Phips Land Transactions in Hampshire Co., VA

Hampshire County, West Virginia was, at one time, Hampshire County, Virginia. Land grants and other records pertaining to the Phips/Phipps family have been something of a challenge to sort out for several reasons.

One reason is because some genealogists have been extremely eager, for some inexplicable reason, to use this as a basis to make a flying leap to Chester County, Pennsylvania. Those records may, indeed, eventually lead there, but much that is posted on the Internet about it appears to weave a little fact and a lot of fantasy.

Another factor is that it appears that an Isaiah in the Hampshire County area was likely the “Esaiah” who left a will in Granville County, North Carolina. This was in close proximity to Phipps/Phips/Fips individuals who clearly came from southeast Virginia, not Pennsylvania.

Yet another factor is an unfounded assumption that any record naming a Josiah Phips or Phipps must surely have actually been Isaiah, thus morphing any and all “Josiah” records into “Isaiah” records. Original grants and surveys both clearly refer to Josiah.

Unless those 18th century records were recopied from other records, now lost, which used unusually atrocious handwriting, writers would not have replaced the very common given name Isaiah with the far less common Josiah as a scribal accident.

If modern-day genealogists are confused, thinking that the name is Josiah when it should be Isaiah, then 18th century clerks and surveyors were confused as well. Modern-day genealogists say that Josiah was actually Isaiah, who married Eleanor Smith, with – voila – an imagined automatic connection to the Pennsylvania Quaker immigrant Joseph Phipps. Some have made that leap as though that, for some unexplained reason, should be the holy grail of genealogy.

One reason it’s been considered the holy grail, apparently, is because if one can copy and paste his way back to Joseph Phipps, using largely imaginary claims, then one can further copy and paste his way back to – quite literally – Biblical characters. Genealogists can perform mental gymnastics to convince themselves that they’ve found the truth about their own ancestry, but wouldn’t it be far better to find the documented truth?

Still another factor that has introduced difficulty in dealing with Hampshire County records is a factor that’s bigger than just Hampshire County. This factor can be found in hints that suggest that Phips or Phipps land transactions – here and elsewhere – did not necessarily signify a homestead sort of situation, where a settler was using that land as his one and only residence and one and only source of sustenance.

In fact, the connection to Baltimore- and Philadelphia-based mortgage firms with the major players associated with some of these land grants and transactions in Hampshire County suggest that that might not have been the situation at all – or at least not all the time.

One factor which seems to be emerging from a number of records, and cannot be overemphasized, is that traditional assumptions about genealogy don’t necessarily hold with the Phipps, Phipp, Fipps, Phripp, etc. family. The assumption that an ancestor lived in one place, held one contiguous piece of land in that place, farmed there, then sold that land and moved on, is a “given” with other families, but must be largely discarded with earlier generations of this one.

To do so flies in the face of established genealogical technique. The fact that it’s so easy to disrupt conventional research methods, however, merely evinces the gross limitations of typical genealogical methodology.

This is a family which had connections to an unusual number of locations at once. This is a family which had multiple immigrations into America. Those multiple immigrations did not result in separate species: They were still a family.

We know that there were illegitimacies, we know that there were adoptions, we know that there were people known as Phips who were not born as Phips, we know that they used every surname variation imaginable. Still, a remarkable collection of similarities recurs across descendants of multiple immigrations, in multiple American colonies. One of those similarities appears to be a tendency toward some sort of as-yet undefined involvement in far-flung land transactions.

Take, as an example, the Bute County, North Carolina deeds of the 1770s which were mentioned recently. (See also here.) Why was a Fips/Fipps couple “of” Brunswick County, Virginia involved with others of Brunswick County, Virginia in buying and selling land in Bute County, North Carolina?

Perhaps it’s not a jump to a different subject at all to ask the following: Who was the Edward McGuire who received several Hampshire County, Virginia land grants in 1788, 1789, and 1790?

He is said in one of those grants to have obtained land “within half a mile of Josiah Pheips.” Since he was dealing with a considerable amount of acreage, half a mile wouldn’t have been that far and would have made him a close neighbor. Two of the grants to Edward McGuire contain Phips (however spelled) references as follows:

  • “Josiah Pheips,” as a nearby land owner
  • “Josiah Phips’s plan,” as it was termed in a grant, called “Josiah Philips’s Place” in the survey
  • A creek called “Phips Run,” also called “Phips’s Run,” “Phipess Run,” and “Philips’s run”

Various Hampshire County, Virginia land records refer to Edward McGuire and his wife Millicent (sometimes Melicent). They were referred to as of Winchester, Virginia and as of Frederick County. Winchester is currently the county seat of Frederick County.

In 1779, Edward McGuire of Winchester in Frederick County sold land and one of the deed witnesses was Bryan Bruin. Thomas McGuire was summoned (same link) along with Bryan Bruin in Hampshire County in 1770.

As has been noted in the past, a National Archives web page about the surveying activities of George Washington refers to two documents. One is a survey for Benjamin Phipps (400 acres on the North River, survey date 13 April 1750, grant date 29 May 1751). The other is a survey for Isaiah Phipps (247 1/2 acres on the Little Cacapon River, survey date 23 April 1751, grant date 13 July 1762).

In the latter case, however, the land was not granted to Isaiah Phipps. Instead, it was granted to Bryan Bruin. (See also an earlier post, here.

Various land records in Hampshire County pertain to Bryan Bruin or Bruen of Winchester, Virginia. Winchester is the same location associated with Edward McGuire. Bruin’s wife was Elizabeth. Bryan Bruin received several grants himself in which he was referred to as being of Frederick County. (See also here.)

One Hampshire County record which at first glance might seem irrelevant refers to Peter Bryan Bruin of Berkeley County. This is a mortgage to Messrs. Smith & Moreton of Baltimore County.

The land involved, however, makes it clear that this is not irrelevant, and this Peter Bryan Bruin is said to have been Bryan Bruin’s son. The land descriptions in the document mention Patterson Creek, Little Cacapeon (Cacapon), and North Branch, all locations associated with the Phipps- or Phips-related grants in this area.

One of the witnesses is a James Murphy; One grant refers to Benjamin Ely as assignee of Bryan Bruin, who in turn was an assignee of Hugh Murphy.

Bryan Bruin had another mortgage on land in Hampshire County. This time, the mortgage was to Carson, Barclay & Mitchell of Philadelphia (a 1772 record). Bruin was described as being of Winchester.

A biography of Peter Bryan Bruin, evidently Bryan Bruin’s son, appears here. He is said to have been a merchant in his early days. His father appears to have had Pennsylvania connections, since he repeatedly had dealings with Pennsylvania firms and individuals.

Does involvement of outside firms, at least one of which was clearly a mortgage company, indicate that land was being purchased for speculation rather than for farming?

Edward McGuire seems to have also had Pennsylvania roots. One biography refers to him as arriving in Philadelphia in 1751 as a merchant. He came into Winchester, Virginia in 1753.

Who Edward McGuire and Bryan Bruin were in relationship to the Phipps or Phips family is not clear. Perhaps there was no relationship.

Bryan Bruin in particular, with mortgages and out-of-state deals, looks as though he may have simply been a land speculator interested in acquiring land in northern Virginia. Peter Bryan Bruin moved to Mississippi, where he became a judge.

On the other hand, there could have been a Pennsylvania connection involving the particular Phips individuals in this area, who were, at least, Josiah, Isaiah, and Benjamin.

Even if that was the case, however, we should not overlook the possibility of family ties being maintained between family branches coming from multiple immigrations into two or more separate colonies. In other words, there’s no sensible reason to view Virginia immigrants as of a different species from Pennsylvania or Massachusetts immigrants.

The following timeline looks at some records from Hampshire County and the surrounding area. In some cases, the information presented comes from original records, but in other cases from abstracts or transcriptions. Originals should be consulted before making any dogmatic or far-reaching conclusions.

  • 10 Feb 1743, Frederick Co., VA | Benjamin Phipps as overseer of road from north branch of Cape Capon (Cacapon) River
  • 13 April 1750, Hampshire Co., VA | Washington survey for Benjamin Phipps, that land granted 29 May 1751 to Benjamin Phipps
  • 23 April 1751, Hampshire Co., VA | Washington survey for Isaiah Phipps, that land granted 13 July 1762 to Bryan Bruin.
  • 17 Aug 1760, Granville Co., VA | Esaiah will mentioning a plantation he owned in Hampshire County, Virginia
  • 1760, Hampshire Co., VA | Deed from Benjamin Phipps of NC to Samuel Pritchard of Frederick Co. for land on North River
  • 27 Nov 1760, Northern Neck, VA | Bill of sale for land in what sounds like Hampshire County, Virginia, involving Hugh Murphey as assignee of Isaiah Phipps of Granville County, North Carolina, “late of Frederick Co., Va.”
  • 1761, Hampshire Co., VA | Land sale from Isaiah Phips to Hugh Murphy
  • 29 June 1765, Hampshire Co., VA | Survey for Edward McGuire within a half mile of Josiah Philips’s place, called Josiah Phips’s plan in the grant
  • Aug 1766, Granville Co., NC | Will of Esaiah was probated
  • 9 July 1789, Hampshire Co., VA | Land grant to Edward McGuire, on Little Capeapehon (Cacapon) within half a mile of Josiah Pheips (also spelled Phips) and on Phips Run; the survey appears to be undated, hence the blank in the grant
  • 11 June 1790, Hampshire Co., VA | Land grant on Little Cacapehon (Cacapon) to Edward McGuire within a half mile of Josiah Phips’s “plan” (Josiah Philips’s Place in the survey) and on Phips’s Run
  • 19 July 1796, Hampshire Co., VA | Land grant to Henry Baker on North River of Great Cacapehon (Capahon), adjoining Benjamin Fips

The above timeline suggests the presence of the following individuals, assuming that they were actually present when mentioned. (The possibility exists that reference could have been made to a past resident or to an owner living somewhere else. The same is the case with land records today.)

Benjamin

  • 1743 | Frederick Co., VA
  • 1750 | Hampshire Co., VA
  • 1760 | Of NC selling Hampshire Co., VA land
  • 1796 | Hampshire Co., VA

Isaiah/Esaiah

  • 1751 | Hampshire Co., VA
  • 1760 | Granville Co., NC with land in Hampshire Co., VA, “late” of Frederick Co., VA
  • 1761 | Hampshire Co., VA
  • 1766 | Granville Co., NC will proved

Josiah

  • 1765 | Hampshire Co., VA
  • 1789 | Hampshire Co., VA
  • 1790 | Hampshire Co., VA

Far more research could perhaps sort out the question of which of these individuals were actually living where indicated, as opposed to merely being mentioned in a record. Was the same Benjamin who was mentioned 1743, 1750 and 1760 really still living there in 1796? Alternatively, was this based on an earlier survey, or was there a 2nd Benjamin?

Another question concerns Isaiah/Esaiah: Without examining the original record, was he really living in Hampshire County, Virginia at the time of the 1761 land sale, or was the land sold through a representative, or did he return there just for the sale? Alternatively, was it a different Isaiah, perhaps his son?

Yet another question has to do with Josiah: He is mentioned in the survey of 1765. Was he really still living there in 1789 and 1790? As a related question, since Romney and the “town hill” are mentioned, is Town Hill located in Romney?

The answer appears to be no. A ridge called Town Hill appears on a Hampshire County topo map (tiff file, perhaps slow loading, showing Levels Quadrangle with Town Hill near the upper center part of the map). The ridge is not that close to Romney, however, although the Little Cacapon flows close by.

Note that when a survey, done perhaps many years prior to a grant, included mention of a neighbor, this could find its way into a grant. The neighbor could have moved away by then, however.

Here, then, are some later records pertaining to grants and surveys in Hampshire County, Virginia and the surrounding area:

Survey, 13 Apr 1750, Frederick County, Virginia:

From Journal of My Journey Over the Mountains; by George Washington, While Surveying for Lord Thomas Fairfax, Baron of Camerson, in the Northern Neck of Virginia, Beyond the Blue Ridge, in 1747-8 (posted previously)

April 13th 1750 Plat drawn
Then Survey’d for Benjamin Phipps a certain Tract of Waste & ungranted Land Situate in Frederick County & on the North River of Cacapehon & bounded as followeth beg [beginning]: at a white red & Chesnut Oaks on ye west side the River & run thence No 26 Wt [west] Three hundd & twenty Poles to three Pine Saplins in very hilly Ground thence So [south] 64 Wt [west] Two hundd [hundred] Pole to three white Oaks on the Top of a Mountain thence So [south] 26 Et [east] Three hundd [hundred] & twenty Poles to 3 white Oaks in a hollow th [thence]: to the beg [beginning]

JOHN LONEM, AARON ASHBROOK C:M
BENJAMIN PHIPPS Mark.

Survey, 23 April 1751, [Frederick County?], Virginia:

Thanks to Jeanine Scholz for supplying a copy. The handwriting is, however, unusually hard to read. Rather than attempting to decipher all the metes and bounds notations to trees which are long gone, suffice it to say that the description does mention “the side of a hill” and a creek, with an unclear notation appearing before the word “creek.”

A part which is fairly clear is the document’s introduction:

Pursuant to a Warrant from the Proprietors to Me directed I have Survey’d for Isaiah Phipps a certain tract of waste Land on the Waggon Road and upon Little Cacapehon bounded as followeth

The document is dated 23 April 1751 and is signed George Washington. This does mean, however, that he conducted the survey. Chain carriers are listed as John Lonem (again, as in the other survey) and John Williams.

Lonem also acted as chain carrier on 24 July 1749 when Washington laid out what became the town of Washington, Virginia, today located in Rappahannock County.

The label side of  the document is far more readable:

Bryan Bruin
[crossed out: “Isaiah Phipps’s”]
Plat for 2[4?]7 1/2 Acres
W[t.?] pd.
Sold to Hugh Murphey in presence of Tho. Wood & James Hoge (vide) inclosed.
Bill of Sale –
By desire of Hugh Murphey the deed to issue in the name of Bryan Bruin
paid –
Drawn accordingly
Examin’d

Land grant, 29 April 1788, Hampshire County, Virginia:

  • 129 acres to Edward McGuire
  • Land description mentions the north side of Patterson’s Creek adjoining Hardin and Cellars

Land grant, 29 April 1788, Hampshire County, Virginia:

  • 400 acres to Edward McGuire
  • Land description mentions the drains of Patterson’s Creek, adjoining Murphey and Dougherty

Land grant, 29 April 1788, Hampshire County, Virginia:

  • 400 acres to Edward McGuire
  • Land description mentions the drains of Patterson’s Creek

Land grant, 29 April 1788, Hampshire County, Virginia:

  • 400 acres to Edward McGuire
  • Land description mentions the drains of Patterson’s Creek, adjoining Murphey and Daugherty

Land grant, 29 April 1788, Hampshire County, Virginia:

  • 421 acres to Edward McGuire
  • Land description mentions the drains of Patterson’s Creek adjoining Benjamin Rutherford

Land grant, 5 December 1788, Hampshire County, Virginia:

  • 503 acres to Edward McGuire
  • Land description mentions the north side of Patterson’s Creek

Land grant, 9 July 1789, Hampshire County, Virginia:

Edward M’Guire

400 acres
Hampshire Exd.

Beverley Randolph Esquire Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia To All To whom these presents shall Come Greeting Know ye that in Consideration of the Ancient Composition of two pounds Sterling paid by Edward McGuire into the Treasury of this Commonwealth there is Granted by the said Commonwealth unto the said Edward M’Guire a Certain Tract or parcel of Land Containing Four hundred Acres by Survey Survey [sic; word repeated] bearing date the [blank] lying and being in the County of Hampshire on the old waggon [sic; wagon\ Road on Little Capeapehon [sic; Cacapon] within half a mile of Josiah Pheips and bounded as followeth To wit Beginning at a hickory and maple on the [? (unclear, word of about 5 or so letters)] of Phips Run on the north side of a high Ridge and Extending thence North forty degrees West fourteen poles to the said Road and Crossing the Same the Course Continued [page break] one hundred and forty Six poles to a white oak on on [sic; word repeated] the north side of a Bottom thence Crossing the Same South fifty degrees West four hundred poles to a black oak and chesnut oak on the side of the [Town?] hill thence South forty degrees East one hundred and sixty poles to a white oak and hickory on the north Side of a ridge thence North fifty degrees East four hundred poles to the Beginning with its Appurtenances To Have and To Hold the Said Tract or parcel of Land with its Appurtenances to the said Edward M’Guire and his Heirs forever In Witness whereof the Said Beverley Randolph Esquire Governor Of the Commonwealth of Virginia hath hereunto set his hand and Caused the lesser Seal of the said Commonwealth to be affixed at Richmond on the ninth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand Seven hundred and Eighty nine and of the Commonwealth the Fourteenth
[signed:] Beverley Randolph

The survey of the above shows a sketched map consisting of a rectangular area with a meandering creek running horizontally through its center. The creek is labeled “a branch of Phipess run.” Below the creek, running horizontally near the bottom edge, is a road labeled “Road to Romney.” The survey includes the following description:

The above tract of Land Situate lying and being on the old Waggon [sic; wagon] road on little Cacapehon [sic; Cacapon] within half a mile of Josiah Phips’s in Hampshire County the property of Mr. Edward McGuire and bounded as follows Beginning at a hickory and a ample on the brink of Phips’s run on the North side of a high ridge and extending thence [N40W16?] poles to the said road and crossing the same the course continued 146 poles to a white oak on the North side of a bottom then crossing the same S50W400 poles to a black oak and chesnut oak on the side of the Town hill then S40E160 poles to a white oak and hickory on the North side of a ridge then N50E400 poles to the beginning Containing 400 Acres
Surveyed by
[signed:] Richard Rigg

Land grant, 11 June 1790, Hampshire County, Virginia:

Edward M’Guire
400 Acres
Hampshire Exd.

James Wood Esquire Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia To all to whom these presents shall come greeting Know ye that by Virtue of a Warrant issued from the late Lord proprietors Office of the Nothern [sic; Northern] Neck and in consideration of the ancient Composition of two pounds Sterling paid by Edward McGuire into the Treasury of this Commonwealth, there is granted by the said Commonwealth unto the said Edward McGuire a certain tract or parcel of Land containing four hundred acres by Survey bearing date the twenty ninth day of June one thousand seven Hundred and sixty five, lying and being in the County of Hampshire, on the waggon [sic; wagon] road on little Cacapehon [sic; Cacapon] within half a Mile of Josiah Phips’s plan, and bounded as followeth, to wit, Beginning at a Hickory and Maple on the bank of Phips’s run on the North side of a very high ridge extending thence North forty degrees West fourteen poles to the old waggon [sic; wagon] road leading to r[?]ney Crossing the same and course continued one Hundred and forty six poles to a white oak on the west side of a Hollow thence crossing the Hollow south fifty degrees West four Hundred poles [page break] to a black oak and Chesnut oak on the South side of the [town?] Hill thence South forty degrees East one Hundred and sixty poles to a White oak and Hickory on a ridge, thence North fifty degrees East four Hundred poles to the Beginning, with its Appurtenances to have and to hold the said tract or parcel of Land with its Appurtenances to the said Edward McGuire and his Heirs for ever, In witness whereof the said James Wood Esquire Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia hath hereunto set his Hand and caused the lesser Seal of the said Commonwealth to be affixed at Richmond on the eleventh day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven Hundred and Ninety and of the Commonwealth the fourteenth
[signed:] James Wood

The survey for this grant includes the following description, which uses the “Phillips” spelling:

By Virtue of a Warrant from the proprietors Office I have Surveyed for Edward McGuire of Frederick County a tract of Waste land on the old Waggon road on little Cacapehon within half a mile of Josiah Philips’s Place in Hampshire and bounded as followeth. Beginning at A [referring to the accompanying map], a hickory, and maple on the bank of Philips’s run on the North side of a Very high ridge, extending thence N.40.W.14 poles to the old Waggon road leading to Romney crossing the same and course continued 146 poles to B, a white oak on the West side of a hollow then crossing the hollow S.50.W.40 poles to C. a black oak and chesnut oak on the South side of the Town hill then S.40.E160 poles to D, a white oak, and hickory on a ridge then N.50.E.400 poles to the beginning Containing 400 Acres

Executed June 29th. 1765.
Richard Rigg

Hugh Murfy, [Pilot?]
James Naderson CC
William [Bill?] CC [presumably chain carrier]

 

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