Signposts via the Bolling Family

The following is interesting in that it points to which appears to be a thread connecting individuals and places in an exciting way. This is, however, found partly in unconfirmed sources, sources which are termed “secondary” (as opposed to primary). Secondary sources are indirect sources, containing unconfirmed claims, and need to be verified or disproven through the use of primary (direct) sources such as wills, pension records, deeds, and the like.

Secondary sources, which may or may not be correct, refer to a Benjamin Bolling (with various middle names being claimed, and of course little or no documentation for any it). One unconfirmed claim is that he was born in 1734, and another unconfirmed claim says that this was in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Now we’re getting close to the Ashe County, North Carolina area where so many of the Phips or Phipps family have been found.

He supposedly died in 1832 in Russell County, Virginia and was buried in Wise County, Virginia. Of course, a Phipps or Phips presence has been noted in both counties.

This Benjamin married (again, supposedly) a woman named Martha Phelps. The name Martha was, during that period, frequently nicknamed Patsy, and that was the case here – or so we are told. Her surname, however, is where it gets interesting.

Her surname usually appears in various web pages, again seldom if ever crediting any sources, either primary or secondary, as Phelps. Also claimed, however, is Felts, and the claim has also been made that it was actually Phipps. (One has to wonder whether it could have been all of those – Phelps, Felts, and Phipps – depending on record clerk, document writer, day of the week, or mood of the ancestor.)

Here we have, potentially (subject to proof or disproof), a man living close to the Ashe County, North Carolina which was so closely associated with the “Phips” family, who might have married a “Phipps” (in whatever surname form). Why might this be important?

This could be very important because of the recurrence of the surname Bolling, which, today at least, isn’t an extremely common surname. Presumably it wasn’t all that common in 18th-early 19th century Virginia and North Carolina society either, so if it keeps reappearing in relevant records, this could signal a genealogical connection of possible significance.

The name Bolling should probably sound familiar, if you’ve been reading this blog. By word-searching text files not in this blog, it should be possible to find other occurrences of the Bolling surname (and its variants) in connection with the Phipps/Phipps or associated families. Here are some of those places where these names criss-cross:

  • 1745: Robert Bolling is associated with Peter Jones, Abraham Cock (Cocke), and Frederick Jones in a Prince George County, Virginia record; Jones and Cocke have been identified in various past posts as associated families.
  • 1746: The Bolling name appears in a Goochland County, Virginia tithe list, along with Seth Burton; Burton is another very closely associated name which we’ve discussed on a number of occasions.
  • 1746: “Bolling‘s Warehouse” in Brunswick County is associated in a record with Clement Reade (Read); the latter name has been associated with the estate of John Fips of Charlotte County, Virginia.
  • 1751: William Bolling appears in an Albemarle County, Virginia patent, this time with another Cocke (Richard) involved, along with George Carrington (a surname also associated with the John Fips estate, and a John “Witch,” likely a form of Witcher, a name very directly associated with John Fips.
  • 1754: The name William Bolling appears again, and again with John “Witch,” presumably the same one in the previous record. This time the record (a deed) is from Cumberland County, but this is the same general area, and the “Phips” etc. family as well as associated families tended to be very highly mobile. The record also includes George Carrington, presumably the same one in the previous record.
  • 1754: Another Cumberland County deed associates these same 3 names again.
  • 1755: A deed mentions William “Bolding” (as a variant of Bolling) as an adjacent land owner in, again, Cumberland County. The same John “Witch” appears again. Perhaps it should be noted at this point that several Cumberland County records from around this general period of time refer to individuals named “Phelps.” Note that the Bolling we started out with is said to have married a “Phelps” who, it is said, might have been a “Phipps.” The Phelps records are replete with associated names which seem to suggest that, yes, it was probably the same “Phipps” family. Records in Goochland County directly associate George Carrington with a certain John “Phelps.”
  • 1771: Another Cumberland County deed refers to Thomas Bolling, the heir and eldest son of William Bolling of Cumberland County who, the record says, is now deceased. This time the record also refers to a Joseph Carrington (grantee), who we can assume was related to the George Carrington mentioned earlier. In fact, George Carrington himself is mentioned as an adjacent property owner and witness. Another witness was Nathaniel Carrington. Also mentioned is the fact the land involvd had been earlier sold to William Bolling by John Witch.
  • 1774: Yet another Cumberland County deed again mentions all these same names which appeared in the 1771 deed.

The real value of using this research approach becomes more evident when making further searches which identify various criss-crossing relationships involving the Witchers, the Cockes, the Bollings, and various other associated families like the Eppes and Reaves families, with frequent appearances by families named Phipps, Fips, Phips, etc.

To some extent, that has been done in the posts of this blog, but the same names reappear far too frequently, and with far too many criss-crossing relationships, to refer to all of them here. In fact, so many connections occur simultaneously that the only way to list or diagram the relationships involved might be to use some sort of 3D charting system, perhaps like the one used in the Black Loyalist site.

(This page in that site shows relationships associated with John Phrip, evidently a variant form of Phips or Phipps. Moving one of the names with your mouse shows ever-changing perspectives which demonstrate the complex nature of their relationships.)

Remember that in the timeline above we associated Bolling with Jones? Well, planter and merchant Robert Bolling (1646-1709) is supposed to have come to Virginia from London and to have married Jane Rolfe, granddaughter of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. She was also the daughter of Jane Poythress of Henrico County, and the Poythress family had direct dealings with the Phipps family in Brunswick County, as well as with the ever-recurring Epps or Eppes family.

Further, Robert Bolling bought land near the falls of the Appomattox from Richard Jones, and Robert Bolling III bought a mill that had belonged to Peter Jones. In addition, the Jones family has reappeared over and over in connection with the Phips or Phipps family and in connection with closely associated families.

Also a certain John Bolling owned land in Campbell County, next to land owned by John Pleasants. We have discussed this man several times as evidently being closely related to the Burton and Reaves or Reeves or Rives family, names closely associated with the Phips family of Ashe County, North Carolina.

Campbell County is a location we haven’t discussed much, but it’s in the same general area that we have been discussing, and is today adjacent to Halifax, Pittsylvania, and Charlotte Counties. These are counties we’ve discussed on various occasions.

That land which John Bolling owned in Campbell County was sold by him in 1782. Earlier, it had been granted to William “Phelps.” A working hypothesis is that this Phelps family was connected to the family elsewhere represented as Phips, Fips, Phipps, and the like. That concept is not just based on the above, but also on countless other bits of data, many of which are discussed in previous blog posts.

And, not surprisingly at this point, the Bolling family appears to tie into the family of President Thomas Jefferson, that person who has kept popping up, genealogically speaking, at unexpected moments.

We’ve discussed the fact that, for example, much of Jefferson’s ancestry is surprisingly obscure, and that Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire, England remarried to the widow of a “Jeaffreson” of St. Kitts in the Caribbean, with likely ties to the “Jefferson family of Virginia.

This is in addition to the obvious connection to Jefferson via the Epps or Eppes family (his mother in law was an Epps or Eppes). The Epps or Eppes family was extremely closely connected with the Reaves or Reeves or Rives family in early Virginia, which in turn was directly connected with the Phips or Phipps family, at least in the case of George Reeves or Reaves of Grayson County, Virginia and Samuel Phips or Phipps of adjacent Ashe County, North Carolina.

Th0mas Jefferson’s sister Mary married John Bolling in 1760. (See a page about her in the Thomas Jefferson Monticello website.) Robert, brother of this John Bolling, is supposed to have married a Mary Burton.

Burton is the surname which has recurred countless times in connection with the Reeves/Epps etc. social and family circle and which was directly connected with George Reeves or Reaves of Grayson County, Virginia, father in law of Samuel Phipps of adjacent Ashe County, North Carolina. This is also the surname of the man who took in the Fipps orphans in 1742 in Goochland County, as discussed in previous posts.

The thing about this is that the evidence presented above was not pieced together in an attempt to prove anything. In fact, it was written on the fly. And, further, there are countless pieces of data, many of which have been discussed in this blog, which point in the same direction.

No attempt is being made to prove anything. No attempt is being made to find these same surnames and, in many cases, these same individuals – yet they keep recurring over and over and over again. The evidence above is just a tiny fraction of a fraction of a tiny fraction of the evidence which appears to be pointing to the same relationships involving the same few families.

Out of the abundance of evidence come the following very tentative conclusions:

  • The Phips or Phipps or Fips family in southeast Virginia was almost certainly known at times as Phillips or Philips or Felts or Phelps or etc., regardless of how much that inconveniences modern researchers.
  • The Ashe County, North Carolina Phips family almost certainly derives not from any of the claimed and invented Pennsylvania linkages, but rather from the immigrant surveyor John Phips of Jamestown, or from others closely related to him. That family does, however, appear to have probably had some genealogical ties to the southeast Pennsylvania Phipps family, and the Pennsylvania family and the southeast Virginia family may have been more aware of each other than previous genealogists have suspected.
  • That family was originally directly involved with a social/familial circle which included some of the most prominent families in Virginia society, with direct ties to England, of course, but also to the Caribbean.
  • That family appears to have had at least indirect ties to Thomas Jefferson and to other highly prominent players in early Virginia history.
  • By the time the family appears in Ashe County, North Carolina, high society was a thing of the past, and some later family members and relatives became some of the  most noted outlaws of the early half of the 19th century.

Newspaper Gleanings

A few miscellaneous bits found in old newspapers:

  • From an abstract of an article in the Champaign County Herald, Urbana, Illinois, August 1884: Benjamin Phipps was arrested in Kerr Township on a warrant from Vermilion County. He was charged with assault with intent to commit murder.
  • From an abstract of an article in the Gurley Herald, Gurley, Alabama, 31 March 1898, p. 1: News from “Skaguay” (Skagway), Alaska reported that Thomas H. Phipps and Ralph H. Smith had found a substantial quantity of “rich quartz-bearing, free-milling” gold, in a location they were keeping secret.
  • From an abstract of an article in the New England Weekly Journal, Boston, 17 February 1736: Samuel Phipps died the previous Wednesday at Charlestown. He had been clerk of His Majesty’s Court of General Sessions of the Peace and Interior Court of Common Pleas in Middlesex County.

A Phipps Duel in 1825, and Heraldic Connections

A duel between Phipps and Starkey is the subject of records described as “copies of a report from the Devizes Gazette.” The records are to be found at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham, England, and are indexed by the National Archives. The record is also mentioned in the Wiltshire Council‘s website.

The latter identifies Phipps as Charles Lewis Phipps. This was the result of an 1825 quarrel which centered around poaching involving someone working for Phipps. One of the records is a letter to Thomas Henry Hele Phipps, brother of Charles Lewis Phipps, regarding the matter.

Both Charles Lewis Phipps and Thomas Henry Hele Phipps are listed among those appointed as justices of the peace (Parliamentary Papers, p. 62), apparently in 1836. They are also both indexed together by the National Archives as having taken oaths as justices of the peace in the county of Somerset in 1836.

Various records involving one or both men also appear listed in the Wiltshire Council website, in a Wiltshire and Swindon Archives Catalogue Search. In all, the Phipps name appears over 50 times in that page. The name appears over 70 times in a discussion of manors in Westbury in the British History Online site.

Thomas Henry Hele Phipps, by the way, was presumably the person of that name who was the subject of A Sermon on the death of Thomas Henry Hele Phipps, preached and published in 1847. Wikipedia refers to Thomas Henry Hele Phipps as the father of John Lewis Phipps (1801-1870) of Leighton House in Westbury, Wiltshire. The latter was involved in the Brazilian coffee business.

Burke refers to Thomas Henry Hele Phipps as a son of Thomas-Hele Phipps of Leighton House, in turn a son of Thomas Phipps, Esq. of the same estate, son of another Thomas, Esq., also of Leighton House, son of Paul of the parish of Westbury. This family was treated at length in an earlier post

Regarding the duel, this is mentioned in Ronan Kelly’s 2008 book, Bard of Erin: the Life of Thomas Moore. There it is noted that the Phipps and Starkey families “fell out dramatically.” Phipps, as a result of the duel, was “clipped in the foot.” Starkey, for his part, received a bullet hole through his hat. (A couple other Phipps references appear in the book.)

The Morning Chronicle of London, citing another paper, the Southampton Herald, reported on Wednesday, 2 March 1825 that the duel, described as “an affair of honour,” took place Wednesday morning (it doesn’t say which Wednesday).

This was at “the New Forest (Lyndhurst, we believe)” and that both men lived near Devizes. The same story with the same wording also appeared in the newspaper called The British Press, published in London just the day before.

The papers explained that the quarrel arose when Starkey’s father suspected that a laborer of Phipps had poached Starkey’s game. Starkey (the father, apparently) was identified as man with a doctorate in divinity, who was one of Phipps’s neighbors.

Phipps evidently became offended at undefined “measures” taken by Starkey to prevent a recurrence. “High words” were exchanged, and Rev. Starkey warned Phipps to act civilly toward him.

Phipps then ran into the younger Starkey in the marketplace in Devizes, and hurled forth some “degrading epithets” regarding the younger and elder Starkey as well as the rest of their family.

Being gentlemen, aside from Phipps’s insults, they exchanged cards with the intention of settling the matter. Phipps apologized to Starkey, but not until after two shots had been fired.

Another record in the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, as indexed by the National Archives, is an anonymous letter to Charles Lewis Phipps, dated 1828. In addition, five letters from Phipps are indexed here. Four notes from poet Thomas Moore to Charles Lewis Phipps (1841 and undated) are indexed here.

The British Gazetteer mentions Dilton Court as the seat of Charles Lewis Phipps, and mentions that he was the brother of Thomas Henry Hele Phipps. A later (1841) Dilton Court, perhaps built on the same site, is now being run as a bed and breakfast in Westbury.

Francis Phipps arms ArmsDilton Court is also mentioned in Burke in connection with Charles. The arms are noted as being the same as those of Phipps of Leighton House. These arms were discussed in a previous post as being the same as those associated with Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire (at left).

The arms of Francis Phipps are described as “Sable, a trefoil slipped between eight mullets Argent. Crest: A lion’s gamb erect and erased Sable, holding erect a trefoil as in the Arms.”

The arms associated with Leighton House in Wiltshire are described in identical terms. We’ve also discussed the very similar arms of the “Phibbs” (and sometimes Phipps) family of county Sligo in Ireland. (See also the detailed treatment here.) The Phibbs arms are missing the trefoil slipped between the mullets.

The arms would appear to suggest a genealogical connection between the Phipps family of Leighton House in Wiltshire, the “Phipps” family in county Sligo in Ireland, and the far-flung family of Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire, England.


Mrs. Phipps and the Newgate Calendar

A book which used to be considered a major classic in the 18th and 19th centuries, but which seems to have passed into relative obscurity, is The Newgate Calendar. This work is subtitled “The Malefactors’ Bloody Register.” At one time, parents encouraged their children to read the gory accounts of crime and punishment, the aim being that it might scare the wits out of kids so that they would never considering committing crimes.

Some editions are greatly abridged. One of the horrendous stories of heinous crimes which was included, however, involved the infamous murder of a woman named Phipps, apparently Sarah Phipps, by William Taunton on 4 August 1769.

She is called simply “Mrs. Phipps” in The Newgate Calendar but court testimony calls her Sarah Phipps. A news item in the Oxford Magazine, however, calls her Margaret Phipps.

The story runs as follows:

William Taunton was born in Gloucestershire. He had been a husbandman, but gave it up to work as an “ostler” (hostler, or one who took care of horses at an inn) at Tewkesbury. Tewkesbury is a town and civil parish in Gloucestershire. He then came to London.

“After this,” as the story goes, he worked for the widow referred to as Mrs. Phipps, at her establishment in Colnbrook called the Lamb Inn. This Colnbrook is presumably the village of that name in Berkshire. At one time it was the historic county of Buckinghamshire. (Historic counties are distinguished from administrative counties.)

An online transcription of testimony from the Old Bailey refers to “the Lamb inn, in the parish of Stanwell, near Colebrook,” but evidently Colnbrook was meant. Colnbrook is near the village of Stanwell in the shire county of Surrey. A report of the execution in the Oxford Magazine calls the location Colnbrook.

Even though she had “several children,” Mrs. Phipps entered into what was termed a “scandalous intimacy” with this man, William Taunton. For “some years” they lived together as though they were married, and strangers visiting the inn assumed that he was her husband. Court testimony indicated that they lived as though man and wife.

They quarreled constantly, however, and often this came to blows. This was the case to the point that it negatively affected how the community saw Mrs. Phipps and even injured her business.

At one point, Taunton left her and returned to his native Gloucestershire. After arriving there, however, he received a letter from Mrs. Phipps, asking that he return. The battles between them became just as frequent as before, however.

One night they sat down to dinner, and Mrs. Phipps asked William Taunton if she should pare him a cucumber. He grabbed the kitchen fireplace or stove poker and told her to grab the other end of it. She was puzzled as to why he asked her to do this, but eventually complied.

When she asked Taunton what she was supposed to do with the poker, he told her, “You must knock out my brains.” To this she replied, “No, Taunton, I will not hurt a hair of your head.” Taunton then told her, “If you will not knock my brains out, I will knock your brains out.”

He then struck with tremendous force. Taunton called for a doctor, who dressed the wound but who told Taunton that if he had murdered her, he would have to be apprehended as a murderer. Taunton said that he knew that, but still wanted the doctor to tend to the wound.

The doctor attended to her for five days. On the 5th day, she told her daughter, “Peggy, you may go out of the room, for I want to sleep.” While the daughter was out of the room, Taunton walked in and struck Mrs. Phipps on the head again, this time with a hatchet or axe. He then went about a mile away to a public house in order to drink, according to the book, but about a mile and a half away according to testimony.

The doctor, once he saw the state of Mrs. Phipps, sent two others out in search of Taunton, who was apprehended. The coroner’s jury found Taunton guilty. He was taken before a magistrate who committed him to New Prison. This was located in central London, in the Clerkenwell area.

When asked later why he had done such a thing, Taunton said that it was because she had slandered him in the neighborhood. He was sorry for what he had done, but said that it was too late.

At his trial at the Old Bailey, testimony was introduced to show that he sometimes acted out of his head. He had tried to kill himself by drowning, it was said, as well as by hanging.

He was found guilty, however, on 9 September 1769, and was scheduled for execution the following Monday, the 11th. That day was said to have been characterized by “a most extraordinary shower of rain.”

Nevertheless, the execution was carried out. The body was later taken to Surgeon’s Hall for dissection.

The story noted that, “It is very seldom that we hear of unmarried persons living together as man and wife any tolerable degree of happiness,” adding that “there is no happiness in this life equal to that which is to be found in the married state.”

For more:

Benedict Arnold and the Phipps Family

Not all Phipps genealogists realize that part of the family has connections to Benedict Arnold (his Wikipedia biography). In the United States, the name Benedict Arnold has become synonymous with the word traitor. Another view, of course, is that he simply maintained faithfulness to what had been the government of America up until around the time of the Revolution.

Today, things seem remarkably black and white. In the 1760s to 1780s, however, the issue of loyalist vs. patriot was a major issue which caused some real schisms involving various members of the Phipps, Phips, “Phripp,” etc. family or families. Various past posts have documented the extreme effects of the Revolution on these people.

In those days, for many, things did not seem black and white at all. Some recent scholarship has examined the extent to which those on the fence were pushed into compliance with Revolutionary philosophy, sometimes by means of extreme violence. (See Lambert, South Carolina Loyalists in the American Revolution, 2011, for instance.)

An 1879 book on the Arnold family contains a couple Phipps references. That book is Genealogy of the Family of Arnold in Europe and America by Dean, Drowne, and Hubbard.

Page 16 mentions Sophia Matilda Arnold, who married Col. Pownall Phipps. Her father was Gen. Benedict Arnold, the one who eventually became the object of infamy in America. Benedict Arnold’s 2nd marriage was with Margaret (“Peggy”) Shippen (her Wikipedia biography). Her family was known for its loyalist tendencies. Their daughter Sophia Matilda Arnold married Pownoll Phipps in India. She died in 1828 in London.

We’ve dealt with Pownoll Phipps in various earlier posts. He is the subject of the book The Life of Colonel Pownoll Phipps by a later relative, Pownoll W. Phipps, published in 1894. A complete online digital copy can be accessed in Internet Archive, and can either be read online or downloaded in various formats.

The son of Pownoll Phipps, Ramsay Weston Phipps, has been the subject of past posts. His Wikipedia biography appears here. His son Henry Ramsey Phipps authored a vitally significant and groundbreaking article which we’ve referred to before, titled “Phipps Families of Berkshire.” This begins on page 14 in an 1889 issue of The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Archaeological Journal which, again, can be read online or downloaded from Internet Archive.

To return to the Arnold book, page 16 refers to the fact that “SOPHIA MATILDA, married Col. Pownall Phipps, Knight of the Crescent, in the East India Company’s service (related to the Earl of Mulgrave’s family), and died in 1828.” Located a bit below that reference is one which refers to Georgiana Phipps Arnold (birth name), a daughter of General Arnold’s brother William Fitch Arnold. Georgiana married Rev. John Stephenson. Col. Pownoll Phipps is also mentioned in a note on page 13.

The reference to the Earl of Mulgrave is, of course, something that a number of past posts have mentioned. (See the Earl of Mulgrave article in Wikipedia.) This associates the family with that which descends from the marriage of Lady Catharine Annesley to William Phipps, with Catharine Annesley being the daughter of Catharine Darnley, the “natural” (illegitimate) daughter of King James II who was discussed about 3 posts back.

Going further back, this connects this family with Francis Phipps of Reading, Berkshire, England, a figure we’ve referred to again and again as patriarch of major genealogical importance. Francis married Anne Sharpe, and later the widow of Col. John Jeaffreson of St. Kitts in the Caribbean.

The idea that the “Phips” family of Ashe County, North Carolina descended from this family seems far-fetched, and yet countless bits of circumstantial evidence, as discussed in the 2000-plus posts of this blog, seem to point in that direction. One thing about the family is that some members frequently underwent social redefinition as they took bold stands on controversial issues, butted heads with the public or with those above them, or found their lucrative trade diminished. Changes in fortune seemed part and parcel of the “Phipps,” “Fips,” etc. saga.

Various family members have risen to the social or political heights, only to then become relegated to a comparative scrap heap, for a variety of reasons. That was certainly the case with William Phips, royal governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, who died after being recalled to London amidst all sorts of accusations. That was the case to some extent with Constantine Henry Phipps, who was made Lord Chancellor of Ireland but later dismissed after stirring up a hornet’s nest of controversy.

Sometimes they have seemingly risen out of relative or complete obscurity, as supposedly happened with Sir William Phips of Massachusetts, as supposedly happened to some extent with that same Constantine Henry Phipps, the son of Francis Phipps whose sister married a George Reeves of Virginia. (See “The Rise of the Phippses” in the British Isles Genealogy site.)

Members of the Phips, Phipps, Fips, Phyppe, etc. family or families have suddenly found themselves thrust out of positions of power and prestige due to a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons have been documented time and time again in various sources, and have been discussed in numerous posts here. Those reasons include the following:

  • a frequent tendency toward an extremely irascible temper and stubbornness
  • a marked tendency for those in power to incite the ire of either higher-ups or the public at large or both
  • a stance on one side or the other with regard to the monarchy vs. Parliament debate in England
  • a stance on one side or the other with regard to the loyalist vs. revolution debate in America
  • a stance on one side or the other with regard to the state church vs. nonconformist religious groups, including Lollards and later Quakers
  • involvement in a Caribbean trade which could not last, due to the Revolution
  • involvement in the slave trade, which could not last, due to shifting public consciousness
  • involvement in trade between England and America, which could not last because of the eventual severance of ties with England

RootsTech 2016

Not specifically Phipps-related, but RootsTech begins tomorrow, February 4, 2016, and runs through the 6th. Some sessions will be streamed as live video. When this is available, the videos will appear in the home page. A live stream schedule appears here

Very helpful course syllabi on a variety of subjects, generally in pdf format, can be downloaded here. Videos from last year’s conference can be accessed here.