Henry Worley of Charlotte, Buckingham and Bedford Counties, Virginia

Sarah Ann Worley wrote a letter dated Sept. 24, 1841, Bedford Co., Va., to her brother Joshua Worley. Joshua Worley had moved from Virginia circa 1832 to follow his love to Missouri. Thomas Thornhill and his wife, Lucy Taylor Strange Thornhill, left Virginia with a small group of families. Joshua apparently had a longing in his heart for the Thornhill’s daughter, Mary. Joshua accompanied the group, invited or uninvited, and according to a descendant of Joshua’s, her father allowed them to marry along the way, in a small town before they reached the Virginia border. This letter was posted here, but after first being given permission to publish the letter, descendants asked that it be removed. The letter has been deleted from this post, but my conclusions about the family remain.

Sarah Ann and Joshua Worley were the children of Henry Worley and his wife, Susan. A reading of the letter reveals that she calls Rainey Worley their uncle. That would make Rainey and Henry brothers. Since the father of Rainey, or Reynard or Rane or Rain or any of several spellings, has tentatively been identified as Joseph Worley, I will go make the assumption that Henry Worley was also a son of Joseph Worley. This is a best guess, NOT a proven fact. See Joseph Worley of Goochland, Charlotte, and Campbell Counties for more on Joseph Worley.

Other siblings of Henry and Reynard include Reverend Joshua Worley, Daniel Worley, and Rhoda Worley. Rhoda would be the only proven child of Joseph. He was identified as her father when he gave his consent for her marriage to Moses Worley in 1789. Joseph also gave surety for the marriage bond of Daniel Worley and Rachel Copeland in 1787. That marriage did not take place, but in 1788 Rachel’s father finally gave his permission for them to marry. Joshua and ‘Revey’ Worley were witnesses to his permission and Joshua performed the marriage ceremony. See Joshua Worley of Charlotte and Bedford Counties for more on Joshua Worley.

Sarah Ann also mentioned an “oldest” brother and two elder sisters living in Buckingham County, a sister named Polly still at home, as well as three aunts living nearby. The older brother is believed to be Nehemiah Worley. Buckingham is one of Virginia’s ‘burned’ counties, meaning that the courthouse burned along with all or most of the records, so if these women were married in Buckingham County finding who they married will be difficult, if not impossible.

Henry Worley, father of the children mentioned in this letter, made his first appearance in public records in 1788 and 1789, paying personal property tax in Campbell Co., Virginia. Since this was the first mention we find for him, we can assume he was close to 21 years or a bit older, giving him a year of birth of 1767 or earlier. Joseph Worley, presumed father of Henry, was also paying his tax in Campbell County in 1788.

Henry moved to Charlotte County by 1794 and paid taxes there until 1798, along with Daniel and Joshua Worley, who, as mentioned, are thought to have been his brothers. These are the only Worleys in these counties during these years. Henry went missing for two years and then he reappeared in 1801, 1802, and 1803. Joshua and Rainey Worley are also found in this county during these three years and the 1803 tax list also included Daniel Worley.

Henry moved back to Campbell County in 1807 and stayed there until 1813, when he moved to Buckingham County. Henry remained in Buckingham until 1819, probably living in the border area between Buckingham and Campbell County. Henry and his family were listed on the 1820 census living in Campbell County. There were two boys and four girls. The boys have tentatively been identified as Joshua, ten to sixteen years old, and Nehemiah, sixteen to eighteen years old. Henry and his wife were both listed as being over forty-five. Henry was listed on the same page with David Alvis. The two youngest girls would be Sarah Ann and Polly, mentioned in the letter above. The two oldest would be the “eldest sisters” mentioned.

Nehemiah Worley, believed, but not proven, to have been, a son of this Henry began paying property tax in Buckingham County in 1823, giving him a year of birth of 1802, if he had just turned twenty-one. He married Mary Alvis, the daughter of their neighbor, David Alvis, in Campbell County, the day after Christmas 1825. Henry and Nehemiah Worley are the only Worley’s in Campbell County, Virginia from Henry’s first appearance on the tax rolls in 1807 until an Edmund Worley appears in 1842.

During the 1820’s, Henry Worley and his family bounced back and forth between Buckingham and Campbell Counties. He was listed in the 1830 census residing in Buckingham. Henry’s age was given as between sixty and seventy years (possibly a mistake), his wife was between fifty and sixty, and they had six girls, a boy, and another man living with them. The two oldest girls have been tentatively identified as Sarah Ann and Mary or Polly. They were between ten and fifteen years of age. There were two girls between five and ten, and two young girls under five. The man was twenty to thirty and the boy was also under five. A possible explanation cold be that this was Nehemiah living with his parents. The youngest children could have belonged to him. In 1850, Nehemiah’s wife’s name was given as Jane. His first wife, Mary Alvis Worley, may have died and he returned home for help with his children. THIS IS JUST SPECULATION. There are so few records for early Buckingham County that speculation is often the only way to construct a family tree for the families that lived there.

Henry appeared off and on on the Buckingham County tax lists during the 1830’s. Then, in 1840 he turns up in the northern area of Bedford County, just a couple of census pages away from his brother, Rainey. Henry’s family had three women in the twenty to thirty age range; one woman in the thirty to forty group; a man, aged forty to fifty; a man (this one probably Henry) aged sixty to seventy; and a female in the eighty to ninety age range. We know from the letter mentioned in the beginning paragraph that the family of Henry Worley is living in Campbell County again in 1841 on the Poindexter farm. Sarah Ann’s letter, dated September 24, 1841, stated that Mr. Poindexter had just died. Bedford County records show that Samuel Poindexter, Sr. died on the 18th of Sept. 1841.

The 1850 census of Bedford County, Virginia finally gives us some names for the women of this household. We find that Henry must have died before the census was taken and his wife, Susan Worley was listed as age eighty, born in Virginia, occupation pauper. Sally, or Sarah Ann, was thirty. Polly, mentioned in Sarah Ann’s letter, was thirty-three, and there was a fourth girl, Betsy, aged twenty-seven. Surely she was too young to have been the daughter of eighty year old Susan! But to whom does she belong?

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2 Responses to Henry Worley of Charlotte, Buckingham and Bedford Counties, Virginia

  1. Tami says:

    I would like a copy of the letter that was taken off this site As Sarah Worley is my 6th Great Grand Aunt

  2. Glenda Walker says:

    Thank you for sharing this information about the Worley family. It is so helpful for those of us who are Worley descendants. You are very generous.

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