John White Of Norfolk County

In The White Family of Norfolk County, Virginia, I described the results of my research about John White who lived in Norfolk County in the early eighteenth century, and Thomas White who lived in Lower Norfolk County in the middle of the seventeenth century. Research now indicates that John White moved to Norfolk County from another colony, probably Maryland. He was probably the son of John White who moved from Lower Norfolk County to Maryland around 1670.

John White first appeared in court records on 15 March 1709/10 when Henry Shaller and John White proved the will of Walter Sikes in Norfolk court. Witnesses to the will, dated 9 Nov. 1709, were Henry Shaller, John White, and Henry Butt. 2 At the same court on 15 March 1709/10 were entered the records:

Order is granted James Cusning for certificate of wright for fifty acres of land for his importation into this colony and having proved ye same according to law

The like is granted Henry Shaller

The like is granted John White 3

One can only conclude from this that John White and Henry Shaller were immigrants, and travelled to county court (possibly their first trip to court) to prove the will of Walter Sikes to which they were witnesses. While attending court they also were granted headright certificates. Therefore the John White who witnessed the will of Walter Sikes was granted headright for his own importation and must have been an immigrant.

We know from the will of John White in Isle of Wight, dated 23 Jan 1726/7, that his daughter Elizabeth was old enough when the will was written to be married to John Carpenter and have a son. This fact raises the question of how long John White might have been in Virginia when he applied for a headright certificate. A study of headright certificates and tax lists in Northampton County showed that only a quarter of immigrants took out a certificate in the first year of arrival. In fact most immigrants seemed to have waited 5-10 years before being granted certificate. 4 John White appears to fall into this group and we can guess that he came to Virginia between 1700 and 1705.

The following records are actions of debt concerning John White:

At a court held 15 June 1716. Judgement confest by John White to George Sugg for the sum of three thousand good well made sypruss shingles and ordered he pay the same according to specialty with cost als ex. 5

At a court held 17 July 1717. Mr. Richard Corbet suing John White to the last court for the sum of nine thousand shingles and then failing to appear order was therefore granted the plt agt the sherr conditionally & now this court the matter being called & he the said John White now appearing and confesseth judgement and is therefore granted the plt against the princiable and the sheriff and ordered they pay the same to the Plt: with cost als Ex. 6

At a court held 21 Feb. 1717. Judgement is is confest by by John White to Mr. Robert Tucker for the sum of thirteen barrels of tarr fifty pounds of tobacco and three shillings one penny half penny appearing due the balance of a bill and ordered he pay the same with cost als ex. 7

At a court held 15 May 1719. Judgement is confest by Isaac Barrington to John White and Elinor his wife executrix of Moses Etheridge decd. for payment eight barrels tarr and ordered he pay the same according to specialty with cost als ex. 8

At a court held 15 Dec. 1721. Judgement is confest by John white unto Mrs. Hannah Holiday executrix of Jonas Holloday, decd., for the sum of three hundred fourteen pounds tobacco and he pay the same.with cost als ex.

At a court held 19 March 1724/5. In the attachment brought by John Worminton against the the estate of John White for 17s:6d being returned levied in the hands of Wm. Sikes on 11L:4s:2d value shingles to be paid said acct come 12 months and afsd. deft. Being called and not appearing and said plt. Proving his recpt by his oath it is therfore ordered he recover said debt out of the said shingles on the said Sikes hands and that he pay same together with the cost of this suit whch said attach also Ex. 9

On 20 Jan. 1724/5 John and Elizabeth White sold 122 acres to William Sikes, 10 which was the last of their property in Norfolk County. By 19 March they had evidently already moved to Isle of Wight County. That is because an attachment to an estate is an action of debt where the sheriff is not able to locate the debtor because he has left the county. This is clearer in Virginia Statutes October, 1710; “it shall be lawful for any Justice of the Peace, upon complaint made to him by any person, that his debtor is removing himself out of the county privately, or hath absconded & concealed himself, so as the ordinary process at law cannot be served against him, to grant an attachment against the estate of such debtor, or so much thereof, as shall be of value sufficient to satisfy the debt of the party praying such attachment… 11 ”

It is clear from the record of the attachment that this refers to John White who sold his land to William Sikes and that his debt was paid in shingles. Two other of the debts required John White to pay in shingles and one record indicates that it was his specialty. Therfore we see that John White who moved from Norfolk County in 1724/5 was by trade a shingle maker. Therefore if he was the same John White who moved to Isle of Wight we would hope to find some of his tools in his estate record.

The inventory of the estate of John White, deceased, was recorded in Isle of Wight Court 22 March 1730/1. The contents were ten cows, bed and bolster, rug and 2 blanketts, pot and pot-hooks, pair of fire tongs, one wheel and table, box iron, pewter plate, flask bottle, stool, brass skimmer, 2 barrels, testament, pair of spectacles, 1 mare, bedstead cord and hyde, 2 guns, pair of flesh forks, 1 hogg, looking glass, pair of scissors, dish, plate, spoon, bell, chest, wheel, common prayer book, drawing knife, frowe, hoe, pan, paile, pair of marking irons, pair of horse-flames. 12

The basic tool for making shingles or riving is the froe. It is “a piece of wrought iron half an inch thick, two inches wide and twenty-four to thirty inches long doubled back upon itself and forge welded to form a round eye about two inches in diameter. One side of this instrument is drawn out to a blunt knife-edge and a rough handle eighteen inches long of hickory, dogwood, ash, or whatever in inserted in the eye on the side opposite the edge.” The froe is used with a wooden maul split shingles off of a wooden billet. 13 A drawing knife was used to give shingles a smooth finish. 14 The appearance of the drawing knife and froe on John White’s inventory shows that he did have the tools to be a shingle maker. This fact and the fact that the attachment to his estate showed he moved from the county in 1724/5 are further proof that John White of Norfolk County and John White who left a will in Isle of Wight were the same person.

It is seen that the records concerning debts cited contained 3 for payment in shingles and 2 for payment in tarr. Since we see that John White was a shingle maker that raises the question of whether the other records refer to another John White. On 28 Oct. 1702 Henry Jenkins and Robert Montgomery, churchwardens of Lower Parish of Nansemond Co. patented 292 acres that had been “granted George White, Clerk, 6 Mar. 1638 and descended to John White, his grandson, who conveyed to Thomas Tilly, who bequeathed said land to the poor of the parish. 15 ” This John White is evidently the same who with George White owned land that was in Nansemond county in the 1704 quitrent rolls and lived on the Western Branch of Elizabeth River. He appears on the account of the estate of Capt. John Hatton given by Hannah Holladay wife of Jonas Holladay and late wife of John Hatton dated dated 15 Sept. 1703. In Norfolk Co. court May 1714 Mary White, aged 9, Joseph White, aged 14, and Thomas White, aged 12 were bound to their uncles Thomas and John Mercer. 16 On 20 Aug. 1714 the petition of John White and motion of Richard Gray ordered that Lemuel Wilson and Thomas Butt audit the accounts between Richard Gray and the orphans of George White, decd. 17 John White was a legatee of George White 18 , and was probably his brother or cousin. On 19 Nov. 1714 Thomas Mercer petitioned the court for 10:2:9 due him from Richard Gray who married Mary, the executrix of George White, as appeared under the writing of Grayand attested to by Thomas Butt who admitted the decedants estate. 19 From the records one can infer that George White married Mary Mercer ca. 1695-1700, and that she married second Richard Gray. The debt to Hannah Holliday in 1721 was probably to John White of the Western Branch who was a grandson of George White, minister.

Probably, Elinor (___) married first William Tucker whose will in Norfolk Co.was proved 15 May 1710 and gave to his wife Ellinor Tucker all his land. 20 She married second Moses Etheridge who left a will, dated 23 Dec. 1717 and proved in Norfolk Co. 20 March 1718/9 which named his wife Elenor exectutrix and sole heir. 21 She married thirdly John White by 15 May 1719. However, did she marry John White of the Southern Branch or John White of the Western Branch? The fact that the debt to John White was to be paid in tarr tends to indicate he was not John White of the Southern Branch. Also, it will be noted that if he were John White of the Southern Branch he would have had to have married three times.

On 2 May 1713 Isaac Barrington was granted 50 acres in Norfolk Co. above the head of the Southern Branch for importation of John White. 22 Evidently, John White bargained his certificate to Isaac Barrington. This record and the fact that Isaac Barrington did patent land on the Southern Branch seems to indicate that it is likely that John White of the Southern Branch was the one who was mentioned in the debt of Isaac Barrington. However, the records indicate that Isaac Barrington was a tar burner by trade and John White was a shingle maker, so it appears likely that we can rule out that John White was an apprentice or indentured servant to Barrington. Possibly this use of the headright just is an indication that the two John Whites were related. On 14 Feb. 1711/2 Walter Sikes, son of the testator of 1709, sold John White 122 acres on the Southern Branch, 23 and it was witnessed by Jonas Holladay. So Jonas Hollady appeared on records of both John Whites and Thomas or Henry Butt, brothers, appeared on records of both John Whites. Possibly the fact that Isaac Barrington appeared on both these records is also because they were related. However, since John White of the Western Branch lived in Nansemond County any records that indicate his wifes name are missing. Hence, is seems that a final determination of which John White married Eleanor (___) (Tucker) (Etheridge) must remain unanswered.

1 Lower Norfolk Co., Ca., Wills and Deeds E, 1666-1675, p. 54.

2 Charles Fleming McIntosh, Norfolk County wills(reprint, Baltimore:1988), p. 199.

3 Norfolk County book 8, p. 141.

4 Edmund S. Morgan, Headrights and Headcounts, The Virginia Magazine, v.80 no.3, p. 363-364.

5 Norfolk County Orders, 1710 – 1717, p. 156.

6 Norfolk County Orders, 1710 – 1717, p. 212.

7 Norfolk County Orders, 1710 – 1717, p. 216.

8 Norfolk County ,Orders, 1719 – 1722, p. 52.

9 Norfolk Co., Va., wills and orders 1723-34, p. 35.

10 Norfolk County book F, f. 107.

11 Henning, Laws of Virginia, v.3, p. 509.

12 Isle of Wight Co. Will Book III, p. 251.

13 Alex Bealer, Old Ways of Working Wood,(Edison, NJ, 1980), p 62.

14 Ibid., p. 157.

15 Nugent, N.M., Cavaliers and Pioneers(Richmond, 1992), v. 3, p. 63.

16 Norfolk Co., Va., court orders 1710-17, p. 79.

17 Norfolk Co., Va., court orders 1710-17, p. 94.

18 Norfolk Co., Va., court orders 1710-17, p. 89.

19 Norfolk Co., Va., court orders 1710-17, p. 101.

20 McIntosh, op. Cit., p. 199.

21 Ibid, p. 73.

22 Nugent, op. Cit., v. 3, p. 130.

23 Norfolk Co., Va., Deed Bk. 9, p. 147.