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Thomas Ashley Sr. c1650 VA – after 1759

Thomas Ashley Sr. c1650 VA – after 1759

At this time much of the early life of Thomas Ashley, Sr. is unknown. His birth year is unknown. We assume he was born in Virginia because his father lived there and because we can find him there in Colonial Virginia records. On 20 June 1666 Thomas Ashley was a witness to a gift of a heifer from Richard Island to Jos. Fielding.[i]In March 1677 he was a witness to two deeds.[ii]Some time after this he moved out of the Virginia Colony.

We next find Thomas, a blacksmith, in the court records of the Chowan Precinct and Bertie County, North Carolina. In 1670 Chowan Precinct was formed in Albemarle County in the northeastern part of the Colony.[iii]Deed books for this old precinct date back to 1696 and we find Thomas Ashley in those books, beginning in 1708.[iv]On 6 April 1708 William Williams sold 100 acres of land in Chowan Precinct to Thomas Ashley, blacksmith.[v],[vi]

It was about this time that Thomas married Ann (Plowman) Ashley. They probably had a large family but we only know of three sons.[vii]Thomas Ashley, Jr. can be found in court records with his father[viii]and William Ashley can be found in other court records in the area. John Plowman Ashley most likely obtained his middle name from his mother’s maiden name. 

Many legal records give witness to the life of Thomas in North Carolina. Thomas gave testimony in March 1710 concerning the estate of Peter Arline.[i]We know he stayed in the area because he is mentioned four times in Chowan Precinct’s court records of 1715. On June 2 he witnessed a deed of William Duckenfield.[ii]On June 7 Thomas witnessed a payment of debt between Lewis Davis and John Hardy.[iii]On July 19 “Thomas Ashley was appointed an appraiser to the estate of Samuel Woodward.”[iv]In July he was also appointed as an appraiser to the estate of Francis Perratt.[v]

Bertie County was formed from Chowan Precinct in 1722.[i]The following year Thomas Ashley was an executor to the estate of Samuel Ratliff.[ii]In 1734 Thomas was the witness to two land transactions in Bertie County. Daniel Frazor and Robert West sold land to each other on 6 May 1734. Two years later he witnessed a deed between George Phenney and Thomas Jones.[iii]

On 2 August 1740 Thomas Lovick sold to Thomas Ashley 150 acres on Black Walnut Swamp. Thomas Lovick was the executor of the will of Laurence Larson and sold the land in that role. Thomas Ashley paid 30 British pounds for the land.[i]

            All of these involvements with the court give evidence of Thomas’ life in the Chowan Precinct and later the Bertie County area. He witnessed transactions, purchased land and raised his family.

On 10 August 1742 Thomas Ashley, Sr. sold Thomas Ashley, Jr. 120 acres of land on Cashoke Creek in Bertie County. Thomas Ashley, Jr. paid 100 British pounds for the land adjacent to Henry Van Luven’s land. One of the witnesses to the transaction was William Ashley.[ii],[iii]This may be William the son of Thomas, Sr. William’s name appears in many records of the county.[iv]

Land sales were not the only county records that included the name Thomas Ashley, Sr. He and his sons, Thomas Ashley, Jr. and John Ashley, can be found in Bertie County’s Tax Lists. Thomas’s name appears in 1756[i], 1758[ii]and 1759[iii].

The 1759 land sale and the 1759 tax list are the last references to Thomas Ashley, Sr. in the county. He might have died that year but his death date, like his birth date, is unknown.


[i]Pruitt, A. B., List of Taxables 1755-1764, Bertie County, N. C. (NC: Privately printed, 2009) 6.

[ii]Pruitt, A. B., List of Taxables 1755-1764, Bertie County, N. C. (NC: Privately printed, 2009) 28.

[iii]Pruitt, A. B., List of Taxables 1755-1764, Bertie County, N. C. (NC: Privately printed, 2009) 41.


[i]Bell, M. B. (1963). Colonial Bertie County, North Carolina: Deed Books A – H, 1720 – 1757 (2nd Edition). Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc. Page 157.

[ii]Bell, M. B. (1963). Colonial Bertie County, North Carolina: Deed Books A – H, 1720 – 1757 (2nd Edition ed.). Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., page 174. Aug. Court 1742. Deed Book F, 317. 

[iii]Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1740 thru 1743; 1758 thru 1762. Book II. North Carolina: 1977. From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC.

[iv]Bell, M. B. (1963). Colonial Bertie County, North Carolina: Deed Books A – H, 1720 – 1757 (2nd Edition). Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc.


[i]Corbitt, David Leroy, The Formation of the North Carolina Colonies, 1663 – 1943, Sixth Printing (Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, NC Dept. of Cultural Resources, 2000) 25.

[ii]Hathaway, U. R. B., The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register(NC: Edenton Publishers, 1900) 70. Retrieved April 2017 from archive.org.

[iii]Bell, M. B. (1963). Colonial Bertie County, North Carolina: Deed Books A – H, 1720 – 1757 (2nd Edition). Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc. Pages 99 & 114.


[i]Hathaway, U. R. B., The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register(NC: Edenton Publishers, 1900) 133 & 164. Retrieved April 2017 from archive.org.

[ii]Hofmann, Margaret M., Chowan Precinct, North Carolina; Genealogical Abstracts of Deed Books, 1696 – 1723 (Weldon, NC: The Roanoke News Company, 1972) 95.

[iii]Hofmann, Margaret M., Chowan Precinct, North Carolina; Genealogical Abstracts of Deed Books, 1696 – 1723 (Weldon, NC: The Roanoke News Company, 1972) 94.

[iv]Hofmann, Margaret M., Chowan Precinct, North Carolina; Genealogical Abstracts of Deed Books, 1696 – 1723 (Weldon, NC: The Roanoke News Company, 1972) 216.

[v]Hathaway, U. R. B., The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register(NC: Edenton Publishers, 1900). Retrieved April 2017 from archive.org.


[i]Fleet, Beverly. Virginia Colonial Abstracts, 1632 – 1810(Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988) 533; digital image, Ancestry(ancestry.com: accessed March 2018).

[ii]Fleet, Beverly. Virginia Colonial Abstracts, 1632 – 1810(Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988) 500 & 609; digital image, Ancestry(ancestry.com: accessed March 2018).

[iii]Corbitt, David Leroy, The Formation of the North Carolina Colonies, 1663 – 1943, Sixth Printing (Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, NC Dept. of Cultural Resources, 2000) 65.

[iv]Hofmann, Margaret M., Chowan Precinct, North Carolina; Genealogical Abstracts of Deed Books, 1696 – 1723 (Weldon, NC: The Roanoke News Company, 1972).

[v]Hofmann, Margaret M., Chowan Precinct, North Carolina; Genealogical Abstracts of Deed Books, 1696 – 1723 (Weldon, NC: The Roanoke News Company, 1972) 23.

[vi]Hathaway, U. R. B., The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register(NC: Edenton Publishers, 1900) 94. Retrieved April 2017 from archive.org.

[vii]Barber, Franklin Taylor, The Barbers and Allied Families (Plano, TX: 1991) Genealogy Gophers (gengophers.com: accessed Feb. 2018) 141-2.

[viii]Bell, M. B., Colonial Bertie County, North Carolina Deed Books A-H, 1720-1757 (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1977).