Phipps, Reeves, Epps, and an Albemarle Parish Connection?

In response to an earlier post about Phipps Eastern Cherokee Applications (ECAs), one reader posted a comment containing a question. That comment asks, “What is the source of the statement: ‘George Reeves [abt 1745?-1811], for example, who was the father of Betty Reeves who married Samuel Phipps [abt 1762/3-1854] of Ashe County, North Carolina, appears to have had Halifax County, Virginia connections to the Epps family’?”

A Halifax County, Virginia deed in Deed Book 16, p. 128, as abstracted in Charles Hughes Hamlin, Virginia Ancestors and Adventurers, refers to “George Reaves of the county of Wilkes in North Carolina.” That Halifax County deed, dated 6 Sep 1793, also refers to him as being one of the heirs (“legatees”) of John Eppes, deceased.

The George Reaves (Reeves) of this deed would appear to be the same George who was Samuel Phipps’ father-in-law.  No other George Reaves or Reeves seems to have been living in the Wilkes County area at the time. Assuming that this is the case, then this deed appears to connect George Reeves with not only the Epps or Eppes family of Halifax County, but with both the Reeves/Reaves/Rives and Epps/Eppes families, two families intimately associated, of eastern Virginia including Albemarle Parish (not to be confused with Albemarle County).

Before living in Halifax County, Virginia, the Epps family shows up in various records in Lunenburg County, Virginia. Lunenburg County was formed in 1746 from Brunswick County, where various early Phipps individuals appear.

Note, for example, that a Joseph Phipps is listed in connection with a burgesses election 2 Dec 1768 in Brunswick County. A certain William Phips appears in Brunswick County probate records in 1770 and 1771. A Joseph Phips filed a Revolutionary War public service claim pertaining to his residence in Brunswick County.

The Epps family of the Halifax County, Virginia deed also appears to connect with Sussex County, Virginia. Numerous records show the Eppes/Epps and Rives/Reeves/Reaves families as very closely associated in early Eastern Virginia records. This seems especially true in Albemarle Parish (not to be confused with Albemarle County), which was in Surry County and later in Sussex County in Virginia.

In addition, a number of references refer to Phipps individuals acting as godfather in Albemarle Parish christenings. These include John Phipps (1740s, 1770s) and Benjamin Phipps, who was very active in standing in as godfather (if all the records pertain to the same individual) in the 1760s and 1770s.

A certain Jordan Phipps was born in Albemarle Parish in 1769, a son of Benjamin and Martha Phipps, and is likely the Jordan who married there (Sussex County) in 1793. He may also be the “Jourdon Fips” who then shows up in Wilkes County, North Carolina in the 1800 census as having been born between 1756 and 1774 (age 26-44).

Obviously we need more information regarding this Jordan, but could it be possible that he links the Phipps family of Albemarle Parish, Sussex County, Virginia, with the Phipps family of Wilkes County, North Carolina, in the same manner that George Reeves appears to link the Rives/Reeves family of Albemarle Parish, Virginia with the Reeves family of Wilkes County, North Carolina? Is it possible that this background, if this is the case, could even explain the affinity between the family of Samuel Phipps (eventually of Ashe County, North Carolina) and that of his father-in-law George Reeves (eventually of neighboring Grayson County, Virginia)?

The apparent Reeves/Epps connection suggests that assuming that George Reeves really did marry Jane Burton, this would have been a second (or subsequent) marriage and that he likely earlier married an Epps or Eppes. Genealogists seem to attach Elizabeth (“Betty”) Reeves, who married Samuel Phipps, to an earlier marriage anyway, dating her birth to some time before the apparently undocumented marriage to Jane Burton.

This also suggests that the often-copied pedigree for George Reeves, which has him born at Drewry’s Bluff, Chesterfield County, Virginia, the son of a Thomas Phipps of Essex County, Virginia, is almost certainly wrong. No proof, apparently, of that relationship has ever been found anyway. As a web page titled “George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia” suggests, “Some have speculated” that Drewry’s Bluff and Thomas Reeves fit into George’s genealogical background, but, “thus far, there is nothing to document this connection.”

By the way, Paul Heinegg discusses the Epps family at length in his book Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina. Numerous suggestions have been made elsewhere that the Reeves or Phipps families were characterized by intermarriage with Melungeons or Native Americans (or were, themselves one or the other). Heinegg, however, tends to discount or discredit claims to Melungeon or Native American ancestry, favoring the idea of African-American origin for this family (and other families) instead.

By the way, Heinegg mentions an illegitimate birth which may impinge on the John Eppes of the deed mentioned above.

So, we seem to have a Reeves connection from Albemarle Parish (Sussex County), Virginia to Wilkes County, North Carolina, and a highly likely Phipps connection from Albemarle Parish, Virginia to Wilkes County, North Carolina, involving two families that intermarried. Is this migration trail where we need to be looking for further information that may answer the seemingly eternal question as to the NC Phipps origins?

A little about the Albemarle Parish area:  This was a pre-Revolutionary War Episcopal parish that reflected the political and civil dominance of the Church of England in the affairs of Virginia at the time. Albemarle Parish should not be confused with Albemarle County.

James City County, Virginia was created in 1634 as one of Virginia’s eight original shires, and was located on both sides (north and south) of the James River. Then Surry County was created in 1652 from the part of James City County that was south (actually, more like southwest) of the river.

When Surry County was created, it contained two parishes which formerly had been a part of James City County. These were Lawne’s Creek Parish, formed in 1640, and Southwark Parish, formed in 1647.

In 1732, part of Surry County was added to Brunswick County. Then, in 1738, Lawne’s Creek and Southwark Parishes were restructured. This resulted in the area north of the Blackwater River being called Southwark Parish, and the area south (southwest) of the river being given the new name of Albemarle Parish.

Sussex County was formed in 1754 (some sources say 1753) from the part of Surry County that was south of the Blackwater River. This left Surry County as being located north of the Blackwater and as a part of Southwark Parish. The new county of Sussex was in Albemarle Parish. In fact, all of Albemarle Parish was then located in Sussex County.

This, then, means that between 1738 and 1754, Albemarle Parish was in Surry County. Then, from 1754 until the parishes were abolished around the time of the Revolutionary War, Albemarle Parish was in Sussex County.

Please note the COMMENTS below.


10 thoughts on “Phipps, Reeves, Epps, and an Albemarle Parish Connection?

  1. hi, I am descended from REV WAR VET George Reeves and Jean Burton. I have been searching for info on them and I would love it if you please will share where the info comes from? Did you find a will? or a published book? Im thrilled that you have the info and hoping you will share the sources. I am working on my DAR papers for George Reeves and also need documents to prove lineage for his children, do you know where that info might be located? Thank you for any help, I deeply appreciate it, Patti Waldron

    • I’m sorry, but you’ll need to be a whole lot more specific. The article included references to a number of sources.

  2. There are a few very early Wilkes County citations pertaining to George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia; however by 1793 he was listed on the tax lists of Wythe County, Virginia making him an unlikely candidate for the George Reeves of the Epps will. It is far more likely that the George Reaves described as “of Wilkes County, North Carolina” in the Halifax deed dated September 6, 1793 is part of the family of Asher Reaves/Reeves.

    According to his pension statement given in 1832 in Greene County, Ohio, Asher Reaves was born in Prince William County, Virginia and joined the revolutionary forces from Halifax County, Virginia in 1778. His pension statement states that he lived in Halifax County, Virginia prior to the Revolutionary War from where he originally enlisted, then his father relocated to Wilkes County, North Carolina, where he was recruited for subsequent tours of service.

    After the Revolution, Asher Reaves returned to Halifax County, Virginia where he lived for approximately 16 years before relocating to Tennessee and then to Ohio according to his pension statement. By 1798 George Reaves is also listed on the tax lists of Halifax County and continued to live there until his death which was probably around 1830 as evidenced by census and tax lists. From tax lists, he is known to have a son George, Jr. and the marriage of Polley Reaves to William Wilson on 27 May 1804 lists her father as George Reaves.

    Asher’s parents are unknown; however, the only mature Reeves individual living in Wilkes County, North Carolina at that time was an Isaac Reaves with wife Margery. The Isaac Reaves of Wilkes County, N.C. was previously in Mecklenburg County, Virginia which is adjacent to Halifax. Early Settlers of Mecklenburg Co., Va., Vol. II, by Katherine B. Elliott, mentions that Isaac and Margery Reeves sold land there in 1765. (Recorded in Deed Book 1, pg. 165.) The fact that Isaac and Margery Reeves are known to have left Virginia and relocated to Wilkes County NC around the time of the Revolution indicates a possible connection between George, Asher and Isaac Reeves.

    Although Isaac Reaves will written 11 May 1807 does not name any children and the only legatee is his wife, Margery, he is known to have had several sons and daughters.

    • Thanks for your interesting post. The relationship between the Phipps and Reeves is an interesting area that needs to be researched further.
      You mentioned that George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia was an “unlikely candidate for the George Reeves of the Epps will” because he appeared in a Wythe County tax list in 1793. The name George Reeves appears in two separate Wilkes County, North Carolina land records, however, in 1791, then is mentioned in three separate court records in 1793 very close by in Grayson County. The “old field” of George Reeves is mentioned in a 1794 Grayson County court record, but then the name is mentioned again in a 1794 Wilkes County land transaction.
      A 1791 state land grant to George Reeves in Wilkes County gave him 600 acres on New River adjacent to David Collins. This David Collins was likely the same David Collins who was listed in a 1782 Montgomery County (same area) tax list with Samuel Phipps. This would seem to suggest a high likelihood that the George Reeves who was in Wilkes County in 1791 was the George Reeves who was Samuel Phipps’ father-in-law, and the Epps deed two years later refers to George Reeves as being of Wilkes County. In addition, in a 1779 Wilkes County land entry record for George Reeves, his name is crossed out and the name of Moses Tolevor (Toliver) is written in its place. The close relationship of the Toliver and Phipps families is additional circumstantial evidence for identification of this George Reeves. (Samuel Phipps testified on behalf of the pension application of Jesse Toliver, Moses’ brother, and Samuel Phipps’ grandson Matthew married Mathursa Toliver.)
      I’m not sure what time frame you’re referring to when you say that “Asher’s parents are unknown, however the only mature Reeves individual living in Wilkes County, North Carolina was an Isaac Reaves . . . ” If you’re referring to the 1804 marriage that you cite, the New River George Reeves who was in Montgomery County, then Wilkes County (assuming it’s the same individual, which seems to be the case) only appears in Grayson County, Virginia records, as far as I’m aware, from 1801 on.
      I have strongly suspected that Asher Reeves was closely related. He was born too early to have been a son of the George Reeves who became Samuel Phipps’ father in law. George was born about 1745; Asher about 1757. That Asher had a son named George, according to the History of Greene County, Ohio.
      Asher, according to his pension application, moved with his father to Wilkes County about 1778. This is exactly when George Reeves first shows up in the Wilkes County records that I’m familiar with, with three land entries being dated December 1778.

  3. I really don’t think that George Reeves (father-in-law of Samuel Phipps) was moving around the New River area from 1770 until 1800, I believe the county designations just kept changing:

    George Reaves was on the 1771, 1772, 1773 and 1774 tithables lists in now extinct Fincastle County, Virginia. Montgomery County was established in 1777 from Fincastle County. On April 3, 1782 the court considered a recommendation for George Reves to be a lieutenant in McDonald’s Company in Montgomery County. Then he appeared on the 1787 tax list of Montgomery County with 100 acres. Wythe County was formed from Montgomery County in 1790 and by 1793, George and his son, Jesse, are listed in the tax lists of Wythe. George Reeves received a land grant for 384 acres in Grayson County on the west side of the New River in April of 1795 (, then in August of 1795 there is a Wythe County land grant for 400 acres on Peach Bottom Creek. These two may have been granted a few years earlier and simply recorded in 1795. These grants establish that he was in Grayson County by at least 1795 and it’s predecessaor counties from circa 1771.

    I wasn’t trying to connect George Reeves of Grayson County with Asher Reaves and that family. I believe they were a completely separate Reeves lineage. None of the Grayson County deeds from heirs of George Reeves Sr. mention Asher.

    My comment ” the only mature Reeves individual living in Wilkes County, North Carolina was an Isaac Reaves . . . ” refers to the 1790 census where Isaac Reeves is the only Reeves head of household in Wilkes County NC.

    George Reeves of Grayson County appears to have moved into the New River area from the Neuse River area of North Carolina along with Richard Burton and many of the other early settlers to that area such as Tollivers, Collins, Terrells, Riddles et al.

    • Isaac Reeves wasn’t the only Reeves in Wilkes County in the 1790 census. There were at least a couple others: James and John.
      Regarding all the records we’ve been discussing, it’s very true that one person could show up in several counties without moving. In addition, one might have showed up in records in more than one county because of owning land in more than one county.

  4. I found Ruth Phipps will in 1814 Davidson Co TN. She left her belongings to the Hay family so she must have been related. Does anyone know her maiden name or how she was related to them?

  5. My maternal great,great grandmother was Mary Frances (Fannie) Reaves Hudgins (wife of John R. Hudgins) of Halifax Co. Va. Her father is listed as George Reaves and her mother Mary Reaves. Somewhere in the tree Moses Epps is listed. This George Reaves served in the Civil War, was taken prisoner at Point Lookout MD and died there. I have a picture of Fannie on her wedding day in 1870. Could this be the same George Reeves of Grayson Co?

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