Patriot, adulterer, and a very litigeous man

Uriah L. Humphries is the closest thing we have to a famous – and infamous – person in the fairly immediate family tree (we’re in the Line of the Kings, as I call it, which means we’re related to all sorts of nobility, but I think the people who are in this line might outnumber the people who aren’t). Uriah was a very wealthy man of some social status, but had a stained reputation after being charged with fornication and adultery for impregnating his ward, Nancy, in 1793 or 1794.

Uriah and Nancy’s first born was Louisa Lydia "Leddy" Humphries, who was born about 1794 in Clarke County, Georgia. Lydia married David Nowlin, and their son was Uriah Nowlin. who married Kissiah Hicks.

Uriah Humphries was born about 1733 in Northumberland County, Virginia, and his death date is disputed. He is said to have died 12 February 1817 or 7 July 1818, in Clarke County, Georgia, possibly in Watkinsville. His will was probated 21 July 1818. Uriah moved to Georgia because he received a land grant in then Jackson County for his service in the Revolutionary War.

At the time of his death he was a very wealthy man, owning land in six states — Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia—totaling more than 4000 acres, approximately 2000 of which were in Clarke County and 2000 in Virginia. And this is not counting land he gave to his descendants prior to his death.

Uriah was said to be extremely litigious, suing anyone at the drop of a hat, so much so that in an article in 1870 in The Southern Watchman, an Athens, Georgia weekly, it was said that when he died, he should be buried under a courthouse so that he would be ready to answer when his name was called. 

And, as said, Uriah is also notorious for being an accused adulterer and fornicator. He was tried for adultery and fornication in Jackson County in 1801, and adultery in Clarke County some time between then and 1808 (I don’t know why people go to the trouble to look these things up and put them on the web, then leave the dadblame dates off). It is possible the two cases are really one case since Clarke County was formed from Jackson in 1801.

The scandal apparently did not hurt his prospects, but it is tale worth telling (please note that not all of the information below has been confirmed).
It is thought that Uriah and his first wife, Sarah Jones Reynolds, born 1738 in St. Stephen's Parish, Northumberland,Virginia, inherited several of her sister’s children upon the death of their parents. It gave them a house full of children because they married about 1758 and already had seven of their own:

1. Mary Ann Humphries, born 1770 in North Carolina.

2. Elizabeth Tignor Humphries born 1772 in Botetourt County, Virginia.

3. Nancy Humphries, born 1774 in Botetourt.

4. Judith Humphries, born 1775 in Botetourt.

5. Sarah Humphries, 1778, born place unknown.

6. George Washington Humphries, born 1783 in South Carolina, 

7. Uriah L. Humphries, Jr., born 1782 in Botetourt. Virginia.

According to Bonnie Ballinger of Wedowee, Alabama (another place I’ve lived where my ancestors have lived!), Sarah’s sister, perhaps Nancy or Elizabeth Burke or Burt, and her husband (William?) had five children. Upon their death, Uriah and Sarah were appointed guardians of Nancy, William, Elizabeth, James, and Samuel. Other websites say the children's parents were William Thornton and Sarah Pelham. He was born in 1752 and she in 1754, both in Pennsylvania. It is notable that among the children of Uriah and Nancy there is Presley Thornton and a William Pelham .
When all this transpired has not been documented, but what is known is that in 1787, Uriah got in trouble with the law in Botetourt County for the illegal distribution of liquor, and for not keeping a bridge in good repair. He is last mentioned in the county records there in 1795, and sometime relatively soon after that he moved his family to Clarke County, Georgia. This may have been connected with the fact that Nancy Burke, their niece and the oldest of the Burke children, got pregnant. As noted, her first child was our Lydia, born in 1794. If Nancy was born in 1776, she would have been 17 and Uriah 60 when she became pregnant!

So, on August 17, 1798 in Clarke County, Sarah Humphries filed for a divorce, and it was granted. Uriah already had two children with Nancy, and immediately continued. In all there were 11, all born in Clarke County:

1. Our Louisa Lydia “Leddy” Humphries, who married David Nowlin.
2. Mary Jane “Polly” Humphries, born 1796-97.
3. Mariah Humphries, born 1799.
4. Joseph Benjamin Humphries, born 1799.
5. Elijah Uriah Humphries, born 18 January 1804.
6. Martha Jane Humphries, born 1806.
7. Presley Thornton Humphries, born 8 April 1807.
8. Madison Tigner Humphries, born 1809.
9 Julia Ann or Juliann Humphries, born 14 August 1812.
10. William Pelham Humphries, born 1813.
11. Jesse C. Humphries, born 1815. Uriah was 80 in 1814!

William Pelham and Jesse C. are listed on only one website, but the total of 11 is confirmed by an article in The Southern Watchman (see below). There is no record of a marriage between Uriah and Nancy, so it may have been a “common law” marriage. In the 1827 Cherokee Land Lottery, Lydia won a land lot. Her name is listed as Lydia Burke, so Uriah may never have formally adopted her.

The shame of being accused of fornication and adultery was apparently not too troubling, however. In The Southern Watchman, a weekly newspaper published in Athens, Uriah was the subject of an article in the 1870s, and the author writes glowingly of Mrs. Humphries (Nancy, although the author gives her credit for all 18 kids!). But the kicker is that Nancy is apparently popular in her social circle, which I doubt she would be if she were a convicted fornicator. Of course, the author of the story, reprinted below, might not be unreliable if Uriah had descendants still living in the county.

Two years after the divorce, Uriah and Nancy were indicted for adultery and fornication in September 1801 in Jackson County (pages 170-194, Superior Court Minutes, 1796-1802):
"The State vs. Uriah Humphreys and Nancy Burks-Indictment for adultry and fornication - We Uriah Humphreys & James Akins acknowledge ourselves bound to his Excellency the Governor & his successors in Office in the sum of $500 each for the personal appearance of the said Uriah Humphreys & Nancy Burks at the next term of the Superior Court then & there to abide the sentence of said court."
But they were charged with living in adultery in Clarke, too, according to The Superior Court Minutes of Clarke County, Georgia 1801-1808, pages 19 and 43 (Georgia State Archives, Atlanta, Georgia; microfilm, roll 98/18, although the source gives no exact date). There is no record of what became of these cases, however, but it is interesting that they even got to this point, which must have been publically humiliating.
In his will, Uriah left all his land and possessions to Nancy and their children, and left only a shilling to each of his children by Sarah. But that might not be a sign of lingering animosity or revenge. Uriah’s father Joseph did the same thing with his first wife’s children because he felt that they were already established and had gotten their share. But, the will was contested by his daughter Judy, his fourth child with Sarah, through her husband, Simeion Lane.
Uriah had anticipated that his will would be contested, and he may have anticipated his death because several years before his demise he started giving his property to his children. On May 7, 1810, Uriah deeded land to his daughter Polly (Book K. Clarke County, p. 14); on December 12, 1812, he gifted a tract of land to his daughter Liddy (Book G. p. 199) ; and he did the same for his daughter Mariah on September 15, 1813 (Book K. p. ?). He also sold two tracts of land to his niece, Hannah Croxton, one on June 6, 1809 (Book G. p. 197) and other on July 24, 1815 (Book K. p. ?). Someday I’ll look up Liddy’s tract, just to see what the family once owned. Yet all this did not really make a dent in his holdings, because in 1817 he paid taxes on 4,482 acres in Clarke County alone.
The jury found Uriah to be of sound mind when he wrote the will, so it was valid in that way, but a special probate jury empaneled to decide the case found that the will was not executed in compliance with state statutes on fraud and perjury, and therefore was invalid. So, despite his wishes, Uriah’s wealth was divided equally among all his heirs. The case may have been appealed to the state Supreme Court, but no record of that has been found. For a complete copy of the will, see below.
An interesting side note is that the executors of Uriah’s will included Major Thomas Mitchell, great-grandfather of Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind.
Uriah was a slave-holder. In the Abstracts of Deeds of Carter County, Tennessee, on April 14, 1808, there is this entry:
“Archibald Williams, Sheriff to George William. ‘By two executions of Matties Wagoner: J.P., Four negros, property of Uriah and his wife, Sarah Humphries, at vendue, Fan about two years $1; Apie four years $1; Sue thirty five years $2; Hiram six years $40; John T. Williams and J. Hampton. Prvd May court in 1808.”
And this: From a book on Jackson County, Georgia (Faye Stone Press, Snellville, Georgia. Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 98-067810) "Executor's Sale. On Tuesday, the 28th day of December next at the store of estate of Uriah Humphries, dec'd to wit: Jim, Aggy and her two children; Hulda & her two children. . . . For the Executors—T. Mitchell, Agent. Athens: October 28th, 1819). This is all the information I have on the book, but I believe it was written by Faye Stone Poss.

There is a Sarah Humphries listed in the 1810 census for Botetourt County, age over 45 (Sarah would be in her early 60s) with two slaves, but she does not appear in any later records.
Nancy Humphries is listed in the 1820 Clarke County census with three boys 10-16, one 16-18, and one 16-26 (I don’t know why the latter two categories overlap), plus it appears there are two females under 10, one 10-16, and she is 26-45. The three boys 10-16 would include Madison or Mattison Tigner, 11, and Presley Thornton, 13, but I don’t know who the third would be unless they counted William, 7, in this group. Elijah could be counted as the 16-18 boy, and Joseph Benjamin 21, fits the 16-26 slot, which would account for all the males. The two females under 10 would include Julia Ann, 8, and Jesse C. if he/she were a girl, 5. The 10-16 year-old female would be Martha Jane, 14, and Nancy would be 26-45. Leddy, Martha Jane, and Maria would already be out of the house. That makes 11, with only one quibble!
Also, there is a Nancy Humphries listed in the Jones County, Georgia census in 1820, 50-60 years of age, with one girl 5-10. I don’t know how to explain the girl. Jesse C., if he/she were a girl, would be 15. The girl could be a grandchild. One website speculates that Nancy moved to Alabama with some of her children, who took up residence there.
The other last recorded references to her are on 29 October 1816, when she purchased land from Harrison Huff, the husband of one of her daughters (Clarke County, Georgia Deed Book L, p. 433), and on 7 July 1817 when she is given guardianship over Joseph, Patsy, Elijah, Presley Thornton, Mattison Tignor, and Julian (Julia Ann). I don’t know where the other children are, especially the two youngest, but the three older girls are probably all married. 
Uriah was also a veteran of the French and Indian Wars as well as the American Revolution. He apparently served as a quartermaster. He was an officer in Captain Posey's Company of Regular Virginia Militia and was discharged in 1780 at Botetourt County, Virginia. He served in the French and Indian War of 1758, which suggests his birth year was closer to 1840 than to 1845, and he asked for bounty land in 1780 in payment for his service. Uriah furnished horses for Colonel William Christina's Cherokee Indian expedition in 1776 and 1783. Uriah is listed at this time as having 17 horses, 28 cattle, and 10 slaves.

Uriah and a John Humphries were in Captain Joseph Pryor's militia company. Under Pryor, whom he knew and was apparently friends with (he lived in the Pryor District of the county), he was promoted from ensign to the position of second lieutenant, and then lieutenant. He is listed in Anne Waller Reddy's compilation of West Virginia Patriots as a "non-military" patriot of Botetourt County. Also, he is on the DAR list of Patriots.

Uriah was a leading citizen of Botetourt County, Virginia, even though he was illiterate. He was constable in 1773, “keeper and ordinary in his home” in 1780 (Joseph Pryor is listed as his “security”), a merchant, surveyor, and “Overseer of the Road,” in this case, a particular road “from the Pond of the James River to Ballonts Springs, suceeding James Sharkey.” He was also named deputy sheriff 11 May 11 1781, and reappointed on 10 April 1783.

But on April 13, 1783, he was summoned to court to “show cause why he shall not be fined for not summoning sundry witnesses to appear at a called court held on Spencer Humphries.” Spencer, his brother, was on trial for counterfeiting. Uriah is said to have resigned. He was also fined 10 pounds on 9 May 1782 for failure to serve “prosecc put into his hands,” a warrant, a date well before his failure to summon witnesses in his brother’s trial.

Beginning 16 May 1771, Uriah bought and sold large amounts of land, and appears on almost every page of the Botetourt County Order Book for the next year.

A Uriah Humphries is also listed in the deed records of Halifax County, North Carolina, 1 January 1763 (Book 8, page 206) when he purchased 100 acres from Henry Boll [Bull] for 20 pounds cash (Elijah Humphries and Jonathan Dameron were witnesses). This Uriah is probably our Uriah’s nephew. Joseph Uriah Humphries III. He and his wife Rebekah had three children born in Surry, North Carolina in 1772, 1774, and 1776. It is also possible that our Uriah’s sister Sarah Humphries is with them since she married a John Dameron.

And from a website: “Roger S. Powell, of Burke's Peerage, 46 Royal Avenue, London SW34QF in 1990 prepared a fairly complete history of Uriah's descendants through about three generations. This was done for a group of cousins who were interested in the notorious Spindletop Oil Problem (there is no proof of any kind that the William Pelham Humphries was a son of Uriah, as some have claimed).”

Spindletop was a hill near Beaumont, Texas, that produced a major gusher on 10 January 1901. In 1834, William Humphries secured a headright of over 4,500 acres, including the land that produced the gusher. I am not completely sure of the details, but ownership of the land later became disputed and the Humphries are said to have been trying to enforce the original deed for over 100 years. As for William Pelham Humphries, he was hung as a horse thief in Tennessee.

Uriah appears in the book by William C. Stewart, Gone to Georgia (Washington: National Genealogical Society, Washington 1979, p. 177). The book contains much information on him, but says he was married to the Stratham sisters. Instead, the concensus seems to be that the Stratham sisters, Sarah and Mildred, were married to a William Humphreys, but it is possible he is related to Uriah’s family in some way.
Uriah appears many times in the Botetourt County records from 1771 to 1795, for serving on juries, and appointments to the various jobs he held, plus some fines, including this one: May 8, 1787—The Grand Jury presented [true bills against?] the following persons:
– Uriah Humphries for retailing liquors contrary to law.
– Uriah Humphries for not keeping a bridge in repair.
His various activities on both sides of the law did not appear to diminish his influence in the county. In the last citation of him in the records, August 14, 1795, he was “Appointed Procesioner in this county.” A procesioner was someone who was entrusted with fixing the boundaries of properties.
There is also this interesting citation:
"September 16, 1773- Ordinance that Uriah ear make be admitted to record, to wit: two smooth crosses and a slit on the lift ear."

Do you, gentle reader, have any idea to that which this refers? It took me a while to figure it out, too. Hint: Uriah was a cattleman.

Article on Uriah Humphries

The following is an article on Uriah Humphries written by a long-time citizen of Athens, Georgia in the 21 May 21 1870 edition of The Southern Watchman, as part of a series about some of the area’s early settlers (1800-1850):

Uriah Humphries was a man of rather remarkable character. He was a good-tempered man, not unamiable, but the most litigious human being in all the country. He was as fond of a lawsuit as Mr. ____., well, let us say he was remarkably so; but, I should add, that all his suits in Court were in reference to titles to land. He owned a large body of land, and coveted all that joined his. He had, as one of his neighbors said of him, "a lust for land." At that day, a large number, if not a majority of cases brought in our Superior Courts involved the right of property in land. Nor should this be a matter of surprise, wehn we consider the manner in which the public lands were surveyed and by whom....

Uriah Humphries, who was concerned so uniformly in every Court, and in several cases in every Court, that some one said that when he died he ought to be buried under the Court house, [so] that he might always be present to answer when his name was called. He was a grasping, avaricious man, very anxious to increase his possessions, (for which I will presently give a reason that will be considered plausible), but he was not ill-natured or quarrelsome. He owned or claimed considerable tracts of lands on both sides of the Middle [Broad] river. He was the owner of the grist mill known latterly as Mitchell's, from which he received a considerable amount of wheat and corn by toll, besides making good crops on his lands, which were of the best quality.

During the year succeeding one of great drought, corn was very scarce and very high, (a case in which railroads are the salvation of the country). Humphries, from his mill and farm, had corn to sell. He had a neighbor named Evans, who was a large, stalwart man, of wonderful physique, strong enough to handle two common men; but he was intellectually as week and feeble as he was physically strong. He was the laziest mortal in the country, and fortunately of imperturbably good temper, always hard run to supply his family with food and clothing. Too improvident to plant and cultivate a crop, he depended for a support for himself and family on getting jobs or work in harvesting, log-rolling, house-raising, splitting rails, etc., such work as required great strength; and by a few days of hard work, would be able to live in utter idleness for a month. He was perfectly sober and honest.

On the occasion referred to, he went to Humphries to get some corn. Of course he had no money, but offered to pay for it in work of any sort. But Humphries had no pressing need for work at that time, and said “Corn is a cash article—nothing else will get it,” and Evans left. The next morning Humphries passing by his corn crib, saw Evans sitting therein, very quietly shelling corn.
"What!" said he "Evans stealing corn?" "I am not stealing," said Evans indignantly. "What are you doing then?" "I am shelling a bushel of corn, to carry to the mill to be ground into meal, to make bread for my children. I told you yesterday that I would work for it, and if you think that I am going to see my children suffer, when you have got corn in your crib, you are very much mistaken; and I tell you now, (continuing all the time to shell the corn) that when this is gone, I mean to come for more." I may here remark, parenthetically, that at that time a farmer no more thought of putting a lock on the corn crib, stable door or gin house, than on his sheep pen or cow pen, and I have not doubt many plantations could have been found without a lock on the premises, indoors or out.

The cool impudence of Evans disarmed Humphries of all resentment. "Well," he said, "Whilst you're at it, you had better shell two bushels, and then you won't have to come back so soon." "I'm agreed to that," said Evans, and finished the job. I have no doubt Humphries worked the value of the corn out of him before the year was out.
Mrs. Humphries, his wife [presumably Nancy], was the mother of eighteen (sic) children, of which fact Humphries was very proud, and when a little excited, (he took a dram occasionally) made his boasts of his wife's wonderful success in that department of home industry, saying: "Sir, she had twins twice, and once had three at a breath," (meaning at a birth, I presume—he was an illiterate man [actually, at a breath simply meant at one time, or in one breath]).

And this brings me to the reason why some of the ladies were desirous to visit Humphries' spring. Mrs Humphries' very remarkable power of reproduction was attributed by some, in part, to the use of a spring of exceedingly delicious water, containing a little more of carbonic acid that is usually found in common springs equally cold, and hence more of it could be taken into the stomach without producing oppression. Well, the puny, sickly ladies from the miasmatic districts, who came to commencement, hearing of Mrs. Humphries and the spring, used to ride out to test the virtue of the water. Our own healthy, strong, up-country women did not seem to consider that they needed any such adjuvant, and consequently did not attach much importance to its use.

Mrs. Humphries, whether owning to the spring water or to some other cause, was a hearty, strong woman at the time her of her husband's death, and would dash into town on horseback, and looked as if she were abundantly able to bear half a dozen children more. I do not remember whether she married a second time, but it was supposed that she was not at all averse to it. [This also supports the idea that the article is referring to Nancy. Sarah would have been about 70 at the time of his death, and over 20 years divorced].

Last will and testament of Uriah Humphries

Will Book A Page 83 - Clark County, Georgia— The Last Will and Testament of Uriah Humphries, deceased 1. I Uriah Humpheries of the state of Georgia and county of Clark being far in years but in reasonable health and sound mind and memory thanks be to god for his kind mercys to me. I first command my soul to the god that gave it me hoping for the full pardon for all my sins dun in body through the precious blood and sufferings by blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ amen. 2. My desire is that my mills with five hundred acres of land count all the land from the River out to the county rode from the branch above the ills to Traywicks lin allso my Springfield plantation containing two hundred and eighty acres be sould and all my debts due to me collected and all my just debts paid that I.O. 3. I have given to my three dagters to wit Leddey, Polly and Mariah. These parts of my estate by deed of gifts and they are recorded in the clarkes office of sd county I hope they will be satisfied. 4. I allso give and bequeth to my son Joseph Humpheries all my tract or parcel of land lying on Sandy Creek and joining Casy Nellson and others in the county of Jackson, Franklen and Mattison formerly granted to Gorham allso I give him one negro boy named Jordan one feather bed and furniture two cows a calve and a horse or mare worth fifty dollars. 5. I also give to my dagter Patsey a tract or parcel of land lying in Clark county adjoining my dagter Polley's land Jones and Hannah Crockstons lands containing two hundred and fifty acres be the same more or less beginning on a poast oke [post oak] on Pattersons line running with the same East and chains to his corner thence S 11 W 17 chane to his corner stake and thence to my dagter Polleys line corner read oke [red oak] and with her line S 8 East thirty two chane to her corners persimmon and white oke or a branch and up the same No. 50 W[idths] or chane fifty links to the fork thence up the right hand fork N 5 E 19 chane to a pine corner to Jones and passing the same crossing the county rode and on to Hannah Corckstones corner stake thence turn to the beginning paust corner this land includes the school house. I allso give my said dagter Patsey a negrow garl named Fanny aboaut ten years auld at this time a good feather bed and furniture three heads of grown cattel and a horse or mare worth fifty dollars and a side saddle. 6. I also give and bequeath to my son Elijah Humphries the plantation whereon I now live beginning at the mouth of a branch on the River running up sd draft or branch to my dagter Mariah's corner white oak and with her line up sd branch to Wares corner Ash thence turn with Wares line to his corner popler on the county roade thence turn with Colihans line to his corner hickiry on the hill by Wm Colihans house thence strate on to my crosfence to the corner by a card roade an so on a strate corse to the River and down the severil corses of the same and to the beginning mouth of the branch containing four hundred acres by the same more or less I also give him one negrow boy named Sam about twelve years owled at this time one feather bed and furniture one horse or mare worth fifty dollars and three head of cattel. 7. I allso give to my son Presley Thornton Humphries a tract or parcel of land laying in Jackson county on the middle fork of the Oconee River beginning on a popler on the bank of the said river the loer corner of my servey belo the mouth of Beach Creek and running thence with my loer line up said creek fifty chains thence to turn a square and run as far as will make foure hundred acres and then turn a square to the river and down the several cources of the same to the beginning corner popler so as to make four hundred acres. I allso give him the said Presley Thornton one negrow boye named Pall he is about seven years of age and a good feather bed and furniture three head of grone cattel and a horse or mare worth fifty dollars. 8. I allso give to my son Mattison Tigner Humpheries a tract or parcel of land lying in Jackson County adjoining my son Presley Thorntons third and upper corner and run a strate line from that to my shop where Flanngin now wirks as a blacksmyth and from said shop a due West course to my out line and with the same fifteen chain and thence a direct cource to the mulberry fork crossing the loer end of the blade by the loer end of my feald where Wm. Kemp Cetmore now lives and so on to the river and down the several courses of the same and the Oconee river to my son Presley Thornton's line and with his line to the beginning making four hundred acres be the same more or less I allso give him the said Mattison Tigner one negrow boy named Harry now about foure years of age and good feather bed and furniture three head of grone cattel and a horse or mare worth fifty dollars. 9. I also give my dagter Julian Humphries all lands that belongs to me that is lying between my dagter Leddeys line and my dagter Patsey's line and Pattersons line supposed to be one hundred fifty acres to be the same more or less allso a negrow boye named Nelson now about two years of age a good feather bead and furniture three head of grown cattel a horse or male worth fifty dollars and at her mothers death she the said Julian shall have one and perces [one of the pieces?] that one hundred acres of land which I now give to her Mother during her natrel life I allso give the four negrows to wit Pall and Fanny his wife Domeny and Willis if they be alive at her mothers death and if my dagter Julian should dye without a lawful heir of her own body then her estate shall be equally divided between my four sons within mentioned to wit Joseph, Elijahn, Presley Thornton and Mattison Tigner Humphries. 10. Finally and las I now to my wife Nancy who is the mother of all these my above or within mentioned children for during her natrel life my land whereon Richard Lawrance now lives to wit beginning with the line fence and a crossing the creek with his line to his Hickery corner near Wm Colehans house thence with my son Elijah's line to the river thence up the river to the beginning - I allso give or lend to her the said Nancy during her natrel life the foure negrows above mentioned to wit Pall and Fanny his wife, Domeny and Willis and her choice of any five head of my stock of cattel two feather beads and furniture these two mares a gray and sorrel and my cichen furniture and ten barrels of good sound corn and at her death the four negrows if they be alive is to belong to my dagter Julian as above mentioned and her part of land soposed to be one hundred acres be the same more or less that I now give or lend to her mother during her natrel life and she the said Nancy is not to be premeted to move any of these mentioned foure negrows out of the county of Clark as they are the property of her dagter Julian after her death. 11. This is to certify that I have had a number of children by another woman in Virginia before I came to George which I suspect will try to come in for their part of this my estate but they have all had there parts or portion of my estate long ago as they married of there names is at this time - Mary Ann McCloud, Betsey Tigner Henderson and Nancy Kimberling, Judy Lane, George Washington Humphries and Uriah Humphries which went in the country servis and I am informed that he the said Uriah is dead. However all these six last mentioned children has head there full prt of my estate I now gave them all one shilling a peace and no more and I hope these my executors hereafter mentioned will be particular in this my desire that all my lands and other estate that is not within mentioned or given away in this my last will be sould and after all that is justly due to me is collected and all my just debts duly paid the remander if any shall be equally divided between my four sons to wit Joseph, Elijah, Presley Thornton and Mattison Tigner within mentioned and I acknowledge this to be my last will and testament and I revoke allother wills and parts of will whatsoever and I do hereunto appoint William Cole, Steavens Thomas and Edward Pane these my executors to this my last will a coretly carried into affect and justis dun agreeable to it signed sealed and delivered to the preasents of as witness my hand and seal this twenty sixth day of July 1816 and in the forty 1st year of the independence of Americy. Uriah Humphries

    Sources for this information include Looking Back-Humphries Ancestry by William and Dorothy Humphries.

Uriah Humphries and his ancestors

Our Uriah Humphries was the son of Joseph Humphries, Jr., who was born about 1702 or 17066 in St. Stephen’s (Episcopal Church) Parish, Northumberland County, Virginia, and died 12 June 1769. His wife was Elizabeth Tignor, born 11 April 1708. They married about 1725. I don’t have any further information on her. Their children, all born in St. Stephens Parish as were their spouses, included:

1. George Humphries, born 1721
2. John Humphries, born 1723
3. Susannah Humphries, born 1725
4. Elijah Humphries, born 19 March 1727 (1726*), married Judith Smith, born 1730, about 1750.
5. Sarah Humphries, born January 1728 (1727*), married John Dameron, b. 1725, about 1747.
6. Elizabeth Humphries, born 31 Dec 1730*, married a Johnson, b. 1725, about 1750.
7. Dianna Humphries, born 6 Oct 1731*, married. Jonathan Edwards, born 1731, about 1751. This Jonathan Edwards is not the Jonathan Edwards (5 October 1703 – 22 March 1758) of Massachusetts, who wrote “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” but he could be related, of course.
8. Uriah L. Humphries, born 1733. This is our Uriah. Others date his birth as 1740.
9. Sinar Humphries, born 1735, married Peter Haynie, born 1730, about 1755. The Haynies were a prominent Virginia family, so I may find more on them later.
10. Joseph Humphries, III, born 1737. Joseph was a very prominent man in Franklin and Jackson Counties. For more on him, see “Uncommon people in the family tree.”
11. Spencer Humphries, born 1739, married Amelia Gordon, born 1745, about 1765.
*These births are recorded in the Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Vol 1, Northumberland County Record of Births: 1661-1810.

Joseph Jr. also married Hannah Bearcroft, apparently after the death of Elizabeth. Hannah was born in 1727 in St. Stephens Parrish. Their children were:
1. George Humphries, born 1762. He married a Frances Garrard and a Mary Rose, and died 10 April 1840 in Edwards County, Illinois.
2. John Humphries, born 1765, married Margaret Murphy.
3. Sussana Humphires, born 1766. She married James Garner in Northumberland County, Virginia.
Note that some records give Hannah credit for all the children.

According to several records, Uriah’s father Joseph’s father was Joseph Sr., born 9 May 1680 in Middlesex County, Virginia and died May 1731 in St. Stephens Parish. According to the Parish Register of Christ Church, Middlesex County, Virginia 1653-1812, page 15: “Joseph Humphrys the Sone of John and Ann Humphrys baptz 9th of May” (1680). His mother was Mary (Ann?)  Haney or Haynie.
Mary Haynie was born in Middlesex County, Virginia, in 1681 and died in 1705 in St Stephens Parish. They married there about 1701, and had three chilfdren: John, dates unknown, Joseph, and William, born 1705.

Uriah’s grandfather John Humphries was born in 1650 or 55, and his grandmother was Ann North, was born about 1655, in Middlesex, Virginia, and died there in 1730. Other websites say Joseph Sr.’s mother was Hannah Griffin, or Ann Spendlove, but both of them were born too late, Hannah in 1649 and Ann in 1787!

John’s father is unknown, but according to one website, the Humphries are likely descendants of William Humphries, who came to Northumberland County before 1643. He was born about 1610 and was brought to the American colonies by Lt. William Worleigh (or Worlich) as an indentured servant. He may have come to America on the Tristam, a ship that Worlich used frequently after 1630.
There are a number of Humphries in the records for Northumberland County, including a John Humphries said to have been born to Joseph Sr. and Mary on 8 November 1702. Other sources say this is Joseph’s birthday. Other sources indicate Joseph Jr. was born in 1706, the date I chose. There is also a William Humphries who appears a number of times in the Northumberland County records. Some think he may be an uncle.

There is also an interesting if inaccurate account of intermarriage between the Humphries and the Pierce family, among them the wedding of Uriah’s “granddaughter” Elizabeth and a James Perry Pierce about 1816 in Jackson County, Georgia. As near as I can figure it out, the website confuses Uriah with his brother, Joseph Humphries III. And this site, as do many others, confuses Uriah with a William Humphries who is said to have married two sisters named Sarah and Mildred Stratham or Statham. This website says he married a Nancy Statham. But if so, the dates get all screwed up (Leddy, for instance, is said to be born in 1736!), and other websites say it just ain’t so. In any case, the line is interesting because it connects our family to the Mormons in Utah in the 19th century, including a polygamist or two, and the founder of Fort Pierce.

Last will and testament of Joseph Humphries, Jr.

Will of Joseph Humphries, written February 19, 1769 and proved in Northumberland County, Virginia, on June 12, 1769 (Record Book 7, 1766-70, p. 354).

In the name of God Amen, I Joseph Humphries of Northumberland County being sick & weak in body but of perfect memory thanks be to God for the same, I first Recommend my soul to Almighty God that gave it to me hoping for a full pardon for all my sins through the Precious death of my Savior Christ Jesus.

Item, I give unto my wife Hannah my negro woman named Sue & negro girle named Jemine to her for this natural life and after her decease to be equally divided amongst her children named George, John and Susanna to them and their heirs of their bodyes lawfully begotten forever.

Item, I give unto my son George Humphries one negro girle named Franke to him and his heirs lawfully begotten for his body forever.
Item I give to my son John Humphries one negro boy named Anthony to him and his heirs lawfully begotten of his body forever.
Item I given unto my daughter Susanna Humphries one negro boy named Charles to she and her heirs lawfully begotton of her body forever and if she should die without heir to return to my two sons George Humphries and John Humphries.
Item I give unto my son Elijah Humphries one shilling of my estate and no more.
Item I given unto my son Uriah Humphries one shilling and no more.
Item I give unto my son Joseph Humphries one shilling and no more.
Item I give unto my son Spencer Humphries one shilling and no more.
Item I give unto my daughter Sarah Dameron one bed and furniture and one shilling and no more.
Item I give unto my Daughter Elizabeth Johnson one shilling and no more.
Item I give unto my daughter Dianna Edwards one shilling and no more.
Item I give unto my daughter Sinar Haynie one shilling and no more.
Lastly I appoint James Daughity and Charles Helms my hole & sole executors for this my last Will and Testiment.
February 19, 1769
Joseph Humphries, his mark
Signed and sealed in Presence of us, Eban Helms, John Daughity

Northumberland County, Virginia
Northumberland County, Virginia, was originally known as Chickacoan, an Indian district on the Northern Neck, lying between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers, tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.
In 1648, this “Mother County of the Northern Neck” was organized and named after County Northumberland, England. The first white settler to make a permanent home in the county was Col. John Mottrom, sometime between 1635-1640.
In 1648 Northumberland County, Virginia, was officially formed by an act passed by the Burgesses in Jamestown, Virginia. It was later divided into three additional counties: Lancaster, Richmond, and Westmoreland. Today, Northumberland County has an area of approximately 222 square miles and a population of 12,400 people.

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