Lunenburg Winns: Part I of ???

This is another case of “my hair’s on fire,” pronounced mah har’s on far. I decided to write an article sorting out three Winn families of Lunenburg County, Virginia. I should have been warned off by a 1762 deed from Thomas Winn to Daniel Winn witnessed by John Winn, John Winn, and John Winn.[1] There were no designations identifying the witnesses, e.g., “Senior,” “Junior,” or “John Winn of Amelia County.” <Insert demented laughter here>

Red flags notwithstanding, I plowed ahead. One objective was to provide sufficient information for you to track any of these Winns if you wish — or perhaps have an Aha! moment when you spot a possible ancestor. A second objective was to spotlight a persistent error about these families.

The subjects

The subjects are three Winns who were born in the first quarter of the 18th century and died in the last quarter in Lunenburg.[2] Y-DNA establishes they were genetic relatives.[3] Here they are:[4]

  • Thomas Winn, the grantor in that baffling 1762 deed. Let’s call him Col. Thomas because he was a Lunenburg militia colonel.
  • Daniel Winn, the grantee in the 1762 deed. Daniel, bless his heart, has a reasonably unique name and doesn’t require a nickname to distinguish him from other men having the same name. Daniel and Col. Thomas were brothers.[5]
  • John Winn of Lunenburg, as opposed to John Winn of Amelia. Amelia John was a brother of Col. Thomas and Daniel. Lunenburg John was not their brother, although Y-DNA testing proves a genetic relationship. The three patriarchs are also connected in many Lunenburg records. Lunenburg John is surely at least a distant cousin of Daniel and Col. Thomas, although I can’t figure out the family relationship.

This begins by briefly discussing each patriarch and  identifying their children. That is also where it ends, because the three men had thirty-one children among them. Information about grandchildren is therefore limited, so far. In fact, I now find this article is so long that I must break it up into two and perhaps three or more parts….

… this Part I, about the persistent Winn error and Col. Thomas Winn.

… Part II about Daniel Winn and Lunenburg John Winn.

… additional articles with further detail about children and grandchildren.

First, a persistent error about these families

There is a mountain of disinformation on the web about the three senior Lunenburg Winns. Literally thousands of trees at Ancestry attach at least one of the three men to the line of Robert and Mary Sloman Eppes Wynne of Charles City and Prince George Counties, Virginia. Y-DNA testing has conclusively proved that cannot be correct. Descendants of Robert and Mary Wynne’s line do not match descendants of Col. Thomas, Daniel, or Lunenburg John.

Robert Wynne was an interesting character. He was the Speaker of the Virginia “Long Parliament” and a grandson of a mayor of Canterbury. He owned land in Kent. His grandparents died of the plague. One can understand why Winn descendants of the Lunenburg families might be happy to identify him as an ancestor, especially since Daniel Winn once lived in Prince George.

The mistake was understandable, at least until Y-DNA disproved it. The records of Charles City and Prince George are incomplete. There are also ambiguities in surviving records and Wynne wills. Furthermore, identifying the actual family of origin of Col. Thomas and Daniel involves analyzing a vast quantity of county records and connecting a multitude of dots. And I still haven’t identified the family of origin of Lunenburg John Winn, although Y-DNA also proves he was not from Speaker Wynne’s line.

Making him even more attractive as an ancestor, Speaker Robert’s line has a link to a fabulous historical figure familiar even to schoolchildren. Here’s the connection. A woman named Anne Stith married Robert Bolling as his second wife. Robert Bolling’s first wife, Jane Rolfe, was the granddaughter of Pocahontas. Anne Stith Bolling’s sister was Agnes Stith Wynne, wife of Speaker Robert’s son Thomas Wynne.

Speaker Robert’s line was fun for reasons besides the research. Among other things, descendants of the Robert Bolling-Anne Stith marriage include a lovely woman who was once my younger son’s partner. When she introduced herself as a Bolling and said her family was from Virginia, I said, oh, hell, I know the Virginia Bollings! My son rolled his eyes and asked how on earth that could be. Every genealogist who has done research in the Virginia Southside during the 17th and 18th centuries, I explained, knows the Bollings on account of Pocahontas. Failing to spot them would be akin to reading the Old Testament without noticing God.

OK, enough about the Speaker Robert error. Let’s get on to the Lunenburg patriarchs.

Patriarch #1: Col. Thomas Winn, born circa 1718, died in 1781[6]

Col. Thomas was the most prominent of the three “senior” Winns. He was a son of Richard Winn of Hanover County, Virginia.[7] Hanover Richard’s wife by at least 1733 was Phoebe Wilkes Pledger Winn, the widow of Mr. Pledger.[8] She was a daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Wilkes.[9] I don’t know whether Col. Thomas was Phoebe’s child or the son of an earlier wife, or whether Hanover Richard even had a marriage prior to Phoebe.[10]

I first found Col. Thomas mentioned in 1743 as “Page’s overseer” in Hanover County.[11] He appeared in Lunenburg records for the first time in a 1746 deed executed when he was still residing in Hanover.[12]

He lived a high-profile public life in Lunenburg. He was a surveyor of a road in his area and was appointed to take tax lists, both positions of trust in the community.[13] In 1751, he was sworn as a justice of the Lunenburg county court with the honorific “gentleman.”[14] In 1755, he was sworn a “Captain of Foot” of the Lunenburg militia.[15] He was a wealthy landowner; by 1761, he had amassed over 3,500 acres.[16] In 1765, a commission appointed him Colonel and he was recommended by the Governor as a “fit person to be added to the Commission of the Peace” for Lunenburg.[17] In 1772, the Governor of Virginia appointed him county coroner.[18] He was a vestryman of Cumberland Parish from 1766 through 1780.[19]

His first wife’s identity is unproved. She is traditionally identified as Elizabeth Bannister, perhaps because she had children named Bannister and Elizabeth.[20] Col. Thomas’s widow Sarah is usually identified as Sarah Bacon. In yet another case of combining two different people into one, many internet trees identify Col. Thomas’s wife as “Elizabeth Sarah” or “Sarah Elizabeth.” A Lunenburg chancery suit proves beyond dispute that Col. Thomas had children by more than one wife, however. And his widow appeared in Lunenburg records simply as “Sarah Winn” with no middle name. I haven’t seen proof of her maiden name, although there is circumstantial evidence for Bacon.[21]

Sarah (Bacon?) Winn was apparently a strong woman. She outlived three of her four known children, a terribly cruel fate. She was guardian and presumably caretaker for her dying son Washington. She executed an agreement with her surviving son Edmund Winn and a John Winn Jr. (perhaps a son of Daniel Winn).[22] Edmund promised to build a house for John Jr. on the land where Edmund and Sarah lived. As a result of prior transactions, John Jr. would own the land after Sarah’s death. The agreement provided that neither Sarah nor Edmund would prevent John Jr. from using the tract. Edmund, however, stipulated that he was bound only for his own conduct, not the conduct of his mother.

Col. Thomas had seven surviving children by (perhaps) Elizabeth Bannister and four by his widow Sarah (probably) Bacon. All eleven are identified in a chancery court suit concerning the estate of his youngest son, Washington Winn.[23] In addition to Col. Thomas’s children, the suit establishes the married names of some of the women, the identities of some grandchildren, and relationships among the eleven children.[24] It also proves that Col. Thomas had at least two wives. Here are his children.

Children by Col. Thomas’s first wife, birth order uncertain:

Bannister Winn was probably born between 1753 and 1756 based on his appearances as a tithable on Col. Thomas’s personal property tax lists. Bannister was in Chatham County, Georgia by at least 1793, when he was on a tax list there.[25] His wife was Jane Barnard. [26] He died intestate in Chatham in November 1801.[27] He and Jane had five children.[28]

Elizabeth Winn married her first cousin Joseph Winn, a son of Daniel Winn. Joseph was a Captain in the Revolutionary War. He died in 1800, leaving a will naming Elizabeth and nine children.[29] If you are descended from Joseph and Elizabeth, you are a “double” Winn – descended from both Col. Thomas (Elizabeth’s father) and Daniel (Joseph’s father). You are also a lock for admission to the D.A.R. or S.A.R. if that is your thing, assuming you can prove Joseph was your ancestor. Proving that he was a Revolutionary War vet is a piece of cake.

Thomas Winn (Jr.) was born about 1748.[30] He died in Abbeville County, South Carolina in early 1797. His first wife was Philadelphia MNU, identified in family oral tradition as a cousin. His will mentions his brothers Bannister and William, as well as his half-brother Washington Winn, so there is no doubt that Thomas Winn of Abbeville was a son of Col. Thomas.[31] Thomas Jr.’s second wife was Lettice Martin Carter McFarland, who had been widowed twice. They married about 1786 in Abbeville. Thomas Jr.’s will named nine children, seven by his first wife and two by Lettice.[32]

Richard Winn. I am not certain when Richard was born or where he migrated. He was still alive in 1796 when the Lunenburg Court issued its order in the chancery court suit concerning his half-brother Washington Winn’s estate. I don’t even know whether he left Lunenburg. He may be the Richard Winn whose fairly small estate was probated there in 1807, although I doubt it.[33] Some Winn researchers believe the Richard Winn who married Sarah Hall in Mecklenburg County in 1775 was the son of Col. Thomas. That’s possible, I am just not aware of compelling evidence one way or the other. Alternatively, he may be the Richard Winn who was a surveyor in Laurens and Craven Counties, South Carolina in 1767. Surveyor was a position of trust (e.g., George Washington), which sounds like Col. Thomas’s family. Richard also witnessed a deed in 1772 as Captain Richard Winn — ditto. He obtained a land grant in Laurens in 1785 and sold it the same year.[34] I didn’t find a Richard Winn in either Laurens or Craven in a census. I would love to hear from someone who has evidence about Col. Thomas’s son Richard.

William Winn was probably born during 1749-1753 based on his appearance as a tithable of Col. Thomas. His wife was probably named Elizabeth (nickname Betty), maiden name unknown. They were married by April 1779, when she appeared in two deeds relinquishing her dower interest.[35] They may have moved to Abbeville, South Carolina with his brother Thomas Jr. Some William Winn is listed in the 1790 Abbeville census with a large family and a number of enslaved persons.[36]  I have no further information on William and would appreciate hearing from someone who does.

John Winn, who predeceased his father, died in 1768. He fought in the French and Indian War.[37] He had three children, one of whom was born after he died.[38] John named Thomas Winn an executor and specifically identified him as his father.

Mourning Winn married John Hix and remained in Lunenburg. As is often the case with 18th-century women, the records reveal little about her.[39] John Hix named their twelve children in his will.[40]

Children by Col. Thomas’s widow Sarah:

Henrietta Maria Winn, wife of Edmund P. Bacon. They had four children. She died before November 1796, when the Lunenburg court issued an order in the chancery suit case that proved her siblings, half-siblings, and children.[41]

Edmund Winn was born about 1765. Like his father, he was a justice of the Lunenburg County court. A cross-stitch sampler preserved by the family says he married Elizabeth H. Cousins in 1789. The sampler also names six children born during 1791 through 1812.[42] In 1818, he married Sarah A. Winn Snead, a widow. She was probably a daughter of James Winn, granddaughter of John Winn, and great-granddaughter of Daniel. I think. Incredibly, he left no will. His estate included 36 enslaved persons and was valued at $13,100. The record of his estate sale in November 1847 required four pages in a will book. His widow Sally A. Winn was the major purchaser.

Washington Winn was born between 1773 and 1777; he died between June 1793 and January 1794.[43] The chancery suit concerning his estate proves he was unmarried and childless at his death, despite claims to the contrary in some family trees. His estate was appraised at £ 324.10.6. in February 1794.[44] That amount did not include the value of land Washington inherited. One can understand why there was a lawsuit over his estate. With those sums at stake, his executor and heirs would undoubtedly have preferred a court-ordered distribution, especially considering that Washington’s mother, the headstrong Sarah Winn, was a party.

Keturah Winn, wife of John Hardy. They had five children. She also died before the Lunenburg chancery court order, which proved the names of her children [45]

And that is all I have for now on Col. Thomas, unless we get lucky and someone provides more information. Up next: Daniel Winn, brother of Col. Thomas.

See you on down the road. Soon, I hope.

Robin

[1] Deed Book 7: 232, deed from Thomas Winn to Daniel Winn conveying 1,497 acres on Little Hounds Cr. and Great Hounds Cr., part of 2,959 acres granted to Thomas Winn in 1761. Witnesses were three men named John Winn. Unless expressly noted otherwise, all citations in this article are to Lunenburg deed, will, tax, and court records.

[2] So far as I know, birth years have not been proved for any of the three Winn patriarchs. They died within an 18-year span of each other (1781 through 1799). All three had grown children and grandchildren when they died. Only one had minor children, and they were by a second wife.

[3] Y-DNA testing of descendants of the patriarchs (Col. Thomas Winn, Daniel Winn, and Lunenburg John Winn) establish that they shared a common Winn ancestor, see this article.

[4] This ignores a rogue named Samuel Wynne, see an article about him here. He is probably a relative of Col. Thomas, Daniel, and Lunenburg John. However, there seems to be no Y-DNA evidence on the issue.

[5] A book about Daniel Winn’s family says that Col. Thomas referred to Joseph, a son of Daniel, as his “nephew” in a deposition. Naomi Giles Chadwick, Winn – Daniel and His 9 Sons (Riverside, CA: 1976) xiii. Ms. Chadwick did not provide a source (!!@#%!!&!) and I haven’t found the deposition she referenced. There is also good circumstantial evidence that Col. Thomas and Daniel were brothers.

[6] There doesn’t seem to be evidence of Col. Thomas’s exact birth year. The St. Paul’s Parish (Hanover Co.) vestry book has an entry for 3 Mar 1743 mentioning Thomas Winn, “Page’s Overseer,” in a processioning order. C. G. Chamberlayne, The Vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover County, Virginia 1706-1786 (Richmond: Division of Purchase and Printing, 1940). It was not uncommon for young men from well-to-do families to get OJT as another wealthy family’s overseer. A reasonable guess is that Col. Thomas was about 25 at the time, thus born circa 1718.

[7] This fact has a convoluted evidentiary trail. The short story: there is excellent circumstantial evidence that Col. Thomas and John Winn of Amelia County were brothers. Solid circumstantial evidence also establishes that Amelia John was a son of Richard Winn of Hanover Co., whose wife was Phoebe Wilkes Pledger Winn. It follows that Col. Thomas was also a son of Richard Winn of Hanover. See a discussion in this article.

[8] Rosalie Edith Davis, Hanover County, Virginia Court Records 1733-1735: Deeds, Wills and Inventories (1979). Court Records at 13-14 and 16-18 record two fascinating Winn conveyances. In a lease and release dated 19-20 Jan. 1733, Richard Winn and his wife Phebe of St. Paul’s Parish conveyed to John Winn a 517-acre plantation on Chickahominy Sw. “purchased by said Phebe in her widowhood by name of Phebe Pledger.” On January 31 and February 1, 1733, John Winn of St. Paul’s Parish reconveyed the same tract to Richard; his wife Elizabeth released dower. A second John Winn witnessed the transaction. I don’t know the purpose of the land exchange.

[9] Id. at 148-149, agreement dated 6 Aug 1734 between Joseph Wilks of Blissland Parish, New Kent Co. and Richard Winn. Richard agreed to identify land (part of Richard’s tract) for Joseph and wife Elizabeth to live on; Richard also promised to build all necessary buildings and lend enslaved persons to Joseph. John Winn and John Winn (!!!) witnessed Joseph’s bond.

[10] I suspect Hanover Richard Winn did have a wife prior to Phebe. That is pure speculation based solely on the fact that the name Phebe doesn’t appear even once that I have found in the Lunenburg Winn family, which recycled given names ad nauseum.

[11] See Note 6.

[12] Deed Book 1: 71, deed from Samuel Wynne of Brunswick to Thomas Wynne of St. Paul’s Parish in Hanover, 150 acres in what was then Brunswick and is now Lunenburg. John Winn, John Stone, and Richard Stone witnessed the deed. The tract was on what is possibly the most well-known creek in Southside Virginia genealogy. In a fine example of irony, it is now called “Modest Creek.” It’s original uncensored name was “F*cking Creek.” See the article linked in Note 4.

[13] Order Book 1: 397, Thomas Winn appointed surveyor of the road from Nottoway across Modest Cr.; OB 13: 67, he was appointed to take tax lists.

[14] Order Book 2: 446, Thomas Wynne, gent., was sworn as a justice of the county court.

[15] Id. at 400.

[16] Deed Book 1: 71, 1746 deed from Samuel Wynne to Thomas Wynne, 150 acres; 1747 patent, 425 acres (can’t find citation, but it can be found in  Cavaliers and Pioneers Vol. 5); Deed Book 7: 231, referencing 1761 patent for 2,959 acres by Thomas Winn.

[17] Order Book 11: 86; id. at 84.

[18] Deed Book 12: 132, Thomas Winn’s bond as county coroner.

[19] Landon C. Bell, Cumberland Parish, Lunenburg County, Virginia, 1746-1816 Vestry Book (Richmond: The William Byrd Press, Inc., 1930).

[20] My friend and distant cousin William D. Lindsey exhaustively researched the Bannister family. He says he found no evidence that Col. Thomas’s first wife was Elizabeth Bannister, although he didn’t disprove that possibility.

[21] Sarah Winn named a son Edmund/Edmond. That was a frequent given name in the Bacon family. John Bacon of Lunenburg definitely had a daughter Sarah. Will Book 1: 258. In 1759, John Bacon’s daughter Sarah chose her own guardian, which meant she was born between 1738 and 1745. She was still single in May 1760, so her children would have been born between 1761 and 1779, when Col. Thomas wrote his will. Her son Edmund was born about 1765; her youngest son Washington was born between 1772 and 1777. Sarah Bacon thus “fits” to be the same woman as Sarah Winn, wife of Col. Thomas.

[22] Deed Book 25: 82, agreement dated 16 Jan 1820 between Edmund Winn and John Winn Jr.; Sarah Winn also signed. See also Lunenburg Deed Book 24: 386, deed from two children of Bannister Winn to John Winn Jr. confirming a prior deed to John Winn Jr. for Bannister’s remainder interest in the tract after Sarah’s life estate ended.

[23] Order Book 17: 134. This is one of the best pieces of genealogical evidence I’ve ever seen, even though the court’s order has two errors. First, it incorrectly named Edmund P. Bacon as Edward P. Bacon. Second, it switched the married surnames of Col. Thomas and Sarah’s daughters Keturah and Henrietta Maria. The court identified Keturah as Keturah Bacon and Henrietta as Henrietta Hardy. The reverse was correct. Keturah Winn was married to John Hardy; Henrietta Winn was married to Edmund P. Bacon.

[24] Among other things, the suit proves that Joseph Winn’s wife Elizabeth was a daughter of Col. Thomas. Since a married women had no legal existence of her own, her husband had to be a named party to any lawsuit. The suit also proves which children were Sarah’s and which were children of a prior wife. Under the Virginia law of intestate descent and distribution, the siblings of “the whole blood” received a full share of their brother Washington Winn’s estate. Siblings of “the half blood,” who had a different mother than Washington, received a half share. Washington, an unmarried minor, died intestate.

[25] FamilySearch.org film # 8628429, image #15, 1793 tax list for Chatham Co., GA included Bannister Winn.

[26] FamilySearch.org film # 5765260, image #1011 et seq. Bannister died intestate and I found no distribution of property to his heirs, although he owned both land and enslaved persons. He was described as “late of Chatham County, planter.” His estate file establishes that his wife was Jane Barnard Winn.

[27] Id. Administrators’ bond for the estate of Bannister Winn by William Barnard and Jane Winn (sister of Barnard) dated 27 Nov 1801.

[28] Bannister’s son Barnard Winn died single in 1806, see id., image #1022, Chatham Co., GA, 1806 estate file containing the will of Bernard Winn naming his sister Jane Williams; Lunenburg Deed Book 22: 12, deed dated 10 Nov 1807 from Bannister’s widow Jane Winn and children Jane Winn Webb Williams (wife of David Davis Williams), Rebecca Winn Williams (wife of John F. Williams), and minors Thomas Winn and Charlotte Winn. Charlotte subsequently married a Mr. Piles/Pyles, see Deed Book 24: 386, deed from Thomas Winn and Charlotte Winn Piles, children of Bannister Winn, confirming the deed which had been executed when they were minors.

[29] Will Book 5: 20, will of Joseph Winn dated 28 Mar 1800, proved 12 Jun 1800. Wife Elizabeth, children Daniel, Joseph, Bannister, Sarah B. Winn, Kitturah Winn, Minor Winn, Mourning Winn Gunn, Elizabeth Winn Brown, and Benjamin Winn, the ne’er-do-well son who was my ancestor.

[30] William D. Lindsey, a thoughtful and thorough researcher who is descended from Thomas Jr., estimated his birth year and provided information about his wives.

[31] Abbeville Co., SC Will Book 1: 173, will of Thomas Winn dated 31 Oct 1796, proved 28 Mar 1797. Wife Lettice. Two younger children Lettice and Robert, the latter under age. Sons Abner, Elemuel, Thomas, Elisha (money due from brother Washington Winn’s estate in Lunenburg), and Richard Winn. Daughters Sarah and Elizabeth Winn. Mentions money “in the hands of” his brothers William Winn and Bannister Winn.

[32] Id.

[33] Will Book 6: 233, inventory and appraisal of the estate of Richard Winn, dec’d, dated 23 Dec 1807. Estate included one enslaved person. There was only one bed and one saddle, a man’s. It is a good bet Richard was single.

[34] Laurens Co., SC Deed Book D: 319.

[35] Deed Book 13: 219, deed dated 28 Apr 1779 from William Winn and wife Elizabeth to Thomas Winn the elder, both of Lunenburg, conveying tracts of 400 acres and 167.5 acres; Deed Book 13: 265, deed dated 14 Oct 1779 from William Winn and wife Betty to Minor Wilkes, 200 acres.

[36] 1790 federal census, Abbeville Co., SC, William Winn, 1-4-7. One male > 45, b. by 1745, 4 males < 16, and 7 females. Six enslaved persons.

[37] Thomas Winn proved that John Winn enlisted and served his time, and that Harrison Winn was his son and heir, for a bounty land application for service in the French and Indian War. Lloyd Bockstruck, Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers (Baltimore:  Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988).

[38] Will Book 2: 326, will of John Winn dated Mar 1768, proved May 1768. John named his wife, children Harrison and Betty, and child “wife Susannah is now big with.” Executors father Thomas Winn and Joseph Winn.

[39] Col. Thomas Winn’s will named his son-in-law John Hix and John’s wife Mourning. Will Book 3: 75, will of Thomas Winn dated 18 Apr 1779, proved 12 Apr 1781.

[40] Will Book 4: 149a, will of John Hix dated 19 Feb 1795, proved 8 Dec 1796. Children Elizabeth Hawkins, Aggy Gee, Sally Gee, Martha Blankenship, Susanna Hix, Thomas Hix, Nancy Bevill, William Hix, James Hix, Nathaniel Hix, John Hix, and Frances Haggard.

[41] Order Book 17: 134. Henrietta Maria/Marie Winn Bacon’s children were Susanna Bacon, Sarah Bacon, Lyddal Bacon, and Thomas Winn Bacon.

[42] The sampler identifies Edmund and Elizabeth’s children as Ketturah W. Winn, Henrietta M. W. Winn, Frances E. Winn, Thomas W. Winn, Edmund C. Winn, and Harriett H. Winn.

[43] Several records establish ranges for Washington Winn’s birth and death dates. He chose his mother Sarah as his guardian on Oct 1791, which meant he was born by 1777. Order Book 16: 194. He was still a minor and alive in June 1793, when Sarah produced an account of his estate in her role as his guardian. Id. at 295. He was thus born after 1772 but by 1777. He had died by January 9, 1794, when the court granted his brother Edmund administration of his estate. Id. at 348.

[44] Will Book 4: 45a, inventory and appraisal of the estate of Washington Winn, dec’d.

[45] Children of Keturah Winn Hardy and John Hardy were Keturah Hardy, Armstead/Armistead Hardy, Sally Hardy, Edmund Hardy, and Jeane Hardy. Order Book 17: 134.

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.