John Thackston, James City County, Va (1670s-1680s)

Within a few years of Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, John Thaxton (Thackston) signed a petition to the House of Burgesses on behalf of residents of James City County.  The petition is undated, but it was while the residents were still prohibited from owning guns (as a result of the rebellion), and was between 1676 and 1693 most likely the late 1670s.

The petition is quite interesting, including complaints about “Indians” who paint their faces, and asking to have their guns back and to be relieved from certain taxes.  Following the petition, I am reposting our 1990s summary of James Thackston’s father John Thackston (d. bef 1721), which includes mentions of a John Thackston in James City County in 1704 and 1733:


ThackstonJamesCityPetition ThackstonJamesCityPetition2 ThackstonJamesCityPetition3ThackstonJamesCityPetition3


of James City and Charles City Cos., Virginia

In 1740, James Thackston brought suit against Thomas Spragins in Charles
City Co., Virginia.  The allegations of the suit provide important
information regarding the early Thackston family in Virginia:

In the Suit in Chancery between James Thackston complaint and Thomas
Spragins Respondt the Complaint in his bill sets forth that one Frances
Thackston the mother of yor orator being possessed of a considerable
estate consisting in Negros, money & other goods and chattels, did agree
& contract to and with the above Thomas Spragins to enter into
matrimony, provided that he ye sd Thomas would permit and allow her the
sd Frances to give & dispose of the sum of one hundred pounds among her
four children she then had by one John Thackston her former husband yor
orators father, or to any other person or persons she ye sd Frances
should think fit, that pursuant to ye sd proposition, the sd Thomas did
enter into one certain obligation bearing date ye 8th day of May anno
Domini 1721 to one Wm Dean in the sum of two hundred pounds sterlg
whereby the sd Thomas did oblige himself after the sd marriage should be
solemnized that he the sd Thomas would pay to ye sd Frances or her order
when thereto required the full & just sum of one hundred pounds currt
money of Virga soon after which the intended marriage between the sd
Thomas & ye sd Frances was solemnized, since which the sd Frances has
departed this life but before her death, did order direct & require the
said Thomas Spragins her husband the one hundred pounds currant money so
as aforesd by the sd Thomas covenanted to be paid to the sd Frances or
her order to be equally divided amongst yor orator & three other
children wch she ye sd Frances had by John Thackston her former husband
yor orators father & on consideration of the bill answer & other
pleadings & the examination of witnesses in this cause It is decreed &
ordered that the Respondent pay unto the Complaint his proportionable
part of the hundred pounds in the sd bill of complaint mentioned being
twenty five pounds currt money together with ye costs of this suit & one
attorneys fee als Exo from which Decree the Respondent by his attorney
appeals to the fourth [marked over with 7th] day of the next general
court & haveing given security of prosecution according to law his
appeal is allowed.  (Charles City Co Ct Order Bk 1737-50, p. 206).

The amount claimed was substantial for 1740 Virginia.  A review of every
page of the court order book from 1737 through 1750 reveals very few
lawsuits involving this much money.  To put the sums in perspective, a
pound was the equivalent of 20 shillings.  Fourteen shillings would buy
a cow calfe, cap, handkerchief, and a pair of stockings.  (Id., p. 57).
A full crop of tobacco, about four hogshead, was worth about 19 pounds.
When a slave stole a hogshead of tobacco in Charles City County in 1741,
he was punished by being burned in the hand and 39 lashes.  (Id., pp.
170, 389).

Charles City County was a small but important county during the 1740s.
A century later, one observer noted, "[t]he county is the smallest in
Virginia, yet bears the honor of having given birth to two presidents of
the United States, and of being the place of marriage of a third."
(Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, B. J. Lossing, 1848, p. 442).
Charles City County was, in addition to the home of Benjamin Harrison,
signer of the Declaration of Independence and birthplace of his son,
future president William Henry Harrison, birthplace of John Tyler,
marriage place of Thomas Jefferson, also the home of the famed Colonel
William Byrd.

After the trial of James Thackston's lawsuit against Thomas Spragins in
April 1742, Thackston was ordered to pay Ann Lester and James Walker 25
pounds of tobacco for testifying on his behalf.  Spragins was ordered to
pay John Allen, who lived in James City County about 20 miles from the
Charles City Courthouse, "one hundred pounds of Tobo for goeing &
returning & sixty pounds of Tobo for one days attendance & two Shillings
for ferriages according to law."  Spragins also had to pay John Bryan of
James City, who lived about 14 miles from the Charles City Courthouse,
70 pounds of tobacco for travelling, plus 60 pounds of tobacco for
testifying and 2 shilling for ferriages (the cost of transportation by
ferry). (Id., p. 208).  Spragins appealed the judgment and was given a
jury trial, but again lost.  (Id., p. 307).

It is not known when James Thackston's father John Thackston died.  As
noted, Thomas Spragins' witnesses were from James City County, which is
adjacent to Charles City County.  Therefore, we believe this John
Thackston was probably the same John who earlier appears in James City
County.  In 1704, John Thackston appeared in the Quit Rent Rolls for
James City County, with 289 acres of land.  Unfortunately, the James
City County courthouse was burned [during the Civil War?], and the
records which might contain clues about the early Thackstons in that
county were destroyed.

James Thackston stated in his lawsuit that John Thackston's wife Frances
married Thomas Spragins about 1721.  Although the lawsuit does not state
that John, Frances' "former husband," had died, we believe that is a
fair inference.  The phrase "former husband" commonly appears in
documents in which the man referred to is clearly dead.  Furthermore,
the suit states that Frances was possessed of a considerable estate,
which she may have received upon John's death.

A John Thackston also appears in a 1733 list of tithables in James City
County.  Because we believe that Frances' husband John Thackston had
died at least ten years before that, we believe that this John was
probably a son.  As discussed below, the presence of Wimbishes in the
same list suggests a connection with "Old James" Thackston, later of
Prince Edward Co., Virginia.

The lawsuit against Thomas Spragins states that Frances "departed this
life" after her marriage to Spragins, but does not indicate in what
year.  We believe it may have been prior to August 1737, when a William
Thaxton was bound to Emery Hughes in Charles City County to learn the
trade of carpenter.  (Charles City Co Ct Order Bk 1737-50, p. 12).
Because we have found only one Thackston family in Charles City County
during this time period, we believe this William Thackston was probably
one of the children of John and Frances.  It also seems likely that
James Thackston's action against Thomas Spragins in 1740 was prompted
not by Frances' death, but rather by James' attainment of legal age.
This conclusion is supported by the fact that James does not appear at
all in existing Charles City records until his lawsuit in 1740, but then
appears with some regularity in subsequent years.

A few years after his marriage to James Thackston's mother Frances,
Thomas Spragins was said to be "of Walingford Parish," Charles City
County.  On 02 Feb 1725/26, Spragins purchased 50 acres of land [in
Charles City County ?] from William Goss of nearby Henrico County.
Goss's father, of Wilmington Parish in James City County, had bequeathed
the land to Goss twenty years earlier.  The land sold to Spragins
included "all houses."  Witnesses were John Thorp Grice, Tabitha
Standly, Martha Standly. (Charles City Wills and Deeds 1725-31, p. 60).

Within a few years, Thomas Spragins was located in Westover Parish,
Charles City County.  On 28 Feb 1725/26, Spragins witnessed a deed in
which Richard and Sarah Barnes of Westover Parish sold 200 acres to
Charles Hansford of Yorkhamton Parish in neighboring York County.  Other
witnesses were William Clopton, Jr., and William Lester.  (Id., p. 71).
Two years later, Thomas Spraggins was identified as a planter of
Westover Parish.  On 01 Feb 1727/28, he sold 150 acres of land on the
west side of the Chickahominy River to William Tyree, planter, of same.
The land was where John Grice then resided, being land formerly granted
by Grice to Spragins, with all houses, etc.   Witnesses to the deed were
Benjamin Dancy, Thomas Deane, and Fran's Tyree.  Francis Dancy also
witnessed actual transfer of possession of the deed.  (Id., p. 203).

Thomas Spragins was still of Westover Parish on 29 Apr 1730, when his
step-son James Thackston would have been about 11 years old.  In that
year, Spragins purchased 50 acres from Benjamin Goss of Barto Precinct,
North Carolina.  Goss was apparently a brother of William Goss, from
whom Spragins had earlier purchased land.  Both men had inherited their
land by will dated 12 Mar 1706.  The land purchased by Spragins in 1730
was part of an "escheat patent" granted the father on 22 Dec 1682.
Witnesses to the sale from Benjamin Goss to Thomas Spragins were John
Danze (Dancy), Wi Lester, and Jno. Hampton.  "Livery and seizin"
(transfer of the deed) was witnessed by Jno. Thorp Grice, James Walker,
and William Spragens. (Id., p. 288).

Unfortunately, the loss of most of Charles City County's probate and
land records make it difficult to track further Thomas Spragins'
movements while James Thackston was a member of his household.  Prior to
the Civil War, one observer wrote that he was able to "pass the evening
searching among the dusty records in the old court-house.  I found
nothing there relating to Revolutionary events; but in a bundle of
papers, wrapped up and laid away probably for more than half a century,
I discovered the marriage license-bond of Thomas Jefferson, in his own
handwriting."  The writer noted that the building was "constructed of
imported brick, and was erected previous to that of Hanover.  I could
not discover the exact period when it was built.  Among its records I
found notices of courts held at Charles City as early as 1639."
(Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution, B. J. Lossing, 1848, p. 442 and
n. 3).

Thomas Spragin died in 1758.  Because of the loss of records, the size
of his estate is unknown.  The County Court order book notes that the
estate was administered by Thomas Spragins, probably a son, in Charles
City County.

Based upon the considerations set forth above, we believe John and
Frances Thackston had four children:

John Thackston - born circa 170-.  We believe he was listed as a head of
household in the 1733 list of tithables in James City County, but we
have no further record of him.

Child Thackston - perhaps a daughter.  In his 1740 lawsuit, James
Thackston mentions that his parents  John and Frances Thackston had four
children, who were possibly still living in 1742, when James was awarded
his "proportionable share" -- one-fourth -- of the money retained by

+James Thackston - born circa 1718.  We believe he later lived in
Amelia and Prince Edward Counties, VA, and died in 1799.  See Section on
James Thackston of Charles City, Amelia, and Prince Edward Cos., VA,
pages          .

William Thackston - born circa 1720.  He was bound out to Emery Hughes
in August 1737.  In general, children were bound out between the ages of
13 and 18.  Because Frances Thackston remarried in 1721, William had to
be born in or before that year.  We have no further record of him.




1 Comment

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One response to “John Thackston, James City County, Va (1670s-1680s)

  1. Richard Thackston

    My Name is Richard Michael Thackston Jr. From brown co Ohio Grandfather Willard Thackston Grandmother Betty white Brother Joseph sister Melissa Mother Linda Lille From Ripley

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