Benjamin Phipps/Fips: Frederick AKA Hampshire Co., VA

A couple or so posts back, a 1743/44 road order in Frederick County, Virginia was noted. That concerned Benjamin Phipps as overseer for clearing the way for a road. The road was to lead from the north branch of the “Cape Capon,” or Cacapon River, also called the Cacapehon in earlier times.

As noted earlier, Frederick County, where this record originated, was created about the same time as the record was created. The county was formed from Orange County. The original Frederick County was far larger than the county of that name today.

It’s interesting to note that a 1796 land grant to Henry Baker refers to land adjoining Benjamin Fips on the North River of the Great Cacapehon. Can we assume that the north branch is the North River, and that this is the same Benjamin?

The Baker grant involved 267 acres, “adjoining Benjamin Fips Land on the North River of Great Cacapeon.”

The land grant, however, is in Hampshire County. Could this be referring to the same land?

At the time of the road order, Hampshire County didn’t even exist yet. At the time of the Baker grant, however, Hampshire was situated adjacent to Frederick County. Much of the land that had been in Frederick County at the time of the road order was now in Hampshire County.

As Wikipedia notes, the largest tributary of what was earlier called the Cacapehon, but which today is called the Cacapon, was the North River. This is located in what today is Hampshire and Hardy Counties in West Virginia.

The 1760 Granville County, North Carolina will of Esaiah Phipps refers to land he still held in Hampshire County, containing 248 acres. This was on both sides of Little Cape Capon. This would be the Little Cacapon, which today is in the center of Hampshire County, West Virginia.

These records can be summarized as follows:

  • 1743/44: Benjamin Phipps road order in Frederick County, which became Hampshire County
  • 1760: Esaiah Phipps will mentioning his land in Hampshire County
  • 1796: Baker grant adjoining Benjamin Fips in Hampshire County

One obvious question would be whether both of these references to Benjamin pertain to the same man, since more than 50 years intervened. Another question would be what sort of relationship(s) existed between or among them.

Could it have been possible that a younger Benjamin was the father of Esaiah and a younger Benjamin? Could it be that Esaiah inherited land from his father?

The ownership of land in extreme northern Virginia could have been the result of factors other than general family migration. The second-generation surveyor John Phips of southeast Virginia is said to have been very active in acquiring northern land.

Also, the Phripp family (likely related and using a variant form of Phipps) of southeast Virginia was in a social circle which was based in southeast Virginia and yet possessed extensive land holdings in northern Virginia and even into Maryland. Evidently even back then, land was viewed as holding investment opportunities.

John & Tabitha Fips of Charlotte Co., Virginia

Noteworthy finds were posted recently in the Witcher Family Genealogy blog regarding John Fips of the Pigg River area of Virginia, who has been discussed in other recent posts. These findings are summarized in a new page about John Fips, who died in 1768, and his wife Tabitha. John died in Charlotte County, but probate and estate matters involved his heirs in adjacent Pittsylvania County.

The page, which includes document scans, shows that John’s wife was Tabitha, and that they were the parents of Elizabeth (“Betsey”) Fips who married Ephraim Witcher. Also discussed are other children and apparent children of this couple.

Research regarding this family could hold potential promise for those who have dealt with the Ashe County, North Carolina roadblock. Various circumstances and interconnections suggest a close connection.

Since this John died in 1768, there was obviously another John in the area, perhaps John and Tabitha’s son. The page discusses a 1771 record involving a living John Phips in Pittsylvania County.

For whatever reason, the Phipps family seemed to love to bestow on males names beginning with the letter J, and a number have been named John. Could there be a connection, however, between the later John in Pittsylvania County and the John who shows up in records in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1789 and 1791? (Some members of this family moved from Pittsylvania County into this general area of North Carolina.)

John Fips, according to a 26 January 1789 Wilkes County, North Carolina record, was to oversee the road from Praters Creek to Franklin’s road. He resigned by 23 April 1792. In addition, a Wilkes County deed dated 24 July1791 is from John and Elender Fips to Alex Smith, for 100 acres.

Then we also have two individuals named John Fips in early Amelia County, Virginia. Amelia County was adjacent to Lunenburg County, where the John of Charlotte County appears to have originally surfaced in records, where he received a land grant on both sides of the Pigg River in 1760.

The following are records pertaining to two individuals named John in Amelia County. This list is mostly dependent on online record abstracts and transcriptions, and there seem to be some abstract or transcription issues. The data seems clear enough, however, to demonstrate the presence of two individuals named John Fips in Amelia County.

  • 23 February 1747, Amelia County: Deed, Edward Harris, planter of Amelia Co. to Bartholomew Austin, witnessed by Nathaniel Harris, John “Hips” (presumably Fips misread), Robert Gresham
  • 16 March 1747, Amelia County: Deed (see also here, Nathaniel Harris of Amelia Co. to John Green of Goochland Co. (or Edward Harris of “Raleigh Ph.” Amelia Co. to Nathaniel Harris of same – either transcribed incorrectly or there were two different deeds), witnessed by John Fips, Robert Gresham/Grosham, Charles Harris
  • 8 March 1747?, Amelia County: Deed(s), abstracted as “a couple of deeds” dated 8 March 1747 and 18 March 1847 (presumably 1747 was meant, but which deed is which isn’t clear), Edward Harris and wife Unity of Amelia Co. to son Nathaniel Harris, witnessed by John Fips, Robert Gresham, Charles Harris
  • 2 Apr 1750, Amelia County: Survey, John Fipps had 400 acres surveyed on the south side of the Appomattox River
  • 26 September 1751, Amelia County: Road order, John Phips among those to work on “old Roling Road” from Randolph’s Road near his mill, then across Vaughan’s Creek at ford, then to mouth of Sawney’s Creek
  • 1775 or 1776, Amelia County: Rev. War service, John Phipps enlisted in Revolutionary War service; he was born 1753 in Charles City County and resided in Surry County, Virginia in 1774 (see both references to his enlistment)
  • 23 June 1785, Amelia County: Deed, Solomon Coleman to John Phipps acknowledged in court
  • 26 July 1787, Amelia County: Deed, John Phipps to Herrod Crowder proven in court by witnesses Daniel Southall, Samuel Pitchford, and Jeremiah Perkinson

This list suggests two individuals in Amelia County named John Fips or Phips or Phipps. (Presumably when the later John enlisted in 1776 in Amelia County, he enlisted there because he was living there.) One was an adult by 1747. The other wasn’t born until 1753.

A working hypothesis would be that the one who was born in Charles City County in 1753 was the son of the one who was witnessing deeds by 1747. After all, the older one would likely have been born, perhaps, in the mid-1720s or earlier, If he was born, say, 1726 (if 21 in 1747), then he would have been about 27 years old when the later John was born.

A closer examination of the evidence, however, suggests that this appears to be extremely unlikely, if not impossible. Assuming that all the following records pertain to the same individual, then that gives us the following scenario regarding the older man:

  • 1747: Witnessing deeds in Amelia County
  • 1750: Had land surveyed in Amelia County
  • 1751: Working on road in Amelia County

The younger man in Amelia County would have been in 1753 in Charles City County, yet the older man would presumably have been living in Amelia County (or at least not back east in Charles City County). This would suggest an extreme unlikelihood of a father and son relationship.

Could the information about either of these two men named John overlap, however, with the information about the two men named John in Charlotte and Pittsylvania Counties, a short distance away?

Of the two Johns in Charlotte and Pittsylvania Counties, the younger was involved in a debt dispute in Pittsylvania County in 1771. The John who was born in 1753 doesn’t appear to have moved any further west than Surry County, Virginia by 1774, according to his own testimony. As a result, these would appear to be different individuals.

The older of the two Johns in Charlotte and Pittsylvania Counties, the one who married Tabitha and who died in 1768 in Charlotte County, could in theory have been the same as the John who appeared earlier in Amelia County. Then he could have been involved in Amelia County records from 1747 through 1751 in Amelia County records, after which, in theory, he could have received a land grant in 1760 in Lunenburg County, which would have moved him a bit further south.

There’s a problem with that theory as well, however, in that post-war records show John – or at least someone by that name – still in Amelia County after the Revolutionary War. This would have been after the John who was born in 1753 had moved on into Orange County, North Carolina.

Still, it would certainly seem likely that these individuals were related, however distantly. The John of Charlotte County appears to connect back to Brunswick County, Virginia, and the John of Amelia County who was born in 1753 was born in Charles City County. These locations are not very far apart. In fact, Brunswick County was created, in part, from Surry County, which was created from James City County which is adjacent to Charles City County.

Also, note that the earlier John in Amelia County was closely involved with the Harris family. The first two generations of John Phippses in Virginia were surveyors involved with the Harrises, beginning in Jamestown in what became James City County.

Are we dealing here with four separate and distinct individuals in the same general area around the same time and all named John Fips, or do some of these records perhaps overlap, like Venn diagrams? Do the records in Amelia County both before the birth of one of these men in 1753 and after that same man moved out of the area after the war suggest that, perhaps, we’re dealing with as many as FIVE men named John, and all in this same general area?



Phipps Mill, Alleghany County, North Carolina

Maps and gazetteers sometimes refer to “historical” locations. These are generally places which show up on maps but where little or nothing remains today, such as extinct towns or vanished buildings.

Evidently one such location is Phipps Mill in Alleghany County, North Carolina. Alleghany County was created from Ashe County. This is in Piney Creek Township, where various records refer to Phipps family members of the past.

A map and GPS info appear here.

Benjamin Phipps, 1743, Frederick Co., Virginia

Early colonial road orders from Frederick County, Virginia mention Benjamin Phipps. On 10 February 1743 (1744 Old Style) was appointed an overseer for the project of clearing the way for a road stretching from the north Branch of “Cape Capon” (the Cacapon River) to James Cody’s Road.

Frederick County, located in extreme northern Virginia, was created in 1743 from Orange County. In 1743, the county was much larger and included a substantial amount of land currently in Maryland. Also included was land which today is in the Virginia counties of Loudoun, Warren, and Shenandoah.

John Fips, 1704, Yorktown, Virginia Area

The name Jno. Fips appears in a York County, Virginia rent roll dated 1704. The rent rolls were essentially a form of land tax (see here).

York County was created in 1634 as one of the original Virginia shires, based around Yorktown. This is close to Jamestown and Williamsburg. We’ve discussed the name John Phipps (variously spelled) in connection with colonial Jamestown at length in past posts.

John Phips, Born 1768 in Virginia

John Phips was born about 1768 in Virginia, according to an estimated age in the 1850 census mortality schedule. According to that record, he died in March 1850 in Mercer County, Virginia of old age. He had been sick 13 weeks. He was 82, but that age is referred to as “est,” or estimated.

His occupation was that of a cooper. Mercer County is now in West Virginia. This is at the southern edge of West Virginia, adjacent to the Virginia counties of Bland, Giles, and Tazewell.

The individual listed as Sarah Fips in the same census in the same county may have been a relative. She is listed as 48, and born in Virginia, but as was the case with John, her age is also listed as “est,” or estimated. She would have been born about 1802 if the age is accurate. John would have been about 34 at the time, so perhaps he was her father.

Family Bible, Littleberry Phipps of NC & IN

A recent comment posted by a reader had to do with John Witcher Phipps. Recent posts have concerned the relationship between his father Littleberry Phipps of Surry County, North Carolina and Lawrence County, Indiana, and their descent from John Fips who died intestate around 1769 in Charlotte County, Virginia.

All of the individuals mentioned in the comment, including the Potters and the Roys, have been discussed in recent posts. What’s especially interesting about the comment is the reference to a Phipps family Bible in Lawrence County, Indiana. That Bible is said to contain a list of all of Littleberry Phipps’s children:

John W Phipps b 20 May 1815 Virginia (John Witcher Phipps ) was the 1st son of Litttleberry “Berry” Phipps b 16 Nov 1790 Surry Co North Carolina son of James Phipps (Fips) who removed to Pulaski Co Kentucky and died there Oct 1827. James Phipps is believed to be the brother of Elizabeth Phipps who married Ephriam Witcher and Martha Phipps who married Stephen F Potter. Littleberry Phipps and the Potters removed to Lawrence Co Indiana about 1830.I am looking for the name of Littleberry Phipps first wife. The Phipps Family Bible is in the Lawrence County Indiana Museum listing all Littleberry Phipps children. The Leonard Roy family also followed the Phipps (Fips) family from NC to Kentucky to Indiana.