Early Land, Court and Church Records for the Northcross Family in Virginia –

The earliest mention uncovered by this researcher of a Norcross/Northcross in Virginia was found in Cavaliers and Pioneers, Vol. 3, 1695-1732 compiled by Nell Marian Nugent. She records that in March of 1725, when William Jones purchased 150 acres of land in Surry county, it was adjacent to land belonging to Richard NORCROSS. Then, on October 31, 1726, Richard NORCROSS purchased 100 acres in Surry County, “on the south side of the Nottoway River, in the fork of the Spring Swamp” for 10 shillings. This is recorded in Grant Book #13. On the evidence of all future land purchases, court records, and church records I would claim that this was actually Richard NORTHcross.

On March 23, 1733, there was the purchase of 430 acres of land in Surry County by Richard NORTHCROSS, described as including “both sides of Spring Branch, South side of Swamp”, from John Stokes. Following this purchase, on March 7, 1738/9, William Jordan, James Washington, and John Andrews were witnesses to the deed of Richard Norcross to William Rowland for land south of the Nottoway River. The deed was recorded three days later.

On January 12, 1746, Richard Northcross was granted 338 acres on the south side of Nottaway River “beginning at William Atkeisons corner pine” (Land Patent Book 25). This was also in Surry county, Virgina and cost Richard 35 shillings. Surry County Deed Book 5 records that on November 12, 1747 “Richard Northcross and wife, Mary Northcross of Albemarle Parish” sold 238 on north side of Spring Swamp to Henry Adkeison for 37 pounds. The following deed, made the 13th of November 1747, records the sale of 100 acres to John Eaton “son in law to the said Richard Northcross“. This same deed records the name of Richard’s wife again as Mary.

“This Indenture made the thirteenth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & forty seven Between Richard Northcross of Surry County of the one part and John Eaton, son in Law to the said Richard, of the other part Witnesseth That the said Richard Northcross for divers causes & considerations him thereunto moving but more Especially for and in Consideration of the Sum of Ten Pounds Current Money to him in hand paid the Receipt whereof he doth hereby Acknowledge hath given granted made over and confirmed and doth by these presents Give grant make over and confirm unto the said John Eaton one Certain Tract or Parcel of Land _____ lying or being on the North side of the Spring Swamp in the County of Surry Containing one hundred acres more or less and bounded as followeth, to wit, Beginning at a white Oak on Powells line, thence up the North side of the Swamp to the mouth of Peters branch, thence up the North side of the branch to a Corner Pine of the said Northcross’s land, thence due East to a Corner of Edward Powells Land thence along the said line to the Beginning. To have hold possess and enjoy the said Hundred Acres of Land with all Rights priviledges and Improvements thereunto belonging unto the said John Eaton & to his Heirs or assigns for ever and the said Richard Northcross for himself and his Heirs doth Covenant Promise and Agree to & with the said John Eaton that the Right & Title of the said Land against all & every person or persons he & they will warrant and forever by these presents _____ and maintain unto the said John Eaton & to his Heirs and Assign forever In Withness T__hereof the said Richard Northcross hath hereunto to set his hand seal the day and year above Written
Sign’d Seal’d & Deliver’d
In the presence of Richard Northcross. SS
John Bell
Edward Powell
Richard Northcross (his mark)
At a Court held for Surry County
the 17th Day of November 1747
“This indenture was acknowledged by the thereto subscribed, Richard Northcross and by the Court Order’d to be Recorded and Mary wife of the said Richd personally appear’d in Court & being privily Examined freely Relinquished her Right of Dower of & in the thereby Convey’d Land & Premises
Aug Claiborne Clk”

It is unclear at this point who John Eaton may have married. It could have been Hannah, Abigail, or Tabitha or another unnamed Northcross woman. Someone told me John Eaton’s wife was named Rosanna, but I have been unable to verify that. He moved to Lunenburg County before 10 May 1754 and sold this land to John Atkinson. Note that a Richard Northcross signed this deed as a witness. Richard could not have been witness to his own signature, therefore there must have been two Richard Northcrosses. I hope you will agree the second Richard was son to the first.

In 1750, Richard Northcross acquired 229 acres on the “S. side of the Nottoway River and Blazes Branch, adjacent to Henry Atkins, John Eaton, and William Smith” for 25 shillings (Land Patent Book 30, p. 202). In August of 1851 Richard Northcross sold what appears to be this same land to Richard Cocke, a judge in Surry County, for 25 pounds, 10 shillings and 10 pence to be paid by January 10th of the following year. As Mary is not mentioned in this deed, can we assume that she had died or possibly that this was a transaction by Richard, Jr. ? (Surry County Deed Book 6, page 277)

When Sussex County was formed in 1754 from Surry County the land that Richard owned was in the new county.

“Sussex County [was] named after Sussex County in England. First settlements in Sussex County appeared just before 1700 when settlers started to move west and south across the Blackwater River from Surry County and other counties in the Tidewater Region of Virginia . . .The county is located in the Coastal Plain region of Virginia about 45 miles southeast of Richmond, 60 miles northwest of Norfolk and 25 miles miles from the tri-cities area of Petersburg, Hopewell and Colonial Heights. Sussex is 496 square miles (317,400 acres) in size and three rivers (Blackwater River, Nottoway River, and Stony Creek) lie within it’s boundaries.” (from the Sussex County Historical Society)

The Order Books of both the Sussex County Court and the Surry County court contain the same references to Richard Northcross, Sr., Richard Northcross, Jr., and Thomas Northcross. They seem to be referencing the same cases in both counties, most likely because this is the time frame when Sussex County was forming and so the cases got recorded in both jurisdictions. The earliest mention found in this source was in May of 1754 when Richard Northcross, along with Samuel Northington, William Rowland, and/or John Atkins, was to appraise the estate of Richard Rose, deceased.

On November 18, 1753 there was a suit where John Atkeison was the plaintiff against James Jones for some 37 plus pounds of tobacco “being the balance due after deducting what appears to be in the Guarnishees (sic) hands . . . Francis Epes, Richard Northcross junior, & William Banks are severally made Garnishes”. [A garnishment is issued to notify a third party that money or property in his or her hands but belonging to a defendant has been seized by legal writ.] Richard Jr. was ordered in October of 1754 to make a payment of “nine shillings and three pence half penny . . towards satisfying his debt and costs . . .” The book Sussex County, Virginia Will Books A-F 1754-1806 (compiled by William Lindsay Hopkins p. 36) which is a transcription of Sussex County Will Book “B” 1764-1771 (p.151) has the following entry regarding “The account of the estate of Capt. William Gilliam for Capt. James Jones (which) shows payments to . . . Richard Northcross . . . on 17 March 1768”, possibly to satisfy the debt of Jones to Northcross over this.

On October 14, 1754 Richard Northcross was the defendant in a suit brought by John Maclin

“on an attachment Obtained by the plaintiff against the Estate of the said Defendant he being about to remove himself and effects out of this County and so absconds that the Ordinary process of Law cannot be served on him. This day came the plaintiff by his attorney and the Defendant although solumnly called came not but made default and John Shands one of the Constables of the County having made return that by Virtue of the said Writ to him directed he had attached the Crop of Corn & fother [sic] of the said Defendant at two plantations and also his Crop of tobacco and the Plaintiffs demand amounting to four pounds nineteen shillings being proved to be just Therefore it is Consider’d that he recover the same of the s___ defendant and his Costs by him in this behalf expended to be Levied of the same . . . it is ordered that the Sherif [sic] make Sale thereof by way of public Auction for ready money and return the same to the next Court.”

It is not stated if this is the senior or the junior Richard. In November of that same year the case again came before the court. The court “again ordered the Sherif sell the same by way of public aucion [sic]”. In December the Sherif had “sold the estate attached for four pounds twelve shillings and a penny.” It was ordered that he pay the whole amount to the plaintiff.

Richard Northcross was also the defendant in that same court session in a suit brought by Nathaniel Harrison, Esq. “In Debt. The defendant not being arrested on the motion of the plaintiff by his attorney an Alias Capias is awarded him against the said defendant.” (The writ of capias ad respondendum ordered the sheriff to arrest a defendant in a civil case for appearance in court to answer the plaintiff’s declaration. The Alias Capias is the second issuance of a capias after the original had gone without answer.) Another reference to this suit in November of 1754 refers to this Richard as being Richard Northcross senior and possibly deceased as Nathaniel Harrison was awarded 7 pounds 2 pence half penny and costs “against the estate of the defendant” Richard Northcross, Sr. It does not seem as if Harrison collected this debt however as in 1754 and 1755 the case came before the court and each time was “discontinued for want of prosecution”.

In the autumn of 1755 there is a reference to a Thomas Northcross, defendant in a case where he owed 3 pounds 11 shilling 1 3/4 shillings “due on account”. Judgement was for the plaintiff for the amount due plus costs with a lawyer’s fee. This is the only reference that I have found for Thomas of this generation, aside from his mention in the Albemarle Parish book.

These references to a Richard, Sr. and a Richard, Jr. clearly indicate that there were two Richards, one the father of the other. Also, the time frame for which records of an adult Richard Northcross exist seem to be quite large for one man’s lifetime. That is, for Richard to have been an adult in 1725 and still living in 1802 is a long lifetime by any standards, let alone for the rough existence on what was essentially the frontier in Colonial Virginia. I would propose then that there were two Richard Northcrosses. Richard the father was married to a woman named named Mary, possibly the mother of Richard, Jr. He appears to have had some difficulty with debt management. The Richard that was the son was married to a woman named Jane, whose last name was most likely Cragg. He was mentioned in reference to the one suit in the Order Books of Sussex and Surry County and seems to have decided that his father’s sins would not be visited upon him for he appears to have steered clear of unpaid debts for the rest of his life. It is my guess that Richard, Sr. was also the father of James Northcross who died in July of 1763 and the Thomas Northcross mentioned in the suit above and as a godfather in Albemarle Parish Records. This is definitely not proven at this point. It is also possible that James and Thomas were brothers, cousins or uncles of Richard, Senior. Richard, Sr. and Mary Northcross also had a least one daughter who married a man named John Eaton.

On August 20, 1760 Richard Northcross was granted 158 acres of land in Russell county on the south side of Nottoway River down the Sour Wood branch, adjoining Henry Atkins, Edward Powell, William Cragg, William Rachel, and Lidia Weathers. The cost was 20 shillings. (Virginia Land Patent Book 33) Most likely, this is Richard Junior, who by that time was married to William Cragg’s daughter, Jane.

In Register of Albemarle Parish, Surry and Sussex Counties, Virginia , originally recorded by the Rev. William Willie, transcribed and edited by Gertrude Richards, Richard Northcross is listed as the godfather of (D)rury Atkinson, “s. of Wm. Atkinson and his wife Winnifred” whose christening took place on September 30, 1744 (p. 19). Given the year, this could have been either the Senior Richard or the Junior. In September of 1749 Richard is once again called upon to serve as godparent for Selah Atkinson, “d. of John Atkinson and his wife Lucy”. One of her godmothers was Tabitha Northcross. Tabitha’s exact relationship with the two Richards is unknown at this time. Beginning in 1748 we find a “Thos. Northcross” serving as godfather to “Seymour s. of Edward Powell and his wife Mary”. In 1749 Thomas Northcross was again asked to serve as godfather, this time to both “Richard s. of Wm. Wiggins and his wife Agnes” and “Jones s. of Amos Nusom and his wife Agnes”. The final entry for Thomas is in 1752 when he was godfather to “Elizabeth d. of Wm. Longbottom and his wife Mary”. Stating the obvious, it is most likely that Thomas and Richard, Jr. were brothers, but could have been uncle and nephew or even cousins. This Thomas appears long before either of Richard’s sons named Thomas were born.

There was a William Wren Northcross whose christening was recorded in the parish register with William listed as the “s. of Hannah Northcross” (p. 238). No date of birth was given, just his christening date of September 14, 1760. It is not known whether he was an orphan who was adopted by Hannah or an illegitimate son. There was a Wren family living in the area, possibly William was an orphaned child whom Hannah adopted or Hannah was his biological mother. It is known that the Rev. William Willie did not deny the sacrament of baptism to illegitimate children. In 1782 William Renn Northcross purchased fifty acres of land in Mecklenburg county for sixteen pounds (Mecklenburg Deed Book 6, p. 219). This is the only land purchase I have uncovered for him. William Renn Northcross married a woman named Frances Hatsell (have seen this Hatchel in unofficial records) in Mecklenburg county on March 4, 1786. I have found no further mentions of him.

Other mentions of Northcross family members in this Parish register include: RICHARD, husband of Jane, who would be the Richard Northcross, Junior spoken of in the civil cases discussed above; THOMAS, who seemed to have collected godchildren, perhaps because he had none of his own; JAMES who served as godfather to Susanna Northcross as well as to “Richard s. of John Boush and his wife Margt” in 1751; ABIGAIL, one of Susanna’s godmothers; HANNAH who was also godmother to Susanna Northcross, the Richard Boush mentioned above, “Sarah d. of Charles Wood and his wife Dorothy” and the mother of William Wren Northcross; TABITHA, of whom no other record is found; and JANE, who was Richard’s wife. Tabitha and Abigail may be wives of Thomas and James, or sisters of Thomas, James and Richard. It is impossible to tell at this point. Hannah seems to be a sister, but it is possible that she is the widow of an unnamed brother.

Jane Northcross, wife of Richard, seems most likely to have been Jane Cragg the daughter of William Cragg who died 1760 in Sussex. His will, written April 25, 1760 and proven August 15, 1760, lists daughters Mary Cragg and Jane Northcross. Most of the estate was left to Mary, presumably because she was unmarried and had no one to support her. If Mary did not survive, Jane was to inherit the entire estate. Executors were Edward Eppes, John Moss and David Mason. Mary Craig later married William Parsons and moved to North Carolina. There is no evidence that Richard’s wife was Jane Stratton and it seems rather unlikely that there was a third Richard Northcross who had a wife named Jane who was in fact named Jane Stratton. There was a Jane Stratton in the Norcross family of New Jersey. That Jane was the daughter of Mark Stratton and his wife Ann Hancock. She married Joshua Norcross on April 10, 1754 in New Jersey. She died in 1766 in Burlington County, New Jersey. We are quite certain of these facts because her Bible, given to her by her father, is still in the possession of family members and it records these facts, as well as the births of her children, her husband’s remarriage after her death, etc. (Joshua Norcross was the father of Samuel Norcross who was the father of William and Nelson Norcross who moved to Virginia ca. 1820 and who are the subject of most of this book.) We know that the Jane married to Richard Northcross did not die until 1804. We also know that William Cragg/Craig owned land adjacent to the land of Richard Northcross in Sussex county as evidenced by this entry in Sussex County Deed Book D 1768-1772 (p.327) dated 16 Mar 1771….Edward Slate and wife, Sarah Slate, to Absolum Underwood for 23 pounds… “150 acres on Poplar Swamp and bounded by William Craig on the Long Branch Richard Northcross, Michael Weaver and William Richardson on the north prong of the Poplar Swamp”. Land was bought by Edward Slate from Joseph Smith. Rec 21 Mar 1771. The 158 acre land grant in 1760 to Richard that was referenced above also lists William Cragg as a neighbor.

Incidentally, for those who are interested, The Albermarle Parish Register by Rev. William Willie lists the following, with the spelling usually being Cragg but once listed as being Craig.

p. 68 Susanna d. of Wm Cragg & w. Susanna b, Aug 26, c. Oct 19, 1740
p. 112 Mary d. of Wm Cragg & w. Susanna b. Sept 13, c. Oct 30, 1743
p. 133 Sarah d. of Wm Craig & w. Susanna b. Sept 9, 1745/6, c. April 20, 1746
p. 218 Mary d. of Wm Cragg & w. Susanna b. July 15, c. Sept 18, 1748
deaths, all from p. 310
Wm Cragg d. Aug 27, 1747 i. Wm Cragg [i. = informant]
Sarah Cragg d. Sept 3, 1747 i. Wm Cragg
Susanna Cragg d. Sept 5, 1747 i. Wm Cragg “These were his children”

Even though there is no Jane listed, we will go with the assumption that since he calls her his daughter in his will, she was his daughter. It is also worth noting that Richard Northcross and Jane his wife named their first daughter Susanna, which would have been Jane Cragg’s mother’s name.

Taken together these records indicate that there were several adult Northcrosses in the Albemarle Parish area of Virginia, which would include Surry and Sussex counties, as well as Brunswick county in the late 1740’s and early 1750’s. Most likely they were descendants of the older Richard Northcross and Mary, his wife, but we can’t discount the possibility that James and Thomas were siblings of Richard Sr’s. From these various entries we get a picture of a family that was immersed in the life of their community. The elder Richard seemed to have financial woes, as did many planters in early Virginia; even those with extensive land holdings could be “land rich” and yet have little ready cash. Richard, Jr. was involved with the work of the church, with young people, with the purchasing of land and the building of his family.

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2 Responses to Early Land, Court and Church Records for the Northcross Family in Virginia –

  1. V.E.G. says:

    Mary Craig and Robert Parsons are the direct descendant of a hero, Gloria (Parsons) Leonidas. She was a hero who fought against the gunman, but she was shot dead and the gunman took his own life. Leonidas was involved in the relighting of the Statue of Liberty and may the memory be eternal!

  2. spotisadog says:

    I don’t quite know how I missd this comment, but I did. I would love to hear more about this brave woman and the gunman she stood up to. When you have a minute, I hope you will share more.

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