The Wills and Children of Richard Northcross and Jane Cragg Northcross

The Register of Albemarle Parish Surry and Sussex Countyies, Virginia recorded by the Rev. William Willie and transcribed by Gertrude R. B. Richard in 1958 lists the births of several children born to Richard and Jane Northcross. The first recorded is the birth of

“Susanna d. of Richard Northcross and his wife Jane; b. Sept. 10, 1753; christened Jan. 13, 1754; godparents; James Northcross, Abigail Northcross; Hannah Northcross.” (p. 232) Then we have
“Thomas s. of Richard Northcross and his w. Jane; born July 13, 1757, christened Feb. 19, 1758, gdpts Edward Powell, Wm. Hewitt, Henrietta Roper” (p. 136);
“James s. of Richard Northcross and his w. Jane; born Mar. 26, christened June 16, 1765; gdpts Thomas Ezell, Abel Mabry, Phoebe Battle” (p. 142);
“Thomas s. of Richard Northcross and his w. Jane; born Jan. 8, 1767, christened Feb. 21, 1768 gdpts Flood Nicolson, Robt Nicolson, Mary Gibbon” (p. 139);
“Becky d. of Richard Northcross and his w. Jane; born Aug. 11, christened Sept 29, 1771 gdpts George Randall, Sally Woodland, Rebekah Rowland” (p. 199); and finally,
“Ephraim s. of Richard Northcross and his w. Jane; born Aug. 30, christened 1773; gdpts —” (p. 21)

In all likelihood the first child named Thomas passed away, probably after the birth of James, and the second Thomas was a “replacement child”. It was a common practice in that time to give the name of a dead child to a new child born so that the new child “replaced” the one who was taken. We know that no child could replace a dead child, but it was a way to deal with the grief in a time when so many children did not live to adulthood. Many have used the older Thomas as the husband of Hettie Meglamre, but it is more likely the younger one, born in 1767 that was her husband.

Although Frederick Northcross and William Northcross are not mentioned in the Albemarle Parish registry, they are mentioned in their father’s will as his sons (see below) and so they, too, are added to the list of the children of Richard and Jane. Unfortunately, we don’t have birth dates for them.

[A note by the author – There is another transcription of the Albemarle Parish register which was an attempt to put the original transcription in alphabetical order by surname. Several mistakes were made in this newer transcription, with regard to the Northcross family in particular. By checking Gertrude Richard’s original transcription we see that the Peter Northcross mentioned in the second work is actually Peter Poythress. There was no Peter Northcross. Poythress is actually a moderately common name in the Tidewater region of Virginia. William Wren Northcross is added a son of Richard Northcross. A look at the first transcription disproves that, as Richard is not mentioned as his father.]

Richard Northcross lived during an exciting time in our American history. He is listed in DAR Patriot Index as having given patriotic service to the cause of the Revolution and so descendants would be eligible for membership. It is assumed that this would have been a reference to Richard Junior. At least two of Richard’s sons served in the War of 1812. Thomas and William both served in 1st Regiment (ALLEN’S) Virginia Militia. Thomas was a private and William reached the rank of sergeant.

The last mentions found for Richard Northcross were located in Sussex County when he paid taxes in on 1 white over 16, 1 black over 16, and 2 horses on April 24, 1799. He died sometime in early 1802 leaving a will, written in 1792, in Sussex County. It is included here:

Will of Richard Northcross Sussex Co., Virginia Will Book F, 1796-1806

“In the name of God Amen. I Richard Northcross of Albemarle Parish Sussex County being in health of body and sound and disposing mind and memory thanks be to God for the same do in a( ) and ordain this my last Will and testament in form and manner following to wit Imprimis My will and desire is that all my Just debts be paid ~
Item I Give and bequeath to my Son William Northcross the plantation wherein I now live with all the land adjoining with the following bounds to wit beginning at a Mayple in Blazes Branch, the line between Phillip Bailey and myself at the mouth of a small branch thence up the said Small branch to a Persimmion tree at the head of said Small Branch to a willow oak in the Poplar Swamp, the line between the land of Thos Ezell dec’d and myself to him his heirs, and assigns forever, after the marriage or death of his mother.
Item I give and bequeath to my son James Northcross all the land adjoining the Poplar Swamp Beginning at the Willow oak mentioned above, thence up the line of said Swamp to Richard Cockes line thence said line a North course to a lightwood line from thence a new Chopt line nearly on East Course to a pine in the line of the land Given to my son William thence along said line to the Willow oak mentioned begin at being one hundred acres more or less to him his heirs and assigns forever.
Item I give and bequeath to my son Thos Northcross all the land lying between Blazes Branch and the new Chopt line mentioned above, between my sons James & William being one hundred acres more or less, to him, his heirs & assigns forever.
Item I give and bequeath to my Daughters Susanna & Rebeca Northcross one Good feather bed of furniture and if either of them choses to have [leave?] the other, then the one that goes shall pay the other the price of said Bed.
Item I lend my loving wife Jane Northcross during her natural life or Widowhood the plantation where I now live with the Land adjoining, the same as given to my son Wm Northcross, also my negro woman Creessie with all the remains of my estate of any kind or whatsoever found, not before given.
Item my will and desire is that at the marriage or death of my said wife then my negro Woman Cressie to be possessed by my two daughters Susanna & Rebecca and if either of them marries, the single one to keep the Negro and if both should marry I give my said Negro Woman Creessie to be equally divided between my Children to wit James Northcross, Thos Northcross, William Northcross, Susanna Northcross, & Rebecca Northcross to them and their heirs & assigns forever.
Item I lend my two daughters Susanna & Rebecca Northcross the shed part of the House wherein I now live with the Shed House to live in as long as they chose.
I appoint my son Frederick Northcross Executor & my wife Jane Northcross Executrix of this my last will and testament and hereby revoking all the will by me before made as to ( )my hand and seal this 9th day of August 1792.
Witnesses Richard Northcross (his mark) Jordin Richardson, William Grigg, Frederick Grigg Will Proven February 4, 1802”

Richard wrote this will two days after he had given his son Frederick a deed of gift for 330 acres. You can see that perhaps this was a “double portion” that Frederick would have been entitled to as the eldest son. Jane Northcross died in 1804 leaving the following will (recorded in Sussex County Will Book G, p. 167) which mentions only her daughters, Susanna and Rebecca, and son Frederick. This is probably because she was leaving her daughters all that she had and making Frederick the executor because her other living sons had been taken care of in their father’s will.

Will of Jane Northcross

“In the name of God Amen, I Jane Northcross of Sussex County being of a sound and dispossing mind but calling to mind the uncertainty of this mortal life, do make this my last will and testament in the manner and form as followeth IMPRIMIS, I give and bequeath unto my two daughters Susanna Northcross and Rebecca Northcross my stock of cattle, hogs, Etc., and my crop of all kinds to them and their heirs forever. Lastly I appoint my son Frederick Northcross Executor of this my last Will and Testament, In witness whereof I have herein set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty eighth day of September one thousand Eight hundred and seven.*******
Signed and Sealed and delivered in presence of Jane X Northcross. (her mark)
Balaam Mangum
Frederick Northcross
At a court held in Sussex County the 1st day of December 1804, The last Will and Testament of Jane Northcross decd., was presented unto court by Frederick Northcross the executor named. The same was proved by oath of Balaam Magnum one of the subscribing witnesses and ordered to be recorded, and on motion of said Exec. who made oath and gave bond and security according to Law. Certificate is granted him for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.”

Tax, Court and Census records give us the outlines of families of Richard Northcross’ decendants. In all likelihood, Ephraim died before his father’s will was written in 1792 and it has been established that the first Thomas passed away sometime between his birth in 1757 and his namesake brother’s birth in 1767. No records have been found to indicate that daughters Rebecca and Susannah ever married.

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