Virginia Winn Series Part 7: Portrait of Mrs. John Winn of Hanover County

My friend and cousin Sandra Wynne Irwin sent to me an image of this wonderful oil painting.

She’s absolutely charming, isn’t she, despite the poor quality of this reproduction?

The Smithsonian catalog identifies her as Mrs. John Winn of Hanover County, Virginia. The portrait was painted during 1735–1740. The artist reportedly lived in Hanover at one time during that period (more on that below). Thus, this lovely woman’s husband was almost certainly one of the two John Winns who appeared in two 1733 Hanover County deeds. If you’ve forgotten the two frustrating John Winns in those deeds, check out Part 6 of this Winn series.

The conventional wisdom is that Mrs. Winn’s maiden name was Mary Pledger, per the Middlesex Theory (see also Part 6). That’s what you will consistently find online, although there are still a few holdouts who believe that Mary Pledger married John Winn of Amelia County as his first wife. He was a son of Richard and Phoebe Winn of Hanover County: Richard, according to the Middlesex Theory, was John Winn’s brother.

None of the trees I have looked at offer any evidence that Mary Pledger married John Winn. So far as I know, the only evidence is the fact that she witnessed those two John Winn/Richard Winn deeds in Hanover. That’s good, so far as it goes, but … is that all we’ve got?

Undeterred by my inability to uncover conventional evidence, I have been deep-diving into an odd combination of sources, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum Catalog, an old issue of The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, and a compiled family history writen in 1932 titled Ancestors and Descendants of John Quarles Winn and His Wife Mary Liscome Jarvis. All in an effort to find proof of Mrs. Winn’s identity. No luck, but it was fun looking, so I’m sharing the deep dive.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum Catalog says this  in relevant part about the painting

“Portrait of Mrs. John Winn of Jassamine Lawn, Hanover County, Virginia, (painting).

Artist:                     Charles Bridges, active circa 1735-1740, painter.

Dates:                      Circa 1738.

Medium:                Oil on canvas

Dimenensions:  49 x 40 (inches)

Subject:                  Portrait female – Winn, John, Mrs. (Mary Pledger) – full length

Owner:                    Anonymous Collection

Provenance:       Formerly in the collect of the family of Mrs. John Winn; Girard Burwell Lambert, Millwood, VA until 1948; Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Christopher, Millwood, VA, 1948; Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, NY Sale (Sept. 18, 1976), lot 279; Anonymous Collection; Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, NY Sale 4999 (Jan. 1983), lot 182; Craig & Tarlton, Raleigh, North Carolina until Nov. 5, 1985; Christie’s, New York, NY Sale Raleigh-6034 (Nov. 5-6, 1985), lot 261

Remarks:            Mary was the second wife of John Winn (baptised Jan. 20, 1707-died ca. 1789), a substantial landowner and planter in Virginia. Mary and John married in 1738 and lived on his Hanover County plantation “Jessamine Lawn.” They had five children, the eldest of whom was born ca. 1749. This portrait of Mary Winn is believed to be her wedding portrait painted in 1738. In 1738, the artist Charles Bridges also lived in Hanover County, Virginia. The painting descended through the family to Girard Burwell Lambert, “Carter Hall,” Millwood, Virginia, the great-great-great-grandson of the sitter. Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Christopher acquired the painting in 1948 when they purchased “Carter Hall.” The painting was listed as attributed to Charles Bridges in both the 1983 Sotheby Parke Bernet sale catalog and in the 1985 Christie’s sale catalog. IAP files contain additional information supporting Charles Bridges as the artist of the portrait.

References:      Sotheby Parke Bernet, Sale 499 (Jan. 27, 1983), lot 182;m Christie’s, Sale Raleigh-6034 (Nov. 5-6, 1985), lot 261; Winn, B. Meredith, Jr., 2011

The information offered in “remarks” obviously echoes the Middlesex Theory, identifying Mary, the subject of the portrait, as nèe Pledger, and as the second wife of John Winn of Hanover (see, again, Part 6).

“References” shows the Smithsonian’s sources. They include B. (Bernard) Meredith Winn Jr., who provided information to the Smithsonian in (apparently) 2011. Mr. Winn is presumably a descendant of John and Mary Winn of Hanover, or is surely from a related line. If he has taken a YDNA test, he is probably a decent match for the lines of Col. Thomas Winn and Daniel Winn of Lunenburg, John Winn of Amelia, and Minor Winn of Fauquier. I do wish he would upgrade his test to “Big Y” so all of his distant cousins, myself included, could pinpoint the location in the U.K. from which the Winns migrated. I especially wish he would share any evidence he might have about the Hanover Winns circa 1730–1789, because he might have something besides the Christ Church parish register and those three darn Hanover deeds. Perhaps he has a family Bible, or at least a family oral tradition.

I don’t have the nerve to track down someone who is probably about my age (i.e., old and increasingly cranky) and ask him to produce some proof about the identity of his ancestress. Even the most hardcore genealogist has her limits.

Please just keep in mind that what the Smithsonian Catalog says isn’t evidence of Mary Winn’s maiden name.

There is another Winn compiled family history which deems the identity of Mrs. John Winn unproved. Otherwise, it shares the Middlesex Theory, tracing John Winn’s ancestry to Richard and Sarah Winn of Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County. For that view, see Ancestors and Descendants of John Quarles Winn and His Wife Mary Liscome Jarvis (Baltimore: Lord Baltimore Press, 1932). The authors were David Watson Winn (1857-1926) and Elizabeth Jarvis Winn (1891-1965). Note that both of these authors were a century closer to these Winns than we are, and they had considerable documentary evidence.

The Jarvin/Winn book doesn’t identify the maiden name of Mary Winn, wife of John Winn of Jessamine Lawn, Hanover County.

The entire book can be downloaded here. Do read the Foreword, which talks about their remarkable sources. At one time, they apparently had an opinion written by John Marshall, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. See, e.g., Marbury v. Madison, a famous case I had to brief about 10 times in law school.

Finally, there is an interesting article about Mrs. John Winn’s portrait and the artist in a 1952 issue of The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography[1]. It offers no opinion on Mrs. Winn’s identity, which is understandable: the article is primarily about the artist, Charles Bridges. Here is a link to the article.

It is a lonnnnggg read. It has reproductions of a number of paintings by the artist, mostly members of the Byrd family, which are fun. Here, edited somewhat, is what The Virginia Magazine has to say about the portrait of Mrs. John Winn. It also echoes the Middlesex Theory, except it does not identify Mrs. Winn as Mary Pledger, probably because the source for the family information was the Jarvis/Winn compiled history.

“Mrs. John Winn

Subject: The portrait is said to represent Mary, second wife of John Winn, of “Jessamine Lawn,” Hanover County. He was baptized Jan. 20, 1705, died c. 1789. The date of their marriage is unknown, but they had five children, the eldest born in 1749 or earlier. (See Ancestors and Descendants of John Quarles Winn, Ed. D. W. Winn, Baltimore, 1932).

The identification may perhaps be correct, although there seem to be no documents supporting it. If correct, the subject may have been painted as early as 1740, before her marriage, since she appears as a young woman in her early twenties and it is not certain that she had any children before 1740.

Description: The subject is a pleasing young woman shown standing full-front against a dark background beside a table on which her right hand rests … [t]he picture has been largely repainted, so that the costume does not show Bridges’ technique, but the tilt of the head and the rendition of the features so much resemble the painting of the heads of the young women of the Byrd family so as to make the attribution of this portrait to Bridges seem at least possible.

Owner: Mr. Frank E. Christopher, Carter Hall, Millwood, Va. The portrait was acquired before 1938 by Mr. Gerard B. Lambert who then owned Carter Hall, and was sold with the residence to Mr. Christopher in 1948. Its earlier provenance is not recorded.”

The author of the Virginia Magazine history was writing in the early 1950s, so the “Owner” information is clearly out of date.

In any event, I hoped you enjoyed a break from the usual post at this blog! Can’t beat a fabulous oil painting …

And that does it for me with the Winns, unless I recover sufficiently to elaborate on some of the Lunenburg or Amelia Winns, a crowd that doesn’t require so many speculative theories!!!

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[1] Henry Wilder Foote, “Charles Bridges: “Sergeant-Painter of Virginia” 1735-1740,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 60, no. 1 (1952), at 3-55. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4245816.

Virginia Winns Part 6: Competing Theories About the Hanover Winns

There is a lot of speculation about the Winn family of Hanover County, Virginia on the web. You can find it on trees posted at Ancestry.com, at the Winn DNA Project website, and Winn message boards. I get a perverse kick out of this, because there is very little that the few extant Hanover records (and records from counties between Hanover and the coast) actually prove about the Hanover Winn family in the first half of the 18th century.

In fact, a mere three deeds contain a good bit of what we can actually prove about the early Hanover Winns. Here they are:

  1. 3 January 1733, John Winn of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover Co., carpenter, to Benjamin Hawkins, same, for 2,000 lbs. tobacco and £15 current money, 140 acres grantor purchased from Richard Leak of Hanover. Witnesses were Richard Winn, Phebe Winn, and John Winn.[1]
  2. 19-20 January 1733, deeds of lease and release from Richard Winn and his wife Phebe of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover, to John Winn of the same, £82 for 517 acres with plantation on Chickahominy Swamp in Hanover purchased by said Phebe in her widowhood by name of Phebe Pledger from John Hogg of New Kent. Witnesses were John Winn, Ann Wheeler, and Mary Pledger.[2]
  3. 31 Jan – 1 Feb 1733, deeds of lease and release from John Winn of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover, to Richard Winn of the same, £100 for 517-acre plantation on Chickahominy Swamp in Hanover purchased by Phebe Pledger from John Hogg of New Kent. Richard and Phebe Winn sold to John Winn 19-20 Jan. last. Elizabeth Winn, wife of John, relinquished dower. Witnesses were John Winn, Ann Wheeler and Mary Pledger.[3]

OK, what do these three deeds tell us?

  • the three Winn men (Richard, John, and John Winn) who appeared in these deeds were undoubtedly family.
  • all three men were of legal age by 1733, so they were all born by 1712.
  • the first John Winn, grantor in deed #1, may have been unmarried in 1733 because relinquishment of dower wasn’t mentioned.
  • the second John Winn, grantor in deed #3, had a wife named Elizabeth.
  • Richard Winn’s wife was Phoebe, and she was previously married to a Mr. Pledger.
  • the witness to two of the deeds, Mary Pledger, was surely related to Phoebe in some fashion.

We can consider these matters proved by these deeds, except perhaps for the question whether John Winn, the grantor in deed #1, was married.

With this information in our arsenal, let’s get down to brass tacks: where did these Hanover Winns live before they came to Hanover?

There are two competing theories among Winn family history researchers about the origins of the Hanover Winns. Please keep in mind that both theories are speculative, which is why we are calling them “theories.” If a statement in the remainer of this article has documentary proof, the statement has a footnote containing a citation to a source. If there is not a citation to a source, then the statement is speculative. Following the principle of “belt AND suspenders” (meaning you can never have too many safeguards), I will put FACTS in regular typeface, like this. I will put speculation in italics.

As a wise distant cousin likes to say: family history without proof is fiction. PERIOD. If you claim you were descended from President George Washington, that’s fine. But please be aware that Washington had no children with his wife Martha Dandridge Custis, so your DAR application will be a bit tricky.

Here are the competing speculative Winn theories …

The Gloucester Theory.

The Abingdon Parish Register of Gloucester County records the baptism of Richard Winn, son of John Winn and his wife Elizabeth, in 1704.[4] The Gloucester Theory (this is speculation!) is that the Richard born in 1704 was the same man as the Richard Winn of Hanover County who married Phoebe Wilkes Pledger some time before 1733. According to the Gloucester theory, Richard’s parents John and Elizabeth Winn were the grantors in deed #3, above. John, the elder of the two John Winns in the three deeds, died in Hanover without leaving any record. That is believable, because Hanover probate records prior to 1785 are virtually nonexistent. The younger John Winn, who was the grantor in deed #1 and the witness in deeds #2 and #3, was Richard’s brother. John’s birth wasn’t recorded in the Abingdon Parish register for any one of several plausible reasons.

The Gloucester Theory can’t account for the gap in the records between 1704 and 1733, instead pointing to the state of the Gloucester records and the burned counties between Gloucester and Hanover. The Gloucester Theory would chart the early Gloucester/Hanover Winn family like this:

1 John Winn and wife Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) lived in Abingdon Parish, Gloucester County around the turn of the century. They moved to Hanover County some time before 1733.

2 Richard Winn was baptized in 1704 in Abingdon Parish, Gloucester. He married Phoebe Wilkes Pledger, widow of a Mr. Pledger.

2 John Winn’s birth year is unknown, although he was definitely born by 1712. He was in Hanover county, unmarried by 1733.

As a practical matter, the Gloucester Theory starts with known facts – the Abingdon Parish registry and the Hanover deeds – and simply weaves a plausible story to explain the provable facts. But it is nonetheless speculative. Absent a family Bible or other compelling evidence, it may be impossible to prove this theory. The Gloucester courthouse has burned three times, most recently in 1864. Colonial records for Hanover County are also sparse, and that’s putting it mildly. Records for King & Queen, New Kent, and King William counties (located between Gloucester and Hanover), where the family of John and Elizabeth Winn might have lived in the three decade gap between 1704 and 1733 – assuming the Gloucester Theory is correct – are similarly difficult.[6]

The Middlesex Theory

We don’t have to go far for this theory: just to the north of Gloucester County, across the Piankatank River, to Middlesex County. Christ Church Parish, which had the same boundaries as the county, has these entries for six children of Richard and Sarah Winn:

  1. Mary Winn born 16 Xember 1696-97.
  2. Sarah Winn born 17 January 1698-99
  3. Richard Win, son of Richd and Sarah Win, baptized 28 Sept 1701.
  4. Elizabeth Winn, dau of Richard and Sarah Winn, baptized 18 Apr 1703.
  5. John Winn, son of Richard Win and wife Sarah, baptized 20 Jan 1705.
  6. Jane Winn, dau of Richard and Sarah Winn, baptized 15 Feb 1707.

The Middlesex Theory (this is speculation!) is that the Richard Winn (b. 1701) and John Winn (b. 1704-05) in Middlesex are the same men as the grantors/grantees in Hanover deeds #2 and #3, above. The Middlesex Theory doesn’t account further for Richard, the father of those six children. The last entry I found for Richard in Middlesex (which has quite extensive colonial records) was in 1710, when he served on a jury, so he probably left Middlesex after that.[7] The Middlesex Theory doesn’t attempt to explain the gap between 1710 and 1733. The theory just postulates that Richard and Sarah Winn’s sons Richard and John migrated to Hanover County by 1733. Richard married Phoebe Wilkes Pledger some time before 1733. Also some time before 1733, John Winn married Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Elizabeth died, and then John married as wife #2 Mary Pledger, who witnessed deeds #2 and #3.

The Middlesex Theory would produce this chart:

1 Richard Winn and wife Sarah ______ who lived in Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County, in the late 1690s.

2 Richard Winn b. 1701 m. Phoebe Wilkes Pledger before 1733.

2 John Winn b. 1705 m. #1 Elizabeth LNU before 1733 and m. #2 Mary Pledger after 1733.

There is one glaring problem with the Middlesex Theory that I wish someone could explain satisfactorily. Who is the second John Winn who witnessed deeds #2 and #3? If you’re going to weave a credible story, you really need to account for all the players.

The Middlesex Theory says that Richard (grantor in deed #2) was born in 1701, and John (with wife Elizabeth, grantor in deed #3) was born in 1705. That would make Richard and John about 32 and 28, respectively, when they executed those 1733 deeds. Neither one of them was old enough in 1733 to have a son John who was able to write, much less witness a deed. There is nothing speculative about that: the second John Winn was unquestionably also of legal age.

The options are narrowing, aren’t they? The second John Winn was definitely not a son of either Richard and Phoebe or John and Elizabeth. The second John Winn wasn’t the father of Richard m. Phoebe and John m. Elizabeth & Mary, since the Middlesex theory identifies a Richard as the father of Richard and John father. But the second John was clearly family.

Cousin seems to be the last remaining reasonable possibility. Oh, boy … where did he come from? And where did he go? There was only one Winn family in the Christ Church Parish register and in Middlesex County. Somebody out there has to have some idea.

Which of the two theories is your pet? The vast majority of Winn researchers have adopted the Middlesex Theory. In fact, I can no longer find anyone with a tree posted on Ancestry.com who still claims descent from John and Elizabeth of Abingdon Parish, but my search skills stink. There were a few around on the web at one time. I suppose they have all been shouted down by the Middlesex Theory advocates.

In that regard, some Winn researchers state the Middlesex Theory as fact. This ought to merit the genealogical equivalent of the death penalty, or at least permanent loss of credibility.

Unfortunately, YDNA doesn’t help, if you look closely at the DNA results. There are (as nearly as I can tell) two participants in the Winn Family DNA Project who claim descent from Middlesex Winns. The others who are their matches apparently claim only provable ancestry (and good for them!), but not back to Middlesex. What is the proof of those claiming descent from Richard and Sarah of Middlesex? Gee, it would be nice to know, wouldn’t it?

In my own family tree software, my Winn line ends with Richard and Phoebe Wilkes Pledger Winn of Hanover. The Gloucester Theory seems to me to weave a better story in terms of reconciling all the known facts. But … it’s still just speculation. Call me prissy and old-fashioned. Guilty!

I’m hoping somebody who reads this will post a comment with more evidence one way or another.

At least one compiled family history (Jarvis-Winn) has more to say on the Hanover family. It was written by a pair of descendants of John Winn of Hanover County. The authors were both born in the 1800s, and the evidence they compiled appears to have been substantial. I’ll get to that in the next post on the Winns, in which I’ll share a picture of a fabulous oil painting sent to me by my friend and cousin Sandra Wynne Irwin.

* * * * * * *

[1] Rosalie Edith Davis, Hanover County, Virginia Court Records 1733-1735: Deeds, Wills and Inventories (1979), at 19.

[2] Id. at 13-14.

[3] Id. at 16-18.

[4] Robert W. Robins, The Register of Abingdon Parish, Gloucester County, VA 1677-1780 (Arlington, VA: Honforn House, 1981).

[5] Here is a link to part 2, a link to part 3, a link to part 4, and a link to part 5. Whew! If you click on all of those, you will have opened a bunch of tabs. <grin>

[6] New Kent county deed books begin in 1865. King & Queen County deed books begin in 1864. The King William County clerk’s office burned in 1885 and most records were destroyed. This is where family lines go to become unprovable.

[7] Ruth and Sam Sparacio, Middlesex County, Virginia Order Book 1708 – 1710 (McLean, VA: The Antient Press, 1998), abstract of Order Book 4: 290.

Virginia Winns, Part 3: Col. Thomas of Lunenburg, John of Amelia, and Richard of Hanover

This series of Winn articles is about identifying the family relationships among several Virginia Winn families whose descendants are genetically related. We started with Col. Thomas Winn of Lunenburg, looking at his will in the last post on this website. The will provides a partial list of his children along with good clues about his extended family. Col. Thomas named as an executor “John Winn of Amelia County” (hereafter, “Amelia John”). Witnesses to the will included Charles Irby, John Winn, Jr., Charles Winn, Susannah Irby, Lucy Irby, and John Winn.

Those witnesses were almost certainly part of Col. Thomas’s extended family. So … how were they related to him? Amelia John’s will, probated in early 1781, provides clues. Amelia John named his wife Susannah, daughters Susanna Winn and Jane Epes, and sons Richard, John and Charles Winn. Executors were his wife Susanna Winn, Truman (possibly Freeman?) Epes and Charles Winn.[1] Witnesses included Giles Nance, John Irby, Elisha Winn, Joseph Winn, Jane Epes, and William Gooch.

Amelia John and his son John Jr. were the only John Winns of legal age in Amelia County when Col. Thomas wrote his will in 1779. They must have been the executor and witnesses in Col. Thomas’s will.

We will have to delve further to establish the relationships among this crowd, though. In Amelia John’s will, two witnesses stand out: Elisha and Joseph Winn. They were from Lunenburg County and they were the sons of Daniel Winn. They were the only Elisha and Joseph Winn of legal age in the Virginia Southside at that time.[2] The “family as witnesses” rule suggests that Elisha and Joseph – who lived on the other side of the Nottoway River from Amelia John – were Amelia John’s close family. Standing alone, Amelia John’s will and Col. Thomas’s will constitute powerful evidence that both Col. Thomas Winn (who named Amelia John his executor) and Daniel Winn (two of whose sons witnessed Amelia John’s will) were connected in a close family relationship to Amelia John Winn.

A reasonable hypothesis is that Col. Thomas, Amelia John and Daniel were brothers. Charles A. Winn Jr.’s book A Family History of the Wynns agrees, at least in part.[3] Mr. Winn concluded that Col. Thomas and Amelia John were brothers. He also believed that Daniel was from the line of Robert Wynne of Charles City County, which has since been disproved by Y-DNA testing. In contrast, Naomi Giles Chadwick’s book about Daniel Winn’s family asserts that Col. Thomas was Daniel’s only proved brother. Ms Chadwick says the relationship is established by a Lunenburg deposition.[4]

The records offer additional information about the family connections among Col. Thomas, Amelia John, and Daniel Winn:

  • The Revolutionary War pension application of a Richard Winn, who enlisted in Amelia County, identifies Amelia John as his father. Richard testified that he was born in Hanover County, VA and later moved to Amelia.[5]
  • Thomas moved to Lunenburg from Hanover County.[6] Of the three (Amelia John, Col. Thomas, and Daniel), evidently only Daniel did not live in Hanover. He came to Lunenburg from Prince George.[7]
  • An Amelia County deposition in 1764 by John Nance established that Michael Holland’s wife was neé Winn.[8] An earlier deed proves Michael Holland’s wife’s given name was Phebe, making her Phebe Winn Holland.[9] She was from the same generation as John Winn.[10]
  • The Winn, Holland, Irby and Nance families, plus a Philip Pledger, owned land and lived near each other in Amelia County on the south side of the Little Nottoway River. [11]
  • The 1763 will of John Irby of Amelia County identifies his children Charles and Lucy, proves his wife Susanna was John Winn’s sister.[12]

In light of these records, let’s go back to the question posed earlier: who were the witnesses and executor to the will of Col. Thomas of Lunenburg, namely, Charles Irby, John Winn, Jr., Charles Winn, Susannah Irby, Lucy Irby, and John Winn?[13]

  • The witness Susanna Irby was Amelia John’s sister, Susanna Winn Irby, wife of John Irby;
  • The witnesses Charles Irby and Lucy Irby were children of John and Susanna Winn Irby; and
  • John Winn the witness was the same man as Amelia John Winn, and John Winn Jr. was Amelia John’s son.

To summarize the evidence thus far, Amelia John Winn, Susanna Winn Irby, and Phebe Winn Holland, all of Amelia County, are proved as siblings. Col. Thomas Winn and Daniel Winn are also established as their siblings by the evidence provided by their wills.

On to the next question … who were the parents of Amelia John et al.? The answer, as many Winn researchers agree, is Richard and Phebe Wilkes Pledger Winn of Hanover County. If you don’t want to take that on faith, as I didn’t, here’s the evidence.

  • Begin with a 1744 conveyance of 388 acres in the “fork below the Little Nottoway River and Lazaritta Creek” (Lazaretto on current maps) to Richard Winn of Hanover County.[14] Call him “Hanover Richard.” A Richard Winn who began appearing in the Hanover County records in 1733 is almost certainly the same man.[15]
  • The 1746 Amelia County tax list included “Richard Winn’s list,” a designation meaning Richard did not live in Amelia. He was taxed on two enslaved persons, but no white tithes.[16] Richard Winn of Hanover, who acquired a tract on Lazaretto Creek in 1744, is surely the same man as the Richard Winn on the 1746 tax list who did not reside in Amelia.
  • The 1749 tax list includes “Richd: Winns list, John Wilke” (or Wilkes, perhaps?) with enslaved tithes Harry and Flowery?[17] The film for that year was very hard to read. John Wilke, or Wilkes, may have been Richard Winn’s overseer.
  • The 1750 tax list includes “Richd Winn’s List, Harry, Florey, Jeany,” a total of three tithes.[18] No overseer appears in Richard’s list this time, just enslaved persons.
  • The 1751 tax list has this entry: John Winn, Joseph Wilks, Harry, Flora, Jean.[19] Again, this is undoubtedly the same man as Amelia John. That tax list is conclusive evidence, in my view, that John Winn acquired the slaves of Richard Winn, almost certainly through inheritance. There is no deed, bill of sale or other record that I have found in Amelia County recording the transfer of those tithables from Richard to John.
  • In 1753, Amelia John’s tithable list expands to include David Webb, Caty, Hanover, Harry, Nan, Laney, Dennis, Philis, Flora, Jean and Venus, for twelve tithes total (including John). Note that the number of enslaved persons listed with Amelia John jumped considerably between 1751 and 1753. I found no deed of purchase for them in the Amelia deed records. That unexplained increase raises the inference that Richard died in the interim, and John acquired ownership of more of Richard’s slaves (including some who were previously living elsewhere, presumably Hanover).

In short, the Amelia County evidence raises an inference that Hanover Richard (who probably died about 1752) was Amelia John’s father.

A Family History cites Charles Hughes Hamlin, identified as a “professional genealogist of Richmond.” Anyone who has done any research in Virginia has heard of Mr. Hamlin. Charles Winn quotes Mr. Hamlin as follows: “[w]hen Prima Facie proof is known to have been destroyed and therefore unavailable then substantial circumstantial or secondary type evidence is both legally and genealogically admissible and acceptable.” Mr. Hamlin was off base legally, since circumstantial evidence is always admissible in court if it is otherwise proper, whether or not direct evidence has been destroyed – but we get his genealogical drift. Since the Hanover probate records are burned, the Amelia County tax lists are the only available evidence that Amelia John was an heir of Hanover Richard Winn.

If it is correct that Hanover Richard Winn was the father of Amelia John Winn, then Hanover Richard would also be the father of Phebe Winn Holland, Susanna Winn Irby, Col. Thomas of Lunenburg, and Daniel Winn.

Next up: the Hanover County Winns.

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[1] Gibson J. McConnaughey, Deed Book 2, Amelia County, Virginia Deeds 1742-1747 (Amelia, VA: Mid-South Publishing Co., 1982), abstract of WB 2: 360. I haven’t seen the original, but suspect that the abstractor incorrectly named Freeman Epes as Truman.

[2] Elisha and Joseph Winn are both proved sons of Daniel. E.g., Lunenburg Deed Book 13: 376, gift deed dated 8 Feb 1781 from Daniel Winn to son Elisha Winn, for love and affection, 300 acres; Lunenburg Will Book 4: 264, will of Daniel Winn leaving residue of estate after payment of debts to his son Joseph. I’m not going to attempt providing sources for my statement that Elisha and Joseph were the only related men of legal age by those names in the Virginia Southside in the 1780s. I’ve been all over that area looking at county records concerning Winns ad nauseam, ad infinitum, and I’m just going to rest that assertion on my research experience.

[3] Charles Arthur Wynn, Jr., A Family History of the Wynns (Winn, Wynne) of Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia (Decorah, IA: Amundsen, 1991)

[4] Naomi Giles Chadwick, Winn – Daniel and His Nine Sons (Riverside, CA: 1976). At page xiii, Ms. Chadwick says, “Thomas Wynne, the Elder (there were many) was the only known brother of Daniel … for he spoke of Daniel’s son Joseph as his nephew in a deposition (Thomas’s daughter was the wife of Joseph).” Ms. Chadwick provided no citation to any record. I haven’t found that deposition, but I haven’t yet been through all the Lunenburg court minutes.

[5] Virgil White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing County, 1991).

[6] Proof that Col. Thomas Winn moved from Hanover to Lunenburg is provided by a deed dated 8 Apr 1746, see Lunenburg Deed Book 1: 71 (original viewed by the author at the Lunenburg courthouse), deed from Samuel Wynne of Brunswick Co. to Thomas Wynne of St. Paul’s Parish in Hanover, 150A on what is now Modest Cr. in Lunenburg.

[7] Lunenburg County Deed Book 3: 226, Samuel Winn of Lunenburg to Daniel Winn of Prince George Co., 100 acres in Lunenburg, witnessed inter alia by Thomas Winn. Original deed viewed by the author at the Lunenburg courthouse in 2004.

[8] Gibson Jefferson McConnaughey, Deed Book 7 and Deed Book 8 Amelia County, Virginia Deeds 1759-1765 (Amelia, VA: Mid-South Publishing Co., 1990), abstract of DB 8: 314. One interesting aspect of that deposition is that it was given by John Nance, who names his son Giles Nance, one of the witnesses to Amelia John’s will. I haven’t attempted to analyze the Winn-Nance connection, but the facts that (1) Giles witnessed Amelia John’s will and (2) the Nance family was privy to the discussion of valuable gifts by Michael Holland, a Winn in-law, to his children, certainly suggest that there was a family connection of some sort.

[9] Gibson J. McConnaughey, Deed Book 5 and Deed Book 6, Amelia County, Virginia Deeds 1753-1759 (Amelia, VA: Mid-South Publishing Co., 1989), abstract of Amelia Co, Deed Book 5: 309.

[10] Phebe Winn Holland’s son Joseph Holland was a tithable in 1763 (white males were taxable at age 16 in Virginia from 1706 through 1777), so Joseph was born by at least 1747. That puts Phebe’s probable birth date in the 1720s. FHL Film #1,902,616, 1763 tax list for Nottoway Parish, listing Phoebe Holland with tithable Joseph Holland. Joseph is proved as a son of Phebe by an Amelia County deed dated 26 Feb 1767, Joseph Holland of Nottoway Parish to Charles Irby, same, acreage in a fork of the Nottoway River, part of which Philip Pledger conveyed to John Nance in 1759; Phebe, the mother of Joseph Holland, released dower. Amelia Co. Deed Book 9: 105.

[11] Gibson Jefferson McConnaughey, Amelia County, Virginia Deed Books 12, 13 & 14 (Deeds 1773-1778) (Amelia, VA: Mid-South Publishing Co., 1992), abstract of DB 14: 64, deed dated Feb 1774 from Pheby Holland, widow of Michael Holland, dec’d, and his son Joseph Holland, heir-at-law (and Mary his wife), to Medkip Tomson of Amelia, £100 for 100 acres on the south side of Little Nottoway adjacent Col. Winn and Crenshaw, the Horse Branch, lines of Irby, Sneed, Richard Tomson and Wm. Crenshaw, witnessed by James Crenshaw, Keturah Holland, and Robert Sharp Sneed.; Gibson Jefferson McConnaughey, Deed Books 9, 10 and 11, Amelia County, Virginia Deeds 1766-1773 (Amelia, VA: Mid-South Publishing Co., 1990), abstract of DB 9: 105, deed dated Feb 1774 from Pheby Holland, widow of Michael Holland, dec’d, and his son Joseph Holland, heir-at-law (and Mary his wife), to Medkip Tomson of Amelia, £100 for 100 acres on the south side of Little Nottoway adjacent Col. Winn and Crenshaw, the Horse Branch, lines of Irby, Sneed, Richard Tomson and Wm. Crenshaw. Witnesses were James Crenshaw, Keturah Holland, and Robert Sharp Sneed.

[12] Amelia County Will Book 2X: 45, will of John Irby dated 28 Jan 1763, proved 27 Oct 1763. Witnesses included Henrietta Maria Irby. Will named wife Susannah Irby, her brother John Winn, and testator’s brother Charles Irby. Children Charles, Lucey and John Irby, all under age 21. Susanna and John only married in 1757, so all three children were less than five years old. See Kathleen Booth Williams, Marriages of Amelia County, Virginia 173-1815 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1978, originally published Alexandria, VA, 1961), marriage bond for John Irby and Susanna Wynne, surety John Winn, dated 29 Jan 1757.

[13] A Family History incorrectly identified the two Winn witnesses to Col. Thomas’s well. Specifically, the book identified the witness John Winn as a son of Col. Thomas, and the witness John Winn Jr. as John’s son (Col. Thomas’s grandson). Furthermore, John Winn Jr., son of John (Sr.), was born after his father died in 1768. See prior article discussing the 1768 will of John Winn, son of Col. Thomas, and the lawsuit in chancery establishing that John had an afterborn son named John. Thus, neither Col. Thomas’s son John, nor Col. Thomas’s grandson John Jr., could conceivably have witnessed the 1779 will of Col. Thomas: John was dead, and John Jr. couldn’t have been more than eleven.

[14] Gibson J. McConnaughey, Deed Book 2, Amelia County, Virginia Deeds 1742-1747 (Amelia, VA: Mid-South Publishing Co., 1982), abstract of Deed Book 2: 82.

[15] Rosalie Edith Davis, Hanover County, Virginia Court Records 1733-1735: Deeds, Wills and Inventories (1979), abstract of court minutes (p. 19) of 2 Jan 1733, deed from John Winn of St. Pauls Parish, Hanover Co., carpenter, to Benjamin Hawkins, 140 acres purchased by said Winn of Richard Leak. John signs. Witnesses Richard Winn, Phebe (X) Winn, John Winn.

[16] Family History Library Film #1,902,616.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id. That should be five tithes, but it looked like a “4” on the film.

Virginia Winns, Part 2: Colonel Thomas Winn of Lunenburg

This article continues the saga of five genetically related Winn families of eighteenth century Virginia: (1) Col Thomas Winn of Lunenburg, b. circa 1720, d. 1781,[1] (2) Daniel Winn of Lunenburg, d. 1799, (3) Minor Winn Sr. of Fauquier Co., d. 1778, (4) John Winn of Lunenburg, d. 1795, and (5) Richard Winn of Middlesex.[2] Thanks to Y-DNA test results (see the prior article at this website), it is certain that the descendants of these five men share a common Winn Ancestor. It is also certain that they are not genetically related to Robert Wynne d. 1668 in Charles City County, despite a long-standing belief held by many Winn researchers that Robert was the progenitor of many Southside Winns.

The Winn Family DNA project (the “Project”) published the relevant Y-DNA results for those families. The “News” tab at the Project also purports to identify immigrant Winn ancestors for this line and says they descend from a Puleston line in Wales. The Project provides no sources. I didn’t spot any participants in the Project who identified their last known ancestor as one the immigrants or the Puleston line.[3] So … what is the basis for the Project’s claims? Hmmm … when you join the website, you are asked to provide a GEDCOM. Perhaps those GEDCOMS are the basis for some of the claims about immigrants and Welsh ancestry? Ergh. Quoting a friend, “family history without sources is fiction.” While DNA obviously isn’t fiction, drawing conclusions about ancestry without providing some kind of evidence undermines one’s credibility.

Notwithstanding the Project’s claims, I’m going to assume that the published Winn Y-DNA results prove nothing more and nothing less than what it says in the boldface summary in the first paragraph, above. Let’s address the relationship among those five men the old-fashioned way, beginning with Col. Thomas. He was a fairly wealthy man who lived a high profile life in Lunenburg: he was a Colonel in the county militia, vestryman of Cumberland Parish, and justice of the county court.[4] While we are searching for his family of origin, we will also look at his children and grandchildren. For more detail, and citations to county and other records, please check out the footnotes.

Here’s the bottom line: Col. Thomas is almost certainly a son of Richard and Phoebe Wilkes Pledger Winn of Hanover County. That is what the DNA Project claims, as well. Further, John Winn of Amelia County (wife Susannah Irby), Phoebe Winn Holland of Amelia (husband Michael Holland), and Susannah Winn Irby of Amelia (husband Charles Irby) were Col. Thomas’s siblings. Daniel Winn of Lunenburg is surely also their sibling. A rogue named Samuel Winn may be another sibling.

I wish this were a simple analysis proved by a few records. It is not. In fact, it will probably take several posts to cover the evidence. The records establish a compelling web of family relationships among several Winn families and their extended family “cluster” in three Virginia counties. They also provide a great deal of information about this family. So hang on to your hats …

Here are some basic records concerning Col. Thomas: (1) the 1768 will of his son John, who predeceased his father; (2) Col. Thomas’s 1779 will; and (3) a 1795 lawsuit in Lunenburg over the estate of Col. Thomas’s son Washington Winn.

First, the will of Col. Thomas’s son John was dated March 28 and proved May 12, 1768 in Lunenburg.[5] John’s will named his wife Susannah and his children Harrison, Betty and an unborn child. John named as his executors Thomas Winn (specifically identified by the testator as his father) and Joseph Winn, no relationship stated. Although the identity of John’s children is not critical, the timing of John’s death will (eventually) be important to this narrative. Col. Thomas’s son John obviously died in 1768.

Second, the will of Col. Thomas, dated Sept. 18, 1779 and proved April 12, 1781. Col. Thomas named these beneficiaries:[6]

  1. Son-in-law John Hix and his wife Mourning Winn Hix;
  2. Daughter Henrietta Maria Winn;
  3. Son Bannister Winn;
  4. Son Edmund Winn, who was less than twenty years old in Sept. 1779;
  5. Son Washington Winn, who was also less than twenty; and
  6. Col. Thomas’s wife Sarah.

His estate was substantial. The 1782 real property tax list for Lunenburg shows his estate was taxed on 1,400 acres.[7] The will devised twenty-four enslaved persons, although the inventory of his estate names eighteen.[8]

Here’s the best part: Col. Thomas named as executors his wife Sarah, William Winn (a son), Lyddal Bacon, and John Winn of Amelia Co. The witnesses were Christopher Dawson, Charles Irby, John Winn, Jr., Charles Winn, Susannah Irby, Lucy Irby, and John Winn.[9] The executor and witnesses whose names are in boldface are a key to identifying Col. Thomas’s family.

Meanwhile, the list of beneficiaries raises at least two issues: (1) whether Col. Thomas named all his children (he did not) and (2) whether Sarah, his widow, was his first wife (she was not). The rest of his children, and the fact that Col. Thomas had more than one wife, are proved in a lawsuit in Lunenburg over the estate of his son Washington, who died in late 1793 or early 1794.[10]

Despite assertions to the contrary in a compiled Winn family history, Washington was still less than twenty-one when he died, he was unmarried, and he left no will.[11] Washington’s estate reimbursed his mother Sarah in 1794 for expenses for doctors and for his coffin, expenses she incurred in her capacity as his guardian.[12] Thanks to his inheritance from his father, Washington had a personal property estate valued at £ 324.[13] Since he died without a will, his estate was divided according to the Virginia law of intestate distribution. A lawsuit ensued, which is a very happy circumstance for family history researchers two centuries later.

I am going to reproduce below the court’s distribution order dated Nov. 10, 1797, including the style of the case.[14] It is the most important evidence I have found regarding Col. Thomas’s family. Also, an abstract incorrectly transcribed the word “coheirs” in the style of the case as “cousins,” a great example of how one word can make a world of difference in family history research!

I grouped the parties in the style of the case by typeface and color to help keep them straight in the long list of complainants. The people in the first group – in red – are children of Col. Thomas except for two men who married two of his daughters, including (1) Joseph Winn who married Elizabeth Winn and (2) John Hix, who married Mourning Winn. Elizabeth and Mourning were daughters of Col. Thomas. Joseph Winn and John Hix had to be included as named parties because a married woman had no legal existence whatsoever apart from her husband, so that she could not be a party to a lawsuit on her own behalf.

The second group – shown in blue italics – names the three grandchildren of Col. Thomas through his dead son John, two of whom were named in John’s will (Harrison and Elizabeth “Betty” Winn Heart). See the discussion of the 1768 will, above. Note that we now know John’s afterborn child was named for his father.

The third group –  in black italics – identifies some more of Col. Thomas’s grandchildren, the children of his daughter Henrietta Maria Winn Bacon.[15]

Finally, the fourth group of people – green regular typeface – also names some of Col. Thomas’s grandchildren, the children of his daughter Keturah Winn Hardy.

Please note that a lawsuit concerning an estate of a person who died without a will must, as a matter of law, name all the heirs at law (meaning all the heirs under the law of intestate descent and distribution). This one lovely lawsuit therefore conclusively proves all of Col. Thomas’s heirs, i.e., his wife, his children or – if a child predeceased him – the children of the dead child (i.e., grandchildren). You can’t beat that in family history research absent a family Bible.

Here is the style of the lawsuit and order of distribution. Quote:

John Hix and Mourning his wife, Joseph Winn and Elizabeth his wife, Thomas Winn, Richard Winn, William Winn and Banister Winn, Children and Coheirs of Thomas Winn, dec’d, and Harrison Winn, Beasley Heart and Elizabeth his wife, and John Winn, children and legal representatives of John Winn, dec’d, who was the son of the last mentioned Thomas Winn, dec’d, and Susanna Bacon, Sarah Bacon, Lyddal Bacon, and Thomas Winn Bacon, infants, by Edward [sic, Edmund] P. Bacon their guardian and Keturah Hardy, Armstead Hardy, Sally Hardy, Edmund Hardy, and Jeane Hardy, by Alexander Winn, Gentleman, their next friend,

 Complainants in Chancery,

v. 

Edmund Winn, administrator of Washington Winn, dec’d, and Sarah Winn,

Defendants.”

End of quote. We now know all the heirs – but which ones were Sarah’s children, and which were children of an earlier wife or wives? Fortunately the order specified how much money was to be distributed to each party. That tells us which were Sarah’s children (parties “of the whole blood,” i.e., Washington Winn’s siblings), and which were the children of Col. Thomas’s earlier wife or wives (parties “of the half blood”). The court was required to make that distinction because the Virginia law of intestate distribution provided that half siblings received only half as much as siblings of the whole blood. Here is the language of the payment ordered by the court, with my comments in italics:

“To Sarah Winn, complainant [sic, Sarah, Col. Thomas’s widow, was a defendant, not a complainant ], £97.9.8

To Mourning Hix of the half blood £61.14.10 [her husband John Hix had died by then][16]

To Joseph Winn of the half blood ditto [in right of his wife Elizabeth, a daughter of Col. Thomas]

To Thomas Winn of the half blood ditto

To Richard Winn of the half blood ditto

To William Winn of the half blood ditto

To Bannister Winn of the half blood ditto

To Harrison Winn, Beasly Hart & Elizabeth his wife and John Winn, heirs of John Winn, dec’d, son of Thomas Winn, dec’d, ditto amount above. The order doesn’t say so, but the amount clearly makes John Winn a sibling of Washington of the the half blood.

To the children of Keturah [Keturah’s name is struck out in pencil and “Henrietta” is written in the order book, presumably by a researcher; Henrietta is correct] Bacon, dec’d, Susanna Bacon, Sarah Bacon, Lyddall Bacon, Thomas Winn Bacon, of the whole blood, £123.9.8

To the children of Keturah Hardy, dec’d, Keturah Hardy, Ann Hardy, Sally Hardy, Edmund Hardy & Jeane Hardy of the whole blood, £123.9.8

To Edmund Winn his part £123.9.8.” Edmund, who was a defendant in his capacity as administrator of Washington’s estate, was clearly a sibling of the whole blood based on the amount he received.

Back to our original issue, i.e., the extended family of Col. Thomas. Take heart: we will get there eventually.

In that regard, there is one thing in the will that should catch our attention. One of the most solid bets in genealogy is that witnesses to a will will and/or executors are close family most of the time. Thus, we need to discover the family relationship among Col. Thomas and his executor John Winn of Amelia Co., and witnesses Charles Irby, John Winn, Jr., Charles Winn, Susannah Irby, Lucy Irby, and John Winn. The fact that Col. Thomas appointed as an executor someone from a county across the Nottoway River – John Winn, to whom I will refer as “Amelia John” – gives him special importance.

Well, this is already too much for this installment. I will open the next article with Amelia John’s will. See you then, I hope!

Footnotes:

[1] The “circa 1720” date of birth for Col. Thomas is based on when he appeared in certain records. So far as I have found, his first appearance was in a St. Paul’s Parish vestry book entry dated 3 Mar 1743, It identified Thomas as “Page’s Overseer,” see The Vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover County, Virginia 1706-1786, C. G. Chamberlayne, 1940. The overseer position was frequently a sort of “training” position among wealthy families; it suggests that he was in his early to mid-twenties. His next appearance in the records was as a grantee in a deed dated 8 Apr 1746. See Lunenburg Deed Book 1: 71 (original viewed by the author at the Lunenburg courthouse), deed from Samuel Wynne of Brunswick Co. to Thomas Wynne of St. Paul’s Parish in Hanover, 150A, witnessed by John Winn, John Stone and Richard Stone. The land Samuel conveyed was on F*cking Creek, subsequently renamed “Modest Creek” in a fit of incredibly ironic cartography. In any event, Col. Thomas was born no later than 1725. His birth year was probably somewhere between 1715 and 1725, hence “circa” 1720 as a plus-or-minus estimate. He reached his public “peak” about 1765, when he became a militia Colonel, was a county court justice, and became a parish Vestryman. See note 4. He would have been about 45.

[2] The death years for four of the five men are based on the year each one’s will was probated. I have found no basis to estimate a death date for Richard Winn of Middlesex.

[3] Id. The only evidence cited in the “news” summary at the link in the prior footnote is the Christ Church Parish register, which is not without its problems. I’ll address those, or try to, in another article in this series.

[4] Lloyd Bockstruck, Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988), Thomas Wynne took the oath as Colonel in the Lunenburg militia on 14 Jun 1765; Lunenburg County, Virginia, Order Book No. 12, 1766-1769 (Miami Beach: TLC Genealogy, 2002), abstract of Order Book 12: 67, entry of 11 Jun 1767, Thomas Winn, Justice, was present at county court; Landon C. Bell, Cumberland Parish, Lunenburg County, Virginia, 1746-1816, Vestry Book (Richmond: William Byrd Press, 1930), Thomas Winn was a vestryman from 1766 through 1780.

[5] June Banks Evans, Lunenburg County Virginia Will Book 2 1762-1778 (New Orleans: Bryn Ffyliaid Publications, 1999), abstract of Will Book 2: 326, the will of John Winn, son of Thomas.

[6] Original of Will Book 3: 75, viewed by the author at the Lunenburg courthouse.

[7] June Banks Evans, Lunenburg County, Virginia Land Taxes 1782 – 1787 (New Orleans: Bryn Ffyliaid Publications, 1990).

[8] Original of Lunenburg Will Book 3:75, 82.

[9] Id. at 75.

[10] Original of Lunenburg Order Book 16: 348, viewed by the author at the Lunenburg courthouse, court order of 9 Jan 1794 granting administration of the estate of Washington Winn to Edmund Winn.

[11] Charles Arthur Wynn, Jr., A Family History of the Wynns (Winn, Wynne) of Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia (Decorah, IA: Amundsen, 1991) incorrectly asserts that Washington was married and that he had a will. Washington did not have a will: (1) none can be found among the relatively intact Lunenburg probate records, (2) his estate had an administrator (rather than an executor), and (3) the court divided Washington’s estate according to the law of intestate descent and distribution – which only applies in the absence of a valid will. Further, it is certain that Washington had no wife who survived him, or his mother Sarah would not have been Washington’s guardian when he died and Washington’s widow would have been one of the distributees of his estate. Distribution to a surviving parent is a standard provision in most laws of intestate distribution. In fact, had both of Washington’s parents been alive, they would (if the VA law at that time was like current TX law) have been entitled to the whole estate and his siblings would have received nothing.

[12] June Banks Evans, Lunenburg County, Virginia Guardian Accounts 1791-1810 (New Orleans: Bryn Ffyliaid Publications, 1995). Washington would not have had a guardian had he been of full legal age.

[13] June Banks Evans, Lunenburg County Virginia Will Book 4 1791-1799 (New Orleans: Bryn Ffyliaid Publications,1991), abstract of WB 4: 45a, inventory and appraisal of the estate of Washington Winn, dec’d.

[14] Original of Order Book 17: 292, 293, viewed by the author at the Lunenburg courthouse.

[15] The style of the case incorrectly names the guardian of the Bacon children as Edward P. Bacon. I have a Bacon ancestor, also a Lunenburg resident, so I’ve scrubbed the Lunenburg records on the Bacons. In fact, I looked through the original deed grantor-grantee index, as well as the individual deed book indices for a number of years, trying to find an Edward P. Bacon. The Bacon children’s guardian was undoubtedly Edmund Parkes Bacon, who is all over the Lunenburg records at the turn of the century.

[16] Lunenburg Will Book 4: 149A, original viewed by author at Lunenburg courthouse, will of John Hix dated 19 Feb 1795, proved 8 Dec 1796. The will names wife Mourning and children.

 

Virginia Winns Part 1: YDNA and Some Colonial Virginia Winn Families

Y-DNA continues to be an amazing boon to family history researchers, and some of the Winn (Wynne/Winne/Wynn) families of colonial Virginia are no exception. This article summarizes Y-DNA results for a few Virginia Winn lines:

  • Daniel Winn (b. by 1723, d. 1799) of Lunenburg County, Virginia, whose wife may have been Sarah Tench.[1] Call him Daniel Winn, because there is no one else with that given name in this article with whom we might confuse him. He had 10 children, nine sons and one daughter.
  • Thomas Winn (b. abt. 1715, d. 1781), also of Lunenburg County. He had children by at least two wives, according to a 1797 chancery lawsuit there.[2] Let’s call him “Col. Thomas,” his militia rank, because that is how Winn researchers usually refer to him.[3]
  • John Winn (d. 1795),[4] also of Lunenburg. The conventional wisdom is that his wife was Anne Stone, although I haven’t found conclusive proof of his wife’s identity. Call him “John Winn d. 1795.”
  • Minor Winn Sr. of Fauquier County, VA. No nickname is needed, let’s just call him Minor Winn.
  • Richard Winn of Middlesex County, VA, whose childrens’ births were recorded in the register of Christ Church Parish in the 1690s and first decade of the 1700s. Call him “Richard of Middlesex.”
  • Robert Wynne (d. 1687) of Charles City County, VA, who was the Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses during the “Long Parliament” of 1664-1674. His grandfather was a Mayor of Canterbury, Kent, England. Call him “Speaker Robert.” No wonder that many, many Winn family trees on the web and at Ancestry.com claim him as an ancestor.

To begin with, this article summarizes the Y-DNA results for descendants of these men. After that, we will take a big leap from science into old-fashioned county records to see what we can conclude (if anything) about the relationships among them.

I have taken Y-DNA results from a public post (there is no personal information) at the Winn Surname DNA Project. Here is the chart of DNA results at the project website.

Here, briefly, is what the chart tells us (assuming I have read it correctly).

  1. The modal allele (marker) values for 9 test participants descended from Daniel Winn are a perfect 67-marker match with the following: (1) the only test participant descended from Col. Thomas; (2) the modal values for the six participants descended from Minor Winn; and (3) the modal values for the four participants descended from Richard of Middlesex. We can conclude with considerable confidence that the descendants of Daniel Winn, Col. Thomas, Minor Winn, and Richard of Middlesex share a common Winn ancestor. 
  2. The modal values for the two test participants descended from John Winn d. 1795 are a 67-marker match, genetic distance = 1 (only one mismatching marker), from the descendants of the four men listed above. It is safe to say that John Winn d. 1795 is also a very close genetic relative of Daniel, Col. Thomas, Minor and Richard of Middlesex.
  3. I must put this in red boldface type: the Y-DNA profile of descendants of Speaker Robert conclusively establish that he was NOT a genetic relative of Daniel, Col. Thomas, Minor, Richard of Middlesex, or John d. 1795.

One caveat, which calls for upper case: THE ANCESTRY OF THE DESCENDANTS IS SELF-REPORTED. For example, it is possible that the descendants of Richard of Middlesex have made an unproved (and possibly unprovable) leap of faith from their last conclusively proved Winn ancestor back in time to Richard of Middlesex. More on that later.

As for Speaker Robert being a different line than the other Winn families: this is a BIG DEAL FINDING from the Winn DNA project. Many (apparently most) Winn researchers continue to believe that Speaker Robert was the progenitor of numerous Winn families in the Virginia Southside in the 18th century, including some of the Lunenburg Winns.[5] In fact, all of the family trees I have found online show Daniel and/or Col. Thomas as descendants of Speaker Robert (if the tree identifies their ancestry at all).[6] I am sure there must be some researchers out there who have gotten the clear message from the Winn DNA Project about these relationships, but I haven’t run across their trees yet.

DNA doesn’t lie. Speaker Robert is simply not the ancestor of any of the other Winns in our list of five.

That’s all well and good, but where do we go from there? The other five Winns in our list are obviously closely related, but how?

For this, we have to do it the old-fashioned way: paper genealogy. This won’t be easy, so we’ll have to take it one at a time. Because this will undoubtedly be long-winded and difficult, I will wait to tackle it until the next article.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas, y’all, and Happy New Year!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

[1] Daniel’s birth date (born by 1723) is based on his first appearance in the records, as a witness to a Surry Co.,VA deed dated 13 Jun 1744; I’m assuming he was of full legal age as a witness. Surry Co. Deed Book 8: 831. Daniel’s death date is based on the probate date of his Lunenburg will, dated 23 Apr 1789 and proved 14 Feb 1799, abstracted by June Banks Evans, Lunenburg County Virginia Will Book 4 1791-1799 (New Orleans: Bryn Ffyliaid Publications,1991).

[2] Lunenburg Order Book 17: 292, 293, viewed by the author at the Lunenburg courthouse in March 2004. See also FHL Film #32,410.

[3] The death date for Col. Thomas is based on the probate date of his will, dated 18 Sep 1779 and proved 12 Apr 1781. See the original of Lunenburg Will Book 3:75 (viewed by the author at the Lunenburg courthouse in March 2008). His birth date is based on his first appearance in the records in Hanover County in the vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish, a procession order of 3 Mar 1743 listing Thomas Winn as “Page’s Overseer.” C. G. Chamberlain, The Vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover County, Virginia 1706-1786 (1940).

[4] Will of John Winn dated 17 Aug 1793, proved 12 Feb 1795, Lunenburg Will Book 4:83b-84, viewed by the author at the Lunenburg Courthouse in March 2004.

[5] See, e.g., http://files.usgwarchives.net/va/charlescity/wills/w5000001.txt.

[6] See, e.g., http://www.thefourwinns.net/winn.html.