John Phipps, 1807, Burke Co., NC Sheriff’s Sale

From the Raleigh Register, and North-Carolina State Gazette, Thurs., 13 Aug 1807, p. 1:

Sheriff’s Sales.
Will be Sold.
On Wednesday the 30th of September next, at the Court-house in Morganton,

The following Tracts of Land, or so much thereof as will discharge the Tax due thereon for the year 1805, with costs, &c. . . .

150 [Acres] on the waters of Catawba, given in by John Phipps . . .

Hugh Tate, Shff.

Loyalists and Surname Variations

Two factors seem to have polarized Phipps family members in England and can be expected to have caused some who were biologically related to treat each other as though they were not. Those two factors were closely linked.

One had to do with where one stood in the ongoing debate between royalists and parliamentarians. The other had to do with one’s stance in the related debate between the state religion, which varied depending on monarch, and “nonconformity.” The Quaker view, which involved some of the Phipps family, was a nonconformist stance which, early on, could result in imprisonment and which even much later was barely tolerated.

A similar debate arose later in America but had to do with the dichotomy between the views of the Loyalists or Tories, on one hand, and those of the Whigs or patriots on the other. Of course this dichotomy paralleled that involving the conservative Tories and the liberal Whigs in Parliament in England, with the latter sympathizing with the colonists’s views short of independence.

All of this appears to have impacted the Phipps (or Phibbs or Fips or Phripp, etc.) family tremendously. A related factor was the resultant impact that these sorts of debates would eventually have on the careers and social standings of family members.

Quakers or other early nonconformists might not have been able to hold positions of social and political importance in England, or even in America outside of nonconformist enclaves like Pennsylvania. A merchant depending on Caribbean trade could not maintain that trade in the face of British blockades. Shifting sentiments and legislation regarding the slave trade could directly impact economic level and social standing.

One almost has to wonder whether there might be some possibility that these sorts of issues could even have somehow impacted the spelling of one’s surname, as far-fetched as that might sound. We’ve seen how “Phipps” families, at times, have thought nothing of adopting variant spellings and even pronunciations of the surname. Why does it appear that a family that probably was a “Phipps” family in America decided to adopt the spelling “Phripp”?

Sometimes a particular “Phipps” family in a specific location has adopted a spelling like Fipps or Fips or even a pronunciation like Phibbs or Phillips. We’ve even seen where Phipps has changed to Fipps for a while, in one location, only to eventually revert to Phipps again later on.

Why, however, has one family, which appears to have been based in colonial Norfolk, Virginia, gone by Phripp – and that’s evidently in addition to Phrip, Phrit, Phips, Fipps, and Phipp. Although the name “Phrip,” or variants, does appear in British records as well, this family would appear to have connected in some way with at least some part of the “Phipps” family.

And why would this family have been closely associated with a Taylor family that appears to have likely been associated with a branch that began calling itself “Tayloe”? And why would the same “Phripp” family have also been associated with a family called Walker which began calling itself “Walke”?

And how did this family connect – or did it? – with the “Phips,” “Phipps,” “Fips” family which appears to have probably descended from John “Phips” (usually), the surveyor who arrived in 1621 at Jamestown, or at least from relatives of his?

And was this Phripp family a Loyalist family which redeemed itself from popular opinion in America and which later reinvented itself as a Patriot family? Did some members of the family abruptly leave America due to Loyalist beliefs? And were some members involved in multi-colony and even multinational business deals, and did some of those deals involve piracy as suggested by a Phips connection to John Blackmore, the suspected pirate with dealings in Jamaica and “Carolina”?

And was it possible that a decreasing viability of trade with the Caribbean – trade in molasses, rum, and slaves – resulted in a heightened emphasis on other endeavors, perhaps land speculation, perhaps Indian trading?

Here are a few facts to consider. Some of these have previously been mentioned. Some related facts as mentioned in earlier posts are not included, and some new facts not suggested before are added below.

  • John Phips, the surveyor from Essex, England, was brought into Jamestown (James City) in 1621. Sir William Berkeley deeded him property in Jamestown in 1656. That John supposedly had a son named John.
  • In the same immediate area was Surry County. Jamestown was on the north side of the James River. Surry County was formed in 1652 from the part of James City County south of the river. Jno. Phipps and William Harris, presumably his surveyor coworker of that name, are both listed together as having money (actually tobacco, presumably) due to them in a Surry County, Virginia record dated 1652. Surry County records refer to “Mr. Jno. Phibbs” in that county in 1652, “Jno. Philips” in 1662, and “Jno. Phillips” in 1663.
  • A 1652 record refers to the sale of a cow and calf from John Medmore to John Phipps. In 1662, a detailed and elaborate Surry County deed records the sale of cattle from William Phillipps, referred to as a carpenter, to “Lt. Ro. Spencer.” Perhaps this was the same William Philips who left a 1721 Surry County will although, if so, why a carpenter would own several plantations is not clear. He married a Swann, and the Swann family was closely connected to the Harris family of Surry County, likely the same family associated with the 1621 surveyor’s coworker Harris. We’ve earlier discussed a Phillips family in Halifax County with Swann connections, along with various other reasons why they were likely “Phipps.” Much later, so late that it might not mean anything, a Swann was the administrator of the estate of James Phipps in Craven County, North Carolina in 1859.
  • Of course, another Surry County record is the one dated 1657 in which Elizabeth Harris binds her son John Phipps as an apprentice to James Murrey, a Surry County planter.
  • A 1664 Surry County record refers to William Reeves “Marriner of black Island in New England.” Was he related to the local Reeves or Reaves or Rives family? If so, could the Phipps or Phripp family have also had direct New England connections? We’ve discussed earlier how it appears quite possible that Capt. Samuel Phripp of Norfolk was the same individual as Capt. Samuel Phipps of Charlestown, Massachusetts.
  • A John Phillops appears in a 1669 Surry County tithables list, along with “one Indian,” apparently living with a Mr. Edwards. He also appears in a tithables list in 1670 for the area from Sunken Marsh to Lower Chipoakes. We’ve discussed Sunken Marsh in connection with “the orphant” before.
  • In the same immediate area was Norfolk. Capt. John Phrip or Phripp and his son, Capt. Matthew Phrip or Phripp, also Phipp, Phips, etc., were propertied residents and slaveholders of the Norfolk, Virginia area.
  • The 1718 Norfolk will of Daniell Phillipps (signed Danl. Philips) may possibly refer to a member of the family otherwise referred to as Phripp or Phips. The will mentions Saml. Boush, Jr., as friend. The Samuel Boush name also appears in connection with Phripp documents. In the will, Daniell Phillipps gives a plantation to his son John Phillips. Samuel Boush was to have the “Said Sonn” when he comes of age. The plantation is later referred to in the same will as “Lying in North Carolina.”
  • Capt. John Phrip or Phripp was a sea captain and a Norfolk merchant. He was a business partner with Preeson Bowdoin. John was also closely associated with Col. Robert Tucker, another merchant. Anna, who was a daughter of Capt. John Phrip married Stephen Wright.
  • Capt. John Phrip of the Norfolk area was involved with Richard Brown in exchanging slaves. Apparently after John Phrip died, his son Matthew continued this practice with Richard Brown.
  • The 1722 Norfolk County will of Robert Tucker, in a somewhat cryptic abstract, appears to be mentioning a sloop which was, at the time, being built for him, with the notation “Capt. John Phripp will bidd for and purchase.” Here is yet another sea trade connection. Somewhat later, the 1731/2 Norfolk County will of John Tucker mentions the Cookes and Walkers, associated with the Phripp family, as well as money “to be raised out of my Westindie goods.” This indicates that this was yet another family involved in Caribbean sea trade. The same will mentions “my sloops” and “my friend John Phripp.”
  • The 1734 Norfolk County will of Richard Joell was witnessed by J. Phripp and refers to Joell’s friend “Capt. Nathaniel Tatum.” This was likely another sea captain, and the Tatums were closely connected to the Reaves or Rives or Reeves family which, at least eventually, became closely associated with the Phipps family.
  • John Ellegood’s 1740 Norfolk will refers to his “Sea Sloop” and all his other “Water craft,” along with his rum and dry goods and all other “wares & Merchandize.” Not only does this place him in the sea trade/merchant class, but the reference to rum would suggest a Caribbean trade connection. Executors included his brother Jacob Ellegood and Capt. John Phripp. Around the time of the 1775 burning of Norfolk, Jacob Ellegood was suspected of Loyalist sympathies and was imprisoned, while Matthew Phripp was suspected of the same.
  • A 1741 Norfolk will of James Giles was proved by Samuel Boush, Charles Smith and John Phripp. Then later, the 1773 will of Charles Smith mentions “my Friends Matthew Phipp Anna Phipp other ways Wright.”
  • The 1746 Norfolk County will of Eleanor Britt, who was a slaveholder, names Capt. John Phripp as one of her executors. The will was witnessed by Edward Hack Moseley. Later, in 1775, both Edward Hack Moseley and Matthew Phripp petitioned the Revolutionary convention that they be released from confinement on suspicion of being Loyalists (see below).
  • Matthew Phrip/Phripp was a sea captain and prominent Norfolk merchant. He was a partner in the merchant firm of Phrip and Bowdoin, and in Phripp, Taylor & Co. along with Dr. James Taylor. James Taylor, apparently the same one, was a son in law of Charles Smith. As already mentioned, the 1773 Norfolk County will of Charles Smith mentioned “my Friends Matthew Phipp Anna Phipp other ways Wright.” These “Phipp” individuals were otherwise known as “Phrip” or “Phripp.”
  • Looking at Matthew Phrip’s pedigree (see here, for instance), it becomes clear that he was interrelated with various other families of importance in early southeast Virginia, including merchant families. He was related to the Tatums, a family which was very much a part of the social/family grouping involving the Reeves (Rives, Reaves) and Epps (Eppes) families, with the Samuel Phipps who died in 1854 in Ashe County, North Carolina having married a daughter of a Reaves who was an Eppes heir.
  • In 1761, Stephen Wright married Ann or Anna Phripp or Phipp. She was a daughter of Capt. John Phripp and a sister of Matthew Phripp or Phrip or Phipp. Several weeks later, James Taylor married Alice Smith, daughter of the Charles Smith whose will mentioned Matthew and Anna “Phipp,” as mentioned above. The marriage bond was signed by Jno. Phripp, Jr.
  • Blacks were brought to the port of entry at Yorktown and the Naval Office on the Lower James River in 1725 and 1726 from ships licensed in Williamsburg. Those ships were owned by Jeffrey Flowers, Dudley Digges, John Hutchings, and John Phripp. The Hutchings name appears repeatedly in direct association with the Phripp family in general, and Matthew “Phipp” was executor of Joseph Hutchings’s will in 1776. These blacks were imported from Barbados, Jamaica, Anguilla, and Africa, showing yet more evidence of Caribbean trade.
  • In the spring of 1775, white residents of Norfolk and the surrounding areas were concerned about the danger of slave insurrection. Several blacks were accused and arrested. One was a slave named Emanuel (not to be confused with Emanuel de Antonio, who was also accused). He was the property of Matthew Phripp, who was Norfolk County’s militia lieutenant.
  • Various sources refer to slaves of Matthew Frip, Phips, Phripp, etc. of Norfolk. Three blacks named “Frip,” described as formerly of Norfolk, Virginia, appear to have arrived in Nova Scotia on the ship Danger in 1783.
  • The Burning of Norfolk occurred on 1 January 1776, but is sometimes referred to as a 1775 fire. A significant number of Loyalists had been living in Norfolk, but they had fled. The city became occupied by Revolutionaries from North Carolina and from elsewhere in Virginia. Lord Dunmore ordered a fleet of 6 ships to destroy the town. The fleet sailed up the James River and then Hampton Creek, and the British Navy began shelling the town. Some Navy personnel came into the city and began burning certain properties.  The Revolutionaries (Whigs or patriots) largely kept the landing parties at bay, but this didn’t stop the flames from spreading. In fact, the Revolutionaries encouraged the flames, because they didn’t want the British to use the city. Most of the city was destroyed. Lord Dunmore left in August.
  • After the Norfolk fire of 1775/1776, Matthew Phrip and his relative and associate John Willoughby were suspected of Loyalist tendencies, but both were eventually cleared. Was that because he actually wasn’t Loyalist, or because he was a rich and influential businessman? Matthew Phripp claimed loss of over £2,000.
  • Various accounts all present essentially the same account of how Matthew Phripp was more or less coerced into taking Lord Dunmore’s loyalty oath. One source even goes so far as to say he was “forced” into it. Most of these sources link this to pressure from an unidentified aging parent. Then, in the next breath, the oath is overlooked because, as was pointed out, he had supposedly attempted to get the locals at one point to arm themselves against the British, but he couldn’t get them to comply. One must wonder if the truth could have been that he did attempt to get the locals to organize militarily, but not necessarily against the British. He was also, however, said to have performed a significant role in Patriot councils at Norfolk before Dunmore’s occupation. Was this the case, or just a spin?
  • One source, Eckenrode’s book The Revolution in Virginia, lists “the chief men of Tory inclinations in Virginia.” In this brief list are Matthew Phripp, merchant of Norfolk, Jacob Ellegood, who was held as a prisoner, John Tayloe Corbin, son of “a large landowner,” and Richard Corbin, Virginia’s receiver-general, along with his sons Francis and Thomas. What this list doesn’t point out that is that Matthew Phripp was a close associate of Jacob Ellegood, and we have discussed the Phipps connection to the Corbins, with links to the Turbeville/Turbyfield etc. family and to Constantine John Phipps, on various occasions. We’ve also discussed the very real possibility that the Tayloe family, which we know was originally Taylor, was related to the James Taylor who was an extremely close associate of Matthew Phripp. Note again that the list is not simply of some people who were suspected of being Tories. Instead, this is a list of “the chief men of Tory inclinations” in Virginia.
  • Shortly before Christmas of 1775, three suspected loyalists were sent to the Revolutionary convention associated with the Committee of Safety. These were Matthew Phripp, Edward Hack Moseley, and Moseley’s son. All three were confined. Moseley was a close associate of Phripp and both Moseley and Phripp submitted a petition to the convention on 19 December 1775. They complained about “very unfavourable and injurious reports” which had “prevailed” against them.
  • When Matthew Phripp died in 1780, his death was reported in the Williamsburg  newspaper the Virginia Gazette. Records from his estate appear to be housed at Colonial Williamsburg.
  • When, in 1783, blacks were listed in a “Book of Negroes” as having departed from the port of New York, three of them were referred to as “formerly the property of Matthew Phips of Norfolk, Virginia.”
  • A writer in 1853, in referring to a Norfolk area association of patriot descendants, noted that the Phripp surname “exists within the four counties,” without specifying what those counties were. Certainly Norfolk, Isle of Wight, and Princess Anne were mentioned in context. The apparent lack of records outside the immediate Norfolk area using the “Phripp” spelling causes one to wonder whether some other spelling – presumably Phipps, Phips, Fipps, or Fips – was in the writer’s mind.

For more information:

Notes on Burke and Buncombe Counties, North Carolina

William H. Masterson, editor, in The John Gray Blount Papers, Vol. 3, 1796-1802 (Raleigh: State Department of Archives and History, 1965), pp. 188-190, contains a letter from William Blount to John Gray Blount.

The letter is dated 28 Nov 1797 from Knoxville, Tennessee and appears to be concerned largely with surveying and settlement. Just the year before, the state of North Carolina had turned more than a million acres over to Blount.

Reference is made to “the lands sold to the Company,” to “the Commissioners line,” and to where people do and do not think it’s safe to settle without danger of Indian attack. Reference is also made to a “Mr. Harris.” The editor inserted the given name Edward here. One must wonder if he was related to the William Harris and the James Harris who accompanied the first two generations of surveyors named John Phips in Virginia.

Surveying was a lucrative profession, and one would think that sons might have followed in their surveyor father’s footsteps for several generations. This particular Harris appears to have been a lawyer, but is also described as aa woodsman, surveyor, and a “good bargain maker.”

All of those were traits which were needed as the lands discussed were opened for settlement. Reference is also made to a Claiborne; a Claiborne who was a surveyor brought the surveyor John Phips into Jamestown in 1621. Of course, this was far later, but it could have been a descendant.

The letter also refers to Phipps, without identifying him, mentioned in the same breath as “Jackson, Anderson & Claiborne.” This is in reference to “the threatened Impeachment” of William Blount.

Connected with lands derived from John Gray Blount, Josiah Phips received a 1796 land grant, evidently in Buncombe County, North Carolina. That information comes from a published abstract in a book on the history of Buncombe County.

Buncombe County, North Carolina is in the western part of the state. The county was formed in 1791 from parts of the counties of Burke and Rutherford.

The following are significant dates in this general area:

  • 1777: Burke County, North Carolina was formed from Rowan County
  • 1778, about: Jacob Phipps was born in Virginia, according to the 1850 and 1860 censuses; see 1824, below
  • 1790: John Fips appears in the census in Burke County with 1 male 16 or older, 3 males under 16, and 7 females.
  • 1791: John Fips signed a road order in January from “Buck to head of the Adkin” in Burke County.
  • 1791: Buncombe County was formed from Burke and Rutherford.
  • 1793: John Fipps signed a petition 29 Jan 1793 to have a road built from Indian Grave Gap in Wilkes County to the iron works which were under construction on Gunpowder Creek.
  • 1796: Grant of over a million acres to John Gray Blount by the state of North Carolina.
  • 1796: Grant of 100 acres to Josiah Phips, 20 June 1796, in list of lands within an “annexed plat by permission” of John Gray Blount, who was first granted the land; reference the book A History of Buncombe County North Carolina
  • 1797: Isiah Phypps received land grant #355 on 2 Dec 1797 for 100 acres on Indian Camp Branch in Buncombe County; see Book 4, p. 487.
  • 1799: Quit claim deed for 100 acres acknowledged in Buncombe County court in January 1799, from John Strother to Isaiah Phipps.
  • 1800: The census in Burke County shows Josiah Phips, with only a male aged 16-26 in the household.
  • 1802: Deed 28 Mar 1802 for 100 acres on Indian Camp Branch from Isaiah Phips to Benjamin Phips in Buncombe County; see Book 7, p. 115; acknowledged in court the following month as deed for 100 acres from Isaiah Phipps to Benjamin Phipps.
  • 1824: Jacob Phipps sold land on Coxes Creek (Cox Creek) in Buncombe County, North Carolina to Jacob Honeycutt.
  • 1833: Parts of Buncombe and Burke Counties became Yancey County.
  • 1834: Case of “Jas. Greenlee vs. Jacob Phipps and Joseph,” dated 31 Dec 1834 in online abstracts of Yancey County court records.
  • 1838: State Supreme Court case of Jacob Phipps v. John W. Garland was appealed from Yancey County.
  • 1849(?): Jacob Phipps listed among “doubtful” or “dreadful bad” debts associated with the estate of Thomas Lee Ray, Jr. in Yancey County.
  • 1850: Jacob Phipps shows up in census in Yancey County.
  • 1860: Jacob Phipps shows up in census in Yancey County.

This, of course, suggests the presence of the following Fips or Phips or Phipps individuals, if the records associated with one name all pertain to the same individual:

  • Benjamin: in Buncombe County 1802
  • Isiah or Isaiah: in Buncombe County 1797, 1799, 1802
  • Jacob: in Buncombe County 1824, 1834, 1838, 1849, 1850, 1860
  • John: in Burke County 1790, 1791, 1793
  • Josiah:  in Buncombe County 1796, 1800

Of course, that, in turn, suggests the following, if these people were closely related:

  • John was in Burke County by 1790
  • Buncombe was formed from Burke in 1791
  • Josiah was in Buncombe by 1796, Isaiah by 1797, Benjamin by 1802
  • Jacob shows up in Buncombe records by 1824

A Scottish Psalter and Transatlantic Trade

Old pension files sometimes contained original pages torn out of the family Bible which contained a handwritten family record. In that day and age, such records were considered proof of dates and relationships. This was, of course, before the days of photocopies.

In the case of the Revolutionary War service of Benjamin Phips of Grayson County, Virginia, an original family record contained in a psalter (a printed volume of the Biblical book of Psalms) was mailed to the Pension Bureau.

Some individuals kept their originals of such records and simply wrote out a copy and had it notarized. In Benjamin’s case, however, the record was torn out of the printed volume and mailed from Grayson County, Virginia to Washington.

Genealogists researching the family of Benjamin Phips have referred to what was mailed in his case as the “flyleaf.” Without examining the original document at the National Archives in Washington, it would appear that, much more likely, it was simply the title page, with the family record handwritten on the back of that page. A faint image of the text of the title page can be clearly seen on the back, where the family record appears.

The psalter was “Allowed by the Authority of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland.” The “Kirk” or Church of Scotland was based largely on the teachings of John Calvin and John Knox. That church had become a Presbyterian Church by the latter part of the 16th century. The reformed Church of Scotland became Scotland’s national church in 1690, two years after William and Mary had ascended to the throne.

The psalter was printed in Edinburgh, Scotland, but there is no reason to attach genealogical significance to the fact that this book was printed in the British Isles rather than America. The psalter was printed in 1750. Prior to the Revolutionary War, books in America were commonly imported.

That’s because printing was expensive and the market for books in America, where most of the territory was sparsely populated, was relatively small. Importing books rather than printing them in America often made more financial sense. All of that changed, of course, with the Revolution.

In fact, the Revolutionary War must have radically affected whatever was left, at that point, of two primary facets of the power, prestige, and wealth that at least some elements of the Phips, Fips, Phipps, etc. family had enjoyed previously. Those elements were:

  • Caribbean trade
  • Trade between England and the North American coast

Both of these were, of course, completely disrupted by the war. The British Navy began blockading major ports on the American coast. By this time, however, a number of family members had begun moving west, away from coastal cities dominated largely by maritime trade. By this time the dependence on trade with England and trade with the Caribbean obviously had to give way to other endeavors.

The title page of the psalter reads as follows:


Newly Translated, and diligently Com-
pared with the Original Text, and for-
mer Translations.

More plain, smooth, and agreeable to the Text,
than any heretofore.

Allowed by the Authority of the General Assembly of
the Kirk of Scotland, and appointed to be sung in
Congregations and Families.

MAJESTY’s Printer. M.DCC.L.

The other side of the title page is partly obscured by what looks as though it could be something attached. That object looks as though it might be some sort of seal, part of which has come loose and has become folded over and creased. What looks as though it could have been some sort of adhesive strips attaching the top of the seal, where it has come loose, are visible at the top of the item, where the top is folded over.

That’s only a guess, however, and one wouldn’t think it was an official seal, since no text or signature accompanies it. Perhaps it was some sort of memorial or commemorative seal connected with either the marriage or the funeral documented in the record.

The only part of the text which is obscured, evidently, is what must have been formulaic wording which duplicated the “hour Lord” as found in the phrase “in the year of hour Lord” above it. “Hour Lord” was, of course, a variant of “our Lord.”

Some controversy surrounds the claim that Benjamin’s wife was a Hash. The psalter record notes that shortly after the marriage of Benjamin and Jean, a certain John Hash died. As a result, one would think he had to have been a close relative, and most likely her father.

Some evidently undocumented claims, however, have a certain James Hash as her father, with apparently some question as to whether there ever was such a person. You can read about that in an old online forum post here.

Could the James Hash claim possibly been because of confusing James Hart – not Hash – with the Hash family? The Eastern Cherokee Application of Margrey Phipps of Grayson County specifically refers to a James Hart as having been her great-grandfather, but as the father of a Hash. This James Hart would have been her great-grandfather.

Whether that was the case or not, it is true that some of the early 20th century Eastern Cherokee Applications submitted by members of the Phips or Phipps family include claims of Hash descent. Margrey Phipps, who was born in 1844 in Grayson County, Virginia, lived in the same county as Benjamin Phips and was, herself, a Hash by birth.

She declared, “I have always been regarded as of Indian descent. It has been thrown up to me many a time. I am of Cherokee Indian blood, which comes through my mother, Sarah Hash.” We’ve discussed in the past how these claims involved association with the Sizemores, and how the claims appear to have been grounded in actual family lore of Native American ancestry, although probably not specifically Cherokee.

In Margrey’s case, she said that her parents were Robert and Margrey Hash, both born in Grayson County. When asked to provide her ancestry going back to 1835, she declared that she was

Margrey Phipps a daugter [sic] of Sarah Hash who was a daugter of Margrey Hash who was a daugter [sic] of James Hart who was a son of Dollie Sizmore [Sizemore] Who was a daugter of Ned Sizmore who was a full Blood Cherokee Indian.

Similarly, Eli J. Phipps was born in 1844, the same year as Margrey Phipps. He, however, was born in Ashe County, North Carolina, adjacent to Grayson County, Virginia. He said his parents were born in Virginia. Eli referred to himself as

Eli J. Phipps a son of Benjaman Phipps and Rutha Phipps who was a Daughter of Margera Hash who was a Daughter of James Hart and his wife Dollie Hart who was a Daughter of Ned Sizemore who was a full Blood Cherokee Indian

In the case of Jean Phips, widow of Benjamin Phips of the Revolutionary War pension application, genealogists have traditionally treated her as a Hash. Here is how the handwritten text of the family record reads:

Bengiman Phips and
J[ea?]n Phips was maried
the 5 Day of july in
the year of hour Lord
[divider line]
John hash Died
Apiril thirteenth
Day in the year of
[obscured by seal (?)] 17[86? or 84?]

Matthew Phripp of Norfolk

Matthew Phripp of Norfolk is the subject of a biography in the second volume of Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. One would expect that biography to suggest that he was absolutely unwavering in his stance on the side of the Revolution, and that he was absolutely innocent of charges against him in that regard. Even here, however, in this brief summary of his life, it’s clear that he was ambivalent in terms of his loyalties.

Some evidence would suggest that he likely had strongly Tory sentiments at least at some point, and this comes through a bit in the biography. From this and other sources, it would seem that, eventually, however, because of the close alliance between American government and business, he was recast as a “patriot.”

This man usually appears in records as Matthew “Phripp,” but sometimes as Phipp, Phips, or Fipps. He was clearly related to a John Phripp, Sr. and Jr., and a Capt. Samuel Phripp, also in the Norfolk area. Some little hints that we’ve discussed previously would suggest that he could possibly have had connections to both Massachusetts and Maryland, as well as possible connections to the Phipps/Harris family group which seems to have descended from John Phips, the early Jamestown surveyor.

From Tyler, ed., Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Vol. 2 (the “Fathers of the Revolution” volume), New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1915, p. 358. Paragraph breaks have been added for readability.

Phripp, Matthew, of Norfolk, Virginia, was a merchant, and at the outset an active supporter of the revolutionary cause. He was twice elected chairman of the Norfolk committee of safety, and was also colonel of the militia there.

When Lord Dunmore landed armed men and seized the press of the Norfolk newspaper, Phripp took up arms and made an endeavor to organize a force for resistance, but had little support from the people, and afterwards he would not act as colonel. He would not aid Dunmore in any way, but as he was liable to imprisonment and seizure of his considerable property, he took the oath of allegiance to the British king and left Norfolk, and but returned later at the urgent of his aged and inform father.

When the Virginia forces occupied Norfolk, Col. Woodford sent Phripp to Williamsburg for examination before the convention, but there was delay, and on December 19, 1775, Phripp petitioned that body, asking for a speedy hearing, and [the] convention ordered him to be held in confinement in his room in Williamsburg. Later that body adopted a resolution exonerating him from all blame and released him.

He was a prominent Free Mason, past master of St. John’s Lodge, at Norfolk, and acted as president of a Masonic convention held in Williamsburg in 1777.

More on Phipps and Harris

Although some controversy seems to surround who’s who in the Harris family, the sources listed below might be of interest. The “Geer Ancestry” document points out that one “theory” is that John Phips or Phips and William Harris, along with the William Morris who accompanied Phips on the voyage, might have been an “established survey team” even before reaching America.

That document discusses the connection to the Virginia Company. Wikipedia includes an article titled “William Harris (Tudor person)” which is about a William Harris born in 1556. He was described as a “knight, land owner,” and an “incorporator in the third Virginia Company of London.” Is there a relation?

A photo of his sword is included. This Harris was in the same Essex County as were the surveyors William Harris and John Phips/Phipps before they came to America.

The Essex County will of John Camber of East Tilbury, a gentleman of Essex County, dated 6 March 1602, mentions his cousin Isabel Harris (also Harrys) and his godson Thomas Phippes. The will was proved in 1603 and confirmed in a case involving, among others, Edward Phippes, who was next of kin of the deceased.

In yet another page in the well-known source Cavaliers and Pioneers (p. 240), in addition to the page referred to earlier, a reference appears to the Glass House in Jamestown and its joint ownership by John Phipps and William Harris.

Various sources refer to John Phips’s co-surveyor William Harris as “William Harris IV,” and as having been born about 1596. He is believed to have been a son of Sir William Harris III, born 1545, who is also said to have died in Jamestown, although there appears to be some controversy.

One source suggests that once John Phips or Phipps arrived in Jamestown, he lived with Dr. John Potts, the physician who is associated with John Phips or Phipps in deed records. William Harris lived with Potts, and so it’s assumed that Phips likely lived there as well. John Phips ended up owning land that had previously belonged to Potts.

“Many,” it’s said of the patent records involving Phip/Phipps and Harris, have them assigning land to others. Reference is also made to the second generation John Phips or Phipps appearing in “a number” of patents in the Northern Neck.

Where are these patents? Would they be included in those digitized and placed online by the Library of Virginia? If so, it doesn’t appear that there necessarily are “a number.” Are some of them filed some other way, in some other place, such as at the county level?

One source refers to the William Morris who accompanied John Phipps or Phips to America as being also known as William Morryce or Morrys.

Various other details are included in the following:

Phips and Harris: What is This About?

What, exactly is the nature of the Harris and Phips/Fips/Phipps connection? Note that some of the following is based on secondary sources and requires consulting primary source documents. This list emphasizes the connection to the Harris family.

  • 1556 | Southminster, Essex Co., England | will of William Harris mentions land bought from Phipps
  • 1602 | Hornchurch, Essex Co., England | John Phips or Phipps, the surveyor, born to Alexander and Agnes (Bright) Phips or Phipps in Hornechurch (Hornchurch), now a part of East London
  • 1621 | Jamestown, VA | John Phips or Phipps, age 19, arrived with William Harris and William Morris as surveyors, brought in by William Claiborne or Clayborne; John Phips was evidently from Hornechurch (Hornchurch), Essex, and William Harris appears to have been from Willingale Doe, Essex; note that Harris likely had an earlier Caribbean connection (Bermuda); Phips and the other two surveyors, under Claiborne as Surveyor General, laid out the so-called New Town settlement of Jamestown which, despite the name, was the first settlement that’s today specifically identifiable in terms of streets, lot ownership, etc., with John living in the town
  • 1623 | Elizabeth City, VA | William Harris, the surveyor, appeared in the muster list
  • 1624 | Jamestown, VA | William Clayborne of James City (Jamestown) received 150 acres in Elizabeth City for transporting the surveyors William Harris, John Phips, and William Morris
  • 1652 | Jamestown, VA | John Phipps ordered to repair a house and to find a tenant for its cellars
  • 1652 | Surry Co., VA | Surry County was formed
  • 1652 | Surry Co., VA | Levy record showing credit to John Phipps and William Harris, listed together
  • By 1655 ] Jamestown, VA | John Phips or Phipps and William Harris purchased the Glass House in Jamestown; this was a glass manufactory, the furnaces of which were discovered in 1948, resulting in its reconstruction as a tourist attraction which is open today
  • 1655 | Jamestown, VA | 1,100 pounds of tobacco due by the government to John Fipps by his petition
  • 1656 | Jamestown, VA | Grant to John Phips for 120 acres in James Citye (Jamestown), north side of Back Street next to Pitch & Tarr Swamp (creek), called “the first known acquisition of land on Jamestown Island”
  • 1657 | Surry Co., VA | Elizabeth Harris apprenticed her 4-year-old son John Phips to James Murrey, a Surry County planter; this may have had to do with a 2nd generation William Harris in Isle of Wight and Surry Counties (see “Location of Hog Island” below); records connect George Blow, Capt. Cockerham, Elizabeth Harris, her son the orphan John Phips or Phipps, and John Rawlings at Sunken Marsh; the Rawlings/Rollins name resurfaces later in connection with the Fips/Phips family in Sussex County (Albemarle Parish) and in Lunenburg County, as well as in an Edgecombe County, North Carolina deed to a Rawlings of Sussex County, Virginia and witnessed by a Fips, dated 1767; a later George Blow surfaces later in connection with Matthew “Phripp” of Norfolk
  • 1661 | Jamestown, VA | John Phips or Phipps sold land to Jonathan Knowles
  • 1662 | Surry Co., VA | George Blow became guardian of John Phips, orphan son of Elizabeth Harris
  • 1662 | Northern Neck of VA | 2nd generation surveyor John Phipps, 2nd generation surveyor James Harris, and John Butler “start appearing in a number of Northern Neck patents” and “Most likely, James Harris, like Phipps” later returned to the Jamestown area (William Harris 1621 Part 5, below)
  • 1667/8 | Surry Co., VA | Deed records showing Capt. Cockerham as “overseer of Harris his estate” and pertaining to the guardianship of John Phips or Phipps, Jr.
  • 1672 | James City Co., VA | Patent to John Phipps for land close to the “original William Harris land” near Jamestown
  • 1674 | Jamestown, VA area | Patent to John Phipps for 1,100 acres on branch of Powhatan Swamp in Jamestown area, just north of William Harris (is this the same as the 1672 record?)
  • 1747 | Amelia Co., VA | A couple or three deeds (abstracted differently) from Edward Harris witnessed by John Fips (in one case transcribed as “Hips”) and a Gresham; a Gresham was co-heir with George Reaves, father in law of Samuel Phips of Ashe Co., NC, in a 1793 Halifax Co., VA deed
  • 1773 | Halifax Co., VA | John “Phillips” left a will which sounds for various reasons as though it could have been a “Phipps;” a later John Phillips in that county enlisted in Rev. War service from Amelia Co. (see 1747) and was close to the Swann family which was closely connected to the Harris family in Surry Co.; this John is said to have himself come from Surry Co.
  • 1848 | Southampton Co., VA | John Drewry owned the Harris and Phipps Plantation

See the following: