Who Were the Richard Ballards (Bullards) Active in Virginia Trade in the 17th Century?

To our knowledge, no one has tried to place the various Richard Ballards (Buller, Bullerd) who appear in the earliest Virginia records.  We’ve looked at the problem occasionally, and felt it worthwhile to have another look.  The records are scant.  Unfortunately, rather than reaching a conclusion, what follows is a collection of records that name individuals who may be related, and with further study perhaps relationships might be teased out.  Or not.  The records below span a great period of time and we are not suggesting that they are the same person, or even related.  We present this because a name or place might suggest a connection or an avenue to explore, and a reader may notice something that escaped this compiler.  So if you recognize something, do share the information.

First we turn to the land patents, which most researchers know should be looked at with care, because of the abuses that accompanied their issue.


Richard Bullerd and a Thomas Bullerd are listed in a patent taken 20 September 1654 by Col. Humphrey Higginson and Abraham Moone.

Col. Hump. Higgenson & Abraham Moone, 2,000 Westmoreland Co., on S. side of Petomeck Riv. & S.W. side of a N.W. branch knows Ohoquin Riv., 20 Sept. 1654, p. 302.  Beg. at a swamp dividing this & land of Col. Thomas Burbage.  Trans. of 40 per: Mrs. Hegginson, Susan Russell, Tho. Own, Do. Hanerly, Robt. Ornery, Wm. Price, Duntan (or Duncan) Grey, John Wooles, Eliz. Hutton, Tho. Riley, Wm. Whetstone, Ja. Wmson. (Williamson), Lucy Philips, Tho. Potbellied, Tho. Clear, Peter Hargrove, John Meares, And. Buttler, John Orton, Nich. Limbos, Rich. Sarson, Eliz. Jury, Dan Rouse, Eliz. Barne, Rich. Bullerd, Tho. Bullerd, Wm. Furbusher, Negroes: John, Kate, Thom., Jeny, Betty, Ann, Humphry, Franke, Mow., Sugar, Mihill, John & Madge.   Nell Marion Nugent, Cavaliers and Pioneers, Vol. I (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983), p. 298.

The most interesting thing about this particular patent is it may show a couple of headrights claimed from one of the rare surviving passenger ship lists enumerated in John Camden Hotten’s The Original Lists of Persons of Quality, 1600-1700 (London, 1874).  One of the lists is for a voyage by the ship George dated 21 August 1635, commanded by Jo: Severne that departed Gravesend.  Among the names enumerated (and their ages) are Humfrey Higginson (age 28), Tho: Bullard (age 32), and Ann Higginson (age 25).  This is likely an example of an immigrant stockpiling headrights and using them at a later date to assemble a large parcel of land, assuming the headrights awarded in 1635 were not used until 1654 — 19 years later.

Abraham Moone had dealings with Thomas Ballard of James City County, when on 15 October 1657, he obtained a patent for 600 acres “on South Peanketanke”, which was assigned to Ballard by Abraham Moon (who had patented the land on 1 November 1634).  This transaction was further acknowledged in the York records, where by an instrument dated 24 August 1655 and recorded 20 December 1655, Abraham Moone assigns 600 acres (“lying & being in Pyanketanke & on the head of Pyanketanke River, granted by Edward Diggs, Esq., Gov.”) To Tho: Ballard. “Acknowledged by Abraham Moone at the Court House before Major Wm. Barber, Mr Jerom Ham & Mr Gyles Moody, & afterwards re-acknowledged the same day before several other persons August the 24th 1655 being the same day wherein itt was assigned to me. Test: Tho: Ballard, Cl. Curia.” Ballard appears to have taken pains to avoid the appearance of impropriety. York Co. Va. Deeds, Orders, Wills No. 1, p. 275.

Some researchers have speculated that this Thomas Bullard was the father of Thomas Ballard of James City County, but there simply is no proof to support it.  Thomas Ballard of James City County, given his family connections (being a member of the Governor’s Council and an intimate of Sir William Berkeley, for example), and the fact that he arrives on the scene in 1652 in the lucrative position of Clerk of York County, a position he held for 11 years., among others.


A Richard Ballard is listed as a headlight in a patent issued to a Thomas Busbie (Busby) on 14 January 1656.

Thomas Busbie (Busbie), 400 acs. Surrey Co., 14 Jan. 1656, p. 49, (73): On S. Side of the Western branch of the head of upper Chippoakes Cr., beg. on Mr. Moseleys line near the path that goes to Mr. Barkers &c. to John Barrows line.  Trans of 8 per: Peeter Spicer, Eliza. Paine, Wm. Gray, Jane Barker, Anth. Hellbent, Tho. Busby, Rich. Ballard, Cicely More.  Nugent, Vol. I, p. 335.


On 25 September 1663, a Mr. Richard Buller patented 1,200 acres.  The location of the patent is uncertain, nor is it clear if the land was ever seated.

Mr. Richard Buller, 1200 [acres] lie in in New begin Creeke, beg. at the mouth of Doctors Cr., running up the first mentioned Cr. &c., together with a small Island against the mouth of Doctors Cr.  25 Sept. 1663, p. 101 (595).  Trans. of 24 per: Math. Smith, Artick Slatter, Joane Risding, Richard Ward, John Carey, Hester Sarkese, Robt. Mason, James Cranedge, Thomas Horne (or Herne), Robt. Mason, Henry Warner, Thomas Turvor, John Mathews, John Pargetor, Sense Johnson, And. Armstrong, Dorothy Bankes, Tho. Rich, Edward Mosby, Tho. Read, Mary Memorish, Sarah Read, John Tapt, Wm. Sacum.  Nugent, Vol. I, pp. 428-9.


On 3 February 1670, a Mr. Richard Buller took a patent in Henrico County.  Again, it is unclear if the land was ever seated.

Mr. Richard Buller & Mr. Tho. Batts (Batt).  378 A., 1 R., 24 Po., Henrico Co., N. side of Appomattock Riv., against the middle of the Indian towne; beg. at a Spring bottom. adj. George’s field at the river. &c; 3 Feb. 1670, p. 343.  Trans. of 8 per: Jno. Stephens, Ann Williams, Margaret Bumpas, Joan Bishop, Hen. Bennett, Robt. Luddington, Jno. Ellis, Jno. Rosser.  Nugent, Vol. II, p. 89.


Virginia Colonial Records Project – Survey Report No. 10996 – Public Records Office, Class C 24/697 – Court of Chancery

Case of William Holliday v. Joseph Saunders

Interrogatories: Sale of tobacco at Rotterdam

p. 5-14.   Deposition of Richard Ballard – January 23, 1646/7

After his arrest, Holliday asked this deponent to speak to the defendant so that they might come to some sort of arrangement  Saunders maintained that the plaintiff owed him £3,000 but the plaintiff denied this and said he was owed £1,000 by Saunders.  They finally agreed to put the matter to arbitration and before Holliday was discharged he agreed to give a warrant in King’s Bench for £2,500.  Stresses this was not in respect of any money due to the defendant from the complainant.  But the defendant now maintains that it was for a real debt which was false.  Plaintiff then filed a bill in Chancery against the defendant’s opinion and the defendant put in an answer in which he acknowledged that the £2,500 was not given for any real debt.  He later amended it to say that the money was indeed for a just debt.  He now refuses to change his answer.


Virginia Colonial Records Project – Survey Report No. 5868

Port Books; Port of London; Surveyor General of the Subsidy of Tonnage and Poundage; exports of Merchants Indigens and Denizens.  “All goods entered in this Report were destined for Virginia.”

Survey Report p. 4

22 Jan. 1675/6.

In REBECCA: Thos. Larrimore.

5. Rich. Bullard; 2 barrels qt. 1 3/4 cwt. gunpowder; 1 cwt. wro. iron; 4 cwt. birding shot. 8 shillings.


Survey Report p. 5

13 July 1676.


16. Rich. Bullard; 22 pieces qt. 200 goads cottons; 12 series qt. 144 lbs; 6 doz. men’s swollen, 4 doz. men’s worsted hose; 1/2 cwt. haberdashery; 6 bed rugs; 4 doz. felt hats; 12 doz. shoes qt. 120 lbs; 12 small saddles; 2 cwt. hard soap; 1 1/2 cwt. wrk. brass; 6 cwt. wrk. iron; 2 cwt. cheese; 5 cwt. nails; 4 cwt. sugar; 4 bush. salt.  £2.10.1.


Virginia Colonial Records Project – Survey Report No. 6044,

Port of London. English merchant’s imports to London; record made by the Controller of Tunnage and Poundage.  29 Dec. 1677 – 28 Dec. 1678.  “Each entry gave the name of the merchant that of the ship’s master, together with the place where the goods were freighted….The great majority of goods shown in this report were freighted in Virginia, and it is not repeated here. If they come from other places, this is shown.”

Survey Report p. 62 – 8 August 1678

Merchant: Richard Ballard

Ship’s Master: Anthony Gester

Shipped 5,991 pds. tobacco, Subsidy 23.14.3 1/2, Add’l Duty 21.14.8 1/2.


Survey Report p. 69 – 25 August 1678

Merchant: Richard Ballard

Ship’s Master: Anthony Gester

Shipped 2,110 pds. tobacco, Subsidy £8.7.1/2, addl. duty £7.14.6.


What’s to be made of this?  Without additional evidence, it is not prudent to assume that the vagaries of 17th century spelling may mean that these records pertain to the same person.  “Buller,” for example, while possibly a mangled spelling of “Bullard” or “Ballard” must also be acknowledged as a distinct family name.  Without proof that this was simply a mis-spelling, the names must stand as they appear on the page.  For example, we have found instances of road orders in Caroline County, Virginia, where an order lists the property owners along the road and in one instance the name appears, for example, as “George Bullard” in one order, then “George Ballard” in a later one.


There does appear among the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury two wills: one of Richard Ballard, a Merchant in London in 1688, and his son, Robert Ballard, in 1707.  This is not to say that this Richard is the Richard who had dealings in Virginia, or the Richard related to a Thomas, but having the names of associates can help sort all of this out.  Many thanks to Paul Ballard for finding, transcribing and publishing these wills on his Ballard Genealogy & Heraldry website.  For ease of comprehension, each will is broken up into paragraphs.

Please note that we have found no proof that this particular Richard Ballard had dealings in Virginia, or any connection to Virginia.

Will of Richard Ballard, London

Public Record Office, PROB11/392 folio 132 r, Prerogative Court of Canterbury

Dated 8 June 1688, probated 4 August 1688.

This is the last will and testament of me Richard Ballard of London, Merchant.

First and principally I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God my Creator assuredly believing that through the death and passion of Jesus Christ my Saviour and Redeemer I shall have eternal life. As for my body I commit it to the earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my executrixes hereafter named.

And as for and concerning the disposal of such worldly estate as God of his goodness hath given me I give and bequeath the same as followeth.

Imprimis  my will and mind is my personal estate shall be divided into three equal parts one third part whereof I give and bequeath unto my loving wife Mary Ballard in full of all claims and demands due to her out of my estate by any law usage or customs whatsoever.

One other third part thereof I give and bequeath unto my loving children George Ballard Katherine Ballard Robert Ballard and Benjamin Ballard equally to be divided betwixt them in full of all claims or demands which they can or may at any time hereafter have claims or demands out of my personal estate by any law usage or custom whatsoever

[a]nd the other third part of my personal estate after my funeral expenses discharged I will and bequeath unto my said loving wife Mary Ballard to her own proper use

And I make constitute ordain and appoint my said loving wife Mary Ballard and my loving sister Alice Stanford widow executorixes of this my last will and testament.

And lastly I do hereby revoke and make void all former wills by me made at any time heretofore made publishing and declaring this to be my only last will witness my hand and seal this eighth day of June Anno Dmi One thousand six hundred eighty eight and in the fourth year of the reign of King James the second of England etc. Richard Ballard, signed sealed published and declared by the said testator for and as his last will and testament in the presence of William Gittins Anne Watts Hugh Hunt serv.

Probate London 4th August 1688 to Mary Ballard and Alice Stanford


Will of Robert Ballard, Shoreham, Kent

Public Record Office, PROB11/499/337, Prerogative Court of Canterbury

Dated 17 January 1707, probated 5 February 1707.

In the name of God Amen. I Robert Ballard of Shoreham in the county of Kent gentleman being sick and weak in body but of sound and perfect mind and memory (praised be God) do make this my last will and testament in manner following

Imprimis my soul I recommend to Almighty God my body I commit to the earth to be decently but privately buried according to the discretion of my executors hereinafter named and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me my will and mind is and I do <hereby> dispose thereof in manner following.

I will that all such debts as shall be owing from and at the time of my decease shall be well and truly paid and satisfied.

Item I do hereby give and bequeath unto my loving sister Catherine Akehurst wife of Alexander Akehurst of London merchant[i] the sum of  £128 to be paid to her out of the first monies that shall arise or begotten in of my said estate.

Item all my wearing apparel whatsoever and my horse with the saddle bridle and furniture I do hereby give and bequeath unto my loving brother George Ballard of Shoreham aforesaid gentleman.

Item all the rest and residue of my said estate (not before hereby bequeathed) both real and personal whatsoever and wheresoever I do hereby give devise and bequeath unto my said loving brother and sister the said George Ballard and Catherine Akehurst equally share and share alike but my will is touching the personal part of the said last mentioned legacy and bequest that the part and share thereof so by me given and bequeath to my said sister shall be paid and delivered into hands of Mr Nathaniel Maidstone of London merchant and my said brother George Ballard in trust for my said sister to be by them laid out in purchasing an estate to such uses <and> she shall direct and appoint or put out at interest by and with her consent liking and approbation and that her said husband shall not anyways informed or have to do therewith without her consent and I do hereby make and appoint my said brother and sister the said George Ballard and Katherine Akehurst jointly and severally executors of this my last will and testament and do hereby revoke countermand and make void all other wills testaments bequests and legacies by me at anytime heretofore made bequeathed or given and do hereby declare this and no other to be my last will and testament.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the 17th day of January in the sixth year of the reign of our sovereign Lady by the grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland Queen defender of the faith etc. Anno Dmi 1707 – Robert Ballard signed sealed published and declared by the testator Robert Ballard for and as his last will and testament in the presence of – John Gillott– Joseph Sanson – Joseph Skinner

Probate granted in London on the 5th February 1707 to George Ballard and Katherine Akehurst.

[i] Robert had a sister Catherine married to Alexander Akehurst. There is a marriage between Catherine Ballard and Alexander Akehurst 07 AUG 1705 at Lincolns Inn Chapel, Holborn, London, England


Could this Alexander Akehurst be a relation of Daniel Akehurst, a prominent Quaker who divided his time between Virginia and North Carolina?  That’s a connection certainly worth exploring.  What follows below is taken from NCPedia.org.

Daniel Akehurst (c.1653-c.1699)

Daniel Akehurst (Ackhust, Acorst, Akust), colonial official, was born in England, probably in Sussex. He settled in North Carolina in the early 1680s. Akehurst was a devout Quaker and served as a minister much of his life. In 1671 he was seized at a Quaker meeting in Hastings, Sussex, and was fined and imprisoned in “a nasty hole called the Darkhouse” for participating in the meeting. In 1675 he made a missionary trip to New England. Akehurst’s permanent removal to America was associated with his appointment to the North Carolina council as proprietor’s deputy by a fellow Quaker, John Archdale, who had recently bought a proprietorship in Carolina. The appointment was made 26 Mar. 1681. Akehurst arrived in North Carolina at some date before December 1684, by which time he owned a plantation in Pasquotank Precinct. His official position was then only nominal, for John Archdale also had come to the colony and was himself performing the governmental duties he had delegated to Akehurst. It is not certain that Akehurst actively served as council member at any time in the 1680s, although Archdale returned to England in 1686. Of the sparse surviving records of that decade, only one, a will proved before him in 1688, indicates that Akehurst held an office of any sort. His earliest service on the council for which there is clear evidence was in January 1693/94.

At some time after 1 Sept. 1688, Akehurst moved to Warwick County, Va., probably because of the disorders attending the banishment of Governor Seth Sothel. Although Akehurst subsequently returned to North Carolina in active official service, he claimed Warwick County as his residence the remainder of his life.

In early December 1693 Akehurst was at his Virginia plantation preparing to return to North Carolina. By that time the Carolina proprietors were reorganizing the government of their colonies and making other reforms to alleviate the grievances that had led to the earlier disorders. Akehurst was to be secretary of the colony as well as council member in the reorganized government.

By January 1693/94 Akehurst was in North Carolina serving as secretary and council member, positions in which he was active until his death. There is indication, but no clear evidence, that he also served as acting chief executive for brief intervals in early 1694, when Philip Ludwell, then acting governor, was frequently absent from the colony.

As member of the council, Akehurst was ex officio justice of the general court until the fall of 1697, when the composition of the court was changed. He was ex officio justice of the court of chancery throughout his tenure as council member. In 1695 he was appointed deputy collector of customs for Pasquotank and Little River District. In 1696, and probably other years, he was escheator for the colony. In the spring of 1699, he and Henderson Walker were sent to Virginia to settle the long-standing boundary dispute, but the mission failed, when Virginia officials refused to recognize the commissions held by the North Carolina agents. Later that year Akehurst served on a commission to investigate a charge of murder, subsequently found false, brought against a group of Indians.

In private life Akehurst was a planter and attorney. He owned plantations in both Virginia and North Carolina. In the 1690s, however, he did not live on his Pasquotank property but made his North Carolina home on a plantation, leased from John Archdale, on New Begun Creek.

Akehurst was John Archdale’s personal attorney as well as his governmental deputy. He not only handled legal matters for Archdale but also managed the proprietor’s North Carolina properties. Other clients included residents of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Bermuda as well as North Carolinians.

Akehurst was active in Quaker affairs in both Virginia and North Carolina. He was associated with the Little River Monthly Meeting in North Carolina and with the Warwick River meetings in Virginia. In 1698 and 1699 he entertained Thomas Story, the English missionary, in his Virginia home, where Story preached several times. He accompanied Story on visits to other Virginia meetings, to a number of which Akehurst himself had preached. North Carolina Quakers, in recording Akehurst’s death, paid tribute to the fervor of his ministry among them.

There are minor discrepancies in the records about the date of Akehurst’s death, but it seems clear that he died in Virginia in November or December 1699 or January 1700. Akehurst was survived by his wife, Ann, and a daughter, Philochrista (Filiachristy, Filia). There are indications that Ann was Akehurst’s second wife, but the records are not clear. His first wife may have been a Mary Akehurst who, like Philochrista, was listed without identification among Akehurst’s “transports” when he proved his headrights. No other reference to Mary Akehurst has been found in North Carolina records. Ann, whose name does not appear among the “transports,” seems to have lived chiefly on the Virginia plantation, which appears to have been her own property before her marriage to Akehurst. Philochrista was in North Carolina with her father much of the time. By July 1699 she had married a North Carolinian, Joseph Jordan.

Akehurst bequeathed his North Carolina property to Philochrista and his Virginia property to his wife. For some years after her father’s death, Philochrista and her husband lived on the plantation that Akehurst had rented from John Archdale. Ann continued to live on her Warwick River plantation.



One thought on “Who Were the Richard Ballards (Bullards) Active in Virginia Trade in the 17th Century?

  1. I continue to see a connection among the Ballards, Thomas Busby of Surry Co, VA, Peter Gibson of York Co, VA (who was a blacksmith and was with Busby in 1686, possibly making guns to trade with the Indians), Thomas Gibson/Gibbons of Surry Co, VA (my documented grandfather born around 1647, Bacon’s Rebellion participant), and Use Gibson of York Co, VA and Thomas and John Gibbons of York Co, VA (I believe sons of my grandfather above) and Thomas Ballard, Northern Neck proprietor. Also, a Thomas Gybson who died in 1652 from York Co, VA (possibly grandfather of above Thomas Gibson/Gibbons), situated in the Northern Neck at the time of his death whom I believe may have been a Quaker or some type of dissenter who moved to York Co,VA in 1640 or so was a magistrate with Robert Booth/Bouth. He may have been the same Thomas Gibson of the 1608 Second Supply Ship to Jamestown whom I believe may be my first emigrant as he lived among the Pamunkey and we were largely Indian (Pamunkey, Chickahominy) by the 1640’s. Would appreciate any info or patterns you may be seeing re these family names. Busby was an Indian slaver and trader who was the official interpreter for the Crown. He lived near my grandfather whose granddaughters later were Indian traders (Saponi) in NC in the early 1700’s (Tabith Gibson Goodman, Mary Gibson Smith). I think we became Saponi through default as many of the local tribes were diminishing and consolidating.

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