Reeves, Thomas (c1670?? -- c1723, VA)


Reeves, Thomas


Father: Unknown
Mother: Unknown

Birth: c. 1670
Birth Source: Estimated from Lancaster County records

Death: After 1723, probably Richmond or Northumberland Co., VA
Death Source: Estimated from last appearance in Richmond Co., VA, Court Orders

Spouse1: Unknown


In terms of age, location, neighborhood associations, and nomenclature, this Thomas Reeves emerges as a possible candidate to have been the father of

  1. George Reeves, born c. 1696, probably Lancaster Co., VA;
  2. Thomas Reeves, born c. 1700, probably Richmond Co., VA;
  3. Judith Reeves, born c. 1704, probably Richmond Co., VA. She may have married first Thomas Davies and second William Barr.
  4. John Reeve, born c. 1713.

Possible Child of Thomas Reeves:

  1. Hannah Reeves, born 5 December 1714, Northumberland Co., VA

The origins of this Thomas Reeves are unclear. Men with this name appear in Lancaster, Richmond, and Northumberland Counties. It is possible that all of the references between about 1678 and 1729 refer to the same Thomas Reeves. It is equally possible that they refer to two, three, or perhaps even four separate and distinct men.

Like many of his contemporaries, it may be that Thomas Reeves entered the colony as an indentured servant. The following record is suggestive, but it leaves many chronological questions. On 28 April 1668, Mr. William Downing patented 1570 acres on the north side of Great Wicomico River in Northumberland County. The land adjoined Henry Bradley, Mr. Wildey, and Chetanck Creek. Downing claimed the land for the transportation of 18 persons, among them one Thomas Reeves. Thomas might have been very young when he was brought into the colony, meaning that he might have remained as a servant for several years. Still, without further corroborating or contradictory evidence at this point, one cannot reach a conclusion about who this Thomas was or what became of him. He seems unlikely to have been the man who was still a servant in Lancaster County in 1689, however (see below).

One Thomas Reeves is known to have been living in neighboring Lancaster County as early as 9 December 1668, when he was named surveyor of highways. This man, however, was almost certainly the Thomas Reeves who lived on the south side of the Rappahannock River in that part of Lancaster County that became Middlesex County; he died there, childless, in 1670.

Another — and possibly a more promising individual in terms of this Thomas Reeves's chronology — is the Thomas Reeves who was fined in Lancaster on 9 October 1689 for running away from his master, Captain David Fox. Reeves had run away for four days. He was ordered to serve eight days (his original four plus the four for which he had run away) and to pay 500 pounds of tobacco to Fox for the expenses Fox expended in apprehending Reeves. No indication was given as to when Reeves's servitude would have ended. There are no further references to Thomas Reeves in Lancaster County until 12 November 1691, when one Thomas Reeves — presumably the same individual — appeared on the Lancaster County tithables list with one tithable (himself). Thomas Reeves also appeared on the 15 December 1692, 14 December 1693, and 11 November 1696 tithables lists with one tithable. (He seems to have been missing from the lists in 1694 and 1695.) Each time his name appeared near those of Capt. David Fox (his former master), George Heale (the justice who had reported the runaway incident in 1689), and John Reeves, suggesting that he was living in the St. Mary Whitechapel area.

The Thomas appearing between 1689 and 1696 in these Lancaster County records is likely the Thomas Reeve who was bequeathed 400 pounds of tobacco by John George in his Lancaster County will dated 1 March 1692/3 and proven 12 April 1693. (Similar bequests were left to John Brown of Northumberland County, William Abby, Richard Abby, Thomas Parfitt, Thomas Sampson, "land lady" Margaret Mitchell, and William Mitchell; the will also mentions James Stratton. The 15 December 1692 tithables list shows the names William Mitchell, Thomas Parfitt, Thomas Reeves, James Stratton, William Abby, Thomas Davis (who is not mentioned in the will), and John Brown in sequential order. It may be that these were all former servants who were renting land from Margaret Mitchell.)

No references to this Thomas Reeves have been found after his last appearance in the Lancaster County tithables lists. He may have died with no estate or left the county after 1696. The timing of his disappearance from Lancaster County records, however, coincides with the appearance of a Thomas Reeves across Morattico Creek in southern Richmond County from the late 1690s onwards.

As detailed below, the earliest currently known references to the Thomas Reeves in Richmond County date from 1698/9. The known chronology of his life after this places him in southern Richmond County and, probably, in southwestern Northumberland County.

Thomas Reeves is likely the same individual whose name appears as "Thomas Rever" (not shown elsewhere in contemporary Richmond County, Virginia, legal documents) on 1 February 1698/9, when he was granted a certificate by the Richmond County court for having captured and returned a runaway slave woman belonging to Capt. Rodham Kenner of Northumberland County. Thomas was compensated for a round trip of ten miles to Kenner's Northumberland County plantation, suggesting that he lived not far from the boundary between the two counties. (See Richmond Co., VA, Order Book 2.)

Thomas Reeves next appeared in Richmond County records on 6 March 1700/1, at which time he was the defendant in a court suit initiated by John White, executor of Leroy George (who had been Richmond County's Under Sheriff). This Thomas Reeves appears in Richmond County consistently until at least 1723.

Thomas Reeves lived in the southern portion of Richmond County, near the boundary with Northumberland County. The will of Charles Dodson, written 11 January 1703, bequeathed to his son Bartholomew Richard Dodson “the plantation that Thomas Reeves liveth on knowne by the name of Oake Neck with one hundred and fifty acres of Land binding upon the Land formerly belonging to Daniele Everard.”

In a deed record dated 1 October 1706, prior to the probate of the 1703 will, Charles Dodson conveyed the same property to his son Bartholomew Richard Dodson. Dodson identified himself as of Farnham Parish and described the land as "plantation that one Thomas Reeves of the said county now liveth upon …..formerly belonging to Daniell Everard." Thomas Thorne and Austin Brockenbrough also witnessed the will. Reeves's association with the Dodson family continued as late as 1720. On 8 July 1720, a younger Charles Dodson and John Dodson sold 100 acres of land located "on ye branches of Totaskee" to Robert and Sarah Matthews. Thomas Reeve and George Petty witnessed the deed. (Note that Charles Dodson later married Mary Scurlock Howard, sister of William Scurlock who administered Thomas Reeves's estate in Northumberland County in 1729.)

Between 1700 and 1723, Thomas Reeves was involved in a number of legal cases in Richmond County, Virginia. He was sued by Hamlet Robinson in 1702 and 1703 as evidenced in Richmond Co., VA, Order Book 3. He sued James Coward for debt (as evidenced by Richmond Co., VA, Order Book 4.) In October 1715, he witnessed the will of John Simmons, along with Thomas Durham (a Scurlock family associate). On 4 May 1715 and on 5 April 1716, Thomas Reeves was appointed constable for the district between Farnham Creek and Morattico Creek (the boundary with Lancaster County) (see Richmond Co., VA, Order Book 6.), an indication that, although he was a renter who owned no land, he was a well-known and trustworthy citizen. This record seems particularly important, for it establishes the approximate location of Reeves's residence during these years. After 1716, no record has been discovered replacing Reeves as constable, so it is unclear for how long he held this position. Like the other documents, Thomas Reeves's role as constable places Reeves in the southern region of the county, for Morattico Creek forms the boundary between Richmond and Lancaster Counties. (Any connection between Thomas Reeves and George Reeves remains speculative at this point, but the references to Reeves's service as constable are interesting inasmuch as George's father-in-law Benjamin Doggett served as a constable in Lancaster County about the same time.)

One Thomas Reeves fathered a daughter Hannah, whose birth was recorded in Northumberland County on 4 December 1714. It is not clear whether Thomas of Richmond County was her father, but he was the only adult Thomas Reeves known to be in the area. Perhaps he had moved to Northumberland County briefly, or perhaps the child was born while the family was visiting friends or relatives there. Because of the uncertainty concerning the location (which, although in another county, was only a few miles from the area where Thomas Reeves lived in Richmond County), Hannah is listed above as a possible child of this Thomas.

In 1723, Thomas Reeves appeared as evidence for Thomas Berry at the Richmond County Court; Reeves was compensated for ten days spent at court on Berry's behalf in a suit against John Hill (see Richmond Co., VA, Order Book 9.) (Note that Thomas Berry (1683-1743) was a substantial landowner in northern Northumberland County. There was a Thomas Berry who appears in 1715 in Richmond County as an indentured servant. Apart from these two references — to the plaintiff in 1723 and to the servant in 1715 — there appear to be no other references to men named Thomas Berry in Richmond County prior to the 1723. Given that Reeves was owed substantial compensation, it seems more likely that the plaintiff was Thomas Berry, the Northumberland planter, than Thomas Berry, the Richmond servant.) It is unclear whether Reeves, as a resident of Richmond County, was representing Berry's interests there or whether he was living in Northumberland and traveling into Richmond County to pursue the case.

No records for Thomas Reeves in Richmond County have been discovered after 1723; he is not mentioned in published transcriptions of wills, administrations, deeds, and parish registers. Richmond County Court Order Books after 1723 have not yet been systematically examined, however, and there may yet be undiscovered references to him there.

At the same time Thomas Reeves apparently ceased to be active in Richmond County, a Thomas Reeves appeared in adjoining Northumberland County. There are several possible scenarios. This Thomas Reeves may have moved across the county line into Northumberland. This Thomas may have died in Richmond about the time the other Thomas Reeves came of age and began to appear in Northumberland County records. What is certain is that one Thomas Reeves died in Northumberland in 1729 with an estate administered by William and Margaret Scurlock. Since it seems that Margaret Scurlock — possibly Thomas Reeves's widow — was born about 1700, until further evidence emerges, Thomas Reeves of Richmond County and Thomas Reeves of Northumberland County are being treated as separate individuals, who may have been father and son.

Research Notes

There were several Reeves families in the Northern Neck of Virginia between 1650 and 1750. One William Reeves died about 1699 in Northumberland County. Thomas Reeves lived in Richmond County, and John Reeves lived in Lancaster County. A Robert Reeves who was a contemporary of this William lived in Northumberland County. Later, George Reeves would also live in Northumberland County. Slightly further afield, the family of Henry Reeves, Sr. lived in Old Rappahannock/Essex County. Across the Rappahannock River in Middlesex County was the large family headed by George Reeves and his four known sons, Thomas, Francis, George, and Charles. DNA analysis establishes, however, that there was no connection between the family of George Reeves and that of Henry Reeves, Sr.. Since descendants of these other Reeves families have not yet been tested, the possibility of kinship between some of them cannot be precluded.

Further research on this individual should focus on whether there were two generations of men named Thomas Reeves in Richmond and Northumberland Counties. It is possible that the older Thomas Reeves, born about 1670, died in the 1720s and that a younger Thomas Reeves came of age within that decade, married, and died in 1729, leaving Margaret as his widow. It would appear that Margaret Scurlock Morrison, who may have also been Thomas Reeves's widow, was still alive in 1763 — suggesting that, if she were the wife of Thomas Reeves who was born about 1670, he was likely many years her senior. Interestingly, Joseph Morrison and his family (including Joseph Sherlock and George Reves) were taxed in 1747 in Dettingen Parish, Prince William County, near George Reeves, husband of Ann Doggett, and his brother John Reeves.

Connections among the Conway and Scurlock families also add to the mystery. George Reeves witnessed Dennis Conway's 1721/2 Nothumberland will, which reveals that Reeves was a renter living in Conway's property. Conway's brother John Conway was one of the three men who appraised the estate of Thomas Reeves for William and Margaret Scurlock in Northumberland County in 1729. William Scurlock, husband of Margaret, was the son of Thomas Scurlock of Richmond Co., VA, and the grandson of Michael Scurlock of Lancaster Co., VA (who was taxed near Thomas Reeves in Lancaster County in the early 1690s). Richmond Co., VA, Deed Book 7, 1714-1720, pp. 286-287, shows that on 2 June 1718 Dennis Conway and John Rose witnessed a deed from Thomas Scurlock of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, to George Davenport of the same, for land patented by David Bairk in 1670 and bequeathed "by Will to Michael Scurlock deceased Father of the aforesd: Thomas Scurlock, and by Michael Scurlock given to ye sd: Thoams Scurlock in his lifetime...lying on ye East side of a Branch of Moratico running between ye sd Scurlock's Plantation & ye Plantation where late William Stonum lived it being a Neck of Land commonly called by ye name of ye Three Poplar Neck...." This deed connections Dennis Conway with Michael, Thomas, and (by implication, since he was a teenager in his father's household at the time) William Scurlock. It also positions the Scurlock family along Morattico Creek in the district for which Thomas Reeves had been constable.


Lancaster Co., VA, Order Book 1, 1666-1680
Lancaster Co., VA, Order Book 3, 1686-1696.
Richmond Co., VA, Will Book 2, pp. 95-96.
Richmond Co., VA, Will Book 5, p. 375.
Sparacio, Ruth and Sam. Richmond County Order Abstracts, 1697-1699, p. 70.
Sparacio, Ruth and Sam. Richmond County Deed Abstracts, 1705-1708, p. 54.
Sparacio, Ruth and Sam. Richmond County Deed Abstracts, 1714-1720, p. 42.
Virginia Patent Book 6, p. 164.

Lois Downey had kindly shared her original research in Lancaster and Northumberland County records that has contributed to the development of this profile.