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.