The Will of Elizabeth Ballard of Norfolk, Virginia (1785).

We have, of late, turned our attention to the problem of Reuben Ballard (c. 1748-1820) and his wife Apsilla, whose ancestry and origins remain a mystery.  Apsilla is believed by many researchers to be the daughter of Abraham Ballard of Perquimans County, North Carolina.  She may be, but we have not seen any proof — but that is a matter to explore in another post.

In the course of re-visiting our incomplete research of the various Ballards that settled in Southeast Virginia and that part of Virginia that landed in North Carolina with the boundary adjustment of 1728, we stumbled across the following will, written by an Elizabeth Ballard of Norfolk, Virginia and preserved among Norfolk, Virginia Original Wills, Vol. 1, 1774-1779.

In the name of God amen I Elizabeth Ballard of the County of Norfolk in the State of Virginia being of sound mind and memory do make this my last Will & Testament in manner & form following, that is to say –

I desire that all my just debts be first paid then it is my desire that what worldly goods I possess may be disposed as followeth.

Imprimis, I give to my granddaughter Elizabeth Andrews the negro Girl Hannah that that has for some years lived with her, with the whole of the increase of said Hannah.

Item, I give to my granddaughter Ann Ballard my Negro girl Betty.

Item I give to my granddaughter Catharine Boush my young wench Grace Sister to Betty.

Item I give to my granddaughter Elizabeth Hutchings & Catharine Hutchings three Certificates for money I put into the Treasury amounting to Five hundred & four pounds or thereabouts.

Item I give to my son William Ballard a Bond signed by Mordecai Booth, Francis Whiting & James Paisley the said Bond being the same on which a suit was brought in the General Court some years past.

I likewise give to my said son William Ballard my Negro Boy Joe son of Frankey.

I give my largest truck to my granddaughter Elizabeth Hutchings.

I give my chest of drawers to my granddaughter Catharine Hutchings.

I further give to my said son William Ballard my bed which I lie on.

Signed with my seal & dated this eight day of July One thousand seven hundred & eighty-five.

— Elizabeth Ballard

Sealed & signed in presence of: Travis Tucker, John L[illegible]


Eliz. Ballard
Sept 6, 1787 proved
Sept Court 1787
admin granted

Recorded and (?)
Jno. Bousch cnc (perhaps “Clerk Norfolk Court”?)

This Elizabeth Ballard is none other than Elizabeth Gibbons, the widow of John Ballard of Yorktown, Virginia (1700-1745). This is clear from the family relationships she outlines in her bequests, namely:

  • Granddaughter Elizabeth Andrews – Elizabeth was the daughter of Elizabeth Gibbon’s son Robert Ballard of Princess Anne County, Virginia (1733-1770) and his wife Anne Newton. Elizabeth married Reverend Robert Andrews of York County.
  • Granddaughter Ann Ballard, most likely Elizabeth’s sister Ann, about who we know very little and who likely never married.
  • Granddaughter Catherine Bousch – Catherine was another daughter of Robert Ballard, who married Robert Boush.
  • Granddaughters Elizabeth Hutchings and Catherine Hutchings – These are children of Elizabeth’s daughter Ann, who married (1) ________ Ramsey and (2) John Hutchings.
  • Son William Ballard – We know his brothers predeceased him: Thomas — lost at sea in 1747; John — while his death is not documented anywhere that we can find, we know from the York County land records that his younger brother Robert came into possession of the real property devised to him in the will of their father, which means John had no heirs to claim it; and Robert, who removed to Princess Anne county and died there in 1770, leaving William the sole surviving male in this family.

Note that there is no mention of Robert’s daughter Margaret, who must have been dead by 1785.  For details on all of the above, please see John Ballard of Yorktown, Virginia (1700-1745) and Robert Ballard of Princess Anne County, Virginia (1733-1770).

And what became of William?

We know from assorted land records in York County that William had removed to Norfolk and that his mother Elizabeth joined him there.  Tax records identify a single William Ballard residing in Norfolk at the time, and a newspaper notice published in the Norfolk Gazette and Public Ledger (p. 2, Col. 4) on 20 March 1812 announced: “Died – Yesterday  morning, Mr. William Ballard, in the 69th year of his age, many years since a Merchant of this place.” That age puts the year of his birth as 1743, which is the year recorded in the John Ballard Family Bible.

Could William have had children not named in Elizabeth’s will? We have not come across a marriage record for him, nor evidence of children. More study is needed on that point, though truthfully this researcher is inclined to think that William is the last male of this particular branch of the descendants of Thomas Ballard of James City County, Virginia (1630-1690).


2 thoughts on “The Will of Elizabeth Ballard of Norfolk, Virginia (1785).

  1. Do you know anything about Elizabeth Gibbons’ parents, grandparents? Does she descend from the Thomas or John Gibbons who are from the Thomas Gibson/Gibbons(both names of Thomas Gibson and Thomas Gibbons appear on Sunken Marsh, Surry Co, VA tithe list, varying year to year, but, the same man) and wife Mary of Surry Co, VA, Thomas, Sr. born about 1647 (“sons” Thomas and John are surmised – have never made a documented connection to Thomas and Mary, but, seems apparent?????? ALSO, I find these younger Thomas and John in early Ballard wills, named both Gibbon and Gibson and both men from York Co, VA). Thomas Gibson/Gibbons is my documented grandfather and his sister apparently was Jane Gibson the Elder, Indian Woman, born in the 1640’s, of Charles City Co, VA, south bank of the James (borders Surry Co, VA). I am convinced this is all one family, the Gibsons.

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