|Volume 1, Issue 9|
Home Page and Index
All available information about Nicholas-II Gentry, the youngest of the sons of Nicholas Gentry, Immigrant is reviewed. Virtually all known contemporary references for Nicholas-II are summarized. A brief description of each of the children of Nicholas-II is also given along with representative references concerning them.
The standard source reference for Nicholas-II Gentry, son of the immigrant Nicholas Gentry, has been and still is the book, "The Gentry Family in America" (GFA), published by Richard Gentry in 1909<1>. With respect to the descendants of Nicholas-II, this book is comprehensive but not authoritative. As is the case with any genealogical compilation, one needs to be aware of the possibility of errors in fact and/or interpretation.
With respect to the descendants of Joseph-II and Samuel-II Gentry, the book is neither comprehensive nor authoritative. The coverage for the latter two lines of descent is very spotty, and rarely linked together for more than a couple generations. If one is a descendant of either of these two 2nd-generation Gentrys and is lucky enough to find his or her ancestor in the "Other Gentrys" portion of the book, great caution should be taken in accepting the details presented without outside confirmation.
The following article will duplicate some of the information for Nicholas-II and his immediate family, but GFA provides very little detail and very little documentation, and there are significant discrepancies in the book. Accordingly, we will be presenting most of the known references to Nicholas and will provide a basic summary of the information known about Nicholas' children. While covering some of the same basic facts, further discussion and interpretation of these facts can by found in three articles published in "Gentry Family Gazette and Genealogy Exchange" by Denny Ellerman<2>.
Summary of Nicholas Gentry Genealogy (GFA #2, p.33)<3>
|- Born New Kent Co. (later Hanover Co.), Virginia, baptized 30 May 1699, St. Peter's Church.|
|- Married to Jane --?--.|
|- Nicholas died 1779, Albemarle Co., Virginia.|
(All born in the vicinity of Stone Horse Creek, Hanover Co., until 1736, thereafter in vicinity of Dirty Swamp, Hanover Co. (later Louisa Co.)).
|i||David (GFA #4) born abt 1722, Hanover Co.; died abt 1810, Madison Co., Kentucky; married probably (1?) abt.1752, Louisa Co. to --?-- Bailey(?); married (2?) abt.1757, Louisa Co. to Mary Estes.|
|ii||Robert (GFA #6) born abt.1725, Hanover Co.; died 1811, Jefferson Co., Tennessee; married (1) abt. 1748 in Albemarle Co., to Judith Joyner; married (2) 13 Nov 1804, Jefferson Co., Tennessee, to Rachel West.|
|iii||Nicholas (GFA #5) born abt. 1728, Hanover Co.; died 1803, Adair Co., Kentucky; married (1) abt. 1752, Louisa Co. to Elizabeth Stringer; married (2) abt.1769, Louisa Co. to Sarah Dickens<4>.|
|iv||Elizabeth born 14 Aug 1731 (GFA also gives her birth as 14 Oct 1731), died 28 Jul 1820, Clark Co., Kentucky; married abt. 1752 to Nathaniel Haggard.|
|v||Benajah (GFA #7) born 1733, Hanover Co.; died abt.1830 (his will was proved in January 1831), Albemarle Co.; married (1) to Elizabeth(?) Austin; married (2) abt 1781 to Ann Jones|
|vi||Moses (GFA #3) born abt. 1736, Hanover Co.; died 1808, Albemarle Co., Virginia; married abt. 1758, Louisa Co. to Lucy Sims.|
|vii||Nathan (GFA #8) born abt.1745, Louisa Co.; died 1784, Louisa Co.; married abt 1777 to Marianne [/Mary Ann] Black.|
|viii||Martin (GFA #9) born 11 Sep 1747, Louisa Co.; died 22 Apr 1827, Madison Co., Kentucky; married 23 Jan 1766, Louisa Co. to Mary Timberlake.|
|(Order of birth unknown, perhaps in the interval between Moses and Nathan):|
|ix||Mary married --?-- Henson. [GFA gives "Hinson", but "Henson" was a known neighboring family]|
|x||Daughter married to --?-- Timberlake. Their daughter Jane was included in Nicholas-II's will.|
|xi||Daughter married to --?-- Jenkins. Their daughter Ann was included in Nicholas-II's will.|
Th e order of children listed here varies from that given in GFA and many other published family trees for Nicholas, and is solely the responsibility of this writer. The reasoning for placement of each child is given below in the discussion of individual children. An assumption has been made here that the two grandchildren, Jane Timberlake and Ann Jenkins, named in Nicholas' will, were children of unidentified daughters of Nicholas who married husbands with those surnames. The further presumption is that in each case, the daughter had pre-deceased Nicholas, although in either case a husband might still have been alive. An alternative, less likely, explanation is that Jane and Ann were daughters of one or two of Nicholas' sons who then married husbands with those surnames. This would require that each of these two grandchildren were of marriageable age, say about 20, and consequently had been born by the end of the 1750's. The children of the older sons of Nicholas are sufficiently well known that one has great difficulty in arguing the presence of two more children named Jane and Ann. Moreover the awarding of half-shares of Nicholas' estate argues for the fact that they were the heirs of deceased daughters.
Nicholas in Hanover County
The life of Nicholas-II Gentry can be divided into three phases. The first half of his life (almost forty years) was spent in Hanover County, half of that time at his father's plantation along Totopotomoy Creek in the eastern end of the county, and the other half at the far west end near Stone Horse Creek (see issue 7 of this Journal for maps). The second half of his life was spent in Louisa County in the neighborhood of a creek with the unprepossessing name of Dirty Swamp, not far to the west of his first home. Finally, the last couple years of his life, Nicholas moved still farther west, to Albemarle County where he died in 1779.
Nicholas-II is the only one of the sons of Nicholas, the Immigrant, to be documented by contemporary references. Nicholas' baptism, 30 May 1699, is recorded in the Register of St. Peter's Parish in New Kent County, Virginia,, along with that of two of his sisters.<5>. The first succeeding reference to him is found in the Vestry book of St. Paul's Parish, after St. Paul's was separated from St. Peter's Parish, and after Hanover County was separated from New Kent County, and is dated 1719<5a>. Thereafter, references to him occur at intervals in the vestry records until 1735<5b-f>, both in connection with "processioning" of land (see vol 1, issue #2 of this journal for a description of processioning), and in fulfilling various parish responsibilities such as the upkeep of local roads.
While living in St. Paul's Parish, Nicholas appears to have left his father's home on Totopotomoy Creek at an early age and moved west with, or to join, his brother Samuel, settling in the vicinity of Stone Horse Creek (which later became the western boundary of the parish). We don't know if he was living with Samuel in 1716 when the first reference to the latter appears in the records, but by 1719 he appears to have been living on land separate from Samuel. This leads to an interesting situation concerning Nicholas' marriage. Two possibilities present themselves.
By 1723, Samuel Gentry had obtained grants of land farther downstream along the South Anna River near Beech Creek (see map below), and thereafter he was listed in St. Paul's processioning records in a precinct separate from Nicholas, yet close enough that both were part of a road-clearing crew appointed to duty in 1735<5e>. Nicholas continued to live in the vicinity of Stone Horse Creek until 1736, in an area bounded by that creek, the South Anna River, and Beech Creek as outlined in a later description of his precinct<5g>.
St. Paul's Parish Records for Nicholas after 1736
There is a question concerning Nicholas' movements after 1736 that cannot be definitively answered. Nicholas was granted land on Dirty Swamp in 1736, and all of the Louisa County records point to Nicholas living there during the years from 1736 to 1776. Moreover, in order to satisfy the terms of a land patent it was necessary to improve and cultivate the land. However, the St. Paul's vestry records continued to carry his name as a land owner in Precinct 6 for the years from 1739 to 1769<6>. Other land owners listed erroneously in that precinct included John Spradling who was known to have died by 1733, and George Alves who moved to Dirty Swamp and died there in 1732. It was not until 1771, when precincts were renumbered, that a new list of land owners was recorded for that area (most of the owners remained the same as earlier). It was in that year that Nicholas' name was removed from the precinct list (along with John Spradling and George Alves) and George Gentry's name suddenly appears<6g>. During that entire time, the names of the landowners varied hardly at all, even though Nicholas surely had left, and one wonders whether those responsible for the processioning were lazy in their reporting and did not update the property list. Did Nicholas continue to own that land even though he did not occupy it? The sudden appearance of George Gentry in place of Nicholas, suggests this possibility, and suggests further that George (and earlier, George's father) occupied this land beginning from the time Nicholas left. [We know for certain that George was living in the vicinity as early as 1765, based on testimony of his son George Jr.] This question will receive further attention in a later article in this journal on the family of Joseph-II Gentry.
Nicholas in Louisa County
Nicholas received a grant of land on Dirty Swamp in 1736 farther to the west of Stone Horse Creek in what later became Louisa County<7> where he lived until he sold the last of his land in 1776 and 1778. Nicholas' name appears in a variety of Louisa County records after his move even though many Louisa County records are fragmentary and spotty. Vestry records of Trinity Parish, of which he was not a part, have only a few brief references to any of the other Gentrys. Marriage records do not exist before 1766 (except for those few recorded by the Rev. William Douglass), and the first Gentry in the record was not until 1778. Court records, which began with the founding of the county in 1743, reflect a variety of activities in which Nicholas was involved in the day-to-day life of a Virginia plantation owner<8, 9>. These include orders to assist in clearing and maintaining roads, serving on grand juries, assisting with the appraisal and inventory of estates of deceased neighbors, and in Nicholas' case at least one court case that came to trial. The court records also confirmed many of the deeds of sale that are listed in more detail in the Louisa County Deed books, whereby the deed was acknowledged by the signer and/or one or more witnesses, and was ordered to be recorded.
Deed books have survived in relatively good condition from the earliest days of 1742 and show only very modest activity on the part of Nicholas. In 1747, he joined with his brother Samuel in selling land along Dirty Swamp that adjoined each other<10a>. Then in 1757 and 1758, he gave 100-acre portions of his land to his son David and his son Moses<10b,10c>. These were probably on the occasions of the marriage of each son.
[Note. It is necessary to use discretion in many of the court and deed records if one wants to differentiate between Nicholas-II (Nicholas Sr.) and his son Nicholas Jr., especially in the later years of Nicholas Sr.'s life. Context, geographical setting (i.e. vicinity of Dirty Swamp for Nicholas Sr., and vicinity of Gold Mine Creek for Nicholas Jr) and type of activity are helpful. In the references quoted here, we have tried to identify and include all those for Nicholas Sr. and to omit those for Nicholas Jr. unless the latter are significant for some reason. In the same way, there is difficulty on occasion in differentiating between David-III (the son of Nicholas Sr.) and David-IV (the son of Nicholas Jr). The same geography differences are helpful there. We have mentioned in a previous article the further complication of identifying the son of Samuel-II, who was also a Nicholas but who was identified as Nicholas "the Younger" in the few Louisa County deeds in which he appears.]
Lists of tithable individuals and taxable property exist only from 1768 onwards and Nicholas and his family are found only in the lists through the year 1775. [Colonial government tithes or personal property taxes were assessed on all males 16 and above; on all negro, mulatto, and Indian women 16 and above; on land; and on wheeled carriages. A separate county tax was also assessed on taxable individuals.] During the years from 1768 to 1776, Nicholas was included in the tax rolls, listing the taxable male members of his household and slaves<11>. Besides the tithables, the lists also show Nicholas being taxed for 182 acres of land. By virtue of his age, Nicholas appears to have been relieved from the necessity of paying poll taxes for the years from 1773 onwards. From 1768 through 1770, Nathan Gentry was living with his father, then presumably left to establish his own home. Martin continued to live with his father throughout this entire period, and in fact it is probable that Nicholas was living with Martin in Albemarle County at the time of his death.
Nicholas in Albemarle County
By 1776, Nicholas was close to eighty years old. Robert, Elizabeth and Benajah had moved to Albemarle County, directly west of Louisa County, a number of years earlier, and now sons David, Moses, and Martin decided to move also, taking their father with them. In 1776, Nicholas sold most of his land along Dirty Swamp<10d)>, and in 1778 he joined David in selling the remainder of Nicholas' land and the adjoining plantation that Nicholas had given to David twenty-odd years earlier<10e>. In 1777, son Moses sold his Louisa County land and in 1778 he bought land in Albemarle County<21>. The families settled in the vicinity of Brown's Cove in Albemarle County, near a group of families (children of Benjamin Brown), who may have been related to Nicholas' wife Jane. That left only Nicholas Jr, and Nathan, of the sons, still living in Louisa County. As to Nicholas' daughters, except for Elizabeth, we do not know what became of them. This direction of migration was characteristic of almost all of Nicholas' children, moving westward into Albemarle County, and then mostly moving further west to Kentucky, and a few to Tennessee. This was in contrast to Samuel's family who moved south from Louisa County to Lunenburg County, and then southward again into North and South Carolina.
Nicholas Sr. died soon after moving to Albemarle County. His will was dated 20 Apr 1777, written at the time he was in the midst of moving. It was received for probate in April 1779 so the assumption is that he died in early 1779. The text of his will is given in GFA, a brief summary is included here<12>. The text of this will has generated controversy, first voiced by Richard Gentry in GFA, concerning whether the will indicates that Nicholas' children were the result of two separate wives.
The Wife (Wives) of Nicholas Gentry
Whether Nicholas had more than one wife, and the maiden name of Jane, his wife at the time of his death, are both subjects of considerable debate. Unfortunately, unless some obscure reference turns up that has been overlooked during the close to one hundred years since GFA was published, we will never know. The argument with respect to the number of wives revolves around the wording in his will by which he "disinherited" four of his children, Moses, David, Nicholas, and Mary. It has been suggested that this was because they were children of an earlier wife than Jane. One can also argue that the failure to bequeath equal amounts of his estate to these four, may be because Nicholas-II had already given 100 acres of land in Louisa Co. to Moses and David, and son Nicholas had obtained 70 acres from his father-in-law Edward Stringer. In similar fashion, Mary may have received help earlier from her father about which we know nothing, or she may have been sufficiently well taken care of by her husband to not need a further bequest. The fact that David was chosen as one of the executors does not suggest ill will between Nicholas and these four children. A more compelling argument against different wives being the reason for this wording is that chronologically, Robert, Elizabeth, and Benajah were undoubtedly older in age than Moses or Mary yet they were given full shares of the estate. To this writer, any cause for the wording of the will is not because of the possibility of the children being borne by different wives but rather lies elsewhere.
Controversy relating to wife Jane of Nicholas' later years has to do with her name. Various maiden names have been suggested: Brown, Benajah, Braxton, Martin, Austill and others about which we can only argue and guess since there is no way of proving the correct choice. The one very frequent suggestion that can be most emphatically refuted is that Nicholas married Mary Brooks, daughter of Richard Brooks. This has been discussed in previous articles, and it can be shown without question that Mary was the wife of Nicholas' nephew, known as Nicholas the Younger, son of Samuel-II Gentry. The origins of the names Jane Martin and Jane Austill are a mystery. The name Jane Benajah has apparently been suggested to account for giving the name Benajah to a son (and a grandson) of Nicholas. This suggestion is not attractive because there appear to be no contemporary families by the name of Benajah living in Hanover or Louisa County at the time. In addition one can much more logically argue that this son of Nicholas was named for Benajah Brown, as suggested below, or at least was prompted by another source for whom both Benajah Brown and Benajah Gentry were named. Similarly, Jane Braxton apparently originates as a source for the name of Nicholas Jr's son Blackston (sometimes spelled Braxton).
The name Jane Brown has been more commonly accepted for a couple reasons. Denny
Ellerman writes in one of his articles on Nicholas Gentry<2c>:
"The backward "B" by which Nicholas Gentry's wife Jane signs one of the deeds suggests that her maiden name may have begun with a B. Assuming this to be so, I have always considered Brown the leading candidate for the following reason. When Nicholas and his wife moved to Brown's Cove in Albemarle County, they settled among a whole group of Browns with whom they had many and close dealings for the ten years or so that they remained there. One of those Browns was named Benajah, from whence perhaps the name of one of Nicholas and Jane's sons. As was typical of so many moves west, family connections tended to guide the path. In this case, Nicholas and Jane and sons David, [Moses] and Martin did not move close to where their sons, Robert and Benajah had settled earlier in Albemarle County but in an area of the county where there were no other Gentrys at that time. I think it possible that it was her [Jane's] family that determined the direction of that particular move."
[Note. In early September of this year, a search of the Ancestry.Com WorldTree website for Nicholas Gentrys born in 1697-1699 brought up 77 separate families. The discouraging summary for spouses of Nicholas showed:
Blank = 14; Mary Brooks = 49; Jane Aubert = 1; Jane Benajah = 6; Jane Brown = 4; Jane Martin = 4; Jane with Brown/Benajah/Braxton/Austill in various combinations = 8; Sarah Dickens = 1. (Totals add up to more than 77 because of multiple spouses).]
The Children of Nicholas - David Gentry
Several factors argue for David being the oldest of the children of Nicholas, but they leave troubling questions about the date of David's marriage to Mary Estes. These arguments are:
This earlier date for a marriage and birth of a son for David suggests that this was a first marriage, and that after the death of this wife, David married Mary Estes as a second wife. The naming of a son, "Bailey", raises the possibility that this hypothetical first wife of David was a Bailey. Supporting this suggestion is the existence of a family by this name as shown by the fact that a John Bailey (or Bayley) served with Nicholas Sr on a panel appointed to appraise the estate of, coincidentally, a Mary Estes (perhaps David's mother-in-law)<9c>. [Note added 11/5/13: Gentry references discovered in Kentucky have led to a proposal that David and his first wife had an additional son named James born about 1756, who had a wife named Ann. This is discussed in JGG, issue 2011(C).]
The date for David's marriage to Mary Estes was probably about 1757 when David's father gave him 100 acres of land that was a part of the family plantation on Dirty Swamp in Louisa County<10c>. In support of this, is the fact that the surviving children of David were born in years much more appropriate to this date than earlier. David Jr. for example, is identified with a birthdate of 1761, while son Richard was born in 1763. Other children of David and Mary were daughters Onie and Winifred ("Winnie").
David spent the early and mid-years of his life in Louisa County. He joined with his father in selling their adjoining land in 1778 preparatory to leaving Louisa County<10e>. David bought 500 acres in Albemarle County the same year, then sold part of this land to his brother Martin<14a,14b>, with whom their father Nicholas undoubtedly lived for the brief remainder of his life. David left Albemarle County in 1787<14c,14d>, moving to Madison County, Kentucky, where he appears in the 1800 tax list for that county. David is believed to have died in about 1810 in Madison County. David Sr.'s family, which included sons David and Richard, and daughters Winifred (Winnie) and Onie all accompanied him to Kentucky. A will dated 1813 by a David Gentry in Madison County is easily confused with David Sr., but this was the will of his son David Jr. who died only three years after his father. They can be distinguished in this case by the identification of the children named in the will. David Sr.'s son Richard was the direct ancestor of the "General" Richard Gentry who died in the Florida Seminole Indian Wars, and of the Richard Gentry who compiled GFA. Not surprisingly, these families are described in great detail in the book.
It should be noted that GFA's description of David confuses this David-III with his uncle, the David-II who was a son of Nicholas-I. Comments on a first marriage (to a wife whom GFA did not identify but whom other family listings frequently give as Sarah Brooks), and the listing of a son, William Gentry, by this first wife all arise from the failure of Richard Gentry and other family historians to realize that there were two separate Davids living briefly in Louisa County until 1748.
This writer considers it probable that Robert was the second of the children of Nicholas based on the following facts. In 1761, Robert's father-in-law, Phillip Joyner made bequests in his will to five of Robert's children: Charles, Jesse, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Mary<15>. Unless two of the daughters were twins, for Robert to have this many children, he must have been married for say ten to twelve years. That places his date of marriage in the vicinity of 1750, apparently earlier than any of his siblings. Then for Robert to be of normal marriageable age by that time, he most likely was born a few years before 1730. I have arbitrarily estimated a birth date of about 1725.
We will not discuss Robert Gentry further in this article since his life and that of his children have been described in a previous article of this Journal (volume 1, issue #6). As a reminder, however, Robert's children, named in his will, included sons Charles, Jesse, Bartlett and Martin, and daughters Elizabeth, Sarah and Mary, all of whom moved from Virginia to Tennessee in the very earliest years of the settlement of that state.
Nicholas Gentry Jr
The argument for the placement of Nicholas Jr in the order of Nicholas Sr.'s children is a little more tenuous. Nicholas Jr. received a gift of land from his father-in-law, Edward Stringer in 1752<16a>. This was probably on the occasion of the marriage of Nicholas to Elizabeth Stringer. This date of marriage argues for Nicholas being younger than Robert and older than the two children, Elizabeth and Benajah whose dates of birth in GFA appear to be reasonably correct.
The children of Nicholas and his first wife were Mildred, David, Nicholas-IV, John, Nancy, Sally, Fannie, Martin, and Blackston (Blaxton). They are named in a court document dated 1782, which appears to involve some controversy between Nicholas and his older group of children, probably on the disposal of property that may have belonged to or was owing to his wife Elizabeth<17b>.
(Nicholas-IV, who was missing from that document, is thought to be the Nicholas Gentry who is assumed by GFA to have committed suicide in 1787. This Nicholas is the subject of an unusual court order in 1772 when his father was relieved of the need to pay county taxes [but not Crown taxes] for his son for the next two years<17a>. Three years later, Nicholas-IV was excused from Crown taxes as well. What the circumstances or reason for this action are completely unknown but may have involved some physical or mental disability.)
Nicholas' second wife was Sarah Dickens, (see e.g. deeds dated 1783 and 1787) by whom he had another ten children: Mary, Henry, Elizabeth, Zachariah (Zachary), (James) Richard, Sarah Perrine, Robert, Benajah, Jane and Wesley. (Nicholas' daughter Sarah Perrine who married William Goudge, is frequently confused with Sarah or Sally, the daughter of Nicholas and his first wife Elizabeth. The latter Sarah married James Smith.)
Nicholas spent most of his life in Louisa County, being the exception in the Nicholas-II family in not moving to Albemarle County. In later life, he moved to Kentucky where his name can be found, along with the name of his son Zachary, in the 1800 tax lists for Green County, the precursor to Adair County, Kentucky. Nicholas died in 1803 in Adair County. Some of his children remained in Virginia, but most of them moved to Kentucky before or after their father. These included John, Martin, Blackston and Henry in Bullitt County, and Zachary/Zachariah, Richard, and Robert in Adair County.
Nicholas' son David-IV is worth noting separately. GFA lists a David among the children of Nicholas but gives the wrong family description for this David. Nicholas' son married Elizabeth Whitlock and his daughter, Mildred, married William Whitlock. and moved from Louisa to Caroline County. David's wife, Elizabeth, is named as a beneficiary in the 1777 will of Thomas Whitlock, sister of Elizabeth and William, and David was a witness. David is further identified in a deed of sale of land to his brother Nicholas<18b>. David's four sons, John N., Elias, Thomas, and Jesse moved to Buncombe County, North Carolina, and were among the early settlers there. Their parents followed them to Buncombe County in later years where they were eventually buried.
GFA as well as various Haggard sources, gives conflicting dates for Elizabeth's birth: 14 August and 14 October, 1731. Except for the date of her marriage to Nathaniel Haggard, the chronology of her family is quite specifically quoted in various Haggard family records, and there seems to be no reason to question the year of her birth, 1731. This places her as being probably the fourth of the children of Nicholas-II.
Elizabeth's husband, Nathaniel Haggard is said to have married Mary Hazelrigg first, by whom he had two children: Henry Hazelrigg, and Martin. The children of Elizabeth and Nathaniel included: Elizabeth, John, Mary, James, Jane, Bartlett, David and Nathaniel. The Haggards and Gentrys intermixed freely in the next generation as James Haggard married Betsie Gentry (daughter of Moses Gentry), and Jane Haggard married David Gentry (son of David-III).
Elizabeth and Nathaniel moved to Albemarle County and lived for a time there on land adjoining Jesse Gentry (son of Robert). They sold this land in 1788<19> and bought land the same year in Lincoln County, Kentucky<20>, from part of which Clark County was formed in 1790. Nathaniel died in 1806 leaving a will which left everything to his widow Elizabeth. On her death in 1820, the estate passed to all of their children except Martin who had been killed by Indians at an earlier date.
A Digression Concerning the Haggards
There are frequent references in genealogical listings of the presumed founder of the Haggard family of Virginia, as a James Haggard who landed in Norfolk County, Virginia shortly after 1700. There is an interesting story about James being hired as an indentured school teacher. James and a young lady connected with the school were said to have been attracted to each other and ran away to North Carolina in 1706 because as an indentured servant James supposedly could not marry in Virginia. James and his wife then returned to Virginia at a later time. The original source of this story, a book "The History of the Haggard Family in England and America, 1433 - 1899", published by David Dawson Haggard in 1899, quotes this story and other colorful information about James but does not name his schoolgirl wife. Since the publishing of that book, some members of the Haggard family have provided the name of Elizabeth Gentry, oldest daughter of Nicholas-I, as this wife, while others have claimed the youngest daughter of Nicholas, Mabel Gentry was the wife. Still others have reported that first Elizabeth and then Mabel were wives of James.
The story of James and his proposed marriage with Elizabeth Gentry may have some elements of truth, such as James being a schoolteacher, but most of the story is undoubtedly false considering the following facts:
Since the proposed relationship did not originate with the Haggard family book but was added afterwards, it appears to me that some Haggard/Gentry genealogist in filling out a pedigree chart, skipped a couple generations by mistake, and confused the original James Haggard with the James Haggard who was a son of Elizabeth and Nathaniel, who did indeed marry an Elizabeth Gentry.
GFA gives the date of 1733 for the birth of Benajah, based on his age at the time of his death. There does not seem to be any reason to question this. Benajah and Robert were the first of the family to move from Louisa County to Albemarle, Robert apparently several years ahead of Benajah. The latter bought land near Robert in 1764<21> on Biscuit Run near present day Charlottesville. GFA briefly describes Benajah thus: "He was a successful planter and had a number of negro slaves. He was a leading member of the Baptist church and was very active in religious work. In 1817, he transferred all his property to his son Robert, although Benajah did not die until 1831 at the age of 98. His will was proved in Albemarle Co. in January 1831, and named 8 of his children as legatees. His daughter Kate, married Benajah's nephew, John P. Gentry, son of Moses-III." Benajah's name occurs frequently in Albemarle County records in orders for the development and maintenance of roads and as a witness to deeds or as being an adjoining land owner.
Benajah married twice, his first wife was Elizabeth(?) Austin, his second was Ann Jones whom he married in about 1780. His children by his first wife were Mary, Elizabeth, Sally, Annie, Jane, and William. His children by his second wife were Thomas, James, Robert, John, Katherine (Kate), Patsey Frances, and Susan. William and Thomas moved to Dickson County, Tennessee while James settled in Monroe County, Kentucky. His youngest sons, Robert and John, remained in Virginia. His daughter, Kate, who married her cousin, John P. Gentry, moved to Madison County, Kentucky.
Like David, Moses' chronology can be argued on the basis the date of his marriage to Lucy Sims, probably in 1758, when his father Nicholas gave him 100 acres of the family plantation<10c>. Moses did not move to Albemarle County until 1778<23>, at the same time as his father, and his brothers David and Martin. GFA describes Moses: "Moses Gentry bought land ... on the old Lynchburg road, north of Garland's Store, on the south side of Ragged Mountain, and made it his permanent home. He was a Ruling Elder in the Cove Presbyterian Church (situated about 6 miles from his home). His wife, Lucy Sims, was noted for her religious zeal and church work. She lived to be nearly 100 years old, surviving her husband by many years. After his death, she kept an inn, or tavern, her home being suitably located on the main road from Lynchburg to Richmond. Moses Gentry's will was probated in 1808, and final settlement was not made by the administrator, Edward Garland, until 1825."
Like his brother Benajah, Moses' name appears frequently in Albemarle County court documents, road orders, and the like, and was accompanied in later years by the names of some of his children. These children included James, Frances, Moses Jr., Jane, Claybourn, John, Benajah, Nicholas, Polly, David, Elizabeth, and Joanna. Many of his family moved to Kentucky to join other Gentrys. James, Claybourn, John and Benajah went to Madison County, while Moses Jr. went to Green County. Nicholas and David both died at a relatively young age in Albemarle County. Two of Moses' children married cousins, John married Kate Gentry, daughter of Benajah-III, and Mary ("Polly") married John Gentry, son of Martin-III.
There are reports that John P Gentry had a twin brother named Marle Lee Gentry who was put in the care of neighbors who had him wet-nursed by a houseslave who had recently given birth (perhaps Lucy Sims did not have enough milk for both twins?). His name is said to have derived from Albemarle County and Lee Creek which bordered the family farm. He ended up staying with the neighbors until he was 14, when he was taken to Henderson County, Kentucky. A job application by his son James in 1825 gives his age at that time as 47, indicating a birth date of 1777/8. .
Very little is known about Nathan Gentry. GFA estimates the date of birth of Nathan as 1741, but he was probably born a little later than that. There is nothing to indicate whether or not this is right other than the fact that tax list records suggest that he was older than his brother Martin, and thus born before 1747. This argument arises from the taxables listing for Louisa County between 1768 and 1774<11>. This shows Nathan and Martin living with their father at the time of the earliest available tax listings, but Nathan leaving in 1771 to live independently. Martin continued to live with his father through the date of the last listings in 1775. The fact that Nathan was provided with an allowance by his father's will over a three-year period is curious, but the short-term nature of it probably does not mean the allowance was due to any suggestion that mentally or physically he was not able to live entirely independently.
The name of Nathan's wife and the birth of one of his children was recorded
by the Rev. William Douglass in his church register of births and christenings in Louisa County:
"April 8, 1781, Nathan Gentry and Marianne Black, a son named Wyat, born March 15, 1781."
GFA estimates the date of birth of a first child, Patrick, as 1780. The marriage in 1802 of an Eleanor Gentry, daughter of Mary Gentry<25>, is strongly suggestive of a child of Nathan and Mary Ann, born before Wyatt, and if Patrick's date of birth is approximately correct, then Eleanor was probably born before Patrick also. This would mean Nathan was married in the mid- to late-1770's, but the fact that Nathan left his father's home in 1771 might mean he was married as early as that year. Parenthetically, there is a record of Mary Ann Gentry, we must assume the same Mary Ann, "living in adultery" according to a 1783 court judgment<26>. There is no record of other children. Nathan died at a relatively early age in 1784 in Louisa County<24>. His wife seems to have lived for many years after his death without remarrying. Her name appears as a buyer in at least two sales of estate property, and she appears to be the same Mary Ann Gentry as is found in the 1810 Hanover County census records and probably the Mary Gentry in the 1820 Louisa County census.
As has been indicated in various places earlier in this article, Martin Gentry, as the youngest son, seems to have lived with his father up through the time they moved from Louisa County in 1777 or 1778 to Albemarle County. Thereafter, for the last couple years of Nicholas' life, the roles were reversed, and the plantation where they lived became the property of Martin<14b> and Nicholas was the guest in his son's home. Martin sold a parcel of land in Albemarle County in 1789<28a>, but this was obviously not the last of his land since in 1792, Martin and two of his sons were assigned road gang duty in the county<28b>. By 1800, Martin's name appeared on the tax list for 1800 in Madison County, Kentucky, along with his two oldest sons, Josiah and Bartlett. Martin and members of his family continued to appear in Madison County census records for many years afterwards. His will was received for probate there in 1827. His children included Elizabeth, Josiah, Bartlett, Patsie, Richard, Susanna, John, Polly, Nancy, Joel, and Martin Jr. His sons Josiah, Bartlett, John and Martin Jr all moved to Madison County and were living at the time of their father's will. A grandson, Thomas J. Gentry, mentioned in the will, appears to have been the surviving heir of either Richard or Joel.
The goal of this article has been to flesh out and fill in the gaps in the brief descriptions found in GFA of the life of Nicholas-II Gentry and his children. Further information on the lines of descent from these children can be found in varying degrees of detail in Richard Gentry's book. Corrections and interpretations of controversial issues relating to Nicholas are shared in some respects by other Gentry historians but some are solely the responsibility of this author. With this article, we have completed a summary of the lives of two of the sons of Nicholas Gentry, the immigrant. A summary of the life of the oldest son, Joseph, will be presented in the next issue of this Journal, along with an outline of a number of Gentry families whose connections to Nicholas-I are not known but are assumed to be descendants of Joseph.
1. Richard Gentry, "The Gentry Family in America, 1676 to 1909", The Grafton Press, New York, 1909 (abbreviated here as "GFA")
Nicholas-II, and his descendants through some half-dozen generations, are described in considerable detail in "The Gentry Family in America". The entire first half to three-fifths of Richard Gentry's book is devoted to this family line. The remainder of the book is made up of family groupings that may be connected for two or three generations, but in general make up a collection of Gentry families which Richard was not able to tie to the original Nicholas Gentry. The latter series of family descriptions contain more errors than the first part of the book, but even in the Nicholas-II family tree there are mistakes. The book frequently does not list the children in a family in birth order, even when the birthdates listed are obviously out of order. In addition, occasionally the name of a child in a family may be right (presumably), but the description of that child applies to another individual by the same name.
2. A. Denny Ellerman, articles concerning Nicholas-II Gentry in "Gentry Family Gazette and Genealogy Exchange", published by Richard H. Gentry, McLean, Virginia):
3. Individuals who appear in GFA are identified by the family number assigned to them by Richard Gentry in his book.
4. C. G. Chamberlayne, editor, "The Vestry Book and Register of St. Peter's Parish, New Kent and James City Counties, 1684-1786", The Library Board, Richmond, VA, 1937. [Earlier edition, "The Parish Register of Saint Peter's, New Kent County, VA. from 1680 to 1787" , published by the Colonial Dames of America in 1904 ], Register, Vol I, p.11:
" Eliz. dau't to Nich. Gentry, bap't 29 day of August 1689
[Same date in previous edition of Register. Note GFA has "1687" for this date].
nicholas Son of nicholas Gentrey baptiz the 30 may 1699
mabell daut'r of nicho. Gentry baptiz the 13 Dec'r 1702."
5. C. G. Chamberlayne, editor,
"The Vestry Book of St. Paul's Parish, Hanover County, Va, 1706-1786", The
Library Board [of Virginia], Richmond, 1940, reprinted 1973
6. Chamberlayne, Op. cit.
Succeeding processioning entries subject to question and interpretation.
7. Denis Hudgins, editor
"Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants"
"Vol IV (1732-1741)", Virginia Genealogical Society, Richmond, 1994;
1736 Dec 28 Vol IV p.125 (Patent Bk 17, p.222):
[Grant to] "Nicholas Gentry 400 acs Hanover co., both sides Dirty Sw; adj Richard Brookes/Brooks, Capt. Overton, Mr. Charles Barret & Thomas Rice".
8. Ruth and Sam Sparacio, "Louisa
County, Virginia Orders", The Antietam Press, McLean, VA, 1999
The Sparacios have abstracted in separate volumes, most of the court minutes and orders that are included in the surviving order books. These books in some years were highly fragmented with widely varying years being recorded in a given book. The references below give the page number for the applicable volume of the Sparacio abstracts with the original order book number in braces.
9. John C. Bell, "Louisa County
Records You Probably Never Saw of 18 Century Virginia", Nashville, TN, 1987.
Minute or Court Order Book 1760-1764
10. Louisa County Deed Books
11. Rosalie Edith Davis, "Louisa
County Virginia Tithables and Census 1743 - 1785", Manchester, MO, 1988.
Tithables of Trinity Parish:
|Year||Hd of House||Other Members||Negroes||Tithes/Acres|
|1768||Nicholas Gentry||Nathan Gentrey
|[Therefore Nathan and Martin born bef. 1752]|
|1769||Nicholas Gentry||Martin Gentry
|1770||Nicholas Gentry||Martin Gentry
|1771||Nicholas Gentory Sr||Martain Gentry|| "Gage" [George],
|1773||Nicholas Gentry||Martin Gentry|| Jessy, Thomas,
|[Nicholas not taxed?]|
|1774||Martain Gentry||"Jessy Thomason"
| [Jessy & Thomas?],
|1775||Nichs Gentory||"Jessy Thomason"
| [Jessy & Thomas?],
|[In 1774 and 1775 it is not clear if "Jessy Thomason" is a white occupant of Nicholas' household, and a member of the Thomason family present in Louisa County at the time, or if the entry was in the wrong location on the form and was a miswriting of the two slaves Jessy and Thomas found earlier in Nicholas' household. If the latter, Nicholas appears not to have been taxed for the years 1773 to 1775 (see also refr. 17a.).]|
12. GFA, p.33-34, refr 21:
References to David
13. Rosalie Edith Davis,Op. cit.
Tithables of Trinity Parish:
|Year||Hd of House||Other Members||Negroes||Tithes/Acres|
|1769||David Gentry||Bailey Gentry||2/100|
|1770||David Gentry||Bailey Gentry||2/100|
|1771||David Gentry||Bailey Gentry||2/253|
|Tithables of St. Martin's Parish:|
|1773||Benjamin Cook||Bailey Gentry||James, Punch, Cate, Venus, Bett||7/193|
Ruth and Sam Sparacio,
editors "Virginia County Court Records, Deed Abstracts of Albemarle County, Virginia,
1772-1776 (Deed Book 6)", Antient Press, McLean, VA, 1992
References to Robert
15. Ruth and Sam Sparacio, "Albemarle County, Virginia Wills 1752-1764", The Antietam Press, 2000,
References to Nicholas Jr and Family
16. Louisa County Deed Books
17. Sparacio, "Louisa County
Virginia Orders 1766-1774"
18. Louisa County Deed Books
References to Elizabeth
|19.|| 1788 Apr 9 Albemarle County Deed
Nathaniel Haggard & Elizabeth Haggard his wife to Hudson Morton, 250 ac on Moore's Creek where said Haggard now lives. Signed Nathaniel (his mark) Haggard and Elizabeth Haggard; witness George Bruce, William Colvard, Hastings Mark. Ack at Alb. Apr 11 court 1788 (Elizabeth relinquishing right of Dower) and recorded.
|20.||1788 Apr 9 Lincoln Co., KY Deed
Indenture for sale by Lewis Johnson and Massie his wife, of Albemarle Co. VA to Nathaniel Haggard of 700 ac land granted by patent to Lewis Johnson in Lincoln Co. on the north side of Dick's River.
References to Benajah
21. Sparacio, Op. cit. (Albemarle)
22. Nathaniel Mason Pawlett,
"Albemarle County Road Orders, 1783-1816", Virginia Highway & Transportation
Research Council, Charlottesville, VA, 1975.
Mulltiple references to Benajah Gentry as well as other Gentrys.
References to Moses
23. Sparacio, Op. cit. (Albemarle)
24. Nancy Chappelear and Kate
Binford Hatch, "Abstracts of Louisa County, Virginia Will Books
References to Nathan and Martin
25. Kathleen Booth Williams, "Marriages of
Louisa County 1766-1815", C. J. Carrier Co., 1977 (compiled from Louisa County
Marriage Register which starts 1766)
|1802 Aug 14||William Anthony||Elenor B Gentry||/sur/Stanley Alvis|
|over 21 years of age||/w/ William Perkins|
|dau of Mary Gentry||David Kersey|
|J L Walton|
26. Janice Abercrombie, "Louisa
County, Virginia Judgments 1766-1790", Iberian Publishing Company, 1998.
Compiled from the microfilm of the Judgments/Loose Papers of the Louisa County Clerk's
|27.||1783 Oct 13 Louisa County
Nathan Gentry and wife deed to William Lipscomb.
28. Sparacio, Op. cit.
Scattered revisions, November 2013
© 2013, W.M. Gentry - All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced in whole or in part for non-commercial purposes provided that proper attribution (including author and journal name) is included.