Culpeper Colvin Men in British Colonial War and American War for Independence. A list with sources.

The following is for the benefit of visitors who wonder what I may know about  the Colvin men in Culpeper County, Virginia who served in the American Revolution. Refinement suggestions can be sent to  me at


Sources: Digitized original revolutionary war muster rolls, digitized original payroll, digitized original and transcribed pension record affidavits, digitized original depositions from bounty lands warrant records, index to Culpeper County Revolutionary draft class lists.(Library of Virginia database online)

#1 Benjamin Colvin (1759-1837) Burial: unknown. Records on file: pension deposition dated June, 1832, Boone County, Missouri. Parents unknown. Rank: Private. Service dates: April 1781- January, 1782. Major Battles: Battle of Spencer’s Ordinary; Battle of Green Spring Plantation. which were two major battles in the last phases of the Yorktown campaign, Virginia Dept. of the Southern campaign. Commanding officers: Capts. (1) Elijah Kirtley, (2) Samuel Ferguson. There is some question as to what Companies either of these two Captains commanded and to which Regiment they were attached. Relationship to other  Culpeper Colvin men: unknown.

#2 Charles Colvin ( ~ 1745 -1810), Pendleton County, Ky. Burial: unknown. Records on file: See footnote. Parents unknown. Rank: unknown. Service dates:  Drafted, January, 1781.[1] (Class 11) [2] Regiment unknown. Major Battles: unknown. Relationship to other Culpeper Colvin men: unknown.

#3 Daniel Colvin (1737-1790) Culpeper County. Burial: Masonic Cemetery, Culpeper County, Virginia. Records on file: transcribed deposition of Peter Trippett pension application, who names D. Colvin ( May 3, 1834) Service dates: enlisted 14 November 1779 Culpeper County  under Capt. Benjamin Roberts for Mjr. George Slaughter under  Clark’s Expedition. (aka Clark’s Conquest).[3] The secret nature of this expedition explains why neither Daniel nor Mason Colvin’s names  appear in usual official military records such as muster and pay rolls; however the Trippett deposition and other records corroborate  this military claim. Rank: unknown. Major Battles: Clark’s Expedition. Relationship to other Culpeper Colvin men: father of Mason Colvin (1764-1834)

#4 Elkin Colvin (? – ~ 1758/1759 in service.) Burial: unknown. Records on file: digitized original deposition of Mason Colvin on behalf of deponent dated October 20, 1811, Culpeper County. Service dates: 1758 (or 1759) “Indian War” – French and Indian War?)[4] under a Capt. [sic] “Blog”. Rank: unknown. Major Battles: unknown. Relationship to other Culpeper Colvin men: younger brother of Mason Colvin (# 9)

#5 Henry Colvin b. 17 June 1762, Culpeper Courthouse, d. 31 January 1839, Falmouth, Pendleton County, Ky. Burial: unknown. Records on file: digitized orginal pension deposition dated August 10, 1832, Pendleton County, Ky. digitized original deposition of Sarah Dillard Colvin, widow of John Colvin, dated December 14, 1836,  Culpeper County.  Service dates: enlisted ___1779 under Capts. (1) Andrew  Wallace (1st  VA Regiments) (2) John Anderson. (unknown Reg. – possibly 2nd  VA. Reg.) Rank: unknown. Major Battles: Battle of Gilford Court House,  NC, [15 Mar 1781], Battle of Eutaw Springs [8 Sep 1781], Battle of Hobkirk Hill near Camden SC, [25 Apr 1781][5]  Relationship to other Culpeper Colvin men: Substitute for brother of John Colvin  (# 8), as identified in Sarah Colvin’s deposition.

#6 James Colvin b. 19 October 1768 d. 1841 Burial: unknown. Records on file: 1 digitized original muster roll. 13th VA Battalion, Ft. Pitt (present day Pittsburg) dated March 7, 1778; 8 digitized original Index Record cards 1777-1779; digitized original query letter dated Feb. 17, 1926 to Dept. of Interior from J.S. Jennings  requesting military records of  J. Colvin, claiming J. Colvin was a son of Daniel Colvin.[6] Service dates: enlistment 20 January 1777 under Capt. James Neal, 13th Virginia. The August-Sept. muster roll noted he was “stationed at Ft. Pitt.” Major Battles: unknown. Listed as “artificer” under Capt. James Sullivan on muster roll. Relationship to other Culpeper Colvin men: possible son of Daniel Colvin (#3) and brother of Mason Colvin (1764-1834)[7]

# 7 Jeremiah Colvin b. 1758, Culpeper County d. January, 1778 in service.[8] Burial: unknown. Records on file: 13 digitized original muster and pay rolls, 10th Virginia Regiment; 7 digitized original index record cards (payroll); 9 digitized original index record cards (muster roll);  the digitized original deposition of Mason Colvin, bounty land warrant file, on behalf of J. Colvin Oct. 28, 1811; the digitized original land bounty warrant, assigned to John Colvin, heir-at-law of J. Colvin. Service dates: enlisted under Capt. John Gillison, 1776 and died in service after 1777. by which time he had achieved the rank of Sargent.[9] Rank: Sargent. Major Battles: unknown.  Appears to have died after being at Vally Forge encampment, December 1777.[10] Relationship to other Culpeper Colvin men: younger brother of Mason Colvin (# 9)

# 8 John Colvin b. 16 March 1758, Culpeper County d. 29 March 1832, Culpeper County. Burial: unknown. Records on file: digitized original Last Will and Testament, John Colvin, Nov. 20, 1833; digitized original deposition of Sarah Colvin, widow of John Colvin, pension application, Dec. 14, 1836. Service dates: 1st enlistment by draft   22 September 1775 under Capt. John Green, 1st VA. Regiment, to Sept, 1776,; 2nd draft,  under Capt. ____ , Regiment unknown.  August 1, 1777 – March 1778. His 3rd draft under Capt. ____ (after his marriage to. S. Dillard,)  under Capt. ____, Regiment unknown.  May 1, 1779  ~ Oct 1779.  4th draft  was served by his substitute, Henry Colvin. His 5th draft was served by his substitute, Joseph Bowen. Rank: private, may have achieved rank of sergeant when discharged.  Major Battles: Williamsburg (1775). Others unknown.  Relationship to other Culpeper Colvin men; brother of Henry Colvin (#5) and Mason Colvin (#9)

#9. Mason Colvin (? – ?)  Burial: unknown. Records on file: digitized original depositions on behalf of Jerimiah Colvin, Elkin Colvin,  and himself, regarding bounty land;  digitized original deposition of Sarah Colvin, widow of John Colvin, pension application, Dec. 14, 1836; digitized original deposition of Mason Colvin, August 16, 1832. Service dates: enlisted Culpeper County, by draft [date] and served 3 months under Capt. Francis Nalle, Virginia Militia, under Cmnd. Christian Charles de Klauman; 2nd draft [date] served 3 months under Capt. John Waugh under Cmnd. Edward Stevens (skirmish at Richmond); 3rd draft [date] served 3 months under Capt. Lewis Yancey under Cmnd. unknown. 4th draft, fall,  1781,  served 3 months under Capt. James Slaughter. Thereafter,  enlisted , under Capt. James Garnett into Col. William Washington’s Regiment of Dragoons. Discharged Nov. 1782 after Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown. Major Battles: pending.  Relationship to other Culpeper Colvin men: brother of Elkin Colvin (#4),  Henry Colvin (#5), Jerimiah Colvin, (#7),  and John Colvin (#8).


[1] “Culpeper Classes, 1781”, Library of Virginia online database: Index to the listing all the men from Culpeper County’s Revolutionary War militia and the individual drafted from each class or group. This collection lists all the men in each class and the individual drafted from each. In some cases a trade or physical description of the draftee is given. The LOV  database is based on Emily G. Honts, “A List of Classes in Culpeper County for January 1781.”  Daughters of the American Revolution, 1983,   Charles, however, does not appear on muster rolls for any of the companies in Culpeper or Fauquier raised for battle. It  likewise bears mentioning that few colonies ever met the Continental Congress’s imposed regimental quotas – although Virginia did better than many —  and that by 1781, Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown. Researchers trying to understanding these draft lists and their function during the war years will be greatly aided by John V. Atta’s “Conscription in Revolutionary Virginia: the Case of Culpeper County, 1780-1781” in the July 1984 edition of The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. The Culpeper lists are particularly valuable in that they have survived almost entirely intact.

[2] See Library of Virginia online catalogue, “Culpeper County Classes, 1781”

[3] See “Virginia Soldiers in the Revolution” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Oct 1913, Vol. 4;11, 337-346.  More properly known as the Illinois Regiment. This regiment was raised under an act of Assembly passed in January, 1778, authorizing a campaign  for the protection of the western frontiers. George Rogers Clark was made  lieutenant colonel of Virginia militia by Governor Patrick Henry, and given secret instructions to raise seven companies of fifty men each for the purpose of attacking the British post of Kaskaskia. The expedition set out in May, 1778, with three companies. After the capture of Kaskaskia,  Clark’s force was increased by the enlistment of a number of the French inhabitants. The regiment was recruited from Virginia in the spring of 1779, when it numbered 350 men. In August, 1780 it was reduced to 130 men. It was disbanded  January 18,

  1. In addition, both Daniel and Mason (spelled Madison) Colvin’s names turns up on the list of soldier entries from  The Library of Virginia’s microfilmed collection of  Roger Clark’s papers in 1782. See:

[4] verification via military records pending.

[5] Verification via military records pending

[6]This relationship has not yet been verified independently.

[7] This Mason Colvin should not be confused with the Mason Colvin (#9), the brother of John, Elkin,  and Henry Colvin.

[8] Jerimiah’s last appearance is on the company payroll, Nov. 1777 under Capt. John  Gillison at Vally Forge winter encampment.

[9] Additional data pending.

[10] See Vally Forge Legacy, Muster Roll project at:

Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review

The Revolutionaries That History Forgot?

Woody Holton’s Forced Founders

© 2014, Alex Colvin

Dr. James K. Martin, American Revolution

University of Houston

History 4304

Spring, 2014

When it comes to the American Revolution, Americans have a very selective memory. For many, George Washington, is seen not as a young Virginian frontier fighter who helped win the British victory in the French and Indian War, but rather as the hero of the American Revolution, immortalized in glorious images of his winter crossing of the Delaware. The words of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death!” are enshrined in American culture; his brash Virginia Resolves – particularly the three rejected ones – less so. Similarly, most Americas probably know that Thomas Jefferson was the author and signer of the Declaration of Independence and who designed his own home, Monticello; few may know, however, that he eschewed publication, despite his polymathic intellect and cannon of written works.[1]  And while Americans likely know that Washington, Henry, and Jefferson were all Virginians, their ties to the land and to the competitive and risky colonial land speculation trade are less well known.  That real-estate dimension of their collective image gets eclipsed in our patriotic fervor and our collective gallant notion of the American Revolution which we prefer to envisage as a  tiny, ragtag army of  upstarts taking on and winning victoriously against the world’s eighteenth-century superpower known as Britton.

But what if we’ve managed to skip a few critical episodes in our analysis of the American road to Independence in Virginia? What if we’ve omitted some underlying motives or ignored major chords in the music of our memory? Have we overlooked a deeper understanding of the why question in our quest to understand the who and the what questions about  the Virginian participants in their service to liberty?  Addressing that omission, this collective gap in our memory, is the essential thesis to Forced Founders.[2]  Author, Woody Holton, wants us to reimagine a different why – something other than taxes and billeting troops or the standard bedrock causes of the American colonial rebellion against its mother country. Those new motives have to do with land. And among those participants — those from Virginia who were among the largest stakeholders in the massive land grab prior to the French and Indian war — Holton claims, were Washington, Jefferson, and Henry.[3]

Yet, despite what at first blush in his opening chapter appears a promising insight into an old intrigue, Holton serves up instead what is best described as conjecture based on heavily footnoted scholarship.

Holton makes clear in his opening volley that those landed gentry, (such as Washington,)  who had gotten involved with land speculation in the 1760s in the Ohio River Vally had much to lose once the Proclamation Line of 1763 was enacted  which nullified and voided any previous patents or land claims held by speculators. Many students of the Revolution know, for example, that the British drew the Proclamation Line following their expansionist conquest in North American as a kind of redline which American colonists were not expected to cross, and for their obedience, the English send several thousand  troops allegedly to “protect” them from Indian raids. Americans were expected to pay for those Regulars with duty impositions against which they loudly protested.

.           What they may not know,  however, was that, hoping to remove part of this geographic impediment, in 1768, The Hard Labor Treaty was signed between Cherokee leaders and John Stuart – a British agent —  which essentially extended Virginia to the Ohio River and included what would become West Virginia – a geographic boundary that went far beyond the legal limit. Patrick Henry quickly became interested in this new area with a purchase of some 3,300 acres. (Holton, 9) [4]  Within a month, the Iroquois relinquished an almost identical tract to William Johnson at New York’s Ft. Stanwix in what became known as the Ft. Stanwix Treaty.  Yet despite the apparent conflict land speculators were sure Britton would honor any treaty involving their war allies, the Iroquois.  Many land speculators followed suit, sparking a land rush which, by 1769, caused the Virginia Executive Council (the upper house of the Virginia Assembly) to void all of the patents thus far obtained to put an end to a land rush in an area which was legally off-limits. Lobbying and petitions to Parliament ensued. So did inter-tribal conflict because those tribes selling land weren’t exactly authorized to do so. (Holton 14). Ultimately the whole affair came to nothing. As Holton notes:

Because of the British government’s denial of Virginia’s bid for Kentucky, its refusal to revoke the Proclamation of 1763, and the Indian coalition-building that had helped to bring about these imperial policies, the total yield of Virginia land rush set off by the Fort Stanwix treaty had been was a pile of rejected land petitions and worthless surveys. (Holton, 28). 

Unfortunately, Holton never convincingly ties these failed land ventures to what he argues was a resentment so deep against the British, the colonists went to war.  In the next chapter, Holton introduces a new set of Virginias – debtors and slaves, the non-elites, who likewise have reasons to hate the British.

Holton summarized that chapter nicely: “The struggle between Virginia Tobacco growers and British merchants helped to spark the American Revolution”  (Holton, 43).  For evidence, he cites the deaths – two suicides and a murder — of three members of the emerging grower-gentry whose deaths he ties to their crushing debt, itself a consequence of their financial links to a failed  speculative venture, the New River lead mine to have been located west of  the Proclamation Line of 1763. Unfortunately, the connective tissue of evidence needed to show how debtors who did not resort to suicide but who were somehow part of the “forced founders,” and who participated in the mounting rebellion is missing. Instead, Holton spends the rest of the chapter illustrating how Virginians felt “enslaved” to the Navigation Acts which forced them to import only British goods and export only to British ports. However, that frustration was shared by every American colonist, and the suicides resulting from debt could well have been a way to escape the dismal prospect of debtor’s prison.

Although neo-progressive interpretations of the Revolution often provide welcomed and overlooked focus of unsung contributions to Revolutionary activities by individuals or small groups, Holton does not appear content with so narrow a task; he wants instead to add an entire new layer of understanding to what motivated Virginians – a herculean task by any measure. Yet  he attempts to do so within the confines of  fewer than 300 pages and in many cases without convincing evidence.  In his approach,  Holton appears to be  continuing the work of Rhys Isaac’s provocative, “The Transformation of Virginia 1740-1790”  (University of North Carolina Press, 1999.) in that  his focus is somewhat microsiciological, re-aligning the broad lens of  Virginia Revolutionary history onto matters of less contributory significance as though they shared equal weight. Thus, in the same Issacian approach, he is using “top-down sources (to support claims about) bottom-up history” (Holton, xxi).  Holton’s  reviewers, therefore,  have been no kinder to his approach than they had been to Isaac before him.[5]

The most glaring weakness of  “Forced Founders”, however,  is stylistic rather that evidentiary; the language is both dense, and  the evidence used to support it a thick collection of  footnotes which are frequently longer than the text,  leaving the reader bleary-eyed by the first chapter’s end on page thirty-eight.

Much of that chapter deals with land speculator’s claims and counter claims as it concerned Kentucky and disputed Indian lands, highlighting royal treaties, grants,  Virginia Assembly legislation, as well as  the intricacies of  Anglo-Indian deals and counter-deals, not to mention inter- and intra-tribal friction, all to illustrate how in the colonial period, land speculators, the Virginia gentry, the King’s Privy council,  the Virginia Assembly,  as well as the Indian allies of each sphere often worked at cross purposes.  This insistence upon detailed footnoting and language density, however, reduces what could be a fascinating analysis into a clinical monograph of ad nauseum detail.

Nevertheless, “Forced Founders” offers the reader an excellent magnifying glass by which to examine in more detail the complexities of Revolutionary Virginia’s backstory, and provides us with a finer-grained view of the mechanics involved amongst those who had every right to feel betrayed by the British Empire and its imposition of the Proclamation Line of 1763.      Moreover, while Holton’s overall thesis has not impressed scholars, his concise and detailed collection of revelations about how the frustrations of rebelling Virginians played out enroute to war, makes “Forced Founders” a worthwhile addition to the bookshelf of any student of Virginiana.

[1] Kevin Hayes, “The Road to Monticello” (Oxford University Press, New York, 2008)

[2] Woody Holton, “Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia, (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1999.)

[3] George Washington’s dealings  in the Mississippi Land Company and his interest in the 2.5 million-acre land grant in the Ohio River Vally from the Crown are well known. See:  “Mississippi Land Company” in  Digital Encyclopedia, George Washington’s Mount Vernon website Thomas Jefferson, contrary to Holton’s view, never dabbled in speculation beyond the Appalachians although he’s received offers to do so. See Thomas Jefferson and the Northwest, in Richard J. Bean, “The Founders and the Pursuit of Land,” Lehrman Institute Historical Essays

[4] In 1774, Patrick Henry began a land speculation agreement with William Byrd, but later backed out of the arrangement because of his standing in the House of Burgesses and did not wish to sully his reputation; moreover, he felt at some point, were he to become a jurist in a land dispute case, he would have to recuse himself due to conflict of interest. See: Deposition of Patrick Henry, June 4, 1777, in “Collins’ Historical Sketches of Kentucky: History of Kentucky, Volume 2” ( Collins and Company, Covington, 1882.) 496 It is curious, given this deposition, and Henry’s standing as a Virginia assemblyman  since 1765, that Holton nevertheless attributes to Henry an implied resentment against the British related to his land holdings.

[5] A. G. Roeber, “The Transformation of Virginia 1740-1790 by Rhys Isaac” (review) The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, (Vol. 106, No. 4 Oct., 1982) 569-571.

Posted in Uncategorized

Virginia joins the Revolution: a re-consideration

Since this post has pretty much nothing to do with Colvins, you have my permission to turn away. However, if you’re interested….

I’m working on a lengthy Capstone paper (think Graduate course lite) which re-examines Virginia’s entrance into the Revolution.  Here’s my thesis:

Virginia’s entrance into the Revolution has often been miscast as a result of disparate events such as a reaction by embittered investors in land schemes, and Dunmore’s War. True, settlers’ push for land beyond the Proclamation line of 1763 and the Indian reprisals it fomented played significant roles which helped ignite Dunmore’s War. Yet, unto themselves – or even combined – these events do not fully explain Virginia’s joining the independence movement. There were additional compelling factors such as the drive for religion liberty and the weakness of the imperial state. These additional factors, however, are often overlooked but which served as part of a confluence of events which ultimately drove Virginia toward colonial independence from Brittan which newer studies have begun to explore.

This essay proposes to both re-consider the miscast roles played by some events and to include those which were also part of a larger, complex web of events leading Virginia inexorably into the Revolution. By demonstrating that it was several factors – not just one or two –which drew Virginia into the independence movement, a clearer understanding of the road to revolution by one of British North America’s oldest and largest colonies will become more apparent.

This is what you get to deal with as a senior at a Tier One University and sign up for a Capstone course with one of the nation’s top scholars in American Revolutionary military history, Dr. James Kirby Martin.  You get to write lengthy papers. Really lengthy papers. And do research in primary sources which just may completely up-end what you thought you knew.  Would I have it any other way? No. Ah, the joys of being a budding Historian. Who knew thinking could be so thrilling?

Posted in Uncategorized

Summer wrap-up 2014: The Colvin ethnicity and some file housekeeping chores.

With summer quickly coming to a close, and my return to academics on the horizon, now is a good time to mention some of what this summer’s research has yielded. Firstly, there’s the 5,000-word essay on the Colvin Piedmont ethnicity which took me into two research areas I normally don’t indulge in — namely, etymology, and linguistics. But it seemed appropriate and perhaps somewhat overdue — particularly linguistics which, in the Piedmont Colvin case is, for me, especially compelling evidence of their ethnicity. I have long suspected the Colvin ethnicity was of an English origin; the essay, however,  forced me to research the topic more rigorously as a way to articulate my position. Of course anyone is welcome to challenge my findings. All I ask is that you not use excessive ear-hair as your rational for thinking the Colvins of this study are of a Scottish origin.

Sadly, little new data is known on the Colvin progenitor of the Piedmont line, but perhaps another summer may yield him.

A close relative recently gifted The Colvin Study with never-before seen images of my own father as a teenager, donning swimming trunks, as well as images of his mother with her companion, Timothy Miller, in what appears to be her Washington, D.C. apartment.

I have spent much time this summer at the website, said visits yielding quite a few heretofore unknown Colvin burial locations and headstone images. Some of which  were incorrect. For example, for the  memorial (# 58802659) for John Calhoun Colvin (1845-1921) the poster — a FAG contributor who goes by the name of Audrey (ID # 46877347) had a digitized obit of John, but no other information, and so for reasons unclear, placed his memorial in the Catlet Methodist Church Cemetery in Fauquier County although the most recent cemetery survey of his original interment at Hazelwood, John’s ancestral home in Nokesville, Prince William County — shows that, in 2001, the family enclosure and tombstones were still on the grounds in situ! More curious, Audrey linked John to his son, George McCoy Colvin (1877-1955) and his wife Dora Rebecca Ruffner (1877-1967)  — as his parents!  And then linked George’s children as John’s siblings! I provided a few edits and also sent Audrey an email asking that she transfer the memorial to me, explaining that FAG had no cemetery listing in its database for the private cemetery at Hazelwood. I hope she is as generous with this request as she has been with the many hours she’s spent building FAG memorials.

But this appears to be an extreme case, thus, as a way to reciprocate the other more fruitful finds and to help support this valuable resource, I have begun creating original Colvin memorials as well as adding to extant memorials already at the website. In doing so, however, I quickly noticed that none of my database death-related entries showed a memorial number, which I set about to correct only to discover this is an awfully big chore when you consider that only about 16% of the nearly 3,000 individuals in the database  have had their burial locations identified. Thus, as time allows, I will be going through the entire database in order to not only included these FAG memorial numbers with the headstone images on file, but to also attempt to ferret out those burial locations where FAG memorials are non-existent of which, apparently, there are quite a few.  Ultimately,  not only will all known burials in the  database  be accounted for but each will have a FAG memorial and corresponding number.  So I’ve added to my never-ending list of genealogy projects.  Good for me.

Update 8/27. Audry has kindly transferred the J.C. Colvin FAG memorial to me and I have renamed it as “Unknown” and removed all the data and annotated the memorial with a comment regarding J.C. Colvin’s actual known burial location in Price William County.  I have also requested its deletion from FAG.

On a lighter note, I’ve upgraded the Colvin Study Blog banner to reflect seasonal changes and plan to use it to help ring in seasonal changes or any other special occasion.

The family featured are the heirs of Hiram “Jack” Jackson Colvin (1840-1904) who is believed to be a great-grandson of Charles Colvin, Sr., (~1745-1810) though his heir, Charles B. Colvin, who in some documents is likely the same individual being referred to as Charles Colvin, Jr.

The actual image from which the blog banner is taken features two rows of individuals – all of them H.J. Colvin’s heirs. However, the edited banner image uses only the back row of  subjects. They are:

L to R: : Rachael Anita Colvin (1863-1935); George J. Colvin (1872-1922); Myrtle Edmonda Colvin (1878-1945); Issac Newton Colvin (1873-1952) and Addie Hahn (wife of Charles Alvin Colvin, in first row not shown)

As usual, I’ve gotten my share of emails from folks who invariably inspire met to go on a fresh sleuthing trip to discover the particulars about this or that Colvin who may or may not be related, but who, more often than not, are and  I am always grateful for their correspondences which help to motivate me and expand the knowledge base. These excursions always serve to reminds me how much The Colvin Study matters. To date, the database consists of nearly 3,000 individual profiles comprising nearly 1,000 family groups. and nearly 1,700 digitized images of individuals and primary source records. My thanks as always to those who continue to contribute images and data and especially to those for whom this work holds enduring value.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Piedmont Colvin ethnicity: It’s complicated.

© 2014, Alex Colvin
all rights reserved

                 It is strenuously believed by some modern-day descendants of the Colvins of this study that their ethnic heritage traces to a Scottish ancestry. For reasons unsupported by historical and other empirical evidence, these descendants believe that certain slivers of anecdotal evidence is sufficient to support their claim. For example, one Ohio-based  Colvin of this belief hoped to convince me of his Colvin Scottish heritage because some of his Colvin relatives attended a specific Baptist church, or because when bagpipes were played in the presence of another Colvin of his line, that person became teary eyed. Another of his ancestors, he insisted, was clearly of Scottish decent because of his excessive ear hair and his burly chest. Yes, you heard that correctly. Most significantly, the claimant insisted, the surname Colvin traces, (etymologically-speaking,) to the Lowland Scots of yore. Facts enough for him, these observable yet disconnected shards of evidence, to be convincing.

            The physical characteristics point of his argument I won’t concede simply because such traits being exclusively hung onto those of a Scottish heritage are too naïve to be taken seriously. It’s worth noting, for example, that excessive ear hair is actually a medical phenomenon shared by many elderly males.[1] Moreover, large chests are routinely found among races which live at high altitudes, itself an evolutionary adaptation which allows for more oxygen (larger lung capacity,) in oxygen-poor environments. Think of the Sherpa of Tibet of Mt. Everest fame, for example, a race of native people who have been inhabiting the Tibetan plateau for over 3,000 years.[2] Neither will I concede that only a Scotsman can feel especially moved by the sound of bagpipes. This is not an uncommon response by many, particularly when certain tunes are played. The Scottish do not have a monopoly on being deeply affected by music, although their musical heritage is certainly rich and well established in America.

            Which brings us to what may be a better approach to understanding the Colvin ethnicity in Colonial Piedmont, from which all branches originally grew — including the Ohio branch begining in the early 19th century. To do this we’ll need to examine three aspects of their heritage: the etymology of the Colvin name, their long-practiced religious heritage, and finally, an overlooked linguistic heritage, known as the Piedmont Dialect, a particular language feature still clearly discernable among contemporary Colvins of this line living in the Piedmont.

            We’ll start with the etymology. Two often-cited authorities used to explain the surname Colvin etymologically are Mark Antony Lower’s “Patronymica Britannica,” published in London in 1860 and George F. Black’s “The surnames of Scotland: their origin, meaning and history” published in New York in 1946. Aside from these works being nearly a century apart in age, they differ also in that they focus on two different regions. Lower’s work focus on the etymologies of surnames of the entire United Kingdom, (England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales) while Black’s work focused on names which trace specifically to Scotland. In either case, both present problems. We’ll start with Patronymica Britannica which shows that the Colvin name first turned up in the 11th Century as the name of a Devonshire Tenant-in-Chief,[3] who supposedly held his lands during the reign of Edward the Confessor who ruled over England during those dark, medieval days, when it was a collection of fiefdoms and whose reign predates its first true king, William the Conqueror of 1066 fame.[4]

            Unfortunately, there are virtually no references to who this Colvin was. But there are hints in Lower’s reference that those Colvin lands do appear listed in the historically significant and unprecedented Doomsday Book, that mammoth survey done by the incoming monarch William, who wanted to know just how much there was of what he‘d just conquered. In that book, there are lots of shires and places and landholder names listed which one can readily see in the full online versions of it –such as the one available via England’s own National Archives website. Devonshire is there (the historical name for modern-day Devon,) but no Colvin is listed.[5] Egads! Worst perhaps for those who think Colvin is a Scottish Lowland name, Devon, it turns out is one of England’s western-most counties. It is nowhere near Scotland, although historically, it was home to a Celtic language. This is something of a geographical problem if you want to count yourself among Scottish Lowlander descendants. And this is the oldest reference known. Next, let’s jump forward a few centuries to examine the entry by Dr. George F. Black, in his “Surnames of Scotland,” — the next oldest reference – wherein he notes a John Colvin found in 1680 in the parish of Bothkenner, in Sterling(shire) Scotland. This entry, at least puts it geographically closer to the region from whence it allegedly came. Sort of. Stirlingshire straddles Scotland’s well-known Highland-Lowland border. This is, again, not good news if you want to insist on a Lowland Scottish heritage, because you’d somehow have to find a way to genealogically link him and his male descendants – if any –to the earliest known Colvins in the colonial Piedmont, Virginia region who have thus far been traced only to the mid-18th century. Good luck.

            This geographical and chronological cleavage, however, helps to underscore the untidiness of claiming the Colvin surname is of Scottish Lowland origin. But here’s more to consider: the Scottish Lowlanders historically mixed more with the English, (they did border northern England, after all,) [6] than with their Highlander neighbors whom they detested and who’s chieftains held vast lands farmed by their peasant, Gaelic-speaking tenants who wore tartan kilts,[7] played bagpipes, and were part of a clan system. The Lowlanders – with their own language – the “scots,” — observed none of these cultural habits and were more allied with the English. [8] There is also the matter of the deeply-held animosity between the Highland peasantry and their own clan leaders exacerbated during what became known as the Highland Clearances of the late 18th through the late 19th centuries.

            Much has been written on the subject regarding how Highland clan culture was decimated over the course of several phases involving sheep, land confiscations, outright evictions of entire families or in other cases, entire villages, where homes were sometimes set ablaze to force residents off their hereditary lands.[9] A decimation undertaken, moreover, by their own chieftains. Further, historians note how writers like Sir Walter Scott helped to sanitize this tragic chapter in Scottish history by idealizing the Highlander Scotts in the service of the emerging tourist trade,[10] even though 19th century sympathetic newspaper accounts would later call the clearances an “extermination policy.” [11] Writers like Scott nevertheless helped to usher in a romantic image of the Highlander Scots, which in turn helped craft a cultural mythology among tourists. Thus it is the propagated mythology of the Scotsman most latter-day Americans know and European tour guides help promote today, even as the real bitterness that existed then and still does between the two cultures bubbles just beneath the surface. Echos of that friction can be clearly found simmering amid Highlanders and Lowlanders at Internet sites like, where the topic, “Lowlands of Scotland should apologize for the Highland Clearances,” incites a lively discussion with plenty of finger-pointing and blame to go around.[12]

            Nevertheless, while historians agree that the Highlanders suffered enormously, remnants of their culture managed to survive as they immigrated in great numbers overseas, particularly to British Canada and to British North America where they settled in large numbers in the deep south, particularly in North Carolina.[13] The Lowlanders, meanwhile, tended to remain in their native homelands where they assimilated with the English and, in many cases, took up trades.[14] However, those Lowlanders who did immigrate, broadly speaking, followed the earlier pattern already establish back in their native lands, by dispersing into the countryside, or settling sporadically in the British North American cities. This was a different pattern from Highlander immigrants, who tended to settle in their new lands on their hereditary pattern of clustering, clan-like.

              This settlement pattern is significant if we are to understand the Scottish in Virginia which, if we assume the Colvins were of Lowland Scottish descent, it should follow that they adhered to the settlement pattern already mentioned. The trouble is showing it, as there are few authoritative sources on this subject. Instead there exists much in the way of amateur literature which mistakenly lump together Scottish migration patterns in British North America over several centuries as if Ulster Scot, (sometimes called Scots-Irish) Lowland Scots, and Highland Scots were all the same ethnicity. They were not, and as both Dr. Krossa and Bethune show clearly, both their settlement patterns and social affinities, in their native regions and later –particularly in North Carolina — were demonstrably different from one another. One certified genealogist, Myra Vanderpool Gormley, tried to articulate the differences in these populations and migration patterns in her 2000 article, “Migration Patterns of Our Scottish Ancestors” for the popular genealogy periodical, Genealogy Magazine (Vol. 4, No. 1) when she wrote in part:

            By the 1760s emigration from the Highland of Scotland increased and the reason often given was the raising of rents in their homeland. [See: The Highland Clearance noted earlier.]

                At the time of the American Revolution most Scottish colonists, especially the Highlanders, were loyalists. Afterward many of them left the United States, to settle in Canada or return to Scotland.

                After the Revolution, most Scots immigrated to Canada rather than the United States. However, many of them later came to America from Canada. A total of 478,224 Scots entered the United States between 1852 and 1910 according to official figures.

                Most Scots settled in the Southern and Middle Atlantic states in the 17th and 18th centuries. The men who were transported as rebels or as criminals were sent mainly to Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas.[15]

            Gormley’s observations not only underscore the distinct settlement patterns already noted by Bethune, but they also highlight how most Scottish Highlanders were Loyalists during the American Revolution. And clearly, as the Revolutionary military records of the male members of this Colvin line make clear, every male who could carry a musket at the time in Culpeper County, did so to take up arms against the British. Fortunately, other scholars have taken up the question of why and where these Scottish British loyalists in Virginia were located, such as Dr. Charles Grimes, a professor with George Mason University’s Department of Geography and GeoInformation Science. Dr. Grimes’s published works include the website, “Geography of Virginia”.[16] At his website, on the page, The Revolutionary War in Virginia, he rhetorically asks his visitors:

            “Why Were the Loyal Virginians Concentrated Where They Were?”[17] He replies:

The Scottish traders in Norfolk were economically linked to the mercantile system of England. So long as the colonies were economically dependent upon the mother country, and the Royal Navy enforced the Navigation Acts and prevented direct shipment of Virginia-grown tobacco to French and Dutch ports, the Scots in Norfolk would make money as middlemen. They did not have a monopoly on shipping Virginia tobacco to Glasgow and other British ports, but only the large planters could maintain a direct relationship in England with a banker/buyer for their goods.

The Scots recognized that an independent Virginia (perhaps allied with other colonies, perhaps not…) would allow greater competition and cut deeply into their profits. You don’t have to sunbscribe [sic]to Marxist theory to recognize that the economic interests shaped political loyalties.

The westerners were largely self-sufficient, and their economic ties to England were minimal. Transportation costs across the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge made it uneconomic to grow tobacco or other cash crops. All the profits would be eaten up by the shipping costs, for those farmers located more than a few miles from the navigable rivers leading to a Chesapeake Bay port.

            Carefully note the two important distinctions being made. One is made directly; the other, by implication. Firstly, these loyalists who occupied the Tidewater region (Norfolk) were Scottish and secondly, they appear to have been of a mercantile class, not subsistence farmers. Those are substantially different geographic and occupational characteristics than those documented by the Colvin colonists in the Piedmont region. In other words, inland farmers had no economic incentive compelling enough to drive them to become Loyalists. But what if we want to determine whether those Tidewater Scots were Highlander or Lowlander – just in case there’s a Colvin among them, even though those in the Piedmont have been fully accounted for. In that case, we have only to look at the so called “Scottish” culture being celebrated centuries later by members of “The Scottish Society of Tidewater,” Virginia, as evidence. The club clearly promotes Highlander culture with its encouragement of the use of kilts, clans, tartans, as well as offerings of classes in Gaelic. So, no Lowlander Colvins there – if you subscribe to the Lowlander Colvin name idea.

            Thus it seems clear from the available empirical evidence that the Colvins of this line do not display any of the demographic characteristics already well documented by historians which would give rise to a reasonable belief that they are of a Scottish heritage. At least not among those Colvins already traced in extant records to the 18th century in the Piedmont, Virginia region. And ethnicity is not re-born when someone migrates, which is how the Colvins from the Piedmont got to Ohio. Their ethnicity went where they went. As to their fore-bearers’ heritage, that remains entirely a matter of speculation until better findings become available. But there are hints at what it might be, that’s assuming what the Colvin descendants were practicing in the 18th century was a  hereditary tradition. That also is in evidence in Culpeper County which is where the earliest records have thus far been traced. A separate branch of this line grew, extended first to Fauquier, then eventually extended to Ohio. We’ll examine that next.

            Most historians agree that Presbyterianism was the religion of choice among most of Virginia’s 18th century Scottish population., particularly among the so-called Ulster-Scots who were filling up the Shenandoah Valley region[18] although, like Baptist, it too was considered a “dissenting” religion.[19] Conversely, the extant records thus far examined to date make it clear the Piedmont region Colvins, very early on were Baptist. But this is also clear during the same period by inference because certain records are conspicuously absent. Among the earliest of the extant records in Virginia’s colonial period, comes in the form of the names of two Colvin males of this line, Daniel Colvin (1737-1790) and his son, Mason Colvin, (1764-1834) whose signature facsimiles appear on the now famous, “Ten Thousand Names” petition.[20] This record is significant in helping to determine their religious bent because it was a petition spearheaded by Baptists ministers in 1776 and signed by thousands of Virginia’s Baptists. Certainly other “dissenting” congregations joined in, but Baptists were by far its majority signatories. The object of the document was to appeal to the Virginia General Assembly to put a halt to the endless harassments and bullying their congregants and ministers had endured under the monopoly of the Anglican church.[21] Many had been jailed, beaten, their churches burned, their preachers assaulted; their services disrupted by Anglican hoodlums. Many petitions had proceeded this one; others would follow. But this was the watershed one.

            Daniel and Mason’s relationship is established by the affidavit of Peter Trippett, who served with both men three years later in the winter of 1779 during what has become known as Clark’s Conquest. Trippett was deposed on 3 May 1834.[22] His purpose was to provide proof that Daniel had served in the Revolution, because at that time, Daniel was applying for his Bounty lands, (the government’s lure of compensation for service at a time when it was essentially too broke to offer monetary pay.) But in his deposition, the 80-year-old Trippett noted also that both Daniel and his son had served together during their secret Revolutionary expedition, named both men, and went on to explain how he thought it “a rare circumstance improper [in] his mind,” that the two served side-by-side.   So there’s clear evidence that not only were these early Colvins fighting the British, they were also Baptist.

            Additional evidence comes not so many years later, in the early1790s, where one finds marriage bonds among these same early Colvins, but no marriage returns. Why? Anglican clerks were under no obligation to record marriages in their registries provided by them from dissident ministers, although the bond money paid to the county clerks for a licence was still required.

            This was certainly the case for Elizabeth Colvin, (1775-1826) a daughter of Charles Colvin of Fauquier [23] who married Elias Duncan on December 21st 1792 in Fauquier County, Virginia.[24] One readily finds the marriage bond (a type of colonial surety,) among extant records, but, like many marriages in that year’s listings, there is no return from the minister, indicating the exact marriage date. The same is true of Elizabeth’s brother, William Colvin, (1767- ?) who was not only married twice in Fauquier – in 1788,[25] then again in 1797,[26] each time by a Baptist minister – but who, by 1804, can also be found listed among the a membership rolls of neighboring Stafford County’s Chapawamsic Baptist Church, itself a Baptist spin off from a congregation in Fauquier, although the membership rolls consulted for Chapawamsic indicate he was received in that church “without letter.”[27] He had relocated from Fauquier to Stafford County in 1799.[28] This was likewise the case with William’s brother, Richard Colvin (1762-1826) for whom William served as witness on the $150.00 marriage bond on September 3, 1793 in order that he might marry Lydia George, the underage daughter of Benjamin George. No minister’s return was ever recorded.[29]

            Perhaps more importantly however, is the fact that Robert Nordin and Thomas White, two ministers from England, are usually credited with helping to germinate the Baptist faith in Virginia in 1710.[30]  Moreover, Fauquier’s Broad Run Church is considered by historians Virginia’s first congregation of so-called “Regular” Baptists — founded 1762. Chapawamsic, of which William was a member, was in fact, a spin off of this church. — itself part of a branch of the Baptist faith begun earlier in Pennsylvania, and a member of a larger network of such churches which comprised the confederation known as the Philadelphia Baptist Association, founded in that city three years earlier in 1707. [31] But who were these Pennsylvania Baptists and where were they from? One Colonial history scholar from Rowan University answers that question by tracing the history of Virginia Baptists to their Pennsylvania roots and then their European origins. In her “Bodies of Belief : Baptist Community in Early America,” Dr. Janet Lindmann writes, “The British Baptists who settled Penn’s colony in the 1680s immigrated from England, Ireland, and Wales. Both Regular and General Baptists, they came from a century-long tradition of religious dissent and political radicalism.” [32]

               If there were Scottish involved in the founding of these early Pennsylvania Baptist churches or later in their Piedmont, Virginia strains, historians have somehow managed to overlook them. Moreover, if we remember that that 11th century Colvin, identified in Patronymica Britannica as being a Tenant in Chief in Devonshire, coupled with what is known regarding the Baptist founding in Virginia, it seems reasonable to suppose the Colvins of the Piedmont with which this blog concerns itself, were of an English ethnicity. However, there is another characteristic unique to modern-day descendants of this same line which makes this proposition seem even more likely: The Piedmont Dialect.[33]

            Generally speaking, the Piedmont Dialect falls within a much broader series of dialects known collectively as Southern American English (SAE) and is a distinct American sound found among various population inhabiting that wide swath of states within the southern region, excluding Florida and certain parts of extreme Southwest Texas. Within the SAE region, linguists have been able to identify at least three sub-regions with their own distinct family of sub-dialects: Atlantic, Midland and Highland, and Gulf of Mexico. The Piedmont Dialect falls within the Atlantic dialectic bounds and appears to be among the oldest of Southern dialects and is distinct from what is called the Coastal Southern Dialect or Tidewater Dialect, another member of the Atlantic dialect family. Their regional sounds differ substantially due to a combination of geography and linguistic heritage from what is known as the Midland and Highland dialect (a.k.a. Highland Southern,) which is found in areas most heavily settled by Ulster and Highland Scotts such as the Appalachia Mountain region.[34] What linguists also know is that The Piedmont Dialect traces to southern England.[35] Modern examples are extant, although the distinctness is beginning to fade. However, many Colvins retain their Piedmont accents, including those contemporary Colvins of this line living in Fauquier, Roanoke, and Richmond. On a personal note, I can attest to the distinct Virginian accent of my paternal grandmother, Mary Francis Morgan, (1899-1982) who was raised on her father’s Stafford County, farm but who, by the 1960s was living in Washington, D.C. I can still hear her asking me to “go to the sto-a” for her but never the “store.” The r-dropping is one of the most distinct linguistic features of the Piedmont dialect.

            Given the continuity of the Colvin linguistic heritage and its unique geographic occurrence, coupled with what is known regarding the etymology of the Colvin name, as well as what is known regarding the demographics which shaped Scottish colonial settlement in Virginia as well as the history of Baptists in Virginia and the Colvin religious affinity with them, the evidence seems  to  strongly suggest that the Colvins of this study descend from an English progenitor. A progenitor moreover, who is currently unknown, yet many of whose descendants still engaged in a Baptist religious adherence now more than 10-generations later. Their  modern-day Virginia relatives, meanwhile,  still speak with a distinct accent, known only to a specific region, itself a modulated form of its original English sound, many living on hereditary lands where their ancestors once farmed centuries ago. Combined these social and linguistic features seem to strongly suggest the true Colvin ethnicity.


[1] Not surprisingly, the medical and ethnic literature on male ear-hairiness is sparse, and what there is, is outdated, with apparently few researchers interested in the topic. See: R.F. Wagner, et all, “Ear-canal hair and the ear-lobe crease as predictors for coronary-artery disease” NJM: 311:20, 317-318, 1984. Interestingly, 70% of the subjects had excessive ear hair. To date there have been no definitive studies linking excessive ear hair and ethnicity. There is even sparser literature – inconclusive itself – linking this phenomena with genetics.
[2] Cynthia Beall, “Human adaptability studies at high altitude: Research designs and major concepts during fifty years of discovery”. American Journal of Human Biology, 25 (2): 141–147.
[3] A Tenant-in-Chief held his lands directly from the king; he was in possession of his own fiefdom. See Doomsday Book glossary:
[4] Mark Antony Lower, “Patronymica Britannica: A Dictionary of the Family Names of the United Kingdom” 1860, J.R. Smith, London. p 64. See also George F. Black, Ph.D., “The surnames of Scotland: their origin, meaning and history” 8th ed. pp 165. Black traces the Colvin name lineage only to the 17th Century where he finds it in use by a John Colvin in the parish of Bothkenner, in Sterling(shire) Scotland. Stirlingshire straddles Scotland’s Highland-Lowland border.
[5] Numerous scholars have pointed out the problems with the Doomsday Book omissions. See: Henry C. Darby, “Domesday England” Cambridge University Press, 1977.
[6] See: Dr. Sharon L. Krossa’s “Early 16th Century Scottish Lowland Names” (Draft edition)
[7] Somewhat ironically, the kilt is itself an English invention. See: Trevor-Roper, Hugh; ‘The Invention of Tradition” Cambridge, 1983. Although many modern-day tartan vendors display amazing clan name etymologies on their websites – including those of a Clan Colville – they typically appear without authoritative sources. Unfortunately weavers are not historians and their gullible clients are usually all-too-eager to purchase their wares.
[8] Criss Gibbs, “The New Britons: Scottish Identity in the 18th and 19th Centuries”
[9] Daniel G. Brown, “The Highland Clearances and the Politics of Memory” (Ph.D. thesis, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2014.) See also, Eric Richards, “The Highland Clearances: People, Landlords and Rural Turmoil” Birlinn, Limited, 2008. Richards, Professor of History at Flinders University, Australia draws heavily upon rare 1st person accounts and other primary sources.
[10] See Sir Walter Scott and the Propagation of the Highland Myth in John R. Gold, Margaret M. Gold, “Imagining Scotland: Tradition, Representation and Promotion in Scottish Tourism Since 1750” Scolar Press, 1995. Margaret Gold is a Principal Lecturer in European Studies at Thames Valley University.
[11] Krisztina Fenyô, “Contempt, Sympathy, and Romance: Lowland perceptions of the Highlands and the clearances during the Famine years, 1845-1855” (Ph.D. thesis, University of Glasgow, 1996)
[12] See: “Lowlands of Scotland should apologize for the Highland Clearances”    See also: Robert M. Gunn, “The Highland Clearances, and their causes, effects, and results”
[13] Lawrence E. Bethune, Ph. C., “M.U.S.I.C.s Project “ In trying to unravel the folk musical traditions of North Carolina, Lawrence E. Bethune presents his dissertation thesis as a fascinating chronology of Highlander Scot settlement in the region. His observations regarding how Highlanders in the colony of North Carolina was the largest population of its kind on the eastern seaboard at the time, and how they not only outnumbered Lowlanders in the area but how Lowlanders tended to disperse within the community is particularly insightful.
[14]  Kate Kennedy, report of presentation by Dr. Tom Devine, University of Edinburgh, Society of Edinburgh, “The Lowland Clearances and the Transformation of Southwest Scotland “ May, 2011.
[15] Myra Vanderpool Gormley, “Migration Patterns of Our Scottish Ancestors” Genealogy Magazine, 2000, 4:1
[16] The Revolutionary War in Virginia,
[17] Dr. Charles Grimes, “The Revolutionary War in Virginia”
[18] Dr. Richard MacMaster, “Ulster-Scots in Virginia From Pennsylvania to Shenandoah.” Dr. MacMaster is also co-editor of the Journal of Scotch-Irish Studies at the Center for Scotch-Irish Studies at
[19] Dr. John A. Ragosta’s “Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia’s Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and Secure Religious Freedom” Oxford U. Press, 2010.
[20] Danial Corbin [sic] and Mason Colvin, Page 93, “Ten-thousand name” petition, Library of Congress American Memories website, image 93. October 16, 1776.
[21] An excellent source for those interested in how the disestablishment movement was spearheaded in Virginia by Baptists is Dr. John A. Ragosta’s “Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia’s Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and Secure Religious Freedom” Oxford U. Press, 2010.
[22] Peter Trippett affidavid, executed May 3, 1837, Culpeper County, Virginia. Daniel Colvin Bounty Land warrant file, Library of Virginia.
[23] Charles’s exactly relationship to the Culpeper Colvins named is as yet unclear, although speculation abounds. There is, however, clear evidence that he was a contemporary of these Culpeper Colvins and had resided at one time among them, based on land deeds he executed there. Moreover, his relation to Elizabeth Colvin is made evident by his Will, executed March 15, 1810 in Pendleton County, Kentucky where he died. For his deed, see: Culpepper County, Virginia Grantor Deeds, Book I: 398, dated June 22, 1779; For his Will see: Pendleton County, Kentucky Deed Book B (1803-1815]: 287.
[24] Marriage bond, Elizabeth Colvin to Elias Duncan, 21 December 1792, “Fauquier Co., VA. Marriage Bonds & Returns Volume 1, 1759-1800.” microfilm. Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research.
[25] Marriage bond, William Colvin to Anna George, 26 December 1788, “Fauquier Co., Va. Marriage Bonds and Returns 1759-1805, Vol. II” Benjamin George, the bride’s father, gave consent thus: “Benjamin George has given up his daughter with free consent to be maryed [sic] unto William Colvin” As already noted, this marriage does not appear among the minister’s returns reviewed.
[26] Marriage bond of William Colvin to Elizabeth Robbins, 1 February 1797, “Fauquier County, Virginia Marriage Bonds and Returns, Vol. II 1795-1805.” Elizabeth was certain she was of age, and with her father absent, she wrote her own consent: “it is my desier [sic] with free consent that lisens [sic] should be issud [sic] out to marry me Elizabeth Robbins and William Colvin together and that my father told me that i [sic] was twenty three years of age the 25 day of may [sic] next and that my father is living @ a distance and where he is i [sic] cannot tell now.”
[27] Richard Stanton, “Early Records of Chapawamsic Baptist Church, Stafford County, 1766-1844, Part II, 1770-1844,” Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, 27: 3, 192 . The Chaopawamsic church was established in 1766.
[28] Bullitt to Colvin release of lease, executed July 5, 1800, “Deed Bk 14, 1798 – 1801”, Virginia State Library archives. In 1800, William released his lease with his Fauquier landlord, Thomas J. Bullitt, and relocated. He was refunded 5 shillings. In the release, Bullitt refers to William as “of Stafford [County] formerly of Fauquier County.”
[29] Marriage bond of Richard Colvin to Lydia George, 3 September 1793, “Fauquier County , Virginia Marriage Bonds and Returns, 1759-1800” Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research. In his consensual note, Lydia’s father appealed to the clerk, “Please sir to let Mr. Richard Colvin have license to Marry my Daughter Liddy George and you will much oblige your humble servant.”
[30] See Robert Baylor Semple, “A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia” Pitt and Dickinson, 1894. Nordin died enroute. Semple’s findings regarding Virginia’s Baptist founders are often found repeated in later historical works.
[31] See: Dr. Walter B. Shurden, “Minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association”, Center for Baptist Studies, Dr. Shurden retired as Executive Director of Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University in 2007. For the connection between Broad Run and Chappawamsic, see: Richard Slatten, “Early Records of Chappawamsic Baptist Church, Stafford County, 1766-1844, Part II, 1770-1844,” [Abstracts] Magazine of Virginia Genealogy,  27; 3.
[32] Janet Moore Lindman, “Bodies of Belief : Baptist Community in Early America,” University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.
[33] An excellent audio sample of the Piedmont Dialect is available online at George Mason University’s “Speech Accent Archives,” which features an older Richmond speaker with a distinct Piedmont accent and younger one without. Richmond falls within the Piedmont region. See: . See also the Robert Delaney map of dialects and sub-dialects , in “What dialect do you speak? A map of American English” by Reid Wilson, December 2, 2013, Washington Post,
[34] Excerpts from the documentary, “Mountain Talk” provides excellent examples of Midland and Highland dialect and the distinction between it and the Piedmont Dialect are clear. See, “Appalachian English” YouTube video, 2009.
[35] Dr. C. George Boeree, “Dialects of English,”
Posted in Uncategorized

A small tribute

L-R Patricia Ann Colvin, Judith Lee Colvin, Ruby N. Clayton, Jennifer Joyce Colvin, Sandra Kay Colvin. Xmas 2009.

L-R Patricia Ann Colvin, Judith Lee Colvin, Ruby N. Clayton, Jennifer Joyce Colvin, Sandra Kay Colvin. Xmas 2009.

Rare is the transition from this life to the next made so poignantly than it was in the case of Ruby Nola (Clayton) Weaver, (1924-2014) who passed away Saturday, May 10th, 2014, in the comfort of home surrounded by all of her four devoted daughters whose care and loving vigilance serves as an example of the strength of family. Today she will be celebrated in Roxboro, North Carolina and tomorrow interred there in the Clayton Family Cemetery.
I had the good fortune to speak with Ruby some years ago, in 1997, and we spoke of her marriage in 1941 to my father. I recall clearly her infectious laugh, her spirited personality, but mostly her honesty. She brooked no pretense, and welcomed the same in others. If you asked a question honestly, she would give you an honest answer. I am grateful for that conversation and that brief moment when she allowed me some insight I would have never gained otherwise. Ruby passed from us a wizened women whose legacy surely is strength and devotion to family. Requiescant in pace, Ruby. You will be missed.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ancestral image completes set of heir images for James W. Colvin

John Robert Colvin, Sr. with wife and child

John Robert Colvin, Sr., with wife, Fannie Knox and daughter, Columbia F. Colvin. Ca. mid 1880s. Source: Rene Alston, living descendant.

Thanks to a modem-day descendant, The Colvin Study was recently gifted with an image of the first-born son of James W. Colvin and Alethea Preston who married ca. 1850-1860. This acquisition completes the set of images for all  seven of James’s children born between 1853-1871. James, you may recall from previous posts,  was the rogue Colvin male who married outside his race, but whose daring has produced an entire line of Colvins and their descendants many of whom live today directly on or near James’ original homestead in Fauquier County, Virginia.

John Robert Colvin, Sr.  was born in late fall of 1853 (probably at the Fauquier homestead,) and can be found in both the 1860 census in the home of Allen Preston, (where his father also resided,)  then in the 1870 census in his father’s home with his surname changed from Allen to Colvin as is Alethea’s, who is identified as “Lizzie A. Colvin”

Between 1874-1879  John married his first wife, Fannie Knox (1855 – 1890/92) with whom he had 4 children between 1879-1886 consisting of three sons and a daughter. The image is believed to be of John with Fannie and their daughter, Columbia F. Colvin (1882-?) I estimate the image to have been taken mid-1880s based on the gender and age of the child as well as Fannie’s hairstyle and outfit. Her skirt is typical of those requiring a bustle which did not come into fashion until the 1880s. Fannie’s death is estimated between 1882-1892.

John married 2nd to Elizabeth “Lizzie” C. Pilsch, about whom I’ve also blogged. From this union were born 6 children; three sons and three daughters. John Robert is believed to have died in 1929 in Washington, D.C. where, 9 years earlier, he was working as a government security guard, according to census records. Earlier census records indicate John R. Colvin was a carpenter by training. Elizabeth, who outlived John by nearly a decade  is believed to have died in 1936. She is last seen in the census living in Washington, D.C. with her 2nd eldest daughter, Mary Dorthy Colvin (1908-?). The burial places of neither John R. Colvin, Sr., nor either of  his two wives are currently known.

Posted in Uncategorized