Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our Family's Colonial Era, Part XXIV

Joe Parker is a diligent researcher of Holliman family history tracing his ancestry back to Christopher Holyman, Sr.  He  has  facts at his finger tips on the family from the early 1600s in Bedford, Bedfordshire to his 21st Century relatives in his home state of Texas.  Below, he shares his observations on just who those early Holymans were and what could their relationships be to one another. - Glenn N. Holliman

Christopher, Judith and John Holliman, some Additional Information concerning their Emigration to Virginia
by Joe Parker  

The Headrights of Christopher and Judith Holyman 

In 1650 when they arrived in Jamestown, both Christopher and Judith Holyman received head rights to acreage in the Virginia Colony.  My understanding is that when a man received a head right to any block of land, the wife also has ownership of that tract, by privilege of being married to the man who received the acreage.

This 1751 work depicts a colonial dock with hogsheads of tobacco on the wharf.  West bound from England, the ships would carry English goods and immigrants.  East bound from Virginia to England, tobacco in casts would be the item transported.
Why then would - Judith in this case - receive separate notice of receiving such acreage, unless she was possibly recipient of such land as a separate individual?  Conclusion, Judith was not the wife of Christopher, but yes, as the Bedfordshire English parish records indicate, more likely was his sister. - Joe Parker

Genealogist Robert W. Baird in his web site Understanding Headrights publishes the following which helps us to grasp more fully some of the reasons our Holymans might have come to the Virginia colony.

"The headright origin is found in the London Company’s “Greate Charter” of 1618:

“That for all persons…which during the next seven years after Midsummer Day 1618 shall go into Virginia with the intent there to inhabite, if they continue there three years or dye after they are shipped there shall be a grant made of fifty acres for every person… which grants shall be made respectively to such persons and their heirs at whose charges the said persons going to inhabite in Virginia shall be transported…”

  • There were no restrictions on age or gender.  Headrights could be, and often were, children.  In fact, many imported indentured servants were teenagers.
  • Persons settled in Virginia who subsequently left the colony and returned were sometimes successfully claimed as headrights.   A number of patents claimed importation of a specific person “the second time” or the “the third time” (or in one case, a total of six times.)   Although this seems contradictory to the spirit of the system, it appears to have been an accepted practice from the very beginning, for several Ancient Planters claimed multiple rights for their own arrivals in Virginia.  
  • Because there was no system for validating or accounting for headright usage, headrights were often claimed more than once, and persons who had no “intent to inhabit” were used as headrights.  More on this later.
Hmmm....much to consider here as we look not just to the mid-1600s, but also the late 1600s and early 1700s and see the Holliman family utilizing the 'headright system'. - GNH

Keeping an Open Mind on just Who was John Holleman

As to John Holleman, who died in 1650 in Northampton County, Virginia, I have an open mind on this individual.  The fact that he left no worldly goods to any children should be looked at carefully.  He may have divided his fortune with his children (if any) before his death, and this could have left him virtually penniless at death.  John left his remaining goods to a friend who would help to settle the estate.  Conversely, this John Holleman could have been the husband of Judith, who arrived two weeks after  his death in Virginia.  Or John could have been her brother, born 1612 in Bedford, Bedfordshire, England.

I am not forming any set opinions until we search more in the Bedfordshire Archives and study additional works.  For now, I will return to my review of passenger lists of boats arriving in the Virginia Colony in the 17th and 18th Centuries.  - Joe Parker, Texas

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