Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Edward West (b. ca. 1730s; d. ca. 1791)

Edward West (b. ca. 1730s; d. ca. 1791)

Compiled by Joy Ikelman, 2013. Disclaimers apply.

Edward West, is descended from John West (d. 1744) of Stafford County, Virginia, and therefore is a part of Family Group #5:

John West (d. 1744) m. Dorothy ________
Edward West (b. ca. 1730s; d. ca. 1791) m. Elizabeth Mills


The Early Days. John West’s will of 1744 (Stafford County, Virginia, Will Book M, p. 411-412) lists his sons in this order: Edward, John, William, and James. We might surmise, then, that Edward was the oldest of the sons. No daughters were mentioned. At the time of his father’s death, Edward West was unmarried. Since his brother, James (b. 1742) was only 2 years old at this time,  Edward might have been younger than 16, and thus I have placed his birth year in the 1730s.

Edward West is often referred to as Edward West, Sr. because his son Edward stayed geographically close to him in Virginia and Kentucky.  West may have been born in Stafford County, Virginia.  West’s grandson, John B. West wrote, “I do not know the birthplace of my father; but my grandfather was an Englishman and his wife a Welch [sic] -woman.” [1] It is possible (though unlikely) that West was born in England, but he was probably of English descent. His wife, Elizabeth, may have been of Welsh descent. [2]

West’s marriage to Elizabeth Mills is recorded in the Overwharton (Aquia, Stafford County) Parish Register, 6 October 1752. The Register also records the birth of their first child, William Mills West, 29 March 1755. [3]

Land Near Falmouth, Virginia. In 1755, there is a possible reference to Edward West and land in King George County (bordering Stafford County, and later reverted to Stafford County). It is an indenture between Anthony Smith of Stafford County and Edward West of King George County, witnessed by Gerard Banks (who also signed the petition to divide Stafford County, mentioned below). [4] In 1767, another document mentions “Edward West’s Mill Branch” and a “main road leading to Falmouth.” [5] In 1784, Edward West was said to have come to Kentucky from Fredericksburg, and his son, Edward Jr. from Falmouth in 1785. It is more likely that they both came from the same land or location.

Chopawamsic Primitive Baptist Church. It is possible that Edward West, or some of his children, are recorded in the membership rolls of the Chopawamsic (or Chappawamsic ) Primitive Baptist Church. [6] This church was established with a constitution signed 22 Nov 1766. Among the signers were members of the Fristoe family who also appeared in the Overwharton Parish Register. Fristoes knew the Lynn family that married into the Wests. A Fristoe also signed the petition to divide Stafford County (below).
In the Primitive Baptist doctrine, baptism is the method for membership into the church. Children must understand basic doctrine before they are baptized (often ages 11 to 13).  Adults may be baptized at any time. Here are all of the names of the Wests appearing in the Baptist Church list. My opinion is that they are all children of Edward West rather than adults. The exception might be Jenatious/Ignatius, a real mystery.

         May 21, 1768  Edward West. If this is Edward Sr.’s son, he would be about 11, as he was born ca 1757. If this is Edward West (Sr.), he would be about 38 years old.

         July 24, 1768   Jenatious West. This is assumed by family researchers to be “Ignatius.” This is a mystery. Edward may have had a son, Ignatius, who died before his Will was written in 1791. Or, this may be Ignatius West who appeared in various Stafford County records. In the latter case, he may have been in his late 30s or older.

         June 1769?      William W. West – possibly should read “William M. West.” His birth date was March of 1755. He would be 14. William West, brother to Edward, did not have a known middle name. There is a question mark by the date in the transcription.

         June 1769?      Elizabeth West. This daughter “Betsey” would later marry a Grimmins or Grimmons, whose family also belonged to the church. If this Elizabeth is not Betsey, it could be Edward’s wife Elizabeth Mills West, who would likely be in her late 30s. There is a question mark by the date.

         May 1770        James West. If this is a son of Edward, he could have been 13 to 15 years old. If this is James, brother to Edward, he would be 28 years old.       

Petition to Divide Stafford County. This petition was dated 15 Oct 1776. “Petitions of the freeholders and inhabitants of the County of Stafford for a division of the Potomac to Rappahannock River and a more convenient boundary.” [7]  Edward West was among those who signed a petition to adjust the borders of Stafford County, Virginia.  Other Wests that signed were Ignatius (“Nasey”) West, Joseph West, and John West. The issue was with King George County, whose border with Stafford was an inconvenience. Edward West’s land in/near Falmouth was part of King George County until 1777, when it reverted to Stafford.

Ten Thousand Name Petition. This was presented to the Assembly in October of 1776. Edward West and Ignatius West (also Family Group #5) signed the “Ten Thousand Name Petition.” [8] This petition was a call for disestablishment of the Church of England and religious equality for all. It was signed (or approved by those who could not write their names) by 10,000 citizens of Virginia. The document was crucial to the debate of church and state in Virginia. [9]

First Census of the United States. In 1785, West, Sr. and West, Jr. appeared in the Stafford County, Virginia. [10] This census was probably compiled earlier than 1785. The Stafford County census shows a “West, Edward” with 9 white souls, 1 dwelling, and 3 other dwellings. This is probably West, his wife, and seven of his ten children. Three names down is “West, Edward, Junr” with 4 white souls and 1 dwelling.

The Move to Kentucky. Edward West, Sr. came to the Woodford County, Kentucky area (now Scott County) in 1784. This area was still part of Virginia at that time. Earliest Kentucky histories say he came from Fredericksburg, Stafford County, Virginia. [11] His son, Edward West, Jr. arrived in 1785 from Falmouth, Stafford County, Virginia. [12] Since both were listed in close proximity in the Virginia census of 1785, both probably came from Falmouth, Virginia. Fredericksburg and Falmouth are only 2 miles apart, separated from each other by the Rappahannock River. Today, Falmouth is a suburb of Fredericksburg.

The Petition of Lebanon (Georgetown), 1790. The place he settled was originally called Lebanon. In 1790, after a petition by settlers, the town was renamed George Town, and later Georgetown. Lebanon residents that signed the petition in 1790 included Edward West, and his sons William Mills West, Lewis West, and James West. [13]  In 1792, Kentucky became a State; in 1793 Scott County was carved from Woodford County. Edward West’s Will was written in 1791, in Woodford County.

Edward West, Gunsmith. Edward West, Sr. was a gunsmith. “Firearms were a necessary household article in these early times, and in 1784 Mr. Edward West, from Fredericksburg, Va., settled in Georgetown [Kentucky] as a gunsmith. He erected a log house near the Spring Branch, where he manufactured rifles chiefly, for which there was great demand. He also invented a mold for casting or molding pewter into plates and basins, then in great request and almost indispensable to every housekeeper.” [14]

Edward West, Sr. brought his orphaned nephew Lynn West (son of James West) with him to Georgetown, Kentucky. Lynn was nine years old in 1784. Lynn learned the gunsmith trade and became a noted citizen of Lexington. [15] Lynn West passed along his skills to his son Lewis H. West.

Edward West Dies in late 1791. The Will is posted below. I have not found the date of Elizabeth Mills birth or death. It seems likely that they would have been buried in Georgetown.

Estate Sale of 1793. In 1793, a notice of an estate sale appeared in the Lexington Gazette, July 6: “To Be Sold: By public vendue [sic] in George Town on the 23d day of next July, (being Court day,) The estate of Edward West deceased consisting of House-hold furniture, Negroes, Horses, Cattle and shop utensils, together with one in-lot in said Town, whereon it’s a commodious dwelling house, Smith’s shop and garden, also an out lot, containing four acres, and joining the town cleared and under good fence. – Six months credit will be given for all sums exceeding twenty Shillings, the purchaser giving bond and approved security. – Sale will commence at ten o’clock where due attendance will be given by Thomas Martin, Ex. June 25. [16]

Children of Edward West and Elizabeth Mills

Children surviving Edward West, Sr., according to the will were:
            1. William Mills West (b. 29 Mar 1755) [17]. Living in Georgetown in 1790.
            2. Edward West (b. 1757; d. 23 Aug 1827). Came to Kentucky in 1785. Lived in Lexington. Set up shop in 1790.
            3. Elizabeth West ( 1756 per baptism). Married into Grimmons or Grimmins family from her church.[18]
            4. James West (b. ca. 1759 per baptism). Living in Georgetown in 1790.
            5. John West
            6. Thomas West
            7. Lewis West (d. possibly 9 Apr 1813 in Lexington, KY) [19] Living in Georgetown in 1790.
            8, 9, 10. Polly West (Mary?), Peggy West (Martha, Margaret, Jane?), and Sally West (Sarah?). These three women were mentioned in Bridwell, 1945 [20]. However, they were described as sisters of Edward West, Sr. when actually they were his daughters.      The information was from a family member who told Bridwell that these were “Polly, who married a Williams, Sarah, who married first a Beasley and second a Keith, and Jane, who married a Blanchard.” [21] Occasionally these three names will appear as children of John West in today’s listings on-line. They are not children of John West.

The Will of Edward West

Will Book A, p. 51-52; Woodford County, Kentucky, December 5, 1791 [22]
I, Edward West of Woodford County and state of Virginia being weak of body but sound in memory and understanding do make this my last Will and testament. First my will and desire is that all my just debts be first paid out of my estate by my Executors which shall hereafter appointed. Secondly I give to my son and daughter, Edward West and Betsy Gunnins (Grimmins?), five shillings each out of my personal estate as they have received a proportionable part formerly and each of them an equal part of the said with the other children to them and their heir[s] forever; Thirdly I give and bequeathe to my beloved wife Elizabeth West and my sons William West, John West, Thomas West, Lewis West and James West and my daughters Polly West, Peggy West and Sally West all the rest of my estate both real and personal to be equally divided amongst them to them and their heirs forever, my son William West is to have the lands obtained by a warrant for twelve hundred and nine acres and number 11828 which is in my name but was purchased with said William West money and is now a part of my estate, therefore it is not to be charged in his properties, my son Thomas West hath received of my estate to the amount of seventy pounds, Beside Bond to be collected to a considerable amount and my desire is that my son Thomas West is to be charged with the seventy pounds aforementioned in his proposition of my estate so that he may have an equal part with the others and no more. Also that my Son John West hath property in his hand to a considerable amount which is part of my estate which he is to account with my executors for, my desire is that my estate shall be kept together as long as it may be convenient others divided, And lastly I nominate and appoint my son William West and Thomas Martin my executors. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fifth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety one.

Edward x (his mark) West (Seal)
Signed in the presence of James Martin, Adam Johnston
Woodford County, April Court 1792

The last Will and testament of Edward West deceased was produced in Court proved by the oaths of James Martin and Adam Johnston two subscribing witness thereto and ordered to be recorded. And on the motion of William Wills [Mills?] West and Thomas Martin, the executors therein named, who made oath thereto according to law said together with John Grant and James Martin, their securities entered into and acknowledged bond in the penalty of eight hundred pounds conditioned as the law directs, certificates is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.
Teste Cave Johnson CCJ


1. McCullough, Samuel D., 1859: “Interesting Reminiscences of an Early Experiment in Steam Navigation.” The Scientific American, Vol. 1, No. 1, New York, p. 4. Letter from John B. West. Another source cites this West family as having origins in England:  N.P. Dunn, 1907: “An Artist of the Past; William Edward West and His Friends at Home and Abroad,” Putnam’s Monthly, Volume 2, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, p. 658. Dunn was not a member of the West family.

2. Baer, Mabel Van Dyke. “The Ancestry of Edward West of Lexington, Kentucky, 1757-1827,” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society; Vol. 58, No. 4, p. 354-363. Elizabeth Mills family came to Stafford from Fairfax County.

3. Boogher, Wm. F., 1899: Virginia; Overwharton Parish Register, 1720 to 1760; Old Stafford County. Saxton Publishing Co., Washington, D.C., p. 189.

4. Stafford County Virginia Deed Book P, p. 72-73. Found at “Petition List of Signers 1776 to Divide Stafford County.” Thanks to Kevin West, West Family researcher, for directing me to this and other important data.

5. King George County Virginia, Deed Book 5, p. 743-745. Found at “Bland Ballard, Sr of Spotsylvania County, Virginia (c. 1700-1791)”

6. Chopawamsic (aka Chappawamsic) Baptist Church existed from 1766-1919. Currently the Quantico Marine Corps Base is at the location of the church and cemetery land. Some Chopawamsic Baptist Church records are found at:

7. Stafford, Virginia Legislative Petitions, 1776-1781. Virginia State Library, p. 306-307. The names of the signers are at:

8. Roy, Ron, 2013: “Ignatius West of King George & Stafford Counties VA,” The West Family Project Blog.

9. Library of Congress, 2012: “Petitioning in Eigheenth-Century Virginia; The Church and State Debate,” American Memory Collection.  Thanks to Ron Roy for this information. On-line images of the 125 pages of names are at:

10. U.S. Census Bureau, First Census of the United States; Heads of Families – Virginia, 1783-1786. Stafford County begins on page 107 and contains approximately 450 names; the header gives the date of 1785.

11. Notes in Baer, p. 356.

12. McCullough, p. 4.

13. Apple, Lindsey; Frederick A. Johnston, and Ann Bolton Bevins, 1993: Scott County, Kentucky: A History. Scott County Historical Society, Georgetown, Kentucky, p. 39.

14. Gano, S.F., “History of Georgetown,” in B.O. Gaines, History of Scott County, Vol. 2, p. 236. Available through Kentucky Digital Library,

15. Ibid, p. 236.

16. Back issues of the Kentucky Gazette can be accessed at the Kentucky Digital Library:  - The issues are searchable.

17. Boogher, p. 191.

18. Shirley Winkelhoch, 1999: “Miscellaneous Data,” RootsWeb WEST-KY-MO-L Archives, 19 Sep 1999. Winkelhoch noted that she reviewed the hand-written Index to Wills in person. Her reading of “Betsy Gunnins” (daughter) was “Betsey Grimmins.” Her reading is very likely correct, as there was a “Grimmons” family member listed in the Chopawamsic Baptist Church listing.

19. Kentucky Gazette, 13 Apr 1813, “Lewis West, a citizen of Lexington. Died Friday, April 9, 1813. It is not known for certain if this is the son of Edward West.

20. Bridwell, Margaret M., 1947: “Edward West: Silversmith and Inventor.” Filson Club History Quarterly, Vol. 21, p. 301-308.

21. Ibid, p. 306.

22. The Will is copied from Baer, p. 357.


  1. West Family researcher Ron Roy found a possible connection to Edward West in:

    Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Virginia Historical Society, the Topsfield Historical Society, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, etc, eds.,1905: Virginia County Records, Spotsylvania County, 1721-1800. Fox, Duffield and Co., NY. This is also in: Spotsylvania County Records Deed Book H, 1771-1774.

    Deed of 21 Oct 1773 -- Edmond Jones and Mary, his wife, to Richard Bullard of Spts. Co. £58 15s. curr. Right and title in tract of 470 a., etc. -- The sd. tract containing 470 a. which sd. Ambrose Bullard, Deed., purchased of Wm. Ellis and Elizabeth, his wife, etc. Witnesses, Fielding Lewis, James Ward, Wm. Triplet, Edward West. Octr. 21, 1773.

    It is possible that the witness is Edward West, son of John West (d. 1744). Spotsylvania was separated from Stafford by King George County, at that time a relatively small area of land. Edward West's land was in King George County up until the time that County's boundaries were changed. Members of the Lewis, Triplet, Ellis, and West families appear in the Overwharton Parish Records. Thomas West, DNA-related to Edward, lived in Spotsylvania County (See "Thomas West" in this Blog). Also, during this date, I have found no other "Edward West" in this part of Virginia. These facts do not prove this record related to FG#5 Edward West, but helps to make the info more likely a part of his history.

  2. Three more records have been found for Edward West. These abstracts are from: Alcock, John P., 1994: Fauquier Families, 1759-1799. Iberian Publishing Company, Athens, Georgia.

    Page 250. Edward West buys land from Joseph Morehead. Fauquier Deed Book 2, p. 552, 1766. [abstract] "Joseph and Elizabeth Morehead of Halifax to Edward West of King George, 150 a. given him in 26 Nov 1753 by gift from father John Morehead who bought it 8 June 1726 from Henry Cafly.."

    Edward West was living in King George County, which in 1766 shared a border with Stafford and Fauquier. Later he would be referred to as Edward West of Stafford County, after the county borders had changed.

    Page 365. Edward West sells the land he bought from Joseph Morehead. Fauquier Deed Book D, p. 91, 1788. [abstract], "Edward West of Stafford [sells] 396 a. in Fork of Great Marsh and Norman's Ford roads to William Smith; bought of Joseph Morehead, part bought by latter from Thomas Hudnall, who was given deed by father William Hudnall of Westmoreland; part given Morehead by father, John Morehead, in 1753."

    Norman's Fork was an early crossing over the Rappahannock River. By this time, Edward West is settled in Kentucky. Note that in these two Deed records, we see the provenance of one piece of land, from 1726 to 1788.

    Page 269. Fauquier Deed Book M-12, p. 395, 1796. "Thomas Martin, surviving exec of Edward West, against William Oliver and John Oliver."

    Thomas Martin was the executor of Edward West's Will of 1791. In 1796 he is still completing the business of the estate.