Thomas Pate was born in England c. 1650, emigrated to Colonial Virginia in 1672, and inherited a 2100-acre tobacco plantation in Gloucester County. About 1690, he started ferry operations across the York River to what became the port city of Yorktown, primarily for export of tobacco to England. By 1694, he also owned an ordinary (inn) at the port of Yorktown, where he died in 1703.
He held a number of civil and military positions in Gloucester County, representing the county in the House of Burgesses in 1684. He was a church warden and vestryman of the Petsworth Parish Church in Gloucester for at least seven years. Nathaniel Bacon, leader of Bacon's Rebellion, died in Col. Pate's home in 1676.
He married Elizabeth (surname unknown) c. 1675. They apparently had six children, who were all baptized at Abingdon Parish Church. Their children, as recorded in the church's registry, were:
John -- born 1677, died 1706 (His daughter Sarah married Col. Wilson Cary c. 1728.)
[likely daughter] -- 1679/80 (name illegible)
Elizabeth -- born 1680
Mary -- born 1684
Matthew -- born 1686 (see list of children below)
William -- born 1689
Matthew Pate married Anne Read c. 1710, grandaughter of Col. George Read, greatgreat-grandfaher of George Washington. Here are their children:
Jacob -- married Zilla Broach. Died 1752, Surry County, Virginia. [They were not the parents of Rev. William Pate d. 1837 in Georgia.]
Sarah -- married William Anderson 1736-7
Jeremiah -- married (?) Bender
Matthew married (?) Buck
Rebecca -- married George Newell
Rachel -- married 1. Robert Robinson, 2. John Warrington
Thomas -- born 1728, died 1814, married Hannah Philips Williams (a widow)
Caution: There may be more misinformation about this family on the Internet, particularly Jacob and Zilla, than any other American Pate family. This is primarily due to the booklet published by John Ben Pate c. 1915. This work should be disregarded concerning this family and its ancestry. For a more reliable source about the descendants of Matthew Pate and Anne Read, consult the William & Mary Quarterly Historical Magazine, Vol XII, 1904, pgs. 119-120 and 196-198, which is available on the Internet.
This Thomas Pate family remains an unsolved mystery regarding its present-day ancestors, despite the efforts of the greatest Pate genealogists in its history, such as the late Jinks Pate-Lee, Joel Pate, and Dr. Jim Peacock. Traditional genealogy using both family and public records is now providing very little information. It appears that our best hope to link present-day Pate families to this early American family is through genetic genealogy, or DNA analysis.
Fortunately, we have a ready resource for genetic genealogy through our Pate DNA Project. Though founded only three years ago, we have 110 members, and we are certain that a descendant of this family can be linked to one of the family lines in our Project.
If you know, or if you are personally, a documented male Pate descendant of this family, please contact me at your earliest convenience. Grants for DNA tests are available through the generosity of our Project's members for any man who may need assistance in purchasing the test or who would otherwise have no interest in joining. Inquiries to me will be held in strictest confidence by the administrators of the Project.
For all descendants of Col. Thomas Pate, the Pate DNA Project, through its Pate Genealogical Convocation, has placed an impressive memorial marker for him in the beautiful and historic cemetery of Grace Episcopal Church (the original York Parish Church) in Yorktown. This marker was placed in September 2008 in one of the most desirable places in the cemetery, close to the church and next to the gravestone for George Read, gg-gf of George Washington.
I have also prepared a timeline for the life of Col. Thomas Pate, which I believe is the most complete and comprehensive study of his history and accomplishments ever compiled. Since it is lengthy (three pages) and the format would not present well on this website, I will send a copy of it by email attachment (PDF), to anyone who sends me an email requesting it.
For any descendant, this is a great opportunity to make a significant and unique contribution to Pate genealogy, helping solve one of its oldest and most difficult mysteries.
All comments, corrections, and questions are welcome, either on this website or by private email.
You are invited to view our Project's website at this link: www.familytreedna.com/public/pate-dna-project . You may find the list of most distant ancestors informative on our chart of "Y-DNA Results".
A. J. Pate
Pate DNA Project
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