William Spiller, Gentleman died in King William Co., Virginia sometime before June 1774 when his son, Benjamin C. Spiller, and his other executor brought suit in Caroline Co. against a Lazarus Yarborough. Because we have his death somewhat narrowed down, we can identify records after that date as definitely belonging to his son, William, the subject of this sketch. There is obviously some overlap in their records and care must taken, and mistakes will probably be made, in assigning those records.
William Spiller, the son of the above William, served as a Captain of a Virginia State Regiment in the Revolution from 1778 to 1781. In 1780, his commanding officer, Colonel George Muter, sent Thomas Jefferson a letter saying, “Capt: Spiller was despatched to save the arms in Isle of Wyght and Southampton.” The following January, Spiller was sent to Petersburg, Virginia for the purpose of “removing the arms and Stores at Petersburg, the powder at the Powder Mills and at Manchester.” A Colonol Carrington complained about the manner in which William Spiller handled that assignment, prompting Capt. Spiller to write a letter, dated January 18, 1781, to Col. Muter, resigning that post. A portion of this letter follows:
“I set out from this place about 12 o-clock or after, my orders was to proceed to Chesterfield Court house, to call on Col: Davies for his assistance, and from thence to Petersburg, it was after dark before I arrived at Petersberg. I went immediately to the Quarter Masters’ office (he having previous notice from Col Muter to prepare waggons for the removal of the Stores) and enquired for him, was told by his assistant that he was gorn (sic) home. I then enquired if he had left no orders to prepare waggons for removing of the Stores, the man informed he had ordered him to impress all the waggons that he could find, he had accordingly (as he said) imprest several, but having no guard, they had gorn off. That he had sent several men different ways to stop the sd waggons. I desired him to send for Mr Elliott, the Q. Master at that station, informing him that I was waiting for waggons to remove the Stores, he immediately sent off a Servant to Mr Elliott. I then told him I should go to a tavern near, & desired him to send for me when the Q. Master or the waggons come to the office. Having rode a horse that nearly gave out before I got to Petersburg I was greatly fatigu’d. When I got to the above mentioned tavern I went to a bed and lay down, and fell asleep and probably slept two or three hours, when I awoke I went to the office. Col: Carrington was there, and had sent off several waggons loaded with stores. I met the sd waggons as I went to the office. Col. Carrington told me he should inform against me. I told him he was very welcome to do so. He then gave me orders that he had received from you, to proceed to the Countys of Isle White (sic) & South Hamton: which I did & rode the whole night. Thus Sir, you have all the circumstances relative to that business that I can remember. The informer (which I suppose to be Col. Carrington) is much mistaken about the time of my geting to Petersburg. I was there before him.”
“The post I now hold as Commissary of Military Stores seems to have many directors, more than one man can possibly please. I therefore from this moment resign the said post.”
” I am with much Esteem Sir,
Your most Ob’ & very humble servant.”
William’s resignation as Commissary of Military Stores was accepted by Thomas Jefferson on the 20th of January. He did not, however, leave the service of his country until 1781.
The war was effectively over in October of 1781 and we find William back in King William County with 265 acres listed on the land tax records in 1782. Additionally, he paid tax on nine slaves and one poll tax. William signed a petition, dated 6 June 1783, from the citizens of Hanover Co. to deny citizenship to tories, or those who had supported the British Crown.
William is mentioned in Meade’s Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia as a lay delegate from St. David’s Parish in King William County to the Convention of the Episcopalian Church in 1786 and 1787. This church was the daughter of the Church of England. He seems like he was a spiritual man who took his faith seriously.
By 1787, William’s property in King William had increased to 473 acres. He paid a tithe on just himself, so we know that he had no children over the age of sixteen. He had fifteen slaves, eight horses, and twenty-two cattle. His older brother, Benjamin still had his 615 acres, one white male between the ages of 16 and 21, probably one of his sons, twenty-five slaves, ten horses, forty-two cattle, and one chair carriage. Both of these men could read and write and both took and active part in the politics of the day. Clearly, this was a well-to-do, educated family.
In 1790, William Spiller petitioned the House of Delegates “setting forth, that he was a commissary of stores during the late war, and hath received for his services a general warrant on the treasury not payable out of any particular fund; and praying that provision may be made for the payment thereof.” The Delegates decided that was a reasonable petition and said his warrant should be paid out of the aggregate fund.
Hening’s The Statutes at Large contains a reference to William Spiller involving a deceased free negro man named Preamble who had been a resident of King William County. Preamble left the management of his estate to William Spiller, asking him to purchase and emancipate Abraham, a slave belonging to Benjamin Temple. Abraham was Preamble’s son. Spiller had purchased Abraham and then had to petition the Assemble to pass a law authorising his emancipation. The law stated, “That the said negro man slave Abraham, shall be free in as full and ample a manner, as if he had been born free.” His daddy must have been very happy.
While William did not mind purchasing and freeing a slave at the direction of said slave’s father, he also did not mind owning several slaves of his own. Perhaps he was as conflicted as Thomas Jefferson about the issue of slavery; knowing it to be wrong and yet not knowing how to survive without it. At any rate, in 1797 William owned fourteen slaves. He was paying only one tithe, indicating that none of his sons was over the age of sixteen yet. He still had his 473 acres.
It seems that it was sometime near the end of the 1780’s or the very early 1790’s William married. A bit late in life, it seems and possibly he was married twice but I have uncovered no evidence of it. I have found a copy of Colin C. Spiller’s family Bible online at the Library of Virginia website. Colin was one of the sons of this William Spiller. This Bible does not give the date William married but does state that he married Catherine Wright Turner, daughter of James Turner and Orianna Russell. I struggled over who belonged in this family, but the following record helped considerably.
Reports of Select Cases Decided in the Court of Appeals of Kentucky During the Year 1833, Vol. I, Dana, James G., 1834.
pp. 170-171 “Chancery – Haskins and others against Spiller Spring Term 1833, from The Circuit Court For Green County.
April 22. Judge Nicholas delivered the Opinion of the Court.
In March, 1797, William Spiller, a citizen of Virginia made his will whereby he devised to each of his four then children, a tract of land, by name; gives to his wife, in the event of her marrying again, a tract of three hundred acres in Kentucky, some furniture, and one fifth part of his stock ; and lends her, during life, certain slaves; but in case she did not marry, it was his desire that his estate should be kept together, for the support of her and all his children, until they successively attained twenty one years, or married, “when I wish all my slaves (except the one given to my daughter Mary) may be equally divided among them and my wife, allotting her an equal proportion with each of them.” And so on, as they successively attained twenty one, or married; “and the part allotted my wife is to be equally divided, at her death, among all my children. All my property not specifically devised, as also what I have lent to my wife, I design, may be equally divided among all my children, at her death.”
“In 1799, George A. Spiller, a son of the testator, was born, and in 1800, the testator died.
Among the tracts so devised, was one in Kentucky, to B. C. Spiller, who having sold and conveyed to sundry persons, this suit in chancery was brought, by George A. Spiller, against them, asserting claim to a portion thereof, as a pretermitted child of the testator . . .” The upshot of this case was that George was indeed entitled to his share in his father’s estate and one-fifth of what his brother B. C. Spiller had inherited and sold.
At any rate, this tells me: 1) By 1797 William had four children who were under twenty-one and he had his fifth child in 1799. 2) One of his children was daughter named Mary. 3) His youngest son was George A. Spiller. 4) One of his sons was B.C. Spiller, and 5) William himself died in 1800. Certainly, this fills in a lot of blanks for us, especially when we couple it with this entry in Virginia Soldiers of 1776 which reads: “4 Apl. 1831. The heirs all’d Land Bounty for 1 years service in addition to what had been heretofore allowed, for William Spiller’s service as a Captain in the Virginia State Line. John Floyd, King William County, 22 Nov 1833 certified that William H., Collins C. and George H. Spiller are the only surviving and legal heirs of William Spiller, deceased.” Now we know that he also had sons William H. and Colin C. Spiller. From the court enty we can see that George is actually George A., not George H. Spiller.
We find a record of a deed from Thomas Batchelder & Catherine his wife to Catherine Spiller, adjoining the estate of William Spiller, dated 1805. The 1810 census of King William County lists William Spiller’s estate with one white tithe over the age of sixteen (this was most likely William H. Spiller, who seems to have been the eldest son), eighteen slaves, nine horses, and one charriot carriage. The 1815 Directory of King William County Land Owners states that the estate of William Spiller was located twelve miles west of the King William County Courthouse and that his widow was still living there.
The Richmond (Virginia) Enquirer carried death notices for several of these children. Beginning on 11 July 1826 we find this notice: “Died- On June 18, at her mother’s residence in King William County, Mary Spiller, only daughter of the late Major William Spiller.” Her mother was still living at this time, since she died at her mother’s residence.
The November 13th issue of 1827 carried the following announcement: “Died- At his residence in King William County, on Thursday, Sep 20, in his 23rd year, Benjamin C Spiller, a lawyer.” I am assuming this is the B.C. Spiller who sold the land in Green County, Kentucky. If he was indeed just twenty-three, he would have been born in 1804, making either his age incorrect or that he was the B.C. Spiller referred to above an incorrect assumption.
We saw that in 1831 the remaining three sons applied for additional bounty land, which they were granted, but not until 1835 or 1836, as seen in the following: Veterans received bounty land warrants for their service. They had to turn in the warrants to get scrip which could be turned in for land. “Only Virginia veterans whose heirs received scrip are included in the list. Those who were alive . . . or who had transferred their warrants to others have been omitted.”
Spiller, William, Capt State Line, pp. 181, 194; 1835-1836, heirs: George A. (deceased), William H. and Colin C.” George A. Spiller’s death notice was in Richmond Enquirer’s July 24th 1832 issue.
Next up, the children of William and Catherine Turner Spiller.
1. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, Heitman, p. 511.
2. Calendar of Virginia State papers and other Manuscripts: 1652-1781, Vol. I, Palmer, editor.
3. Old New Kent County [Virginia] Some Account of the Planters, Plantations, and Places, Harris, Vol. I p. 896, 897.
4. Virginia Taxpayers 1782 Other than those published by the US Census Bureau, Fothergill & Naugle, p. 118
5. Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, Volume 1, Meade, p. 380
6. 1787 Tax List King William County, Virginia
7. Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1790, p.47.
8. The Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, William Waller Hening, p. 619-620.
9. 1797 Personal Property Tax List King William Co., Virginia, p. 14
10. 1797 Land Tax List, King William Co., Virginia
11. Richmond Enquirer, July 11, 1826. (p. 3, c. 5).
12. Richmond Enquirer, November 13, 1827, (p. 3, c. 5).
13. Richmond Enquirer, July 24, 1832, (p. 3, c. 6).
14. Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 2, p. 110
15. Reports of Select Cases Decided in the Court of Appeals of Kentucky During the Year 1833, Vol. I, Dana, James G., 1834.