Benjamin C. Spiller

In January of 1774 Benjamin C. Spiller, Reuben Wright, Reuben Turner, and William Aylett took out a bond payable to Robert M’Kendlish. In 1793 a lawsuit that was brought against Spiller, Reuben Wright, and Reuben Turner in 1793 in the District Court of King and Queen County by Archibald M’Call to whom the said bond had been endorsed. “The writ was executed by the Sheriff of King William County, on Turner only, and Spiller and Wright were returned “no inhabitants”” and William Aylett was deceased. This suit ended with only Reuben Turner brought to court but is mentioned here because the January 1774 date is the earliest mention found for Benjamin C. Spiller of King William County, Virginia.

Benjamin Clevias Spiller and George Dabney, “administrators of William Spiller”, brought suit against Lazarus Yarborough in June of 1774. This William Spiller was, in all probability, the father of Benjamin. There is no proof of this statement, but it is inferred from the records found. In a previous post we showed that William Spiller tried to sell his holdings of about eight hundred acres of real estate with various dwellings, buildings, etc. in King William County in 1766, but no record of the sale was located. Benjamin and William Spiller were found paying taxes on land totaling closer to nine hundred acres in 1782. It would seem to be the same land but that has not been proven. This, coupled with the fact that Benjamin was his administrator, leads me to conclude that William Spiller who died ca. 1774 in King William County, Virginia, was the father of Benjamin C. Spiller and William Spiller. In addition, I suspect that Catherine Spiller who married Joseph Boxley, and Elizabeth Spiller who married John Kimbrough were daughters of said William Spiller. Catherine named her second son Joseph Cluverius Boxley, which seems to indicate some family connection and William Spiller purchased land from John Kimbrow in Louisa County.

Benjamin and William Spiller both served as officers in Virginia Regiments during the Revolution. Benjamin “entered into the service in the month of September 1775, and continued therein till January 1776, when he was promoted to a lieutenancy in the 7th Virginia regiment; and in the month of January following, got the command of a company [in the 2nd Virginia Regiment,] which command he held till he left the army, which happened in the month of September 1778.” After the war [1782], we find both Benjamin and William Spiller in King William County, paying taxes for themselves and on their personal property. Benjamin owned more than twice the slaves and twice the land of William. Because of this I believe him to be the elder brother.

In November 1784, Benjamin Spiller presented a petition to the House of Delegates asking to be given bounty lands as provided for by law. His petition was found to be ‘reasonable’ and he was allowed the same bounty lands as given to a captian in the continental service, although he served in the Virginia line, which turned out to be four thousand acres. This land was recorded as being in Ohio but was in the area that is now part of Kentucky. The land was described as being “nortwest of the River Ohio between the Little Miami and Sciota.” He divides up this land in his will, giving one thousand acres to each of his two sons from his first marriage and two thousand acres to his youngest son, James Spiller.

Benjamin C. Spiller served as a deputy sheriff of King William County in 1786, serving under Holt Richeson and then John Hickman. He collected taxes in the upper parish of the county, leaving his tax collector’s notebook, which can be seen at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. There was apparently some discrepancy in the bond taken by Hickman which caused the matter to be taken up by the House of Delegates. This record gives Benjamin’s middle name as Claverius.

The 1787 tax list of King William County, Virginia shows Bejamin C. Spiller with 615 acres, one tithe (himself) over twenty-one, one white between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, thirteen male slaves over the age of sixteen, twelve male slaves under the age of sixteen, ten horses, forty-two cattle, and one chair carriage. His brother, William, is also listed in King William County, and continues there until his death. Benjamin, however, is not found in King William County. We know from the lawsuit mentioned in the first paragraph that Benjamin was not in King William in 1793, but when did he leave? A Benjamin Spiller does turn up in King and Queen County in 1790, but in somewhat reduced circumstances from the 1787 tax list. If this is the same Benjamin, we can figure that he moved in the three year span between 1787 and 1790. (The 1790 tax list shows one tithe over 16, nine slaves over sixteen years of age, one slave between twelve and sixteen years old, and five horses/mules, etc. The 1800 tax list of Lancaster County shows what is definitely this Benjamin C. Spiller. He has two tithes over sixteen, two black slaves from twelve to sixteen, nineteen slaves over sixteen years of age, ten horses,etc.

From Benjamin’s will (see Will of Benjamin C. Spiller, died 1801, Lancaster County, Virginia posted earlier), we can see that Benjamin was married twice. I believe that his first wife may have been a Hickman, possibly the daughter or sister of John Hickman, the high sheriff of King William County who died in 1788. Benjamin had two sons by this first marriage that were living when he wrote his will in March of 1801, William and Hickman. Both sons were mentioned by name in his will. Both were given one thousand acres of land out of the four thousand that Benjamin received for his service in the Revolution. I believe that he may have had another son named Robert Turner Spiller. Old New Kent County, Some Account of the Planters, Plantations, and Places by M.H. Harris states “The college [Wm & Mary] plat book records the lease of Lot No. 34 to Benjamin and William Spiller and this lot contained 100 acres along with the mill called Spiller’s Mill on Governor’s Swamp. On October 23, 1793 a new lease was entered into with the college and the lessees were L. Hickman Spiller, Robert Turner Spiller, and William H. Spiller.”

Benjamin’s second wife was Ann Frazer, “sister of Falvey Frazer who was wounded at Germantown, Pa. Oct. 4, 1777 and mortally wounded by his brother an Officer of the British Army at Yorktown, Va. Oct. 14, 1781.” After the death of Benjamin Spiller, Ann Spiller is found in Lancaster County in the 1810 census with three of her sons still at home.

My next post will deal with the children of Benjamin C. Spiller.

Virginia Reports: Jefferson–33 Grattan, 1730-1880, Thomas Johnson Michie, Thomas Jefferson, Peachy Ridgway Grattan.
Journal of the House of Delegates of the State of Virginia.
Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, Francis Bernard Heitman.
Genealogies of Virginia Families from Tyler’s Quarterly Historical Review.
History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. compiled by Maud Carter Clement.
The Edward Pleasant Valentine Papers, Vol. I.
Old New Kent County [Virginia] Some Account of the Planters, Plantations, and Places, MH Harris, Vol. I.

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