Friday, August 19, 2011

William Randolph, my maternal 7th Great Grandfather

William Randolph (c.1650-1711) of “Turkey Island”
mythurin added this on 2 Feb 2009

If he could speak to us today, William Randolph might describe his life as follows:
          "Since I was baptized in the parish of Moreton-Morrell in Warwickshire, England, 7 November 1650, I correctly testified 2 December 1678 that I was 28 years old and again on 1 August 1689 that I was 38.  I was married to Mary Isham by 13 November 1678 when her brother Henry Isham made his will mentioning sister Mary Randolph.  It is said she could play a guitar-like instrument called a cittern.

          Henrico County, which I represented in the House of Burgesses (1684-1711) and where I was clerk (1699-1702),  charged me for five tithables, essentially a head tax, in 1679,  and I paid property taxes on 1,655 acres in Surry County and 19,465 acres in Henrico County in 1704.  In 1706 I gave 167 acres on Turkey Island Creek to son William and plantation “Curles” to son Henry.  My 1711 will divided large tracts of land among our seven sons and left a ring each to our two married daughters."

          Randolph acquired 1,221 acres on a branch of Tuckahoe Creek by patent in 1695.  Although no deed discloses it, Randolph evidently purchased from Edmund Jennings 3,256 acres-half his patent of 6,513 acres on Tuckahoe Creek, which Jennings got 20 Oct. 1689.  A deed from John Pleasants to Randolph mentions land “next to the land which ye said William Randolph purchased from Edmund Jennings.”  Randolph also held 2,926 acres in Charles City County 15 Oct. 1696.  The will of William Randolph remembered his wife, Mary, 7 sons, and daughters Stith and Bland (will dated 6 March 1710/11  and proved 1 June 1713).
Descendants of William Randolph Information about the children of William Randolph, their descendants, and allied families previously found at is now available as Southside Virginia Genealogies.
          Born in Warwickshire, England, about 1651, William Randolph was the son of Richard Randolph and Elizabeth Ryland Randolph of Morton Hall, Warwickshire, both of whom had died by 1671. He arrived in Virginia by 1673, and in time married Mary Isham, daughter of Henry and Katherine Royall Isham of the plantation, "Bermuda Hundred". His entry into the higher Virginia circle was greatly facilitated by the presence of his uncle, Henry Randolph, who had come to Virginia over 30 years earlier and among other positions served as clerk to the House of Burgesses from 1660 until his death in 1673. When Henry Randolph died in 1673, William succeeded him as Clerk of Henrico County for ten years. In 1674 he had the funds to import 12 servants, and in turn he used their head rights to patent 500 acres on Swift Creek where he built a house.    
           He served the colony in many capacities. After clerk of the court he held various county offices including sheriff, coroner, justice of the peace, and justice of the county court. In 1699 after holding a variety of military offices, he was appointed lieutenant colonel of militia in the county. Repeatedly representing Henrico County in the House of Burgesses, he was the speaker of that House in 1696 and in 1698 and then was clerk of the Burgesses in 1699 to 1701 and in 1702. He had studied some law on his own and in 1694 William Randolph -- at age 44 -- was appointed attorney general for the Crown in Virginia, holding the office for four years after which the office was held for more than half of the next century by his son, Sir John, and two grandsons, Peyton and John.
          William was a land speculator. When his parents in law died shortly after he was married, Mary inherited most of their substantial estate. He acquired in 1684 land from the escheated estate of one of Bacon's fellow rebels on the James River known as "Turkey Island", just below the future city of Richmond. It was here that he built the home, "Turkey Island", where he and Mary raised their family. At some stage he became the escheator general for much of the colony, a position which he held until his death and which must have put him in a very favorable position to add to his land holdings. His losses from the pillaging of his estate in Bacon's Rebellion had been substantial, but he was able to acquire from the Governor in 1698, a patent including the lands of Nathaniel Bacon at Curles, which had reverted in escheat to the Crown. He acquired by many means various tracts of land so that by 1705 he owned 10,000 acres in Henrico County alone.        
          William was also a hard-working and enterprising manager of his business affairs. He was a merchant, whose own ship sailed from "Turkey Island" to England, exchanging his tobacco for luxury goods obtained through his agent, Micajah Perry.  He was one of the leading planters of the  colony, and an early supporter of the plan to establish a college in America. When William and Mary College was founded he became one of its first trustees. Before his death he was able to educate six of his sons at William and Mary and to establish each of his seven sons on an estate of his own.
          Through these sons and two daughters William and Mary Randolph had thirty seven grandchildren, and his descendants intermarried with many of Virginia's notable families -- producing such men as Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall and Robert E. Lee. Because of these links with so many families, they were often referred to as the Adam and Eve of Virginia.

          William Randolph died on 11 April 1711 and was buried at "Turkey Island".

1. "Dictionary of American Biography", Vol 8, edited by Allen Johnson; Charles Scribner's and Sons, New York, NY, 1964
2. "The Virginia Dynasties", by Clifford Dowdey; Little Brown & Company, Boston, MA, 1969
3. "The Randolphs of Virginia", by Jonathan Daniels; Doubleday & Co, Inc, Garden City, NY, 1972

William Randolph (bapt. 7 November-11 April 1711) was a colonist and land owner who played an important role in the history and government of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He moved to Virginia sometime between 1669 and 1673, and married Mary Isham (ca. 1659-29 December 1735) a few years later.  His descendants include several prominent individuals, including Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and Robert E. Lee.  Genealogists have taken an interest in him for his progeny's many marital alliances, referring to him and Mary Isham as "the Adam and Eve of Virginia".

William RANDOLPH, son of Richard RANDOLPH and Elizabeth RYLAND, b.  Oct 1650 in Moreton Morrell, Midland Co., Warwickshire, ENG; d. on 11 Apr 1711 in Turkey Island, Henrico Co., VA, approx. 61-1/2  years old.
      He married Mary ISHAM in 1680 in Henrico Co., VA. Mary, dau. of Capt.Henry ISHAM and Katherine (BANKs) ROYALL, b. abt 1658 in Bermuda Hundred, Henrico Co., VA; d. on 29 Dec 1735 at Turkey Island, Plantation,  Charles City Co., VA, approx. 77 years old. William was approx. 30 years old when married and Mary was approx. 22 years old.

      "Colonial politics were often unstable and in times erratic, causing  estates to change hands and creating both, risks and opportunities.  William Randolph, an English immigrant who arrived in Virginia 1673, seized such an opportunity when he convinced governor Sir William  Berkeley to grant him a large plantation from the confiscated estate of Nathaniel Bacon, a wealthy landowner who had betrayed his class and staged a revolt against Berkeley and the colonial government. Randolph was the progenitor of one of the largest, wealthiest and most powerful  families in 18th century Virginia. His marriage to the daughter of Henry Isham, another large plantation owner ascertained his position  in the colony."

      Occupations:  Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, Attorney General  of Virginia, County Clerk of Henrico Parish, Virginia.

      i William "of Turkey Island" RANDOLPH.
     ii Thomas "of Tuckahoe" RANDOLPH.
    iii Isham RANDOLPH.
     iv Henry RANDOLPH, b. in  Oct 1687.
      v Richard "of Curles" RANDOLPH.
     vi Edward RANDOLPH, b. in  Oct 1690.
                      He m. (1) Elizabeth GRAVES.
    vii Mary RANDOLPH.
   viii Elizabeth Randolph (3).
     ix Sir John RANDOLPH.

William Randolph had at least nine children and was familially connected to many other prominent individuals:

    * William Randolph II (born November 1681) married Elizabeth Beverly (the daughter of Peter Beverley, a Speaker of the House of Burgesses and Treasurer of Virginia) around 1705 and had five children who lived to adulthood. He was the grandfather of Beverley Randolph, the eighth Governor of Virginia and Ann Bolling Randolph Fitzhugh.
    * Thomas Randolph (born ~June 1683) married Judith Churchill and/or Judith Fleming between 1705 and 1712. He was the great-grandfather of John Marshall, as well as the great-great-grandfather of Ann Cary (Nancy) Randolph, who married Gouverneur Morris, and her brother Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., who married Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Martha.
    * Isham Randolph (My 6th Great Grandfather - born December 1684) married Jane Rogers in 1717 and had nine children, including Jane Randolph (who married Peter Jefferson and was the mother of Thomas Jefferson), Mary Randolph (who was the mother of Charles Lilburn Lewis and grandmother of Isham and Lilburn Lewis), Ann Randolph (who was the mother of James Pleasants, Jr., the 22nd Governor of Virginia), and Susannah Randolph (who married Carter Henry Harrison I and was the great-grandmother of Carter Henry Harrison III and great-great-grandmother of Carter Henry Harrison IV) - both five-time mayors of Chicago.
Thomas Jefferson

    * Richard Randolph (born ~May 1686) married Jane Bolling, a descendant of Pocahontas, around 1714. He was the grandfather of the colorful Congressman John Randolph of Roanoke.
    * Henry Randolph (born ~October 1687) did not marry.
    * Sir John Randolph (born ~April 1689) married Susanna Beverly around 1718. He studied at the Inns of Court, practiced law in Williamsburg. John was the only native of Colonial America to receive a knighthood. He was the father of Peyton Randolph, President of the First Continental Congress, and John Randolph, a Loyalist. The latter's son, Edmund Randolph, served as a Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention and became the first U.S. Attorney General.
    * Edward Randolph (born ~October 1690) married Miss (Elizabeth?) Grosvenor around 1715.
    * Mary Randolph (born ~1692) married Captain John Stith, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses and the son of John Stith, around 1712. Her son, William Stith, was the third president of the College of William and Mary; her son-in-law, William Dawson, was the second president of The College of William & Mary. Mary was the great-grandmother of Congressman William Johnston Dawson. Her second son, John Stith III, was the great-great-grandfather of Armistead C. Gordon and also Junius Daniel, Brigadier General of the Confederate States Army.
    * Elizabeth Randolph (born ~1695) married Richard Bland around 1711 and had five children, including Mary Bland (who married Henry Lee I and was the mother of Henry Lee II, the grandmother Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee III, and the great-grandmother of Robert E. Lee), Theodorick Bland of Cawsons (who was the father of Congressman Theodorick Bland as well as grandfather to John Randolph of Roanoke), and the statesman Richard Bland (who was the great-great-grandfather of Roger Atkinson Pryor).

Researchers are unsure of the total number of children born to William Randolph and Mary Isham Randolph, because of deaths in infancy and the tendency to name children after their deceased siblings. However, it is known that at least nine children survived into adulthood. The sons of William Randolph were each distinguished by the estates left to them.

Early generations of Randolphs married into several other gentry families, including Beverley, Bland, Fleming, Byrd, Fitzhugh, Carter, Cary, Harrison and Page. Later affiliations included members of the Lewis, Meriwether and Skipwith families.


William Randolph was baptized in Moreton Morrell, Warwickshire, England on 7 November 1650, the son of Richard Randolph (1621-1678) and Elizabeth Ryland (1625-ca. 1669). Richard Randolph was originally from Houghton Parva, a small village east of Northampton, where his father was a "steward and servant" to Edward la Zouche, 11th Baron Zouche (1556-1625), having previously served in that same capacity to Sir George Goring, a landowner in his native Sussex. Elizabeth was the daughter of John Ryland of Warwick. William was the second of seven Randolph children, all born in Morteon Morrell between 1647 and 1657.

No record has yet surfaced to fix William Randolph's residences after his birth until 1672, when he appeared in Virginia. Although his father's older half-brother, the poet Thomas Randolph, attended Westminster School and Cambridge University, he did so largely on scholarship and there is no record of any other members of William's family having attended either public school or university. At some point in the late 1650s or 1660s, his parents moved to Dublin, where they both died, his mother around 1669 and his father in 1671, so William may well have spent the bulk of his formative years in Ireland. It is also known that William's uncle, Henry Randolph (1623-?), in 1669 traveled to Britain from Virginia, to which place he had emigrated around 1642. Henry probably encouraged his nephew at that time to return with him to the Chesapeake. In any case, William Randolph was in the colony by 12 February 1672 when he appears in the record as witness to a land transaction.

The Chesapeake economy was centered around tobacco, grown within the English mercantile system for export to markets in Britain and Europe. Randolph appears to have arrived in the province with little capital and few transatlantic connections. One historian suggests that he started off in the colony as an "undertaker" building houses, but there is no evidence for it. By 1674 he had acquired enough money to import 12 persons into the colony and thereby earned his first of many land patents (between 1674 and 1697 he imported 72 servants and 69 slaves for which he collected patents for more than 7000 acres). In later years Randolph became a merchant and a planter, and co-owned several ships used to transport tobacco to England and goods back to Virginia. He established several of his sons as merchants and ship captains.

Around 1675 he married Mary Isham, whose father, Henry Isham, was from a gentry family in Northamptonshire. After arriving in Virginia, Henry had married a wealthy widow, Katherina Banks Royall.

Randolph acquired property by purchase, headright, marital interest and land grant. His early acquisitions were in the neighborhood of Turkey Island, located in the James River about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of present-day Richmond. This land had been settled for decades, and was held by several owners, from whom he purchased. Possibly his first purchase was 591 acres (2.39 km2) of land on Swift Creek, south of the James.

In 1676 a Virginia colonist, Nathaniel Bacon, rebelled unsuccessfully against the colonial government and his estate was forfeited. This was Curles, located near Turkey Island. Randolph made an assessment of the property for Governor Berkeley and was allowed to buy it for his estimated price, adding 1,230 acres (5.0 km2) to Randolph's previous land holdings. This conflict of interest was criticized by his neighbors.

In 1678 Mary Isham's brother died, making her the heiress to her father's large estate. William Randolph had married her before her brother's death, because the brother's will refers to her as "Mary Randolph".

Around 1700, when Randolph's political career was at its peak, he received land grants to almost 10,000 acres (40 km2) of newly-opened land near Richmond; a 3,256-acre (13.18 km2) tract at Tuckahoe Creek and a 5,142-acre (20.81 km2) plot at Westham. This land became the basis of the Tuckahoe and Dungeness Plantations, which were later founded by two of William Randolph's sons.

William Randolph owned a considerable number of slaves. This reflected the rise of slavery during his business career. Around 1675 Governor Berkeley reported the population of the colony as 40,000, with 4,000 indentured servants and 2,000 slaves. But as the supply of indentured servants declined late in the 17th century, the planters turned to slaves for work in the labor-intensive tobacco cultivation.

It is difficult to determine the acreage or number of slaves he owned at his death. His will has been transcribed and a copy appears on the internet, but portions are missing. One estimate is that he had 20,000 acres (81 km2). He paid property taxes on 1,655 acres (6.70 km2) in Surry County and 19,465 acres (78.77 km2) in Henrico County in 1704.

Randolph held multiple official appointments. At the local level, he became clerk of Henrico County Court in 1673 and held the position until he was asked to serve as a Justice of the peace in 1683. He also served as sheriff and coroner.

Randolph represented Henrico County in every assembly of the House of Burgesses from 1684 to 1698, was Speaker of the House of Burgesses in 1698, and was the Clerk of the House from 1699 to 1702.[14] He fell ill in August 1702 and his son, William, took his place. Randolph resigned the clerkship completely in March 1703.

Randolph was a founder and one of the first trustees of the College of William and Mary. His son, John Randolph, secured a royal charter for the College on one of several trips to London to conduct business for the colony.

Randolph was a friend of William Byrd, and he served as an advisor to Byrd’s sons during their political careers. He is mentioned in one of Byrd's diaries as "Colonel Randolph", his militia title.

Randolph built a mansion on the Turkey Island plantation on high ground overlooking the island and the river. It featured a ribbed dome and was known as the "Bird's Cage".

In their wealth and social status, the Randolphs were much like other families of the Chesapeake elite. If anything set them apart it was their participation in the political life of the colony, clearly traceable to William Randolph's example. Randolphs and close relatives formed the predominant political faction in the colonial government during the 18th century, with many members of the elected House of Burgesses and the appointed, and more exclusive, Council.

Most of the Randolphs, like the rest of the Virginia gentry, strongly supported the Revolution. However, John Randolph (son of Sir John), in opposition to both his brother Peyton and son Edmund, remained loyal to Great Britain and left Virginia. It was the period of William Randolph's most famous descendants. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and 18-year-old John Marshall was at Valley Forge for the trying winter of 1777-1778.


 Page, Richard Channing Moore (1893). "Randolph Family". Genealogy of the Page Family in Virginia. New York: Press of the Publishers Printing Co.. pp. 249–272.

William Thomas Randolph  >>
Isham Randolph  >>
Anne Randolph married Daniel Scott  >>
Daniel Scott  >>
Francis R Scott  >>
John D Scott  >>
Lydia Scott married Daniel Tuttle  >>
Christina Ellen Tuttle Crawford   -  My grandmother.

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