On 24 May 1671, in records of the Council and General Court of Virginia, comes a record labeled “Kirkman vs Phipps.” Despite the “Kirkman vs Phipps” label, the suit seems to have actually involved Phipps v. Kirkman. (The “v.” form is more common now.) This was a suit brought by John Phipps against Capt. Francis Kirkman, which suit was dismissed.
Capt. Francis Kirkman was “high sheriff” and has been described as a favorite of Governor William Berkeley. Kirkman also was sergeant at arms for the General Court. Later that same year, headrights were given to a Mr. Kirkman, perhaps Francis, for transporting five persons. Since only their first names were provided, we can assume that they were black slaves.
Kirkman has also been referred to as “clerke of ye Genll. Court.” One reference has Francis Kirkman as the person responsible for recording a bond in James City County in 1665. Can we assume that the John Phipps of this record is the John Phips or Phipps who first entered Jamestown from England in 1621 as a surveyor? Assuming that this was the case, could it be that the suit had something to do with Kirkman neglecting to properly record deeds or surveys for Phips?
The record is transcribed as follows:
The suite of Jno. Phipps agt. Capt. ffra: Kirkman is Dismist and ordered that the order obteyned the last James Citty County Courte by Kirkman on the verdict of a Jury in the pmisses be confirmed and Phipps ordrd. to pay costs of Suite als exec.
Some of the sources consulted:
- McCartney, Martha W., A Study of the Africans and African Americans on Jamestown Island and at Green Spring, 1619-1803, Williamsburg, Virginia: National Park Service and Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2003.
- McIlwaine, H.R., ed., Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia 1622-1632, 1670-1676, with Notes and Excerpts from Original Council and General Court Records, into 1683, Now Lost, Richmond, Virginia: Virginia State Library, 1924, p. 287.
- Stampp, Kenneth W., gen. ed., Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series M, Part 2: Northern Neck of Virginia; Also Maryland, Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America, 1995, p. 90.