Goochland County, Virginia “ffipps” Orphans

Past posts have noted the presence of two “Fipps” orphans, Joseph and Benjamin, in Goochland County, Virginia court records dated 1742. They were discussed in the following posts, for instance:

Those posts were dependent on published transcripts or abstracts of the relevant court records. Now thanks once again to the webmaster of the “A Witcher Genealogy” website, we have access to a copy of an actual handwritten record.

Surprisingly the record in which the orphans are bound uses the archaic initial double-f spelling. Online genealogy sources differ among themselves as to what this means, or if it means anything at all.

Some claim that the use of an initial double-f (lower case at the beginning of the name) signifies Welsh origins. That could have been the case at times, but other sources refer to Scottish origins, while still others point to simply stylistic preferences.

The claim is made that use of a capital F at the start of a surname came in during the Elizabethan era (1558-1603). Some preferred to continue the use of a double-f long after, however, supposedly to signify a linkage to still older important records such as deeds and wills.

In transcribing such names, some believe the double-f should be retained. Still others assert that this should simply be rendered as “F.” In this case, use of the initial double-f appears to probably only have represented a stylistic preference on the part of the clerk or scribe.

In the page in which the orphan record occurs, the use of an initial double-f for a surname appears 3 times. A certain “Carlton ffleming” is mentioned, for instance, just above the record about the orphans.

Archaic handwriting forms seem to be preferred in this page in general. A 13-year-old “negro girl” is said to be “xiii years old,” for example, with a pronounced hook at the bottom of the final “i.”

Here, then, is the record pertaining to the orphans:

[in margin:]
Orphans to be bound

[body of text:]
Ordered that the Church Wardens of Saint James parish do bind Joseph and Benjamin ffipps unto Josiah Burton a Carpenter according to Law.

We’ve noted in the past the potential importance of the inclusion of the Burton surname here. A number of Burton associations and connections have been noted in various early Virginia contexts, including the marriage (apparently a 2nd marriage) of George Reeves of Grayson County, Virginia, father in law of Samuel Phips who died in 1854 in adjacent Ashe County, North Carolina, to a Burton.


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