Archiver > VASTAFFO > 2000-01 > 0949119822

From: "Thena Jones" <>
Subject: RE: [VASTAFFO-L] Stafford Co. Deed and Will Abstracts
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 23:23:42 -0500

> In the Stafford area there were two Withers, John, d. 1698,
> and William, d.
> 1799, I believe. In the past, they have been considered
> brothers even by
> professional genealogists. I understand that a recently
> found deed book
> will prove that information incorrect and names the mother of
> John.


The Withers are a difficult bunch, that's for sure. I believe the book
you are thinking of is the one that Sam Sparacio mentioned in his
reply - Liber D, Deed and Will Book 1686-92 (or something close to
that). The original is at the Library of Virginia, and is not available
for actual use. Microfilm is available, though. You might see if you can
borrow it on ILL. However, the writing in this book is unusually
difficult to decipher, and I would recommend that you first borrow or
purchase the two volumes of the Sparacio abstract. Then, when you find
the entries you want, you can borrow the microfilm and read the original

I have some handwritten notes I made when I researched a Withers line a
few years ago. There is a Withers family history by Katherine Gottschalk
(Withers Family of the County of Lancaster, England and Stafford County,
Virginia) written in 1947 that I really relied on. Mrs. G. suggested
that the Withers in this area were all sons of of William Wither, of
Arkholme, Parish of Melling (or Meiling - I don't have my glasses on),
County Lancaster, England. She said she had little information on their
mother, but wondered if it was the woman buried in 1661 under a
tombstone that simply said "Wife of William Wither". It is this latter
statement that is contradicted by the newly found Book D. In Aug. 1688,
John Withers executed a bond in which he mentioned the dower rights that
might arise "either by my Mother now wife of Thomas O'Donnell or my wife
now living." Obviously, this woman did not die in 1661. A further
complication is that I see references to Thomas O'Donnell's will,
written 28 Aug. 1687 (though I don't know when he died, or when the will
was presented to court).

As to William Withers, I believe he was John Wither's cousin. This is
VERY complicated, but bear with me. John Withers sold or gave William
Withers some property, and William Withers sold it John Symmons 6 Oct.
1699, and apparently died soon after before the deed was properly
executed. His son, William, reconveyed the property the next March, and
William Jr.'s wife, Mary, released her right of dower. In 1703, This
William Withers left a will in Aug. 1703 that mentioned his wife, Mary,
and their son, John. When Mary entered the inventory of her late
husband's property in Dec., She was Mary "Conffot". Her maiden name was
Littlejohn, as shown by the will of her father, Oliver Littlejohn, who
said his daughter was Mary Withers, his grandson was John Withers, and
his own sons were not to buy or sell their estates without leave of
William Withers, who was named executor. However, probate was granted to
Frances Cofer, who married Elizabeth (apparently an error for Mary)
Withers, daughter of Oliver Littlejohn. So Mary's first husband died,
and her second husband was named administrator.

Now we switch to another piece of land, mentioned in a land grant of
1719 in Northern Neck land grants book 5, p. 194 (Gertrude Gray's
abstract, p. 67). Apparently when John Withers died, he left 520 acs. to
William Withers HIS COUSIN, in male tail ("to William Withers his cousin
and his heirs and for want of such heirs to someone in England").
Francis Cofer, who identified himself as having married the widow of
William Withers, said there were no more male heirs and obtained an
escheat grant in 1719. Note that the William intended is William Jr.,
not William Sr.. Could be that John Withers used "cousin" for "nephew".

Could this be another John Withers? Could be, except that the John
Withers we are concerned with did the same thing with property that he
left to his daughter, Sarah. He entailed it in the male line, and
mentioned relatives in England. Sarah (who married a Conway) had no
sons, and after her husband died she figured the heirs in England were
all dead, too, and sold her inherited property to Augustine Washington,
George Washington's father. Augustine left it to his son, Samuel. But
there WERE heirs in England, and one of them came over much later and
instituted suit to recover the land. The whole thing ended up in the
House of Burgesses and in other records, also, so it is well documented.

Obviously William Withers' son, John, died without heirs. Also, John
Withers had no male heirs. One person has already mentioned his first
daughter, Mary, who married Thomas Hathaway and Richard Fossaker. She
may have been the daughter of John's wife, Anne, who is mentioned in
1660. John Withers' only other daughter was Sarah; she may have been the
daughter of Frances (Townshend) Dade - or she may not have been.

If you are still interested in William and John Withers, you need to get
the abstracts of Westmoreland County records (including the ones
abstracted by John Dorman), and Stafford Records through about Book J
(1722-28 - this is the one that is at the Huntington, and is published
by the Sparacios with Book P, as I recall).

You may want to investigate whether or not the John Withers who appears
at least as early as 1651 and died in 1698 or so are actually 2 men
named John Withers. First, there is John Withers' statement that
property he is leasing out may be subject to his mother's dower
interest. Also, the Westmoreland records record a cattle mark for John
Withers Jr. (this was before Stafford Co. was established in 1664).

Look also in the patent books and in the Northern Neck land grant books.

Happy hunting,

--Thena Jones

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