Claiborne Phipps of Mississippi: A Link to Brunswick County, Virginia

We’ve dealt in the past with A Phipps/Edney Connection. An Edney family Bible at the North Carolina State Archives refers to the marriage of Samuel Edney to Martha Phipps 10 March 1818 and of Nuton (Newton) Edney to Penelope Phips on 31 December 1829.

Unconfirmed secondary sources suggest that Samuel Edney was born in Davidson County, Tennessee and that Martha Phipps, who he married, was born in Williamson County, Tennessee. We’ve noted in several pasts posts how Jordan Phipps, son of Benjamin from Sussex County, Virginia, moved to Williamson County, Tennessee, and his brother Richardson to adjacent Davidson County, Tennessee.

We focused on the Phipps and Edney connection more in a post called The Phipps-Edney Connection. That post connects the Edney family with the family of Benjamin Phipps of Sussex County, Virginia. This is the Benjamin who Mrs. Howard Woodruff believed was probably the brother of Joseph Phipps of Brunswick County, Virginia in her 1972 book on Joseph Phipps and his descendants.

The connection to the Edney family is also discussed in More on the Phipps-Edney Connection: VA to NC?.

More recently, records were located pertaining to Claibourne (Claiborne) M. Phipps, who was born about 19 March 1806 in Tennessee. He looked as though he could connect to this family when it was noticed that he had a son named Jordan. Then it appeared far more likely that this was the case, when it was revealed that at one point he was living next door to “Mrs. P. Edney,” who was born about 1770 in Virginia.

A later Claibourne M. Phipps was born at Terra Ceia, Florida in 1889. Since he was a student at the University of Mississippi, he may have been related to the earlier Claibourne M. Phipps (also spelled Claiborne) who lived in Mississippi.

The later Claibourne is a focus of the Phipps Family Papers, 1854-1959, in Special & Digital Collections at the University of South Florida at Tampa. The earlier Claibourne was a lawyer who served for a time as a court clerk in Oxford, Lafayette County, Mississippi. In later years, he was a farmer, but two of his sons, Jordan and Richard, became lawyers.

We’ve already focused on Richard in a earlier post, titled “About Col. Richard W. Phipps, Mississippi Confederate.” That post quotes from a biography which says that he was born in 1833 in Marshall County, Tennessee. The 1830 census shows Claiborne, his father, as living in Wayne County, Tennessee.

These locations suggest that Claiborne and family were on a gradual migratory course moving southward from Tennessee into Mississippi. The older Jordan Phipps moved from Virginia into Wilkes County, North Carolina (roughly around 1800, with Matthew Phips and Samuel Phips in the same location very slightly earlier; Samuel died in 1854 in Ashe County, North Carolina) and then to Williamson County, Tennessee.

After Claiborne appears in the 1830 census in Wayne County, Tennessee, he then shows up in the next county to the southeast, that being Marshall County. Wayne County is then a bit further south, and sits on the state line with Alabama, but very close to Mississippi.

What was the relationship between Claibourne or Claiborne Phipps and Jordan Phipps? We noted in yet another earlier post, titled “Nancy Phipps, Daughter of Jordan Phipps, 1821,” that the will of Jordan Phipps in Williamson County, Tennessee specifically names his son as Claibourn.

That Claiborne or Claibourne M. Phipps shows up in records in Lafayette County, Mississippi which date from the 1830s until his death in 1889. When an election was held on 2 April 1836 to choose county officials, Claiborne Phipps was voted in as circuit clerk. He also shows up in various newspaper references in Mississippi in the 1830s and 1840s as Claiborne M. Phipps or as C. M. Phipps, county clerk of Lafayette County.

A Mississippi Supreme Court case, as an example of records pertaining to him, is dated January term 1846, and is an appeal from Lafayette County. In the case Albert G. Brown, governor of the state, “for the use of Robert Josselyn et al.,” v. Claiborne M. Phipps and others, Claiborne M. Phipps is named as a lawyer.

TIMELINE

1806

Claiborne or Claibourne M. Phipps was born 19 March 1806, according to his tombstone inscription which refers to him as C. M. Phipps. According to census records, he was born in Tennessee.

1830

He would appear to be the Claiborne M. Phipps who appeared in the 1830 census in Wayne County, Tennessee.

From the 1830 census, Wayne County, Tennessee:

Claibourn M Phipps

  • Free white males:
    • 1 under 5
    • 2 20-30 [born about 1800-1810]
  • Free white females:
    • 1 20-30 [born about 1800-1810]

1833

According to the biography of Richard W. Phipps which was mentioned above, Claiborne was in Marshall County, Tennessee in 1833.

1836

As already mentioned, in a Lafayette County, Mississippi election on 2 April 1836, Claiborne Phipps was elected circuit clerk.

1840

From the 1840 census, Lafayette County, Mississippi:

C.M. Phipps

  • Free white males:
    • 2 under 5
    • 2 5-10
    • 1 30-40 [born about 1800-1810]
  • Free white females:
    • 1 under 5
    • 1 30-40 [born about 1800-1810]

1846

A Mississippi Supreme Court case, as an example of records pertaining to him, is dated January term 1846, and is an appeal from Lafayette County. In the case Albert G. Brown, governor of the state, “for the use of Robert Josselyn et al.,” v. Claiborne M. Phipps and others. Claiborne M. Phipps is named in that case as a lawyer.

1848

The University of Mississippi opened its doors to students in 1848. This was located in Oxford, the county seat of Lafayette County. Claiborne Phipps was living in Lafayette County at the time. His sons Jordan and Richard came to be lawyers, and Jordan was in the first class at the university.

1850

Claiborne or Claibourne appears as C.M. Phipps in the 1850 census in Lafayette County, Mississippi. This was next door to a Mrs. Edney, who was born in Virginia about 1770. The Edney connection is discussed above.

Birthplaces of C.M.’s children in the 1850 census suggest that the family moved from Tennessee sometime between about 1833 and about 1836.

From the 1850 census, Lafayette County, Mississippi, 16 November 1850, #1173:

  • C.M. Phipps, 44 [born about 1806], male, farmer, real estate $6,000, born Tennessee
  • Susan Phipps, 44 [born about 1806], female, Kentucky
  • Jordan Phipps, 22 [born about 1828], male, student, Tennessee, attended school
  • [page break, no date stated]
  • Benj [followed by a squiggle] Phipps, 19 [born about 1831], male, student, Tennessee, attended school
  • Richard Phipps, 17 [born about 1833], male, student, Tennessee, attended school
  • Mary Phipps, 14 [born about 1836], female, Mississippi, attended school
  • Jas. F. Phipps, 11 [born about 1839], male, Mississippi, attended school
  • Louissa Phipps, 8 [born about 1842], female, Mississippi, attended school
  • Sarah Phipps, 6 [born about 1844], female, Mississippi
  • Wm. Phipps, 3 [born about 1847], male, Mississippi

Next door, #1174:

  • Mrs. P. Edney, 80 [born about 1770], female, born Virginia, could not read and write
  • Thos D. Denton, 26 [born about 1824], male, overseer, Virginia

1851

Jordan M. Phipps, listed above as C.M. Phipps’s son, was among the first graduating class receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in 1851 at the University of Mississippi. (See Edward Mayes, History of Education in Mississippi, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899, p. 140.)

From a later published source referring to Jordan as a professor with an M.A. at the University of Mississippi, we know that his full name was Jordan McCullough Phipps. (See Catalogue of the Officers and Students of the University of Mississippi, at Oxford, Mississippi, Twenty-Sixth Session, Oxford, Mississippi: University of Mississippi, 1878, p. 56.)

Col. Jordan McCullough Phipps earned a B.A. in mathematics in 1851 and later was “Acting Adjunct Professor of Law” at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. (See Michael De L. Landon, The University of Mississippi School of Law: A Sesquicentennial History, Jackson, Mississippi: University of Mississippi Press, 2006, p. 23.)

1855

C.M. Phipps was the plaintiff in C.M. Phipps et al. v. Shegogg & Son, a Mississippi Supreme Court case in December 1855. This was appealed from Lafayette County.

1860

Then C.M. Phipps is shown in the 1860 census in Lafayette County, Mississippi.

From 1860 census, Lafayette County, Mississippi, with post office at Paris, 10 [September?] 1860, #671/671:

  • C.M. Phipps, male, 54 [born about 1806], farmer, real estate [$10,000?], personal estate [$?,000], born Tennessee
  • Susan Phipps, female, 54 [born about 1806], born Kentucky
  • Richard Phipps, male, 27 [born about 1833], born Tennessee
  • Mary Phipps, female, 24 [born about 1836], born Mississippi
  • Louisa Phipps, female, [18?] [born about 1842?], born Mississippi
  • [Sarah?] Phipps, female, 15 [born about 1845], born Mississippi, attended school
  • William Phipps, male, 13 [born about 1847], born Mississippi, attended school

1870

In the 1870 census, C.M. Phipps was enumerated twice, which was not all that unusual. Evidently he moved while the census was being taken, or the location was defined differently in two different enumerations.

Notice that most of the names match, with middle initials being supplied on the first go-around, then full first names in some cases in the 2nd enumeration.

The B.L. Phipps who was living next door in the 1st 1870 enumeration was presumably Claiborne’s son Benjamin, who appears in the 1850 census.

From 1870 census, Town of Oxford, Lafayette County, Mississippi, with post office at Oxford, 27 July 1870, p. 35:

#210/229:

  • C M Phipps, 65 [born about 1805], male, white, farmer, born Tennessee, real estate $6,200, real estate $2,300, born Tennessee
  • J M Phipps, 41 [born about 1829], male, white, lawyer, real estate $5,000, personal estate $7,200, born Tennessee
  • R W Phipps, 36 [born about 1834], male, white, lawyer, real estate [blank], personal estate $5,000, born Tennessee
  • S A Phipps, 28 [born about 1842], female, white, at home, born Mississippi
  • Wm. Phipps, 22 [born about 1848], male, white, farmer, born Mississippi
  • J W Phipps, 29 [born about 1841], female, white, at home, born Mississippi

#210/230:

  • B L Phipps, 39 [born about 1831], male, white, farmer, real estate [blank], personal estate $500, born Tennessee
  • L A Phipps, 30 [born about 1840], female, white, keeping house, born Mississippi
  • Hugh Phipps, 15 [born about 1855, male, white, going to school, born Mississippi, attended school

From 1870 census, Township 8, Lafayette County, Mississippi, with post office at Oxford, 29 August 1870, p. 63, #468/468:

  • C. M. Phipps, 65 [born about 1805], male, white, farmer, real estate $6,200, real estate $2,300, born Tennessee
  • Jordan Phipps, 40 [born about 1830], male, white, lawyer, born Tennessee
  • Richard Phipps, 36 [born about 1834], male, white, lawyer, personal estate $50, born Tennessee
  • J. W. Phipps, 29 [born about 1841], female, white, K. H. [keeping house], born Mississippi
  • Wm. Phipps, 22 [born about 1848], male, white, at home, born Mississippi

Comparing this 1870 data yields the following:

  • C.M. Phipps, born about 1805 Tennessee
  • Jordan M. Phipps, born about 1829-1830 Tennessee
  • B.L. Phipps (presumably the Benjamin of the 1850 census, now living on his own), born about 1831 Tennessee, married L.A. with son Hugh, born about 1855
  • Richard W. Phipps, born about 1834 Tennessee
  • J.W. Phipps (female), born about 1841 Mississippi
  • S.A. Phipps (female), born about 1842 Mississippi
  • William Phipps, born about 1848 Mississippi

1889

C. M. Phipps died 12 September 1889, according to his tombstone inscription. The tombstone reads:

C. M. PHIPPS
Born
Mar. 19, 1806
Died
Sept. 12, 1889.

This is followed by a sentimental verse, according to an online photo. He is buried in Oxford Memorial Cemetery in Oxford.

Also buried in Oxford Memorial Cemetery is Claiborne’s wife Susan. Her tombstone reads as follows:

SUSAN HALL
WIFE OF
C. M. PHIPPS
BORN DEC. 23, 1805
DIED [?], 1862

The latter date has been transcribed as 31 October 1862 in Find A Grave, which includes places of birth and death but, as is typical, with no indication of sources.

In closing

As a closing note, as has often been stated, early Virginia families often derived given names for their children from surnames of associated families. We’ve noted a Claiborne connection on various occasions.

Some of the Claiborne associations could, of course, have been coincidence. It should be noted, however, that close Claiborne associations date all the way back to the arrival of John Phips in Jamestown in 1621 as a member of Virginia’s first surveying team.

William Claiborne brought John Phips from England to Jamestown, along with William Harris. We’ve noted numerous Harris connections – sometimes extremely close ones – which persisted for many years as well.

In addition to Jordan Phipps, several other members of the Fips, Fipps, Phips, Phipps family passed through the same Wilkes County, North Carolina where George Reeves and his son in law Samuel Phips were living prior to 1800. (The two show up in adjacent Grayson County, Virginia and Ashe County, North Carolina, as then defined, after 1800.)

Various associations and relationships and connections which we’ve been discussing through numerous posts seem to suggest a connection from these two men to a social and familial network in which the same few constantly recurring surnames keep interacting.

The records associated with those connections seem to keep harking back to an eastern (primarily southeastern) Virginia social and familial network which seems to point in the direction of John Phips, the Jamestown surveyor. That network frequently involves the Reeves and Epps families with, in particular, Reeves and Phips or Phipps associations stretching from England to Virginia and back again.

As interesting as this family is, and considering the many decades of great interest in this family, it seems amazing that so few original records have been consulted. Countless original Phips or Fips or Phipps records lie in Virginia and North Carolina courthouses and state repositories which have apparently never been examined by Phipps researchers. Why?

The webmaster of the “A Witcher Genealogy” website has shared a number of such records, which will be posted over the coming weeks. As he points out, however, there are numerous additional records waiting to be discovered. Decades have been wasted as genealogists have copied and pasted the Joseph Phipps and Mary Romal myth.

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