Sunday, October 16, 2011

Peter Smith of Westmoreland County, Virginia

Peter Smith of Westmoreland County, Virginia, received "1160 acres of land granted by the proprietors of the Northern Neck of Virginia by deed ...bearing the date of 30th day of June 1712..."[1]  History still holds secret the place and year of Peter Smith's birth and the names of his parents.  However, it is believed that he was born not later than 1663.  In a land transfer he is referred to as "Peter Smith of Yeocomico."  Yeocomico Church, near Kinsale, Virginia (which town is situated on the Yeocomico River), is a landmark of the area.  Not far away is Nomini River, and a Nomini Creek.  The following record, found in Westmoreland County Deeds and Wills, Book No. 3, 1701-7, page 402, states that Peter Smith had a brother James:

            "15 June 1684, James Smith of Westmoreland to my brother Peter Smith of  Yeocomico, for valuable consideration—100 a. Nominy Forest bought of and adjacent to William Well.  Witnessed; Rch. Bruckes, Rch. Belleman."  Recorded May 1706.

            “May 1706.  Hannah Breel spouse to Henry Breel of Northumberland County, only daughter and child of the deceased James Smith of Westmoreland County, with the consent of Henry Breel, to Peter Smith. --Our interest in the land. Witnesses: John Davidson, Margrett Smith.”

The name Peter Smith appears often in the early records of Westmoreland County, witnessing wills, appraising estates, buying land.  A second land transaction took place on February 21, 1691, when Peter Smith bought a "parsel of land containing about 60 acres lying on the branches of the Nominy conveyed by... (George Searles) to Peter Smith by indenture 21 February 1691 (1692).”

(Order Book 1690-98 (Part 2 1692-94).)

The name of Peter's wife has not been learned, but from his will we know he was the father of ten children: Peter, James, Thomas, William, John, Mary, Abigail, Hannah, Martha, and Anne.

His will was dated 10 January 1738; it was probated 28 April 1741; and was recorded 12 May 1741. The will, as recorded, is found here

Peter Smith's will provides some information about his children: who the girls married, where the sons lived, who was deceased at the time he wrote his will.  His wife was not mentioned in his will; evidently she was not living on January 10, 1738. 

To his sons James, Thomas and William, Peter Smith of Westmoreland County gave each (in his will) 325 acres of land in Prince William County, Virginia.  His will was made in the year 1738; it was probated and recorded in 1741.  In 1742 Fairfax County was formed from part of Prince William and Loudoun Counties.  The land Peter Smith had left these three sons was now in Fairfax County, in Truro Parish.

Slaughter, in his History of Turo Parish, explains that “...Space between the rivers was called 'Necks.'  Among the most historic of these was the Northern Neck, which included all the land between the Potomac and the Rappahanock rivers from their head springs to the Chesapeake Bay.  This was the princely plantation of Lord Fairfax.  Within this territory were the seats of the Fairfaxes, Washingtons, Masons ...Smiths and other leading families too many to mention, who dispensed an elegant hospitality. ..."

From Slaughter's History we learn that among the “Voters at an election of Burgesses in Fairfax County in 1744" were James Smith, Thomas Smith and William Smith.

Many of the early records of Fairfax County, we are told, were destroyed during the Civil War, when soldiers occupied the Court House and used the records to start fires. Among the early records that do still exist are the wills of William, Thomas, and James Smith.

[1] Fairfax County (Virginia) Deed Book B, No. 1. Indenture dated 14 April 1747 between Thomas Smith of Truro Parish and Daniel Jennings

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