An American Family History


John Taliaferro


Essex County was established in 1692 from the old Rappahannock County, Virginia 

John Taliaferro, Sr. was born about 1654. He is called "The Ranger."

He married Sarah Smith. Sarah was the daughter of Major Lawrence Smith and Mary Debnam.

During the ensuing summer of 1682, [Cadwallder] Jones ranged the great fork of the Rappahannock with John Taliaferro, of Snow Creek, son of the Robert "Talifer" from whose house on Rappahannock Lederer had set out ten years previously. It was then, as Taliaferro afterwards testified," that they explored to "the first Heads or Springs of the Two Branches of Rappahannock," and perhaps it was then also that they anticipated the achievement of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe and crossed the Blue Ridge to camp on the banks of the Shenandoah. (from Western Explorations in Virginia Between Leederer and Spotswood).

On September 28, 1682 his brother, Francis gave him 1,000 acres from their father's inheritance.

Sarah and John's children probably included:

Lawrence Taliaferro (1683, married Sarah Thornton),
John Taliaferro, Jr. (1685, married Mary Catlett),
Mary Taliaferro Thornton (1687, married Francis Thornton, Jr.),
Elizabeth Taliaferro Catlett (married John Catlett)
Charles Taliaferro (1690, married Ann Kemp),
Robert Taliaferro (1689, married Elizabeth Matthews),
Zachariah Taliaferro;
Richard Taliaferro (1703, married Rose Berryman), and
William Taliaferro.

They made their home at Powhatan in St. Mary's Parish, Essex County, Virginia.

John was a lieutenant in the Rangers in 1692.

In 1696, John bought 600 acres from Thomas Pannell's heirs and he was a colonel in the Essex County militia.

In 1699, he was a burgess in Essex County.

He was a justice in Essex County between 1699 and 1700.

John wrote his will in 1715 in St. Mary's Parish, Essex County,Virginia. In 1717, John, Sr. gave his son John two plantations of 1,000 acres on Snow Creek.

John died in 1720.

Old Rappahannock County was founded in 1656 from part of Lancaster County. In 1692 it was divided to form Essex and Richmond Counties.



A gentleman had no title, but descended from an aristocratic family, was of the landed gentry, and had a coat of arms.

Old Rappahannock Co Deed Book 7 - 1682-1686; pg 11-13

To all Xpian People to whom these presents shall come

I Francis S Talliaferro of the County of Gloucester in Collony of Virginia Gent., Sonn and heire apparent of Robert Talliaferro, late of County of Rappa. in the Collony aforesaid deced send Greeting in or: Lord God everlasting.

Know yee that for as much as my deced Father, Robert Talliaferro, joyntly with Laurence Smith of the County of Gloucester Gent. on the 26th day of March in ye yeare of our Lord One thousand Six hundred Sixty and six take up and Patent Six thousand & three hundred acres of land being in the aforesaid County of Rappa:

Beginning at the mouth of Snow Creeke in the South side of Rappa. River and thence running the several courses and distances in the sd Pattent set down and expressed as by said Pattent relation had may appeare and

further forasmuch as my said deced Father and the said Laurence Smith by their joynt writing under their hands dated the 16th day of May 1667 and duly acknowledged and recorded in Gloucester County Court the same day did mutually agree that if either of them should die before division of the said lands that then & in such case the heires of him soe dying should have equall right with the Survivors of and unto the said Six thousand three hundred acres of land by them Pattented as by ye records of said Deed may appeare

Now Further Know yee that I the said Francis Talliaferro for the good will Natural love and affection which I bear unto my well beloved Brother, John Talliaferro, of the aforesaid County of Rappa., Gent. and for ye future advancemt. of my said Brother (he being now intended by the prmission of Almighty God to marry with Sarah the Daughter of said Laurence Smith) and for divers other causes me thereunto moving have given and by this my prsent indented Deed of Gift doe freely and absolutely give unto my said Brother, John Talliaferro, his heirs, One thousand acres of land being part of the abovesaid Divident and to be laid out and bounded with lines of marked trees as followeth (that is to say)

To begin at the Fork of Snow Creek Branch by or near the Path that leads to the Fort and from thence runing West North West for the breadth and South West and by West into the Woods for length to the extent of the Pattent and all the right and demand which I the said Francis Talliaferro now have unto the said land To have and to hold unto my said Brother, John Taliaferro, and to his heirs To have and to hold to the use and enjoy without the lawfull lett of the said Francis Talliaferro my heirs or any other persons claiming under me and further I the said Francis Talliaferro either in person or by my lawfull Attorney will make acknowledgment of these prsents in Rappa. County Court upon request of my said Brother In Witness whereof I have sett my hand this 28th day of September 1682
Sealed and Delivd. in the prsence of us

John Maine
Fran. Talliaferro
Lewis Burwell
Henry Clerke
Richard Brooke.


21 Jan. 1717/18

John Taliaferro of St. Mary's Parish, Essex County, to John Taliaferro junr son to the aforesaid John of same For natural love and affection Two plantations with 1000 acres on the upper side of Snow Creek in the forke thereof which was formerly given to me by my brother Fran Taliaferro late of said parish by deed of gift.
Wit: Robt Parker, Jno. Ellitts.
Acknowledgedby John Taliaferro.

Capt. John Battaile by vertue of a power from Mrs. Eliza. smith, Wife to ye above named Mr. Jno Smith, relinquished her ye said Elizabeths right of dower of in & to a pcell of land sold by her Husband, Mr. Jno Smith to Mr. Jno Taliaferro, ye same is admitted to Record


1692-1693 Essex Co Virginia Orders, p. 17

At a Court held for Essex County August ye 10th Ano: 1692

Mr. John Smith appeared in Court and acknowledged a Deed of Sale of a parcell of land to Mr. John Taliaferro to be his real act and deed, ye same was admitted to Record


1704-1707 Essex Co Viginia Deed & Will Book 12; Antient Press: (Page 378-80)

1 April 1707. John Taliaferro of Essex County and Richard Buckner of same, Gent.,

to John Lomax and Elizabeth his wife. For agreements in former deed of release.
Tracts described below.

Whereas John Lomax of said county, Gent., and Elizabeth his wife late Elizabeth Wormley have, by deeds of lease and release, 7-8 July 1704 sold to me John Taliaferro all that tract called Portobago containing 3423 acres, being all the land on the lower side of Portobago Creeke or Swamp.., contained in and being part of the track called Portoba

and 400 acres in Gloucester County late in the possession of Samuel Smith and Ann his wife which was formerly given to Elizabeth now wife of the said John Lomax by Thomas Dawkins, deceased, formerly husband of her the said Anne Smith.

Jno. Taliaferro
Richard Buckner
Wit: John Catlett, Michaell Clerck.
10 April 1707, Acknowledged by John Taliaferro and Richard Buckner.

Testis (Test) is latin for witness. Testes is the plural.

A Dower is a provision for a wife's support should her husband die before her. Her dower right was the use of ⅓ of her husband's estate. The dower was settled on the bride at the time of the wedding. A drowry was the property a bride brought to her marriage.

1695-1699 Essex Co Virginia, Deed Book 9; Antient Press: (Page 32)

This Indenture made this Tenth day of Aprill in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and ninety six [1696]

Betweene William Pannell,
James Kay and Mary his Wife,
James Phillips and Isabella his Wife of the one pte:

and John Taliaferro of ye County of Essex of the other part;

Witnesseth that whereas Thomas Pannell late of ye County of Rapak. did by his last Will and Testament bearing date ye Eleventh day of May one thousand six hundred & seventy six [1676] give to his Wife and Children all his lands and Whereas the said Thomas Pannell died seized of Six hundred [600] acres of Land lying and being in Rappa: County on the South side of the Freshes thereof. . .

Jame Phillips and Isabella his Wife, the sd. William Pannell for the sume of Five thousand five hundred [5,500] pounds of good tobacco & caske to him paid by the sd, John Taliaferro doth fully acquitt & grant the sd. John Taliaferro his heirs all the fifth part of ye sd William Pannell which he hath in the said Six hundred acres of Land and all Estate right & interest which ye sd William hath or ought to have to one fifth part of ye sd Land,

And alsoe ye sd. James Kay and Mary his Wife for the summe of Four thousand pounds [4,000] of sweet seated tobacco and caske to them paid by the sd. John Taliaferro do fully grant unto the sd John Taliaferro and to his heirs & assignes forever all ye sd fifth part of ye sd James Kay & Mary his Wife which they have in right of ye sd. Mary in the Land & all the Estate right the sd. James Kay & Mary his Wife hve to ye Land,

And alsoe the sd. James Phillips and Isabella his Wife for the summe of Five thousand five hundred pounds [5,500] of tobacco and caske to them paid sell unto the sd, John Taliaferro and to his heirs and assignes forever all the fifth part of ye sd. James and Isabella wch: they have in right of ye sd Isabella and in ye sd. Six hundred acres of Land and all ye Estate right & interest wch: they have; To have & to hold all ye premisses above sold to ye sd. John Taliaferro and to his heirs & assignes forever to ye onely & proper behoofe of ye sd John Taliaferro his heirs

and ye sd Wm. Pannell for his part, James Kay & James Phillips for themselves and for their Wives their heirs & every of them doe severally promise that ye sd. Land and every part now is free from all manner of incumbrances and covenant to the sd John Taliaferro his heirs and assignes may from henceforth forever hold ye above menconed premisses with their appurtenances without any disturbance of them their heirs or assignes or any persons whatsoever, In Witness whereof hereunto they have sett their hands and affixed their seales the day & year abovesd.

Signed sealed & delivered in presence of us
Tho. Philpin,
William Pannell
Jno Corbin
James Kay
Cornelius Linzey
Mary Kay
James Phillips
Isabella Phillips

Signed sealed & delivered by Wm Pannell & James Phillips & Isabella Phillips
in presence of Jno Battaile, Bernard Baines, Robt coleman

Acknowledged in Essex County Court ye 10th day of April! 1696
Test Francis Meriwether Cl Co

An indenture is a legal contract for labor or land. Two copies on the same sheet were separated with a jagged edge so that the two parts could be refitted to confirm authenticity. An indentured servant worked without wages for a specified time to pay a debt and was bound to the employer. In the 17th century, nearly two-thirds of settlers came as indentured servants to pay for their passage.
Slavery is an immoral system of forced labor where people are treated as property to be bought and sold. It was legal in the American Colonies and the United States until the Civil War.

A moiety is one of two equal parts.

1717-1721 Essex County Virginia Wills, Inventories and Settlements of Estates No. 3

Will of John Taliaferro of the Parish of St. Mary's in Essex County, Gent.,
dated 1 June 1715.
Unto my son Lawrence the plantation he now liveth together with the land thereto belonging. Also three Negros Cain, Grace and Beck now in his possession.
Unto my son John the plantation whereon he now liveth together with the land thereto belonging. Also two Negros Frank and Nancy now being in his possession and likewise fifty pounds sterling mony of England.
Unto my daughter Mary a ring of twenty shillings value.
Unto my daughter Elizabeth 78 pounds of sterling money of England being a part unpaid of a portion promised her in marriage.
Unto my son Charles 300 acres lying in a neck commonly known by the name of the old Church Neck within the aforesaid parish of St. Maryts, and one moiety of a tract of land taken up and pattened by me in partnership with my brother Francis Taliaferro deceased lying at the head of the Mount Creek.
Unto my son Robert 675 acres of land being one moiety of a dividend lying in the Golden Vale Swamp.
Unto my son Zachariah 675 acres of land the other moiety of the said devidend of land lying in the Golden Vale Swamp.
Unto my son Richard one moiety of the land. I now live on, viz. the back half of the devidend.
Unto my son William after the decease of my loveing wife the other moiety of the land whereon I now live, viz. the, half next the river together with the plantation thereon.
The land aforementioned lying at the head of the Mount was taken up and pattented by me in partnership with my deceased brother Francis Taliaferro but no division made. In the lifetime of my said deceased brother I did purchase of him 100 acres lying on Rappahannock River and adjoyning to 1000 acres formerly granted by my deceased brother to me. The sale not being recorded in any Court of record, upon my said deceased brother's heir at law affirming the purchase 100 acres unto my son John then my son. John do make sure the lower moiety of the said devidend of land lying at the head of the Mount Creek unto such heir.

If either of my sons Robt. and Zachariah shall happen to dye before they attain to the age of one and twenty then the whole 1350 acres become the survivour of them.
If either of my sons Richard and William shall dye before they attain to the age of one and twenty then the whole 600 acres become the survivour.
My whole personal estate, goods and chattels, my mill and Negroes do remain together entire without distribution to pay debts and legacies, then equally divided between my loveing wife and seven children Charles, Sarah, Robert, Zachariah, Catherine, Richard and William.
My said mill between my sons Richard and William, and if sons dye to the survivor.
My sons Charles, Robert, Zachariah, Richard and William executors .
Jno. Taliaferro
Wit: John Sutton,,Tho. Eva[ns1 Henry (H) Brice.
21. June 1720. Presented in Court by Robert TaIiaferro and Zachariah Taliaferro, executors.
Proved by Henry Brice, made oath that he saw John Sutton (who is now dead) sign the same.

American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.




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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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