Thursday, August 2, 2018

Sir John Philpot, High Sheriff of Compton and Lord Mayor of London

 1330 - 1384

    Ancient stories tell us that in 1066, the "Phillip" family left their homes in Normandy and joined the "Norman Conquest"as it made its way to England.  As centuries passed, most family members were absorbed into the culture and traditions of their new land, which often  resulted in changing the spelling of their name from Philpot to Philpott, Philipot, Philepot or de Philpot.

     This story begins 300 years after the Philpots  arrived in Kent, England some 52 miles from London.   It was there that John Philpot was born and lived until turning 15 when, like many boys his age, he packed his few belongings, bade his parents goodbye and headed toward the big city of London in search of adventure.

     It might have surprised the boy to learn that no one seemed to care about his arrival in the big city and that he had to find work immediately in order to feed his growing body and pay for a bed that would be more safe than the streets of London

Official emblem - The Grocers Company
     Thanks to his persistence, he did finally manage to find a job as a lowly "go-fer" with "The Worshipful Company of Grocers" - an organization which set standards for the weighing and measuring of spices being shipped out of the country.  (Still in operation today,its main purpose is to serve as a "charitable, constitutional and ceremonial institution").  
King Edward III
     After running errands, arranging shelves and cleaning up spills, young John soon decided he needed to add excitement to his life and satisfied that goal by joining the Royal Army.  It wasn't long after he made  that decision that he connected with young  King Edward III of England.  During their time together, the young men found themselves sharing their stories and goals while dodging bullets, and built a friendship which was to last all their lives. 

     No one could have foreseen that only a few years later,
King Edward II
Edward would have to call on his friend, John Philpott, to help him restore the reputation of the throne that his dissolute father, King Edward II, had been steadily destroying. Thanks to Edward and John's efforts, England finally regained its stability and was transformed into one of Europe's most formidable military powers. 

    In appreciation for John's continuing friendship and support, Edward III bestowed on him the title of Lord Mayor of London, a title which  granted him authority over every citizen living in London for a period of one year
John of Gaunt
     But not everyone was pleased about the king's gift to his friend.  One of those was John of Gaunt, a wealthy soldier, statesman and prince, who was so consumed by jealousy that he mounted a campaign to abolish the office of Lord Mayor altogether (a campaign that went nowhere).

 One person who remained grateful for the friendship and support of John Philpott was  his close friend who also happened to be King.  Edward III, was noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority after the disastrous and unorthodox reign of his father, Edward II. 

     Their deep friendship even survived young Edward's occasional poor decision-making abilities which tragically led to the "Hundred Years War" and resulted in large sections of France being absorbed into England.  King Edward might have been a great soldier, but he was such a poor money manager that he was forced to borrow10,000£ from his wealthy and devoted  friend, John Philpot, in order to get his creditors off his back.

    But that wasn't all!  Faced with the  lack of money in the treasury which had been  designated to  repair his country's defenses, the king was forced to ask John to spend some more of his own money to recruit train and even equip a navy (which became known as"Philpott's Navy") to defend England against pirates plaguing cargo ships bringing needed supplies into the country.

John Mercer, Pirate

   The king's confidence in his friend was well placed! Not only did John's ships defeat the dreaded Scottish pirate, John Mercer, but they recovered fifteen Spanish merchant vessels that the pirate had taken several months before. 
Sadly, the old saying "No good deed goes unpunished" was just as true then as it is now.  Despite  (or perhaps because of) his continuing successes and evident wealth, John's fellow noblemen accused him of fraudulently using the Crown's money for his own purposes. Since he could easily prove that he had always used his own money to not only protect his properties, but also all of England's coastal defenses, those charges were eventually dropped,  with grumbling apologies given by those who had  accused him.

King Richard II
Joan of Kent
    Shortly after his old friend and mentor, King Edward III (aka the "Black Prince"), died in 1377,  John volunteered to sign a loyalty pledge on behalf of the leaders of the city and present it in person to the new king, Richard II, (who was only 10 years old when he assumed the throne) and his mother, Joan of Kent.

    After the new king learned of John's willingness to accept and support him, he showed his appreciation by appointing John and one of his closest friends to be co-treasurers of money which had been earmarked for a future war against France. 
    There was only one problem with what seemed to be a positive action by the king - and it was huge!  London was broke - so broke in fact that city merchants were forced to lend money to the king, who - in turn - could only secure the loan by pledging  three royal crowns and several other royal jewels as collateral

     In the meantime,  many of the nobles were so jealous of John's popularity that they started calling him the "King of London" (a derogatory term), and declared that he had no right to act on anything or make any decisions without their permission.   He didn't take their insults lightly and was heard to retort that "if those same nobles hadn't left the country vulnerable to invasion, they could have fought their own battles and wouldn't have had to depend on me!
At the height of his popularity, he was once again elected Lord Mayor of London in 1378 and 1379 an honor he took very seriously.  So whenever  he saw something in the city that needed attention, he dealt with it, such as:
  • city ditches flooding into the streets and homes whenever there was heavy rain.  (His simple answer was to order them cleaned out and a tax levied to pay for the project).  and
  •  defraying some of the cost involved to erect two 60 foot high stone towers, each of which held the end of a chain stretched across the Thames River in an attempt to protect  against possible French attacks. 

      During his lifetime he had been married three times. Each of his wives was independently wealthy and had achieved high social status long before he had come into their lives. They were:
  • Joanne de Sauneford, who died in 1374; 
  • Margaret (or "Marjery") de Croydon, who died within a year of their marriage; 
  • and Margaret Birlyngham, the daughter of a former Mayor of London and the mother of his three children who outlived him.
Even though he claimed he had retired, Sir John found it hard to step back completely, so he:
  •  continued to support the King (who, in thanks, awarded him with a large estate); 
  • represented the City of  London in Parliament;
  • served on a committee of merchants as they deliberated whether money should be loaned to the king for a peace-making  expedition to France;
  • and, even though he had officially retired in 1383, arranged to transport the Crusader, Bishop Depencer, and his men to the city of Ghent to aid in its struggle against supporters of the "Anti-pope" Clement VII. 
  After his age finally caught up with him and he had retired, King Richard II (the son of King Edward III) officially  honored him for his lifelong service to his king and country by knighting him, an action which officially changed his name to Sir John Philpot.  
        Three years before he died on May 25 1384, John, who had always been  highly organized and generous, composed his Will in which he bequeathed his lands to the city of London for the relief of "poor people forever" and asked to be remembered for his "zeal for the king and the realm".   

John was buried in front of this  entrance into the choir area of the
Grey Friars Church in London (now known as Christ Church).

   Even after 700 years, there is still a short street in London named Philpot Lane for the "Former Lord Mayor of the City of London (1378–9)" who supposedly built his home there (which  burned down and was never rebuilt)..

    Plaque installed in the Winchester Cathedral next to the Philpott window (ee above).  The window was created in 1917 and erected in memory of Philpots who have been associated with Winchester and specifically Compton since the 14th century.

(For more information see "Catalogue of the Tombs In the Churches of the
 City of London A.D. 1666" by Major Payne Fisher.)


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Joseph Royall, Sr. - tailor, sailor, early plantation owner

 1600 - 1655 
Joseph Royall 1 Mary Diane Royall 2 Champness Terry 3 Henry Terry 4, Obediah Moses Dickerson 5 Griffith Dickerson 6 William Smith Dickerson 7 Hiram C. Dickerson 8 William Vincent Dickerson 9 Queen Rebecca Dickerson 10 Edna Bethel Franklin 11 Judith Ann Hayward 12
    As early as 1467, the “Royall” family (that's not a spelling error) had earned a place in English history, thanks to John Royall who, in the late 1400s and early 1500s, held several  public offices under Kings Richard III and Henry VII, while his son, Roger, followed in his footsteps by serving King Henry VIII as a member of the Royal Palace Guard until the king's death in 1547, which finally freed the young people in the family to spread their wings and seek a new life in a new land. 
       One of those was 22 year old Joseph Royall, an accomplished tailor who, while never having lived or worked on a ship before, signed up in 1622 as a member of the crew on the“Charitie”, which was bound for America.  After discovering what was expected of a crewman,  Joseph was quick to admit that while he might not be an accomplished seaman, he was an experienced tailor.  As a result, the Captain assigned him to  mend all the sails and clothing that might suffer during the trip.  He obviously learned a great deal because, within three years, he was promoted to Captain of the ship – quite a feat for 25 year old landlubber!  
     That position was not without its challenges, however, including how to keep the ship afloat while most of his crew was stricken with a disease called “burning fever” (perhaps typhus or malaria in today's terms). 
Then, after the fever “burned itself out”, he was forced to deal with a seemingly minor but  extremely irritating  problem caused by two of his passengers who just happened to be the wife and daughter of the ship's owner, Luke Boyse.  To the Captain's  surprise, instead of complimenting him on his skill in bringing the ship to safety during a terrible storm, Mrs. Boyse accused him of allowing sea water to leak into the ship and ruin all her clothing!  Joseph must have been disheartened later to learn that her husband/his employer took his wife's side in the dispute and, as a result, ordered Joseph to not only apologize to his wife, but to replace every piece of damaged clothing and make them better than before. 
But Mrs. Boyse was on a crusade to make Joseph's life miserable, thanks to what she perceived as his disregard for her pain and loss.  As a result, she took him to court, where she presented an agreement which had been signed by both her late husband and Joseph soon  after he had been promoted to Captain of the Charitie.  (An explanation was never provided as to why he had signed it in the first place, but some believe it was just meant to get that woman off his back! )

     This document proved that Joseph had agreed to make and pay for every dress worn by Alice Boyse, her child and their servants until he was no longer living in the area, in which case his family members would then be held responsible for serving her and her child!  (Fortunately a decree of this sort, although sounding official, was impossible to enforce even then, and it's believed that he was eventually officially freed from what she considered a life-long obligation.)

      It seems that his encounter with Mrs. Boyse ended his life on the sea, and he soon was on his way to Virginia with a new plan in mind which included finding a wife and  building a plantation on the James River.. 

     Joseph was married three times, first to an English girl whose surname was Thomasin and who
died shortly after their marriage. Then, in 1629, he married Ann (whose surname is unknown but who agreed with his decision to build his home in Jamestown, Virginia which was the first permanent English settlement in North America and founded only20 years before.)  Sadly, Ann was killed by marauding Indians in 1642 before having had much of a chance to enjoy their beautiful new home.

     After identifying the land he wished to claim, Joseph had begun to accumulate head-rights, each of which was worth 50 acres of land. Before long, thanks to receiving a head-right for himself and each of his three wives (whose names, for some reason, were omitted from their patent applications), his brother, Henry who had joined him, and servants he transported from England, he had accumulated enough to claim 500 acres of prime land running along the north side of the James River in Henrico County just above the “Shirley” Plantation (
built in 1614 and still an active plantation).

     Perhaps in honor of happy times he had experienced while a child on the Aughama (aka Doghams) River in France, he named his home Doghams Farms. ( The house was occupied by his family for over 200 years and 300 years after it was built, it was listed by the Virginia Landmarks Register on the "National Register of Historic Places").

Thanks to Joseph's vast experience as a ship captain, he had known exactly where to build Doghams so that – while growing crops on the land - it would also allow lively trade opportunities on the James River where it was not only accessible but wide enough to allow ships to bring in rich cargoes in exchange for tobacco, furs and wood products. 

  Joseph remained a single widower until reaching the age of 45, when he fell in love with – and married - his 18 year old first cousin, Katherine Banks, who had arrived in Jamestown only five years before. 

     After 11 years of marriage, 58 year old Joseph died, leaving behind 1100 acres of rich, fertile land, a beautiful home, a loving wife, and five children who became fine, productive adults.

Doghams Cemetery

 Joseph was buried in Doghams Cemetery next to the house he had built and loved for so many years.

Katherine Banks Royall-Isham

  Katherine eventually married their wealthy neighbor, Henry Isham, who had come to America only two years before and was in the process of building a house he named “Bermuda 100 Plantation”.  She had two children with Henry and after her death became the third great-grandmother of Thomas Jefferson. Thanks to their wealth and friendliness, Katherine and Henry Isham were considered leaders of society.

According to custom, Joseph Royall's estate became Henry's property upon his marriage to Katherine. Henry then added another wing onto the residence and planted tall pines and an English flower garden – all enclosed within a white picket fence. Doghams remained in the Royall/Isham family and still stands on the old road between Richmond and Williamsburg.

For more information about this interesting family see:

Seldens of Va. & allied fams. By Mary S. Kennedy. New York [1911] (2v.):67 
Social Life in Virginia in the 17th Century by P.A. Bruce, 
The Wm and Mary Quarterly Historical Magazine 1915 pp 116-142, 
The Virginia Dynasties Virginia Biographical Encyclopedia, Joseph Royall

Sunday, April 22, 2018

George Prangle Copeland IV, Died much too young

Family Lineage: son of Robert Hatten Copeland and first wife, Sarah Minerva, uncle of Charles Thomas Copeland Sr., great-uncle of Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr.
Circa 1845 – 1864

Robert Hatten Copeland
     George Prangle Copeland was the sixth of ten sons born to Robert Hatten Copeland  (commonly called the “Snake Man” because of a birth defect). The family could proudly claim their connection to a long line of patriots who had settled in America before the Revolutionary War.  Despite being disabled, Robert had refused to own slaves, not only because he frowned on the very idea of ownership of another human being, but he also believed that all of his sons could easily handle whatever needed to be done to keep the family farm running smoothly.

But the rhythm of their lives began to crumble when Gerorge's mother, Sarah Minerva, developed "dropsy" (an old-fashioned term describing edema or excess fluids in the body) and died at age 48, leaving behind her husband, nine sons and only one daughter who found herself responsible for handling all the household chores and comforting her father when he grieved for his wife and – severak years later – his sons.
    The crumbling of life as they knew it continued as their beloved country got closer and closer to war - not against foreign powers - but against fellow Americans.  Since Robert was both disabled and too old to fight, he could only serve as a bridge tender and stand on the sidelines while watching his sons march off to war.  Six came home after the fighting stopped. Two did not.  
     Impatiently, 17 year old George continued to plead his case to his father, asserting that he considered himself old enough to join his brothers in the war effort of the South. Finally, in 1862, Robert gave in and reluctantly gave George permission to join the Heard County Rangers at Camp McDonald in Big Shanty, Georgia which had recently been incorporated into Georgia's 41st Regiment under the command of Lt. General John Pemberton.

Vicksburg bluff
  Since they were so badly needed, training did not last long and within a few months, the young Georgians were on their way to Mississippi to join the troops fighting to prevent Major General Ulysses S. Grant's much stronger Army of the Potomac from taking control of the town of Vicksburg which was built on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, thus controlling all river traffic bringing food and supplies to both the Confederate and Union troops.

      Despite the Southern troops' firm expectation that the Confederate Army could and would defeat General Grant's troops quickly, the siege actually continued for 46 days, by which time, thanks to the Union Army's blockade of all traffic except theirs on the river below, the Georgians not only ran out of food and ammunition, but discovered that they couldn't replenish any of their supplies, thanks to blockades strategically placed by the Union Army along the feeder roads. 

General John Pemberton

    Finally, General Pemberton was forced to surrender himself, his officers and his troops to General Grant on July 4, 1863 (definitely not Independence Day for the South).   It was  a deadly blow to the entire Confederacy!  By the time all the fighting ended, 2,166 Confederate officers, 27,230 soldiers, 172 cannons and almost 60,000 muskets and rifles had been captured or lost.


 18 year old George Prangle Copeland was among those captured
and imprisoned.  Perhaps because of his young age or the fact that the prison was badly overcrowded,  he was eventually granted parole on the condition that he pledge that he would never take up arms against the North again.  It wasn't long after taking that pledge that he learned that a train bringing fresh troops to the Union Army fighting in the South would be passing through Vicksburg and he could get a ride at least part of the way home.
But he never arrived!   On September 26, 1864, perhaps because it was going too fast, the train derailed as it started around a curve three miles north of Fort Valley, Georgia, The casualties were horrific. 37 passengers were badly hurt and six, including George, were killed.  The next day, the "Macon Daily Telegraph and Confederate" newspaper  published a list of casualties.  They were: Thomas Kerley, L.H. Durden, W.J. Buhart, W. A. Sanders, Kirkpatrick (first name unknown) - and G. P. Copeland.

       Perhaps it would have eased some of the family's pain if they had known that George did not die alone or unattended.  As soon as the townspeople heard the crash, many of them had run out of their homes and assisted in the care of all who had been injured while burying those who had died, including George who was buried alongside other slain and unknown Confederate soldiers in Section C of Oaklawn Cemetery.  Placed on their graves was a memorial plaque reading: 

 "Confederate Dead Here rest, known to God, more than 20 Confederate Soldiers, most of whom died in the Confederate Hospital located in Ft. Valley in 1864 - 1865.  Some of these men were killed in Troop Train wreck 3 miles north of the city while en route to rejoin the Confederate Army of Tennessee.  Located here were the Buckner and Gamble Hospitals and several temporary ones.  Patriot men and women of this vicinity assisted in the care of the sick and the wounded."


     It was only after the war ended, that Robert discovered that all but two of his sons had survived and were coming home. Those two were George and his older brother, Asberry, who had died of his injuries in a Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi Confederate hospital and was also an unknown soldier buried in an unmarked grave.  A few years ago Asbury's grandson, a genealogist who had researched the hospital records, received permission to have Ashley's name engraved on one of the cemetery's unmarked grave stones and the event was memorialized during a formal ceremony honoring Ashley's life and service. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

John Calvin Noe and Hugh Patrick - Relatives, Warriors and Friends

John Calvin Noe
1745 – 1816
1 John Calvin Noe, 2 Mary Polly Noe, 3 John Osburn, Sr., 4 Rebecca Osburn, 5 William Vincent Dickerson
, 6 Queen Rebecca Dickerson, 7 Edna Bethel Franklin, 8 Judith Ann Hayward

Netherlands ship 

Noe family tradition includes stories about the severe persecution their Huguenot Protestant ancestors suffered at the hands of the Catholic majority until finally forcing them to flee Scotland on the "Bontekoe" which brought them to the shores of America in 1663.
        After adjusting to their new lives in a new land and getting advice from people who had arrived before them, the family made their way inland along the Mississippi River until finally settling on a mountainous area called Botetourt County (Sometime later the name was changed to Fincastle County, which was then split into three counties called Montgomery, Lee and Kentucky.

      It was there that they met the Patrick family who had also migrated from Scotland and lived nearby. So it was no surprise that their children, 20 year old John Calvin Noe and 17 year old Elizabeth Patrick, who had known each other all their lives, took their childhood to a new level when they married in 1765 and started a family of their own.     
   Hugh Patrick
1732 - 1814

1 Hugh Patrick, 2 Elizabeth Patrick,3 Mary Polly Noe,4 John Osburn, Sr.,5 Rebecca Osburn,
 6 William Vincent Dickerson, 7 Queen Rebecca Dickerson, 8 Edna Bethel Franklin,  
9 Judith Ann Hayward
     Hugh Patrick was a first generation American whose father had been born in Scotland and was transported to America in 1725 as an indentured servant.  Over the years, the Scottish surname of McPhatrick had evolved into Mcffathrick and then Gilpatrick before becoming “americanized” into the simpler name of Patrick. 

      He and his brothers, James and Jeremiah Patrick, all proved themselves to be canny negotiators who accumulated large tracts of land along the New River through purchases, trades or grants.

The Noes and Patricks go to war!

        Thanks to the British having supplied the Native American tribes with guns and instructions on how to use them, their attacks against the settlers in Virginia and Kentucky intensified.  As a result, many of the settlers who found themselves facing constant danger without a central government to call on for help, fled.

         All males who had decided to remain in the area, however, were required to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Commonwealth and join a militia.  (a militia is and was composed of non-professional soldiers who can be called upon for military service in the local area whenever needed.)  
       Among those deciding to stay and fight with the local militia under the command of Captain John Draper were 32 year old John Calvin Noe, two of his sons, John II and Samuel, and his father-in-law, 43 year old Hugh Patrick.

     Each militia was occasionally visited by a Virginian, Colonel Stephen Trigg, who had been assigned by General Washington to list every man in the region who had sworn an oath of allegiance and joined a nearby militia.  Always hungry for knowledge about what was happening outside their corner of the world, he was warmly welcomed and, in return, he was willing to share whatever he knew or had heard about events taking place in the rest of the territory.    
          It is possible - and even probable - that after gathering to hear Colonel Trigg's report on the build up of enemy strength in  Harrodsburg, Kentucky,  some of the men decided to leave their  militias and join the Colonel's troops.  Or perhaps  their willingness to follow him had more to do with his reputation as a brilliant soldier who always seemed to win.  
     Soon after visiting Captain Draper's militia, Colonel Trigg left for Lexington where he planned to spend some time with Colonel Daniel Boone, the commander of Bryan's Station, a fortified settlement.  However, before he reached his destination, he received intelligence from one of his informants that some 450 Indians and British Canadian Rangers were planning a surprise attack against Boone's settlement in the very near future.  

Col. Daniel Boone
     Thanks to his solid reputation among the people in the area, Colonel Trigg was soon able to recruit 135 local militiamen who were willing to assist Col. Boone and his troops in defending the settlement.  It was only after he was sure that Bryan's Station was secure that he was finally able to continue his journey to Blue Licks (where he lost both the last battle of the war - and his life). 
        It was while he and his troops were approaching “Blue Licks”,  a salt lick for cattle and wild animals on the Licking River, that Trigg's officers learned of a trap which had been set up to capture and kill them.  But while they were devising a plan to defuse that situation, a number of the troops became so restless  that they ignored orders and raced across the river ahead of their officers.   

      In an attempt to re-impose discipline, Trigg and his commanders split up their troops into three columns, with Trigg commanding the most vulnerable column on the right.  After only five minutes of battle, all of Trigg's  men had panicked and retreated, leaving him alone - and dead -  in one of the last battles of the American Revolution. 
Memorial at Blue Licks National Park

      When the troops finally got brave enough to return to the scene of the battle, they found the colonel's mutilated body which they buried with the soldiers who had fought at his side in a mass grave near the battle site in an area which became known as Trigg County, Kentucky.
   The rest of the story

  • John Calvin Noe, his sons, and father-in-law, Hugh Patrick, survived the war and were all given credit for their service during the Revolutionary War. 
  • As John Noe lay dying in 1816, he dictated his Will which listed the gifts he wished his wife and children to receive, but it included a surprise in the form of a directive regarding a Negro named "Phill" whose relationship to the family is still unknown but it must have been very important to Mr. Noe. It read:
    Colonial will
        "Thirdly I give and bequeath to my dearly beloved wife Elizabeth Noe my negroe Phill, my bay horse and one cow and calf and all my household furniture and farming utensils and every species of property which I possess of whatever nature of kind it may be (all of which property (except the said negroe Phill) by her freely to be possessed and enjoyed forever). And at her death it is my will that the said negroe Phill be at liberty to do for himself and as by the laws of this State he cannot be set free I hope some of my friends will at the death of said wife take the said Negroe Phill into their care and act as guardian for him ."
  • After serving for 7 months, Hugh Patrick returned to his farm where he acquired so much land that, in 1789, the area was named  "Patrick Parish", a town was founded on the frontier called "Patrick, Virginia" and the Patrick Courthouse became a  rendezvous for soldiers of the Revolution.  
  • Despite all these accomplishments, he and his wife, Susannah, never learned to write and signed all documents with an "X".
For more information see: