John Worley, II of Buckingham and Powhatan Counties, Virginia

The first definite mention uncovered for John Worley, Jr. was a patent in the Virginia Land Office Book 20 which recorded that he purchased “250 acres on branches of Skinquarter Creek, Goochland Co.” on January 30, 1741. In June 1742, Thomas Dawson instituted a lawsuit against John Worley for a debt of ten pounds. This case went on for a year, being brought up at most monthly courts. John would fail to appear and the constable would report that he had no goods to confiscate to pay the debt. The court record of May 1743 referred to him as John Worley, Junr., so we are positive this is about the younger of the two Johns. The case was dismissed in June 1743.

It may or may not have had anything to do with the above case, but on June 20, 1743, John Worley, Jr. sold his 250 acres on Skinquarter Creek to William Bass. This deed was proved in court by the above mentioned Thomas Dawson and David Bell in September 1743. I am wondering if he had to sell the land to pay the debt.

Goochland Order Books record one other lawsuit in 1743 involving John Worley, Jr. This time he was the plaintiff against Alexander Warren. William Worley was a witness for his brother John in this suit. William then sued his brother for payment for his attendance at court for four days and was granted one hundred pounds of tobacco.

John, Jr. either made a move to or simply purchased land in Albemarle County as evidenced from a list of surveys that Joshua Fry made in that county between 1 June 1745 and 1 June 1746. This list can be found in the Albemarle County Court House Clerk’s office. The land may have been in what became Buckingham county as there are several familiar names of people that were known to have lived in in that county. At any rate, John Worley, Junr. had a survey made of 386 acres. Unfortunately, the survey seems to be nonexistant, so we don’t know where the land was located. This was just a record of the survey having been made. Other familiar names on the list include James Ford, John Foard, John Chldrs, Peter Salle, and Anthony Benoin.

The William and Mary Quarterly records that John Worley the 2nd, John Whorley the 3rd and Joseph Whorley were ordered to be “apprehended” or drafted into the colonial militia on 20 June 1757 by the court at Cumberland County, Virginia. This would have been during the French & Indian War. Eight days later, John Whorley, the 2nd was discharged, presumably for his age or some other disability, while John Whorley, the 3rd and Joseph Worley “were adjudged to be soldiers.” Following this, they were brought into court and “was delivered up to Capt. Poindexter Mosby, to be carried to such place and delivered to such officer as the Governor shall appoint to receive them.”

It was in 1757 that John Worley I died in Cumberland County, Virginia. The date of his death can be narrowed down to between the time he wrote his will on 22 March 1757, and 15 December of that year, when the vestry of Southam Parish appointed “Esther Whirley . . . sexton of South Chapel in the room of John Worley, deceased.” John’s will was probated on 27 March 1758. In the will he gives “to John Worley Jr younger and my grandson the plantation where his father [that would be John Worley Jr or the older] now lives and so to a new line I make according to my own pleasure for the division but my Will is that my son John Worley shall have the sd Plantation during his life but no liberty to sell it nor to rent it.” So, in effect, he bypassed his son, perhaps for reasons best explained by his son’s earlier debts, and left the bulk of his estate to his grandson, John Worley, the 3rd. John also left another grandson, Charles Maxey, the plantation he lived on after the death of his grandmother.

In 1759 John, Joseph, and William Worley were on the tithables list of Cumberland County. John was listed with two tithes; Joseph and William with just themselves as tithable. Joseph and John were on the same page with only Chas. Maxey between them. William was listed a few pages away between Francis Farley and Thos. Watkins. This William would have been the brother of John Worley, Jr.

John Worley witnessed the will of Thomas Gibson, his brother-in-law who was married to his sister, Elizbeth. The will named six sons; Benjamin, Miles, Thomas, William, John and James. Executors named were his wife, Elizabeth, and a friend, Joseph Baugh. Other witnesses were John Watkins and Joseph Baugh. There is a possibility that this could have been John III.

John Worley and his brother William took the oath of allegiance at Powhatan, Virginia on 19 July 1777, renouncing allegiance to King George. Sometime after that date but before 16 April 1778, John Worley, Jr. died. We are fairly certain of that because on the latter date John Worley of Buckingham County sold 100 acres of land in Powhatan County to John Moseley. Since his father was given the land for his lifetime with no authority to sell it, it must have been a sale made after the death of John Jr.

The children of John Worley Jr. are mostly probable children, rather than definite children, with the exception of his son John.

i.John III, was born before 1741 at Goochland County, Va. This date is based on his being drafted in 1757 and assuming he was at least sixteen at that time. John was in Buckingham County in 1764 as evidenced by his appearance on the tax list for that year. He lived there when he sold the land owned by his grandfather in 1778. He moved, first to Campbell County and then to Franklin County, Va., before settling in White Co., Tennessee. John Worley died in White Co., Tn in March 1815. He is thought to have married a woman named Dorothy based on the fact that a John Worley and a Dorothy Worley were witnesses to the will of John Dawn in Campbell Co., Va in 1786.

ii.Joseph was born between 1735 and 1741 at Goochland County, VA. See Joseph Worley of Goochland, Charlotte, and Campbell Counties, Virginia
for more on Joseph Worley.

iii.Mary was born before 1743 at Goochland County, VA; (I’m assuming she was 17 before marriage.). According to his register, she was married to James Smith, son of John Smith and Jane, whose last name was possibly Childers, October 2, 1760 at Manakin Town, Cumberland County, Virginia by the Reverend William Douglas. Interestingly, her cousin Judith (Jude) Worley married Humphry Smith, the brother of James. It is believed that Mary and James Smith had at least one son named Obadiah Smith who was mentioned in his uncle, William Worley’s will and who was found on the 1783 tax rolls of Buckingha County living with John Worley, presumably the third John, and Silas Worley.

iv. William was born before 1752. It was possibly William who was listed in 1770 as W. Whirley, a tithable in the household of Thomas Walthall in Amelia County, and in 1773 as William Worley, in the household of Samuel Spencer of Buckingham County. A will was found in Amelia County by Karen Worley which reads:

“William Worley wrote a will 25 Feb 1773 at Amelia County, VA.
“In the name of God, Amen. I William Worley of the Parish of Raleigh in the County of Amelia being of sound of disposing mind and memory do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form Following, that is to say, Imprimis, I will that all my Debts and Funeral charges be paid and discharged by my Executors herein After named.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my Sister’s son Obediah Smith in Cumberland County my two mares and all my Wearing Apparel, one rug, one bed tick, one sheet, one blanket and twelve pound of Feathers, and all the money that is owing to me. When my debts is paid out of it to him and his heirs forever.
Lastly I do make and Constitute Joseph Baw [Baugh] in Cumberland County and Alexander Marshall in Chesterfield County Executors of this my last Will and Testament, Revoking all Wills formerly made either by Writing or Otherwise. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this twenty-fifth day of February in the Year of Our Lord one Thousand seven hundred and seventy three.
Signed, Sealed and pronounced by the said William Worley as his last will and testament in the presence of us, who in his presence and the presence of Each Other have hereunto subscribed our names.
Arthur Moseley, Thomas Moseley, John Moseley, Abraham Baugh.”

We know that there was an Obediah Smith living with William’s brothers, John and Silas in 1783 and that a Mary Worley married James Smith, so it is a logical extension to believe that this William was also a son of John II.

The muster rolls of the 6th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army listed a William Worley who joined the company on 1 August 1777 and died on 20 January 1778. Possibly this refers to this William as no other records can be found for him. We know they don’t refer to William Worley the brother of John, Jr. because he left a will in Bedford Co., Virginia in 1787.

v.Silas was born between 1754 and 1756 in Virginia. He is most often identified as a son of John, Jr. but it is nothing definite, as is true for most of these supposed children. Silas was first mentioned in Cumberland Co., Virginia in 1772 when he sold a horse, some hogs, and some furniture to Samuel Watkins. He was listed in Buckingham County by 1780 when he signed a petition asking that preachers not agreeing with the Revolution be silenced. In 1781 John Worley transferred 92 acres on Wreck Island to him. Silas stayed in Buckingham until 1786 when he relocated to Bedford County, Virginia. In 1800, Silas Worley was in Rutherford County, North Carolina. He moved there sometime between 1790 and 1800 and his family can be found in the records from that area. Some of his descendants moved to Georgia.

vi.Peter was born before 1763. He is the least certain of all of the children assigned to John Worley, Jr., even though all of them carry a degree of uncertainty. He enlisted in the Virginia Continental Line in 1776. In 1784 he received one hundred acres of land for his service of three years. He paid taxes in Buckingham County, Virginia from 1787 to 1822 with pretty good regularity. There was a gap from 1822 until 1835 when no Peter was listed which begs the question, is the 1835 Peter the same Peter.

Marriage records for Samuel Worley, age 75, in Floyd County, Virgina 1856 indicate that Samuel was a son of Peter & Hannah Worley of Buckingham County. From this we know that Peter married a woman named Hannah before 1781.

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4 Responses to John Worley, II of Buckingham and Powhatan Counties, Virginia

  1. Bill Bray says:

    The Obadiah Smith who was mentioned as possibly the son of James Smith and Mary Worley applied in 1833 in Jefferson Co. TN for a Rev. War pension. He stated that his birth was in 1763 in Powhatan Co., that in 1777 he moved with his grandfather to Buckingham, and that he lived there until 1803, moving at that time to TN. Existing Buckingham personal property tax records confirm Obadiah was in Buckingham until 1803, including the one in tax year 1783 in which he was a tithe in John Worley’s taxes that year. As we know Obadiah’s grandfather John Smith died in 1757, the only grandfather he could have moved to Buckingham with was John Worley II. It is still possible that John Worley II died between his loyalty oath in 1777 and the time the acreage in Powhatan was sold by John Worley III. But this now leaves the possibility, if small, that the John Worley mentioned in the 1783 Buckingham tax was John II, Obadiah Smith’s grandfather, rather than John III who was Obadiah’s uncle. At the very least, the pension application would indicate John Worley II may have died in Buckingham Co. rather than in Powhatan. Also, DNA has proved a Smith descendant of Obadiah matches that of a descendant of Childers Smith, brother to James Smith who married Mary Worley. So the Smith DNA being a match, provides additional circumstantial evidence that Mary Worley was sister to John III, Silas, Peter, etc., and mother to Obadiah Smith.

  2. spotisadog says:

    So kind of you to let me (us) know what became of Obadiah. Smiths are so hard to trace! To have his date of birth and to know that he moved with his grandfather to Buckingham is such a rare bit of information to have found.
    I see what you mean about the possibility that John Worley II may have still been living after the sale of his land. Certainly a possibility, and I am sure that a sale of the land could have been made during his lifetime if all parties were agreeable.
    Did you know that an aunt of Mary Worley, Jude (Judy?) Worley married James Smith’s brother Humphrey Smith?
    Are you a descendant of Obadiah? Do you happen to know who Obadiah married?
    Thanks again for this information.

    • Bill Bray says:

      The generational difference between Mary and Jude has been confusing – evidently Humphrey was much older than James. At first, I thought it possible that Humphrey potentially was an unknown brother to John Smith (d. 1757). I am certain there was a younger Humphrey who was son to one of John Smith’s sons. There is a Revolutionary War record that shows the younger Humphrey as dying in the Revolutionary cause – his death is listed upon a company roster. I’m also pretty certain that even though the will record indicates Humphrey left everything to Jude, there were at least two sons mentioned in 1775 in Cumberland order books as sons of Humphrey, deceased.
      Yes, I am descended from Obadiah Smith through his son Absalom Smith, Sr. Because Buckingham records burned, we have no marriage record for Obadiah, so we do not know his wife’s name. Unless a bible or church record turns up somewhere, we probably never will know her name. We believe that he also had sons Benjamin, and Barnett. There probably were others. They all ended up in Jefferson Co., TN (modern Hamblen Co., TN). We also believe that James Smith and Mary Worley also had other sons named Pleasant, James Jr., and John. This is from a combination of DNA testing and surviving Buckingham Co. tax records. We know that Pleasant ended up in Jefferson Co., TN, and think it is likely that James and John were there as well. Unfortunately the Jefferson Co. records do not provide enough clues to prove James Jr. and John were there. It is quite possible that James and Mary Worley Smith had other children, and we just don’t know because documentation does not exist, or hasn’t been discovered.

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