Errors have been made in many Thornton family histories due to confusion in associating legal documents from Old Rappahannock County, Virginia mentioning William Thornton and Elizabeth Thornton with the correct person(s). In an attempt to clear up this confusion for my own research involving my ancestors William, The Gloucester Immigrant, and his wife (said to be Elizabeth (nee Rowland) Thornton), I obtained copies of documents involving William and Elizabeth Thornton: nine Old Rappahannock County documents currently located in the Essex County Courthouse, three located in the Library of Virginia’s digital database on Virginia Land Grants and Patents, one from Polly Cary Mason’s book on Colonial Gloucester records and one from Nell Marion Nugent’s Cavaliers and Pioneers.
It’s easy to understand the confusion. The documents I obtained have many identifiers for William Thornton:
“of Gloucester County,”
“of Rappahannock County”
“of Richmond County”
“of Farnham Parish”
I have prepared a Microsoft Word document "Thornton Legal Documents From Old Rappahannock and Richmond Counties (1673-1715)--A Tale of Three or Four Williams, One Wife Named Elizabeth and Two Sides of the Rappahannock River"
I identified four distinct individuals:
1. William Thornton of Gloucester County
2. William Thornton of Rappahannock County and his wife
3. Elizabeth Thornton of Rappahannock County
4. William Thornton of Richmond County
A possible fifth is William Thornton mentioned as surveyor in Richmond County Land Grants
I conclude that it appears that most of the past confusion in Thornton family histories covering these early years has been created by two facts not being properly considered:
• William of Gloucester’s 2,000 acres were on the North side of the Rappahannock River and there is no record of him living on it or any lands South of the Rappahannock River
• William of Rappahannock owned land South of the Rappahannock River and was married to Elizabeth of Rappahannock
I'll E Mail a copy to anyone interested. Send requests to email@example.com
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