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, 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, most especially from the fact that Benjamin C. was made administrator of his estate. In a previous post we reported that William Spiller had 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 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 (or Kimbrow) were daughters of said William Spiller. Catherine named her second son Joseph Cluverius Boxley, which seems to indicate some family connection and William Spiller (the father) purchased land from John Kimbrow in Louisa County.
Benjamin C. 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 first 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 he continues to live there until his death. Benjamin, however, is not found in King William County after this. 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. Additional evidence that their mother may have been a Hickman comes from the 1819 will of William Hickman of Powhatan County, Virginia in which he left everything to his wife, Ann, to be given at her death to his nieces and nephews, or their children, including the children of Hickman Spiller. William and Ann Hickman apparently had no children of their own. William Hickman left an additional sum of money to be given at the discretion of his wife Ann to Hickman Spiller to “assist in the support of himself and his family.” By 1819, William Spiller had left Virginia and no one seems to have known where he went or had further contact with him and so he was not mentioned in this will.
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.” Ann was still living in 1810 when she was found on the census record for Lancaster County, Virginia.
Children of Benjamin Spiller by his first wife:
a)William Spiller, received 1000 acres in Kentucky in his father’s will written in 1801. I believe that this is the William Spiller found on the 1790 tax list of Powhatan County living on the Estate of Peyton Randolph along with William Hickman. The 1801 tax list of the same county shows William Hickman at William Randolph’s but William Spiller is not found.
The Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser published in Richmond, May 15, 1793, carried the following advertisment: “RAN-AWAY on the 6th of last MARCH: A LIKELY Mulatto BOY, named SIM. He is about 13 years old, has a thick bushy head of hair, which he often has tied behind, is very artful and sensible, and I have no doubt will endeavour to pass for a free boy; he had on when he went away, a short blue coat, oznabrigs shirt and white cotton negro overalls. Whoever will deliver the said Boy to me at Powhatan Court-house, or secure him in any jail, so that I get him again, shall have EIGHT DOLLARS Reward. WILLIAM SPILLER. Powhatan, 13th May, 1793.” [Poor little SIM. Which of us wouldn’t have wanted to run away? I hope he found his freedom.]
We next find William Spiller in Danville, Pittsylvania County, Virginia in December 1799 when “the owners of several unimproved lots petitioned that a further time of three years be allowed them to build thereon”, this in addition to the five years they agreed to when they purchased the lots. The petition was “signed by Beverly Barksdale, George Williamson, William Beavers, William Spiller, James Colquehoun, James Arnett, John Sutherlin, early citizens, some of whose names are preserved in the streets of the city…”
Will and Hickman Spiller are listed together on the 1800 tax list of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. That is the last record for William found in Virginia. A chancery suit brought in Lancaster County, Virginia in 1812 by the executor of John Degge against the executor of Thomas Pinkard, listed William Spiller, along with his brother, Hickman, his step-mother and all his half-brothers and sisters as defendants. In the papers of the suit it was stated that William Spiller never answered his summons and that everyone was satisfied that he was no longer a resident of Virginia. From this we ascertain that William Spiller left Virginia in the early 1800’s.
There was a William Spiller that married Nancy Sullivan on 5 January 1809 in Chesterfield County, Virginia which borders Powhatan County, but I am not sure that it is the same fellow.
b)Hickman Spiller, received 1000 acres in Kentucky in his father’s will. The earliest record found for Hickman Spiller was dated June 1794 in Powahatan County, Virginia, when he signed a petition for “the pardon of Paul, one of the parties condemned to death in the Court of Powhatan for participating in the murder of Wm. Bradley, the overseer of Colonel Wm. Mayo, on the ground that his conviction was obtained on the testimony of a negro boy 13 years old.”
Hickman Spiller married 1) Catherine Markham Smith, daughter of Francis Smith who served in the Revolution, 24 January 1797 in Chesterfield County. Catherine died young, during or shortly after the birth of their second child.
In 1799 Hickman Spiller wrote to Col. Richard C. Anderson stating that “lands surveyed for Benj. Spiller, have been lost, [and] asking for Anderson to take care of it.” On first glance it had seemed to me as if Benjamin C. Spiller had kind of abandoned his children from his first marriage, but this letter indicates to me that Hickman and his father were on speaking terms and Hickman was taking care of some items of business for his father.
The children of Hickman and Catherine Smith Spiller were:
i. Catherine Ann Spiller, b. 4 January 1799. After her mother died she was “taken to her grandfather’s, Francis Smith’s, where she was trained by her aunt, Rebecca Smith. Her uncle Francis Smith and her Aunt Rebecca reared her to womanhood.” Catherine Spiller married Alexander Findlay, 24 January 1824 in Chesterfield Co., Virginia. They resided in Abingdon, Virginia where they raised a large family.
ii. William Hickman Spiller, b. 8 October 1800, probably in Lancaster County, Virginia although I have seen other locations given for his birth. After the death of his mother he “was reared in part by his uncle, Lewis Smith, near old Rehoboth Church, in the upper end of Washington County, Va.” He married Susan Crockett, daughter of Joseph Crockett, 22 December 1831. They lived in Wytheville, Virginia where he was a merchant and they reared a large family. He was murdered by a suitor of one of his daughters on 31 March 1851 when he refused to allow his daughter to marry said suitor.
Hickman Spiller was found on the 1800 tax list in Pittsylvania County with his brother, Will. They had a license to operate an “ordinary” or tavern and so were following in the business of their grandfather, William Spiller of King William County, Virginia. They seemed to be quite prosperous, having seven slaves, three horses and two riding carriages with two wheels.
Hickman Spiller married 2) Sarah “Sally” Dix Payne, 15 February 1802 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. There are several records found for Hickman Spiller in Pittsylvania County ranging from the 1800 tax list to the 1820 census where he is listed with one son and four daughters. His presence was also recorded on several court documents. One record for him was found in Caswell County, North Carolina in 1806. Caswell County borders Pittsylvania County, Virginia. In October 1809, Hickman Spiller and “Sally Dix Spiller” sold for fifty dollars “his share in the land devised by Benjamin C. Spiller, dec’d to his son Benedictus Spiller to Elias B. Edmonds.”
Hickman Spiller died sometime between 1820 and 1830. He is last found on the 1820 census of Pittsylvania County, Virginia and his wife Sarah Spiller is found on the 1830 census of Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.
The children of Hickman Spiller and Sarah Dix Payne were:
i. Mary Spiller, b. Virginia, m. Percival B. Healy 14 August 1834 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
ii. Frances Elizabeth Spiller, b. Virginia, m. Robert B. Walker, 14 August 1834 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
iii. Leticia Spiller, b. ca. 1802, Virginia, d. 1868 Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
iv. Robert Spiller, b. 1808 Virginia.
v. James Dabney Spiller, b. Virginia, m. Mary Julia Mann Donaldson 21 February 1839 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
vi. Sarah Ann “Sally” Spiller, b. 1823, Virginia, m. Thomas A. Hickman, 21 December 1839 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She died 1840, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
vii. Henry Langham Spiller, b. 1826, Pittsylvania Co., Virginia, m. 1) Minora Byrd, 2) Isabella Ellison, and 3) Louella Smith. Henry d. 1901, Brazos Co., Texas.
Children of Benjamin Spiller and Ann Frazer
c)Benedictus Spiller, received the dwelling plantation of his father (Indian Creek Farm) purchased from Thomas Pinckard. He never married. He died 1805, Lancaster County, Virginia leaving no issue.
d)Benjamin Spiller, received land purchased of Hudson Muse and “my mill bought from William Eustace” from his father. He pledged security for the 1808 marriage of his sister Roxilany to John Huglett. I believe he was one of the three men living with his mother Ann Frazer Spiller in the 1810 Census. He is mentioned in the 1811 Lancaster County Chancery Court suit brought by Elias Edmunds. Edmunds had purchased one hundred acres of Indian Creek from Benedictus Spiller before his death and it seems he has an eye on the rest of the land. He accused Benjamin and his mother Ann of ‘waste’.
e)Susanna Spiller, b. Virginia, m. 1) Warner Hurst 15 October 1801 in Lancaster Co., Virginia. She and Warner Hurst had two children, Chatam Hurst and Warner Hurst, Jr. She married 2) James Hurst about 1807 after the death of Warner, his brother. They had at least four children, James Kemp Hurst, Thwaits L. Hurst, Ann Frazer Hurst, and Maria Louisa Hurst. Maria Louisa Hurst married her uncle Patrick Spiller’s step-son, Thomas Ball, Jr.
f)Ann Frazer Spiller b. Virginia, m. George Smither 14 January 1805 in Lancaster Co., Virginia.
g)Grace Spiller b. Virginia, m. Ralph Edmunds, son of Elias Edmunds, 24 March 1809 in Lancaster Co., Virginia. Ralph served in the Virginia militia during the War of 1812. They had two children, Mary and Elias B. Edmunds. Mary Edmunds married Zacharias Crittenden. She sued her brother Elias in Chancery Court in Lancaster County over the inheritance from her mother and it is that suit which provided the copy of the will of Benjamin C. Spiller.
h)Rocksylany Spiller, b. Virginia, m. John Hughlett, 19 December 1808 in Lancaster Co., Virginia.
i)Patrick Spiller, received land in Northumberland Co., Virginia in his father’s will. He married Mrs. Louisa Ball, widow of Dr. Thomas Ball, 21 Feb. 1818 in Northumberland Co., Virginia. Louisa was the daughter of LeRoy Edwards and Mary Glasscock. Patrick and Louisa had at least three children before his death ca. 1840. Their son Reverend Benjamin C. Spiller was a minister in the Methodist Church. He raised a large family and if anyone is interested in their names, I will be glad to provide them. Louisa Edwards Ball Spiller died February 1870 in Wicomico, Northumberland Co., Virginia.
j)James Spiller, b. 21 December 1796, Virginia. He sued his siblings in Chancery Court in Lancaster after he turned twenty-one for the two hundred and fifty pounds he was to receive from his brother, Benedictus, as stipulated in their father’s will. This suit provided his date of birth. James Spiller was on the 1820 Census in Lancaster County, Virginia. James was the bondsman for his sister Susana Spiller Hurst’s marriage to William Tilden in 1829. No further record.
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.
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, Vol. I, MH Harris.
Genealogies of Virginia Families from Tyler’s Quarterly Historical Review.
Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts Vol. VII, Raleigh Edward Colston.
Smith of Virginia, Volume 1, Dorothy Ford Wulfeck.
Holston Methodism, Vol. 5, Richard Nye Price.
United Daughters of the Confederacy Patriot Ancestor Album, Turner Publishing, 1999.
U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules