We know approximately when Charles Dodson was born, but we don’t know where and we don’t know who his parents are. According to a deposition recorded in March 1699, Charles says he is about 50 years old, so born about 1649 or 1650…someplace. I think that someplace was England, because Charles Dodson was literate and could write his name. If Charles was born in Virginia in 1650, his family would have to have been wealthy to afford a private tutor to teach their children to read and write. Certainly, judging from Charles’ own children, that didn’t happen…and Charles was a large landowner. Yet his two eldest sons signed their names with a mark. Charles grew up someplace where he received at least some schooling.
A search of Find-My-Past which focused on English records shows three Charles Dodson/Dotsons born in 1644, 1645 and 1646, but none later through 1655. Of course, all parish registers aren’t online. Find-My-Past also shows four London apprenticeships for Charles Dodson between 1661 and 1672 – so the name Charles Dodson apparently wasn’t terribly rare.
We have quite a bit of information about our Charles Dodson as an adult, and clues about other things. And we have rumors to evaluate as well. Charles Dodson is a very interesting man.
If Charles arrived with his parents, they would likely have been found someplace near where Charles emerged as an adult. Perhaps Charles arrived as a young man alone, maybe as an indentured servant, or perhaps with a young wife.
Changing County Boundaries
When researching Charles Dodson, I wanted to be quite thorough, so I began with the earliest records in the part of Virginia where Charles Dodson was first found. In fact, I started with records early enough to find any other Dodson male in early Virginia as well.
Settlement in the Northern Neck of Virginia, shown above as the neck of land that today includes the counties of Westmoreland, Northumberland, Richmond and Lancaster, began about 1635 when the area was part of York County, one of the original counties formed in 1634. St. Mary’s and St. Charles Counties in Maryland are just across the Potomac River, on the north side of the neck.
In 1619, the area which is now York County was included in two of the four incorporations (or “citties”) of the proprietary Virginia Company of London which were known as Elizabeth Cittie and James Cittie.
In 1634, what became York County was formed as Charles River Shire, one of the eight original shires of Virginia.
During the English Civil War, Charles River County and the Charles River (also named for the King) were changed to York County and York River, respectively. The river, county, and town of Yorktown are believed to have been named for York, a city in Northern England.
York County land records and probate began in 1633.
In 1648, Northumberland County was formed from York and then in 1652 Lancaster was formed from Northumberland and York. Land records in Northumberland began in 1650 and probate in 1652.
Old Rappahannock County (not to be confused with the current Rappahannock County) was formed in 1656 from Lancaster County, VA. Land records begin in 1656 and probate in 1665. In 1692, old Rappahannock was dissolved and divided into Essex and Richmond Counties, on either side of the Rappahannock River.
This handy chart shows the early Virginia County formation and when surviving records exist for each county.
Old Rappahannock County was named for the Native Americans who inhabited the area, Rappahannock reportedly meaning “people of the alternating (i.e., tidal) stream.” The county’s origins lay in the first efforts by English immigrants to “seat” the land along the Rappahannock River in the 1640s. The primitive travel capabilities of the day and the county’s relatively large area contributed to the settlers’ hardship in travel to the county seat to transact business and became the primary reason for the county’s division by an Act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1691 to form the two smaller counties of Essex and Richmond.
According to the library of Virginia, old Rappahannock wills are with the Essex County wills, although they have been transcribed and published separately.
Richmond County was formed in 1692 from Old Rappahannock, with land records beginning in 1692 and probate in 1699, although many records are lost for unknown reasons.
The earliest mention of Charles Dodson is found in those records. Another Dodson, Gervais, found in Northumberland, Stafford and Westmoreland Counties had died by 1662, leaving a widow who remarried to Andrew Pettygrow. I found no connection between Gervais and Charles Dodson, no will or family information for Gervais, and no Gervais in the Charles Dodson descendants.
Northumberland County Oath
In 1652, all Tidewater Virginia residents that were not Native were required to take an oath of allegiance.
No Dodson, nor the allied families of Durham or Smoot are listed in the 1652 Northumberland County Oaths of Allegiance.
The first sighting of Charles Dodson is in the Old Rappahannock County deeds in 1679. Of course, then it wasn’t called Old Rappahannock County, just Rappahannock County and it’s abbreviated several ways within deeds. All documents included are from Old Rappahannock or Richmond County, depending on the date of the transaction, unless otherwise stated.
Deed Book Page 278 – July 10, 1679 between Peter Elmore of Rappae County, planter, and Charles Dodson, same, planter, and his heirs and assignes, as much plantable land as 3 tithables can tend in corn and tabb, with priviledge of leaving out for partuidge and further that said Dodson shall have the privilege of coopers and carpenters timber for the use of ye plantation for the term of 19 years from date hereof . (Further the said Elmore doth engage to furnish ye said Dodson with apple trees and peach trees suffichant to make an orchard both of apples and peaches) and further at the expiration of ye said terms the said Dodson is to leave a 30 foot dwelling house and a 50 foot tobacco house tennentable with all fencing in repairs that is at the expiration of the time. An further ye said Dodson to pay ye said Peter Elmore 50 pounds tobacco yearly during he said terme but if said Dodson chance to leave ye said plantation before the expiration of the said time that then ye said Peter Elmore shall have ye refusal before any other.
Signed Peter Elmore with mark and Charles Dodson. Witness William Smoote and Charles Wilson. Looks like it was registered July 7, 1680.
This deed puts Peter Elmore, Charles Dodson and William Smoot together quite early. It’s a rather unusual deed. It certainly suggests that Charles anticipated having either indentured servants or slaves if there was enough land for 3 people to work. This looks to be similar to a lease, for a period of 19 years, or until 1698.
In 1679, Charles would have been 29 or 30 years old, certainly too young to have boys old enough to be working on the plantation.
This was an investment for both men, because the trees provided by Elmore and planted by Dodson wouldn’t bear fruit for several years. Apple trees can produce in 3-6 years and pear in 2-4.
A 30 foot dwelling house certainly isn’t large by today’s standards. Many cabins in Appalachia were smaller, though, and yet they were referred to as “mansion houses.” It wasn’t unusual for a house to be 10 by 16 feet. A 30 foot dwelling house, by comparison, was large. It’s also worth noting that this would suggest that there was no house already existing on the land. This would tell us that Charles’ first home was probably one room width by 30 feet long, or maybe a fraction of that until he could afford to add on. It didn’t have to be 30 feet until 19 years later. Houses were often built in stages.
In the transaction between Peter Elmore and Charles Dodson, the tobacco house was referenced, 50 feet in length, ironically, larger than the house for the residents. The tobacco house would have been a special tobacco barn, constructed for the purpose of drying tobacco, an example shown below.
On many farms today, including the one I grew up on, the barns are still larger than the houses.
This arrangement was probably a good deal for both Peter Elmore and Charles Dodson – each man benefitting. Peter had someone working his land, planting valuable orchards, building houses and barns, and increasing the value of the land. Charles had access to a plantation large enough to support him and his family without having to actually purchase land. Sounds like a win-win situation, probably for a man with a willingness to work but no cash. Charles could have been an indentured servant himself, just finishing his indenture, which, among other possibilities would explain why he had no cash. But you have to hand it to Charles, he had a lot of spunk and was obviously willing to work hard!!!
The following year, Charles witnessed another transaction for Peter Elmore.
Deed Book Page 282 April 24, 1680 – Henry Dawson to Peter Elmore right in a bill of sale. Witnessed by William Dawson and Charles Dodson
Tobacco was the economic foundation of early Virginia as well as the currency. It was, however, a very labor intensive crop, but much prized in England, as this 1595 woodcut of the first known image of a man smoking tobacco shows. The bad news, for the English, is that tobacco could not successfully be grown there, necessitating importation.
Tobacco quickly depletes the land, requiring about 20 years for fields to lie fallow after a few years use, becoming known as “old fields” in regions where tobacco was farmed. According to Encyclopedia Virginia, a planter could plant tobacco for 3 years, then corn, with deeper roots, for 3 years, then nothing for 20 years. The field could then be used again, meaning that any given planter had to have enough land for it to be unused for tobacco for 23 of 26 years.
Each man, meaning planter, slave or indentured servant could work about 2 acres per year, although the work was backbreaking. That meant, in Charles Dodson’s case, to have 6 acres under production for tobacco at all times meant that he had to have a total of 54 acres, plus land for the house and other areas not farmable. Unfortunately, the 1679 transaction between Peter Elmore and Charles Dodson doesn’t say how much land is involved. Pesky details!
You can click to enlarge images.
The graph above shows a crop rotation example of keeping 6 acres of tobacco, enough for 3 men to tend, under production at all times.
Viewed another way, if a man had 54 acres of cultivable farmland, that means he could have 6 acres at any time under cultivation for tobacco and 6 for corn. Only being able to use one ninth of your land for your primary crop was a very land-intensive investment. Adding in the 3 years for corn production, you can still only use two ninths of your land at any one time.
Tobacco plants shown growing in the garden area of the Museum of Appalachia.
After the tobacco was started in trays, transplanted by hand, groomed, weeded and harvested, it had to be dried, graded and then packed into large wooden barrels or casks called hogsheads for shipping to England. The barrels would then be rolled down the roads from the plantations to the docks. Often in these areas, there would be roads called Rolling Roads, or Rowling Roads. Those were the roads utilized to transport the barrels to the ships – literally rolling them along their way. This means of course that the most desirable plantations were the closest to the river, also meaning that they might have docks where the ships could anchor, facilitating trading and commerce for the plantation owner. The bad news was that these areas tended to be swampy and the first to sustain damage when hurricanes and severe weather hit.
The cartouche on the lower right-hand corner of the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia, below, drawn in 1751, shows tobacco hogsheads being inspected and shipped overseas.
A hogshead was about 3 feet across and had to hold at least 100 pounds of tobacco. The tobacco in the hogshead was graded, and if the tobacco was found to be substandard, the entire hogshead was burned. This was an incredible incentive for planters to produce and ship only the highest quality tobacco.
Son Thomas is Born
The North Farnham Parish register tells us that son Thomas Dodson was born to Charles and Ann Dodson on May 15, 1681. This suggests that Charles was married by at least by sometime in 1680, if Thomas was his first child. However, it’s probable that son Charles Jr. was the first child, or first male child, of Charles Dodson and Ann, pushing the marriage date back to between 1671 and 1676, depending on when Charles Jr. was born.
Thomas is the only child directly attributed to Charles and Ann in the North Farnham Parish church records, which are known to be incomplete. The rest of the records that tell us about Charles’s children are his will written in 1703 and various deeds over the years.
Charles witnessed many deeds for neighbors during his lifetime.
Deed Book Page 310 – May 30, 1681 John Harding to Jane Elmore, daughter of Peter Elmore one black cow yearling. Signed with mark. Witness Charles Dodson and Jane Ellmore (signed with mark)
Deed Book Page 330-331 Oct. 23, 1681 from William Fantleroy and wife Katherin to David Fowler 2000 pounds aranoco tobacco in cask 230 acres on the north side of Rappahannock River on the branch of the head of Farnham Neck known by the name of the Briery swamp being part of a greater tract formerly granted to Ambrose Clary pat dates Sept 26, 1667 bounded on corner of John Ingoes below the house and running along the line of said Ingoes land north to a Spanish oak on the line of the aforesaid then N to red oak at a little below the bridge of ye Briery Swamp near Edmund Rylie then NW cross the Briery swamp to a corner tree then NW to another marked read oak by Moartico Creek and then along the old line of William Fantleroy dividend west crossing Briery Swamp to ye place of first began. Signed 1681. Wit Thomas Wills, Charles Dodson. Reg Jan 4, 1681 (82).
This deed witnessed by Charles Dodson puts him in the neighborhood of Briery Swamp.
Briery Swamp is believed to be Marshy Swamp in Richmond County, today. Sadly, the early patents, grants and surveys that do still exist for the Northern Neck do not include drawings of the land, just metes and bounds which make them very difficult to locate on a map today.
The tobacco grown and smoked by Native Americans was too harsh for the English palate. Orinoco (aranoco) tobacco seeds were transported from the Orinoco Valley in Spain and when planted in the rich bottomland of the Northern Neck peninsula, produced a mild yet dark tobacco which quickly became the English favorite.
I took these photos of tobacco flowering in Virginia a few years ago, not realizing at the time how connected my family was to that crop.
Charles Dodson and William Smoot are associated throughout their lives.
Deed Book Page 144-146 I William Smote of Rappahannock County, planter, do stand indebted unto Richard Ellet in the sum of 2400 pounds tobacco and caske to containe the same with all court charges and costs of surveying to be paid at some convenient landing in the parish of Farnham have received a valuable consideration for the same which payment truly to be made I the said William Smothe doe bind ourselves unto the said Ellet. The condition of this obligation is such that is the abovesaid Ellet should loose any part of his land by my survey being land bought of the above said William Smoote that the said Smoot shall make restoration of as much land to the sd Ellet as shall be taken away from him. Provided the said Smooth hath left 200 acres other ways to the said Smoote to restore to the Ellet the abovementioned tobacco and caske to containe the same and for the performance hereof I the aid Smoote to me my heirs and as witness my hand and seal this November 5, 1684. Signed. Witness Charles Dodson, John Ingoe by mark
It looks like the neighbors, William Smoot, John Ingoe and Charles Dodson are all signing as witnesses. It’s always good to know who the neighbors are, because families marry, immigrate and migrate with people they know.
Charles Buys Land
In 1679, Charles transacted with Peter Elmore to improve Elmore’s land, but six and a half years later, Charles had saved enough money to purchase 100 acres of his own.
Deed Book 7, pg 281-283 This indenture made this nine and twentieth day of December in the yeare of our Lord 1685 Between William Thacker and Alice his Wife, Daughter and heire of William Mathews, late of the County of Rappa. in Virginia, Plantr., deced, of the one part and Charles Dodson of the sd County of Rappa., Plantr., of the other part Witnesseth that they the sd William Thacker and Alice his Wife for a valuable consideration to them paid have sold unto the sd Charles Dodson all that tract of land being in the Parish of Farnham in the sd County of Rappa: conteyning One hundred acres as by the survey and plat thereof may appear which said hundred acres is part and parcell of a Dividend of land conteyning Eleven hundred Forty and eight acres called or known by the name of Lilleys, lying and being in the County and Parish aforesaid formerly Pattented by the abovesd William Mathews as by the Pattent bearing date the Eighteenth day of November in the year of our Lord One thousand Six hundred Sixty and eight relation being had doth appeare, and the Deeds Pattents and whatsoever touching the same To have and to hold the sd One hundred acres of land with their appertinances unto the sd Charles Dodson his heires to the only proper use of sd Charles Dodson forever with all profitts in as large manner as expressed in the original Pattent of the whole Divident above specified and the sd William Thacker and Alice his Wife warrant the said land unto sd Charles Dodson against all persons from or under them and shall acknowledge these presents within three Courts next after the date hereof in Court to be holden for the County of Rappa: aforesd In Witness where of the sd William Thacker and Alice his Wife sett their hands and seales
Signed sealed and delivered in the presents of Richard Marshall, William Thacker his marke William Edmonds, Alice Thacker the marke of William Heard, Recognitr in Cur com Rappa. 3 die 9ber 1686 record xxiii die
Know all men by these presents that I William Thacker of the County of Lancaster in Virginia do constitute and appoint my true and well beloved friend, John Ford, to be my true and lawful! Attorney in my place to acknowledge unto Charles Dodson of the County of Rappa: one hundred acres of land in the aforesd. County and ratifying and allowing what my said Attorney shall act and doe in the same In Witness whereof I have put my hand and seale this first day of November 1686
Signed Sealed and delivered in the presents of us Henry Fulton, William Thacker his mark James Kille, Recordr. xxiii die 9hris 1686
This deed is a little more normal – an actual land sale. At Charles death, this is the land he is living on, referred to as “the new dwelling plantation with the 100 acres of land belonging to it” and bequeathed to son “Lambert” who is actually Lambeth. Lambeth subsequently sells this land to his brother, Thomas, who leaves it to his son, Greenham, who, in 1746, sells it to Jeremiah Greenham (Richmond County Deed book 10-373.) Tracking this deed forward from Jeremiah might help us locate this land today.
Deed Book May 1686 – Alexander and Elizabeth Newman to William Acers 200 acres part of a 600 acre dividend. Signed wit Thomas Carpenter and Charles Dodson.
Charles witnesses a transaction for neighbors in 1686, then buys 300 acres of additional land for himself in 1687.
Deed Book Page 386-387 – Oct 21, 1687 Samuel Travers and Frances his wife of Rappahannock to Charles Dodson of same, planter, for valuable consideration parcel in Farnham 300 acres by survey part of two dividents of land pat by Col. William Travers decd and commonly known as Traverses Quarter or Old Field and surveyed by one Edward Jonson as his platt dated Dec. 9, 1687. Dodson to pay all quitrents and services which shall become due. Signed by Samuel Travers and Frances his wife (mark) witness Raw. Travers, Elias Robinson (mark) Byran Mullican (mark).
Charles Dodson now owns 400 acres, plus the land under lease from Peter Elmore. Given our calculations, a planter must own 18 acres for one man to keep 2 acres under cultivation with tobacco at all times. Therefore, 400 acres would require about 22 men to work the land. Of course, some of that land would have been taken up by houses, barns and livestock. Other portions may have been too low to cultivate. Still, it was a lot more land than Charles Dodson and his family could work by themselves.
Charles Dodson apparently had a close relationship or at least a relationship of some sort with John Lincoln. First, we find that John and Charles both assigned by the court to help mediate a dispute.
Court Order Book November 1, 1686 page 1 – ordered Charles Dodson and John Lincolne meet together at the house of Barth: Wood to state and audit ye accompts between Hugh Bell plt and ye said Wood deft and make report thereof to the next court and that the said Wood deliver to the said Wood all his working tooles that are in his custody.
Just a month or so later, John Lincoln dictates his will on Dec. 18, 1686, so his final illness must have come upon him unexpectedly.
Later, in an affidavit of witnesses to the making of the will, the comment was made that John Lincolne, the maker of the will, “would have no other but Charles Dodson as his executor although several insisted that he have his wife.”
And an affidavit by another witness, “John Lincoln…he did urge to have Charles Dodson to be his executor several times when his wife was named.”
Apparently Charles Dodson had other ideas, or there was something bothersome to him about the situation.
Court Order Book Jan. 5, 1686/87 – Charles Dodson in open court relinquished his right of executorship to the last will and testament of John Lincolne decd
Now, the subplots gets even more interesting, because less than 6 months later, which really wasn’t unusual for a remarriage in colonial Virginia, John Lincoln’s widow, Elizabeth, remarries to John Hill. Keep the name of John Hill in the back of your mind. You’ll meet him again in a few minutes.
Court Order Book, Page 22 May 4, 1687 This day John Hill as Marrying the Admistrx. of John Lincolne deced confest judgment to Henry Hartley for Sixteen hundred pounds tobb & caske according to Bill which this Court have ordered to be paid with cost of suit.
Court Order Book Page 160 April 3,1690 – Judgment is granted to William Colston against John HIll as Marrying Elizabeth, the Relict of John Lincolne, for five hundred & sixteen pounds of tobb: upon acct. of Clerkes fees, to be pd with cost of suit als exe.
In 1693, Chares Dodson is again involved with John Hill, this time as a witness to a deed where John Hill sells land on the Northumberland River that apparently shared a property line with the deceased John Lincoln.
Deed Book Page 198/201 Deed 21st day of 7ber 1693 John Hill and Elizabeth his wife planter and John Creele, both of Richmond Co planter, for valuable consideration 60 acres beginning at hickory path going to Bartholomew Woods and a path going to Walter Webb, corner tree of George Devenport and John Hill and along line, main branch of Northumberland River, line of John Linkhorne, 60 acres part of 800 acres patented by John Carpenter, Charles Carpenter and William West and part of it takenup John Hill relaction being thereunto had may more fully appears and the reversion and reversions, deeds, letters escrips touching or concerning the same. John and Elizabeth Hill by marks, Gilbert Croswell witness by mark, Mary Creele by mark and Charles Dodson signature.
Elizabeth Hill wife of John Hill gives power or attorney to John Rankin to acknowledge that she relinquished her dower in that parcel of land.
Unfortunately, I can’t find the Northumberland River on current maps.
It’s unclear whether there was one or two different John Hill’s living at this time. However, John Hill would marry the widow of Charles Dodson after his death. Given Charles Dodson’s close association with John Hill, I suspect that this is the John Hill that would be Charles’ wife’s second husband.
Charles As Estate Executor
Charles served as the executor of more than one estate. About the same time that John Lincoln died, so did Edward Johnson.
Will Book 29 January, 1686/7; Sworn to 27 February, 1686/7 & 2 March, 1686/7. Edward Johnson of the County of Rappa & Parish of ffarnham. Very Sick of Body but of perfect mind & memory. I leave unto Wm Macanrico three Cowes & one heyfer & one yearling being upon the Plantacon of Ennis Macanrico & one Mare bigg with foale & one bed & what belongeth to it, and all other things that doth belong to me the above ad Cattle to be delivered in kinde when he Cometh to the Age of sixteen & the Mares to Run with encrease from the Day of the Date hereof and do make Charles Dodson my full Executr: to see this my Will fulfilled when my Debts is Satisfied & what is left to Return to Ennis Macanrico. Wit. Danll Everard, Alexander Duke, Peter Elmore
Court Order Book Jan 29, 1686/87 Edward Johnson will, Charles Dodson executor, Peter Elmore witness.
Apparently, all did not go smoothly.
Court Order Book Sept 6, 1687 Rees Evans vs Charles Dodson continued to next court.
Lancaster County Court 12th of October 1687 Whereas at the last Court helde for this County, upon the Peticon of Charles Dodson as Exer, of Edward Johnson (deced), it was then ordered that Agnis, the Wife of William Smith, formerly the Wife of Enis Meconico, late of the County (deced), should render up and deliver unto the said Charles Dodson qualified as aforesaid all that Estate of the said Johnson in her possession of what kinde soever both of goods chattells and Cattle for the use of William, the Sone of the said Meconico, to whome it was bequeathed as by the last Will and Testamt. of the said Johnson it doth appeare, a Probate threof accordingly was granted unto the said Dodson at a Court helde for the County of Rappahannock March the 3d. 1686 and hee haveing given sufficient security to this Court for the said Estate, for the use aforesaid, And the said Dodson complaineing to this Court that the said Agnis (in whose custodie the sd. Estate remaines) in contempt of the aforesd. Order doe therefore hereby order that the Sheriff of this County doe forthwith put the sd. Dodson in possession of all that Estate in her custodie bequeathed as aforesaid; And that the said Agnis bee sworne before the next justice truely to exhibitt the same. James Phillips, William Armes and Mr. John Wade or any two of them are ordered to apprize the said Estate and to bee sworne by the next Justice an Inventory thereof to bee exhibitted to the next Court
Charles in Court
Filing suit in colonial Virginia wasn’t so much a last resort as it seemed to be a way of life.
Court Order Book May 3 1688 order granted Francis Moore against Charles Dodson.
Court Order Book May 3 1688 Judgement granted to Nicholas Ward against Charles Dodson for 1000 pounds tobacco and caske upon obligation to be paid with cost of suit.
Charles Dodson served on a jury twice in 1688.
Going to court was as much entertainment as it was a necessity. Business was transacted and friendships cemented, and sometimes ended, I’m sure.
Sometimes men witnessed deeds of their family and neighbors. Other times, I think the witness was whoever happened to be at the pub, or at court the day the transaction happened to occur.
Deed Book Page 138-140 George Vinson to John Mills, James Gained and Charles Dodson (signature) witness.July 14, 1691
Deed Book Page 138-140 John Mills to William Richardson, John Hooper, Charles Dodson (signature) and Thomas Salsby witness Sept 12, 1692
In 1693, Charles purchases additional land.
Deed Book 2 Jan 1693/4 Samuel Travers and Frances his wife of Richmond Co to Charles Dodson, for 10000 lb tobo and cask, 500 acres, “being part of a patent granted to Mr Thomas Chitwood and George Haselock bearing Date 9th day of July 1662”. This land lying on the main branch of Totuskey Creek beginning white oak in the fork of the said branch…parcel of land sold by said Travers to Daniel Everett to head of another branch…crossing mouth of the same, adj land sold by said Travers to Dan’l Everett. Entry includes “either of our heirs in by from or under Col’n William Travers Father of me the said Samuel Travers”. Signed: Sam’l Travers, Fran Travers. Witness: Peter Hall, Gilbert Hornby (or Fornby), Mary x Wollard. Recorded 20 Jan 1693/4.
Order Book Page 108 Jan. 3, 1693/4 Ordered deed ack by Capt. Samuel Travers to Charles Dodson be recorded
This brings Charles’ land holdings to 900 acres plus the land he leases from Elmore. 900 acres would take 50 men to work the land, if all was farmable.
The Everett family is found adjoining the land of Charles’ grandson, George Dodson, when he sells his land in 1756 that he inherits from Charles’ son, Thomas. This same land would be owned by Dodson men for 3 generations.
Charles Junior Emerges in the Records
Charles Dodson Jr. is first found in conjunction with the 1693 transaction above, when Frances Travers signs power of attorney to John Taverner to relinquish her dower rights. Charles Dodson Jr. and Sr. both witness that transaction, suggesting that Charles Jr. is now age 21, but certainly no less than 16. Therefore Charles Dodson Jr. was likely born about 1672 or no later than 1677, pushing the marriage of Charles Dodson Sr. and Ann back to between 1671 and 1676.
Deed Book Jan. 2, 1693 Frances Travers assigns Power of Attorney to Mr. John Taverner to represent her in court to acknowledge “a certain parcell of land containing Fiver hundred acres sold by my Husband, Samuel Travers, unto Charles Dodson of this County by Deed and purpose. Charles Dodson Jr. signed with mark and Charles Dodson Sr. signed with signature. May 1, 1693
Another deed file the same day also shows Charles Jr. with his father and the Ann presumed to be his mother. Unfortunately, Charles Jr. also married an Anne whose surname is unknown, so it’s unclear whether the Ann below is Ann the mother or Anne the wife.
Deed Book Jan. 2, 1693 I Easter Mills of Richmond County in Virginia do constitute my truly & loving friend, Mr. Edward Read, of the abovesd County to be my lawfull Attorney for me as well in all respects as if myselfe were personally present to acknowledge a Deed made by my Husband, John Mills, & myself unto William Richardson of the abovesd. County of Richmond for One hundred Twenty & five acres of Land in the abovesd. County as Witness my hand and seale this first of May 1693 Easter Mills her marke
Being present Ann Dodson, Charles Dodson Junr., Charles Dodson Senr., Recorded: Cur Corn Richmond 17 die Maii 1693
Nancy, The Brown Cow
While Charles Dodson Jr. was old enough to witness transactions, his brother, Thomas was still a child. Thomas was born in May of 1681 according to the Farnham Church Parish records, making him about 12 when his father deeded him a brown cow named Nancy.
Deed Book Page 165 Charles Dodson convey to beloved son Thomas Dodson brown cow called by the name of Nancy marked with a crop and swallow forke on the left eare and a crop on the right eare together with all her female increase being in exchange with him my said son Thomas for one cow given him by his Godfather Peter Elmore. July 31, 1693 signed, wit William Ward and William Colston
This very interesting transaction tells us that Peter Elmore is Thomas’s godfather, but it does not say grandfather. Since a relationship was identified, if Peter Elmore was Thomas’s grandfather, it surely would have said grandfather, not godfather, since a grandfather is a blood relative and a godfather can be anyone, related or not. It does imply a close relationship between the families, but not necessarily a blood relationship.
This deed does cause me to wonder why the deed was filed at all. There was a cost associated with filing a deed, not to mention the aggravation. Why write this cow-swap up as a deed instead of just letting it be a barnyard transaction?
Clearly, there is something afoot or ahoof that we don’t and never will know.
The History of Northern Neck, Virginia tells us that The Royal Society of London reported that on October 29, 1693, “here happened a most violent storm in Virginia which stopped the course of ancient channels and made some where there never were any.”
Charles Dodson was probably very grateful that his land was not directly on the Rappahannock River.
Totuskey Creek and Ridge Road
These deeds put Charles’ neighbors on Totuskey Creek in proximity to Ridge Road.
Deed Book Page 29-31 May 20, 1694 William Richardson, planter, and Elizabeth wife to John Henly planter, for consideration 50 acres… Thomas Dusin line, part of dividend purchased of John Mills upon a main branch of Totuskey. Signed by marks, wit Ann Dodson signed with plus, Charles Dodson Jr signed with mark CD and Charles Dodson Sr signed.
Deed Book Page 29-31 May 20, 1694 Elizabeth Richardson POA to Thomas Dusin to ack Deed. Signed with mark, wit Ann Dodson by mark, Charles Dodson Jr by mark and Charles Dodson Sr.
Deed Book Page 32-35 June 1, 1694 William Norris and Elizabeth wife of Northumberland Co to Samuel Jones land purchased of Thomas Dusin 52 acres…line of John Ockley, divides land of William Richardson. Signed my mark, wit Henry Hartley, John Hill, John Hendley all signed with mark and Charles Dodson 94 (sic).
It’s interesting that Charles signed his name with the year.
Deed Book Page 32-35 June 1, 1694 Elizabeth Norris POA to Thomas Duzen to ack deed in court. Signed with mark, wit Henry Hartly, John Hill, signed with mark, and Charles Dodson.
Deed Book Page 35-37 June 1, 1694 Thomas Dusin and wife Susanna or Northumberland Co to William Norris paid and 2 hilling hoes to be paid yearly by the said Norris unto the said Duzen so long as he and his wife shall live and if either of them shall die then Norris shall pay but one hilling hoe and to give the said Dusin one falline axe…100 acres by estimation in Richmond Co on branches of Totuskey Creek adj land where said Dusin now lives. Beginning at red oak diving land of William Norris and Thomas Duzen up the branch to corner tree standing near line of William Mathews along Mathews line to the road then to another white oak by the road, then along a line of John Oakley formerly belonging to Thomas Madison then to a gum corner then across the Ridge Road, down line of William Richardson. Signed with marks, Henry Hartley witness, John Hill with mark, Charles Dodson 94 (sic)
I’ve never seen a hilling hoe as a form of monetary exchange before.
Deed Book Page 35-37 June 31, 1694 Power of atty Susan Duson of Richmond Co to appoint my trusty and well beloved friend William Richardson of same to be my attorney to acknowledge the above deed unto William Norris. Wit Henry Hartley, John Hirlly, Charles Dodson. Book 2, page 37
Deed Book Page 144-146 Thomas Dusin and wife Susanna 1600 pounds tobacco in case to Thomas Southerne tract 30 acres part of a patent granted to Thomas Dusin bearing date 21 7ber 1687 at the head of Totuskey branches beginning corner of Old Cone Path formerly belonging to Daniel Oneale along line divides the land of Mr. Spencer and above said Dewsins land, corner belonging to William Mathews, along line dividing land formerly belonging to John Henly and Dusin signed Feb. 26, 1694/5. Signed Wit William Norris, Elizabeth Norris by marks, Charles Dodson signed.,
Deed Book Susanna Dusin POA to William Norris to ack deed. Signed with mark. Wit Charles Dodson signed with mark, William Brokenbrough signed Feb 26, 1694/5
I wish I knew where the Old Cone Path was today.
Ridge Road (also known as 600) today runs from Richmond Road south to the intersection with History Land Highway in the southern part of the county.
Totuskey Creek, today is to the upper left, the spiderlike creeks.
However, we also know that Charles Dodson owned the land referred to as Rich Neck, north of Richmond Road (360), still along 600, probably still called Ridge Road at that time. 600 or Ridge Road dead ends on the north with Oldham Road.
Above, you can see the entire area from the village of Oldhams, past Rich Neck, crossing Richmond Road, on down 600 passing the spiderveins of feeder creeks of Totuskey Creek.
Matthew Ozgrippin and Forcible Entry
In 1695, Charles Dodson did something that sounds very un-Charles Dodson-like.
Court Order Book Page 82 – Aug. 9, 1695 Action brought by Charles Dodson against Matthew Osgrippin is dismissed the plt not appearing to prosecute.
Charles Dodson had some kind of a dispute with Matthew Ozgrippin or Ozgriffin. From the entry above, it looks and sounds like a “normal” suit in early Virginia, but it apparently escalated into something very different.
Court Order Cook Page 113 Jan. 1, 1695/6 Whereas it was represented to this court by a warrant from Capt. William Barber and verdict of a jury thereupon that a forcible entry was made upon Matthew Ozgrifin in his possession by Charles Dodson and for that the said warrant and declaration thereupon was by accident mislayed by the clerk and therefore said matter cannot come to trial. The court for prevention of any further force to be committed by the said Charles do order that the said Charles Dodson do give in bond with good and sufficient security for his good abarance towards the said Matthew Ozgrifin and said matter be returned next court.
And of course, as luck would have it, the papers were missing in a volatile case.
Court Order Book Page 121 March 4, 1695/6 Whereas a warrant and verdict of a jury together with other papers relating to a force committed by Charles Dodson and others upon the posession of Matthew Ozgrippen at last January court held for this county was conveyed away from the court table by Mr. Robert Brent amongst his books and other papers and the said Robert Brent being since dead and by reason of the badness of the weather and other accidents that the said clerk of court has not opportunity to procure them again and for that the said Charles Dodson hath not made his appearance at the said fort to answer the fact aforesaid…for prevention therefore of any other or further force to be committed the court ordered the sheriff do take the body of the said Charles Dodson into safe custody and him so to keep until he shall give bond with good security and sufficient security for his aberrance towards the said Matthew Ozgrippin and further ordered the clerk do use all effectual means for the recovery of the said papers.
And then the lawyer died.
And the weather was bad.
This is beginning to sound like a country and western song!!
Court Order Book Page 124 April 1, 1696 Warrant from under the hand of Capt. William Barber one of the majesties of the county granted unto Matthew Ozgrippin complaining that a forcible entry was made by Charles Dodson upon his possession, the sheriff was ordered to summon a good and lawful jury of the neighbourhood to make enquiry of the force committed, which said jury being impaneled and sworn returned with the following verdict, viz, “We of the jury find a forcible entry made by Charles Dodson and the verdict being returned to this court for judgment thereon, the court having fined the said Charles Dodson 1000 pounds of tobacco for the force committed as aforesaid.”
It appears that Charles did, indeed, commit forcible entry. From the previous statements, it sounds like he wasn’t alone.
Court Order Book Page 134 April 2, 1696 Nonsuit granted to Matthew Ozgrippen against Charles Dodson, he not appearing, to be paid with costs of suit.
Court Order Book Page 134 April 2, 1696 Nonsuit granted to Nicholas Liscomb against Charles Dodson, he not appearing to be paid with costs of suit.
Court Order Book Page 134 April 2, 1696 Order granted against sheriff to Nicholas Liscomb for the nonappearance of Charles Dodson according to declaration.
Next, Charles doesn’t show up for court.
Court Order Book Page 143 June 4, 1696 Reference is granted between Matthew Ozgrippin plt and Charles Dodson def till next court.
If you thought this was over, it wasn’t. By now, Charles is probably hopping mad…again!
Court Order Book Page 143 June 4, 1696 action of waste brought by Charles Dodson against Matthew Ozgripin is dismissed for that the plt hath not discharged the costs of a former nonsuit.
An action of waste addresses a change in the condition of a property brought about by the current tenant that damages or destroys the value of that property. Most likely, Matthew Ozgrippin was a tenant on one of Charles Dodson’s farms. It’s also possible that Charles has sublet the land he leased from Peter Elmore.
Court Order Book Page 144 June 4, 1696 Action of trespass brought by Charles Dodson against Matthew Ozgrippin is dismissed for that the plt hath not discharged the costs of a former nonsuit.
Now, Charles is in trouble with the court for not paying the costs of the original suit.
Trespass in this type of situation would probably be related to nonpayment of rent or fees, or perhaps that Matthew was utilizing ground not included in his lease.
Court Order Book Page 144 June 4, 1696 Attachment granted to Charles Dodson against the estate of Nicholas Liscumb according to declaration returnable.
Court Order Book Page 151 August 5, 1696 – Mr. Joshua David appeared attorney for Charles Dodson.
Charles hires an attorney.
And least we’re going to finally find out what happened.
Court Order Book Page 151 August 5, 1696 Matthew Ozgrippen brought his action of trespass upon battery in this court against John Rankin, John Magill and Charles Dodson and declared that he and the said Matthew being the peace of our sovereign lord the Kings Majesty at or near his own dwelling house situate near the head of Maraticco Creek in the county aforesaid in the month of December last past and year of 1695 and the said John Rankin, John Magill and Charles Dodson assisting and abetting the said complaintant with force and arms and contrary to the peace and did assault and beat with his fists striking him several and divers blows so that the said compl was forced to retiree to his house for the better security of his life being then in danger and that the said Rankin, Magill and Dodson the said compl with like force and arms pursiing did break open the door of the said house and then and there the compl his wife and children did beat and bruise with several and divers wounds and other outrageous and unlawful actions did trespasses the said deft did to him then and there do and commit and throwing water on his bulked tobacao destroying his corn and from his said house the complt expelling and putting out whereby the comply sayeth he is damnifying and damage hath sustained to the value of 40,000 pounds tobacco which he prayeth judgement with cost. And the said Charles Dodson one of the deft aforesaid in proper person comes into court and sayeth that he is not guilty in manner and form as in and by the said declaration it is set forth and declared for trial thereof. Jury summoned and brought verdict, “We the jury find for the plt and that the plt is damnifyed 1500 pounds of tobacco with verdict the court have confirmed and order that the said Charles Dodson pay unto the said Matthw Ozgrippin 1500 pounds tobacco together with costs of suit.”
Matthew asked for 40,000 pounds tobacco and the court awarded him 1,500 pounds. This sounds like the kind of lawsuit where everyone walks away unhappy.
The head of Moratico Creek could be either of the two branches near the red pin. Farnham Creek is the large creek above and to the left of the pin.
Court Order Book Page 153 August 5, 1696 Matthew Ozgrippin together with William Norris this day in court did ack themselves indebted to William Tayloe in the sum of 3000 pounds tobacco to be paid unto the said Tayloe in case the said Matthew shall not answer an appeal from an order of the court granted unto him by Charles Dodson.
Court Order Book Page 154 August 5, 1696 Attachment granted last court against estate of Nicholas Liscumb to Charles Dodson according to declaration in continued.
Court Order Book Page 154 August 5, 1696 Foreasmuch as the sheriff of the county made appear to the court that he lawfully summoned John Rankin an evidence in the suit depending between Matthew Ozgrippin plt and John Magill. John Rankin and Charles Dodson def at the suite of the said Charles and the said John not appearing the court have fined the said John Rankin according to act of assembly and order that the same be paid unto the said Charles Dodson alias execution.
Apparently, Matthew sued the other two men as well, although he eventually drops at least one, stating that the “matter is in the past now.” Not so with Charles Dodson.
Court Order Book Page 155 August 5, 1696 – Foreasmuch as the sheriff of the county made appear to the court that he lawfully summoned John Magill an evidence in the suit depending between Matthew Ozgrippin plt and John Magill. John Rankin and Charles Dodson def at the suite of the said Charles and the said John not appearing the court have fined the said John MaGill according to act of assembly and order that the same be paid unto the said Charles alias execution.
Court Order Book Page 171 Oct. 7, 1696 Action brought by Charles Dodson against Nicholas Liscumb dismissed the plt not appearing to prosecute.
Charles doesn’t show up, again, even though he is the plaintiff.
Court Order Book Page 195 Nov. 5, 1696 Petition of William Colston clerk ord that said Colston be allowed and paid out of the fines leveyed upon Charles Dodson for his force committed up on the possession of Matthew Ozgrippin 180 pounds tobacco being fees arising due to him in the prosecution of said force.
Court Order Book Page 244 June 3, 1697 Order brought against Charles Dodson by Matthew Ozgrippin dismissed, plt not prosecuting.
And so, the drama is finally over in June of 1697, almost two years after it started in court in August 1695, and 18 months after Charles committed forcible entry and apparently assaulted Matthew Ozgrippen.
This behavior of Charles is so aberrant from anything else we’ve seen that it calls into question why. I have to wonder if the problem was so outrageous that Charles resorted to equally as outrageous behavior.
Charles was about 45 years old in 1695, no spring chicken by any means and not likely to be a young hothead, lacking maturity. This type of behavior calls into question things like one’s daughter’s integrity, but Ozgrippen was married with children.
The what is disclosed, but never why.
We will clearly never know the true backstory, other than knowing that Charles was extremely angry for some reason and the two men with him appear to share Charles’ anger or outrage.
The Elmore Lease
According to the July 10, 1679 Elmore lease, Charles Dodson’s lease on Elmore’s land expired in 19 years, which would have been July 10, 1698.
At this time, Charles was supposed to have built a house and barn, planted orchards and fenced the area.
We don’t hear any more about this land, but if Charles vacated in 1698 as stipulated, that might explain his reference in his 1702/03 will to his new house on his plantation.
I’m sure when he was a young man first leasing that land, he never anticipated that 19 years later, he would be in the twilight years of his life.
Back to Normal Lawsuits
For the next year and a half after the Ozgrippin drama ends, Charles Dodson keeps a low profile. He doesn’t sue anyone, doesn’t get sued by anyone, doesn’t sit on a jury, doesn’t witness deeds and doesn’t appear in any court records, but in late 1698, he appears again.
Court Order Book Page 355 Nov. 4, 1698 Attachment granted to Charles Dodson against estate of Thomas Yates.
Court Order Book Page 373 March 1, 1698/9 Action brought by Charles Dodson against Thomas Yates dismissed, the plt not appearing to prosecute.
Court Order Book Page 387 March 3, 1698/9 Action brought by Charles Dodson against William Cambell is dismissed, the plt not prosecuting.
I’m beginning to wonder about this trend of Charles not showing up in court after filing suit. It is one way to have a suit dismissed, but we don’t see evidence of Charles doing this earlier. Does make one wonder.
Specifically, I’m wondering if Charles, in his mid-late 40s has suffered small strokes or maybe what today would be known as a traumatic brain injury. Brain injuries are known to create changes in behavior and impulsiveness. Something like being thrown from a horse could cause that kind of injury. That fact that he is suddenly not interacting with others as someone who has previously been trusted and responsible, after having done so for many years, makes me wonder if his neighbors were all aware.
The Deposition and More Goodies
Richmond Co., VA Miscellaneous Records, 1699-1724 TLC Genealogy Page 4 – Deposition of Charles Dodson Sr. aged about 50 years that about last April 16 being on board the Doublin Merchant in company with John Macgill he did hear the said John Macgill agree with Mr. Francis Moore, Merchant of the said shop, for a man servant named John Conner who had 6 years to serve by indenture and that the said Dodson read the said indenture and further says not. Signed Charles Dodson Recorded March 6, 1699
I called the Richmond County clerk’s office on 4-17-2017 and they don’t know where to look for this document. I was hoping to obtain a copy because it carries the actual signature of Charles Dodson. The Library of Virginia Chancery Records Index shows Richmond County chancery documents beginning in 1748.
Here, we find Charles Dodson in the company of John MacGill once again. Thank goodness for this deposition, which tells us approximately when Charles was born.
The Dublin Merchant with Francis Moore as Captain was a well know merchant ship that traveled back and forth from England and Ireland, transporting tobacco from Virginia and in return, bringing indentured servants.
At least one of those indentured servants worked on Charles Dodson’s plantation.
Court Order Book Page 408 June 7, 1699 Thomas Lane, servant to Charles Dodson, being presented.
When an underage servant became indentured, they were often presented to the court in order to have their age adjudged. This served two purposes. First, the length of the indenture sometimes was dependent on the age of the servant and second, their “legal age” as determined by the court also determined when the “master” had to start paying tithes on the servant, which typically happened for a white male at age 16.
Charles Dodson still “owns” part of this man’s time when his estate is filed in 1706, so apparently this man’s indenture was longer than the traditional 7 years.
Court Order Book Page 473 Sept. 7, 1699 Nonsuit granted against Charles Dodson Sr. to James Lovett the said Dodson not appearing to prosecute and to be paid with cost of suit.
Charles Dodson didn’t show up, AGAIN, and just about the time I think that maybe something is REALLY wrong with him, he’s on a jury. Go figure!!!
Court Order Book Page 485 Oct. 5, 1699 Mr. Charles Dodson on Jury
Of course, conceivably the jury member could have been Charles Jr., but it’s unlikely given that he didn’t yet own land and it the record doesn’t say Jr.
Court Order Book Page 510 Nov. 2, 1699 Order granted against the sheriff to Charles Dodson for nonappearance of William Cambell according to declaration. Attachment hereon granted to sheriff.
Court Order Book Page 510 Nov. 2, 1699 Action brought by Charles Dodson against Mathew Ozgrippin is dismissed, plt not prosecuting.
Not Ozgrippin again…4 years later. I’d wager Ozgrippin is still Charles Dodson’s tenant, even after their altercation.
Court Order Book Page 511 Nov. 2, 1699 Action brought by Charles Dodson Sr. against William Norris is dismissed the plt not prosecuting.
Court Order Book Page 11 January 4, 1699/1700 Judgement granted to Charles Dodson assignee of John Bertrand against William Cambell for 531 pounds good tobacco in case upon bill to be paid with cost of suit.
Court Order Book Page 60 October 2, 1700 Ordered Mr. Charles Dodson Sr., Mr. Geo Davenport and Denis Commeron or any 2 of them some time between this and the next court to meet at the house of John Gill late decd (now of Henry Adcock) and inventory and appraise estate. Capt. John Tarply requested to administer oath.
Hmmm, I wonder if this is really John Gill or if it’s John McGill.
Court Order Book Page 68 Oct. 3, 1700 Order granted against the sheriff to William Norris, assignee of Charles Dodson for the non appearance of James Ritchins.
Court Order Book Page 82 – March 6, 1700/01 Judgement granted to William Norris assignee of Charles Dodson against James Kitchin for 450 pounds tobacco in caske upon bill to be paid with cost of suit.
Court Order Book Page 106 May 8, 1701 Order granted against sheriff to Capt. John Lancaster for the non-appearance of Charles Dodson, Sr.
Charles doesn’t show up for court again.
Court Order Book Page 128 Dec. 4, 1701 Action brought by Capt. John Lancaster against Charles Dodson Sr. is dismist ye plt not prosecuting.
Charles Writes His Will
Charles Dodson’s will was written on 11 January 1702/3 and probated on 6 February 1705/06 at North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Colony of Virginia. It’s rather unusual that a will would be written two years before the individual died, but apparently something happened to Charles, caused him to be injured or ill and anticipate that he was going to die, but then he recovered for about 3 years.
In The name of God amen, I Charles Dodson being sick and weake of body but in sound and Good disposing memory praise be given to God for the same do make this my Last Will and Testament in manner and forme following that is to say first & principally I resigne my soul into the merciful hands of almighty God my Greator assuredly hoping through the merritts of my blessed Saviour to obtaine Remission of all my sins and my body I Committ to the Earth whence it was taken to be Decently buryed by the Discretion of my Executrix herein after named and as for the worldly Goods and Estate the Lord hath Lent me I dispose therof as followeth.
I Give bequeath to my son Charles Dodson the plantation formerly call Coll Travers quarter with a hundred and fifty acres of Land to him and to the male heires Lawfully begotten of his body and if the above Charles Dodson should dye without any male heirs that then the Land should Returne to the next heire of the Dodson.
Secondly. I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Dodson a plantation seated in a neck formerly called the Rich neck with a hundred and fifty acres of Land to him and the male heires Lawfully begotten of his owne body forever and if the above said Thomas Dodson should dye without any male that then the Land should return to the next heire of the Dodson.
Thirdly. I Give and bequeath to my son Bartho: Rich’d Dodson the plantation that Thomas Reeves liveth on knowne by the name of oake neck with one hundred and fifty acres of Land binding upon the Land formerly belonging to Daniele Everard from the head to the foot to him and the male heires Lawfully begotten of his owne body and if he should dye without male heires that then the Land to returne to the next heires.
Fourthly. I Give and bequeath to my son William Dodson the Plantation in hickory neck with one hundred and fifty acres of land to him and the male heires Lawfully begotten of his body and if no male heire appeare then to Returne to the next heire of the Dodson the said Land to bind upon brother Bartho Richd Dodson Land from the head to the foot
Fifthly. I Give and bequeath to my son John Dodson two hundred acres of Land it being part of hickory neck and of Indian Cabin neck binding upon his brother William Dodson to him and the male heires Lawfully begotten of his owne body and if the above said Wm Dodson should die without any male heire that then the Land Returne to the next of the Dodson
Sixthly. I Give and bequeath to my son Lambert Dodson my new Dwelling plantation with the hundred acres of Land belonging to it to him and the male heires Lawfully begotten of his body and if no male heire appears that then the Land to Returne to the next of the Dodson.
Seventhly. I Give and bequeath to my Deare and Loving Wife Anne Dodson and my daughters Anne Dodson and Elizabeth Dodson all my moveable Estate of what kind soever within and without to be Equally Divided betweene them.
Eighthly. My desire is that none of the Land out of the name might be sold Except one Brother selleth to another and if no male appeareth by none of my sons then my Daughters may Inheritt the Land.
Lastly. And all the Rest and Residue of my Estate Goods and Chattells not herein before bequeathed after my Debts and funrall Expenses discharged I do give and bequesth unto my Deare and Loving wife Anne Dodson whome I do make sole Exectrix of this my Last will and Testament Revoking all other wills by me heretofore made. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seale the 11th day of Jan. one thousand seven hundred two three. Charles Dodson Sen (Seal) Proved in Richmond County Court by the oath of Christopher Petty the 6th day of Febry. 1705 and by the oath of John Beckwith the 6th day of March following & Recorded.
signed Charles Dodson
Test J Sherlock CI Cur
Richmond County, Virginia – Wills
Charles will did not have any witnesses, which was rather unusual but perhaps suggested the will was made hurriedly, with the expectation that he might not live long. The will was proven by Christopher Petty on February 6, 1705/06 and John Beckwith on March 6, 1705/06 even though they apparently did not witness the creation of signing of the will itself.
Charles Sells Land to Sons
Charles wrote his will on January 11th, but apparently 3 weeks or so later, he felt better and realizing that he was not going to die imminently, decided to deed the land he was leaving to both Charles and Thomas instead of waiting for nature to take its course. I would surely love to know what happened to Charles in January of 1702/03.
Deed Book Page 208-210 February 2, 1702 Charles Dodson of North Farnham Parish Richmond Co for natural love and fatherly affection that I have and bear towards my son Charles Dodson Jr of the same county and parish, and for divers other good causes and to the male heirs of his body lawfully begotten plantation and tract of land whereon he now lives in the same county and parish 150 acres formerly known by the name or called Travers’s Quarter it being the one half of the tract of land purchased by me of the said Capt. Samuel Travers containing 300 acres and bounded by a branch that runs up between the said plantation and track of land known or called by the name Rich Neck. Grant to Charles Dodson or to any of the heires male of me that the said Charles Dodson or to the lineally descend from him the said Charles Dodson Jr to the heires male that shall be next of kin by consanguinity so that the same and every part thereof may be and remain and endure in the tenure occupation and possession of the relacons and male issue of the Dodson forever. I do by these presents debar and forever make voyd any manner of sale lease mortgage or conveyance that my said son Charles Dodson Jr or his heires male as aforesaid or the heires male of any or either of them shallmake of any part or parcel of the premises to any person or persons whatsoever (expect it be one of his brothers to whom it shall and maybe lawfull for him to sell and convey the same in case he shall want such issue as it aforesaid) according to the provisions and limitation herein before mentioned and reserved, but to no other use intent of purposes whatsoever. Signed. Wit William Fitzherbert and William Noris by mark Ack Feb. 3, 1702 Book 3 page 104
Deed Book Page 210-212 February 2, 1702 Charles Dodson of North Garnham Parish Richmond Co for natural love and fatherly affection that I have and bear towards my son Thomas Dodson of the same county and parish, and for divers other good causes and to the male heirs of his body lawfully begotten plantation and tract of land whereon he now lives in the same county and parish 150 acres formerly known by the name or called Travers’s Quarter it being the one half of the tract of land purchased by me of the said Capt. Samuel Travers containing 300 acres and bounded by a branch that runs up between the said plantation and track of land known or called by the name Rich Neck that Charles Dodson Jr. now lives on. Grant to Charles Dodson or to any of the heires male of me that the said Charles Dodson or to the lineally descend from him the said Charles Dodson Jr to the heires male that shall be next of kin by consanguinity so that the same and every part thereof may be and remain and endure in the tenure occupation and possession of the relacons and male issue of the Dodson forever. I do by these presents debar and forever make voyd any manner of sale lease mortgage or conveyance that my said son Thomas Dodson or his heires male as aforesaid or the heires male of any or either of them shallmake of any part or parcel of the premises to any person or persons whatsoever (expect it be one of his brothers to whom it shall and maybe lawfull for him to sell and convey the same in case he shall want such issue as it aforesaid) according to the provisions and limitation herein before mentioned and reserved, but to no other use intent of purposes whatsoever. Signed. Wit William Fitzherbert and William Noris by mark Ack Feb. 3, 1703 Book 3 page 105
The area called Rich Neck, today is about 8000 feet across the bottom of the arc created by Marshy Swamp
One mile square by one mile is 640 acres. This area is roughly that size, which means Charles Dodson’s 300 acre property would have encompassed about half of area, if his property were inside the arc. We know it did not fit inside the arc exactly, because a branch separates the land of the two brothers, but we know this is the general area because of the Oldham Community, Oldham Road, the Lyells community and the Lyells Chapel Baptist Church just beneath Rich Neck.
Charles son, Thomas Dodson eventually sold the land to the Lyell family and Thomas’s daughter married an Oldham. So, we know that we’re looking at Charles Dodson’s land, we just don’t know exactly where the boundaries were located. Running the deeds forward in time to current or until a landmark is recognized, such as a church, could locate Charles’ land exactly.
Court Order Book Page 221 Feb 3 1702/3 Charles Dodson ack deed of gift of land to Thomas Dodson and ordered recorded.
Court Order Book Page 221 Feb 3 1702/3 Charles Dodson ack deed of gift of land to Charles Dodson and ordered recorded.
Charles was adamant that this land was forever to be Dodson land, but that determination made it particularly difficult for his sons to sell the land, to anyone, for any reason, except their brothers.
The Rest of Charles Land
We know that Charles Dodson owned at least 600 acres in total, based on the deeds we have found. Deeds equaling 300 acres are missing.
Charles’s will indicates that he owned 900 acres of land that he left to his sons, as follows:
- 300 acres – Rich Neck, 150 each to Thomas and Charles Jr.
- 150 acres – Oak Neck, to Bartholomew Richard
- 150 acres – Hickory Neck, to William
- 200 acres – Indian Cabin Neck, to John
- 100 acres – new dwelling plantation, to Lambert
Other than Rich Neck, I’ve been unable to locate the other descriptions on a current map, today, but tracking the land forward in time through sales might be able to determine locations. We do know, generally, that Charles land fell in the following region along Totuskey Creek and its branches including Rich Neck.
At least one of these fields, or probably several, near Rich Neck belonged to Charles Dodson.
Interestingly, the land that eventually belonged to Charles Dodson, according to this map in the book “Richmond County, Virginia 1692-1992 A Tricentennial Portrait” by Robert R. Harper for the Richmond County Tricentennial Commission, was occupied by the Rappahannock Indians until between 1674 and 1676.
Charles Cheats the Grim Reaper
Just when you think the curtain is drawing on the last act, it isn’t, after all.
Court Order Book Page 332 June 7, 1704 Ordered Charles Dodson, William Smoote and George Devenport or any 2 of them appraise estate of James Gilbert. Sworn plus Mary Gilbert executrix.
Charles is apparently still trusted enough to be ordered to appraise an estate inventory and to serve on a jury.
Court Order Book Page 336 June 7, 1704 William Smoote and Charles Dodson on jury.
Court Order Book Page 344 Aug. 2, 1704 Will of Thomas Southerne and proved by oaths of Christopher Petty and Charles Dodson
Charles’s sons, now in their 20s, and neighbor Thomas Durham, somewhat a legendary bad boy, seem to be misbehaving together.
Court Order Book Page 18 December 6, 1704 Charles Dodson Jr and Thomas Dodson and Thomas Durham summoned to court for not going to church for two months together.
Court Order Book Page 34 February 7, 1704/05 Peter Elmore, Thomas Dodson, Charles Dodson Jr. and Thomas Durham summoned to court to answer presentment of grand jury against them for not going to church for 2 months together and not appearing, ordered they be fined according to law and pay same with costs.
Looks like they recruited Peter Elmore too.
Court Order Book Page 75 October 4, 1705 Will of Eve Smith presented to the court by son Abraham Goad with oaths of William Dodson, Charles Dodson Sr. and Anne Dodson.
Court Order Book Page 83 October 4, 1705 Action brought by William Lambert against Charles Dodson is dismissed, plt not prosecuting.
Charles Dodson’s Estate
Some time between October 4th 1705 and February 6th 1706, Charles Dodson died.
Court Order Book February 6, 1705/06 Will of Charles Dodson proved by oath of Christopher Petty
Court Order Book Page 137 March 6, 1705/06 Will of Charles Dodson proved by oath of John Beckwith.
Charles’s wife remarried to John HIll before July 3.
Court Order Book Page 171 July 3, 1706 Upon petition of John Hill and Anne his wife, exec of the will of Charles Dodson decd ordered that John Rankin, William Smoote, John Mills and Richard Whtie or any 3 of them meet at the house of John Hill and inventory and appraise the estate of Charles Dodson. All sworn plus John Hill and Anne, his wife.
Charles Dodson estate inventory was filed with the court on Oct. 17, 1706, as follows:
- Feather bed and bedstead and parcel of sheets and one blanket and one rugg – 0600
- One flock bed and paire of blankets one sheet and rug and bolster and bedstead – 0500
- One saw and six reep hooks and one paire of old pestells holsters and one old chest and one old bill book – 0200
- Eight chairs – 0800
- Two wooden chairs – 0100
- One chest of drawers and table – 1000
- Two chest – 0250
- One small table couch – 0150
- One warming pan two paire of tongs and one box iron – 0200
- One pair hilliards – 0250
- One super table cloth and 12 napkins – 0200
- Four old napkins and one old table cloth – 0050
- One feather bed curtains and valens one blankett one pair of sheets and two pillows – 1100
- A parcel of old books – 0150
- Ole looking glass and lantron? – 0050
- One old flock bed 2 blankets rug bolster and pillows – 0400
- 2 spinning wheels – 0150
- 3 pots 3 pothooks and 3 pot hangers one spit and one iron pestell – 0450
- 99 weight of pewter – 0950
- One bellmettle pestle and mortar 0 0700
- 7.5 pounds of brass – 0130
- One servant man 3 years and 8 months to serve – 2200
- One pare of small hilliards and two smoothing iron and two cutting knives and skewers – 0150
- One mare and two horses – 2400
- Parcel of old iron – 0100
- Pair of cart wheels – 0060
- Old crosscut saw – 0150
- One saddle and pillow or pillion – 0120
- 3 cows and 3 years old – 1800
- One cow and calfe – 0500
- 6 two yeare olde – 1200
- One steere of 5 years old – 0500
- 2 barren cows and heifer and one calfe – 1400
- 3 old sheep – 0300
- 3 lambs – 0200
Signed John Rankin, William Smoot and Richard R. White (his mark)
William Smoot was there in the beginning, and he was there in the end too.
I absolutely love estate inventories, because they tell us exactly what was in the household and on the farm when the man died. Inventories included everything owned by the couple, because the man was presumed to own all property except for the wife’s clothes and any land deeded to her, explicitly stating without the husband’s involvement, after their marriage. The wife was entitled to one third of the value of the estate unless he provided for more in his will. However, the actual value was established by the sale of the inventory items, not by the inventory itself.
Charles’ estate is remarkable in a few different ways. First, because there are no slaves – and this man owned 900 acres of land before he gave 300 acres to his oldest sons, leaving him with 600 acres. How did he farm this land? Perhaps he first had tenants, like Ozgrippin and then his sons began farming as soon as possible.
Second, there are no plows, axes, wagons or carriages. There is only one man’s saddle and no woman’s saddle. Perhaps Charles last 100 acres where his new house was built wasn’t an active plantation.
There were a total of 3 horses, and no oxen. Oxen worked the fields. Clearly, Charles Dodson was not farming. I suspect he leased land to others and accepted a percentage of the crops as payment. In the vernacular of the day, Charles had certainly achieved the American Dream.
Of the estates I’ve worked with in the Northern Neck families, this is the first one with any hint of opulence. The table cloth and 12 napkins would have certainly been for entertaining. There is also an old table cloth and a couch, which is certainly not a piece of furniture of necessity.
There were a total of 10 chairs, but only three beds, and only one was a feather bed. One of the beds had bed curtains,
I remember on a tour of a period home several years ago being told that bedcurtains were both for privacy and warmth.
Servants came and went in the bedchamber, and Charles Dodson had at least one servant, although we really don’t know if this man, Charles Lane, worked in the house or on the farm. I’m betting, on the farm, where labor translated into tobacco, the currency of early Virginia – except Charles estate didn’t include any tobacco. Perhaps it had not yet been planted for 1706.
One bed was a feather bed, considered a luxury, but the second and third were a flock beds. Flock was a bed filled with flocks or locks of coarse wool or pieces of cloth cut up finely, according to the dictionary. I found a wonderful article about beds and bedding here, including pictures.
A bedstead was considered to be the bed without the mattress, typically with slats or rope beneath the mattress, reaching from side to side of the bedstead.
A bolster was a stuffed cylinder of fabric that lay beneath the bottom sheet beneath the pillows at the top of the bed.
Blankets were woolen, but bed rugs, although none survive today, were decorative for on top of the blankets.
A warming pan typically means a pan to warm the bed, generally filled with rocks and heated in the fireplace.
However, there are no chamber pots listed.
A smoothing iron was a clothing iron, heated in the fireplace and then used to iron the clothes. Little did I realize I actually own a child’s replica smoothing iron, at least I think it’s a child’s replica.
Above, the base of one iron and a second, smaller iron that is about two and a half inches long, assembled. Below, the smaller iron comes apart into two pieces, the bottom for heating and the top for putting on the bottom so that, hopefully, the ironer’s hands won’t be burned.
This iron did not descend through my father’s family line, so it certainly isn’t Charles Dodson’s.
The spinning wheels certainly weren’t tools used by Charles, but the looking glass may have been a shared resource. Looking glasses were scarce and status symbols.
Charles had cattle and sheep, but no pigs.
There were no kettles or cooking utensils listed other than the 3 pots, although pothooks were accounted for. There were no plates, although the 99 pewter could include plates. Forks would not have been pewter.
There were also no candleholders or other utensils.
And lastly, there was no tobacco, which is what makes me think that Charles leased or rented his land – probably to his sons.
Do you ever ask yourself what you would want from an ancestor’s estate?
In this case, I think I would want the parcel of old books. That, I think, might be the key to understanding more about Charles. I did notice that there is no Bible, although he might have already passed that on. His son, Charles Jr., died 10 years later and there is no Bible in his inventory either.
More than I’d like to own any one thing, I think I’d just like to turn back time and visit Charles’ plantation. Heck, as long as I’m dreaming, I’d like to visit with Charles and Ann in their home and sit with the family at one of the dinners. Yep, that’s what I’d like.
I wonder how many generations back in time Charles knew, and what he knew about his ancestors. Clearly, he would have been able to tell us something about the family in England.
Ann Dodson Remarries
There is no marriage record for Ann Dodson, but by the time Charles estate was ordered to be inventoried in July of 1706, she had already remarried to John Hill. Quick marriages in colonial America were common and in the interest of all parties concerned. The Dodson and Hill families had known each other for years, and there are many documents that include both Charles Dodson and John Hill. Charles would probably have been very pleased, although it appears that not everyone was.
Court Order Book Page 267 April 3, 1707 Action brought by Thomas Dodson against John Hill marrying the Executrix of Charles Dodson, is dismist, Plt. not prosecuting.
Whatever the issue with Thomas, it was settled out of court. I do wonder if he was upset about his mother remarrying or about something within the estate. There does appear to be quite a bit missing.
Court Order Book Page 267 April 3 1707 Action brought by Catherine Gwyn executor of the last will and testament of John and Elizabeth, executors of the last will and testament of Charles Dodson, decd, is dismissed plt not prosecuting. (verified text of above in transcribed text)
Court Order Book Page 275 May 7 1707 John Hll and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson confest judgement to Katherine Gwyn exec of will of Majr David Gwyn for 8 pounds 19 shillings and 8 pence 3 farthings and 731 pounds of sweet sented tobacco due upon balance of accounts ordered to be paid with costs.
Court Order Book Page 281 May 8 1707 Imparlance granted in suite between John Harper plt and John Hill and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson decd, till next court.
Court Order Book Page 292 July 3 1707 John Harper against John Hill and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson decd, deft for 500 pounds of tobacco upon balance of accounts, def pleaded they owed nothing and plt asked time to next court.
Court Order Book Page 303 Sept 4 1707 Judgement granted to John Harper against John Hill and Anne his wife exec of Charles Dodson, decd, for 405 pounds tobacco due by account proved by oath of plt ordered paid with costs.
Court Order Book Page 323 Dec 4 1707 John Hll and Anne his wife exe of will of Charles Dodson decd against John Harper dismissed, plt not prosecuting.
Court Order Book Page 40 June 2 1709 Judgment granted to John Davis Sr. against John Hill and Anne, wife, exec of Charles Dodson decd for 136 pounds tobacco due by account ordered paid with costs.
There were quite a few people bringing suit to collect debts, which is quite unusual if the executrix agrees that the debt is valid.
Prices in Virginia
Charles Dodson died in early 1706, and his estate was valued in English pounds. However, the true money of the early Virginia economy was most often tobacco. People paid their debts with tobacco, paid for land with tobacco and paid court costs and taxes with tobacco.
In the court records, I discovered 1709 prices, regulated by the court, for various items, mostly alcohol, which was considered to be totally indispensable, and items like pasturage for your horse and a night’s lodging.
1709 prices county to entertain and sell at:
- Gallon rum 10 s or 12 tob
- Quart English beer 15 s of 15 tob
- Quart of punch, one third rum and good sugar 12 s or 12 tob
- Good dyet 12s or 12 tob
- Pasturage or fodder 24 hours 03 s or 3 tob
- Pottle of corn 3 s or 3 tob
- Quart of Medera Wine 2 s 6 d or 3 tob
- 1 night lodging 3 s or 3 tob
- Small beer p gallon 7 s 1/2 or 7 /.2 tob
It’s interesting to compare items in Charles estate to see what that item could have purchased according to the 1709 prices, which were probably roughly the same as 1706 prices.
Son, Charles Dodson Dies
Ten years after Charles Dodson Sr., dies, his son, Charles Jr. dies as well, just two weeks after the birth of his daughter, Mary. It’s obviously a very sad day for the Dodson family. I believe, but am not positive, that Ann Dodson Hill is still living.
Charles Dodson Jr.’s wife, Anne, surname unknown, does not remarry, so we can tell the estates apart by the fact that Charles Sr.’s wife is now Ann Hill.
The year before Charles Jr. died, he absented himself from church. He certainly could have been ill. In 1715, Charles Jr. would have been in his early 40s.
Court Order Book Page 22 June 1, 1715 Charles Dodson to be summoned to answer the presentment of the grand jury against him for absenting himself from divine service at the church for a month past in the parish of Farnham.
Court Order Book Page 325 July 7, 1715 Charles Dodson being summoned to answer presentment of the grand jury against him for not going to church for one month, but not appearing when called, it is ordered that he be fined 50 pounds of tobacco and that he pay the same to the churchwardens of the Northfarnham Parish with costs.
Given the following land entry, it appears that the reason Charles wasn’t in church is that he was ill, gravely so.
Court Order Book Page 250 Charles Dodson, Farnham Parish, will July 8, 1715, probated May 2, 1716, son Charles all land between spring branch and the branch that parts by land from the land of Thomas Dodson, son Furtunatus all land below by spring branch. Wife Anne, ex: wife; wits Bartholomew R. Dodson, George Petty
Charles Jr.’s will was probated in May, 1716.
Will Book Page 468 May 1, 1716 Last will of Charles Dodson decd presented into court by Ann Dodson, his executrix, who made oath and proved by Bartholomew Richard Dodson, one of the witnesses.
Ann Dodson, Bartholomew Richard Dodson and William Hanks came into court and acknowledge their bond for the said Ann Dodson’s just and faithful administrator of the estate of Charles Dodson, decd.
Joshua Stone, Thomas Dew, William Stone and John Fenn or any 3 of them to appraise the estate of Charles Dodson. All sworn by oath and Ann Dodson.
Court Order Book Page 473 May 2, 1716 Judgement granted Mathew Davis against Ann Dodson executrix of Charles Dodson decd for 456 pounds tobacco due by bill which is ordered to be paid out of the estate, with costs.
Will Book Page 506 June 6, 1716 Appraisement of estate of Charles Dodson decd ordered recorded.
Will Book Page 268 and 269 – Pursuant to an order of the court dated the 2 day of May 1716…being sworn to inventory and appraise all and singularly effects of Charles Dodson as was ? to by executrix Ann Dodson:
- 2 cows and calfs – 4.0.0
- 2 barron cows – 3.10.0
- 1 heifer and 3 yearlings – 3.0.0
- 2 cow and calf – 2.0.0
- 5 piggs 7 shotes and 2 old sows – 1?.5.0
- 16 sheep – 3.15.0
- 2 iron potts 60 – 0.10.0
- 1 brass cottoll 2 – 0.0.8
- 28 ? old putor – 0.7.0
- 1 pr of floams? and a grato – 0.0.2
- 6 bowls and 1 tray – 0.7?.2
- 6 wooden trenchers 0.0.6
- 2 spinning whells – 0.4.0
- 2 wedges old pestill spit and pott rack – 0.4.0
- 1 table 2 chests and a box – 0.7.0
- 1 old cush? And runlotts – 0.3.0
- 4 bottols a pail and pig on att – 0.3.6
- 4 old hoes and 2 axes att – 0.1.0
- 1 feather bed boosted and cord att – 0.17.6
- 1 small flock ditto at – 0.5.0
- 1 old chalf bed and 2 old blankets at – 0.2.0
- 1 old chamberpot att – 0.0.1
Total inventory estate of 12.14.7
Inventory was taken by Joshua Stone, Thomas Dew and William Stone
The crops of tobacco that was growing at ye time of this document being ye first day of August amount to 129.6
The thing I find most surprising about Charles’ Jr. estate is that, compared to his father, he didn’t have a large estate at all, and he owned no slaves. Indentured servants were typically listed too, with the number of years they had yet to serve. Charles owned 150 acres of land and had owned that land since 1702. How was he farming without either slaves or indentured servants given the intensive labor requirements of tobacco?
Court Order Book Page 20 July 5, 1716 Case between William Gantleroy Gent and Ann Dodson executrix of estate of Charles Dodson, decd, deft, at deft motion an imparlance is granted her till next court.
Court Order Book Page 37 August 2, 1716 Judgement granted William Fantleroy gent against the estate of Charles Dodson in the hands of Ann Dodson, administratrix of Charles Dodson’s estate for 694 pounds tobacco said Fantleroy making oath in court that the same is justly due which is ordered to be paid with costs.
Court Order Book Page 43 August 2, 1716 William Barber action of debt against Ann Dodson, executrix of will of Charles Dodson, decd, for 900 pounds of good sound merchantable tobacco and caske due by bill is dismissed, the plt not prosecuting.
The next entry is quite interesting, given that John Hill is married to Charles Jr.’s mother.
Court Order Book Page 43 August 2, 1716 John Hill his action of case against Ann Dodson executrix of the will of Charles Dodson decd for 313 pounds tobacco due by account is dismissed, plt not prosecuting.
Given that there was no prosecution, it looks like they settled their differences out of court.
Court Order Book Page 71 October 4, 1716 William Barber his action of debt against Ann Dodson executrix of the will of Charles Dodson, decd, is dismist the plt not prosecuting.
Court Order Book Page 72 John Naylor action of debt against Ann Dodson executrix of will of Charles Dodson decd dismissed plt not prosecuting.
Court Order Book Page 93 Feb. 7, 1716/17 John Naylor action of debt against Ann Dodson executrix of will of Charles Dodson, decd, for 468 pounds of sweet scented tobacco upon balance of a bill is dismissed plt not prosecuting.
In March 1718/19, Ann Dodson dies too. This couple died relatively young. Their youngest child, Mary, wouldn’t turn 4 until in July of 1719.
Will Book Page 78 March 4, 1718/19 Will of Ann Dodson decd presented in court by Charles Dodson, her executor and proved by oath of Bartholomew Richard Dodson.
Motion of Charles Dodson executor of will of Ann Dodson decd his account against decd estate is admitted to record.
Will Book Page 107b – Account: March 31, 1719. An account of what tobacco I have paid for the estate of Ann Dodson, decd. To: funeral charges; burying of my sister, Mary Dodson; Thomas Reed, Mr. Newman Broockenbrough, Capt. Woodbridge, John Simson; Jeames Foushe: Total 1890. Per me – Charles Dodson. At the motion of Charles Dodson this account was AR at April 1, 1719 R. Court
Except Mary never turned 4. Instead, she died the same month as her mother.
The Sons Attempt to Sell
Charles Dodson Sr. intended to keep his land in the family, but in reality, he hobbled his son’s choices by allowing them to sell only to each other and not outside the family. Was this intentional, to keep them in Richmond County, or was this an unintended consequence of his good intentions?
Was there a son in particular that Charles worried might squander his fortune?
In 1720, the sons and their sons begin to attempt to dispose of the land inherited from Charles Dodson Sr. by “leasing” land for 3 natural lifetimes.
Deed Book Page 522-523 July 8 1720 John and Charles Dodson to Robert Matthews, all of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, 4000 pounds tobacco for the term of 3 natural lifetimes and the longest liver of them a tract in Farnham Parish now in posession of Christopher Petty and ye land of Bartholomew Richard Dodson on branche of Totaskee containing 100 acres being half of 200 acres Charles Dodson father of aforesaid John and grandfather of Charles Dodson gave to John Dodson by his last will. Three natural lives to wit Robert Mathews, Sarah Mathewes and Joana Mathews and the longest liver of them paying every year the usual rent due and one ear of Indian corn yearly unto the aid John and Charles Dodson if demanded. Signed both by mark, Charles with C, wit Thomas Reeve and George Petty.
John and Charles Dodson bound unto Robert Mathews for 8000 pounds tobacco…obligation to perform and keep all ye convenants and agreements. Signed with markes wit Thomas Reeve and George Petty July 2, 1720
Deed Book Page 21 May 5-6 1734, Bartholomew Richard Dodson and wife Elizabeth of Weecomoce (Wicomico) Parish in Northumberland County to Thomas Dodson of North Farnham Parish in Richmond County for 4500 pounds tobacco, 150 acres lying between the Oke neck and Hickory Neck Branch in Richmond county which land (is part of 500 acres that) [part in parenthesis lines out in transcription] was formerly sold by Capt. Samuel Traverse to Charles Dodson, father to the said Bartholomew Richard Dodson. Land is bounded by Daniel Everit. Signed by him, her mark, Wit Thomas Legg, H Miskell, Jeremiah Greenham, Rec May 6 1734
DNA has become an important genealogical tool. The Dodson Y DNA Project at Family Tree DNA tells us that there are least three distinct Dodson lineages in the US today.
One group is haplogroup I from Talbot County, Maryland, whose ancestor died in 1745, and two other groups are haplogroup R. The largest group is the Charles Dodson descendants. There are also several “dangling Dodsons” with no matches today.
No Dodson males that match the genetic profile of Charles Dodson have yet taken the Big Y test, which would help establish deep ancestry, but two have taken some level of SNP testing and have tested R-P25 and R-L2.
Male haplogroups are shown on trees, similar to pedigree charts.
The haplotree looks a lot like a pedigree chart for a very good reason. Mutations happened just like children are born and are recorded the same way, as descendants of the “father” SNP in question.
The Dodson line is confirmed to be R-M269, the most common haplogroup in Europe with almost half the European men carrying this haplogroup. Let’s just say that our distant ancestors were very successful in terms of reproducing and colonization. SNP R-P25 is upstream, or a grandfather to R-M269, but R-L2 is not, being found several generations downstream
Haplogroup L2 is known to be historically Celtic, but it is widely scattered today as shown by this SNP map at Family Tree DNA.
Of course, we know that the Celts settled in the British Isles at one time, so we expect to find L2 in both continental Europe and across the channel, which we do.
Ancestry has a nice feature that allows you to look for clusters of surnames based on various census and other records, both in the US and England.
The Dodson surname distribution in Scotland in 1841 was very small, as shown above.
However, the Dodsons were much more widespread in England in 1891, with the most pronounced region being in the northern portion of the country, primarily Yorkshire and Lancashire and a small area surrounding London where the population is very concentrated.
The surname origin indicates that Dodson is a patrronymic form of Dodd, meaning Dodd’s son, of course.
From the above pages, you can view all immigration records for Dodsons.
This could be very useful, because if a Charles Dodson descendant matches one of the descendants of these people, whose immigration location is known, on a segment proven to be “Dodson,” that’s a huge hint as to the ancestral location of the family.
Unfortunately, these individuals would show up under “Dodson” matches at Ancestry, but not under Charles Dodson, because they don’t descend from him, so no leaf hints.
However, the surname search should work.
The possible Dodson link wouldn’t be any of the people with the green leaf hints indicating that we share a common ancestor in our trees, such as the first two matches shown below. We would find descendants of these immigrants in the matches without green leaves, such as the third match, below.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that this IS the Dodson family, but there is a match. Let’s see what that match has to say about their Dodson ancestor.
Lewes, Sussex, not where the majority of the Dodsons are from in England.
The only way to know for sure if this match is valid, and if the common DNA is from Dodson ancestors would be for the match to transfer either to Family Tree DNA or Gedmatch (or preferably both) where we can match and triangulate to other known Dodson descendants utilizing a chromosome browser to confirm the source of the DNA.
Where is the Charles Dodson Line From?
We don’t know. There are four ways to tell.
One way is to find the record of Charles birth in the existent records, and somehow prove that Charles in the church record is the Charles that is later found as an adult in the Northern Neck. Of course, it’s possible that Charles was not in fact born in England, which puts a fly in that ointment. The good news is that now we know that Charles was born within a year or so of 1649, which at least provides us with a reasonable birth range.
A second way is to have a Y DNA match to someone who knows that their Dodson came from a particular small village in England, and search the records in and near that location.
A third way would be to find someone descended from one of the Dodson immigrants from known locations, discover they have autosomal DNA tested (or test them), that there are no other common lines, and that a segment match to that person triangulates to other proven Dodson descendants.
A fourth way is to find a Dodson autosomal DNA match that is NOT descended from Charles, who knows their ancestral Dodson location in England and does not share any other lines. If that person’s matching segments triangulate to known Charles Dodson line segments, that’s a good indication and could lead us to a Dodson male to Y DNA test to confirm.
Y DNA matching would be so much easier and absolutely indisputable evidence. We need Dodson men from England to Y DNA test!