John Phips, Paul Carrington, and Clement Read

John Fips or Phips died about 1769 in Charlotte County, Virginia, leaving a widow named Tabitha. Past posts have looked at various records from not just Charlotte County, but from several Virginia counties, all of which are associated with that same estate.

Those records were sent by the webmaster of the A Witcher Genealogy website. (John and Tabitha’s daughter Betsey married Ephraim Witcher, and Ephraim and Betsey moved into Surry County, North Carolina.)

In a prior post, we looked at some records connected with this John Fips or Phips estate which were found in Halifax County, Virginia. In one of those records, dated September 1769, a lawsuit was directed against Harris Wilson. The suit was brought by Tabitha Fips and Francis Barnes as administrators (administratrix and administrator) of the estate of John Fips, deceased.

Tabitha Fips and Francis Barnes believed that Harris Wilson owed the estate a certain amount, which looks like four (?) pounds and eight shillings. Wilson didn’t show up at the trial, however, and so it was determined that the Fips and Barnes should be able to recover the amount from Harris Wilson.

In this matter, Paul Carrington was the lawyer for Tabitha Fips and Francis Barnes. That record was immediately followed in the court order book by one referring to a John Phips, also named as John Phelps in the same record. Again, Paul Carrington was involved as a lawyer.

This time, however, Carrington was the “assignee” of Moses Terry, and as such was the plaintiff against John Phips or Phelps. This one concerned payment to a living John Phips AKA Phelps, presumably the son of the John Fips of the previous record, for coming to court and testifying as a “Witness for Champness Terry at the Suit of Powell.”

Then (in the same blog post), a Halifax County, Virginia court record from July 1770 brings Tabitha Fips and Francis Barnes into the situation involving Champness Terry. In that record, Francis Barnes and Tabitha, this time referred to as Tabitha Phips, brought a suit against Champness Terry. Again, Paul Carrington was the attorney, but was representing Francis and Tabitha, not Champness Terry.

The fact, however, that Champness Terry was involved in the last two cases mentioned would seem to suggest that the Champness Terry matter might have had something to do with the John Fips estate.

Yet another relevant record comes from neither Charlotte County nor Halifax County, but Brunswick County. Court Order Book 13, in a record dated January 1775, refers to Tabitha Phips in connection with “an Attachment against the Estate of Harris Wilson.”

You’ll recall that the 1st of the cases referred to above, from 1769, involved an action brought by Tabitha Fips and Francis Barnes in Halifax County against Harris Wilson. Now in 1775 in Brunswick County,  Tabitha Phips is noted as having received an attachment against the estate of Harris Wilson.

The record further says that Harris Wilson “removed himself.” He appears to have absconded so that the money he owed could not be obtained from him directly. As a result, the sheriff was ordered to sell a horse, saddle, and bell which, apparently, had belonged to Wilson. This was because 5 pounds, 17 shillings, and 10 pence was owed to Tabitha Phips.

From Brunswick County, Virginia Order Book 13, p. 64, January 1775:

[in margin – page:] 64

[in margin:] Order [?] [issd?]

Tabitha Phips having obtained an Attachment against the Estate of Harris Wilson who hath privately removed himself or so absconds that the Ordinary Process of Law cannot be served upon him for five Pounds seventeen Shillings and ten Pence, and the same being returned Levied on a Horse, Saddle, and Bell, and the said Defendant not appearing to Replevy the same tho. Solemnly called Therefore It is Considered by the Court that the Plaintif [sic; plaintiff] recover against the said Deft [i.e. defendant], the said five Pounds seventeen Shillings and ten Pence And It is Ordered that the Sherif [sic; sheriff] make Sale of the said Horse Saddle and Bell and out of the Money arising from such Sale pay and Satisfy to the Plt. [i.e. plaintiff] this Judgment and return an Account thereof to the Court.

A photo of a tombstone purporting to be that of Harris Wilson (1730-1808) appears in Find A Grave, but cannot be clearly read. He is said to have died in Russell County, Virginia. An 1809 Russell County deed does refer to Harris Wilson, Sr. as having died intestate in 1808.

Unconfirmed secondary sources refer to Harris Wilson as having been named  for Michall Harris, said to have been his grandmother. We’ve discussed various Harris connections dating back to the professional partnership between John Phips and William Harris in 1621 in Jamestown, and possibly earlier in England.

Harris Wilson seems to have had dealings in Goochland County, the county which has recurred in various posts in connections with the Fipps, “Fops,” Phips, etc. family. Paul Carrington and Clement Read, Jr. proved a deed from a William Harris in Halifax County in 1759.

Paul Carrington, for his part, has been discussed in past posts. He is the subject of a Wikipedia biography. While an employee of Col. Clement Read, Carrington studied law under him. In fact, Paul Carrington married Clement Read’s daughter.

Clement Read was associated with Peter Fontaine, the surveyor who John Fips was listed with in a Lunenburg County tax list. A 1771 record in Charlotte County, Virginia refers to “Fips adm’rs” of the estate of Clement Read, Jr.

A very recent post discussed the 1729-1730 Goochland County lawsuit brought by Mathew Sims or Syms against John Phelps, with various pieces of evidence suggesting that this “Phelps” may have been a “Phipps.”

That post listed various connections between the Phipps and Sims or Simms families, however spelled. It should be noted in this context that Paul Carrington, the lawyer we’ve been discussing, supposedly married Margaret Read, daughter of Clement Read, as his 1st wife, and Priscilla Sims as his 2nd wife.

Clement Read also appears to have been a burgess from Lunenburg County, as was Matthew Marable. (See the article “John Fips and His Debt to Matthew Marable” in the A Witcher Family Genealogy website).

What is meant by the brief reference to “Fips adm’rs” (administrators) of the estate of Clement Read, Jr.? Unconfirmed secondary sources have Col. Clement Read, Sr. as having died in 1763 in Lunenburg County, Virginia, and his son Clement Read, Jr. as having died in 1770 in Charlotte County, Virginia.

Charlotte County is the same county, of course, as that of the 1769 John Fips or Phips estate, and here is a reference to “Fips” administrators of the Clement Read, Jr. estate. This Read or Reade family was evidently not an insignificant family. At least Clement Sr. was regarded as a major figure. He corresponded with George Washington about matters of significance to the colony.

One of the Phips records we cited above refers to Moses Terry and Champness Terry in Halifax County. A 1761 Halifax County record associates Clement Read, Jr. as attorney with Nathaniel Terry.

Nathaniel Terry of Halifax County was captain of a volunteer company in 1755 which was led by Col. Clement Read who lived in Lunenburg County but was king’s attorney in Halifax County. Who were these Terry individuals?

What was the relationship between the Read family and the “Fips” or Phips family? How was it that a member of the Fips or Phips family was not only involved with Clement Read, Jr.’s estate, but even served as administrator?


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