Tracing the Lewis Fortune:
Plantation Portland Found

Generation #4

Note: Information on the Lewis Family before Walden Lewis b. c. 1774 in Virginia comes from assumptions based on multiple sources. Therefore, the information on this page is not reliable for genealogical purposes. A detailed discussion of the many connections can be found at Lewis Family Research.

There has been a family tradition that our Walden Lewis family had settled on a plantation named Portland in Virginia back in the day. My Dad spent decades looking for that property. Now, records for Plantation Portland have been found. The search started with a cryptic record for a James Lewis, Uncle, of Spotsylvania Co VA, who willed his estate to an unknown James Lewis of Fauquier Co VA.

So, let us start with James first and then William who were brothers of John Lewis. And, all of them were sons of William Lewis b. 1723.

 

I. James "of Laurel Hill" (3William, 2James, 1James, 0Research) Lewis

This James Lewis was born in about 1744 in Spotsylvania Co VA. In about 1770 probably in Spotsylvania Co VA, James married cousin Elizabeth Minor b. 8/3/1752 in Louisa Co VA.

James and Elizabeth are first found in records in 1771 where they and James' mother, Sarah, are cited in a Spotsylvania County land transaction. From this document, we are informed that James is the son of William and Sarah Lewis of Spotsylvania Co VA. Elizabeth's identity is found in the 1772 probate for her mother, Sarah Carr Minor. But, Elizabeth died young.

On 6/19/1783 James "of Laurel Hill" married Sarah Herndon b. 7/2/1766 Spotsylvania Co VA. Proof of Sarah's identity as the daughter of Edward Herndon comes from the 9/1799 probate bond which names James Lewis as the son-in-law of Edward Herndon of Berkeley Parish.

Sarah Herndon died in 1784. The close date from marriage to Sarah's death leads to the belief that she and a child may have died in childbirth; as no child is attributed to this marriage. After Sarah's death, James married Elizabeth Maury b. 4/1/1756 in Albemarle Co VA. Proof of this marriage comes from the will of Rev. James Maury:

This James had many names depending on the venue:

1. This James was a planter, managing the Laurel Hill Plantation for the Herndon family. Thus, he was known as James "of Laurel Hill."

2. In the Herndon family histories, he is cited as Col. James Lewis. But to date, there are no known records of military service. Was he a commander of local militia alongside his contemporary, Col. Zachary Lewis?

3. When this James' favorite nephew, James Lewis s/o William, entered professional life, the younger James adopted the moniker James Lewis, Jr to differentiate himself from Uncle James per the custom of the time. Subsequently, this James adopted the moniker James Lewis, Sr to differentiate himself from the younger James.

James is recorded on 3/30/1792 where he received land and money from the estate of Thomas Burbridge. James is last recorded on 5/8/1794 where he was executor for his brother William's estate.

Although having married three times, James, Sr. died without issue in 1801. James left his fortune to his favorite nephew, James Lewis, Jr. who lived in Fauquier Co VA.

Spotsylvania Co VA Deed Book J (1774-1782), p. 370:
Jany. 3, 1783. Joel Parish of Spots. Co. to James Lewis of same co. 200 curr. 175 a. in St. Geo. Par., Spots. Co., etc. Edwd. Herndon, Jos. Herndon, Thorns. Herndon, Thomas Towles, Nicho. Payne. Jany. 16, 1783.
Spotsylvania County Records 1721-1800
100. James LEWIS, admr. of Sarah LEWIS, decd., with Andrew BUCHANNAN, sec. May 5, 1785.
Fredericksburg VA Newspaper:
Lewis, Capt. William. dec'd, his admr, James Lewis, Sr. of Fredsbrg., will sell. . .his HH and KF at his late dwelling house in Fredsbrg. His remaining est. will be sold on 1 Aug. by his admr.
Spotsylvania Co VA Will Book F (1798-1800), p. 90:
HERNDON, Edward, Berkeley Parish, Spotsylvania Co., d. Aug. 5, 1793, Executors Bond dated Sept. 3, 1799.
Ex. my sons-in-law James LEWIS and Anthony FRAZER.
Leg. wife Mary HERNDON; son-in-law James LEWIS; my children.
Codicil Mar. 14, 1799, appoints his four sons John, Edward, William and Joseph HERNDON executors.
Fauquier Co VA Will Book ?, p. 347:
Lewis, James. 21 Jan 1802 , 26 Jan 1802 .
Estate lately received from James Lewis (uncle) of Spotsylvania Co to go to wife Jane. All estate that comes from father to go to brother William Lewis.
Wit: George Pickett, Charles Marshall, James Walker.

From the above records, we find that James. Sr. received lands and monies from different family sources including the Branhams through his mother; the Lewises through his father; and probably additional lands and monies from his three marriages: the Minor, Herndon, and Maury families.

At least we know where the fortune went. This estate was left to his favorite nephew, James Lewis, Jr. of Fauquier Co VA. James, Jr. left the portion of his estate, which he received from his father, to his brother, Cmdr. William Lewis, USN, who also died without issue. James, Jr. left the remainder of the the estate, including property willed by his uncle, James, Sr., to his wife Jane Walker Lewis. Plantation Portland wound up in Cmdr William's estate. This eliminates James, Sr. as the owner of Plantation Portland. Thus, Cpt. William Lewis was the owner/ proprietor of Plantation Portland.

 

II. Cpt William (3William, 2James, 1James, 0Research) Lewis of the Virginia State Navy

William Lewis (brother of James, Sr.) was born in about 1742 in Fredericksburg VA. In the many records, he is referred to as Captain or Revolutionary War Cpt. William Lewis. If the newly declared United States had been an organized county, he would have been Cpt. William Lewis, USN. But, he was actually Cpt. William Lewis of the Virginia State Navy.

In about 1775, William married an unknown spouse. According to a Herndon family genealogy, William married Sarah Herndon, daughter of Joseph Herndon "of Laurel Hill." This is not proven. It is likely, however, that William did marry one of the many Herndon cousins.

Cpt. William Lewis is famous for fighting in the Revolutionary War as the captain of the Ship Renown at a not-so-well-known Battle of Coxendale, south of Richmond, on the James River in 3/1781. And after losing the battle, he is loved and renowned for his contribution to our Independence.

William settled at his plantation named Portland. Little is written about this plantation, but research now can show how the property was passed down through his descendants until it was eventually sold in 1844.

William died in 1794. And, his brother, James, Sr., was his administrator. 

304 Caroline Built c.1782 by Revolutionary War Captain William Lewis, and enlarged to its present size in 1873 by William H. Smith, a local grocer. The house is of the Georgian tradition, as seen in the patterned brick work of the chimneys and the metal work of the downspout heads. Note the Colonial Revival porch with the slight swelling in the columns, copied from the Greek style.
    "Walk Through History. . .Caroline Street," HistoryPoint.Org, 11 March 2002, <http://www.historypoint.org> 10 October 2004.

Note: These acres were sold to James. And, James' property eventually was willed down to Jane Walker Lewis.

Spotsylvania Co VA Deed Book K, p. 386:
Decr. 17, 1784. Wm. Lewis and Sarah, his wife, of Spots. Co. to James Lewis of same co. 243 12 s. 174 a. in St. George Par., Spots. Co. [not Plantation Portland] No witness. Decr. 17, 1784.
Spotsylvania County Records 1721-1800, p. 417:
Decr. 4, 1787. Jno. Lewis and Mary, his wife, of Fredksbg.  to Wm. Lewis of same town. 250. Tract of land in Spots. Co. [no acreage stated] near town of Fredksbg. etc., etc. [Potentially Plantation Portland]
Wit: Eleazer Callender, Wm. Waddle, James Dix, French Gray. Decr. 4, 1787.
Fredericksburg VA Newspaper:
Lewis, Capt. William. dec'd, his admr, James Lewis, Sr. of Fredsbrg., will sell. . .his HH and KF at his late dwelling house in Fredsbrg. His remaining est. will be sold on 1 Aug. by his admr.

 

III. Now, we move down to James, Jr. and Cmdr William Lewis, sons of Cpt William Lewis. Both James and William received portions of the Lewis estate, directly or indirectly, from James Lewis, Sr.

    1. James Lewis, Jr. of Fauquier Co VA

Research Note: When this James started his professional life as a lawyer, he took the moniker James Lewis, Jr. to differentiate himself from his uncle, James Lewis, Sr. as per the custom of the times. James Jr. is important to this research; as he received the estates of first his father, Cpt William Lewis, and then his uncle, James "of Laurel Hill" Lewis. When James, Jr. died without issue, he left the portion of his estate which he received from his father to his brother, Cmdr William Lewis, USN, and the remainder to his wife Jane. As Plantation Portland was willed to Cmdr. William's wife, this precludes James, Sr. as the original owner of Plantation Portland.

Spotsylvania County Records 1721-1800, p. 27:
Lewis, Sarah,
Spotsylvania Co. d. Oct. 28, 1771. 
Leg. grandson James Lewis; daughter Elizabeth Richards, grandchildren William and Sarah Richards, son and daughter of Winifred Richards.
Wit. Daniel Branham, Benjamin Burbridge. 
Commwh vs Brownlow & others PLAINTIFF(s) : 
Commonwealth DEFENDANT(s) : Robert Brownlow; Joseph Parke; Alexander Reddick; James Lewis Jr. James Madden; John G. Griffiths 
PLACES MENTIONED : Fredericksburg REMARK(s) : Death - William Crane killed March 1793 
CITATION : Commwh vs Brownlow & others / 1793 / CR-DC-R / 387-91
Lewis, James [Jr.], att. at law, mar. Miss Jane Walker dau of the late Thomas Walker of Fredsbrg in Fredsbrg on Thurs last. (VH 13 Sept 97).

Thomas Jefferson Collection:
James Lewis, Jr., Fredsg, to Thomas Jefferson.
Introduces a young man, Mr. James Walker, a relation, a fellow thinker and laborer in the cause of equality, who is staying in Philadelphia.
Note: The Mr. James Walker was most probably his brother-in-law.

Fauquier Co VA Will Book ?, p. 347:
Lewis, James. 21 Jan 1802, 26 Jan 1802.
Estate lately received from James Lewis (uncle) of Spotsylvania Co to go to wife Jane. All estate that comes from father to go to brother William Lewis.
Wit: George Pickett, Charles Marshall, James Walker.
STYLE : Js. Lewis vs Strother
PLAINTIFF(s) : James Lewis Jr. (assignee of George Lee assignee of Thomas Southcomb assignee of Jeremiah Morton assignee of William Morton assignee of Uriel Mallory)
DEFENDANT(s) : Philip Slaughter (admr.); Daniel F. Strother (admr.); French Strother (dec'd)
PLACES MENTIONED : Culpeper
REMARK(s) : Death ref. - abated Apr. 1802 by death of James Lewis Jr.
CITATION : Js. Lewis vs Strother / 1802 / CR-DC-L / 563-55
Conway Whittle Papers (1773-1911), Box III: Folder 35:
Lewis, James, his will, 1801; 1816 J. Minor's opinion of said will.
Autograph document signed.

 

    2. Cmdr. William Lewis, USN. Biography found in "The End of Barbary Terror"  <http://books.google.com/books> 6 November 2014.

Cmdr. William Lewis is one of five famous Navy men from this family and is well documented:
1. Cpt. William Lewis of the Virginia State Navy.
2. Cmdr. William Lewis was an officer during the Barbary Coast War and a ship's captain during the War of 1812. William died at sea when the Brig Epervier sank during a storm in 9/1815.
3. Cpt. William Lewis Herndon was named for his "uncle," Cpt. William Lewis. Cpt. Herndon died at sea when the USS Central America sank in 9/1857.
4. Cmdr. Matthew Fountaine Maury, the "Pathfinder of the Seas," was a noted scientist and Confederate diplomat.
5. Cpt. William Lewis Maury, Captain of the CSN Georgia during the Civil War.

Note: Cmdr. William Lewis, USN received the aggregate Lewis fortune from his father, directly, and his uncle, indirectly, through his older brother, James of Fauquier Co VA. When Cmdr. William died without children, the estate went to his widow, Frances Mumford Whittle Lewis, who outlived Cmdr. William by 55 years. And, Plantation Portland was sold by Frances to the King family in 1844.

Conway Whittle Papers (1773-1911), Box III: Folder 3:
Lewis, William, Fredericksburg and Fauquier Co., [Va.], to Uncle James Lewis and Aunt Elizabeth Lewis, Spotsylvania County [Va.], 1801.
Concerning Presidential election of 1801, local congressional election; family business; and death of James Lewis. 4 autograph letters signed.
Conway Whittle Papers (1773-1911), Box III: Folder 9:
Lewis, William, USN,
To his aunt Elizabeth Lewis, Mr. Edward Herndon, and to his aunt after her remarriage to Mr. Herndon (probably Mr. Edward Herndon, above), 1807 - 1810.
These letters written from various U.S. port cities, detail the progress of several years in recruiting, also a voyage to France with the first dispatches for the ministry there. Several references made to audiences with President Jefferson. 10 autograph letters signed.
Conway Whittle Papers (1773-1911), Box III: Folder 10:
Lewis, William, USS United States, Norfolk, Hampton Roads, [Va.], Philadelphia, [Pa.], To Conway Whittle, Elizabeth Herndon, Lieut. John B. Nicolson, and Mary Whittle, 1810 - 1811.
Concerning his separation from the Navy, his courtship and engagement to Frances Whittle, his appointment as Master of the Pennsylvania Packet, a ship of 300 tons out of Philadelphia, and his preparation for a voyage to Brazil and China, opium trade, bankruptcy of Conway and Fortescue Whittle.
16 autograph letters signed. 1 document signed.
Navy Widows and Orphans Pensioners pf. 1812-1829:
43. Lewis, Frances M., William Lewis, Captain, Epervier, Unknown, Lost in the Epervier, Sept. 1. 1815.
Conway Whittle Papers (1773-1911), Box III: Folder 1:
Lewis, William, USN, 1802 - 1825. 
Will and estate papers. Included are his will, dated 1811, and a number of bonds and bills, as well as letters from Edward Herndon to his widow regarding the settlement of the estate. 13 manuscripts.
Conway Whittle Papers (1773-1911), Box III: Folder 25:
Lewis, Mrs. Frances M.
Diary, Commonplace Book, and Letter-book in 1 volume containing extracts from reading, copy of deed for "Portland," 1844; copies of letters, ca. 1844 - ca. 1866., mostly to the Maury family; Diary, Mecklenburg Co., Va.; Norfolk, Va. and Philadelphia, Pa. [19th c.], 1844 - 1846. Also, notebook of quotations. [19th century]. 2 manuscript volumes.
General Index of Deeds, Deeds of Trust, Release Deeds and Wills, etc., Spotsylvania County, Virginia
Tract
Named
Acreage Where
Recorded
  Date Recorded Kind Transaction
Portland 567.5 acres b LL 52 24 Apr 1844 Jun T 1844 B&S Frances M Lewis (w) to Saml King.
Mentions Surbridges Church

 

IV. Tracing the owners of Plantation Portland

1. According to a Fauquier Co VA probate, Cpt. William Lewis left his estate to his son, James of Fauquier Co VA. This would have included Plantation Portland.
2. When Cpt. William's brother, James of "Laurel Hill" died without issue, Uncle James also left his estate to William's son, James of Fauquier Co VA.
3. When James of Fauquier Co VA died without issue, he left the portion of his estate which he received from his father, Cpt William, to the younger son, Cmdr William Lewis, USN.
4. And, James of Fauquier Co VA left the residue of the original estate to his widow, Jane.

Fauquier Co VA Will Book ?, p. 347:
Lewis, James. 21 Jan 1802 , 26 Jan 1802 .
Estate lately received from James Lewis (uncle) of Spotsylvania Co to go to wife Jane. All estate that comes from father to go to brother William Lewis.
Wit: George Pickett, Charles Marshall, James Walker.

5. As Plantation Portland was willed to Cmdr William's widow, Frances Munford Whittle Lewis, we learn that Plantation Portland came to her from a) Cpt. William Lewis through b) his son James of Fauquier Co VA to 3) his brother, Cmdr. William Lewis, her husband.

 

Caveat

This site is provided for reference only. Except where specifically cited, information contained is conjecture and should not be considered as fact.
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