Abraham Estes, the man who emigrated from Kent, England to Virginia in 1673 is probably the most cussed and discussed Estes man in history. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that Y DNA testing confirmed that this was our Abraham, and that the Kent Estes line was the same line as the Virginia line.
To make matters worse, Abraham was born during the English Civil War. Baptisms happened, but they sometimes didn’t get written down, and records were patchy during this time. We believe Abraham was probably born in Nonington, Kent. His next older sibling was baptized there in 1644. By 1649, Abraham’s father, Sylvester, was dead. His mother, Ellen (Ellin) Martin Estes was living in Waldershare, probably in the household with her oldest son. On April 5th, 1649, she wrote her will, saying she was a widow, and dividing her worldly goods between her children. From then, for many years, the screen goes blank for Abraham Estes.
Who raised him? He was all of two when his mother died. It must have broken her heart to know that she was leaving an infant son who would be an orphan. And she did know, because her will was written on April the 5th and her will was proven in London on December 6th of that year. She could have died several months prior. Did she hold her son close in those last weeks or was she too ill, maybe wanting to spare him her disease, whatever it was? Abraham would have had no memory of his mother at all, nor his father.
There may be a clue in the fact that Abraham named one of his sons Moses Estes. Abraham’s sister, Ellen, married her second cousin once removed, Moses Estes in St. Leonard’s Church in 1667. This tells us that the two Estes families remained close, and it also tells us that Ellen’s home church was St. Leonard’s, in Deal. It could mean that the Estes family in Deal, Moses’s parents, Richard Eastes and Sarah Norman Estes could have raised their 1st cousin’s children, at least the younger ones. Ellen, John and Abraham would all 3 have fit right in agewise with the children of Richard and Sarah.
We do know just this one thing about Abraham from the time his mother died until we find him as an adult – he was very probably in St. Leonard’s Church in Deal on December 23, 1667, just two days before Christmas, when his sister married in this chancel. It would have been a joyous Christmas for Ellen and Moses, and it’s certainly possible that young Abraham lived with them after their marriage.
At 10 years of age, Abraham was probably being admonished to “sit still” and wasn’t terribly impressed with much of anything that was happening at the altar. Ten year old boys haven’t changed much in 350 years!
Another clue as to how Abraham was raised is that he was a weaver in Sandwich. Sandwich is just a few miles up the coast from Deal. Worth is given to be a mile from Sandwich and 3 miles from Deal on the local roads.
To learn to be a weaver, Abraham would have had to have been apprenticed. As an apprentice, he would have lived with the master weaver and worked for his keep.
Abraham was the first recorded weaver in a family with a very long history of the maritime trade, although it appears that Abraham’s father, Sylvester, was not a fisherman or mariner, but a yeoman farmer.
Roy Eastes, in his research, found that weavers in Sandwich during this time began apprenticeships about the age of 15. As with other skilled crafts, weavers protected and controlled their membership by maintaining tight control over who could and did join the guild.
Captain Taverner, head of the garrison at Deal Castle, involved himself in local events and charities. In 1653 he recommended a widow with 7 children for poor relief whose husband, a Deal pilot who had supported Parliament in the Civil war, had “lost much in the Kentish Rebellion.”
We also know, based on Taverners notes, that he was furious when Deal townfolk set up maypoles to celebrate the pagan festival of Maying. Openly, they decked the poles with the Royalist flag and toasted the return of the exiled Prince Charles. He reportedly “resisted sending troops to fire warning shots into the drunken crowd.”
Taverner also tells us that the dissenting Baptists met in the open air in the fields next to Deal Castle. Taverner snuck over to see what they were doing, but became convinced and joined the Baptist movement himself. Ironically, a law passed in 1665 forbade the Baptists from living in some areas. Deal, not yet a corporate borough, being outside those areas became very attractive for the dissenting Baptists and many settled in Lower Deal.
In the 1650s and 1660, the castles along the coast were invaluable in protecting shipping in the Downs.
War broke out with Holland, right across the channel, in the summer of 1652. The admiralty pressed for increased armaments to protect the ships which “ride under the castles.” The intensive recruitment among the seamen along the coast “by the beat of drum” was surprisingly successful. Preparations for an invasion included the hire of a house for service as a hospital.
On January 3, 1653, the Dutch fleet was sighted in the Channel.
In 1658, England was once again thrown into upheaval by the death of Oliver Cromwell who had been ruling the country since the execution of Charles I in 1649. In 1659, Charles II, the son of Charles I, was invited to return to England as King. He exacted revenge on the murderers of his father, including exhuming the corpse of Cromwell, beheading him and displaying his head on the pikes of London Bridge.
In 1664, Charles II assigned Colonel Hutchinson to Sandown Castle and he found Sandown in a deplorable state. It’s likely that Deal Castle was in the same state, or worse, or Hutchinson would have moved to Deal. He found the castle “a lamentable old ruin’d place…the rooms all out of repair, not weather-free, no kind of accommodation either for lodging or diet or any conveniency of life.” He noted that the guns were almost dismounted upon rotten carriages.
A dispatch from Dover was sent to help guard the place, “pittifull weake fellows, halfe sterv’d and eaten up with vermine, whom the Governor of Dover cheated of halfe their pay and the other halfe they spent in drinke.”
His wife complained of the walls constantly covered in mildew, even in summer, and even “though the walls were foure yards thick, yet it rain’d in through cracks in them, and then one might seepe off a peck of salt peter off them every day, which stood in a perpetuall sweate upon them.”
Finally, his wife and children moved to “the cut-throate towne of Deal,” finding it preferable to the castle.
Deal Castle certainly would have been a landmark to young Abraham, as it has been for generations to Estes families.
In 1663, when Abraham was 17, the plague struck, probably carried by the rats that came along with the ships that frequented the Downs and the Kent coastline.
Ravages of the plague were recorded in the St. Leonard’s parish registers:
- 1663 – 45 burials
- 1664 – 78 burials
- 1665 – 210 burials
- 1666 – 233 burials
- 1667 – 29 burials
The first outbreak occurred among the seamen of the fleet of Deal so that from 1665 to 1666 the records of burials of sailors are frequent. From the latter end of 1666, the names of townsfolk are in the majority until the plague subsided the following year.
In 1665, in one week in September, in London, over 7000 people died of the Plague. In 1666, London was already suffering from the plague when the “Great Fire” struck, consuming over 13,000 homes and 87 churches.
By 1672, Abraham might just have had enough of warfare, the plague and finally, the death of his wife. He may have felt the promise of a the New World and a new life, especially given that Charles II had just started another war which lasted from 1672-1674 and focused on England’s attempts to blockade Dutch ports.
Although previously favourable to the Crown, the Cavalier Parliament was alienated by the king’s wars and religious policies during the 1670s. In 1672, Charles II issued the Royal Declaration of Indulgence, in which he purported to suspend all penal laws against Catholics and other religious dissenters. In the same year, he openly supported Catholic France and started the Third Anglo-Dutch War. The Battle of Solebay took place near Suffolk of the coast of England not far from Kent on June 7, 1672.
Abraham married Ann Burton, widow of John Burton, on December 29, 1672 in the village of Worth, in Kent. Ann Burton’s former husband, John Burton, died in March of 1672 and is buried at St. Peter’s church in Sandwich, along with several of their children.
The Bishop’s transcript of Abraham Estes and Ann Burton’s marriage is shown below.
The bond reads thus:
“Abraham Eastes of Sandwich, linen weaver, bachelor, 25 and Ann Burton of the same Parish, widow of John Burton, at Worth. Richard Scrimshaw of Canterbury, linen weaver, bondsman 27th December 1672.”
It’s this record that provides Abraham’s birth year as 1647.
The church at Worth where Ann Burton and Abraham Estes were married is shown above and below.
Ann and Abraham weren’t married very long.
The next record we find for Abraham is that he sailed for Virginia in October of 1673. October is a very unusual time to sail. Perhaps he was grief stricken over his young wife’s demise and simply decided to leave as soon as possible for a new life, bad winter weather and a war taking place or not.
There is no record of Ann sailing with him, and no record of Ann joining him later, so we must presume that Ann died, perhaps in childbirth. From the time they were married until Abraham was sailing for America was between 9 and 10 months.
It seems odd that Abraham, clearly with a skill and in the weaver’s guild, so as secure as a middle class person in England could be, would step away from everything familiar and head for a foreign land. Why would one even consider doing that?
In a word, land. Or at least, the opportunity for land. After Abraham’s wife’s death, he may have realized that he was dealing with a “now or never” situation, because if he remarried in England, he would be dealing not with one person’s immigration expenses, but with at least two and possibly more if children were involved.
American needed people to settle and to farm. Landless people in England were lured through the promise of 50 acres of land for everyone who settled. Some people who couldn’t pay their way traded that 50 acres to a sponsor and/or worked in indentured servitude for approximately 7 years to pay for their passage. Some who paid their own way traded their 50 acres called headrights for other things. Headrights were utilized like money and some were traded several times, the land not actually being redeemed for many years. Therefore, there might not be an association between someone who held a headright for an immigrant and the immigrant the headright was issued to. The law calling for the issue of headrights was passed in 1618 and in 1634, the Privy Council ordered that land patents for headrights be issued.
Voyage to America
For as much information as we don’t have about Abraham’s early years, we have quite a bit from an unusual source about his voyage to America.
Roy Eastes in his book The Eastes-Estes Families of America – Our English Roots, shares information with us about the voyage.
While researching Abraham, Roy was contacted by a member of the Bobbitt family and the story of Abraham’s voyage unfolded. I’ll let Roy tell you himself, in his own words.
Abraham Estes departed England in late October 1673. He embarked on the Flyboat Martha, Captained by Abraham Wheelock. The ship carried only 3 passengers William Bobbet, Abraham Estes and John Skinner. The voyage began in London and made stops in Felixstowe and the western coast of Wales. There were probably other stops in between to take on additional cargo. They completed the long voyage when they docked at Ciity Point on the James River in the Colony of Virginia in January 1674. The voyage had taken about two months.
Evidence shows that while the Flyboat Martha was docked in Felixstowe, two passengers William Bobbit and John Skinner were taken on board along with their personal cargos destined for the Colony of Virginia. It is unknown where Abraham Estes boarded but he was in Sandwich shortly before this time and the port city of Felixstowe is located in southeast Suffolk County, north of Kent. The Martha may have stopped at any of the several other ports along the channel, so he could have boarded at one of them.
The term Flyboat identifies the Martha as being a large ship of Dutch origin, having a high stern, broad beam, shallow draft and one or two masts, generally square-rigged and around 600 tons. It has been confirmed that the Martha was Dutch built but English registered in London. This type of craft was slim with tall sails, it was very fast and commonly used along coastal waters, but they also carried passengers and cargo to the Colonies.
After leaving London and Felixstrowe in late October 1773, The Martha probably stopped in other ports and finally in Wales to take on more cargo. In late 1673 while tied up to a dock in one of these ports, the artist Jacob Knyff painted “A Dock Scene in a British Port.” King Charles II had previously commissioned this famous artist to paint port scenes exactly as he saw them.
Dock Scene at a British Port – by artist Jacob Knyff – 1673
The description of this painting says:
England and Dutch ships taking on stores or cargo at a port. The activities relating to the loading has been closely observed. It has been set in the harbor, with the tower of a gate and a quay visible on the right, and the coast in the distance on the left. An England flagship is on the right, firing a salute and flying the ensign from the stern carved with the royal coat of arms. Beside the quay is an English flyboat that, from her shape, was probably Dutch-built.
A royal yacht is arriving on the left and this has prompted the firing of the salute. On the extreme left is the stern of a Dutch ship. On the quay two bales of stores or goods with clear markings have been positioned in the foreground. Men are involved in loading up small craft. a horse dragging a barrel on skids to the water’s edge and there are several groups of gentlemen and women observing the activities. A guard stands outside a sentry box in the gate-way.
Bobbit Family researchers have evidence that this was painted in Felixstowe showing the “Martha.” an English flyboat, loaded with guns, and a only few male passengers. So, as we look at the painting, we wonder if Jacob Knyff was watching Abraham Estes and his fellow passengers as they stretched their legs along the dock. Are we looking at Abraham in this painting?
The winter of 1673/74 was a dangerous time to travel the seas. England was a war with the Dutch until November 10, 1674. During this time, the Dutch were blockading the ports of the New World to prevent supplies from coming in and commandeering the rich shipments of tobacco leaving for markets in England. Also, most passenger travel was normally limited to spring until fall of the year to avoid the terrible rough seas. Even today, these winter seas are recognized as hazardous, so this may account for the ship only carrying the 3 passengers on this voyage.
At this time ships were not required to post passenger lists and many were in operation that were not documented. A passenger list for the 1673 voyage may exist somewhere within other documents but so far, it has remained elusive. However, there is a record that shows the Martha arriving in New Jersey at the end of summer of 1677 bringing 114 passengers. This must have been a crowded and very uncomfortable voyage!
The long and hazardous voyage for Abraham Estes ended when the Flyboat Martha docked in Ciity Point, in the Colony of Virginia in January 1674.
Ciity Point over looked the James and Appomattox Rivers and was a town in Prince George County, Virginia that is now extinct. The town became part of the independent City of Hopewell in 1923 and the old Ciity Point is now considered a part of it. However in the Civil War photo below, Ciity Point was still independent.
1865 – ” City Point , Virginia (vicinity). Medical supply boat Planter at General Hospital wharf on the Appomattox ”
The proof of Abraham Estes making this voyage on the Flyboat Martha is found in the Bobbit Family History records displayed on their web site:http://www.keithbobbitt.com/England/sourcesexplanations.htm
Within these records there is the story of the migration of William Bobbit, along with relevant sources including the Bobbitt family Bible which includes the name of Abraham Estes.
The following statements were extracted from this history:
- In late 1673 and 1674 Immigration: Ship “Martha” sail to Virginia from London, England with a stop in Wales.
- Captain Abraham Wheelock filed a will Aug 1673, “Being now outwards bound on a voyage to the seas and with all considering the dangers hazards… . . .”
- There are documents found in the Public Records Office in London stating that Abraham Wheelock was the shipmaster of the Martha and the Good Hope. Will probated 11/372, Public Records Office, London, Documents E190/59/01 and E190/72/1, Public Records Office, London.
- The only passengers on the flyboat “Martha” in 1673 were :
- William Bobbet
- Abraham Estes – Statement on this web site says, – “Abraham Estes, Indentured to Thoroughgood Keeling who arranged for passage from England” although the Bobbit Family researchers say this statement is not in the original file
- John Skinner
This close up of the Bible page was provided by the Bobbit family.
This of a page from the Bobbit family Bible, although faded with time and subsequently retraced, clearly shows the name, places and dates as stated in the family history. This Bible is an 1860 version which had earlier entries copied from another Bible into the pages.
In a letter dated August 2007, Marsha Berry confirms the Bible Page:
This page is a zerox copy of a page from the bible of my ancestor Isham Drury Bobbitt, Jr. This page is a stiff paper glued into the bible. My cousin contacted me recently and reminded me that a few years ago they had it tested though professional dating and the paper dates back at least to the grandson of William Bobbett the immigrant, the William Bobbitt born 1704 Prince George County, Virginia and died 1768 Granville, North Carolina. That makes the Bible record proof stronger than ever as my William Bobbett on the ship MARTHA was alive until after 18 June 1712.
Did Abraham sail on the Martha? We’ll likely never know. I think it’s a good possibility. One has to question why Abraham’s name and that Bible record would exist at all in the Bobbitt family Bible otherwise.
Yet Another War
Abraham either must have been entirely exasperated with warfare, as it seems he had lived with it in some capacity his entire life. Either that or he was entirely used to it and a constant state of warfare seemed “normal” to him. Wouldn’t that be a sad commentary.
When Abraham arrived in 1673, presuming the Bobbitt Bible is accurate, he would not have escaped the war with the Dutch. They sailed through the English channel blockade when they left, and they sailed through the Chesapeake that was being blockaded and attacked by the Dutch when they arrived in America. The Dutch were attacking sites all along the Atlantic seaboard from the West Indies to New York, including Virginia.
It’s no wonder that Captain Wheelock wrote and filed his will before leaving England and that the Martha, who could obviously hold many more passengers, had only 3. It also begs the question of why Abraham would have been so desperate as to sail in the winter, through the English end of the war into the American end of the same event – although clearly he could have been unaware of the American end of things. It’s unlikely that Wheelock was unaware however, as the Dutch issues had been taking place for several months – and Wheelock did write and file his will.
Obviously, Abraham arrived safely and settled in, someplace, doing something. I wonder if the ship encountered any issues or had close calls during the voyage. Were there times that his heart was racing in his chest and the ship bobbed like a huge cork on heavy seas? Was he seasick on top of everything else?
I bet Abraham had wonderful stories for his grandchildren. There were probably several times during his lifetime that he wondered if he would have children, let alone grandchildren, if he had time or was so inclined to think about such things at all.
Just about the time Abraham would have thought everything was settled in America, yet another war unfolded.
In 1676, Virginia had its own mini-Civil war. While this sounds “cute,” it was anything but. For Abraham, who was likely a relatively fresh immigrant, having to pick sides and potentially to fight must have not been a terribly good feeling. Did he wonder what he had gotten himself into? Did he question his decision to leave England? Was this the first time he had to engage in battle? Did he engage in battle?
The fact that many of the other men who signed a 1683 petition, along with Abraham, were supporters of Nathaniel Bacon suggests strongly that Abraham would have taken the same position of his neighbors and those of his social circle. In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon and many settlers rebelled against the governor, attacking Native Americans, and eventually burning Jamestown.
You either declared “for” the renegades, or they ransacked your home and maybe worse.
In part, Bacon’s Rebellion was fueled by Bacon’s compulsive, unwielding position that all Indians needed to be attacked and killed. In addition, the landed class did not like the fact that the governor had signed into law sweeping reforms passed by the House of Burgesses allowing unlanded free men the right to vote.
After passage of these laws, Bacon arrived with 500 followers in Jamestown to demand a commission to lead militia against the Native Americans. The governor, however, refused to yield to the pressure. When Bacon had his men take aim at Berkeley, he responded by “baring his breast” to Bacon and told Bacon to shoot him himself. Seeing that the Governor would not be moved, Bacon then had his men take aim at the assembled burgesses, who quickly granted Bacon his commission. Bacon had earlier been promised a commission before he retired to his estate if he could only be on “good” behavior for two weeks. While Bacon was at Jamestown with his small army, eight colonists were killed on the frontier in Henrico County (where he marched from) due to a lack of manpower on the frontier.
On July 30, 1676, Bacon and his army issued the “Declaration of the People of Virginia“. The declaration criticized Berkeley’s administration in detail. It accused him of levying unfair taxes, appointing friends to high positions, and failing to protect frontier settlers from Indian attack.
Bacon and his men attacked the innocent (and friendly) Pamunkey Indians. The tribe had remained allies of the English throughout other Native American raids. They were supplying warriors to aid the English when Bacon took power.
When Governor Sir William Berkeley refused to march against the Native Americans, farmers gathered around at the report of a new raiding party. Nathaniel Bacon arrived with a quantity of brandy; after it was distributed, he was elected leader. Against Berkeley’s orders, the group struck south until they came to the Occaneechi tribe. After getting the Occaneechi to attack the Susquehannock, Bacon and his men followed by slaughtering most of the men, women, and children at the village.
After months of conflict, Bacon’s forces, numbering 300-500 men, moved to Jamestown. They burned the colonial capital to the ground on September 19, 1676, pictured in the 18th century drawing, below. Outnumbered, Berkeley retreated across the river.
Eventually, the governor prevailed, but that was not the sure and certain outcome for much of the rebellion and probably would not have been had Bacon not died.
Before an English naval squadron could arrive to aid Berkeley and his forces, Bacon died from dysentery on October 26, 1676. John Ingram took over leadership of the rebellion, but many followers drifted away. The Rebellion did not last long after that.
Berkeley launched a series of successful amphibious attacks across the Chesapeake Bay and defeated the rebels. His forces defeated the small pockets of insurgents spread across the Tidewater. Thomas Grantham, a Captain of a ship cruising the York River, used cunning and force to disarm the rebels. He tricked his way into the garrison of the rebellion, and promised to pardon everyone involved once they got back onto the ship. However, once they were safely ensconced in the hold, he trained the ship’s guns on them, and disarmed the rebellion. Through various other tactics, the other rebel garrisons were likewise overcome
The 71-year-old governor Berkeley returned to the burned capital and a looted home at the end of January 1677. His wife described Green Spring in a letter to her cousin:
“It looked like one of those the boys pull down at Shrovetide, and was almost as much to repair as if it had been new to build, and no sign that ever there had been a fence around it…”
Bacon’s wealthy landowning followers returned their loyalty to the Virginia Government after Bacon’s death. Governor Berkeley returned to power. He seized the property of several rebels for the colony and executed 23 men by hanging, including the former governor of the Albemarle Sound colony, William Drummond.
After an investigative committee returned its report to King Charles II, Berkeley was relieved of the governorship, and recalled to England. “The fear of civil war among whites frightened Virginia’s ruling elite, who took steps to consolidate power and improve their image: for example, restoration of property qualifications for voting, reducing taxes and adoption of a more aggressive Indian policy.” Charles II was reported to have commented, “That old fool has put to death more people in that naked country than I did here for the murder of my father.”
Indentured servants both black and white joined the frontier rebellion. Seeing them united in a cause alarmed the ruling class. Historians believe the rebellion hastened the hardening of racial lines associated with slavery, as a way for planters and the colony to control some of the poor.
We don’t know what Abraham Estes did or his sentiments during Bacon’s Rebellion, but there wasn’t such a thing in that time and place as someone who was uncommitted or ambivalent. You were on one side or the other, and if you didn’t decide for yourself, someone would be deciding on your behalf.
The next record we find for Abraham is a petition in St. Stephen’s Parish in King and Queen County that he signed in 1683, along with many of the men who supported Bacon’s Rebellion. Abraham obviously had strong opinions and wasn’t afraid to express them.
The fact that he signed the petition would have indicated that he was a free man, and very likely, a property owner. He was also literate, able to sign his name – probably a result of his weaving apprenticeship.
This petition was signed by 66 inhabitants of St. Stephen’s Parish in King and Queen County, Virginia in 1683. Directed to Deputy Governor Sir Henry Chicheley, the petitioners complained of the government’s imposition on them of unfit church leaders:
That yo’r Petition’rs have beene for severall years past burthened w’th an Illegal Vestry Elected and made up for the major part without the knowledge or consent of the parish as the Law Injoynes: and of such Illiterate and Ignorant men as are and have been, Ever Ruled and Awed by one or two particular persons, who are soe Insulting, and of such Ill disposed and turbulent spirits and dispositions, That noe Minister Cann or will. Stay w’th us or teach amongst us: by w’ch meenes, the Service of God is wholly neglected, our Church gon to Ruine, and Church Desipline and Government: almost all Clearely laid aside: And forasmuch as our said parish is not destitute of such Able, discreet, and honest men as may fittly supply the places of severall week and Ignorant persons of the present vestry according to the good Lawes of this Country: Yo’r Pet’rs in all humility supplicateth y’or honn’rs that wee may have Liberty to Elect and make Cleare by the Gen’ll voat of the Inhabitants of our said Parish of Persons (for a new vestry) as in our Judgm’t may seeme meet and convenient which will Indubiately much to the Glory of God, And the peace and welfare of the whole Parish. And yo’r Pet’rs as in all Humility and Duty bound for yo’r Honn’rs shall Ever pray etc.
Abraham’s signature on this petition is our only remaining relic of “him,” except for the DNA of descendants. It is also the oldest known Estes signature.
This is the only known occurrence of Abraham’s signature. Tangibly, it’s all that we have left of him, personally, today.
Today, the church is remembered by this roadside marker.
The marker on the same road and to the right (east) of St. Stephen’s Church is near Miller Tavern and Bruington Road, a location known to be close to where Abraham Estes lived.
Was Abraham an Indentured Servant?
The question has been raised repeatedly whether Abraham was an indentured servant who would have had to sell several years of his service to pay for his passage. Those discussions are centered around this following entry from Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patients and Grants, Vol. 2: 1666-1695, Indexed by Claudia B. Grundman, Richmond, VA, page 234:
LUCY KEELING, daughter of Thorowgood Keeling, deceased, 300 acres, Lower Norfolk Co.; Lynhaven Parish, 20 April 1682, page 146. Beginning on a point on the Dildoe branch to branch dividing this & Jno. Johnson; &c. Bequeathed by said Keeling to said Lucy, to be possessed with the same after the death of my wife Lucy (now Lucy Haise) etc.- Trans. of 6 persons Abraham Easter, Jno Rose, Richard Cock, Margaret Wollingham, Elizab. Sixworth, Robt Calderwood.
This record lists Abraham’s surname as Easter. Researchers have always assumed that it was misspelled and meant to be Estes. It may not have been.
Research has shown there was an Abraham Easter who lived in Hyde County, North Carolina — south of Lower Norfolk County, Virginia. This is where the Keeling who recorded 300 acres was located, the same Keeling that claimed Abraham Easter as an indentured servant. A Will for Abraham Easter has been located in Grimes Abstracts of Wills, 1690-1760 p. 107 that states: Easter, Abraham – Hyde County, NC – November 18, 1751. December Court, 1751; and names a son James, a daughter Mary and wife Elizabeth.
Thus, this entry in Cavaliers and Pioneers cannot be accepted as conclusive evidence that Abraham Estes was an indentured servant, as it may not refer to our Abraham. Even if it does refer to our Abraham, headrights can and were bought and sold and used as currency. Owing headrights also does not automatically mean that Abraham was indentured. He could have traded his headrights for something, like all or part of his passage or something much more immediately useful, like a cow, ox or horse.
If Abraham were indentured in 1673, for the typical 7 years, he would have been finished with his indenture in 1680. It’s unlikely that he could have amassed enough money to purchase property between 1680 and 1683 when he signed the petition. However, in 1676, Governor Berkeley granted the right to vote to all free men, not just property-holders, so it’s unclear whether petitioners would have had to own property to sign that 1683 petition.
In 1704 Abraham paid quit rent on 200 acres in King and Queen County.
Abraham died November 21, 1720, in King and Queen County, Virginia, leaving his estate to his wife, Barbara. We only know that Abraham had a will because Barbara’s will, now missing from the archives, mentions his will, and the subsequent lawsuit.
Barbara made her will November 25,1720, just 4 days after Abraham died, leaving part of the estate to several of her children and the remainder to Elisha Estes and Thomas Poor and wife Susanna, for the raising of Moses and Barbara.
The timing of Barbara’s will, and her obvious passing shortly thereafter, makes me wonder if Abraham and Barbara had the same malady that took both of their lives., but spared all of their children.
In America, no record of Abraham’s marriage in Virginia is found, but there is a possible hint as to when it occurred. Niel Gunson in his English Ancestry of the American Estes, 1992 supposedly obtained the marriage date of December 29, 1682 from the Universal Parish Directory of Deal, 1793.
I found this more than a little suspect. Why would an American marriage record be recorded in Deal? And if it were, why wouldn’t it include the wife’s name? David Powell ordered this book from the Kent Historical Society and has verified that indeed, Abraham’s marriage record is NOT in this book and there is no reference to him. It appears that someone has confused a source record someplace. Looking at the date of December 29, 1682 again, I realized that Abraham’s marriage to Anne Burton occurred on December 29, 1672. I’m thinking that perhaps a typo happened and a source got confused. To date, there is no record found anyplace for Abraham’s marriage to Barbara, in 1682 or othewise. I you find one, with a source, please, PLEASE, send it to me.
Children of Abraham are believed to be:
- Sylvester born about 1684, in Spotsylvania Co., VA in 1728 with wife Rachel, believed moved to Bertie and then Northampton Co., NC, died after 1754.
- Samuel born 1686 married Rebecca, believed moved to Spotsylvania and Greene Co., Va, died after 1728 when he is found with Rebekah in King and Queen County. He is not proven to be Abraham’s child.
- Thomas born 1688 died 1744/45, Spotsylvania and Caroline Co, married to Ann Rogers.
- Mary Estes born 1690 married Thomas Watkins.
- Susanna born about 1688, married Thomas Poore and raised Moses and Barbara Estes after Abraham and Barbara died.
- Elisha born 1693, died 1782 Henry County, married Mary Ann Mumford.
- Robert Estes born 1695 died 1775 in Lunenburg County. In 1743 John and Richard were living beside Robert in Hanover County. Moses was there too. Robert married Mary Smith?.
- Abraham born before 1697 died 1759, Caroline County, married Ann possibly Watkins, second marriage to Elizabeth Jeter. Not mentioned in Abraham or Barbara’s will.
- Richard born 1699 died 1742/43 Hanover County, married Mary Yancey.
- John born 1701 died circa 1766 Louisa County, married Elizabeth “Nutty” Pickett.
- Moses born 1710 died 1788 Halifax County, married Elizabeth possibly Webb, married second in 1782 Elizabeth Talburt/Talbot (nee Jones), a widow.
- Barbara born 1712 died 1729, epileptic.
The date ranges of the children of Abraham the immigrant shows a range of 28 years in their ages, meaning that if they shared the same mother for all children, she was bearing children for 29 years, from approximately age 18-47. This is not impossible, but is somewhat unlikely, especially given that Abraham had to be somewhat older than this woman if he married her when she was age 17 in 1683 or 84. He would have been age 36 or so marrying a girl at age 17.
A significant amount of speculation exists as to whether the oldest children were from a different wife, perhaps Ann Burton. However, if Ann, who Abraham married in England, was the mother of the first children, why were there no children between the years of 1672 and 1684 when Sylvester was born? One would expect at least 6 children to be born in this timeframe. Some could have died, but all of them?
This too seems unlikely, leading us to the question of whether Abraham had at least 3 wives during his lifetime. Ann Burton first who died in England. He then immigrated and either married two separate women, or, he married a girl of about 17.
Another significant gap occurs between John born about 1701 and Moses born 1710 which could signify the death of one wife and a remarriage, although there is nothing in Barbara’s will that alludes to any of the children mentioned not being hers.
No colonial Virginia family story would be complete without the lawsuit and a spat between siblings over their parent’s estate. Well, this family is no different and they have a juicy one that looks like a life-long rift. Those colonial families loved to sue in chancery court – and as genealogists, we’re extremely glad they did. Many times, the best genealogy information we have, plus a few juicy tidbits, come from these suits.
Amelia Co. VA chancery causes 1785-007
Eastis vs Eastis
Your orator Moses Eastis that in the year of our lord 1721 on the 21st day of Nov your orator’s late father Abraham Eastes departed this life after making and constituting in writing his last will and testament and thereby after specifically leaving? part of his estate did give or further lend his who personal estate to his wife Barbara during her natural life and to be disposed of amongst his children then living as she might think proper. He further stated? that the said Barbara Eastes agreeable to the trust and in the presence aforesaid reposed in her by your orator’s father on the 25th day of Nov. 1720 she made in writing her last will and testament in writing and surety? after giving an inconsiderable part of her aforesaid husband’s estate to several of her children therein mentioned directly that the remainder should remain in the hands of her executor Elisha Eastes, Thomas Poor and Susana his wife for the sole benefit of your orator and Barbara Eastes your orator’s sister whom she concluded were incapable of getting their living. But with a precise that they should become an ? in their leave? or either of them should die then the same to be equally divided amongst Sylvester, Thomas, Elisha, Robert, Richard, John, Moses Eastes, Martha Watkins, Susana Poor and Sarah Eastes or the survivors of them as by the said last will and testament will more fully appear reference being that there to and to which your orator for greater certainty refer and on the day of <blank> departed this life without altering or revoking the will. Your orator further shows that in consequence of the said appointment the said Elisha Eastes did understate the trust and execution of the said last will and testament first qualifying himself as an executor thereto agreeable to law. Your orator further sheweth that sometime after in the <blank> day of <blank> your orator’s sister Barbara Eastes died wherefore your orator concluded himself entitled to his proportionate part of his said father’s estate according to the will of the said Barbara and made several friendly applications to the said Elisha the said executor for the same who has hereto refused such reasonable requests pretending that he had expended the whole or the greatest part in the support and maintenance of your orator and his deceased sister. Notwithstanding there is still as your orator charges the truth to be a considerable part still remaining in his hands. Your orator is remedyless and prays that Elisha be compelled to make full answer to these several matters and especially whether your orator’s late father did not make in writing such last will and testament as before mentioned and whether your orator’s late mother and widow of the said father did not in consequence of the trust reported make and ? of the estate before ? and to the uses and purposes aforesaid. Whether the said Elisha did not qualify as an executor thereto and came upon himself the management and execution thereof. Whether he has fully executed the directions of the said will. Whether there is not still a considerable part of the said ? property left in his hand sand how much your orator prays that the said Elisha may be compelled to account for he had managed the same and if on a fair settlement of account there is any part still remaining that he may have his equal portion thereof according to the will of the aid Barbara Eastis and that he may have such further and other receipts as may be agreeable to the equity court.
Answer of Elisha Estis to the many untruths of the petition and bill contained for answer thereto or as much of as he feels is material for him to make answer to. He was nominated as one of the executors of Barbary Estis as in the said bill and that after dividing some legacies in her will did direct the remainder to be retained in the hands of the executor for the support of Barbary and Moses Estis the said Moses being very sickly and the said Barbary accustom to have fits and otherwise helpless so that she required to be nursed and dressed as a child. The amount of the appraisement of the estate left by the said Barbary Estis was to the sum of 98 pounds 10 shillings and 9 pence, half? being? exclusive of the slaves and one horse and mare show appraisement amounted to 50 pounds fifteen shillings which after the death of the said Barbary were allotted to the children of the said Barbary and her husband Abram by the will of the said Barbary to which together with the said appraisement this defendant for greater clarity begs leave to refer and prays may be made part of this his answer, this def further saith that he expended a considerable deal of money for doctor’s means in endeavoring to cure the said Barbary and Moses and that for the space of 8 years boarded and maintained the said Barbery and Moses of which the def had made an account to which also he beggs leave to refer and prays may be made part of his answer and whereby it appears that the def. account is considerable more ? the said estate than the said appraisement amounts to, the def denies all combination ? and prays to be dismissed with his costs expended.
Elisha Estis (signature)
June 29, 1770
The deposition of Thomas Poor of full age being sworn…says that about 49 years since Moses and Barbary Estis, orphans of Abraham Estis came to live with Thomas Poor, this deponents father, who was an executor to the decd Barbary Estis and to whom the care of these orphans was committed and this deponent remembers that when these orphans came to his father’s house that Moses Estis was about 10 years old and Barbary Estis was about 8 years old both which children were very sickly the boy being very Buston and commonly seemed inclined to the Kickiosey and for whose benefit three doctors were commonly employed the girl being deponent says lived til she was about 16 years old he also says that she was an idiot having convulsion fits frequently and that this deponent remembers his father was at the expense of 6 shillings a month as satisfaction to Elizabeth Yeates who attended this girl three years. He also remembers that Moses Estis went to school 2 years while he lived with Thomas Poor this deponent’s father and he further says that since the death of Barbery Estis, Moses Estis and several others with him came to his father’s house and were speaking of settling the orphan’s estate upon which Thomas Poor this deponent’s father said he was ready for settlement brought some papers and as this deponent thinks satisfies those people amongst whom was Moses Estis who also seemed satisfied that nothing was due the orphans upon a just settlement.
April 16 1770 Thomas Poor (signature)
Moses came to live with Thomas Poor about 1721, so he was born about 1711 and Barbara his sister about 1713. This makes his mother’s age about 43 in 1713, so born about 1670 and married to Abraham probably about 1690/93. There are 11 children listed in her will, so that is about 22 years, plus Abraham who was not listed, if he is in fact her child. Doing the math, if her last child was born when she was 43, give 2 years per child, then the first child was conceived 22-23 years previous, or about 1689-91. To add two more children, given the 2 years between children, would mean that she was having children in 1685 which means she had children for a contiguous 28 years. Most women married at 20 or 21, so that would imply that she had children until she was 48 or 49, which is highly improbably, or married extremely young, which is also very improbable, or there were twins, which aren’t mentioned.
Children who might also have received land could also have been omitted in the division of the remainder. In fact Abraham the immigrant might well have provided land to his two children from a previous marriage intentionally to avoid any issues with the children form the “current” marriage. Perhaps neither Abraham Jr. nor Samuel, if he was Abraham’s son, were children of Barbara.
Next chancery document:
Elisabeth Harris aged about 60 being first sworn…says that about 48 or 49 years ago Moses and Barbary orphans of Abraham Estis came to live with Thomas Poor, this deponant’s father who was an executor to the decd Barbary Estis and that the said Moses Estis was Buston and Kiskififid and that he had 2 years schooling as well as this deponent remembers. The said Barbary Estis was an idiot and quite incapable of taking the least care of her self and subject to fits and that there was medicines had for ? of the said orphans and the deponent remembers that Elisabeth Yates was employed by Thomas Poor to take care of the said Barbary and that the said Barbary damaged two beds considerably in tome of her indisposition. Elisabeth “|” Harris (her mark)
I would surely like to know what “buston and kiskififid” refers to.
Summons to Elisha Estis, surviving executor of Barbary and Abraham Estis decd to appear in court to answer the case on April 7th, 1769.
October 1769 – justices ordered to take depositions
It’s absolutely amazing to me that 50 years after Abraham and Barbara died, the family is still fighting about that will. This also strongly suggests that Moses was alienated from at least one of his siblings, Elisha, probably for the duration of his entire adult life. I’m thinking there were not too many family picnics in the park on Sunday afternoons.
Family rifts are nothing new.
Barbara made her will only 4 or 5 days after Abraham’s death in either 1720 or 1721. (Abraham’s death date is believe to be 1720, but one document says 1721.)
This was not a time in history that one typically made a will months or years in advance when you were feeling fine. You made a will when you thought you might need it – when the inevitable was…well…inevitable. The distance of only 5 days certainly makes one wonder if Abraham had something contagious and Barbara caught it caring for him.
Barbara’s will is now missing, but Helen Easter extracted information from her will, from the original, some years ago, obviously before it went missing. Helen and her sister spent summers in the 1950s and 1960s traveling the Virginia counties extracting Estes and Easter records from original county records. According to Helen’s notes, the names of children in the will left by Barbara proved in Amelia Co. include Elisha, Sussana Poore, Moses, Barbara, Sylvistas, Thomas, Robert, Richard, John, Mary Watkins, and Sarah. Not mentioned were Abraham Jr. and Samuel, believed to also be children (Amelia File Box 1784-5, Virginia State Library). Helen adds that she thought that Barbara mentioned them as “my children,” but she can’t remember for sure.
Who Was the Oldest Son?
If we were to presume the standard naming convention, Sylvester would be the eldest son of Abraham. However, if the original Sylvester died, another child might have been named Sylvester later. Typically, the eldest son inherited the land.
Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, mentions this, as follows:
Here’s the deal. We all know that when one of our landowner ancestors died in England and didn’t leave a will, all of his lands went to his oldest son under the rule of primogeniture. That was the law following the Norman conquest, and the oldest son couldn’t even be disinherited by will until the Statute of Wills in 1540.
The rule of primogeniture crossed the Atlantic with English common law, and that’s why you’ll see some early wills in colonial America that don’t mention land and don’t mention an oldest son: unless the will specifically said otherwise, land went to the oldest son, period.
Primogeniture was relatively short-lived in America — the first state to abolish it was Georgia, in its constitution of 1777 — but it remained the law in England until repealed in 1925.
But it was never the law everywhere, even in England. Enter, stage left, gavelkind and, stage right, borough-english.
Gavelkind was the particular custom throughout the County of Kent by which lands descended to all of the sons in equal measure. It also existed in small areas of Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Leicestershire, Monmouthshire, Archenfeld, and Kentish Town near Highgate.
There were even some areas where the particular custom was for land to descend equally to all sons and daughters.
So pervasive was the custom in Kent that it wasn’t necessary to prove that lands there were subject to partition among all the sons; it was only necessary to prove the contrary — that particular lands were not subject to being divided equally.
Based on Judy’s information, we might not expect to see the eldest son mentioned in the will. And indeed, Abraham and Samuel are missing, but neither of them appear to be the eldest son.
Another tidbit comes to light that also suggests that Abraham and Samuel were not the eldest.
In Cavaliers and Pioneers, by Nell Nugent, page 237, there is mention of a Robert Parish. In a record dates, 22.6.1722 (old style date), he possessed land in King and Queen County that was bordered on one side by that of Silvester Estice. This date was after Abraham and Barbara’s death and was most likely the original land of Abraham Estes, suggesting that Silvester might be the oldest son.
Unfortunately, Abraham’s will is missing, as King and Queen is a burned county, and we simply don’t know if Abraham had already taken care of Sylvester, Samuel and Abraham or if Sylvester simply automatically inherited the land. Given the traditional naming patterns of the man’s father’s name being used to name the first son, Sylvester would have likely been the eldest.
Where did Abraham live?
A few years ago, I wrote a paper titled “Estes of King and Queen County, Va. Bordering Essex County, Va.” I am extracting from that information here.
Sometimes the pieces just fall into place. I never set out to actively search for the original land of Abraham Estes, the immigrant, because I thought we would not be able to locate it. After all, King and Queen County is a burned county.
Well, never assume. I was wrong. A series of seemingly unrelated events occurred, and I’m writing this article because I’m afraid if I don’t, I’ll manage to forget some vital piece, or worse yet, know that I knew it and never be able to find it again.
Recently, cousin Robin Rankin Willis sent me another of her wonderful original extracted tables, this time for Hanover County, VA. I was actually chasing the land of Robert, John, Moses and Richard Estes in Louisa County which was originally taken from Hanover County. Hanover and King and Queen Counties were both originally taken from New Kent, so these lands aren’t terribly far apart.
Since King and Queen is a burned county, and that is where our Abraham died in 1720, most of our Estes truly vital records are gone. However, sometimes all it takes is the right tidbit at the right time.
Robin found the following entry on September 12, 1748:
John Hoskins & Samuel Hoskins patent 1,430A in St. Stephen Parish, K & Q Co., north side Essex Road adj Col. Grymes, Abraham Estes & Chapman.
This sent me on what could well have been a proverbial wild goose chase. I’m a genealogist, so I’m used to wild goose chases that wind up with me having spent hours with nothing to show for it but a pile of unrelated notes that I don’t know where to file since they weren’t relevant after all.
Robin had also recently sent me another document about Abraham.
The King and Queen County Religious Petition of 1683 is the earliest existent document from King and Queen County. This early petition was somewhat scandalous. The important item of note about this document is that our Abraham owned land by 1683. This was not long after he immigrated, and although he could potentially have arrived as an indentured servant, Robin and I agree, given a number of circumstances, that this is doubtful.
We know that Abraham, nor any other Estes for that matter, obtained a land patent at this early day. While the King and Queen County records burned, the land grant books did not burn and the patents are available from the Library of Virginia. In fact, many genealogists are teaming up to map the original deeds through a deedmapping project to reconstruct the early colonial maps.
Abraham purchased land and it was before 1683. Given that he was married in England in 1672, and that he probably immigrated after the death of his first wife about 1673, this only allows Abraham 10 years, or less, to serve an indenture which was in essence white slavery, and then somehow amass enough money to purchase land. Most indentures were for 7 years. If his wife died in passage, he still would have had to pay for her passage, so the indenture would have been longer. Any man who had enough money to purchase land would have instead purchased his own passage. Indentured servants were not paid. Generally, they only had to be provided with a set of clothes when their indenture was complete. Often they died.
Therefore, given these facts plus a pinch of speculation, it is doubtful that Abraham was an indentured servant.
From this information, I immediately began to study the Hoskins information. We know that this land was on the north side of Essex Road, but today’s maps and atlases show the Virginia roads with numbers, not names. This is so frustrating, because we know that Essex road had to be a main artery road between King and Queen, and Essex counties, but which one.
I posted a note to the King and Queen rootsweb site, with no results except a reference to a Hoskins family book, “Hoskins of Virginia and related families”. This book is available on Heritage quest.
On page 21, it states that a John Hoskins is found in King and Queen County and that he lived on a plantation called “Mount Pleasant” which was patented on 1661-62 by Col. Thomas Brereton, Clerk of Northumberland County. His father is believed to be Thomas Hoskins. By 1683, Thomas Hoskins was living in St. Stephens Parish, New Kent County. This parish in 1691 would be annexed to King and Queen County. He signed a petition with 65 men for a popularly elected church vestry in the parish. Of these signers, several were men who had fought for Nathaniel Bacon in 1676. This petition is one of the finest expressions of seventeenth century democratic idealism in our American heritage, and it took place a full century before the Revolutionary War. Only during the commonwealth period (1649-1660) and during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 were the vestries popularly elected by the residents of the parish. They would not be again until after the Revolutionary War. Signing near Thomas Hoskins was William Brereton. The Hoskins, Breretons and Claibornes who were allied were all wealthy families and were associated with the House of Burgesses, having individuals who served from time to time, and shared the same viewpoint, opposition to centralized authority.
By 1738, the Breretons were gone from King and Queen County and the Hoskins were in possession under the terms of the will of Samuel Hoskins of 1430 acres of Brereton Property. The Brereton patents of 1661-62 were for 2 tracts of 1500 acres each or 3000 acres. Please note that this name is also spelled Hodgkins.
The Hoskins were directly preceded at Mount Pleasant by the Breretons. This we know from the 1683 petition and from a deed between Jasper Cofton of St. Ann’s Parish in Essex County and Robert Farish of St. Stephens Parish of King and Queen. The year is 1716 and refers to the neighborhood known as Millers Tavern. Cofton sells to Farish 250 acres being a part of a patent of 1000 acres formerly granted to Richard Jones and George Turnor in 1672 situated and being in Essex and King and Queen upon the head of the Dragon adjoining to the tracts of Col. Goodrich and Capt Brereton’s lands.
In 1734 William Covington sold land to Richard Jones of South Farnham Parish, Essex Co. This land had been heired by his wife Mrs. Ann Covington from her father Robert Coleman. The land was described as “a certain tract of division of land …part in the aforesaid county of Essex and part thereof in the county of King and Queen…beginning at the corner of said Richard Jones Jr. standing in the line formerly Goodriches….to another white oak of the said Richard Jones standing in Brereton’s line thereto along the said Brereton’s line south by east”
The earliest patents relating to this plantation were on May 25, 1661 and Nov. 28, 1662 for 1500 acres each or a total of 3000 acres patented by Col. Thomas Brereton, Clerk of Northumberland. These patents were described a being in New Kent and were on the north side of the Mattaponi River on the west and east side of Hoor Cocke Swamp, the 1661 patent beginning at a former dividend of Mr. Chapman running N by W and C and granted to George Chapman Sept. 1, 1658 by him assigned unto said Brereton. The 1662 patent adjoined land formerly belonging to Anthony Haines.
By 1738 John and Samuel Hoskins had inherited from Samuel Hoskins 1430 acres of this Brereton land and they confirmed it by patent which reads “800 acres part thereof was given and part devised to the said John Hoskins and Samuel Hoskins by the last will and testament of Samuel Hoskins, decd, and the residue (630 acres) thereof being surplus land found within the bounds of the said 800 acres.”
The patent was granted and confirmed and the purpose was to determine the amount of acreage inherited under the will of Samuel Hoskins and then have it recorded by patent.
The 1738 patent describes it as beginning on the north side of Essex road running south by Col. Grymes line thence east by north to Abraham Estis then up the branch to Chapman’s corner, thence north by west to the beginning. This included the area from St. Paul’s church to Dogwood swamp on the Bruington road, a stretch about 4 miles long and one mile wide.
In 1805 the Mutual Assurance Society policy taken out by Col. John Hoskins wherein he calls his home “Mount Pleasant”, the land owner on his eastern boundary is George M. Chapman. This plantation was in the same family until sold by the executors of George Hoskins in 1852. The north end of Mount Pleasant became known as Holly Springs and was still in the family in 1860.
From a personal interview with an elderly lady who had visited Mount Pleasant when she was a child, “The Mount Pleasant house was situated about 2 miles from the border of Essex on the most direct road from Tappahannock on the Rappahannock River to Walkerton on the Mattaponi. The house stood on a high hill overlooking the mill pond, dam and mill. That house no longer stands, but the present house is in the same location on the brow of the first hill one ascends when proceeding along the road from St. Paul’s church to Bruington.
Abraham Estes land in 1738 abuts the Hoskins and Grymes land. Today this marker resides on 360 East of St. Stephen’s Church.
Going with the info from the various locations to my trusty atlas, I find that in King and Queen County, on 360 where it crosses 14 and then East on 360 from that location, we have an intersection with 631 and 621 before getting to Miller’s Tavern. Miller’s Tavern is too far East, It looks like this land is between Bruington which is at the intersection of 14 and 621 as one point on the triangle, 621 itself as another point on the triangle, and probably St. Stephen’s church as another point. I can find no history whatsoever of a St. Paul’s church in this area. You also see Dogwood Fork which surely is connected to Dogwood swamp. Abraham’s land seemed to be on the NE quadrant of this land, so probably nearer to 621. In a much larger sense, it’s between the Rappahannock and the Mattaponi, but nearer to the Mattaponi.
Land Grants with associated names:
June 22, 1722 – Grant of Robert Farish described as 775 acres in the Counties of King and Queen and Essex. Beg. of Silvester Estice standing in Thomas Cranes line; thence &c. on the south side a branch of Mattapony River. And then 775 acres in the Counties of King and Queen and Essex adjoining the land of Silvester Estice, Thos. Crane &c. on the south side of a branch of Mattapony River and crossing several branches of Rappa: River.
This is less than two years after Abraham died, so is very likely his original land.
One of the things we hoped to prove when we began this project was whether or not Samuel Estes, found in Spotsylvania County, and Abraham Estes were sons of the Abraham who died in 1720/21. By testing the Y DNA of males who descend from these two men, we can tell if they are from this Estes line, although we cannot prove, beyond a doubt that they were Abraham’s sons. Given that we know that Abraham was the only known Estes to be living in this location in Virginia at this time, we could then surmise that they were his sons if they matches Abraham’s Y DNA finger print.
Genealogists hate that word, surmise.
To be clear, there are some mystery Estes men who also showed up in Virginia, but we have absolutely no further records of them, and it’s possible they didn’t survive. David Powell covers this in his article, “American Estes Before Abraham.”
We’ve been fortunate in the Estes DNA Project that many Estes descendants are looking for their roots. Even better, many of the people who tested had their lines proven back to Abraham.
I assembled a chart some time back of the 23 individuals who have proven connections to sons of Abraham, and you’ll never guess who is missing. Yep, elusive Samuel. So, either he didn’t have a male line that survived, or the people who descend from him can’t connect to him, or they simply haven’t tested yet.
The good news is that we do have descendants of Thomas, Richard, Robert, Moses, John, Sylvester, Elisha and yes, Abraham. And yes, they do all match the Estes DNA fingerprint and many lines have defining line marker mutations.
What is the Estes DNA fingerprint and what is a line marker mutation?
The Estes DNA fingerprint is the combined values that make the Estes DNA sequence, or haplotype, recognizable as such. It separates us from everyone else, or hopefully, most people. And line marker mutations are mutations at specific markers that have occurred in sons lines since Abraham and identify those lines individually as well.
Why is this important? When an Estes tests that doesn’t know which of Abraham’s sons lines they are from if they have one of the line marker mutations, I can often tell them, or at least point them in the right direction. Worst case, I can narrow the options.
How did I determine the Abraham Estes DNA fingerprint and his sons’ line marker mutations, which constitute their fingerprints? Let’s take a look.
The first thing I did, using triangulation which I explained in the Robert Estes (1555-1616), Householder in Ringwould, 52 Ancestors #30 article as well as in this “Triangulation for Y DNA” article, was to determine what Abraham’s DNA markers looked like by evaluating the results at each marker for his many descendants. I call this profile, “Abraham Reconstructed” and I compare every other Abraham descendant to this profile in a spreadsheet.
I have only shown this to 25 markers, above. Otherwise, the print is too small to see and looks like the lowest line on an eye chart that I’ve never personally seen in my life.
Looking at just Abraham’s first 12 markers, on my spreadsheet, you will notice that there is a red value and a bold, red underscored value.
The red bold indicates a rare marker value found in less than 25% of the testers for R1b and red, bold, underscored means this value is very rare and found in 6% or less of all R1b testers. Why is this here? Because these rare and very rare marker values, in combination with each other, is what determine the individual Estes rare marker signature that differentiates us from every other R1b male in Europe.
Where did I find these rare marker numbers? I maintain a spreadsheet for all haplogroups that I utilize for my own projects and every client who purchases a Personalized Y DNA Report. No, this is not available publicly anyplace, but I will gladly provide this information for anyone, for their individual results, who purchases a Quick Consult.
Line Marker Mutations
The next step in this process is to compare the results of each participant to that of Abraham. In this case, kit 12088 is a descendant of Abraham’s son, Thomas, in fact the only descendant. In his case, he has a mutation, when compared to Abraham Reconstructed at marker numbers 390 and 391.
Because there is only one confirmed descendant of Thomas who has tested, we don’t know how far back these mutations go. In other words, the mutation(s) could have happened between Abraham and Thomas, or between the tester and his father, or at any generation in-between. Having more people who descend from Thomas will help determine if this is a line marker mutation for all of Thomas’s descendants or just a particular line of Thomas’s descendants.
Let’s look at another son of Abraham, Abraham Jr.
In this case we have only one marker with any difference from Abraham Reconstructed, and that’s 449 and only in one tester. This tells us that clearly, the mutation did not happen between Abraham and Abraham Jr. In fact, in this case, two brothers tested, and the mutation at 449 was present in one brother, and not the other, so we know exactly where this mutation occurred. This mutation will be a line marker mutation for the brother in whose line it occurred and will be a beacon for future generations.
Now let’s look at Abraham’s son, Moses’s line.
In this case, we have more testers and from two of Moses’s son’s lines. Moses only had 3 sons, and we have descendants of two of the three, John and Moses Jr., with only William missing.
We can see that in John’s line, there are three mutations difference from Abraham, two of which occur in both participants. This means that for those two common mutations, the mutation occurred someplace between their common ancestor and Abraham.
Unfortunately, because one of the two men has not provided their Estes ancestors, I can’t tell who their common ancestor was. I bet you’re wondering…If he didn’t provide his genealogy, how did he get into the “Moses via son John” group? Because his mutations match those of kit 55666, so I can discern his genetic line even without his genealogy. Let’s look at how this works.
The owner of kit 55666 is 7 generations from Moses’ son, John Estes. If the common ancestor between the two kits was kit 55666’s great-grandfather, Samuel Estes, then we would know that two of these mutations, 391 and 458 occurred someplace in the 4 generations between Samuel and John Estes, because the mutations occur in both of Samuel’s son’s lines. Conversely, the mutation at location 389-2 would have occurred someplace between Samuel and the current generation, because it does not occur in the descendant of Samuel’s other son.
This Moses becomes even more interesting though, because we have descendants of Abraham through son Moses, and in particular, one specific line – through Moses Jr., son George, then son John R. Estes. This line carries a different line marker mutation for location 458. While John’s line is showing a value of 19, one more than Abraham, Moses’s line is showing a value of 17, one less than Abraham. Because all 4 of these participants descend from John R. Estes through different sons, we can say with certainty that this mutation happened someplace between Abraham Estes and John R. Estes. A second mutation in this line, at location 449, occurred someplace downstream of John R. Estes in the three generations between John R. and the participant. The value of 31 at location 449 will in the future be a line marker mutation within John R’s line for that specific line, while the value of 17 is a line marker mutation for John R.’s entire line. The value of 17 at 458 might also be a line marker mutation for George, John R.’s father, or Moses Jr, his grandfather. Because no one else has tested for any of these lines, we don’t know. But we do know that it’s not a line marker mutation for Moses Sr.’s line because Moses Sr. has had 2 sons test and their values of 458 don’t match either Abraham or each other. Therefore, we don’t know what the value of marker 458 was in Moses Sr. himself. It would be extremely interesting to have a descendant of Moses Sr.’s other son, William test. He would be a tie breaker in terms of this marker value in Moses Sr., assuming he matches either Moses Jr., John or Abraham’s marker value.
Another of Abraham’s sons, Robert, has a defining line marker mutation on marker 391, with the exception of one descendant.
Back mutations do happen, but rarely. In this case, it may well be what has happened though, because kit 14220 and 28361 share a common ancestor two generations below Robert, descending from Robert’s son George. The other two participants descend from different sons of Robert, so in total, three of Robert’s sons are confirmed at Family Tree DNA, plus two additional at Sorenson through data base retrievals. The last kit, 201558 has not provided their genealogy, but I’ve placed them here because they match value 11 at 391. Therefore, the only conclusion we can draw from this scenario is that the value of 12 at marker 391 in kit 14220, assuming the genealogy is accurate, is a back mutation.
Abraham Estes made an amazing journey in his lifetime. His life was certainly not without adventure. He was born during a war and his father may have given his life in the Kentish Uprising. In any event, he was orphaned when he was two years old, when his mother died. Had it not been for his mother’s will, we would never be able to tie Abraham to his family, because we have never been able to find his baptism records.
Abraham’s first wife died and we presume there were no children. If Abraham immigrated in 1673, he and his wife were married less than a year and it would be a safe bet that she died in childbirth, along with the child. He sailed for America in the middle of a second war, encountering Dutch warships on both ends of the journey.
In 1676, in Virginia, he would have been involved in some way in Bacon’s Rebellion, likely siding with Nathaniel Bacon against the government. If so, he was probably involved in the burning of Jamestown. This may well have been America’s first civil war.
In 1683, in Virginia, Abraham signed a petition, a free man and we know that by 1704 he owned land in King and Queen County that he purchased (or inherited), not that he received as a land grant.
Abraham Estes died in 1720 married to Barbara Estes, but there is not one single shred of evidence to suggest that his wife’s maiden name was Barbara Brock. That surname was introduced into the family line by a novel in the 1980s wherein the author utilized Estes historical characters and built upon those characters. It also didn’t help that Abraham Jr.’s daughter, Barbara Estes married Henry Brock. Unfortunately, Barbara’s surname, listed as Brock has been copied and recopied so many times that it has entered into the realm of urban legend. Regardless of how many times the story is retold, or copied and pasted, it won’t be accepted by serious researchers until some evidence, someplace, is found. To date, there is none. I am hopeful that as more Virginia Counties chancery suits are brought online by the Virginia State Archives that in some county, someplace, a document will surface that will identify Barbara Estes’s maiden name.
In my opinion, the most likely place to find Barbara’s surname is among the petitioners on that 1683 petition. We know her family lived in Virginia and she would have had to live local to Abraham to have met him. Her father, brothers and perhaps uncles are most likely among the petition signers. Brock is not one of the surnames. Those surnames are:
- Lovey or Iovey
Beverly Fleet, a noted researcher, extracted these names when transcribing the 1683 petition in the Virginia Colonial Records in the 1930s and 1940s and provided her commentary , as follows:
Of the 66 signatures on this petition, exactly half, 33, made marks. Not so bad considering the disturbed times in England and conditions in Virginia. The comment in regard to English education is made in that, contrary to the prevailing cavalier tradition, I believe that many of these men were of Cromwellian affiliation and came to Virginia to escape the hatred at home. If they were so Cavalier, then why did they come to this Godforsaken and wild country just after the Restoration? Not that there were not a plenty of gentlemen too, but the rank and file are always in the majority so far as numbers are concerned. This petition is a protest of the people against two or three of the upper class. Would to God that these men could have known just what happened exactly 100 years after they sent in their protest.
In Abraham’s case, I doubt that he was Cromwellian, especially if his father died in the Kentish uprising siding against Cromwell and with the deposed King Charles. On the other hand, it’s a possibility I had never previously considered. If he was, for some reason, pro-Cromwell, it might well have alienated him from other family members who did support the deposed Charles and welcomed the reinstatement of his son, Charles II, known as “The Restoration,” in 1660. Kent was heavily pro-Charles and anti-Cromwell. It would seem to me that in 1660, Abraham, at age 12 or 13 would be too young to be politically thoughtful. However, Beverly Fleet may have been accurate in that many of the older men in Virginia may well have left in the late 1550s when Cromwell’s reign was coming to an end.
Regardless of why Abraham left England, all of the thousands of American descendants need to be exceedingly grateful that he did, and survived, or we wouldn’t be here and who we are today. I asked David Powell who maintains the most comprehensive list of descendants that I’m aware of in his Estes/Eastes Pages, how many descendants Abraham has, and he indicated it was about 27,000. That’s just an amazing number, and we know we don’t have all of them.
I asked David how many descendants that Nicholas Estes, the first proven Estes ancestor from Deal, born about 1495, with only one documented son in his will, has today. His answer? About 35,000. Of those, 27,000 are attributed to Abraham, another 6000 to the Northern US Estes line and a couple thousand in England. Just think how many there might really be if we knew how many children Nicholas actually had. Ironically, it’s the English line that really hasn’t been thoroughly documented – the descendants of those who stayed – and David is working on that now – so we may see this number rise significantly in the future.
If you are working on your Estes genealogy, please consider DNA testing. This article explains about the different kinds of DNA tests for genealogy.
If you are an Estes male, carrying the surname, you’ll need to order the Y DNA test through Family Tree DNA and join the Estes DNA project, of course. Everyone who descends from an Estes can participate by taking the Family Finder autosomal test at Family Tree DNA. All Estes descendants, regardless of which test they take, are welcome in the Estes DNA Project.
If you are looking for genealogy information on your Estes lines, please visit David Powell’s wonderful Estes pages. Happy hunting!
Also, a $15 yearly subscription to Estes trails, and purchasing the back issues for the past many years is a wise investment. Contact Larry Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to thank David Powell, Larry Duke, Roy Eastes and Stew Estes for their invaluable input, assistance and resources for his article. In addition, a bit thank you to all of the Estes family DNA testers. We couldn’t be doing this without you.
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