Virginia Winns Part 4: Samuel Winn, Scoundrel, and a Famous Creek

We are all, dear readers, related to so-called “black sheep.” Every family tree has some criminals, KKK members, people who deserted their children, and just plain ol’ ne’er-do-wells among its branches. When you find a compiled genealogy extolling the inherited family virtues of thrift and hard work, all of them wealthy and hugely respected in the community, judges and war heroes as far as the eye can see – these abound in published family histories, believe it or not – you know you’re reading fiction. Or, at best, half-truths. In my own direct lines, I have a Civil War deserter and a ne’er-do-well named Benjamin Winn, grandson of both Daniel Winn and Col. Thomas Winn of Lunenburg County, Virginia.[1]

Benjamin stayed out of the records, leaving no proof of his character other than his father Joseph’s will. The will provided for Benjamin’s support, but made sure that Benjamin’s bequest was subject to neither his debts nor his control.[2] I actually like Benjamin, who married a strong and resourceful woman (Lucretia Andrews) and who probably did not set out to disappoint his father.

On the other hand, Samuel Winn of Lunenburg/Amelia left plenty of evidence that he was a worthless scoundrel – at best. And he probably belongs on the Winn tree we’ve been discussing.

Let’s recap. The prior three articles in this Winn series (read them at this link, and this link, and this one)  concluded that  Col. Thomas Winn of Lunenburg County, Daniel Winn of Lunenburg, John Winn of Amelia, Phoebe Winn Holland of Amelia, and Susanna Winn Irby of Amelia were siblings. Further, those five were sons and daughters of Richard Winn of Hanover County. We haven’t established yet that Richard’s wife was Phoebe (probably née Wilkes) Pledger Winn, but we will address that shortly.

Samuel Winn may be another sibling of those five Winns. Lunenburg land records establish a definite connection between Samuel and at least Col. Thomas and Daniel Winn. First, in 1740, Samuel patented 150 acres which were then in Brunswick, and later fell in Lunenburg after the latter county was created.[3] Samuel’s tract was on the south side of perhaps the most famous creek in Virginia genealogical research. This requires a slight digression, during which we will attempt fruitlessly to tap dance around a common obscene gerund.

Winn researchers on message boards sometimes refer to this watercourse as “Tucking Creek.” This artless dodge so clearly calls to mind the actual creek name that it seems a waste of time. Even better, some cartographer with a well-developed sense of irony renamed it “Modest Creek” at some point. It appears by that name on current maps. The original deed books, modesty not yet in vogue, just call a spade a spade and identify it as “F_cking Creek.” (I’ve omitted one letter, also an artless dodge, hoping to avoid complaints.)

Wouldn’t you love to know how the creek got its name? Was it shaded and full of algae-covered rocks, making people likely to slip when crossing it? Once home, did the victim explain his soaking clothes by saying “I slipped and fell into that effing creek again!” Or perhaps a couple was caught in flagrante delicto down by the creek? There is surely a good story there.

Back to Samuel. He next appeared in 1746, selling his Modest Creek patent to Thomas Wynne of St. Paul’s Parish in Hanover.[4] That, as you know, is Col. Thomas. In 1752, Samuel sold Daniel Winn of Prince George Co. 100 acres on Hounds Creek.[5] He is Col. Thomas’s brother. Sales of land among family members were so common that they are generally deemed evidence of a familial relationship. These two deeds, however, are the only evidence I have found that Samuel was related to Col. Thomas and Daniel, other than the fact that Samuel’s eldest son was named Richard Winn (suggesting, in turn, that Samuel’s father was named Richard in accord with the Anglo naming tradition). Pretty thin stuff.

Lunenburg court records provide the first hint that Samuel wasn’t a model citizen. In 1748, a Lunenburg grand jury indicted him for a crime, probably assault.[6] The order book for the same court session also mentioned a civil suit against Samuel for trespass and assault.[7] In all fairness to Samuel, he was ultimately fined just a token 5 shillings in the criminal case and the civil suit was dismissed.

Nevertheless, I’ll bet no one reading this has ever been indicted by a grand jury for assault, even an obviously minor one.

A number of Lunenburg suits against Samuel sought to collect money. The July 1750 order book alone records three attachments against Samuel’s personal estate. In all three cases, the court records say Samuel “absconded,” meaning he had already gotten the hell out of Dodge when the sheriff came to collect on the judgment.[8] “Absconded” probably also means he took with him property subject to attachment. There are more such records, but I quit taking notes on them, having already gotten the picture.

Samuel’s financial irresponsibility extended to support for his family, which he probably abandoned. In February 1756, the Lunenburg court ordered the church wardens of Cumberland Parish to bind out Ann, Sarah, Richard, and William Wynne, Samuel’s children.[9]

A few months later, in September 1756, Samuel Winn’s wife Sarah tried to sue him in Lunenburg. The court order book (I looked at the original) doesn’t specify the nature of the complaint, which was dismissed “for reasons appearing.”[10] If Sarah and Samuel were still married, she had no legal standing to sue anyone in her own behalf. Divorces were notoriously difficult for colonial women to obtain, except for impotence (not possible here). I haven’t a clue what this was all about, or how Sarah managed to get a case far enough for a dismissal. Curious. It’s clear, though, that Sarah had no use for Samuel.

Earlier Amelia County records provide a good reason. The Amelia County order book for April 1750 has this entry:

For examination of Samuel Wynne, committed for rape on the body of Mary Wynne, his daughter … Prisoner brought to bar on arraignment and pled not guilty. Mary Wynne, the prosecution and witness for the King, was called, but failed to appear. She had entered bond with John Ellis for £50 that she would appear and give evidence. No other evidence appearing, the prisoner was discharged.[11]

It is just barely possible that the Samuel Wynne who was accused of raping his daughter in Amelia was not the same man as Samuel Wynne of Lunenburg who abandoned his children. Note that the Lunenburg court didn’t name a Mary in the list of Samuel’s children six years after this rape charge (which might just mean that Mary wasn’t living in Lunenburg, or she was already of legal age by 1756).

What are the odds, though, that there was a worthless Samuel Winn with wife Sarah in both Amelia and Lunenburg counties? Amelia records establish that the mother of the non-appearing witness Mary Wynne was named Sarah. John Ellis of Amelia County, the man who provided security on Mary’s court appearance bond, definitely had a daughter Sarah who married a Winn. And Sarah Ellis Winn’s husband didn’t provide for her, which is consistent with the Samuel we’ve come to know. Here is the evidence: John Ellis’s 1762 will included a provision for his “son Richard Ellis to provide proper support and maintenance for my daughter Sarah Winn.”[12]

There is probably more information about this sad family in the Lunenburg and/or Amelia County records. But I was fed up with Samuel, and decided to move on to some fun issues. Getting the Lunenburg/Winn family further back in time definitely qualifies. Next, we will finally look at the Hanover Winn records in Part 5 of this Winn series.

* * * * * * * * * *

[1] Benjamin was a son of Joseph Winn (who was a son of Daniel) and Elizabeth Winn, a daughter of Col. Thomas. See the prior articles in this series discussing Lunenburg Order Book 17: 134. For an article about John Allen Rankin, the Civil War deserter, see this link.

[2] Joseph’s will took care of Benjamin’s support, but provided that Benjamin’s legacy would not service his debts or be within his control. Lunenburg Will Book 5: 20-22, will of Joseph Winn dated 28 Mar 1800 proved 12 Jun 1800, bequeathing “to executors for support of son Benjamin Winn, 2 negroes but not liable for payment of any of his debts, and after son’s death … [enslaved persons] to be divided equally among son’s children by present wife Creasy [sic, Lucretia] Winn when they are 21 or marry; at wife’s death, property lent her by this will divided between eight children Minor Winn, Daniel Winn, Jos Winn, Bannister Winn, Mourning Gunn, Elizabeth Brown, Sarah B. Winn, and children of Benjamin Winn by his wife Cressey.”

[3] Dennis Ray Hudgins, Cavaliers and Pioneers Volume IV: 1732 – 1741 (Richmond: Virginia Genealogical Society, 1994), Volume 4: 238, abstract of Virginia Patent Book 18: 905, Samuel Wynne patented 150 acres in Brunswick (now Lunenburg) on the south side of F_cking Cr. adjacent Read/Reed, 1 Dec 1740.

[4] Original of Lunenburg Deed Book 1: 71, deed of 8 Apr 1746 from Samuel Winn of Brunswick to Thomas Wynne of Hanover, 150 acres in Brunswick adjacent Read. Witnesses John Winn, John Stone, Richard Stone.

[5] Original of DB 3: 226, 4 Nov 1752 deed from Samuel Winn of Lunenburg sold Daniel Winn of Prince George 100 acres on the south side of Hounds Cr., David Stokes, Hampton Wade, and Thomas Winn, witnesses.

[6] June Banks Evans, Lunenburg County, Virginia Order Book 1, 1746-1749 (New Orleans: Bryn Ffyliaid Publications,1999), abstract of Order Book 1: 425, May 1748, grand jury returned an indictment against Samuel Wynne, venire facias to issue for him to appear at the next court to answer the King’s indictment.

[7] Id. at 428. Ebenezer Shearman v. Samuel Wynne, action in trespass/assault was continued until the next court.

[8] Id. at 300-302. The Order Book states that Hampton Wade obtained a judgment against Samuel for £16.15.8. The sheriff attached sundry goods and chattels and sold them at public auction to collect that debt. Second, Drury Allen obtained a judgment for £2.5.6, plus 40 lbs tobacco, and also obtained an attachment. Third, William Dobbins obtained an attachment for a judgment of £13.9.9.

[9] Original of Lunenburg Order Book 4: 82.

[10] Id. at 204, entry of 9 Sep 1756, Sarah Wynne, complainant, v. Samuel Wynne, defendant in chancery, dism’d.

[11] Gibson J. McConnaughey, Amelia County Virginia Court Order Book 2, 1746-1751 (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co., 1997), abstract of Order Book 2: 159.

[12] Gibson J. McConnaughey, Will Book 2X Amelia County, Virginia Wills 1761-1771 (Amelia: Mid-South Publishing Co., 1979), abstract of Will Book 2X: 21, will of John Ellis of Nottoway Parish executed and proved in 1762.

15 thoughts on “Virginia Winns Part 4: Samuel Winn, Scoundrel, and a Famous Creek”

  1. Your case that the Samuel of that 1750 Amelia court record is the same man as the scoundrel Samuel in Lunenburg seems air-tight to me. Your penultimate paragraph clenches the case. And I think you are absolutely right: he’s a brother to Col. Thomas, Daniel, John, Phoebe, and Susanna. To my knowledge, none of them named a son Samuel, which is kind of interesting, isn’t it? Indicative, it seems to me.

    1. Bill, as much as I hated it — I added Samuel, Sarah Ellis Winn, and their children to my FTM tree. BTW, the Ellis family of Amelia is connected to the Winns many times over. Their land was right there on Little Nottoway and Lazaretto Cr. with Amelia John and the Irbys. We might need to pursue the Ellis connections to the Winns. Also the Nances. Thanks, as always, for your generous comment.

      1. Thank you for telling me about the Ellis connection, Robin. I hadn’t known about it. I agree: really important to try to put together a picture of families living near and interacting or intermarrying with our family, as we research our own lines.

  2. Robin,
    Your research is so amazing. I have just recently picked up the mantle for tracing my Winn Genealogy, since getting the Ancestry DNA kit for Christmas. My sister and dad have traced it back pretty far, but from what I am reading on your blog, they may be debunked by DNA evidence. The believed that Daniel Winn of Lunenburg, VA was son of Thomas, grandson of Thomas, and great grandson of Robert who came over from England, which you mentioned in your post. Will my DNA test be beneficial to track this, or does it have to be from a male? Also, could you point me in the direction to see that evidence of the proof for Daniel not falling in that line.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Emilie Winn McDowell

    1. Emilie, if you have a Winn brother or cousin, I hope you will get him to take the Y-DNA test!!! It will conclusively prove whether you are from the line of Robert Wynne of Charles City County, whose father (or grandfather? I can’t recall which) was mayor of Canterbury, Kent. Almost ALL Winn researchers used to take it for granted that Daniel Winn of Lunenburg was descended from that line because Daniel’s first appearance in the records indicated that he resided in Prince George Co. (where a bunch of Robert’s line wound up). But YDNA proves that isn’t the case.

      To get started on an alternative theory, please check out the other Winn articles on this blog. The very first one is about YDNA results, so it might be a good place to start.
      Here’s the evidence in an nutshell about Daniel’s parents:
      (1) two of Daniel’s sons, Elisha and Joseph (also lived in Lunenburg), witnessed the will of John Winn of Amelia Co., just across the Meherrin River from Lunenburg. Witnesses to wills were almost always close family.John and Elisha/Joseph were from different generations, so the two younger men were probably nephews. Perhaps cousins, but not likely because John Winn had plenty of other family right there in Amelia Co. who could have witnessed his will.
      (2) John Winn of Amelia wound up owning land that had been purchased by a Richard Winn of Hanover Co. John Winn also wound up owning the enslaved persons who had been listed as “taxables” on Richard’s land in Amelia.
      (3) John Winn’s eldest son, Richard Winn, was a Rev War veteran. His pension application stated that his family moved to Amelia from Hanover, so we know John Winn lived in Hanover before he came to Amelia.
      (4) There is other evidence connecting John Winn of Amelia to Richard Winn of Hanover, mostly having to do with family connections. Too long to go into here.
      The probate records in Hanover are all lost, as are most of the deeds from the colonial era. The above is conclusive evidence (IMO) that John Winn of Amelia was a son of Richard Winn of Hanover. The fact that two of Daniel’s sons witnessed the will of John Winn of Amelia convinces me that John Winn and Daniel Winn were brothers. Also, a Col. Thomas Winn of Lunenburg named Amelia County John Winn as one of the executors of HIS will. AND both Daniel Winn and Col. Thomas Winn bought their first land in Lunenburg from Samuel Winn, the man I called a scoundrel. So I think Daniel, Col. Thomas, and John Winn — possibly also Samuel the Scoundrel. The records establish a couple of sisters as well. Please read the other Winn articles on the blog and tell me if you agree.
      Thanks for your kinds words about my research. And good luck with yours! We are apparently distant Winn cousins.
      Regards,
      Robin

  3. Regarding your reference to F_cking creek above, I was told by the clerk of court for Lunenburg Co back in the 1970’s how this creek’s name was changed to Modest Creek. According to his story, it seems that somewhere on the the creek there was a “hangout” and a murder happened there. During the trial, a woman was being questioned as to where the crime was committed and she replied that she was too modest to say “that word”. And supposedly after that, the judge issued an order to change the name to Modest Creek. Whether this is true or not, I do not know, but you have to admit it makes for a good story.

    1. Steve, that’s a great story! Thanks for sharing … gotta love the blushing witness and the strong-minded judge!

      Do you have ancestors in Lunenburg?

      Robin

      1. I have not turned up any relatives in Lunenburg County as yet. Most of what I have traced so far migrated from western Virginia and from near Durham, Orange and Person counties in North Carolina.

  4. I have enjoyed these articles. I have been searching to find the parents of the bannister Winn who married Nancy Naish in 1809 in Mecklenburg Co VA. Do you know of this one
    MerryAnne

    1. MerryAnne, thanks for the comments! The short answer is that I don’t know the Bannister who m. Nancy Naish in 1809. However, your Bannister is MOST LIKELY from the line of Col. Thomas Winn of Lunenburg, whose first wife is traditionally identified as Elizabeth Bannister (I’ve never seen proof). Col. Thomas definitely had a son Bannister, although I haven’t tracked his movement. ALSO, Col. Thomas’s daughter Elizabeth Winn married her cousin Joseph Winn (son of Daniel Winn, whom I believe to be a brother of Col. Thomas), and THEY (Joseph and Elizabeth) had a son named Bannister. Both Bannisters are proved by their father’s wills. Let me know if you want to see them, and I will send via email (once I get it fixed — can’t send for some reason).

      You may have already done this, but what I would do is go look at films of the Mecklenburg Personal Property Tax Lists. They start in 1782, I think, and you would want to look at them until at least 1809 and see if Bannister starts to appear by name. If you are by any chance in Houston, Clayton Library may have the films. They are also available online from the Family History Library, although you have to be in one of their “Family History Centers” to view them. Perhaps the Virginia Archives has published them online. Anyway, the theory is that your Bannister may appear as a named tithe on one of those tax lists. If he appears before he is married, it will probably be in his father’s household. If he doesn’t appear after 1809, you can conclude he lives somewhere else, possibly Lunenburg (from which Mecklenburg was created).

      The tax lists are a pain to go through, but they are a veritable gold mine. Good luck! Please let me know if you want to see those wills. And I would love to hear what you find out about Bannister.

      Robin

      1. Thanks, Robin, I have seen both those wills.According to several Winn researchers, Joseph and Elizabeth Winn (Cousins) son Bannister married his cousin Sarah Winn, It’s their son Benjamin that triggered me. In your articles it says Benjamin and wife Lucretia also had a son Bannister, if Benjamin was born in 1776 and died in 1807, he could have a son Bannister old enough to get married in 1809.

        There are actually two Bannister Winn’s who marry Nancys: Bannister who married Nancy Naish and Bannister who married Nancy Aday. They lived about the same time, one in TN and the other in AL. Both appear on the 1840 census. By 1850, my Bannistermis deceased because his widow and children and some of their grandchildren are temporarily in IL then back in TN. There is a Bannister with service in 1812 with a wife nancy who appears to have gotten land in IL. Of course the “W’s” haven’t been published on Fold3 yet so I’m going to have to order it.

        I’ll follow your suggestions and check the tax list.

        1. MerryAnne, thanks for the info! One more piece of data … Bannister, son of Benjamin and Lucretia Andrews Winn (they are my ancestors) went to Madison Co., AL with his mother Lucretia and his siblings after Benjamin died in Lunenburg. That Bannister is the one who m. Nancy Aday. An older Bannister (Joseph’s son, I think? Memory may be wrong) also went to Madison Co.

          Hope the tax lists help!
          RRW

          1. It’s possible, but just barely. Bannister, son of Benjamin and Lucretia Andrews Winn, was probably too young to have served in a war that was over in late 1814. Here’s some evidence …

            The will of Benjamin Winn dated 8 Dec 1807 proved 14 Jan 1808 named children in this order (all with surname Winn): (1) Ann Allen, (2) Elizabeth, (3) Susanna Moore, (4) Sarah Washington, (5) BANISTER, (6) Richard Blair(?), (7) Gideon Booker, and (8) unborn child. Lunenburg WB 6: 204. A guardian account recorded 13 Oct 1808 names Benjamin’s children in the same order, except for switching Susanna and Sarah/Sally: (1) Nancy Allen, (2) Elizabeth, (3) Sally Washington, (4) Susanna Moor, (5) BANISTER, (6) Richard Bland, (7) Gideon Booker, and adds (8) Alsodora Abraham, the afterborn daughter. Lunenburg Gdn Accts 1798-1810 at p. 136.

            The eldest child “Nancy” (the name she went by) Ann Allen (m. Lyddal Bacon Estes) was listed as age 62 in the 1850 census (Tishomingo Co., MS); she was thus b. abt. 1788. The youngest daughter, Alsadora Abraham, was born between 8 Dec 1807 (the date of her father’s will) and 13 Oct 1808.

            So Bannister was born between 1788 and 1808. Based on the order listed in the will and guardian’s accounts, he was probably the fifth child. If you assume fairly even spacing between births, that puts Banister’s birth year as about 1800. Lucretia Winn’s listing in the 1830 census for Madison Co., AL has the eldest son b. 1800-1810. In the 1840 census, Banister (presumably Lucretia’s son and not the elder Banister) is in the 1790-1800 age group. I don’t have any record for him after 1840. Do you?

            In any event, the closer to 1800 you estimate his birth year, the less likely it is that he served in a war from 1812-1814. My guess would be that’s the wrong Banister. What do you think?

          2. Well, that works because on the 1840 census he is 10 years younger than the Bannister I am tracking. I’ll order the 1812 pension file and see what it discloses.

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