The following is an extract from a current research project on the history and descendants of Christopher Reynolds, Sr., of Isle of Wight County.
Isle of Wight County & Nansemond County, Virginia Records
1622, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John B. Boddie, p. 87, Christopher Reynolds immigrated to Virginia aboard the John & Francis (Doc.#131w)
Though The Robert Reynolds Family web-site lists that Christopher Reynolds, Sr., immigrated with a brother named Thomas Reynolds from Dorsetshire, England (Doc.#140), we have found no documentation to support this information. Other records such as those compiled by Sybil R. Taylor in 1992 for the Reynolds Family Association, list that Christopher Reynolds, Sr., was possibly born in Gravesend, County Kent, England (Doc.#144e-g).
16 Feb 1623, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John B. Boddie, p. 37, Chr. Reinholds [Christopher Reynolds] was among 33 inhabitants listed in a census for Warrascoyack [Warrosquyoake County], Virginia (Doc.#131v)
25 Feb 1625, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John B. Boddie, p. 37, Christopher Reynolds listed in a muster of the inhabitants of Wariscoyack [Warrosquyoake County], Virginia, who were servants of Mr. Edward Bennett (Doc.#131v)
These records reveal that Christopher Reynolds, Sr., began residing in Warrosquyoake County within a year after arriving in the Colony of Virginia. He was a servant “or employee” of Mr. Edward Bennett according to the latter record.
21 Dec 1634, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John B. Boddie, p. 531, Isle of Wight County Deeds, Bk. A, p.103; Christopher Reynolds of Warwickqueak [Warrosquyoake County] obtained 100 acre patent from Robert Sabine of Warrisquick [Warrosquyoake County] Bay, Witnesses: Robert Cramporne and Thomas Coarkman (as shown in the deed of Wassell Webling and George Fawdon from Justinian Cooper and wife) (Doc.#131ac, 135b)
This is the first record of Christopher Reynolds, Sr., obtaining land in Virginia. Notice that it was twelve years after he arrived in the Colony. Two years later he obtained a 450 acre patent on the waters of Pagan Shore for transporting nine servants to the Virginia Colony.
15 Sep 1636, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John B. Boddie, p. 659; The Library of Virginia, Virginia Land Office Patents No. 1, 1623-1643, p.382; Christopher Reynolds obtained 450 acre patent “bounded with a back creek running eastward behind Pagan Shore some three miles upward, the land lying on the south side of the creek in Warrasquinoke [Warrosquyoake ] County for transporting 9 servants. (Doc.# 131w,131ay, 142h)
Warrasquinoke, also listed as Warrasquoyacke or Warrosquyoake, was a colonial Virginia County which was originally formed in 1634. In 1637, the name was changed to Isle of Wight County. The article entitled Christopher Reynolds of Isle of Wight, Virginia, published by The Reynolds Family Association lists that Christopher Reynolds was born in 1611 at Gravesend, Kent County, England and immigrated with his wife Elizabeth aboard the Francis and John in 1622. Though the article further lists that they settled in Warwick County, Virginia (Doc.#144e-h), the records listed above reveal that Christopher Reynolds, Sr., and his wife, Elizabeth, on 16 Feb 1623, were among 33 inhabitants listed in a census for Warrascoyack [Warrosquyoake County], Virginia (Doc.#131v). Their first purchase of land there occurred almost nine years later for 100 acres in Warrisquick [Warrosquyoake] Bay in 1634 in the newly formed Warrosquyoake County. In 1636 Christopher obtained a 450 acre patent on the waters of Pagan Shore or Pagan Creek in Warrosquyoake County which subsequently became Isle of Wight County in 1637.
23 Dec 1636, Virginia Land Office, Patent Bk. 1, 1623-1643, p. 408; Nicholas Reynolds obtained a patent for 1000 acres lying at Lawnes Creek S.S. Et. up Lawnes Creeke (Doc.#156)
As revealed below, this Nicholas Reynolds inhabited James City County which in Colonial time periods bounded Isle of Wight County to the north. James City County was an original shire/county of Virginia which was formed in 1634. In 1652, James City County changed it’s name to Surry County. Though the county location for this patent was not provided in the actual description of the patent, the description does list Lawnes Creek which corresponds with the Upper Parish boundaries for Isle of Wight County as listed below:
In March, 1643, by an Act of the General Assembly, Isle of Wight County was divided into two parishes: “The upper parish to extend from Lawnes Creek to the eastern side of the Bay, the creeke devideing the plantation of Sam. Davis and Joseph Cobbs to be the extant and division of the said upper parish: The lower parish to extend from the Pagan-Poynt upon the river side to the plantation of Rich. Hayes, from the Pagan-Poynt uppon the bay including all the southerly side to the plantation of the said Cobbs, and that all the inhabitants alreadie resideing or that hereafter shall reside on that side to belong to the said lower parish.” (Doc.#154c-d)
As indicated above, this information confirms that Nicholas Reynolds settled in the same general area as Christopher Reynolds, Sr., who resided in the adjoining Lower Parish. However, these were large parishes during this time period, nearly sixty miles in length. Aside from this patent, Nicholas Reynolds also obtained two other patents in the years 1637 and 1638 as listed below.
10 Feb 1637, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John B. Boddie, p. 664; The Library of Virginia, Virginia Land Office Patents No. 1, 1623-1643, p.517; Christopher Reynolds listed as a land owner bounding a patent for 350 acres lying behind the Pagan Shore issued to Charles Barcroft (Doc.#131az, 142b)
As indicated above, the Pagan Shore referred to in this land patent appears to refer to that portion of the Pagan River where it is joined by the Cypress Creek tributary. Christopher Reynolds, Sr., and his descendants occupied this property for several generations.
26 Aug 1637, Virginia Land Office Patents, Bk. 1, p. 473; Nicholas Reynolds obtained a patent for 1000 acres lying on Lawnes Creek (Doc.#156a)
20 Feb 1638, Virginia Land Office Patents, Bk. 1, p. 676, James City County; Nicholas Reynolds listed as owning a patent which adjoins the 500 acre patent of Thomas Stamp bounding southerly from the head of Lawnes Creek (Doc.#156b)
Though no county is listed in the second land patent for Nicholas Reynolds dated 1637, as listed above, Lawnes Creek is located on the border of the Upper Parish in Isle Of Wight County next to the Lower Parish where Christopher Reynolds, Sr., and his descendants resided for several generations. Notice that according to the 1638 patent, that Nicholas Reynolds’ land was located next to a 500 acre land patent issued to Thomas Stamp at the head of Lawnes Creek in James City County. This indicates that Nicholas Reynolds’ land patents were actually located at the head waters of Lawnes Creek which today is in Surry County and which borders Isle of Wight County to the south (Doc.153b). Subject to further research, Reynolds family historians list that a Richard Reynolds, Sr., and his wife, Mary Anderson, resided in Surry County.
1 May 1639, Isle of Wight County Deeds, Bk. A, p.103; Christopher Reynolds sold 100 acre patent in Warrisquack [Warwicke Squeake or Warrosquyoake] Bay to Peter Hull, Witnesses: John Spackman and John Oliver (Doc.#131ac, 135b)
21 Mar 1643, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John B. Boddie, p. 541, Christopher Reynolds assigned 350 acres, on main branch of Bay Creek Called Cypress Swamp, to Arthur Smith (Doc.#131ad-131ae)
Notice that there is no previous record of this 350 acres on Cypress Swamp (which is also known as Cypress Creek on modern maps), a main branch of Bay Creek (which appears to be the same waterway as Pagan River), as having been obtained by Christopher Reynolds prior to his assigning it to Col. Arthur Smith, I. On modern day maps Cypress Creek is situated just outside the Smithfield Town limits. Today, Cypress Creek appears on Isle of Wight County maps as a tributary for the Pagan River which empties into the James River.
The history entitled Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John Bennett Boddie, lists the following on p.541, “Gov. William Berkeley confirms to Arthur Smith 350 acres on the main branch of Bay Creek [Pagan River] called Cypress Swamp [Cypress Creek], first granted to James Roe by Patent 10 Dec 1640 and by him assigned to Arthur Smith provided said Smith does not plant or seat for a term of three years, dated 21 Mar 1643." This area of Cypress Swamp was later part of Newport Parish where Christopher Reynolds, Sr., and his descendants resided for many generations.
Early church records of Isle of Wight County reveal that Newport Parish, where Christopher Reynolds, Sr., and many of his descendants resided for several generations, was originally known as the Lower Parish according to deed and court records. These early parish church records were patterned after the Episcopal Church of England since Virginia was an English Colony prior to the Revolutionary War in 1776. Aside from land ownership regarding deeds and patents, the church and the court were the bodies around which much public life in colonial Virginia revolved. Isle of Wight and Nansemond Counties played a significant part in the development of the Virginia Colony.
According to the Parish Lines of Southern Virginia, by C. F. Cocke, the Upper and Lower Parishes of Isle of Wight County were created from Warrosquyoake Parish in 1643. In 1734, the Upper Parish was divided with the lower half becoming part of the Lower Parish, also called Newport Parish, and the upper half going to Nottoway Parish which later became part of Southampton County (created from that portion of Isle of Wight County lying west of the Blackwater River) when it was created from Isle of Wight County in 1749. The Upper Parish was dissolved by this division and the Lower Parish, which existed from 1643-1743, was now officially called Newport Parish (Doc.#154a-b). Unfortunately, the records for the Upper Parish, now known as Nottoway Parish in Southampton County, are not complete with current records beginning in 1748.
“Parish vestries usually met twice a year to conduct the business of the Church. A new vestryman was selected to fill a vacancy when there was a designation or a death and two of the Vestryman were designated as Church Wardens each year. Every four years all of the land in each parish was “processioned” and boundaries were either confirmed or established between land owners unless there was a lack of agreement between the two land owners. These processioners’ reports always included the names of the men conducting the “processions” and often include the names of the individual land owners involved and any other persons who were in attendance at this important business undertaking. Another integral part of the business conducted at the vestry meetings was the selection of a minister, the purchase and constant repair of the Glebe and the financial aid give to individual members of the parish.” (Doc.#151a)
A brief history of the Isle of Wight parishes reveals the following:
Warrosquyoake, later Isle of Wight, Parish
and the Parishes in the Dicoese of Southern Virginia Descended therefrom
Warrosquyoake Parish, circa 1629.
The first parish organization in what later became Isle of Wight County is recorded in 1629 as already existing at Warrosquyoake. Copies of the General Court Proceedings show that in 1629 the Commissioners at Warrosquyoake delivered complete records of the monthly court proceedings, together with the register of christenings, marriages, and burials under the hand of the minister and the church wardens, and likewise a copy of their lives and disbursements at Warrosquyoake. When Warrosquyoake was established as a county in 1634 a parish was already in existence.
Until March, 1634, Isle of Wight County had but one parish.
In March, 1643, by an Act of the General Assembly, Isle of Wight County was divided into two parishes:
“The upper parish to extend from Lawnes Creek to the eastern side of the Bay, the creeke devideing the plantation of Sam. Davis and Joseph Cobbs to be the extant and division of the said upper parish: The lower parish to extend from the Pagan-Poynt upon the river side to the plantation of Rich. Hayes, from the Pagan-Poynt uppon the bay including all the southerly side to the plantation of the said Cobbs, and that all the inhabitants alreadie resideing or that hereafter shall reside on that side to belong to the said lower parish.”
Officially, the Upper Parish became known as Warrosquyoake Parish, and the Lower Parish as Newport Parish. The Act of 1734 herinafter referred to gives the official name to Newport for the first time. (Doc.#154c-d)
According to a book entitled Historical Notes of Isle of Wight County, we also located the following parish history online:
“As early as 1629 a parish existed in Warrasquyoake. By 1643 it was necessary to divide the county lengthwise, making the Upper and Lower parishes using the Pagan River as the dividing line. Later the names were changed to Warrasquyoake for the Upper and Newport for the Lower Parish. In 1734 these parishes were again divided, this time at the Blackwater River. The upper parts were combined and called Nottoway Parish; the lower parts were named Newport. All of Nottoway Parish formed the new county of Southampton in 1749, leaving all of Newport in Isle of Wight County.”
Notice that this second description of the parish histories is better defined than the original description listed above. The fact that the Upper and Lower Parishes used the Pagan River as the dividing line is important information for the Reynolds families who resided on the shores of the Pagan River and Cypress Creek where Christopher Reynolds, Sr., obtained his first land patent in 1636 as listed above. In 1734, the Upper and Lower Parishes were divided again at the Blackwater River with the portions of the Upper Parish combined with the Nottoway Parish which became Southhampton County in 1749, leaving all of the Lower Parish, now called Newport Parish, in Isle of Wight County.
Another enlightening description from the book entitled "ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, 1608 - 1907" by Col. E. M. Morrison, lists the following interpretation of the original description of the Upper and Lower Parishes of Isle of Wight County:
In 1642 the county, heretofore one parish, was divided into two. Lawnes Creek was the northern and Pagan Creek was the southern boundary of the Upper Parish; Pagan Creek the northern and the Nansemond county line the southern boundary of the Lower Parish. They both extended [East] to the North Carolina line, about ninety miles [prior to the formation of Nottoway Parish in 1734, and Southampton County in 1749 as listed above].
Though the Newport Parish records did contain some birth records for the years 1705-1757, transcribed from an early parish register, they are now lost. However, a transcription of these colonial birth records appear on pages 223-228 of a later parish register for Newport Parish which is contained on microfilm via Miscellaneous reel 649; Isle of Wight County reel 50, at the Library of Virginia. These birth records are also listed in the Newport Parish records which are transcribed and published by William Lindsay Hopkins. Though we located several listings for Christopher and Richard Reynolds in the Newport Parish records which are extant from 1724-1784 as listed below in this chronology, there are no birth, marriage or death/burial records listed for any individuals named Reynolds.
1 Oct 1645, Isle of Wight County Wills and Administrations, Bk. 1, p. 330, Christopher Reynolds listed as a land owner bounding land owned by Arthur Smith called the “Freshett” and “John Roe’s Neck” in the will of [Col.] Arthur Smith [Sr.] of Warrisqueake, recorded 9 Feb 1693 (Doc.#132j)
9 Apr 1649, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John B. Boddie, p. 531, Christopher Reynolds listed residing next to 300 acres of land sold by Ambrose Bennett to Ambrose Meader (Doc.#131ac)
These two records reveal that Christopher Reynolds’s land was adjacent to the land of his neighbors, Col. Arthur Smith, I; Ambrose Bennett; bounded by the tracts of land called the “Freshett” and “John Roe’s Neck.”
1654, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John B. Boddie, p. 117, Elizabeth Reynolds, daughter of Christopher Reynolds, married Richard Jordan, son of Thomas Jordan, Sr., of Chuckatuck Parish in Nansemond County (Doc.#131w,131x)
This record indicates that Christopher Reynolds, Sr.’s daughter, Elizabeth Reynolds, was married to Richard Jordan of Nansemond County prior to 1654. This indicates that she was born prior to 1638, i.e. she was probably born about 1635 in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Nansemond County was originally created in 1637 from Upper Norfolk County which bordered Isle of Wight County on the north side and North Carolina on the south side. On 1 Jan 1974, Nansemond County was merged with Suffolk City where the Nansemond County records are housed today.
1 May 1654, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, by John B. Boddie, p. 521, Isle of Wight County Wills and Administrations, Bk. 1, p. 46; Will of Christopher Reynolds [Christopher Reynolds, Sr.], planter: to son Christopher [Christopher Reynolds, Jr.] land that Richard Jordan liveth on. To son John [John Reynolds] land near swamp when he is 21. To son Richard [Richard Reynolds, Sr.], land I live on when 21. My daughter Abbasha, I have given her a portion already. To daughter Elizabeth, cattle. Daughter Jane. To George Rivers unborn child, 1 heifer. To child wife goeth with. Wife Elizabeth to be executrix and bring up John and Richard, my sons until they are age 16. Teste, Sylvester Bullen, Anthony Matthews. (Doc.#131ab, 132b, 138c)
Though the above will abstract for Christopher Reynolds, Sr., is useful, it is not complete. Portions of it are inaccurate when compared with the original will. As recorded in the original Isle of Wight County Will Bk. 1, p. 46, though difficult to translate in it’s entirety due to poor filming, Christopher Reynolds, Sr.’s will reads as follows:
In the name of God, Amen. The first day of May 1654. I Christopher Reynolds [Sr.]of the Isle of Wight County in Virginia, planter, being healthful in body and sound in mind & memory make this my last Will and Testament in manner and form as followeth. First, I give and bequeath my soul unto the hands of God my Creator and Maker and my body to be buried in sure and certain hope of Resurrection and Eternal Life through the only merit and satisfaction of Jesus Christ my only Savior and Redeemer. Impremis: I give and bequeath unto my son Christopher Reynolds [Jr.] all my land on the southerly side of the Freshest swamp that Richard Jordan [son-in-law who married daughter Elizabeth Reynolds] now liveth upon. And I give unto my son John Reynolds lands on the northerly side of the said Freshest Swamp...(unreadable in full but discusses age of inheritance for son John when he reaches age twenty one). And unto my son Richard Reynolds I give all my land I now liveth upon and one cow and he to possess the said land until he is twenty one years of age. And my daughter Abbasha, I have give her a portion already which are two cows and two calves. And I give unto my daughter Elizabeth one heifer of two years old besides the stock I gave her formerly. And unto my daughter Jane I give one cow and one yearling heifer. And I give to George Rivers one yearling heifer. And I give unto the child my wife now goeth with if it lives two cows to enjoy them at three years old. And if any of my children dye my will is that the other should succeed what estate they leave. And unto Elizabeth my loving wife, I give all the rest of my estate both goods and chattels moveable and unmoveable and debts that are due to me from any person or persons whatsoever and my two servants she paying all my debts truly and justly. And I do constitute and ordain Elizabeth my loving wife my whole and sole Executrix. And my will is that my wife Elizabeth shall have the ordering and bringing up John and Richard my sons until they be sixteen years of age, and Elizabeth and Jane until they be fifteen years of age. In witness whereof I Christopher Reynolds do hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year first above written.
Signed: Christ. Reynolds
Witnesseses: Sylvester Bullen, Anthony Matthews
Isle of Wight County, Virginia Wills, Bk. 1, pp.46-8, (Doc.#148)
It is unclear from this will how George Rivers was related to Christopher Reynolds, Sr. However, in the actual will there is no mention of George River’s unborn child as listed in the will abstract above. Subject to further research, the reference to George River indicates that he may have been a son-in-law of Christopher Reynolds, Sr. Though The Robert Reynolds Family web-site lists Christopher’s wife as “Elizabeth Matthews River,” (Doc.#140) other than the listing of Anthony Matthews as a witness to the will of Christopher Reynolds, there is no documentation in the will of Christopher Reynolds, Sr., to support the maiden name listed for his wife, Elizabeth.
According to the will of Christopher Reynolds, Sr., both John and Richard Reynolds were under age sixteen, i.e. they were born between 1638 and about 1645. His daughters, Elizabeth and Jane, are listed as having been under age fifteen, i.e. they were born between 1639 and 1645. Christopher Reynolds, Jr., who received land from his father, was apparently already age 21 indicating that he was born between 1630 and 1633. Notice that this is a few years earlier than the date of birth, 1637, calculated for Christopher Reynolds, Jr., according to The Robert Reynolds Family web-site (Doc.#140a).
The Reynolds Family Association lists that Christopher Reynolds, Sr.’s children were born as follows: Richard Reynolds, born 1641; Christopher Reynolds, Jr., born 1642; John Reynolds, born 1644 and died 11 Mar 1668; Abbasha Reynolds, born 1646; Elizabeth Reynolds, born 1648, [married Richard Jordan, son of Thomas Jordan, Sr., of Nansemond County]; Jane Reynolds, born 1650; and Thomas Reynolds, born 1655 (Doc.#144e). Notice that the Reynolds Family Association lists a son named Thomas Reynolds who is not listed in Christopher Reynolds, Sr.’s will. Since no documentation is provided for this information, the Reynolds Family Association appears to have estimated the years of birth for the children of Christopher Reynolds based on the date of his will. However, the will of Christopher Reynolds, Sr., indicates that Christopher Reynolds, Jr., was the first son listed and the only son who appears to have been over age sixteen at the time Christopher Reynolds, Sr., made out his will. Notice also from above, that Christopher Reynolds, Sr., had a daughter named Elizabeth who married Richard Jordan about 1654. This would indicate that Elizabeth was at least fifteen or sixteen years old in 1654, i.e. she was born in 1638/9 if she is the same Elizabeth Reynolds who married Richard Jordan. However, Elizabeth is also listed as having been under age fifteen according to her father’s will? It seems unlikely that she could also have been the same Elizabeth who married Richard Jordan or George Rivers who is also listed below in her brother John Reynolds’ will.
Normally, a will lists children in the order of their birth. According to the order in which Christopher Reynolds, Sr., lists his children in his will, they were actually born as follows: 1) Christopher Reynolds, Jr., born about 1632; 2) Abbasha Reynolds, born about 1634; 3) Elizabeth Reynolds, born about 1638, married Richard Jordan about 1653/1654; 4) John Reynolds, born about 1640, will dated 11 Mar 1668 and proved on 3 May 1669 in Isle of Wight County; 5) Richard Reynolds, Sr., born about 1642; 6) Jane Reynolds, born about 1644. Since Christopher Reynolds, Sr.’s will lists sons first, then daughters, from the order of the listing of his daughters, the apparent gap in years between Christopher Reynolds, Jr. and his brothers, the approximate age of Elizabeth and Jane who were under age fifteen, the approximate date of marriage for his daughter Elizabeth who married Richard Jordan prior to 1653/4, we have calculated and inserted the daughter’s birth years as listed above.
According to a 1623 census Christopher Reynolds, Sr., was one of thirty three inhabitants for Warrosquyoake Bay (Pagan River Bay), Warrosquyoake County, Virginia. Hence, all of his children would have been born in Warrosquyoake County which became Isle of Wight County in 1637. After 1636, his children would have been born on the 450 acre patent which was located on the waters of Cypress Creek, a tributary of the Pagan River in Isle of Wight County. Hence, based on the dates of birth calculated for his children, Christopher Reynolds, Sr., and his wife Elizabeth were married about 1631 in Warrosquyoake Bay (also known as Pagan River Bay), Warrosquyoake County, Virginia. Though the Reynolds Family Association lists that there was also a son of Christopher Reynolds, Sr., named Thomas Reynolds (Doc.#144f), so far we have found no documentation which supports this information.
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