Tobacco Payments and Land Processioning

Records pertaining to the Virginia House of Burgesses “At a Grand Assembly Held at James Citty by prorogation from the 10th of March, 1655, to this instant, first of December, 1656, wherein was inacted as followeth,” were published in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 17. The same material was reprinted in 1915 in Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1619-1658/59, edited by H.R. McIlwaine, , Richmond, Virginia: Virginia State Library, 1915, p. 102.

Those records include the following mention:

Whereas John Fipps by his petition shewed that there was due to him from the Country by former Order One Thousand one hundred pounds of Tobacco but Ommitted in Casting up the last levy, It is therefore Ordered that payment be made him of the said sum the next Assembly.

Taxes were ordinarily paid in tobacco, since cash was scarce. Various poll taxes were levied in the 1620s involving amounts like five pounds of tobacco per head.

In this case, however, 1,100 pounds of tobacco was due to – not from – John Fipps, in 1655. This was an extraordinary amount, and why would it have been due to him from the government?

One guess is that this was an amount due to John Phips or Fipps, the surveyor who arrived in James “Citty,” or Jamestown, with fellow surveyor William Harris in 1621. The amount was likely due to him for surveying work. The fact that the amount was overlooked seems to suggest that Phips actually made a lot more money than that.

Past posts have discussed Elizabeth Harris and her orphan son John Phips in 1657 in Surry County, Virginia. The orphan was bound out in 1657. We’ve mentioned in the past how it would seem that this John was surely John, Jr., and that Elizabeth was John Sr.’s widow, but subsequent research suggested that it might not be that simple.

Surry County was created in 1652, the tobacco credit was dated 1655, and the orphan being bound occurred in 1657. George Blow became the orphan’s guardian in 1662 (with a later George Blow being associated with Matthew Phripp of nearby Norfolk), and the guardianship appears to have passed from him to a Capt. Cockerham in 1667 or 8.

This would appear to have been Capt. William Cockerham who served in the House of Burgesses from Surry County, Virginia in 1663. His will, dated 1709 or 10 and probated 1717 in Surry County, Virginia was witnessed by another Harris: Michael Harris.

Evidently a somewhat later William Cockerham, a son of Moses Cockerham of Surry County, Virginia, settled in Caroline County, Virginia. This was, of course, the same Carolina County in which John Fips died in 1768, as mentioned in recent posts. That Moses moved into Lunenburg and Mecklenburg Counties as did some of the Phippses.

In Mecklenburg County, Virginia, the 1776 will of relative Philip Cockerham mentions land on the Meherrin River. Meherrin Parish in Brunswick County is mentioned in various period Phipps records. Meherrin Parish was located, according to one source dated 1861, “between the Meherrin river and the Southern boundary of Virginia.”

A 1689 Surry County, Virginia tithables list shows William Cockerham and Roger “Rawlins,” along with a Newsome (see below): William Newsom, Sr.

But back to Capt. Cockerham and the orphan: Then John Rawlings (also Rollins or Rawlins) became involved with the orphan, and a major squabble ensued over a mill at Sunken Marsh which was associated with the orphan’s estate.

The mill was owned by John Rawlings or Rawlins and Thomas Pittman by 1661. Pittman sold out to William Marriott, and Marriott then sold out to John Rawlings.

The Rawlings name is immediately recognizable, because a bit later, Benjamin Phipps of Albemarle Parish (Sussex County) was a godparent to Elizabeth Rawlings, daughter of Richard and Mary Rawlings, in 1767.

A bit earlier than that, Benjamin Fips witnessed a deed to Richard Rawlings, likely the same Richard Rawlings, in Sussex County, Virginia in 1762. Benjamin witnessed another deed to Richard Rawlings in 1767.

Benjamin Fipps witnessed the will of Gregory Rawlings in 1768 in Sussex County. Then, in 1782, the tax list for Sussex County shows Isaac Rawlings and Benjamin Phipps.

The vestry book for Albemarle Parish includes a 1767 record involving a land processioning. All of those signed said that they had processioned their lands “in the said order mentioned.”

This was a practice at the time that involved land owners walking (“processioning”) and rechecking their property lines, typically every four years. The vestry book record says that the signers did this, and renewed the land marks, in accordance with an order from Albemarle Parish dated 19 August 1767.

That record shows Gregory Rawlings and Richard Rawlings, with the land of Benjamin Phips adjacent to that of Richard Rawlings.

Also listed in that same record are other families of interest, such as that of Thomas “Newsum.” The Phips and Newsome families were closely associated in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

William Newsome appears to have moved from Albemarle Parish to Davidson County, Tennessee. Jordan Phipps, son of Benjamin of Sussex County, Virginia, appears to have been in Davidson County, Tennessee around 1807, before moving to adjacent Williamson County.

His brother Richardson wrote a will in Davidson County. It would seem likely that the name Richardson Phips came from the family of William and Benjamin Richardson, who are listed in the same procession list.

Jordan Phips’s daughter Patsy, by the way, appears to have married Samuel Edney. His father Newton Edney moved to the same Davidson County, Tennessee.

In the procession list, adjacent lands were processioned from William Richardson to George Long (the Long family were very closely associated with the Phipps family in western North Carolina) to Thomas Newsum to Gregory Rawlings, then to two others, then to Richard Rawlings, then to Benjamin Phipps. Then, another land owner before coming to another Richardson, that being Benjamin Richardson.

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