The Robertson Genealogy Exchange
THE ROBERTSONS OF TENNESSEE REVISITED
By Tom Robertson
New Albany, MS 38652
(Continued from V. 49, p. 15)
(6.) Gen. James Robertson's son, Felix, wrote that his father had brothers named Mark and (7.) John with whom he, in Oct. 1779,
Using this information as a rough guide, Col. Harllee located Mark Robertson's will, and the will established that (6.) James and Mark Robertson were, in fact, brothers and that they had siblings named Ann -- who first married a Johnson and then a Cockrill, -- (8.) Charles, and "Sister Cash." Harllee added,
Elijah Robertson appointed (6.) James Robertson as one of the executors of his will although he did not mention the degree of kinship; however, it is interesting to note that Elijah Robertson does mention a son named Sterling, and the family Bible record for his sister, Ann Robertson, and her second husband, John Cockrill, names among others Mark R. Cockrill and Sterling R. Cockrill, the implication being that Sterling was a family name.
Felix Robertson wrote that his grandparents were named (4.) John Robertson and Mary Gower and that his grandfather died on the Neuse River in Wake Co., N.C., and, in 1995, Mr. Brayton located (4.) John Robertson's will and several other documents in Johnston Co., N.C., one of Wake's parent counties, that established that Robertson's wife was named Mary, although her maiden name remains unproved, and that he died on the south side of the Neuse River prior to Wake County's formation. Although the will does not mention John and Mary [Gower?] Robertson's children by name, the records that flow from the probate establish that they were named (6.) James, Elizabeth -- who corresponds to "Sister Cash," -- Elijah, (8.) Charles, Mark, Anne (who married David Johnston before 25 Aug. 1772), and Sterling. Another record that others and I located in 1998 implied that the couple also had a son named (7.) John.61
One of the deeds Mr. Brayton discovered, the purchase deed for (4.) John Robertson's land on the south side of the Neuse River, styled him "...John Robertson ... of Granville County ...," N.C.," and, by following the paper trail this (4.) John Robertson produced during his lifetime, genealogists may prove his connection to (3.) Israel and Sarah [Williams?] Roberson.
IDENTIFICATION OF (4.) JOHN ROBERTSON
(4.) "John, son of Israel and Sarah Robinson ...," was born 8 May 1723 in Bristol Parish, Prince George (now Dinwiddie) Co., Va., and he was christened 21 Aug. 1723, the same day as Nathaniel Robinson, who Professor Benjamin C. Holtzclaw identified as his first cousin. (4.) John Robinson's father, (3.) "Israel Robyson," was a legatee of Matthew Marks with (2.) "John Robyson" and "Edward Robyson" who Professor Holtzclaw identified as Israel Roberson's elder and younger brothers. On 14 March 1722, (3.) Israel, Sarah and Edward Roberson sold the land Marks had bequeathed the men, and, on 19 Dec. 1722, (3.) Israel and Edward Roberson entered separate surveys for land on the north and south sides of Buckskin Creek in Prince George (now Dinwiddie) County. The surveys were confirmed by patent on 31 Oct. 1726. (4.) John Robertson grew to young adulthood on his father's land with sits brothers and a sister: Matthew, born 22 Nov. 1720, christened 30 April 1721; Israel, born 14 Nov. 1725; David, born 19 Aug. 1728; Nicholas, born 12 Sept. 1731, christened 7 Nov. 1731; (5.) Charles, born 24 July 1733, christened 28 Sept. 1733; Susannah, born 1735/36; and George, born 1727/39.
According to the unverified statement of his grandson, (4.) John Robertson married Mary Gower, the daughter of Abel Gower, in Brunswick County before 28 June 1742, when his first child (6.) James, later Gen. James Robertson, was born. It is possible that (4.) John Robertson witnessed a Brunswick County deed on 17 July 1743, since it was not an absolute requirement for witnesses of deeds to have reached the age of majority. On 6 June 1745, a little more than a year after he came of age, he purchased 351 acres of land on Kettlestick Branch in Brunswick County from Richard and Mary Huckaby, and, on 29 June 1745, he mortgaged the property to William Broadnax of Prince George County for the loan of £ 18. The condition of the indenture was that the entire loan was due and payable on 29 June 1746 and release was not granted until 25 March 1751. It is possible that (4.) John Robertson is one of the several John Robinsons listed on a 13 June 1748 Brunswick County poll list and it is also possible that he was the John Robinson who witnessed two Granville Co., N.C., deeds on 29 May 1749. The late date of his release from the indenture suggests that he experienced some difficulty in meeting its terms, and here the Granville County tax lists and the other documents are quite helpful in establishing a reliable chronology. (3.) Israel Roberson received a grant of 1,920 acres of land on the south side of Roanoke River on 25 March 1749, and (4.) John Robertson appears on the 1749 Granville County tax list. On 6 Dec. 1749 his father gave or sold him for a nominal amount "... a Certain Plantation and all that ... Land on the West side of little Creek being part of a Certain Tract of three hundred Acres more or less ... whereon ... the abovesd. [4.] John Roberson now lives Situate lying and being in Granville county ..." That there was a plantation and appurtenances on the property on the day of its conveyance explains his appearance on the tax list, and his appearance on the tax list, in turn, implies that he had been there for some time. (4.) John Robertson appears on the 1750 Granville County tax list as well, but not on the 1751 list, and on 25 March 1751 he discharged his obligation to Broadnax at which time he was styled "... John Roberson of the County of Brunswick..."
(4.) John Robertson appears on the 1752 Granville County tax list. He does not appear on the lists for 1753 and 1754 and on 22 Jan. 1754 he sold his Brunswick County land and was styled "...John Roberson of the County of Lunenburgh ..." While travel between Granville and Brunswick counties was not so easy as it is today, it was not all that difficult either, and Lunenburg (now Mecklenburg) Co., Va., was central to both locations. His brother, Matthew Roberson, had patented land there in 1748, and Matthew appears on the Lunenburg County tithable, or tax, list for that year only. His father had patented Lunenburg County land in 1749 at roughly the same time he patented his 1,920 acres in Granville County, but he never appears on the Lunenburg tithable lists. He does not appear on the Granville lists until 1755, and then for that year only. David Robertson had also patented Lunenburg County land in 1749, the only property he owned until 1761, but he appears on the Lunenburg lists only for 1751 and 1752, and, oddly enough, on the Granville tax list for 1755. The styling of the last Brunswick County deed and the subsequent Granville County deed also reflect (4.) John Robertson's search for a suitable tract of Lunenburg County land which he patented on 16 Aug. 1756.
On 3 Sept. 1754, "... [4.] John Robinson of Luninburg County, Virginia..." purchased 300 acres of land on Sixpound Creek in Granville (now Warren) County from "... Richard Huckaby and Mary his wife...," the same people from whom he had bought his Brunswick County land. Richard Coleman acted as a witness, and on 8 Oct. 1754 "John Robinson" appears as a member of Capt. Coleman's company of Granville County militia with his father, (3.) "Israel Robinson," who was district ensign, with his elder brother, "Matthew Robinson," who was district sergeant, and with two of his younger brothers, "Israel Robinson, Jr.," and "Nicholas Robinson." All of the younger Robinsons whose names appear on the list are named as sons of (3.) Israel and Sarah Robinson, or Robertson, in the Bristol Parish birth records and they are named as sons and heirs of (3.) Israel Roberson in his 4 Dec. 1758 will.
On 3 March 1755 "... [4.] John Roberson & his wife Mary of Granville County ..." sold the Little Creek land his father had given him and [4.) "John Roberson" appears on the 1755 tax list. His father, (3.) "Israel Roberson" appears on the same list with "Jessey Miller & Negroe Doll" enumerated in his household. Four of his brothers -- Nicholas, Matthew, David and Israel -- appear on the same list.
On 16 Aug. 1756 (4.) "John Robertson" was granted 200 acres of land on Avents, or Averys, Branch in Lunenburg (now Mecklenburg) Co., Va. (4.) "John Roberson" appears on the Granville County tax lists for 1757 and 1758 and he was present on his Lunenburg County land when it was processioned on 17 Sept. 1759.
On 28 April 1760 (4.) "... John Roberson of... Granvile County..." bought 320 acres of land on the south side of the Neuse River in Johnston (now Wake) Co., N.C., and (3.) Israel Roberson died in Granville County before 12 Aug. 1760 leaving him "... five Shillings Starling ..." with no bequests to his children.
On 20 Feb. 1761 (4.) "... John Robertson of Johnson County and St. Stephens parrish and provence of north Carolina planter [sic] ..." made his will, and it was proved to the Court in April 1761. In April 1761, "Mary Robinson" registered her cattle mark and, although her husband's will does not mention their children by name, their identities are established by the court minutes and deeds produced as a result of the probate: On 8 May 1764 Mary Roberson of Johnston County and her son, (6.) James Roberson of Granville County, sold the remaining Granville county land; in July 1766 "... Mary Blakeley, on Oath late widow & Exec: of [4.] John Robertson, dec. exhibited an Inventory of Estate ...," and the Court "... Ordr'd that she have leave to sell the personal estate agreeable to the will of Sd. Deed according to law ...; during the same session, "... Elijah and Eliza Robertson orphans of [4.] John Robertson deceased came into Court and made choice of [6.] James Robertson to be ... [their] guardian ...; on 13 Sept. 1767, (6.) James Robertson of Johnston Co., N.C., sold the land in Lunenburg (now Mecklenburg) Co., Va., "... whereon ... [4.] John Robertson father to the above formerly lived ..." on 23 Feb. 1768, "... Russell Blakely & Wife Ads of [4.] John Robertson decd..." accounted to the Court for the "... Sale of Part of the sd. Desd. Estate ...; on 28 Nov. 1769, the Court "... Ordered that Phillip Jones be appointed Guardian to [8.] Chs. Robertson, orphan of [4.] John Robertson, Dec'd ...; on 28 Aug. 1770, the Court summoned "... Russel Blakely ... to next court to Exhibit his acct & Settle the monies of Mark Robertson and Sterling Robertson the orphans that is now under his care ...; and, on 7 Nov. 1770, apparently dissatisfied with Blakely's account, the Court "... Ord. That Michl. Rogers be appointed Guardian to the Orphans of [4.] Jno. Robertson Des'd to wit Elijah Robertson, Mark & Sterling Robertson; on 25 Aug. 1772, the Court appointed "... Needham Bryan Senr. & William Bryan Esqr . ... to award the sum [of £20] due from Russel Blackley Guardian to Ann Johnston wife of David Johnston as her filial portion of the Estate of [4.] John Roberson Deceased..." The Bryans and Blakely evidently could not, or did not, comply with the order, and, during the same session, the Court garnisheed and gave an account of the portion of the estate sold to John Eddens and John Wood, ordering William Wood, Sr., and John Wood to pay David Johnston £20 in proclamation money by 25 Dec. 1773. The Court also ordered
Two years earlier, Wake Co,, N.C., had been partitioned from Cumberland, Johnston and Orange counties, and, in March 1773, in Wake County where (4.) John Robertson's last remaining property lay after the formation of the new county, "... Elijah Roberson and Elizabeth being children of [4.] John Roberson Deed..." sold equal shares "...of a tract of land on S. Side of Neuse River now in possession of Dempsey Powell... to James Alford." (8.) Charles Roberson witnessed the transaction by mark. On 6 Dec. 1779 Michael Rogers, "... a Witness thereto...," proved a bond before the Wake County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, in the amount of £1000, "...from [6.] James Robertson, [7.] John Robertson, [8.] Charles Robertson & David Johnston to Dempsey Powell ..."for the remaining interests in the Neuse River land.
The exclusionary evidence presented here serves three purposes:
In 1937, Col. Harllee developed a fair amount of exclusionary evidence in reference to (4.) John Robertson's land in Brunswick Co., Va., and, although he did not have access to the multitude of source documents today's genealogists enjoy, some of his conclusions are still valid. Harllee wrote,
(4.) John Robertson's 8 May 1723 birthdate does, in fact, exclude him as the grantor of this land since (4.) John Robertson was only seven years old at the time the property was conveyed. The original patent for the tract was granted on 28 Sept. 1728 to "... [2.] John Robertson of Prince George County ...," and Professor Benjamin Holtzclaw identifies its recipient as the (2.) "John Robyson" who was a legatee of Matthew Marks on 13 Oct. 1719 and the (2.) "John Roberson" who died in Granville Co., N.C., before May 1774, as established by his will. This will excludes him and his son, John (born before 1720), who is mentioned in the will, as Gen. Robertson's father since (4.) John Robertson (died before April 1761) of Johnston County died eleven years before the Granville County will was written.
Assuming that the County Clerk (died after 19 Oct. 1773) did own all these properties, as Col. Harllee believed, he is excluded as (6.) Gen. Robertson's father by the 1761 Johnston County will which establishes that (4.) John Robertson, (6.) Gen. Robertson's father, had passed away by the time five of the associated Brunswick County properties were conveyed.
Col. Harllee believed that Gen. Robertson's father owned only the land on Kettlestick Branch mentioned in my identification of (4.) John Robertson (died before April 1761) of Johnston County and two additional properties Harllee described as follows:
(4.) John Robertson (died before April 1761) is excluded as the owner of the land purchased on 25 May 1767, and sold on 25 Nov. 1771, by his will, and there is every indication that the "John Roberson of the County of Lunenburgh" from the 2 Aug. 1758 deed was the (2.) John Roberson (died before May 1774) who owned the Sturgeon Run land and who Professor Holtzclaw identified as Israel Robertson's elder brother. Robert and Amey Short were the grantors of that deed, and William and Sarah Short witnessed the transaction; (2.) John Roberson (died before May 1774) names Sarah Short as a daughter in his 8 April 1773 Granville County will.
(4.) John (died before April 1761) Robertson's will once again establishes that the property mentioned in the extract quoted above did not belong to him, and the only Brunswick County land that may be associated with him is 351 acres purchased on Kettlestick Branch on 6 June 1745 from Richard and Mary Huccaby, for £50. He leased the land, plantation, and out-buildings on 29 June 1745 to William Broadnax of Prince George Co., Va., for the loan of £18, payable with interest and charges on 29 June 1746;... Otherwise..." the indenture was "...to Remain in full force power and virtue..." The lease remained in effect until 25 March 1751 when he repaid the loan in full. He sold the land at a nice profit on 22 Jan. 1754 for £ 100. In the deed of sale, he was styled "John Roberson of the County ofLunenburgh," and Col. Harllee naturally assumed that he owned land in Lunenburg County on that date. He wrote,
Mr. Brayton's identification of (4.) John Robertson (died before April 1761) of Johnston County, Professor Holtzclaw's identification of (2.) John Roberson (died before May 1774) of Nutbush Creek, and Betty Robertson Riley's identification of a third John Robertson (born ca. 1691) paved the way for present-day genealogists to determine which man or men owned the several Lunenburg County properties.
My research in the Lunenburg County land records and court minutes demonstrated that there were five crown patents and three purchase deeds issued to a John Robertson (or variant) from the earliest days of the Colony to 3 Sept. 1754, the date the Sixpound Creek property was purchased:
The Crown Patent of 22 Aug. 1753 issued to John Roberson, unstyled, for 1604 acres "lying and being in the County of Lunenburgh [now Charlotte County] on both sides of Cub Creek and bounded ... [by] Christopher Parsons Corner white oak..." Properties a-e belonged to (2.) John Roberson (died before May 1774) of Nutbush Creek and his son John Roberson, Jun. (born before 1720), as determined by a 5 June 1758 deed of sale for that land. This deed shows that the elder (2.) John Roberson (died before 1774) could write his name and that the younger John Roberson, Jun. (born before 1720), who signified his assent by mark, was married to a woman named Elizabeth. (6.) Gen. Robertson's father, (4.) John Robertson (died before April 1761) of Johnston County, is shown to be illiterate by his will and by several sale deeds associated with the properties he owned, and his wife is consistently named as Mary in all pertinent documents produced during his lifetime and throughout his probate. (2.) John Roberson (died before May 1774) ofNutbush Creek and his son, John Roberson, Jun. (born before 1720) are further excluded as candidates for (6.) Gen. Robertson's father by the former's 8 April 1773 Granville County will.
(2.) John Roberson (died before May 1774) and John Roberson, Jun. (born before 1720), appear, in conjunction with several other of the elder (2.) John Roberson's sons, on Lewis Deloney's Lunenburg County tithable list for 1748, on William Howard's tithable lists for 1749 and 1750, and on Field Jefferson's tithable lists for 1751 and 1752. (4.) John Roberson (died before 1761) of Johnston County appears on none of the Lunenburg County tithable lists.
Properties f and g belonged to a John Robertson who died in Chesterfield Co., Va., before 1 July 1768. On 7 June 1752 he sold property to "...Richard Robertson of the County of Chesterfield..." and he stipulated in his 14 May 1768 will that all the land he held in Mecklenburg (formerly Lunenburg) County at the time of his death was to be divided equally between his sons, Isaac and John Robertson. The will thus excludes him and his son, John, as (6.) Gen. Robertson's father since (4.) John Robertson of Johnston County had passed away before April 1761. John Robertson (died before July 1768) appears on William Howard's 1750 tithable list, with Thomas Moore living in his household, and on Field Jefferson's lists for 1751 and 1752. John Robertson (died before July 1768) and Thomas Moore had patented adjoining properties in Henrico Co., Va., on 5 June 1746 and he and Moore are also named in close proximity to each other on Field Jefferson's 1751 Lunenburg County list.
The man who owned property h is excluded by several deeds of gift and sale for portions of the land described in the patent that date from 2 July 1754 to 3 April 1764, three years after (4.) John Robertson (died before April 1761) of Johnston County is proved to have died. Betty Robertson Riley writes that this man is John Robinson (born ca.1691), the son of John Robertson (died 1721) and Mavell East of Henrico Co., Va. He came to Lunenburg County in 1746 to administer Benjamin Williams' estate, and he patented 1604 acres of land in the part of Lunenburg County that would later become Charlotte Co., Va. On 7 June 1746, "... John Robinson, administrator, and William Hayward [Howard] ... posted £50 to Justice Robert Jones of Lunenburg County "...to administer the Goods, Chattles, and Credits of Benjamin Williams during his absence from Colony of Virginia ...." and letters of administration were granted in July 1746. John Robinson (born ca. 1691) appears on Lewis Deloney's 1748 tithable list in the same household as William Howard, Henry Howard, Pinketheman Hawkins, and Andrew Pyle. He is not named on the lists for 1749 and 1750, but he reappears on Field Jefferson's 1751 list, and he is named on William Caldwell's list for 1752 as John Robison with several other family members.
It should be noted that this John Robinson (born ca. 1691) also had a son named John who is excluded as (6.) Gen. Robertson's father by several Henrico County deeds that establish that he was literate and that his wife was named Anne. According to Mrs. Riley, John Robinson (born ca. 1691) also had a nephew named John (born ca. 1720, Henrico County) who is named on William Caldwell's 1752 Lunenburg County tithable list and who is "...among those who signed a petition to form Caswell County from Orange County [N.C.] in 1771."
The only Lunenburg County land that (4.) John Robertson (died before April 1761) of Johnston County owned was granted by patent on 16 Aug. 1756. Its 13 Sept. 1767 sale was executed by "... [6.] James Robertson of Johnson [sic] County in the Province of North Carolina ...," and the deed explicitly states that he was selling "... the Land whereon [4.] John Robertson Father to the above formerly lived ..."
There are no pluralities reflected in the Granville County tax lists from 1749, when (4.) "John Robonson" first appears, to his death in Johnston County in 1761. He appears on the lists for 1749 and 1750, but he does not appear on the lists for 1751. He regained his Brunswick County land on 25 March 1751, at which time he was styled "... John Roberson of the County of Brunswick ..." He reappears on the 1752 Granville County tax list. On 22 Jan. 1754 he sold his Brunswick County land and was styled "...John Roberson of the County of Lunenburgh ...," and on 3 Sept. 1754 he bought additional Granville County land and was styled "... John Robinson of Luninburg County, Virginia ..."
In 1754, Governor Arthur Dobbs mustered all able-bodied North Carolina men above the age of 16 for possible service in the French and Indian War, and the lists that were produced from this muster on 8 Oct. 1754 are generally regarded as the first census of Granville County. (4.) John Robertson purchased the Sixpound Creek land on 3 Sept. 1754 with Richard Coleman acting as one of his witnesses. He still owned the Little Creek land on that date. Had a plurality actually existed, the second John Robertson should have been named as a member of Capt. Coleman's company of Granville County militia. However, the only John Robertson (or variant) to participate in all of Granville County was the (4.) Private "John Robinson" who was a member of Capt. Coleman's company with (3.) Ensign Israel Robinson and three other of his sons, Sergeant Matthew Robinson, Private Israel Robinson, Jr., and Private Nicholas Robinson. As mentioned earlier, all of the younger Robinsons whose named appear on the list are named as sons of (3.) Israel and Sarah Robinson, or Robertson, in the Bristol Parish birth records, and they are named as sons and heirs in (3.) Israel Roberson's 4 Dec. 1758 will.
Although he sold his Little Creek land on 3 March 1755, (4.) John Roberson still appears on the Sept. 1755 tax list in close proximity to his father.  He also appears on the 1757 tax list, and he is on the 1758 list in close proximity to Richard Coleman.
Research in the Granville County deed books indicates that there were only three deeds for a John Robertson (or variant) before 19 June 1758, when (2.) John Robertson (died before May 1774) of Nutbush Creek bought 300 acres of land on Indian Creek in present-day Vance Co., N.C., and the body of evidence indicates that all three pertain to (4.) John Robertson, later of Johnston County. Although William Timmons claims that (2.) John Robertson of Nutbush Creek owned the Little Creek land, there is no evidence of a plurality in the tax and militia lists, and there are strong indications that the land in question actually pertained to (4.) John Robertson, late of Johnston County. First, the transmittal deed clearly states that the (4.) John Robertson who owned the Granville County land was living on it on 6 Dec. 1749, and (2.) John Roberson, (3.) Israel Roberson's brother, and several of (2.) John's sons are named on the Lunenburg Co., Va., tithable lists for the Nutbush Creek area from 1748 to 1752 inclusive. Second, the consideration of "...a sum to his hand paid ..."from the Little Creek deed seems to indicate that it is a deed of gift as the phrase is similar to "... for a dollar and other valuable considerations..." used in such deeds today. Third, (3.) Israel Roberson's five shilling bequest to his son, (4.) John, certainly suggests that he had previously received his portion of his father's estate as had several other of (3.) Israel Roberson's sons who were bequeathed five shillings in the same will; the Little Creek land is the only property of which I am aware that meets the circumstances implied by the will. Fourth, (2.) John Robinson the elder and Mary, his wife, and John Robinson, Jr., and Elizabeth, his wife, "... of Lunenburg..." did not sell their Virginia land until 5 June 1758, and on 19 June 1758 (2.) John Robinson of Lunenburg Co., Va., bought 300 acres of land on the east side of Indian Creek in Granville (now Vance) Co., N.C. He lived on this land until his death in 1774.
66. James and Mary Robertson to Christopher Mothershead, Granville Co., N.C., Deed Bk. G, pp. 210-11, FHL microfilm 306124; Robertson to Mabry, Mecklenburg Co., Va., Deed Bk. 1, pp. 523-24; Johnston Co., N.C., Minutes of the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, 1759-66, p. 123; Johnston Co., N.C., Minutes of the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, 1767-77, pp. 76, 89, 95, 173, 177-78.
70. Benjamin C. Holtzclaw, "Kendrick of Gloucester Co., Va., and North Carolina," in John Bennett Boogie, ed., Historical Southern Families, v. l (Redwood City, Calif., 1957), pp. 34-37. Holtzclaw writes that Nathaniel Robinson was the son of (2.) John Roberson.
86. Forrest Davis King, Granville County [North Carolina] Tax Records from 1746 to 1764, online <httpJ/members.aol.com/_ht_a/vafdkingtgrantaxI.htm?mtAOLUS>,downloaded 18 April 2002. The same information may be accessed at the North Carolina State Archives at file number CR.44.701.
141. Ibid., pp. 108-09, 141. William Howard's precinct ran, in 1749, "from Butchers Creek to the extent of the County downwards," and, in 1750, "from the lower end of the County line on the South Maherrin to the Fork" (ibid., pp. 86, 122).
142. Ibid., pp. 169-70, 194-95. "At May Court, 1751, Field Jefferson ... was appointed a list taker in the place of William Howard, who had died, and with that substitution the Court appointed the same gentlemen as were appointed last year [to] taken the lists in their several precincts" (ibid., p. 161).
(To be continued)
This is the second installment of an article written by Tom Robertson and edited by John Frederick Dorman, FASG. It was published in his magazine The Virginia Genealogist, volume 49, number two, pages 139-155, in April-June 2005.
Last updated: Wednesday, October 19, 2005