Tuesday, December 26, 2023

c'est la vie

Just when you think you have it figured out...you find a deed that totally confuses and unravels your research. 

c'est la vie! Such is life!

While reading through deeds and Chancery records for Charlotte and Campbell counties, Virginia, I found another John Morris. He seems to have lived in the same place as John Morris, the man that has been attributed to be the son of Samuel Morris, the religious dissenter from Hanover County, Virginia.

The previous John Morris I found, and attributed as the son of Samuel Morris, lived in Campbell County, Virginia, on both sides of Dutchman’s Branch and on both sides of Little Falling River, on 660 acres of land Samuel Morris purchased from John Hardeman in 1768 when the county was still called Bedford. Samuel deeded this same land to his son, John Morris.

This John, the son of Samuel, had family associations with the Armistead family. Samuel Morris names Robert Armistead and William Armistead as his sons-in-law in his will as well as deed records. These same Armistead men have also been associated with John, son of Samuel, in other deeds and records. Robert Armistead witnessed the deed that Samuel wrote giving the land to his son, John.

Without a doubt, Samuel’s son was named John. The question now is, which John?

At about the age of 26, John Morris, the man currently attributed as the son of Samuel, married Lucretia Howell, the stepdaughter of John Goodman, on 10 Feb 1800 in Campbell County, Virginia and the couple went on to have several children.

Susan (b. 1800) m. Robert Cox
Elizabeth (b. 1801) m. Thomas Wingfield (Windfield)
William (b. 1802) m. Mary Collins
John Jr (b. 1804) m. Mary Ann Freeman
Nancy (b. 1805) m. Pinkney Scott
Jesse (b. 1807) m. Evelyn Freeman
Achilles (b. 1808) m. Nancy Kidd
Micajah (b. 1811) m. Lively Scott
Mahala (b. 1813) m. William Finch
James (b. 1815) m. Melvinia Swinney

A male descendant from John and Lucretia’s sons Achilles Goodman "Kelly" Morris (1808-1887) and Micajah G. Morris (1811-1894) have Y DNA tested and match to my Morris line in Montgomery County, North Carolina. Our Morris family are in Project Group M29 at Family Tree DNA. Kits 146588 and 400658.

John Morris was living with his son, John Jr, in 1850. This Census shows John was born about 1774.

The other John Morris married Mary Jameson, the widow of Colonel William Elliott, on 24 Feb 1791 in Charlotte County, Virginia. The marriage date alone shows that these must be two different men. John Morris (married Lucretia Howell) was born 1774 (according to the 1850 Census) and would have only been 17 years old in 1791.

Mary was the daughter of William and Ann Read Jameson and granddaughter of Clement and Mary Hill Read Sr. of Bushy Forest, Lunenburg, Virginia. Her mother, Ann Jameson, married first William Jameson and second Richard Elliott.

Mary Jameson married William Elliott in 1788 in Brunswick County, Virginia. William happens to be the son of Richard Elliott by his first marriage to Martha Merritt, thus making William Elliott the stepbrother of his wife, Mary Jameson (you just can’t make this stuff up!) Mary Jameson and William Elliott had one child, Nancy Elliott, born about 1790. Nancy went on to marry William Pritchett.  

After William Elliott died, Mary Jameson married John Morris and in 1790, John Morris was appointed guardian of Nancy Elliott, daughter of Mary Jameson and William Elliott.

Mary Jameson Elliott Morris had the following children with her second husband, John Morris.

Read the Chancery suit here

Margaret (b. 1792) m. Madison Hughes
William J (b. 1794) m. Marcella Harris
John Jr (b. 1796)
Henry (b. 1798)
Elizabeth (b. 1800) m. John Parks Hill

John Morris is mentioned in another Chancery suit that was brought to the Federal Court of Virginia, Buchannon, Hastie & Co surviving partners against Thomas Read one of the executors of the said William Jameson and in 1799, a deed was written between Ann Elliott, Clement R. Jameson, John Morris, and Thomas E. Elliott of the one part and Thomas Read and Edmund Read of the County of Charlotte of the other part.

Read the deed here

Whereas William Jameson by his last will and testament devised his estate to be divided to his widow and children at a certain period therein expressed which period have long arrived and agreeable to the several divisions have taken place agreeable to the will and satisfaction of the parties delivered to the several legatees by the said Thomas Read and Edmund Read the executors
Ann Elliott, the widow of the said William Jameson to Clement Jameson in his own right to John Morris in right of his wife Mary, Thomas Elliott in right of his wife Margaret and Clement Jameson as guardian of Edmund Jameson…

At the time of such division and surrender up the estate of the said William Jamison to the said Ann Elliott, Mary the now wife of the said John Morris, Clement Jameson, Margaret the now wife of the said Thomas Elliott and Edmund Jameson no British claims or debts were made known to be due or recovery had against the estate of the said William Jameson so as to justify the executors in holding back the estate of the said William Jameson from the several legatees beyond the time mentioned in the said will

And now at this late date in the year 1799 a recovery has been had in the Federal Court in Virginia in the name of Buchannon, Hastie & Co surviving partners against Thomas Read one of the executors of the said William Jameson on two judgements in that court to the amount of $1666.87 debt and $11.78 costs and $1531.81 debt and $11.78 costs...

And the said Thomas Read and Edmund Read appending themselves in danger of suffering themselves by means thereof and the said Ann Elliott, Clement Jameson, John Morris, and Thomas Elliott honestly desirous of saving harmless the said Thomas Read and Edmund Read against damages and costs....and for the further consideration of $20 to the in hand paid by the said Thomas Read and Edmund Read.... they, Ann Elliott, Clement Jameson, John Morris, and Thomas Elliott have granted bargained sold and confirmed and by these presents do grant bargain sell and confirm unto Thomas Read and Edmund Read and to their heirs and assigns forever the said Ann Elliott the negros Kelly, Judy, George, Aggy, Mary, Henry, Davey, Dolly, and Selony, the said Clement Jameson two hundred acres of land whereon he now lives and his divided share of the tract of land called the Horsepen both in in the county of Charlotte with seven slaves Hector, John, Godfrey, jack, Lucy, Betty, Dolly, Leah, Pegg, Phillis and Joan. The said John Morris 669 acres of land lying on Little Falling River in the County of Campbell and 12 slaves Milley, Suckey, Andrew, Charles, Isham, Peggy, Billey, Chaves, Jinny, Silvey, Henry, and Kilmarnock. Thoms Elliott 130 acres of land lying on the water of Wards fork in the county of Charlotte with 12 slaves Will, Billie, Anthony, Cate, Rose, Isbell, Alice, Hannah, Abrahm, Gabriel, Patty, and Betsey....

It is ordered that the proof hereof be certified that the same may be entered of record in the County Court of Campbell the place of residence of the said John Morris one of the subscribing parties.


When I read this deed, my first thought was that John Morris, the son attributed to Samuel, was married twice. But then I looked at the dates of both marriages and the birth years for the children and realized that these are two different John Morris’s. Mary Jameson Elliott Morris looks to have died in 1806, John the younger was married to Lucretia at that time, again, showing that these are two different John Morris’s.

The only distinguishing feature that I can find is that John Morris (married Lucretia Howell) looks to be listed as John H. Morris some of the time while the other John Morris is listed as John Morris or J. Morris some of the time. Both men share the same associates and can be found in deed records alongside both the Armistead and Elliott men of the county as witnesses. It is likely that the two John’s are related.

It is possible that John Morris who married Mary Jameson is in some way related to Nathaniel Morris, brother of Joshua Morris who married Sabra Hicks (Hix). We know from other county records and writings that Joshua is the nephew of Samuel Morris, and both are found in historical records as leaders in Hat Creek Church. John the elder would be the right age to be a brother of Nathaniel and Joshua. Mary Jameson, being from Charlotte County, Virginia is the same area as Nathaniel and Joshua.

It is also possible that John Morris who married Mary Jameson is the son of Samuel and John Morris who married Lucretia Howell is his son by a first marriage. So, perhaps John is the grandson of Samuel and not his son. There are no records though that indicate John the elder had a first wife.

There are other possibilities too. John Morris (the elder) may not be related to Samuel at all but perhaps is related to another Morris family who lived in the area. I tend to think this not the case because John Morris (the elder) lived very close to John Morris (the younger).

The last alternative is that John Morris the younger may be the son of Nathaniel. A court document in Charlotte County, Virginia shows that Nathaniel had a son named John. Nathaniel died before 1781 as he is mentioned in the 1781 will of his brother Joshua as already being deceased. Joshua’s last will and testament gave one half his estate to the children of his deceased brother, Nathaniel. However, Joshua’s will does not name John as a child of Nathaniel, but the 1794 court document does. Notice also that the court document lists two John Morris’s. I am not yet sure who either of them are.

Much more research is required here, and I welcome any collaboration from other researchers and especially descendants of both John Morris’s who are researching these lines.

For now, I will leave John Morris the younger as the son of Samuel Morris unless other documents can be found to unravel which John is the son of Samuel.

It would be helpful for a male descendant of John Morris the elder (married Mary Jameson Elliott) to Y DNA test to see if there is a Y DNA match to the Morris family in Project M29 at Family Tree DNA.

No comments:

Post a Comment