Category Archives: Continuing Story

Virginia Slaves of the James Family – Documented

Estimated reading time: 28 minutes

Ship’s cargo – Captured people shipped to America for sale as enslaved chattel

The immigrant of our James family is John James who arrived in America in 1650. The documented records of the Virginia slaves of our James family begins with John’s son, Thomas James, and his wife Sarah E. Mason. Family records throughout the 18th century provide ample evidence of the growing wealth accumulated by the James families and their descendants. Wealth grew in the value of the enslaved people the James families owned and by the material results those enslaved people produced for the James. Family lore offers evidence that the James families owned many more additional field slaves than the 99 slaves and their increase named and enumerated below.

“JOHN JAMES came to Virginia in 1650 and in 1670 patented land in Stafford County where he died ante 1690; his widow ELIZABETH married secondly THOMAS NORMAN.

“THOMAS JAMES, son and heir of JOHN JAMES, lived on Potomic Creek. He patented land there in 1699 about which time he married SARAH, widow of ANDREW BARBEE. THOMAS JAMES died testate circa 1727 leaving GEORGE JAMES (circa 1702-1753) his eldest son and heir-at-law.

“By inheritance, purchase , and marriage GEORGE JAMES became a wealthy land holder in Stafford, Prince William and Spotsylvania counties; he died testate in Fredericksburg in 1753. He married MARY WHEELER, only child of JOHN WHEELER, Gentleman, (1684-1746) a vestryman in Overwharton Parish and had ten children, viz: (1) THOMAS (circa 1729-1776) of Fauquier County, married MARY BRUCE; (2) GEORGE (circa 1730-1755); JOHN (circa 1732-circa 1794) married in 1763 ANNE STROTHER; (4) ESTHER, born circa 1734, married HENRY FIELD of Culpeper County; (5) MARY (1736-1822) married first in 1754 ANTHONY STROTHER, Gentleman, (1710-1765) and secondly in 1771 Colonel HENRY SMITH; (6) DIANA born circa 1740; (7) MARGARET (1742-1748); JOSEPH born 1746; (9) DANIEL born 1748, married on April 5, 1773 in Orange County, LUCY DAVIS; and (10) HENRY JAMES, born circa 1750, and his brother JOSEPH were living in Fauquier County, 1774.”

– George Harrison Sanford King

Source: “The Register of Overwharton Parish, Stafford Co VA, 1723-1758” p.59 by George Harrison Sanford King; Southern Historical Press Inc, 1961, p.55


The Enslaved of Thomas James 1675-1726 & Sarah E. Mason, widow of Andrew Barbee

  • 3 negros (previously noted in Classic SL)
  • 2 negros
  • Toby
  • Jenny

Source-1: Westmoreland County, Virginia Wills Abstracts
Will of Charles Mothershead, 12 April 1756: probate 25 May 1756:

“…to My Sister; Cousins Elizabeth and THOMAS JAMES 3 negros; sister MARY WILKERSON; Cousin CHARLES WILKERSON; brother-in-law THOMAS JAMES all estate save 3 negros…”

Source-2: The Register of Overwharton Parish, King, p. 162

“A list of Tobacco Tenders from the South Side of Potomack (Creek) to ye Lower End of Overwharton Parish…
THOMAS JAMES
JOHN JAMES (between 10 and 16 years of age)
JOSEPH JAMES (between 10 and 16 years of age)
2 Negroes
23,882 Tobacco Plants”

Source-3: Deed Abstracts of King George County, Virginia, 1821-1735, Sparacio. Also, Stafford County Deed Book J: pp.265-267

June 7, 1726
“THOMAS JAMES of Overwharton Parish, Stafford County in consideration of natural affection but more especially for 100 pounds Sterling money grant unto my son GEORGE JAMES of Parish of Saint Georges and County of Spotsylvania and the issue of his body lawfully begotten my now dwelling plantation in Stafford County & 300 acres of land thereon adjoining together with two Negro slaves named TOBEY and JENNY…to be to him immediately after my decease and for default of such issue in the said GEORGE JAMES the said lands to pass to my son JOHN JAMES and their heirs of his body…and for default of such heirs the same to my son JOSEPH JAMES and the heirs…under the limitation aforesaid…”
Witnessed: JOHN HOOE, FRENCH MASON, MOSLEY BATTALEY
Signed: THOMAS JAMES
Acknowledged in Court in Stafford County June 8, 1726


The Enslaved of George James Sr. 1702-1754 & Mary Wheeler

  • Will Strike (previously noted in Classic SL)
  • Pegg + increase (previously noted in Classic SL)
  • Charles, a negro boy
  • Pegg + increase
  • Tom (previously noted in Classic SL)
  • Dick  (previously noted in Classic SL)
  • a slave born or baptized in 1729

Source-1: Will of John Wheeler of Overwharton Parish, Stafford County; Will Abstracts of Stafford County, Virginia, 1729-1748. Sparacio. Also, Stafford County Will Book M, pp.480-481

Executed: September 9, 1743
Entered into Probate: August 12, 1746

“Item: I give unto GEORGE JAMES & MARY his wife three Negroe to say WILL STRIKE and PEGG the meaning of this bequest and my desire is that the said Negro PEGG be and remain in the estate of my said wife DIANA and after her decease I give the said Negro PEGG and her increase to my daughter MARY JAMES aforesaid during her natural life after whose death I give the said negro and her increase to ESTHER JAMES daughter of said GEORGE JAMES and MARY to her and her heirs.

“Item: I give unto ESTHER JAMES of GEORGE and MARY JAMES, a negro boy called CHARLES and a negro woman called PEGG and her increase…

Item: It is my will that my two negroes named TOM and DICK after the decease of my wife DIANA WHEELER be sold at publick auction and the money arising by such sale to be equally divided between GEORGE JAMES THE YOUNGER and his sister ESTHER JAMES…and heirs.”

Source-2: Register of Overwharton Parish, p.140, Negro Slave Owners in Overwharton Parish

GEORGE JAMES had a slave born or baptized in 1749. The recording of the slave birth was required so slave owners could be taxed when the slaves came to the proper age to be tithables.


The Enslaved of Capt. John James 1708-1778 & Dinah Allen

  • Tom, a boy (previously noted in Classic SL)
  • Moses, a boy (previously noted in Classic SL)
  • Harry
  • Jenny, plus her increase
  • Moll
  • Peter, a boy
  • Ben, a boy
  • Katie, daughter of Moll
  • Nan
  • Lucy
  • Nan, the increase of
  • Peter
  • Ben
  • Joe
  • Judy

Source-1. Will of John James: Abstracts of Wills, Administrations, and Marriages of Fauquier County, Virginia, 1759-1800. J. Estelle Stewart King. Also, Fauquier County Will Book 1: pp.332-334

Executed: November 6, 1777
Entered for Probate: May 25, 1778

“BENJAMIN…after his mother’s decease the plantation whereon I now live and as much land adjoining as will make a Tract of 500 acres bounded as follows: Beginning at the Corner of JOHN KERR’s & my Land thence up the Spring Branch to the Spring, thence from a marked White Oak South six degrees east to the Waggon Road which leads from the Church to BRERETON JONES’s the sd 500 acres to lye on both side of sd. road and joining the land of JOHN CRUMP, COLO. WILLIAM EUSTACE, & GEORGE CRUMP, also one Negroe boy named TOM – one feather bed and furniture – one cow and calf and two Ewes and Lambs – in case of BENJAMIN’s death the lands to go to JOHN.

” JOHN…all my land lying on the South westermost side of the Waggon Road and TULLOS and path containing by estomation 500 acres – Negroe boy named MOSES, one feather bed and furniture, one cow and calf and two Ewes and Lambs – If son JOHN should die without lawful issue the land to be equally divided between my son THOMAS JAMES, and my daughters SARAH HITT, ANN TULLOS, HANNAH HUMES, ELIZABETH BRADFORD, MARY CONWAY, DINAH THOMPSON & SUSANNAH JAMES

” …DINAH JAMES (WIFE)…all the residue of my estate both real and personal during her life and after her decease all the land not already bequeathed to my Children I leave to be equally divided among my daughters SARAH HITT, ANN TULLOS, HANNAH HUMES, ELIZ’S BRADFORD, MARY CONWAY, DINAH THOMPSON, & SUSANNAH JAMES. All the slaves and their increase lent to his children were to be returned after the decease of his wife and divided with the rest of his Estate.

Source-2. Dinah Allen’s Inheritance: Will of William Allen, father of Dinah Allen-James: Will Abstracts of Stafford County, Virginia, 1729-1748. Sparacio. Also, Stafford County Will Book M: pp.309-311

Executed August 16, 1738
Presented for Probate: May 12, 1741

“Item: I give unto my daughter DINAH JAMES all my right and title of her part of that land lying upon Elk Run and in Prince William County it being divided and laid off to my four daughters. Also I give to my daughter DINAH Negroe HARRY to be her and heirs as also I give to my daughter DINAH a negro named JENNY with all her increase during her life and after her decease I give JENNY and her increase to be equally divided amongst the children which she shall have by JOHN JAMES to them and heirs.”

Other slaves of William Allen also dispersed:
“Item: I give unto my daughter SARAH WALLER Negroe MOLL and all her future increase to her and her heirs. Likewise I give unto my grandson JOHN WALLER, son of WILLIAM WALLER, one negro boy named BEN, he being one of the Negroe MOLLS children to him and his heirs. Also, I give to my grandson WILLIAM WALLER, son of WILLIAM WALLER, one negro boy named PETER being one of MOLLS children to him and his heirs. As also I give unto my granddaughter ANNE WALLER, daughter of WILLIAM WALLER, one negroe girl named KATIE being one of MOLLS children to her and heirs.

“Item: I give to my daughter ELIZABETH WALLER Negroe NAN and her increase to her and heirs, as also I give unto my daughter ELIZABETH WALLER a negro girl named LUCY during her life, only my desire is that the increase of negro LUCY may belong to my grandson WILLIAM WALLER, son of GEORGE and ELIZABETH WALLER, aforesaid and after his mother’s decease I give the negro LUCY with all her increase to him and heir.

“Item: I give unto my daughter MARGARET all my right and title of her part of that land lying upon Elk Run in Prince William County already in her possession which I formerly made over by deed of gift and recorded in Prince William County Court it being divided and laid off to my four daughters by JOHN SAVAGE Surveyor of Stafford County to her and heirs as also I give to my daughter MARGARET a negro man named GEORGE already in her possession and a Negroe girl named NAN after my wife decease to her and heirs but my desire is that the increase of negroe NAN may be equally divided between my daughter MARGARET’s children and heirs as she lives and after her decease to them and their heirs forever.

“Item: I give unto my daughter HANNAH WITHERS a negroe woman named KATE and her Negro BEN already in her possession to her and heirs, likewise I give to my grandson JAMES WITHERS a negroe child named SUE being one of KATE’s children with her increase to him and heirs, after my wife’s decease, and the Negroe KATE with all her future increase to my daughter HANNAH WITHERS aforesaid and her heirs, likewise I give unto my daughter HANNAH one chest lock and key and one iron pot, also one pewter dish she having her choice.

“Item: I give unto my dear and loving wife and my son WILLIAM ALLEN the plantation whereon I now live and all the land belonging to it together with the hope neck and quarter as also all my title and interest of that land. I formerly leased to JOHN SUMACK in Prince William County upon Elk Run during my wife’s life and her decease I give it all to my son WILLIAM ALLEN and heir. Likewise I give to my wife three negroes named PETER, BEN and JOE during her life and after her decease to my son WILLIAM ALLEN and his heirs. Likewise I give to my son WILLIAM one Negroe girls named JUDEY with all her increase to him and heirs and all the rest of personal estate after my debts and legacies are paid to be equally divided between my dear and loving wife and my son WILLIAM only one feather bed with furniture out of his Mother part after his mother’s decease, the which bed with furniture I give to my daughter HANNAH WITHERS and her heirs, she having her choice out of her mother’s part, and likewise a young mare which runs at the marsh by my son JOHN ALLENs which mare I gave to my Grandson JOHN ALLEN and his heirs, and for the rest of my personal estate of what kind so ever to be equally divided between my loving wife during her life and my son WILLIAM and after my wife’s decease I give it all to my son WILLIAM ALLEN and heirs. I make my wife and my son WILLIAM ALLEN my full and whole executors of this my last will.


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