The Will of Frederick Ford of Amelia County, Virginia

The names John and Tabitha Phipps appear as witnesses to the 1786 Amelia County, Virginia will of Frederick Ford, with copies obtained by Wayne Witcher. Previous posts have noted what appears to be two or more persons named John Fips or Fipps or Phipps in Amelia County, so the identity is unclear.

According to abstracts, not all of which are entirely clearly written, a John Fips appears to have witnessed several Amelia County deeds in 1747. Those were from Edward Harris and Nathaniel Harris. Edward Harris was an Amelia County planter.

Then in 1750, 400 acres on the south side of the Appomattox River in Amelia County was surveyed for John Fipps.

In 1775 or 1776, a John Phipps enlisted in Revolutionary War service in Amelia County. He was born in Charles City County and then lived in Surry County.

Then in 1785, a John Phipps acknowledged in court an Amelia County deed to himself from Solomon Coleman.

The John who had served in the Revolutionary War had, however, moved on to Orange County, North Carolina by this time, unless he returned. But that John also wasn’t born until 1753, which makes it clear that at least some of these records have to pertain to a different John. Taking the soldier John out of the equation as far as Amelia County records are concerned, except for his enlistment, all of the other records could have pertained to a single John, it would appear, which might be what happened.

Finally, in 1787, an Amelia County deed from John Phipps to Herrod Crowder was proven in court. It was acknowledged on the basis of oaths by Daniel Southall, Samuel Pitchford, and Jeremiah Perkinson.

When familiar surnames appear in association with individuals being researched, it could be a matter of coincidence. When the same names keep reappearing, however, especially in the same combinations, it can take on significance and can help identify individuals on the basis of their family associations.

One surname that appears to be indirectly related to the Frederick Ford of the 1786 will is Eppes or Epps. That could, again, be coincidence, but no effort was made to connect with that family in this instance, and yet there it is. In fact, the Eppes or Epps name has surfaced repeatedly in recent research, where it was not expected.

In addition, the name Gresham is connected with the 1747 deeds witnessed by John Fips. Robert Gresham witnessed the deeds along with John Fips. Where else has this name surfaced?

Two men were listed as Eppes heirs in a 1796 Halifax County, Virginia deed: George Reeves (Reaves) and Ambrose Gresham. Reaves was referred to there as being of Wilkes County, North Carolina, the same county where Samuel Phips was living at the time. Samuel was the son in law of George Reeves. Then in 1811 when George died, Samuel appears as a George Reeves heir in Grayson County, Virginia.

The Reeves name (with a huge number of spelling variations, including Rives, Ryves, etc.) was closely associated with the Eppes family in southeast Virginia. The Eppes or Epps family, in turn, was closely associated with the Poythress family which showed some direct association with the Phipps family.

Such family associations can be expected to recur, if it really is the same family. Even today, how would you make sure which of several individuals named, say, John Smith on Facebook is the right John Smith? You would look at their friends’ lists to see who they were associated with. If just one related surname shows up, it could be coincidence. But if a combination of surnames – say three or four or more – show up which indicate a particular social or family grouping, you can assume that you probably have the right John Smith.

It’s a matter of probability: If a combination of several interrelated associated surnames keep recurring among multiple Fips or Phipps etc. families, then the likelihood of it being the same Fips or Phipps family or branch would, it would seem, be high.

In the case of a relationship from Frederick Ford to the Eppes family, it’s an indirect relationship, but it was a totally unexpected relationship. No such connection at all was expected. The appearance of the Gresham name in association with a John Fips in the same county – perhaps the same John Phipps who witnessed the will – does not in and of itself prove anything, but again would appear to increase the probability that we’re dealing with the same family or family branch.

In addition, one has to wonder about the fact that one of those deeds witnessed by John Fips dealt with land in Goochland County. This is the same county which has mysteriously recurred at various points in various past posts in association with both the Fips or Phips family and – that name again – the Eppes or Epps family. Francis Eppes acquired nearly 11,000 acres in Goochland County patents in 1730, perhaps the same Capt. Francis Eppes that Frederick Ford appears to have been indirectly related to.

The 1744 George Cabaness estate settlement in Amelia County includes mention of Frederick Ford. In 1737, Matthew and George Cabines or Cabinis received land in Amelia County, with that land being adjacent to Francis Eppes. A variant spelling of the Cabaness/Cabines etc. surname appears in  1732, when the Jamaica will of Rebecca Shute, also recorded in North Carolina, connects together several elements: the Cavaniss family, a John and Jacob Phipps, an estate in Jamaica, and a plantation in North Carolina.

A certain Burwell Coleman signed as security with regard to the administrators of Frederick Ford’s estate. Because a John Phipps acknowledged an Amelia County deed from Solomon Coleman to himself in 1785, it would seem as though the John Phipps in that record was highly likely to have been the John Phipps who witnessed Frederick Ford’s will. Since both Burwell Coleman and Solomon Coleman signed an Amelia County Minutemen document in 1776, we can assume that they were likely related.

Similarly, a 1787 Amelia County deed from John Phipps to Herrod Crowder was proven by Daniel Southall, Samuel Pitchford, and Jeremiah Perkinson. In 1789, one of the administrators of the estate of Jeremiah “Pirkinson” was Burwell Coleman, which suggests a high likelihood that the John Phipps of the 1787 deed was the John Phipps who witnessed Frederick Ford’s will. In addition, another administrator of the Perkinson/Pirkinson estate was John Neal. John Neal provided security, along with Burwell Coleman, with regard to the Frederick Ford estate.

Note again that the Crowder deed names Daniel Southall and Samuel Pitchford. An Amelia County deed dated 1785 was from David Adams to James Southall. The deed, as abstracted, notes that the land involved was adjacent to land belonging to John Phipps. Note also that David Adams was specifically named in Frederick Ford’s will. In fact, he was made an administrator of Frederick Ford’s estate.

One parenthetical factor which may actually just be quirky coincidence, but perhaps not, has to do with a certain Capt. Littlebury Hardyman of Charles City County. That’s the same county where the John Phipps who enlisted in Revolutionary War service from Amelia County was born. The Hardymans were associated with the Eppes family, and Capt. Littlebury Hardyman married Elizabeth Eppes. A relative, Susan (Eppes) Hardyman, married John Southall (the Southall surname again) of Charles City. The Eppes family that Frederick Ford seems to tie into was descended from one of the several individuals named Francis Eppes, and an earlier Francis Eppes fathered a Littlebury Eppes, who lived in Charles City County.

As a highly speculative guess, the Littlebury name in the Eppes and Hardyman families could possibly have formed the basis for the “Littleberry” name given to Littleberry Fips or Phipps, who was the son of John Witcher Phipps. This was a Surry County, North Carolina family which moved to the same Lawrence County, Indiana as did descendants of Samuel Phips of Ashe County, North Carolina, but Littleberry may possibly have been a son of James Fips of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, referred to as “of” Brunswick County, Virginia in a Pittsylvania County deed. That James appears clearly related to the John Fips who died in 1768 in Charlotte County, Virginia, who was married to Tabitha and who had family later in Pittsylvania County, and James may have been a son of John.

Of course, it should also be noted that the John Fips in Charlotte County was married to a Tabitha, and that the will of Frederick Ford was signed by a John Phipps and a Tabitha Phipps. Clearly the John Fips of Charlotte County was deceased by the time of Ford’s will, but John had a son John. Is there a connection? If so, who, exactly, witnessed Ford’s will, and why them?

The will of Frederick Ford of Amelia County, Virginia is dated 10 June 1786. In it, he refers to his land in both Amelia and Prince Edward Counties in Virginia. The will was found in Will Book 4, p. 18 by Wayne Witcher:

In the name of God Amen. I Frederick Ford of Amelia County being sick of body but of sound memory do make and Ordain this my last Will and Testament. First I recommend my soul to God who gave it, my body to the dust from whence it came and as to what worldly Estate it has Pleased to God to bestow on me I give in form following Vizt. First I desire that the Land that is my Property Either in Amelia or Prince Edward County be sold to enable my Executors to discharge my Just Debts and Legacies and all the Rest of my Estate both Real and Personal I give to my beloved wife Mary Ford during her life and widowhood, and then my desire is that it be Equally divided between David Adams and William Adams brothers to my wife to hold to them and their Heirs forever. Lastly I nominate and appoint my friends David Adams and William Adams my whole and Sole Executors of this my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand and affix’d my seal this Tenth of June one thousand seven hundred and Eighty Six

Frederick his X mark Ford (seal)

David Adams
John Phipps
Tabitha her X mark Phipps

At a Court held for Amelia County the 28th day of December 1786 This Will was Exhibited into Court and Proved by the Oaths of Two of the witnesses thereto Sworn to by David Adams and William Adams the Exors. therein named and Ordered to be Recorded upon the motion of the said Executors who Entered into and acknowledged bond with Security as the Law directs Certificate was Granted them for obtaining a Probate in due form of the said Estate
[Test?] G. Holm clk DC

Later in the year, the following was recorded in Order Book 18, p. 50:

The Last will and Testament of Frederick Ford decd. was exhebited [sic] in to Court and proved by the Oaths of two of the witnesses thereto sworn to by David Adams and Wm. Adams the Exors. therein named and is ordered to be Recorded and on the motion of the said Executors who entered into bond with Burwell Coleman John Neal their Security under the Penalty of £500 according to Law Certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form

Ordered that Daniel Allen, Burwell Coleman, John Neill and John Phipps or any Any [sic] three of them they being first sworn before a Justice of Peace do appraise in Current money the slaves if any and Personal Estate of Frederick Ford decd. and Return their appraisment [sic] to the Court

Here are some relevant points:

  • 1721/2: George Ford (possibly Frederick Ford’s father, see below) and George Traylor (apparently related to William Haskins, who in turn was related to the Eppes family, see below) were to receive from the will of John Porter in Henrico County, with William Haskins (see below) as executor. An unclear abstract shows George Ford in some sort of dealing with Elizabeth Traylor, with John Traylor having married Mary Eppes.
  • 1742: A web page headed “Francis Eppes,” and which seems to be about “Isham??? Eppes,” born about 1720, of Brunswick County, Virginia, could be more clearly written. That page refers, however, to a Frederick Ford as a beneficiary in the 1742 will of William Haskins. Where the will was generated, and what the relationship was to this Eppes, are not clear, or at least not immediately so. According to another page, however, Frederick Ford and William Ford, sons of Matthew Ford, were named in Haskins’s will. The same page a bit further down, however, mentions George Ford as the father of Frederick Ford, and says that this George was in Amelia County in 1790 and had served in the Revolution.
  • 1742: Frederick Ford was ordered to be the surveyor of a road in Amelia County, according to transcriptions of road orders (p. 18). Is this yet another surveyor connection?
  • 1744: The settlement of the estate of George Cabaness in Amelia County includes mention of Frederick Ford, a “Boling” (we’ve mentioned the Bolling name before), and Capt. Francis Eppes. The Bolling name appears in connection with an Eppes grant in Prince George County in 1746. Elizabeth Phipps married a Cabiness in 1834 (a bit late, obviously) in Brunswick County, and Cabiness was summoned along with various Phipps family members in 1845 in the same county. Much earlier, in 1732, the will of Rebecca Shute in Jamaica but recorded in North Carolina mentions John and Jacob Phipps and her plantation in Cape Fear, North Carolina, and was witnessed by a Cavaniss. There were several generations of persons named Francis Eppes. The one who would seem most relevant was probably the Francis Eppes who was a burgess for Prince George County in the 1730s and 1740s. We’ve discussed how the George Reeves (Reaves) whose daughter Elizabeth married Samuel Phips or Phipps who died in 1854 in Ashe County, North Carolina was an Eppes heir in 1793 while both George and Samuel were residing in Wilkes County, North Carolina. The Eppes family also ties into the Poythress family, which is another family we’ve discussed in the past, with a James Phipps dealing with a Poythress in Brunswick County.
  • 1754: A web page refers to a 1754 deed from Rev. John Ornsby to Frederick Ford. The land was partly in Amelia County and partly in Prince George County (Ford’s will mentions land in Amelia County and Prince Edward County). The part in Prince George County was “now” Dinwiddie County.
  • 1760: A unnumbered page (37 of 54 in the pdf copy) in a somewhat cryptically arranged book on the Ford family refers to, apparently, several Fords in 1760 in Virginia. Frederick, William, and Christopher were in Amelia County.
  • 1764: The will of George Lewis in Amelia County was witnessed by Frederick Ford.
  • 1772: The will of James Moore in Amelia County mentions land adjoining Frederick Ford. Apparently a son or descendant was named Epps Moore.
  • 1776: Burwell Coleman and Solomon Coleman (Burwell was referred to above, and for Solomon see 1785, below) both signed a 1776 petition of Amelia County Minutemen.
  • About 1777(?): The Revolutionary War pension file of John Roach refers to him serving as a substitute for Frederick Ford, apparently out of Amelia County.
  • 1782: “Fred Ford” was mentioned as an Amelia County resident.
  • 1785: An Amelia County deed was acknowledged. That deed was from Solomon Coleman to John Phipps. Note that Burwell Coleman was one of those who signed as security regarding Frederick Ford’s will, with that will also being witnessed by John Phipps.
  • 1786: Burwell Coleman, John Neal, and Daniel Allen, all of whom were named above, are said to have appraised the estate of William “Hastin.” Is this any connection to the William “Haskins” mentioned above under 1742?
  • 1786: The Amelia County court, according to an abstract, said that Daniel Allen, Burwell Coleman, John Neill, and John “Phillips” (Phipps?) or any 3 of them, should appraise the slaves, if any, and the personal estate of Frederick Ford, deceased. All these names appear elsewhere, above and below. At the same time abstracted in the same web page, Neill/Neal was to serve as a road surveyor. Yet another surveyor connection? The same web page also refers to a Bevil connection which was mentioned elsewhere, and William “Hastings” is mentioned – any connection to “Haskins”? We can assume a connection to “Hastin.” The mother of the Jeremiah Perkinson mentioned above is said to have been a Bevil or Bevill. He is said to have been a son of Seth Perkinson and his wife Elizabeth Bevill. Further, Jeremiah Perkinson is said to have married Elizabeth Pitchford, which would explain at least one juncture where the Pitchford surname fits in. Again, a 1787 Amelia County deed from John Phipps was acknowledged by Daniel Southall, Samuel Pitchford, and Jeremiah Perkinson. Further, several Colemans, including Solomon Coleman, appear in the 1802 Amelia County chancery causes file pertaining to Branch N. Perkinson v. Jeremiah Perkinson admn.
  • 1788: A deed from David Adams, executor of Frederick Ford, deceased, to William Adams, was acknowledged and recorded according to an abstract of an Amelia County order book (p. 44). A bit later in the same year (p. 50), David Adams and William Adams, the executors of the estate of Frederick Ford petitioned the court for recovery of an amount due the estate from William M. Booker. The court allowed them to recover the amount and their costs. A deed index for Amelia County refers to a 1788 deed from Frederick Ford by executors to William Adams.
  • 1789: Burwell Coleman and John Neal, both of whom were mentioned above, were executors of the estate of Jeremiah Pirkinson in Amelia County.

Part of the above seems to allude to some sort of connection between Frederick Ford, on the one hand, and the Eppes family and Brunswick County on the other. Apparently this was in connection with the Haskins family, with Frederick Ford having been mentioned in the will of William Haskins.

According to information gleaned and combined from various unconfirmed secondary sources, Hildreth Traylor, born about 1675, married William Haskins, born about 1698. Their son Edward Traylor was born before 1677 in Henrico County, Virginia and married Elizabeth Perkinson, which might explain the Pirkinson reference in 1789, above.

Hildreth’s brother William Traylor, born 1674, was the father of John Traylor, born by 1708 in Henrico County, and died in Chesterfield County in 1775. His second wife was Mary Eppes.

William Traylor also had a son named Joseph, born before 1713 in Henrico County, who married Elizabeth Neal. This is likely where the Neal/Neil family comes in, as discussed above.

Some of the Traylors ended up moving into Lunenburg County by the 1750s. This is where John Fips appears before he died in 1768 in adjacent Charlotte County.


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