A Phips in Halifax County, Virginia, 1782

It has been suspected that a Phips, Fips, or Phipps must surely have lived in Halifax County, Virginia during the latter half of the 18th century (1700s), just on the basis of associated families. A look at the 1782 personal property tax list for Halifax County shows that this is, indeed, the case.

One indirectly associated family with an especially strong presence in Halifax County has been the Eppes or Epps family. This enigmatic family first surfaced in research in connection with the George Reaves who was associated with Samuel Phips or Phipps.

The two men were associated first in Montgomery County, Virginia, then in Wilkes County, North Carolina, and then while Phips lived in Wilkes County and then Ashe County, North Carolina, after George Reaves continued to show up in records in adjacent Grayson County, Virginia.

In records, Samuel Phips or Phipps of Ashe County, and his wife Elizabeth (Reeves) Phipps or Phips, then interact with other Reeves or Reaves family members, as heirs of George Reaves or Reeves when the latter died in Grayson County. A bit earlier, while living in Wilkes County, North Carolina, George Reaves was named as an Eppes or Epps heir in 1793 in a Halifax County, Virginia deed.

Earlier still, in the middle of the century, Tandy Walker sold land to an Epps in Goochland County, Virginia, where the “Fipps” orphans had been bound to a Burton several years earlier (George Reaves’s second wife was supposedly a Burton), and John Fips/Phips of Lunenburg County, Virginia lived with Tandy Walker right around the same time as the land sale, as has been discussed in previous posts.

We’ve discussed how members of this Fips family and the associated Witcher family migrated into Montgomery County, Virginia and into Wilkes, Surry, and Ashe Counties in North Carolina. Phipps and Witcher families then moved into Lawrence County, Indiana.

James Phipps in Brunswick County, evidently the same one who was later in Lunenburg, bought land from a Poythress in 1784, and the Poythress family was very closely associated with the Eppes family, as was the Reaves or Reeves or Rives family earlier in southeast Virginia.

In early Virginia records, the Phips, Poythress, Reaves, and Eppes families are found in southeast Virginia and members of well-established merchant, planter, lawyer, and surveyor families.

We’ve discussed in numerous recent posts the Fips or Phips family of Lunenburg, Charlotte, and Pittsylvania Counties in Virginia, with clear and documented connection back to Brunswick County. Because those counties more or less formed a ring around Halifax and Mecklenburg Counties, especially Halifax County, a Phips presence in Halifax County would not be unexpected.

The 1782 Halifax County personal property tax list does show a Phips, although in what seems to be a microfilm copy the name is very difficult to read. Further, it appears that even in the original record, part of an edge of the page is missing. The given name was on that part.

The list is headed “A List of the free Males above 21 years old and other Taxable [sic; Taxables] taken 10th April 1782, in the County of Halifax.” Listed on the 2nd page is a”Phips,” shown as the 2nd to the last name in the left column.

The last part of the given name is still extant, and looks as though it might say “hn.” If the name does say ” . . . hn Phips,” then we can assume that this was probably John Phips. The name which follows appears to be a Richardson, but is only partially visible.

Also listed are other associated surnames we’ve discussed at one time or another, including Hampton, Mullins, Wade, Stokes, Cocke, Cox, Osborne, Harris, Comer, and of course Jones. A Burton appears – Allen Burton.

A row of Epps names appears: Moses, William, and Elizabeth.

Another name which appears is Forkner. A certain Micajah Forkner is supposed to have married Ellender Phipps, born about 1814 in Grayson County, a daughter of James Phipps.

In addition, individuals named Fontaine appear. We’ve discussed the connection between John Fips and Peter Fontaine, the surveyor who worked in Lunenburg and then Halifax Counties. John appears to have been his “overseer” in the 1764 Lunenburg tax list.


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