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A Study of One Early Virginia Jameson Family
A Study of One Early Virginia Jameson Family

Reprinted (with permission) from Jam?son Families - by Nan Flickinger and John Jameson

The ancestors of James Jameson, who died in Essex County, Virginia, in 1736, have long been the subject of much confusion and debate. Most studies of this family, show various other Jamesons found living in the vicinity, or revealed in contemporaneous documents, as relatives and ancestors, generally without any explanation or substantiation. Furthermore, these connections often vary as to who and when, depending on the author of the study or genealogy. Most even older ancestors are inconsistently listed as from various places in Scotland, Ireland or sometimes even England. This too, is essentially without any support or comment.[1]

Close examination and careful analysis of the relevant original contemporaneous documents, reveals this James Jameson's father was the David Jameson who died in 1711.[2] Although David did not name any children in his will, sugesting they may not yet have been of legal age, we can determine who they were, because of the ensuing circumstances of David's surviving wife and children. David specifically leaves his property to his wife Mary.[2] We know this Mary Jameson subsequently marries a Richard Edwards,[3] who upon his death in 1721, leaves his possessions to this same Mary (now his second wife) and mentions a Thomas and James Jameson as heirs, who can only be deduced as Mary's sons from her previous marriage to David Jameson. Furthermore, James Jameson is listed, along with Richard's wife Mary (his mother), as executor of this Richard Edward's estate.[4] There being no other known James Jameson alive in that place at that time, this connection is both obvious and logical.

There were two other Jameson families, living in this area of Virginia, around this same time. James Jameson lived in Middlesex County, about fifty miles south of where the Jamesons in Essex County were living. This other James Jameson died in Middlesex County, in 1720[5] and was thought to have been born about 1665. He is very often said to have been the father of the James Jameson (c.1691-1736). Since it can however be shown that the younger James Jameson, born about 1691, was actually the son of David Jameson (c.1660-1711), it is much more likely the older James Jameson (c.1665-1720), was the brother, or perhaps cousin of David Jameson, who died in 1711. There is some further question as to if this James Jameson in Middlesex County, is in fact related in any way with the Jamesons in Essex County. This James in Middlesex County, married a Rebecca Hackney in 1717 at Christ Church, in Saluda, Middlesex County.[6] They had no children together. There does not seem to be any real records of him, apart from his death, burial and marriage records, in any place that can not be otherwise explained as the James Jameson, who died in 1736, in Essex County. There does not seem to be any will, land purchases, or even any court records. Some suggest that this James Jameson was the James Jameson listed as an Indentured Servant, arriving in the Virginia Colonies in 1698.[7]

There was another James Jameson family that lived in Stafford County (that part now part of King George County), about thirty miles north of where the Jamesons in Essex County were living. This older James Jameson was probably born about 1660 and said to have immigrated in 1683 from Scotland. It is not known when he died but it would have been after 1716, when he was listed as the "Sheriff" in Stafford County.[8] This James was married to a Sarah, who is said to have died in 1716. James and Sarah were thought to have had a son named William, who married Elizabeth Dalbin in 1725 in St. Paul's Parish, Stafford County, Virginia. Not much is known about this James Jameson, apart from that he was said to have been independently wealthy and styled as a Gentleman. There is no known connection with this Jameson family in Stafford County and the Jamesons in Essex county, although it is thought they may have known each other through various legal issues involving other parties. It is worth noting that this James Jameson would have been the contemporary of David Jameson (d.1711).

We are not yet able to say who of these Virginia Jameson families was the first in the American colonies, when that occurred, where it occurred, or even how, although it appears that it was probably sometime after 1650 and undoubtedly by ship. This was early colonial Virginia and everything was still very much "new world." Jamestown had only been a few years earlier in 1607. Passenger records for this period in time are scarce and difficult to find.

Early immigration into this part of Virginia was mostly from England and were usually by way of indentured servitude. There were also privateers, prisoners, forced relocations and slaves. But indentured servitude and prisoners of war, were the bulk of those arriving before 1700. It is sometimes said that up to seventy-five percent of all early immigrants were indentured. Indentured peoples were not however, necessarily forced. These were people bound by an agreement of passage and support, usually for between one and seven years, in exchange for their labors, once they arrived. Many also eventually received land for their efforts. This was apparently also the case for those who were prisoners of war. 

One possible theory is that a David Jameson was the first immigrant of this Jameson family and that he arrived in the new world in the spring of 1652, expelled as a prisoner of war, after the Battle of Worcester. There is ample research data available which shows the victorious English sent many hundreds, or even thousands, of captured and defeated Scottish prisoners to the American Colonies in the early 1650s.[9] Specifically, there is a record showing a David Jameson as just such a Scotsman, having been deported after the Worcester loss. He, along with many others were on the ship John and Sara, which set sail from London to New England, in November of 1651.[10] He may have then been shipped off to a plantation in Virginia, perhaps even on that same ship as it was apparently further bound for Barbados. It is not known, who exactly this particular David Jameson was, where exactly he was from, or anything more about him. Only that he was a Scotsman, taken prisoner after the Worcester battle and arrived on the ship John and Sara in Boston. We have no record if he was part of any group of prisoners who may have continued on to Virginia, but we also can find no record of this David Jameson anywhere else either, including anywhere in New England at that time. This is of course, all pure speculation, yet nevertheless plausible in almost every way. Scotsman were not well known in Virginia at this time and those we find in early Rappahannock County, Virginia fit this profile well.

It should however be noted, that if the above David Jameson was not the first Jameson immigrant of this family to arrive in the American Colonies, the Jameson who was here first was most likely a Scottish prisoner of war, from either the Battle of Dunbar or the Battle at Worcester. Thousands of Scottish solders were banished to these new colonies by the victorious English during their civil war of the mid seventeenth century, in an effort to rid themselves of what they saw as incorrigible dissidents and troublemakers.

We do know that David Jameson (c.1660-1711) was in Virginia at least by August of 1690, when he bought his 250 acre plantation from William and Elizabeth Bowlware. Which before that had been part of a patent made to Thomas Page.[11] It appears that David would have been in Virginia for some time already, to have had the means to harvest 4,400 lbs. of tobacco, which is what he used to purchase the 250 acres of land.

The name of the father of David Jameson (d.1711) in Essex County, and therefore the grandfather of James d.1736, is not yet known. However, it is thought most likely to be James, or perhaps David, even maybe Thomas. All of these names are common in all of Scotland and often within the same family . Interestingly, we find that combination in Roxburghshire in the 'Borders' area of Scotland, at what would have been the appropriate time frame. There is a James Jameson, born in 1640, in Roxburgh, whose father was named Thomas Jameson, exactly the right time and place. It might be worth noting, that a Robert Rutherford[12] was a witness to the last will and testament of David Jameson, who died in 1711.[2] The Rutherford family was also prominent in Roxburghshire Scotland. In fact, there are Old Parish Records which show Rutherfords and Jamesons intermarrying there in the latter 1600s.[13] Unfortunately, no connection can yet be made between that Roxburghshire Jameson and these Jamesons in Virginia. 

Further specifics as to how or when this Jameson family first arrived in Virginia, or for that matter anywhere in the American colonies, as well as any specific connections to Scotland, or to any other Jam?son family, may never be known. However, comparative genetic testing[14] from living, verifiable descendants of this family and from others, suggests that David (d.1711) may have had his ancestral roots in the Shetland Islands, off the northern coast of Scotland. Continued research, genetic or otherwise, may eventually add to and clarify the already abundant clues we now have. 

[1]    Historical Southern Families, Vol.X - Clearfield Company - 1966 - The Jameson Family of Virginia, p.85-112 - Mrs. John Frances McCurley 

[2]    Will of David Jameson of the County of Essex, dated 2 December 1711 - Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Vol 11, Page 2/9 - Essex County, Wills and Deeds, 1711-1714 

[3]    Lease and Release, dated 8 and 9 April 1712 - Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Vol. II, page 8/35 - Essex County, Wills and Deeds, 1711-1714 - (specifically naming his wife as the former Mary Jameson)

[4]    Will of Richard Edwards of the County of Essex, dated 13 June 1722 - 1722-1730 Essex County Virginia Wills, Inventories and Settlements of Estates No. 4; p.14-15

[5]    The Parish Register of Christ Church, Middlesex County, VA, from 1653 to 1812 - The National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Virginia -Richmond, 1897 - p.178

[6]    The Parish Register of Christ Church, Middlesex County, VA, from 1653 to 1812 - The National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Virginia -Richmond, 1897 - p.162

[7]    Passengers to America - A consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists from The New England Historical and Genealogical Record - Edited by Michael Tepper - 1980 - p.180

[8]    Stafford County Sheriff's Office - The Sheriffs of Stafford County, Virginia - 1644-Present

 [9]    British Convicts Shipped to American Colonies - The American Historical Review, Vol.2, No.1 - 1896 - David Butler - p.13, etc

[10]  Scotch Prisoners Sent to Massachusetts in 1652, By Order of the English Government - Passengers to America - A Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists from the New England Historical and Genealogical Register - Edited by Michael Tepper - 1980 - Genealogical Publishing Company - p.146-148

[11]   Rappahannook County. Virginia, Deed No. 9 (Transcript) 1688-1692. P. 192

[12]   Genealogical History of the Rutherford Family - Printed privately in 1979 - William Kenneth Rutherford and Anna Clay (Zimmerman) Rutherford. p.177

[13]   William Rutherford married Issobell Jameson on 29 October 1681, in Roxburgh, Scotland - OPR # 803/00 0010 0342, National Records of Scotland

[14]   Y-DNA tests (including #4i5055)

Scott M Jameson
February 8th, 2016 3:57 pm
It's been some time since I looked into the family business of Jamesons in Essex county, VA, but the gist of what you're saying is that the James, born in 1691, is not part of the Essex county family? That the James in Middlesex county is entirely different and that David Jameson is the father of James(1665-1720)? Can you elucidate. Thank you.
Nan Flickinger and John Jameson
February 9th, 2016 1:12 am
Hi Scott - No, we're not saying that exactly, we are saying that the traditionally accepted order of these people is somewhat scrambled and therefore incorrect. Our analysis is that David Jameson (d.1711) is likely the father of James Jameson (b.1691-d.1736) and not the other way around, as is often said to be the case. We also think that the James Jameson (b.1665-d.1720) of Middlesex County, is entirely separate and might not actually be related to the Essex County Jamesons.
Larry Jamison
September 12th, 2016 4:34 pm
You do not mention Andrew Jameson who came earlier on the Unity in 1650? also a POW?
John Jameson
September 12th, 2016 7:01 pm
Hi Larry - No we didn't mention Andrew Jameson for this article. Nor any of the many other Jam?sons who came here as POW's during that time. This particular article was to study and resolve the beginnings of this one particular Jameson family, rather than a general study of the incoming rejects from the turmoils in Great Britain of that time
Thomas Lee Jameson
January 15th, 2017 1:04 pm
I am a direct descendant of Thomas Jameson (1665-1734) who came over from Lancashire County, England around 1690. Thomas Jameson (1665-1734), his 2 brothers, John and William and later his spinster sister Anne settled in Charles and St Marys County Maryland and short boat ride to Northern Neck, and other Va tributaries to the Chesapeake. They were from an area between Liverpool and Manchester in Lancashire the village of Ashton on Makerfield. They had coal mines, farmed and were members of some guilds - which I am not certain. Bottom line, they were nor poor. They were the first Jamesons to settle in Southern Maryland. I am a 5th great grandson of Thomas and Mary Doyne Jameson. Have any of you VA Jam?sons done your DNA? Mike Marshall, the author of a tremdous data base of Colonial families in Southern Md and Nothern Neck indicate Thomas and unnamed lady had a son who went to Northern Neck who had 3 sons one which was David Jameson, the temporary Governor of Va. Most of these Jamesons were Catholics and related to the Brents of Aquia Creek and my guess that some Catholics converted to Anglican or other religions. BTW Thomas Jameson did pay for the release of 3 indentured Jacobite Scotts somewhere in the tidewater in 1716/17. Serious discussions to reject my theory that the tidewater Jamesons may have come via Charles or St Marys County Maryland.
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