Thank You, John Withers

A quick thanks to John Withers, who decided to get on a boat going from England to Virginia back in the summer of 1655. He’s not my ancestor, but the brother of my ancestor; William Withers, who is the progenitor of the Withers family in Virginia. John Withers, his wife and his younger brother, William Withers came to Virginia and settled in a part of Westmoreland County that would, eventually, become Stafford County in 1664.  John  Withers acquired a grant of land for paying the transportation cost to Virginia for three persons. Note that the “headrights” that John is claiming to acquire this land are not for his family, but three men, namely; James Lewis, John Jones and William Clark.

It’s possible that John paid for the passage of these three men to be indentured servants, who would work 5-7 years clearing new land.  The indentured servants did not acquire title to land through their work during their term of service, if someone else had paid for their passage and claimed the headright. Next is a brief description of a “Headright” and a link to the complete text.

“In order to encourage immigration into the colony, the Virginia Company, meeting in a Quarter Court held on 18 November 1618, passed a body of laws called Orders and Constitutions which came to be considered “the Great Charter of privileges, orders and laws” of the colony. Among these laws was a provision that any person who settled in Virginia or paid for the transportation expenses of another person who settled in Virginia should be entitled to receive fifty acres of land for each immigrant. The right to receive fifty acres per person, or per head, was called a headright. The practice was continued under the royal government of Virginia after the dissolution of the Virginia Company, and the Privy Council ordered on 22 July 1634 that patents for headrights be issued.”


Another excellent description of the use of headrights is at:

Below is a transcription of the Land Grant issued to John Withers. The original is available online:

364 To all viz. Whereas viz. Now know yee that I the Said Edward Diggs Esq. viz. give and grant unto John Withers one hundred and fifty Acres  of Land be it more or less Situated in the County of Westmoreland upon the head of a branch of Patomack Creek bounded as followeth East upon Capt. Brent South upon the branch of the Said creek West upon the barren Ridge The said land being due unto the said John Withers by and for the Transportation of three Persons into this Collony viz. to have and to hold viz. Yielding and Paying viz. which payment is to be made viz. Dated the fourth of Sept 1655. James Lewis, John Jones, William Clark.

The next grant is to William Withers in December of 1658, probably soon after William reaches his majority.

342Wm. Withers

400 acres 


 To all viz. whereas viz. now Know ye That I the said Samuel Mathews Esq. viz. give and grant unto William Withers Four Hundred Acres of Land Situate and being in the County of Westmoreland at the head of a small Creeke falling into the Patomack Creek extending from the Land of Major James Goodwin up the side of the Said Creek West north West 200 poles South South West 320 poles South Southeast parallel to the first course, finally North Northeast to the place it Began. The said Land being due by viz. for the Transportation of eight persons viz. To Have viz. Yielding viz. which payment viz. provided viz. dated the 18th of December 1658.

What he said:

I, Samuel Mathews, Esq., give to William Withers four hundred acres of land in the County of Westmoreland at the head of a small creek falling into the Potomac Creek, extending from the land of Major James Goodwin, up the side of the said creek, West Northwest 200 poles, then, South Southwest 320 poles, then, South Southeast parallel to the first course, finally, North Northeast to the place it began. The said land being due, for the transportation of eight persons, which payment [was] provided, dated the 18th of December 1658.

What he meant:

Samuel Mathews signed over to William Withers 400 acres of land just off of the Potomac River, in payment for William paying the passage of 8 people to Virginia. These could be indentured servants.

Next, I intend to write about how John and William planned their move to Virginia. In my early days of studying family histories, I thought that immigrants came to the new world with no more than a dream of success, but over the years, I’ve learned that many had well thought out plans that relied on connections back home and in the New World. John and William Withers were two young men who came to Virginia with a plan and carried it out.

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Hello world!

Here I go! Jumping into the blogosphere without a net. Well…OK, I do have a net; a delete button, and, if I can figure out how to use them, a spell check and some editing tools. But, I’m feeling anxious as I type this…preparing to hit that send button that will launch my words out into the world of the electronic bits.

My plan is to write about things that only a few family members and fewer friends are going to care about, but try to write about them in such a way as to be entertaining to potential readers that couldn’t care less about my family connections. This blog will be my repository for family histories and stories that have been passed down over the years. A Withers Archive, filled with tales of glory in war, failures in business, the comfort of ordinary life, and, maybe, a few love stories.

Our small branch is still hanging on to the Withers name. My son, now twelve years old, is the only son of an only son of an only son of an only son.  Four generations of one male to carry on the Withers name in our family. No pressure Nathan. Not anymore than taking the last shot of the game, when you’re down by one point and only seconds left to go. No pressure, at all.

This is where I should tease a few upcoming stories, entice you to make a note to come back and read them; except I don’t feel like commiting to them yet. If I tease them, I’ll have to actually write them, so check back and see if I do.

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