Notes on Ann Cotton of Queen’s Creek VA

Ann Cotton of Queen’s Creek, VA.

In the New England Historic and Geneological Magazine Vol. XLIV, p. 199, there is an examination of Mrs. Cotton’s narrative which is addressed to C.H. at Yardley, in Northamptonshire. Mention is made of a family of Harrisons at Gobions Manor, Northamptonshire, among whom the names Robert and Benjamin occur. Robert Harrison, mentioned in Mrs. Wheeler’s will had by his wife Elizabeth Comins: Nicholas, Robert, James, Amadea (Amy) married James Ming of Charles City, Frances who married Thomas Shanes of same county. (Records of York county, 1692.)

I think that it is also implied that Ann was writing a close relative so I and others believe she may well have been a Harrison as also the families continued in close contact. There is no formal proof just an educated guess.
It is also suggested that she was the Ann Dunbar who appears in several of the headright lists beside John Cotton.

P. 7, line 12, “The chiefe men that subscribed it at this meeting were Coll. Swan, Coll. Beale, Coll. Ballard, Esq. Bray (all foure of the Councell), Coll. Jordan, coll. Smith of Purton, Coll. Scarsbrooke, Coll. Miller, Coll. Lawrance, and Mr. Drommond, late Governor of Carolina, all persons with whom you have been formerly acquainted.”
P. 9. “Brought the Governour a shore at Coll. Bacon’s, where he was presented with Mr. Drumond, taken the day before in Cheekahominy swomp, half famished, as himself related to my Husband.”
P. 10. There was “an Assembly convein’d at the Greene Spring; where severall were condemned to be executed, prime actors in ye Rebellion; as Esqr. Bland, col. Cruse and some other hanged at Bacon’s Trench; Captain Yong at Cheekahominy Mr. Hall, Clarke of New-Kent Court; James Wilson (once your servant), and one Lieft-Collonell Page (one that my husband bought of Mr. Lee , when he kep store at your howse), all four executed at Coll. Read’s over against Tindell’s point; and Anthony Arnell (the same that did live at your house), hanged in chains at West point, beside severall others executed on the other side James River.”
There is also (p. 11) a letter, unsigned, “to his wife A. C. at Q. Creek.” Dated “from Towne, June 9, ’76.” He says “but the tother day that I did see N.B. [Nathaniel Bacon] in the condition of a Traitor, to be tried for his life.”

In the next succeeding Tract in Force’s volume, –a Narrative of these wars in 1675 and 1676,–
p. 38, it is said that Bacon’s followers were scattered around, a third parcel (of about 30 or 40) was put into the house of Collonell Nath. Bacon’s (a gentleman related to him deceased, but not of his principles) under the command of one Major Whaly, a stout, ignorant fellow,”
In the tract preceding Mrs. Cotton’s in Force’s volume, entitled “Bacon’s Rebellion,”
we find a few items.
On p. 15 it says,” this young Nathaniel Bacon (not yet arrived to 30 years had a nigh relation, namely Col. Nathaniel Bacon, of long standing in the Councill, a very rich, politick man, and childless, designing this Kinsman for his heir.”
Also on page 25, it seems to say, that young Bacon lived at Jamestown, having married a wealthy widow who kept a large house of publick entertainment, unto which resorted those of the best quality.” I regret to say that Mrs. Cotton is not so easily placed. Mr. R. A. Brock writes from Richmond, Feb. 17th:
“I regret that I have no notes identifying Mrs. Ann Cotton. There are partial abstracts in our State Library of the records of Henrico and York Counties.
I find that in the fomer, at a Court held at Varian, Nov. 1, 1707, it was determined that the court meet for settling a private dispute at the house of Charles Cotton in Charles City County.
In the latter, Oct. 27, 1660, will of “Elliam” [Ellen?]Wheeler, widow, bequests to her cousins Francis Hall and Mary Hall; to Elizabeth Hooper; to her grandchild Amy Harrison, daughter of Robert Harrison; to her son Nicholas Comins (including a gold seal ring); to John Cotton a gold seal ring.
I find the following grant of land:–John Cotton, 350 acres in Northampton County
(formerly granted Oct. 8, 1656, to Nicholas Maddilow and assigned to John Cotton
Jan. 23, 1662. Virginia Land Registry, Book No. 4, p. 570.)
So in regard to Yardley, we are not entirely sure.
There are in Northamptonshire [in England] Yardley-Hastings and Yardley-Gobions, and either may be the one intended.
The latter is a hamlet in the parish of Pottersbury about 6 miles east from Sulgrave. In 1831 it had 123 houses and 594 inhabitants; but two centuries ago it was of less importance, and was probably undistinguished from the main parish.
Yardley-Hastings is a parish 12 miles north-east from Yardley Gobions, and 7 miles southeast of Northampton. In 1831 it had 193 houses and 1051 inhabitants. It is close to the border at the point whee Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire meet, but is separated from Luton, co. Beds., by the whole width of that county.
Our hope now must be that the Northamptonshire antiquaries will endeavor to find out this Mr. C. H. of Yardley, and see if any Washington was resident in that neighborhood.
I do not find in the Visitations of Northamptonshire, for 1564 or 1619 (London, 1887), any family at either Yardley. On p. 185 mention is made of Edward Dorne of Yardley-Hastings.
On p. 98 is the pedigree of the Harrisons of Gobions Manor in the town of Northampton.
The late generations in 1618 were
Of Francis Bernard of Abington Co North
1. Francis dsp
2. Thomas of Goblon’s Manor in the County of Northampton 1618
3. Jonathan
4. Joseph
5. William
6. Benjamin

From Bridge’s History of Northamptonshire I find that Gobion’s manor was about 300 acres “without the east-gate of the city.”
It was long held by the Turpins, but 5 or 6 Queen mary, Robert Harrison had it and his son Robert (?) succeeded.
In 1621 Thomas Harrison sold it to th corporation of Northampton.
Another branch of this manor was annexed to the honor of Grafton, and has descended with that dukedom.
It is possible that one of these Harrisons may have settled at either Yardley, after the sale of Gobion’s manor.
I believe that the origin of the Virginia Harrisons is unknown.
Meade, i. 310, traces the family to Benjamin Harrison, born in 1645 in Southwark Parish, Va. Who died in 1712, and says that Mr. Grigsby thinks he may have been the son of Herman H. or of John Harrison, governor in 1623.
May it not be that the father was one of this Northampton family?
At all events Mr. C. H. of 1676 had been evidently a prominent man in Virginia and some of the clues given by Mrs. Cotton may aid us in identifying him.

Whitfield Bryan Smith, by Emma Smith, large chart
Col. John West of West Point.
Born in 1632, being the first child of English parents to be born on the York River.
A large tract of land was granted his father in honor of his birth.
He was taken prisoner during Bacon’s Rebellion.
As to what Bacon’s men did to him is not stated but as he later sat on the court martial that tried the “Rebels” he more than evened with him.
He was Colonel of Militia and Burgess for New Kent County, 1685-6. In 1659-60 session of the House of Burgesses an act was passed exempting him from taxes for life in consideration of “the many important favors and services to the countrey of Virginia by the noble family of the Wests predecessors to Mr. John West, their now only survivor.”
Will dated Nov 15, 1689.
Married Unity Crowshaw (daughter of Maj. Croshaw, Burgess, 1659)

According to my genealogy John and Ann Cotton’s grandson, (son of John (Bertie) and Martha Godwin Cotton), Alexander Spottswood Cotton (named for Governor Spottswood, a family friend) married Elizabeth West, daughter of Peter West (great grandson of Sir Francis West, Governor of Virginia). Priscilla Williams, Peter’s wife, roots were also in Queens Creek, Eastern Shore, Accomac County where Ann Cotton lived when she wrote her account of Bacon’s rebellion.

Francis West, Governor of Virginia, m. Margaret Blayney
Son Francis West (b. Salisbury England, d. Duxbury, Mass.) m Margery Reeves
Son Dr. Thomas West m. Elizabeth
Son Peter m. Priscilla Williams
Daughter Elizabeth m. Alexander Spottswood Cotton both died in
Bertie County, North Carolina

From Shaman Ramsey

Dec 11, 2001 –I did some research recently in the Alabama Archives and found this information of Harrisons of Skimino.
Please notice Richard’s daughter named Anne. Also notice his “near kinsman” Dr. Jeremy Harrison whose “wife was a Whitgreave of Moseley and came out of the very household which sheltered Charles II after the battle of Worcester in 1651.”
This would bring together the political connections that would have saved Ann and John Cotton after their support of Bacon in Bacon’s Rebellion.
The Harrisons of Skimino (I have misplaced the sheet I ran off with the title and author of this book, but I think this is the correct title.) The Harrisons of Skimino came of a family widely spread through the eastern counties of England and got their name and an infusion of viking blood from the Danish invaders of the ninth century. The essex branch of this family, which contributed Richard Harrison and his kinsman, Dr. jeremy Harrison, to Virginia early in the seventeenth century bore arms which are described in Burke’s “General Armoury” as “Azure, two bars ermine, between six estoiles or, three two and one.”
The records left by these immigrants are meager enough, byt they are more than sufficed for Cuvier to reconstruct his antediluvian mammals, and the material found in Mr. Bruce’s “Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century, ” collected from the remains of this and other contemporary planter families, enables one, with the aid of the philosophic fantasy to picture the planter Harrisons and their manner of life.
We know that Richard Harison (1600-1664), the immigrant was born in St. Nicholas Parish in the
town of Colchester, Essex, but when and under what circumstances he came to Virginia we do not know. The earliest record of him in Virginia is of his paying tithes in 1634 in respect of a patent of
land on Queens Creek, in Middletown (afterward Bruton) Parish, York County. His plantation lay within the limits of Skimino Hundred, and for nearly two hundred years the name Skimino spelled Home to his family. That he was a man of substance is indicated not only from the estate which he
left to be divided after his death, but by the fact that, in addition to himself and his wife, Elizabeth
Besouth, he brought into the colony eight persons. On December 29, 1662, the York County records show that a certificate is granted to Richard Harrison for five hundred acres of land for the transportation of Tenne persons into this colony, vizt: Richard Harrison, Elizabeth Harrison, John Mecorpent, Peter Plumer, Thomas Shaw, James Boen, William Dickes, James Besouth, Nicholas Hull and Nanne Morgan, a negro woman.” James Besouth was Richard Harrison’s brother-in-law, and the other names, in addition to the negro slave, are doubtless those of indentured “servants” from England who were the laborers on his plantation. Richard Harrison’s close kinsman Dr. Jeremy Harrison, settled near him on Queen’s Creek. He was a picturesque character who had been in the East India service, and it is some evidence of the political opinions of the family that his wife was a Whitgreave of Moseley and came out of the very household which
sheltered Charles II after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
There has survived among the family records, a statement of the division of Richard Harrison’s
personal property among his widow and children, which is an interesting document as showing the equipment of a Virginia Plantation in the middle of the seventeenth century:
This is the devision of the estate of Richard harrison decd., of Middle Towne of the County of York, by Mr. Napier and Mr. Lyman, according to the order of the court held the 20th of December, 1664. Names “Widdow, John Harrison, William Harrison, Charles Harrison, Anne Harrison and Ellena Harrison.”
The son William married Mary Hubbard, daughter of Matthew Hubbard, one of the most successful planters of his generation, according to the author.

There are a couple of other people that I would like to find out more about. One is William Evans. He is listed just after John Cotton and Ann Dunbar is the above mentioned headright applications, so it is likely that he came over on the same ship. John and Ann Cotton were both witnesses to his will dated Nov. 1657.
Another is Eleanor (Elison) (Comins) Wheeler, whose will John Cotton witnessed in 1660 and who left Cotton a gold seal ring in that will. I have no idea what the significance of this ring might be. Her second husband Francis Wheeler was either a London merchant or the son of a London merchant.

To which I responded:

According to the dates I have for John Cotton, he was born in 1626 in England and died in 1691 in America, presumably still on Queens Creek where he places himself in the letter to his wife Ann at Queens Creek. Ann was born in 1640. I do not have a date for her death. Their son John (Bertie) Cotton was born in 1658, three years before John Cotton and Ann Dunbar are listed as a patent for transportation for Drummond’s headright. Of course we all know dates are sometimes abt. and not definite. I wonder if anyone has documents which verify these dates for birth and death.

As to the question of whether John might have been previously married to an Elizabeth Smith and fathered Ralph, the fact that he was 14 years older than Ann would make it a possibility that he was previously married.

I always find the interconnections between players in events interesting. John (Bertie) Cotton married Martha Godwin, whose grandmother was Martha Bridger, daughter of Joseph Bridger. Alexander Spottswood Cotton married Priscilla West, daughter of Peter West, grandson of Francis West, ( Tyler’s Quartery Magazine, vol. 6, p. 119, and The West Family Register Important Lines Traced 1326-1928 by Letta Brock Stone, W.F.. Roberts Company, Inc.,
Washington, D.C. 1928) uncle of Col. John West, I believe.

Many genealogists believe John Cotton remained unpunished for his part in Bacon’s Rebellion because of some relationship to Charles II. It would surely help to know the ancestry of John and Ann.

John and Ann Cotton and Bacon’s Rebellion

Michael Cotton posted this message:
I don’t have information that would prove that Ann Dunbar and Ann Cotton were one in the same, but I do see it as a possiblity. The names John Cotton and Ann Dunbar first appear together in Drummond’s 1661 headright application. Then in Nov. 1666, John Paine applied for a headright for 18 people and listed John Cotton and Ann Dunbar side by side. In 1667, John Weire and Robert Paine applied for headrights for 24 people. Many of the names are the same as in the two previously mentioned applications, but John Cotton’s and Ann Dunbar’s names are transposed as John Dunbar and Ann Cotton. None of the other names were switched around like this. That mistake might suggest that these two people were thought of as a pair.

I don’t know if Ann Cotton’s letter to Christopher Harris means anything or not. They were neighbors when Harris lived in Virginia and John Cotton is listed a member of a jury in Dec. 1657 alongside Christopher and Richard Harris. It is possible that they simply met in Virginia and maintained contact after Harris returned to England. On the other hand, people often moved together in large family groups so they may have been a connection. In 1677, John Cotton filed a lawsuit against two York Co. merchants named Philip Cooke and John Harris, but I don’t know if John Harris is related to Christopher and Richard. I have come across one Cotton connection in Northamptonshire where Christopher Harris lived.

There are a couple of other people that I would like to find out more about. One is William Evans. He is listed just after John Cotton and Ann Dunbar is the above mentioned headright applications, so it is likely that he came over on the same ship. John and Ann Cotton were both witnesses to his will dated Nov. 1657. Another is Eleanor (Elison) (Comins) Wheeler, whose will John Cotton witnessed in 1660 and who left Cotton a gold seal ring in that will. I have no idea what the significance of this ring might be. Her second husband Francis Wheeler was either a London merchant or the son of a London merchant. None of this may lead anywhere, but you
never know.

e-mail from Sharman 18 Jan 2002
To add to the confusion of whether Ann Cotton was originally a Dunbar or a Harrison we find in The Harrisons of Skimino by Jesse Burton Harrison and Burton Norvell Harrison:
p. 6 Richard Harrison’s close kinsman, Dr. Jeremy Harrison, settled near him on Queens Creek. He was a picturesque character who had been in the East India service, and it is some evidence of the political opinions of the family that his wife was a Whitgreave of Moseley and came out of the very household which sheltered Charles II after the battle of Worcester in 1651.
p. 8 A contemporary copy (as evidenced by the chirography) of the above document (Richard Harrison’s Will) was taken across the Ohio by William Harrison (fourth of the name in 1817. In 1910 it is still extant, in possession of William Jordan Harrison of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, the son of Jordan Harrison, who emigrated with his father, William Harrison, and it corresponds exactly with the above transcription from the York County records. To this copy are appended the receipts for their several portions given by the children of Richard Harrison to their mother Elizabeth, his executrix, who before 1670 had married again one David Dunbar, e.g.:
“I, William Harrison, son to Richard Harrison, deceased, doe by these presents acknowledge to have received of my mother, Elizabeth Dunbar, formerly Harrison, all my parte in the Devision made of my father’s estate according to his will, and do hereby aquit my mother Executrix to my father, deceased, from all debts, dues and demands due to me by virtue of my father’s will. Witness my hand this 10th of March, 1670. William Harrison
“Witness: the mark of John Harrison, James Besouth.

E Hyatt wrote:
…concerning the will of Eleanor Wheeler. Before she married Francis Wheeler, she had been widowed by Nicholas Comins. She made bequests to several people, including two Hall cousins. (I would look for your C.H. among the Halls.)
Elizabeth Hooper is her son, Nicholas’ wife. Robert Harrison had married Elizabeth Comins, Eleanor’s daughter and Amy was Amadea, their daughter. Why did she give a ring to John Cotton? He had been married to your A.C. (Anne Harrison) for three years and had had a son, born there in Queen’s Creek in 1658, John Bertie Cotton, Jr. (Maybe further investigation of the Cotton line is warranted.)

f Queen’s Creek in York. Martin Palmer married the widow of Captain Benjamin Croshaw, and in 1660 Edward Palmer whose name appears often in the Isle of Wight Records, was a member of the Coroner’s Jury in York County (D. and W. Book 8, p. 1) and in 1677 Martin Palmer served on the jury in York County in the case of John Cotton
v. John Harris, et al. (Book 6, p. 26). Joseph Croshaw was the adjoining neighbor of John, William, Phillip and Richard Thomas on Queen’s Creek, the Eastern Shore in the immediate neighborhood of the Hungar’s Parish Church, of which Rev. William Cotten was minister (Eugent p. 285). As late as 1661, William Drumond, afterwards appointed by Sir William Berkeley the first Governor of Old Albemarle, N.C. used the headright of John Thomas and many prominent and wealthy notables, who are known never to have lived in Westmoreland County in taking up a patent to 4750 acres of land (Nugent pp. 403-4). Then again on January 30, 1650, Captain Francis Wheeler had died, and his estate was appraised by Christopher Harris, Robert Harrison, John Stampe and John Cotten. Christopher Harris was a wealthy planter, who eventually returned to England, where he died; Robert Harrison married Elizabeth Comins, daughter of Nicholas Comins, and was the ancestor of the Harrisons of South of the James who married into the Thomas Family, and Captain Francis Wheeler had married the widow of Nicholas Comins,

Back to John Cotton & Anne of Queen Creek