Tuesday, October 29, 2013

John West (d. ca. 1744)

John West (d. ca. 1744)

Compiled by Joy Ikelman, 2013. Disclaimers apply.

In October 2010, a DNA result established Family Group #5 connections with John West who died before Feb 12, 1745 in Stafford County, Virginia.[1] What we know about John West is mostly derived from his Will. Land records and possible migrations have not been sorted out. The entire Will of John West and Estate Inventory are provided before the References, below.

Basic Information from the Will

The Will is dated 4 Nov 1744. John West was married to Dorothy, whose maiden name is unknown. She is the Executor of the Will. West lists four sons:  Edward, John, William, and James. No daughters are mentioned.  His wife receives the entire Estate for herself and her sons as long as she remains a widow. The children will receive their “legacies” when they reach a certain (unstated) age. If Dorothy remarries, she will only receive one-third of the Estate.  This wording of the will implies that the four sons are minors.

The Negro man Harry, and Negro woman Jenny, and their heirs are given to wife Dorothy and   the four sons and their heirs. There is no emancipation after a certain date. Two hundred acres of land in Prince William County, Virginia, bought from William Cockrill, are given to Edward and John and their heirs. If they do not have heirs, then the land reverts to William and James.

Any Estate not mentioned specifically in the Will is to be divided equally among the heirs. John West asks that the Estate be appraised.

Names Mentioned in the Will

West mentions the land in Prince William County that he bought from William Cockrill.  Cockrill’s principle residence was in Carter’s Run, Virginia (Prince William County, later Faquier County). [2] The north-western part of Stafford County was incorporated into a (new) Prince William County in 1731; West might have bought the land after 1731.

In 1796, Lynn West, grandson of John West, sold “a tract of land in Prince William County which descended to said Lynn West from his father, James West.” [3] This land might have been part of the 200 acres of land that was originally bought from William Cockrill.  However, it is more likely that this is a different parcel, as it was land adjoining John Lynn’s property. (James West married Ann Lynn.)

Witness J. Rogers was very likely John Rogers of Stafford County. [4]

Witness Will Mills was very likely William Mills. He may have been the father of Elizabeth Mills, who married John West’s son Edward. Or he may have been another relation to Elizabeth – perhaps a brother or uncle. He also appears in Stafford County VA Will Book O along with Lawrence Suddeth (who married Dorothy West) in 1757. [5]

Henry Tyler, Stafford County Clerk, was married to Alice Strother, the daughter of William Strother, Sr. and Margaret Watts. [6] Tyler was a Vestryman at Overwharton Parish in 1757; his children were baptized there. The Strother family was part of this Parish, as was the West family. [7]

The final witness was Thomas West. It is possible that Thomas West was a brother to John West. If he was not a brother, he is another relation. This line has been linked to Family Group #5 by DNA testing. [8]
Summary of Records for Thomas West of Spotsylvania/Stafford County and Thomas West of Orange County, compiled by West Family researcher Ron Roy, is found on this Blog. [9] Thomas was possibly married to Catherine Rebecca Easting or Eastin. The Overwharton Parish Register mentions two children born to Thomas and Catherine West. Catherine West’s maiden name is not recorded. The Blog discussion suggests Thomas was in his twenties at the time. In 1746, Thomas and Catherine West moved to Orange County, Virginia. [10]

Birthplace of John West
West researchers have not found the birth place of John West. Some believe his father was the generation that immigrated to the Colonies. This would make John West a “first generation American.” So far, there is only one clue that is directly related to this family. John B. West (b. 1786) the great-grandson of John West, said of his grandfather, Edward West (b. ca. 1730s): “I do not know the birthplace of my father; but my grandfather was an Englishman and his wife a Welch [sic]–woman.” [11] Edward West might have been born in England. He would have been very young if he had crossed the Atlantic with John and Dorothy West. However, Edward West was more likely born in the Colonies, of English descent. His wife, Elizabeth, may have been of Welsh descent.

The Overwharton Parish Register

Overwharton Parish was located in what is now Aquia (Stafford County), Virginia. Eight records from the Register, spanning 1742 to 1755, pertain to this discussion:

            West, James. Son of John, born September 26, 1742
            West, Carty.  Daughter of Thomas and Catherine, born March 12, 1743
                        [John West died in 1744, but this is not mentioned in the Register.]
            West, Dorothy.  Married Lawrence Suddeth, April 17, 1745
            Suddeth, Elizabeth. Daughter of Lawrence and Dorothy, born November 3, 1745
            West, James.  Son of Thomas and Catherine, born February 10, 1746
            Suddeth, Grace. Daughter of Lawrence and Dorothy, born September 23, 1749
            West, Edward.  Married Elizabeth Mills, October 6, 1752
            West, William Mills.  Son of Edward and Elizabeth, born March 29, 1755

How do we know that the first entry, “West, James. Son of John . . .” refers to John, the writer of the Will? Could this James West actually be John Jr.’s son? Here is the answer. When the Will was written, no heirs of his sons (including John Jr.) existed.  The legal wording of the Will states: “Heirs of their bodies Lawfully begotten and for want of such Heirs.”  All four brothers are unmarried at the time of the Will (and without heirs). Therefore, James was the son of John Sr., the writer of the Will. James was two years old when his father died.
The next entry shows the birth of Thomas and Catherine West’s daughter Carty. The name “Carty” could be a girl or boy in those days. Perhaps this is a reference to a surname in Catherine’s family.

The third is a marriage entry. “Dorothy West” married Lawrence Suddeth, 18 April 1745. Was this the widow of John West? Or was this a separate Dorothy West – perhaps West’s sister, or his cousin? Nothing can be proven with absolute certainty at this time. The Dorothy West in the Register was about two months pregnant when she married Suddeth. They had two daughters, Elizabeth and Grace. Lawrence Suddeth (Sudduth) appears in a Stafford County Will with William Mills (see Reference #5) in 1757. William Mills was a witness to John West’s Will.

The fourth entry is James, a child born to Thomas and Catherine West in 1746. After 1746, Thomas West appears in Orange County, VA. [12] The marriage of Edward West to Elizabeth Mills is recorded after this. The last entry records their first child. After these records, the Parish Register continues (through 1790) but there is no more information about the Wests.

Other Information about the Sons of John West
Edward West is the most completely documented of the four sons. This Blog has an entry for Edward West (b. ca. 1730s; d. ca. 1791-1792), his son Edward West (b. 1757; d. 23 Aug 1827), and grandson William Edward West (b. 10 Dec 1788; d. 2 Nov 1857). The discussion on Edward West (b. ca. 1730s) includes information about the Chopawamsic Baptist Church records.
James West and his wife Ann Lynn West died young. Their son, Lynn West (at the age of 9) came to Georgetown, KY with his Uncle Edward. There is a Blog entry for James West (b. 26 Sep 1742; d. ca. 1780) and Lynn West (b. 1775; d. 26 Jan 1836).

John West seems to disappear into history, but surely there must be more information to be uncovered. In the 1785 Census of the United States, there are several Wests listed as heads of households in Stafford County. There are two William Wests, one with “8 white souls,” and one with “3 white souls.” There is Edward West with “9 white souls,” and Edward West, Jr with “4 white souls.” And, there is John West with “2 white souls.” [13] So far, the Edward West Sr and Jr seem to be the only confirmed members of this West family as there are no other known Edward Wests in Stafford County at that time.

In the 1776 petition to divide Stafford County, the names of Edward West, Ignatius {“Nasey”) West, Joseph West, and John West were listed. [14] Other names on the petition that are familiar to this family history include Fristoe, Ficklin, Linn (Lynn), Strother, and Thornton. We have yet to determine if Joseph West is DNA-related.
William West, from what we know so far, did not move with his brother Edward to Scott County or Fayette County, Kentucky. His death date is often incorrectly given as 1831 in some West histories. This is because an obituary in the Kentucky Reporter said that a Captain William West of Lexington, Kentucky, died “at an advanced age” in 1831. [15] Captain West was from a different family [16] and a native of Ireland.[17] He was in the mercantile business; he took out frequent advertisements in the Kentucky Gazette, using only his name “William West” without the Captain designation in front of it. This is has caused confusion for our West researchers.
A highly likely citing of William West is as a witness to the Will of William Garrard, 7 Sep 1786, in Stafford County. [18] Another witness to this Will was John Fristoe. The Garrards lived near Fredericksburg, Virginia (as did Edward West). William Mills West, son of Edward, could have been the witness instead of his Uncle William. However, he generally signed documents with his middle name or initial. The Garrard, West, Fristoe, and other family names that appear in this Will also were in the 1785 census listing.

The Will of John West

Background. The Will is contained in Stafford County, Virginia, Will Book M; 1729-1748. [19] It is also published in abbreviated format by The Antient Press, p. 411-412. Stafford Will Book M has its own intriguing history. In 1862, a Union soldier took the Will book during a Stafford County engagement, most likely because it contained Wills of two members of the George Washington family. Other Will books were lost. Will Book M was passed to others until 1908, when it was in the possession of Civil War reenactors in New Jersey. By 1926 it was given to the Union Historical Society in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and a copy deposited in the Virginia State Library. [20]

The Will. In Name of God Amen I John West of the County of Stafford being sick and weak in body but of sound and perfect memory thanks be given to God for the same and knowing it is appointed for all men to die Do make and Ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following revoking all Wills by me at any time heretofore made.
            Item. My precious and immortal soul I give into hands of God that gave it not doubting but that the merits and passion of my blessed Saviour and Redeemer to meet with joyful resurrection and touching what worldly Estate it hath pleased God of infinite Mercey & Goodness to bless me withal I give and devise in the following manner.
            Item. I give and bequeath unto my Dear and loving wife Dorothy the use of my whole Estate during the time she remains my widow for the support of herself & Children on this restriction and proviso that she pay my Children their respective Legacies to them not here bequeathed as they retain their respective ages but it is my desire if my said wife should marry then only to be Entitled to her thirds of my Estate, only my Negro man Harry, I give and bequeath to my said wife and to her heirs and assigns forever.
            Item. I give and bequeath to my four sons Edward, John, William & James West my Negro wench Jenny & her now and future increase to be equally divided among them as they respectively Attain their several Ages & so continually in Equal portions afterwards what Increase the said Jenny shall leave to them and their Heirs forever.
            Item. I give and bequeath two hundred Acres of land lying in Prince William County bought of William Cockrill to my sons Edward and John West to be Equally divided between them and to Heirs of their bodies Lawfully begotten and for want of such Heirs to my sons William and James and the Heirs of their bodies Lawfully begotten and for want of Such heirs to my right Heirs forever.
            As to the residue of my Estate of what kindsoever I desire that after my wife's decease or Marriage may be equally divided among my four children above named Edward, John, William & James West and their Heirs forever and in case of their Deaths then to the Survivour or Survivours in Equal portions as near as may be allotted in Quantity and Quality allowing my said Wife the use thereof during her life or widowhood as before exprest & intended under the above & said Limitations who I appointed my whole & sole Exr. desiring my Estate may and be Appraised.

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this 4th day of Nvr 1744.
John West his mark & seal
Sealed and published as the last Will and Testament in the presence of us.
J. Rogers, Will Mills, Thomas West

At a Court for Stafford County Feby the 12th 1745 – The within last Will and Testament of John West decd was presented into Court by Dorothy West the Exr. therein named who made Oath thereto according to Law and being proved by the Oaths of the witnesses and thereto subscribed is admitted to record and on motion of the sd. Exr. and she having complied with what is usual in such Cases Cert. is granted her for obtaining a Probate thereof in due form.
Teste.  H. Tyler Cl. Ct.

The Estate Inventory of John West

Stafford County, Virginia; Will Book M, p. 425, April 10, 1745 Court. [Note: " . . . " means illegible.]

An Inventory of the Estate which belonged to John West late of Stafford County ordered at the time of his Death, as followoth, viz. One Featherbed and furniture. 2 old beds and their furniture. A Gun and box. Iron and heaters . . . 12 plates pewter . . . 3 Iron potts and potthook, a kettle and a skellott. a pair of . . . & crossed legged table . . . of coopers tools, carpenters tools and . . . 5 flagg chairs. a lott of . . . furniture and two . saddles and outside saddle. A Wine Pipe. 2 hogsheds or water casks & small casks & 2 Bibles & 2 Testaments. 2 Testaments & 2 psalters & one old small Bible and Spire Morter 7 Pestle, a looking glass, vinegar cruet, a pair of stillards. a white servant Edward two years to serve, a negro woman and negro child about 2 years old. & . . . wearing apparrell. 3 cross hogsheds of Tobo. about 850 Tobo. each. 17 barrells Corn, 10 bushels wheat. 2 old horses. 2 young do & 2 young mares. 10 head of sheep. 25 head of cattle. 32 head of hoggs. 10 gees. 300 gallons of cyder. 2 narrow axes. 2 old grubing hoes. 2 old weeding hoes. 2 ploughs old 2 narrow hoes one frying pan a quart tankard 2 house Iron & 2 Potts 2 ton gallon & Do 2 iron candle stands. Hive of bees three sickels & lanthorn. Tin . . . and one pewter funnel pair sheep shares. 3 doz bottle. 1 doz. pewter spoons. 6 . . . of leather a parsel of piggins. Pails Tubs baskets and other old . . .

10 April 1745, Dorothy West (Seal)
At a court held for Stafford County, April the 10th 1745. This inventory of the Estate of John West dec'd being . . . is admitted to record.
Test. H. Tyler Clk. Ct.

1. West DNA Project, Family Group #5. Ref: http://web.utk.edu/~corn/westdna/west5.htm#FG5

2. Genealogist Jim Burness has created an excellent summary of William Cockrill/Cockril/Cockerel/Cockrell that may be accessed at: http://gedcom.surnames.com/burgess_jim/np90.htm

3. Hamlin, Charles Hughes, 1975: Virginia Ancestors and Adventurers. Genealogical Publishing Company, p. 15. Abstract, Prince William Co., Va  Deed Book Z, p. 45.

4. Carolyn Getting gives a bit of information about Rogers at at: http://genforum.genealogy.com/rogers/messages/5331.html

5. Stafford County, Virginia, Will book O. Synopsis: 22 Jun 1757. Thomas Smith, on his death bed, requests that Mary [Sudduth] Bolling receive much of his Estate. He then mentions that Lawrence Sudduth should take care of the rest of the estate for Mary’s son William until the boy comes of age. Sudduth “entered into bond with John Bell and William Mills, his security.”

6. William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Volume 17, page 66. Also: “Capt. Henry Tyler” at http://vagenweb.org/stafford/captainhenrytyler.htm

7. Boogher, Wm. F., 1899: Virginia; Overwharton Parish Register, 1720 to 1760; Old Stafford County. Saxton Publishing Co., Washington, D.C. http://archive.org/details/virginiaoverwhar00will)

8. West DNA Project, Family Group #5.

9. Roy, Ron, 2013: “Summary of Records for Thomas West of Spotsylvania/Stafford County and Thomas West of Orange County.” The West Family Project Blog.  http://westproj.blogspot.com/2013/08/thomas-west-of-virginia.html
10. Ibid.

11. 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.

12. Roy, 2013. He concludes that because of the timeline, the Thomas West of Stafford appears to be the same Thomas West of Orange. The two counties shared a boundary at that time, and later lost this to Culpeper County.

13. 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. http://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/1790m-04.pdf

14. Stafford County Virginia Deed Book P, p. 72-73. Found at “Petition List of Signers 1776 to Divide Stafford County.” http://boards.ancestry.com/localities.northam.usa.states.virginia.counties.stafford/942/mb.ashx?pnt=1

15. Kentucky Reporter, 21 Sep 1831. “Capt. William West, of Lexington. Died Monday night, Sept. 19, 1831, at an advanced age.” Provided by: McGuire, Marilyn, 2002: “Re: Edward West of Fayette Co.,” GenForum. (Notes from Kentucky Gazette and Kentucky Reporter). http://genforum.genealogy.com/west/messages/6894.html

16. Hayse, Joseph M., 1978: “Lexington’s Early Amateur Actors.” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol. 76, No. 4, p. 280. Hayse says that “Two West families lived in Lexington.” He states that they were Captain William West and Edward West, Jr.

17. Leavy, William A., 1943: “Part Four: A Memoir of Lexington and Its Vicinity.” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Volume 41, No. 134, p. 44-62.

18. Des Cognets, Anna Russell, 1898: Governor Garrard of Kentucky, His Descendants and Relatives. James M. Byrnes Publisher, Lexington, KY, p. 12. James Garrard, son of William, was the second Governor of Kentucky. He moved to Kentucky in 1783 and settled into what is now Bourbon County.  Also, Stafford County, Virginia, Will and Deed Book S.

19. The Will and Estate Inventory is also found in: 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.

20. Hoppin, Charles Arthur, 1926: “The Lost Will Book, 1730-1748, of Stafford County,” Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, VIII, p. 111-117.


  1. Regarding John West, Jr. (son of John West, d. 1744). West researcher Ron Roy found a possible connection to John West, Jr. 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.

    Deed -- Thos. White and Elizabeth, his wife, of Stafford Co. to John West of same Co. £60 curr. 91 a. in Spts. Co. No witnesses. Novr. 20, 1777.

    Ron writes: "Since the John West in the second deed is "of same Co" (Stafford) it appears likely that this is John West, son of John West who died in Stafford Co in about 1744." He also shares a Deed from that publication that almost certainly is witnessed by Edward West (son of John, Sr.) in 17 Oct 1773. I have noted this under the "Edward West" entry.

  2. Thanks, Joy, for the well-documented insights on John West and his family. I have often wondered if the entry in the Overwharton Parish Register for Carty West could have been a transcription error and was originally "Caty". The name Caty does appear in several of descendants of Thomas West of Family Group #5. However, I have not viewed the original entries to see if they may shed any light on the subject. I am not sure the originals even exist. I know that LDS has a film, but sometimes those film are are transcriptions, too.