We hunt for proof!

It’s certainly also possible that he was born to another Virginia Taylor family after the muster. Or even that he arrived on a later ship, had the same name as The Planter, settled in the same community, and isn’t related at all. But Harvard historian and genealogist Taylor fuels a deeper look and continued research in my mind.

In his AN AMERICAN TAYLOR FAMILY: Descendants of Richard Taylor (d. 1679), of North Farnham Parish in the Northern Neck of Virginia, for Seven Generations, Nathanial Lane Taylor says:

“While there is no evidence to link the ‘ancient planter’ Richard Taylor to the Kent family [speaking of old ‘Taillor’ martyr rumors], neither is there any evidence to make him the father of Richard of North Farnham, in the Norhern Neck….In all likelihood he is the father of another Richard Taylor, who, with a wife named Sarah, was living in Charles City County in the 1650s through 1670s. Despite the coincidence of names, this younger Richard and Sarah Taylor of Charles City County are clearly distinct from Richard and Sarah Taylor of North Farnham parish, in the Northern Neck, whom we must take as generation one in the present study.”

The younger Richard Taylor I of Charles City, husband to first Mary, widow Perkins, and later Sarah Barker Taylor first appeared in records in 1659 as a juryman. I’m inclined to believe that his eldest son Richard II is the son of Mary Perkins Taylor for all of the reasons outlined by Virginia Lee Hutcheson Davis in Tidewater Families. Her evidence is compelling, not the least of which is that Richard was not listed in later court actions concerning his siblings’ Barker relations.

Richard and Sarah Barker Taylor’s well proven children were Elizabeth, Frances, Sarah, Katherine, and John. The paper trail is conclusive that these four daughters and one son are the totality of their children thanks to surviving probate records.

One of the more interesting circumstantial bits that connects the Planter with Richard Taylor I in my opinion could be called an interesting coincidence or simply a meaningless random fact. Nevertheless my spidey senses perked up when I discovered it researching the 1622 Massacre.

During the Indian Massacre of 1622, which Richard Taylor, The Planter survived, Jamestown was saved by the warning of an Indian youth living in the home of colonist Richard Pace of Pace’s Pains. The youth woke Pace and told him of the planned attack. Living across the river from Jamestown, Pace secured his family and rowed to the settlement to spread the alarm.

As further circumstantial evidence of the possible connection between these particular families in this specific region of Old Virginia, and distinct from other Richard Taylors in other parts of Virginia and New England, Richard Pace, grandson of the savior of the Indian Massacre of 1622 sold his headright to my 11th great grandfather Richard Taylor I, husband of Sarah Barker.

13 Mar 1662 • Charles City County, Virginia

Purchased land from Richard Pace on Powell’s Creek, Called Hawksnest – lying on Powell’s Creek beginning at Buckland Island and butting on Reedy Bottom. Paid “300 pounds sterling money of England.”

Flowerdew Hundred Plantation dates back to around 1619 to a patent by Sir George Yeardley, Governor and Captain General of Virginia, of 1,000 acres (400 ha) on the south side of the James River. The plantation survived the Indian massacre of 1622 with only six deaths due to the quick thinking of a Powhatan youth living in the home of one of colonist Richard Pace.

This piece of land was not far from Flowerdew Hundred, a plantation owned by Sarah Barker Taylor and her husband, which was later left to their grandson William Hamlin. The same Governor Sir George Yeardley who gave Planter Richard Taylor his land patent nearby was the first owner of Flowerdew Hundred.

To quote author Taylor one last time, in an email recently he stated unequivocally —

“It is highly unlikely that there will ever be proof that the ancient planter Richard Taylor left descendants of any kind.”

I get it. And I agree. And it’s been extremely interesting researching the Ancient Planter of Charles City, just the same.

A girl can always dream.

Sources:

Brown, Alexander, The first republic in America. Houghton. (1898).

Nathanial Lane Taylor, The American Genealogist (Vol. 83, No. 3 Jan/Apr 2009)

Nathanial Lane Taylor, AN AMERICAN TAYLOR FAMILY: Descendants of Richard Taylor (d. 1679), of North Farnham Parish in the Northern Neck of Virginia, for Seven Generations

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Primary Post Photo: Crop from a Library of Congress image, (click to view entire map) A new map of Virginia, Maryland, and the improved parts of Pennsylvania & New Jersey (1685)