William Lansdown was first mentioned in the will of his father, William Lansdown of Westmoreland Co., Virginia, written in November 1753. This will declared that all of the sons of William, including this William, be bound out to learn a trade until the age of twenty-one. This tells me three things. First, William was most likely born in Westmoreland County, Virginia or thereabouts in northern Virginia, NOT Halifax County. Second, it tells us that he was under age in 1753, helping us to narrow his birth year down to sometime after 1732. Third, it gives us the names of his siblings, which included the ‘top three list’ of Lansdown boy names – John, George, (don’t forget this William), and his sisters, Lucy, Mary, and Sarah.
William, who may have been the oldest of his father’s sons, enlisted to fight in the French and Indian War and served briefly “in the armed expedition to the Ohio under the command of Colonel George Washington in 1754,” being in Capt. Stewart’s company in the Virginia Regiment. He was discharged on a review “as being under the proper size” and was allowed back for 120 days service in 1755. So we see that he may have escaped his apprenticeship by running off and joining the army. Did he return to northern Virginia or did he settle in Halifax County without ever returning home? I wish there were some records to fill in the gap between this record in 1755 and the next record in 1770. I would feel better in making the assumption that they refer to the same William. [Note that in some trees you find on the internet you will see this military service attributed to William Sr., but if that William died in 1753, he couldn’t have served in 1755.]
I have just recently come across a mention of William Lansdowne entering a land grant, dated 17 November 1770, for 50 acres of land on “the Moravian Creek” and for another 50 acres in what would later become Wilkes County, North Carolina “on Joseph’s Fork on Buffelow Creek.” He seems to still be living in Virginia, however, because when John Dyer wrote his will in Halifax County on 9 April 1771, William was mentioned in the will as holding land that Dyer had given to his son, Elisha. Then, in September of 1772, William Lansdown served on jury duty in Halifax County. Also in September of 1772, William sued a man named Benjamin Johnson in Halifax. They must have parted friends because in November of the same year he was a witness for Benjamin in separate suit. In June 1773 a deed given to William Dobbie in Halifax indicated it was adjoining Lansdown’s line so it would seem as it William Lansdown still had his land in Halifax in 1773.
I haven’t been able to find any records for William in either location between 1773 and 1781, although there is a mention of a _____ Lansdown, schoolmaster in the records of Halifax County in 1773. William is next spotted in Wilkes County, North Carolina when he was a bondsman for the marriage of William Cokerman and Mary Henderson on 17 March 1781. So we know that he made his move to North Carolina sometime between those dates. William’s wife, Mary Lansdown, gave a deposition in 1805 in which she stated that they had come to North Carolina “26 or 27 years ago” which gives us a year of 1778 or 1779 for the move. That fits nicely with the evidence we have and can help us determine where their children were born. Most, it would seem, were born in Halifax County. Note that in this deposition she also stated that “my husband Wm Landsdown was crippled.” Interestingly, the first mention of George Lansdown in Halifax County that I have been able to find was in 1779 when he witnessed the will of Richard Logan. Did he take over his brother’s property?
Records for William Lansdown in Wilkes County, North Carolina began with the land record mentioned above and continued with marriage records. His son John Lansdown married Mary Holton in 1786 and in the state census taken the following year  we find both William and his son John listed. William’s household consisted of himself and his wife, Mary, with four boys and five girls. [Please note – Just as others have made mistakes in assigning his children, I am sure that I will make a few myself but I do think that I have uncovered a few more facts, and will at least not make the same mistakes. : >] We know that John married the previous year, so we have at least 10 children for William and Mary, equally divided among the sexes. From later marriage records we can positively identify Nathaniel and Reuben as two of the boys and Sarah and Elizabeth as two of the daughters. This leaves two boys and three girls unidentified. We will get to identifying the children shortly.
The first federal census of North Carolina was taken in 1790. William’s daughter, Sarah was married the 26th of August 1790 and she and her new husband, Peter Campbell are enumerated beside her father. William’s household reflects the loss either through marriage, death, or moving on of one more son, showing just four males; two over the age of twenty-one and two of them under age. We know that William the father is one of the men over 21, and Nathaniel and Reuben are still at home. Who is that older boy still at home and who left home? Two possibilities include the David Lansdown mentioned in the will of Millien Hall of Wilkes County, North Carolina and the William Lansdown that married Triphenia Settle in Culpeper County, Virginia in 1797 and later resided in Bedford County, Virginia. Since William didn’t marry until 1797, he is likely the one still at home, leaving the possibility that David was the son who married before 1790. Turning to the girls, we assume that since Peter Campbell is enumerated beside William in a household of just himself and a female that this census was taken after the marriage of Peter and Sarah, so just who are the six girls?
In 1799, William’s son, Nathaniel, married Nancy Fairchilds and in 1800 he and his father were found in the census. Nathaniel’s household consisted of he and his wife, along with what was most likely their first daughter. William and Mary still had their son Reuben at home, as well as three girls. Two of the girls were between ten and fifteen, the third was between sixteen and twenty-five. It would seem as if William died between 1800 and 1803 when both Reuben and Elizabeth Lansdown married. Reuben served as bondsman for Elizabeth’s wedding to Benjamin Moody in January and he married Selah Morgan in August.
In 1805 Mary Lansdown gave a deposition in Wilkes County and she stated that she and her husband had left Virginia 26 or 27 years before and she refers to William in the past tense. From this we can be fairly certain that William has died and indeed, in the 1810 census we find Mary Lansdown listed as a head of household with one boy under ten years of age and one young woman aged sixteen to twenty-five. Are these two her grandchild Milly Lansdown [daughter of David and Milly Hall Lansdown] and Milly’s illegitimate child Simon or Seamore Lansdown? Reuben Lansdown is listed on the same page as Mary with his family.