Saturday, December 23, 2017

Reeves in Early Virginia's Northern Neck

At The Reeves Project, we continue to chip away at the various Reeves' mysteries in an attempt to identify the many lineages and at times even have the benefit of Y-DNA testing to prove their connections. But when the earliest Reeves immigrants to the American colonies are concerned, it's just never easy. This week I've been searching early records of Virginia's northern neck in an attempt to find clues to several families in Lancaster and Westmoreland counties.

John Reeves' 1731 Will
John Reeves left a 1731 will in Lancaster County naming sons William, Eaton, James and daughter Elizabeth, wife of Richard Flint. This appears to be the same family whose children were referred to as "God children" and left bequests in the 1703 will of William Brightman of Lancaster County. William Brightman named his God daughter Elizabeth Reeves, the daughter of John Reeves as the primary beneficiary who was to receive the balance of his estate after other legacies were paid. He also named as his Godsons, William and John Reeves, sons of John Reeves, legatees and left his riding horse to John Reeves, Sr. as well as a cow named Cherry to Elizabeth Reeves, wife of John Reeves.

Elizabeth, wife of John Reeves, is identified in Lancaster County probate documents as the widow of William Clarke and named as Elizabeth Reeves in September of 1688 when she returned the inventory of his estate to the Lancaster court. This family connection is further confirmed by the 1718 will of Arthur Clarke which names William Reeves as his brother and John Reeves as his father-in-law, a term also used for step-father. Elizabeth Clarke Reeves was deceased sometime between the writing of her son Arthur Clarke's will in 1718 and 1731 when John Reeves wrote his will naming his wife as Phoebe. Phoebe was apparently Mrs. Phoebe Harris based upon legacies to grandchildren named in her 1732 will which was probated in 1733.

1737 Map of Virginia's Northern Neck
In this area of Virginia which includes Lancaster, Northumberland and Richmond counties there were also several other Reeves individuals present before 1700. A Robert Reeves and his future wife Frances Whilliard were both indentured servants to Peter Presley, Jr. before earning their freedom, marrying and Robert himself becoming a landowner. There were also several Thomas Reeves recorded in the area, one of whom may have been the father of George and John Reeve of Prince William County, who would therefore be the patriarch of the family identified as Group 10 of the Reeves DNA Project. Also, one of these Thomas Reeves was the father of George Reaves later of Prince William and Halifax counties who lived for a few years in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

As difficult as it is to locate the origin of these early arrivals to the colonies, it is just as difficult to track their descendants to the present day. Regardless of how many Reeves' families we have identified over the last seven years of research for The Reeves Project, other than John Reeves' daughter Elizabeth who married Richard Flint, we still have no clues as to what became of John's sons or if any of their descendants are still among us.

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