Revolution-Era ‘Bounty Land Warrants’ Establish Colvin Relationships.


Mason Colvin explains how he knows Jeremiah Colvin. Source: Library of Virginia Bounty Land  Warrants database.

Mason Colvin explains how he knows Jeremiah Colvin. Source: Library of Virginia Bounty Land Warrants database.

I’ve spent the past week in the  Library of Virginia’s  Bounty Land Warrant database which is a great place to wile away your hours,  reading digitized 19th-century handwritten affidavits and getting eye-strain from squinting. Yet the fruits of such labors are well worth it. In this recent excursion,  I had  downloaded all of the Bounty Land Warrant files I could find on the Culpeper County, Virginia Colvin men  and then began the reading and sorting process, establishing who fit with whom. That task was made  easier by the deponents themselves each of whom explained  how they knew each other as they testified on each others behalf. And those depositions were critical to their land claim which were themselves how their government rewarded their service during the Revolution.  But being entitled to land and receiving it were two different things.  When you made your claim,  you next had to prove you had actually served. In some cases that process became a trial as veterans, now in their elder years, had to track down old acquaintances and service members and with them recall specific details of their wartime experience. And sometimes the details were fuzzy.  Not an enviable task for someone who had served honorably but was paid only in land  –and not always the most desirable land — rather than spendable currency.  Hence, witnesses were critical to the success of a land claim.  In the case of  Jeremiah Colvin (1758-1778) who had served in the 10th Virginia Regiment (and had been to Vally Forge,) he had plenty of witnesses in the form of his  brothers, each of whom had not only served in a Virginia Company but had survived to tell their tales.  But wait, there’s more.  In the case of  the deposition of his brother, Mason’s Colvin, his testimony not only  clearly establishes his sibling relationship to Jeremiah but his order in that relationship as well.  Think of it as double-bonus-points. In this digitized deposition, for example, notice how Mason explains he is Jeremiah’s eldest brother. That’s a two-fer, genealogically, speaking and highly valuable when trying to establish sibling order. Better still,  Mason makes this same claim for some of his other brothers as well. Thus,  documents like these prove their value by helping to clearly establish  familial  links among  colonial Colvins in Revolution-era Virginia.

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About Alex Colvin

Senior, History, minoring in Anthropology, University of Houston. Charter President, Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society, (Webb UH Main 2014-2015) University of Houston. Additional credentials can be found in the CV / Services tab.
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