John Phipps from Charles City Co., VA

Charles City County, Virginia is located in southeast Virginia. The county, which was formed as such in 1643, came out of the establishment in 1619 of what was then known as Charles Cittie by the Virginia Company.

The Virginia Company set up four “incorporations,” as they were called. These were Charles City, Elizabeth City, Henrico City, and James City (Jamestown). These four settlements were located along the James River in southeast Virginia.

Charles City County records refer to John and William Phipps, orphans of James Phipps, in 1770 to 1773. Is there any possibility that John Phipps could have been the same one who enlisted a bit later in Revolutionary War service?

That John was born about 1753 in Charles City County, according to his own Revolutionary War pension application testimony. This would make him about 17 to 20 at the time that he was referred to as an orphan. The term orphan would not necessarily indicate that he was so young as to be helpless without a guardian, but that for legal and probate purposes he was not yet of age.

The guardian was John Dudley in two records and James Dudley in a third. This may have been an error in the record or in an abstract, or perhaps the guardianship had changed.

  • 5 Sep 1770, Charles City Co., VA | John Phipps, orphan of James Phipps, with John Dudley as guardian
  • 4 Sep 1771, Charles City Co., VA | John Phipps and William Phipps, orphans, with John Dudley as their guardian
  • 2 Jan 1773, Charles City Co., VA | John Phipps, orphan of James Phipps, with James (not John) as guardian

This John Dudley (possibly John was meant even when James was written) might have been the person of that name who served in the Continental Line during the Revolutionary War.

Dudley submitted a bounty warrant application for land, as noted in Charles City County, Virginia Minute Book No. 3. He seems to have been referred to as Capt. John Dudley, and may also be the same individual who is referred to as Lt. Col. John Dudley who served in a Virginia brigade at Valley Forge in 1778.

We know the following about the John Phipps who submitted a Revolutionary War pension application:

  • About 1753, Charles City Co., VA | John Phipps was born
  • 1774, Surry County, VA | John was living in Surry County, Virginia. This is very close to Jamestown and is the county where, earlier, the surveyor-immigrant John appears in records with his surveyor partner William Harris. Here, the later John volunteered to serve under Capt. Charles Harrison of the Virginia Militia.
  • 1774, Williamsburg, VA | John assisted in guarding Williamsburg, which is where the Virginia government was then located, from British depredations “of various kinds” against citizens and their property under Lord Dunmore. This was while the British Navy was “hovering” in Chesapeake Bay.
  • 1774-1775, James River area, VA | John served for 12 months with others from James City County and Charles City County against the British in the James River area. He served for 12 months until he and the others were relieved by the Minute Men.
  • 1776, Amelia Co., VA | In 1776, John had moved to Amelia County, west of Charles City. There he enlisted for 3 years under Capt. Thomas Scott and was made a sergeant in Scott’s company.
  • 1776, Prince Edward Co., VA | Through the fall and winter of 1776, John Phipps remained at Capt. Thomas Scott’s home in Prince Edward County, Virginia.
  • 1777, NC, SC, GA | In 1777, John marched into North Carolina, then South Carolina, and finally into Georgia. There, he and the others under Scott joined the 3rd Georgia Regiment, which had been raised the previous year to serve with the Continental Army. John Phipps served under “Col. Scrivan & Major Robards.” Presumably “Scrivan” was James Screven, who became Brigadier General. Phipps remained with this unit until July 1778.
  • July 1778, Amelia Co., VA? | In July 1778, John Phipps was furloughed for 3 months and returned “home.” Presumably this was Amelia County, Virginia, although it’s not stated.
  • Oct 1778, Augusta, GA | Three months later he returned. On his way back to his company, he was told that while he was gone, his company had moved to Augusta, Georgia. He rejoined them in October of 1778.
  • 1778, Old Town, GA on Ogeechee River | “Afterwards” his company was detached, and John marched with others to “Golphins Cow pens on the Ogeechee River.” They were charged with guarding the commissioners who been appointed to make a treaty with the Creek Indians there. “Golphins Cow pens” would be a place otherwise referred to as Galphin Town on the Ogeechee River. What occurred there should not be confused with the famous battle of Cowpens in South Carolina. Galphin would appear to be the place that’s also referred to as Old Town. Old Town was an Indian trading post on the Ogeechee River in east central Georgia. The post was established by George Galphin, an Indian trader and land speculator, by the 1760s. Earlier, the location was an old Creek Indian town that Indian traders from “Carolina” had visited back before the formation of Georgia in 1733. Today this is in Jefferson County, Georgia.
  • 24 Dec 1778, Savannah, GA | On Christmas Eve, John had returned to Savannah. He remained there until 30 April 1779.
  • 30 Apr 1779, Savannah, GA | With the permission and assistance of his officers, John Phipps hired a substitute to serve out the remainder of his 3 year enlistment.
  • “After the Revolution,” Orange Co., NC | John testified that “after the revolution” he lived in Orange County, North Carolina. What is not clear is whether he meant after the war ended in 1783, or after his service ended in 1779. On 30 April 1779, Orange County, North Carolina was just south of Caswell County, adjoining Granville County to the northeast, Wake County to the southeast, and Guilford County to the west, with Surry County, North Carolina (not to be confused with Surry County, Virginia) just west of Guilford. Why did he move here? Did he have relatives in one or more of these counties?
  • 8 Feb 1832, Hopkins Co., KY | John was living in Hopkins County, Kentucky, when his friend William Frazier, another Revolutionary War veteran, testified on John’s behalf.
  • 8 Apr 1833, Hopkins Co., KY | John was living in Hopkins County, Kentucky when he testified on his own behalf for a Revolutionary War pension.
  • 21 June 1834, Hopkins Co., KY | The will of John Phipps of Hopkins County, Kentucky was written on 21 June 1834. In it, he refers to his wife “Sary” and his daughter “Citty.” A “negro man named Peter” is referred to. John also mentions “the tract of land whereon I know [sic; now] live including the land that Thomas Arnett [or Arnott?] contended for.” Executors whom he appointed were Eilas Phipps, Alexander Cates and John B. Raby or Ruby. This is according to the handwritten record, but could “Eilas” have been copied from a slightly earlier loose handwritten document, perhaps originally reading “Silas”? Alexander Cates appears to have been an old friend from Orange County, North Carolina. We can assume that he was the person who is said to have been born about 1770 in Orange County, North Carolina and who died about 1830 in Hopkins County, Kentucky.
  • 26 July 1834, Hopkins Co., KY | John Phipps died, according to a probate-related mention in the Hopkins County Order Book.
  • 31 Oct 1834, Hopkins Co., KY | According to an abstract from the Hopkins County Order Book, Sally Phipps was proven to be the widow of John Phipps, deceased, by the oath of Alexander Cates.In the same record, John Phipps was described as having been a pensioner who “departed this life the 26th day of July 1834.” Sally was a common nickname for Sarah, and the will of John Phipps referred to her as “Sary.” An unconfirmed claim in Find A Grave refers to a Sarah (Phipps) Medlock, without dates or tombstone photo, as having been buried in Browder’s Church Cemetery in Hopkins County. Whether this was the same person, and whether this is accurate, is not clear. The Medlock family also appears as Matlock.

Unconfirmed claims connect this John Phipps with Simeon Young Phipps. The latter was supposedly born 28 August 1829 and died 16 August 1911 in Durham, North Carolina. He is said to have resided in Johnston County, North Carolina, and to have been listed in the 1850 census in Orange County, North Carolina, now Durham County, with Easy Phipps.

Johnston County was created from Craven County in 1746. Part of Johnston’s territory became Orange County in 1752. A Johnston County, North Carolina deed abstract from the 1770s, with an unreadable exact date, was witnessed by a man whose name was abstracted as Wm. Hen. Phops or Pliops. Was this a Phips?

1850 Census, 1st Dist., Orange Co., NC, 8 Oct 1850, 1112/1112:

  • Easy Phipps, 45 [b. abt 1805], F, NC, could not read and write
  • Simeon Phipps, 21 [b. abt 1829], M, NC

Genealogists have attempted to place the John Phipps of our discussion as the father of a later John Phipps who married Bathsheba Turner in February 1797 in Orange County, North Carolina. The Phipps and Turner families are said to have been closely associated and to have then moved to Henderson and Hopkins Counties in Kentucky around 1808 (Frazier, who testified on John’s behalf, lived in Henderson and then Hopkins), then to White County, Illinois around 1815, and finally to Chariton County, Missouri around 1835.

Whether this is accurate or not is unclear. Chariton County is adjacent to Randolph County, where a Joshua Phipps settled who is claimed to have had Chester County, Pennsylvania roots, although even that appears at least partly based on unconfirmed data which does not assimilate some confirmed data. White County, Illinois is where Locke Phipps, born about 1774, settled in 1818, but he appears to have come from Calvert County, Maryland.

Those who accept the Turner connection also refer to John, Sr. as having at least three children: John, Jr., Rhoda, and Catherine. Supposedly Rhoda married Joseph Rhodes and became Rhoda Rhodes, and Catherine was also known as Kitty, which would explain the reference to “Citty” in John’s will. How much of this, if any of it, is correct is not clear. Ostensibly, it appears at least partly conjectural with possible problems.

More to the point, it would seem that the John Phipps who was born about 1753 in Charles City County, Virginia could possibly have been the one who was an orphan. If so, his brother was William Phipps and their father was James Phipps. If so, then this suggests the following HYPOTHETICAL family unit:

  • 1st generation (father): James Phipps
  • 2nd generation (sons): John and William Phipps, with John having married Sarah
  • 3rd generation: Citty Phipps, daughter

Note that the Eppes and Poythress families with which we’ve been dealing were closely associated early on with Charles City County.

For more, see the following:


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