Thomas Ballard of James City County, Virginia (1630-1690).

The reader should note that two different Lineage Groups claim descent from Thomas Ballard of James City County, Virginia.  We know from yDNA testing that this is not possible; one or the other groups (Lineage Group I or Lineage Group III) may very well descend from him, but participants in the Ballard DNA Project have not found sufficient proof (to the satisfaction of this compiler) to make a definitive judgment.  Participants in both groups claim kinship by way of a son, William Ballard, who they say settled in Essex County; this compiler believes the evidence shows that his son William made his home in that part of James City County that was cut off from James City County and made part of Charles City County in 1721, and died there.  What is needed is a participant with a well documented genealogy who descends from one of Thomas’ other sons.  To date, none have presented themselves, and until one does, Thomas Ballard of James City County and his descendants will stand apart from all of the Lineage Groups documented on this site.


James Branch Cabell provides the definitive portrait of Colonel Thomas Ballard in the masterful genealogy of his family, The Majors and Their Marriages (Richmond: W.C. Hill Printing Co., 1915), which is quoted here in full, and supplemented with references and notes clarifying or correcting Cabell’s work, and revealing more recent scholarship.1

Thomas Ballard of James City county, born in 1630,2 was in all likelihood a son of the Henry Ballard who is named as a headright in Captain Christopher Calthropp’s land-patent of 1,000 acres in Charles River county, dated 6 May 1636,3 and who himself patented fifty acres in Warwick county, 31 October 1642.  There are divers other circumstances, here irrelevant, which indicate that Thomas Ballard had interests in Warwick, and was presumably born there.4

It is certain, at all events, that he was in 1652 clerk of York county, and retained this office for eleven years afterward.  Ballard was thus already upon the road to preferment.  To quote once more from Mr Bruce’s Institutional History of Virginia: There are numerous indications that the clerks of the county courts were frequently men belonging to families of conspicuous influence. . . . As it was permissible to combine the office with other positions perhaps more lucrative, it was not considered even by men of good estates and of great political importance to be unworthy of their acceptance.  It shows how far this combination of other offices with a clerkship was carried during the years preceding the Insurrection of 1676 that one man was allowed to perform, in addition to its duties, the duties of county surveyor, escheat master, and public notary, all places of decided profit.  The office of clerk by itself must have been the source of a large income to the incumbents.”  At this time they were authorized to practice as attorneys in their respective courts – “and independently of these services, the fees which they were permitted by Act of Assembly to charge for their ordinary duties as clerks assured them an ample return for their labor.”  For the clerk’s fees at this time compare Hening I, 266; and, as altered during Ballard’s term of the office, I, 434.

On 16 July 1655 Thomas Ballard patented 1,000 acres in “Gloucester county, now called Kent”, his tract lying east and being due for the importation of twenty persons.5  He seems, however, never to have seated this land; and indeed, a marginal note is appended to the land  grant, “This Pattent is relenqueshed for ye right to make good a patent of 1,300 Acres fo the said Ballard’s Dated ye 6th: October 1658.”6  He a little later, on 15 October 1657, patented 600 acres “on South Peanketanke”, assigned to Ballard by Abraham Moon (who had patented the land on 1 November 1634),7 but this tract Ballard sold shortly afterward to Major David Cant.  He then patented, 6 October 1658, some 1,300 acres “on Whorecock swamp” in New Kent county, due for the importation of twenty-six persons,8 and 290 acres in York, 13 January 1661; but these lands Ballard also sold, and, apparently in 1663, removed to James City county,9 where for the remainder of his life he made his home.10

While a resident of York Ballard had married Anna, daughter of William Thomas11 of that county, this event taking place probably c. 1650, and at least as early as 1658, as is shown by a deed of gift by William Thomas,12 conveying to “Jane Hillier, wife of John Hillier”—daughter to Thomas’ wife by an earlier marriage – a heifer, “named Tittymouse,” wherein Thomas mentions his “son-in-law Thomas Ballard”: the deed being dated 20 March 1658-9, and recorded in York 24 June 1659.13  There is also recorded in York a deed from Thomas Ballard and Anna Ballard, his wife, conveying to Matthew Hubard the land Ballard patented in 1661; which deed Anna Ballard signed on 28 March 1662, her witnesses being John Hillier and Jane Hillier.

Thomas Ballard, then, removed to James City county c. 1663,14 and was chosen to represent that county in the Virginia House of Burgesses for the session beginning 5 June 1666 and prorogued to 23 October 1666.  He seems from the outset to have played no inconspicuous part in the Assembly.  He was appointed, 31 October 1666, one of the “Committee to regulate the price of Ordinary Keepers”, for in those days the rates charted by innkeepers was not a matter beyond the deliberation of the lower house.  On 2 November Ballard was named one of the committee “to attend the Governor about a treaty with Maryland and the Incident Instructions”, and, 6 November 1666, to “attend the Honourable Governor for drawing the Instruments for Wm Drum (Drummond), Governor of Carolina, and the Instructions for the Commissioners for Maryland, and to treat also with his Honour concerning his Satisfaction for the Silk presented to this Country by his Sacred Majesty.”  This marks almost the last gasp of the long-continued effort to make silk in Virginia profitably.  On the same date Ballard was also one of the committee to attend the Governor “to request his Honour to consider some Hon’ble persons that might be fit and would please to accept the Managing the Affairs of the Country in England.”

In the same year Ballard was named a member of the Council by Sir William Berkeley, then Governor of Virginia, with whose turbulent fortunes all Ballard’s future was henceforward linked.15  Ballard seems to have survived only one term in the House of Burgesses, just now; but he remained a member of the Governor’s Council for thirteen years.

It is difficult to overestimate the dignity of this position, and its importance justifies another (abridged) citation from Mr Bruce.

Members of the Governor’s Council were invariably chosen from the wealthiest, most capable and most influential citizens of Virginia.  This discrimination as to wealth did not have its origin in such a purely sentimental cause as the desire to maintain the extraordinary dignity of the office by choosing to fill it only men enjoying the highest consideration in the community; the care in selecting members of the Board among persons of property was attributable to the very practical fact that the Councillor served both as naval officer and as collector of customs for the district in which he resided; that as such he had the custody of very large sums of money; and that unless he owned a competent estate, any default on his part would entail a permanent loss to the Colony.  Should he, however, possess a large property, any deficit in his accounts could be covered by its sale.

Wealthy and prominent both socially and politically as the citizen must be to become a member of the Council, his nomination to that office at once greatly enhanced his importance.  Appointment to the Board was one of the surest means of trebling and quadrupling a fortune, owing to the large salaries of the numerous very lucrative offices that went with it.  The councilors constituted the Upper House of the General Assembly, and in the various powers exercised by them in that character closely resembled the English house of Lords; in association with the Governor, they formed the General Court, which concentrated in itself the several jurisdictions of the Chancery, King’s Bench, Common Please, Exchequer, Admiralty and Ecclesiastical Courts of England; they served as commanders-in-chief or colonels of their respective groups of counties, and as such possessed privileges closely analogous to those of the English Lords-Lieutenants; they acted as naval officers, and in that capacity were called on to enforce all laws passed by Parliament and the General Assembly for the advancement of trade and navigation, and as naval officers, they also entered and cleared all vessels; they were the collectors of the export duty of two shillings a hogshead and of all other duties of the like nature, such, for instance, as the one penny a pound imposed on tobacco shipped from Virginia to another English Colony in America; they were the farmers of the quitrents, which they obtained from the Auditor on very low bids; and they acted as escheators, an office very lucrative in itself and offering unusual opportunities for profitable investment.16

It is not going too far to say that the members of the Council appropriated to themselves all those higher offices of the Colony which were attended with the largest salaries, or presented the most numerous chances for money-getting.  They deliberately disregarded the fact that the concentration of these offices in so few hands brought about serious damage to the public interests whenever the Councillor was required by his incumbency of two separate positions to perform two sets of duties really in conflict with each other: a Councillor, for instance, was called upon to pass upon the correctness of his own accounts as collector; as collector, he was obliged, for his own enlightenment as a judge of the General Court, to inform himself of all violations of the Navigation Acts; as farmer of the quitrents, he practically owed the success of his bid to himself as Councillor; as escheator, who was a ministerial office, he took and returned the insquisitions of escheats to himself as a judicial officer, and as such, passed upon points of law coming up in his own inquisitions.  It is no cause for surprise that Bacon denounced the Councillors as ‘sponges to suck up the public treasury’, as a ‘powerful cabal’ full of wiles for their own enrichment, and as traitors to the people in their greedy determination to appropriate to themselves all the official fat of the unhappy Colony.”

So much for Thomas Ballard’s new responsibilities and opportunities.  Meanwhile, he was named as one of the Virginia Commissioners appointed by Berkeley to treat with the Commissioners of Maryland and Carolina on 8 November 1666, about the proposed scheme to force up the price of tobacco by refraining from planting any during the year 1667.  The articles of agreement, binding all three colonies to raise no tobacco whatever during this twelve-month, had been signed at James City, 12 July 1666, by all the commissioners save Ballard alone, who evidently had no faith in the makeshift.  His skepticism was shared by the more powerful Lord Baltimore, then Governor of Maryland, who eventually persuaded the Privy Council to declare the agreement of no effect.

As a member of the Council, Ballard now made his home at Middle Plantation, afterward Williamsburg, where he was living certainly as early as 1668; and where on 28 January 1674-5 he purchased from Thomas Ludwell a considerable tract of land, including, as has been said, all the ground whereon stands the present College of William and Mary.  Ballard’s home seems to have been just east of the College, at the western end of Francis Street.

In York, 24 April 1673, Thomas Ballard was appointed guardian of Anne Broomfield, the daughter of Mrs Mary Marsh, deceased; and it is possible that this Mary Marsh was his sister.  She had married, first, Thomas Broomfield, and second, Joseph Croshaw (being his fifth wife), and, third, Clement Marsh.17

The outbreak of Bacon’s Rebellion, in 1676, found Ballard high in Governor Berkeley’s grace and counsel.  In 1673 he had been among the nine signers of a remarkable letter “on behalfe of Sr William Berkeley”, sent by members of the Council to King Charles II, defending the Governor against responsibility for the recent captures of many merchantmen off the Virginia coasts by the Dutch; and Berkeley, in a letter to Thomas Ludwell, dated 1 April 1676, when trouble with Bacon was plainly imminent, writes of “Coll: Bacon (cousin to the rebel), Mr Ballard, your brother (Philip Ludwell), and Mr Bray” as “al I have left to assist me.”

It is impossible to give any intelligible account of Thomas Ballard without introducing therein some account of Bacon’s Rebellion.  This miniature civil war was brought on, primarily, by troubles with the Indians, some of whom uncivilly objected to making a present of their native land to Englishmen, and committed many murders on the frontiers of the settlements.  Nathaniel Bacon, Junior, of Curles, in Henrico county, petitioned the Governor for a commission to fight against them, and, not receiving it, marched with a company of other malcontents up Roanoke river, attacked a camp of unprepared and hitherto friendly Indians, killed a hundred and fifty of them, and returned home.  The inhabitants of Henrico, at least, were so well pleased by this rather dubious exploit that they elected Bacon to represent them in the next Assembly, which convened at Jamestown 5 June 1676.  Bacon came to take his seat, and was arrested for high treason; but his friends were powerful, and a conciliation was patched up, whereby Bacon professed repentance for his late violations of the law and implored forgiveness of the Governor, which formally was granted.  In this arrangement Thomas Ballard was one of the prime movers; and he was among the members of the Council who endorsed Bacon’s application for a pardon, dated 9 June 1676.  Yet, in passing, Ballard had been explicitly denounced by Bacon in his proclamations, as the Governor’s “wicked and pernitious Counsellor.”

Very shortly, however, Bacon declared his life to be in danger if he remained in Jamestown, and fled by night to his home in Henrico.  Here he gathered together five hundred adherents and at their head marched back into Jamestown, unresisted.  The Governor was for defying him even then, for all that Berkeley had scarcely a hundred men to back him against Bacon’s half-thousand; but the Governor was overruled by the Council – Ballard being a leader in this also, — and, yielding to force, gave Bacon his long-sought commission to fight Indians.  Ballard, for one, evidently thought they were well rid of Bacon on almost any terms.  The English Commissioners, who afterward investigated this rebellion, record: “The Assembly also did passé orders to raise or presse 1,000 men, and to raise Provisions &c, for this intended jservice ag’t the Indians, wherein severell of the councell and assembly members were concerne’d and acted in the promiting this designe, encouraging others to list themselves into Bacon’s service, and particularly one Ballard, who endeavoured to perswade some (who scrupled the Legality of Bacon’s commission) that it was fairly and freely granted by the Governor, Councill and Burgesses, this Ballard being one of the council, and of those that both tooke and administered Bacon’s Oath.”  Of the later clause an explanation will be made later.

Bacon now returned to Henrico, and was on the eve of going out a second time against the Indians, when news arrived that Berkeley was in Gloucester county endeavoring to raise forces wherewith to uphold his authority as Governor.  This caused Bacon t o give up his expedition, and to direct his march into Gloucester, where he found the harried Governor had fled to Accomac.  Bacon, thus left supreme, summoned the leading men of the Colony to Middle Plantation, and there, 1 August 1676, made them swear to stand by him, even against soldiers sent from England.  His next move was really to lead his troops against an unfriendly tribe of Indians – some Pamunkeys, whom he discovered and seems to have had little difficulty in killing off, in the recesses of the Dragon Swamp, in King and Queen county.  He returned to the settlement, and found the Governor once more established at Jamestown.

Now the charge of having been among those who at Middle Plantation swore to support Bacon against the Governor or, if need be, against troops sent from England, is elsewhere laid against Thomas Ballard.  In “A List of the names of those worthy persons, whose services and sufferings by the late Rebell Nathaniel Bacon, Junior, & his party, have been Reported to us most signal and Eminent, during the late unhappy troubles in Virginia” – the list being drawn up by the aforementioned Commissioners – are enumerated “Col. Thomas Ballard & Lt-Col Edward Hill, both which (as wee have heard) lost considerable by the Rebell party.  The first of whom, both took and gave Bacon’s unlawfull Oath.”  It is, in fact, indisputable that, when Berkeley fed to Accomac, Ballard was captured by Bacon’s men, when they assembled at Middle Plantation—where Ballard’s home was, –and cheerfully took the oath required of him, without any very earnest intention of keeping it.  At all events, the moment Berkeley returned to Jamestown, Ballard rejoined him.

Bacon made straight for Jamestown also, and, having arrived in “Paspahegh Old Fields,” across from the Island, found that Berkeley had fortified the isthmus on the Island side.  Bacon caused his men to throw up some earthworks, and fortified them, as is well known, under shelter of a pre-eminently unchivalrous trick, that peculiarly touched Ballard.  For Bacon had somehow managed to capture the wives of the leading Councillors – “Madam Elizabeth Bacon, wife of (his cousin) Colonel Nathaniel Bacon, Senior; Madam Anna Ballard, wife of Colonel Thomas Ballard; Madam Angelica Bray, wife of Colonel James Bray; & Madam Elizabeth Page, wife of Colonel John Page”—dressed them in white aprons, and stationed them under guard on his breastworks, so that he might not be molested by shots from the opposing forces, commanded by these ladies’ husbands, while Bacon was getting his cannon mounted to attack Jamestown.

After a brief engagement, wherein Berkeley’s forces were worsted and William Hartwell, the captain of his personal bodyguard, was wounded, the Governor took ship and abandoned Jamestown; and Bacon, as is notorious, then entered and burned the city.  He had matters his own way for a few weeks.  But by October he was dead, smitten by a mysterious and horrible disease, wherein his opponents did not hesitate to find the judgment of heaven.  The Rebellion collapsed with its leader’s death; and the followers of Berkeley exacted a prodigal retaliation from Bacon’s former adherents.

It does not appear that Ballard showed any especial leniency; and, his convictions apart, Colonel Ballard had the purely personal grievance that, beside the discomfortable treatment of Ballard’s wife already recorded, Bacon had just previous to the Rebellion bought lands and cattle from Colonel Ballard, for which Bacon had not paid anything save a promissory note for £500;18 and for which, now Bacon was dead and Bacon’s estate was confiscated by the Crown, Ballard was not likely to get reparation.  Ballad had thus been hurt both in pride and in pocket, when he sat as judge at the courts martial held 11 and 12 January 1676-7 “on board Captain John Martin’s ship, in York River” and “att the house of James bray, Esq” 20 January 1676-7 – where they convicted and hanged out of hand Ballard’s former fellow-commissioner, William Drummond,– and at Green Spring, the Governor’s residence, 24 January 1676-7: and Ballard, with the other judges, voted death to all the adherents of Bacon they could lay hands on.  He sat too at the courts held at Green Spring, 1, 3 and 15 March 1676-7, at which many other victims were either sent to the scaffold or heavily assessed.  Curiously enough, he absented himself from the trial of Giles Bland on 8 March 1676-7.  This can hardly have been by accident: and as Ballard sat at all the other trials, before and after, the conclusion is irresistible he had some personal reason for wishing to take no part in Bland’s formal condemnation.  It does not appear, on the other hand, that Ballard lifted a finger to save him.

Hard upon these “bloody assizes” followed the removal of Governor Berkeley from office, 27 April 1677.  Ballard, in passing, was one of the witnesses to Berkeley’s will, dated 2 May 1676, but witnessed 20 March 1676-7, less than a month before the old knight’s downfall.19  Berkeley left for England 5 May 1677, Colonel Herbert Jeffreys succeeding him as Governor: and now the three Commissioners,– Jeffreys, with Colonel Francis Moryson and Sir John Berry, ,–set about investigating the causes of the recent disturbances.  The counties sent in their several “grievances”; and there was no lack therein of lurid verbal delineation of the tyrannous conduct of Captain William Hartwell, who as has been said commanded Berkeley’s bodyguard, and of the misdoings of the deposed Governor’s chief adherents, Thomas Ballard, Philip Ludwell, Robert Beverley and Edward Hill.  These men were presently, in consequence, at daggers drawn with the Commissioners: but in the meanwhile, hardly had the “grievances” been handed in, before the Commissioners were generally considered to have exceeded reasonable limits in meddling at all with Virginian affairs, so touchy had the settlers grown in matters affecting their independence; and popular opinion, suddenly veering, now looked to Ballard and Ludwell and the others whom only yesterday popular opinion had stigmatized as Virginia’s oppressors, to defend outraged colonial rights against unwarrantable English aggression.

Thus, as a result of the Commissioners’ reports, the Lords of Trade and Plantation, on 10 February 1678-9, ordered Philip Ludwell and Thomas Ballard to be excluded from the Council, and this was done: but public dissatisfaction in Virginia speedily forced Lord Culpeper (who followed Jeffreys’ successor, Chicheley as Governor, in 1680) to re-instate Ludwell; and the people had meanwhile given Ballard the highest office in their power, by electing him burgess for James City county, for the session beginning 6 June 1680, and making him Speaker of the House.  Ballard was re-elected burgess for the sessions of November 1682, 10 November 1683, 16 April 1684, 2 November 1685, and 20 October 1686; and was Speaker in 1680, 1682, 1683 and 1684.

He thus retired from public life, rather irrationally converted into a popular hero, at what was then considered the ripe age of fifty-six; and of the remaining two years of his life appears no record.  Colonel Thomas Ballard was buried in James City county, where he had long been a vestryman of Bruton parish, 24 March 1689.20

In 1686 his ten-year-old claim against the forfeited estate of Nathaniel Bacon was taken up, and Ballard’s case as creditor was represented to the King by the Council.  No record exists as to whether or no Ballard was ever paid: but in the Virginia State Archives21 is still preserved Ballard’s unreceipted bill and Bacon’s uncancelled promissory note.

Ballard’s first wife, Anna Thomas,22 had died some years before him, on 26 September 1678.23  He had evidently remarried, as in York was recorded 24 July 1691, “an order ag’t Mr Thomas Barbar, High Sheriff, is granted Mr Tho: Ballard, Assigne Alice Ballard, Ex’c’r’x of Coll: Tho: Ballard, Assigne Henry Waring, being for ye non-appearance of Jno Easton.”24  This suit was dismissed 24 September 1691, the case being dropped.  The entry, in connection with the hereinafter mentioned suit brought by William Ballard at the last named court, would indicate that Colonel Ballard married, second, Alice _____, who survived him and acted as his executrix.  By this second marriage there were no children.

Colonel Thomas Ballard and his first wife, Anna _____, had issue:

John, believed by Cabell to have settled in Nansemond county, Virginia, where on 2 June 1673 a John Ballard patented 300 acres.25   We now know that this John Ballard is the progenitor of the line identified as Lineage Group II of the Ballard DNA Project.  John, son of Thomas, was named 1 May 1668 in the will of Robert Baldrey, and is believed by some researchers to have died without issue after 1694.26

THOMAS, born c. 1655 in York county; married Katherine Hubard, daughter of John Hubard and Katherine Hubard.27

Lydia, married Thomas Harwood.  He survived her, and married, second, Elizabeth Read, the daughter of Thomas Read, who died in 1700, without issue from either marriage.

Elizabeth, born 31 December 1665, died 25 October 1705; married 31 December 1704 to John Collier.  There exists a Collier Family Bible in the collection of the Daughters of the American Revolution (typescript in the collection of the Library of Virginia) which records “Married Tuesday, Dec. 31, 1704, John Collier to Elizabeth Ballard, daughter of Colonel Thomas Ballard;” “Died [illegible], 1705, Elizabeth Collier, beloved wife of John Collier (1st wife);” and later: “Elizabeth Ballard Collier was born December 31, 1685.”  The next entry after the marriage of John and Elizabeth is his marriage to Mrs. Elizabeth Gaines, daughter of Francis Ironmonger, Esq. on Wednesday, 3 February 1706; she died 3 April 1709.  Cabell states that Elizabeth married ________ Ladd; we are inclined to favor the contemporaneous record over the unsourced secondary work, The Majors and Their Marriages, by James Branch Cabell (Richmond: W.C. Hill Printing Co., 1915).

Martha, according to Cabell, married John Collier and died without issue.  However, the Collier family bible noted above records that John Collier married Elizabeth Ballard, daughter of Colonel Thomas Ballard, and died without issue.

WILLIAM, married Elizabeth _______.

FRANCIS, married Mary Servant.

Thomas Ballard married (2) after 26 September 1678 Alice _____, who was living 24 July 1691, and had no issue.28


 Endnotes

1. James Branch Cabell, The Majors and Their Marriages (Richmond: W.C. Hill Printing Co., 1915), pp. 90-101 (supplemented here with additional annotations). Cabell’s work is unique among genealogical works for relying almost exclusively on original sources; many modern authors are less careful. Nevertheless, it is not perfect, and errors discovered by the author are noted here. The lengthy quotes are necessary because the book is no longer in print. For an excellent brief biography of Thomas Ballard with insights on other leading families during that time, see Jon Kukla, Speakers and Clerks of the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1643-1776 (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1981) pp. 74-77.

2. In a deposition given 17 November 1659, Ballard stated that he was 29 years of age. York Co. Va. Record Book 3, p. 70 (York Co. Va. Records, 1659-1662, pp. 17-18).

3. Patent Book 1, Part 1, p. 347, Patent of Capt. Christopher Calthroppe, at the New Poquoson, E. Upon Calthropps Cr., Wly toward John Powells Cr., N. Upon the river & sly. into the woods. 500 acres graunted by order of Court 29 June 1621 & 500 acres for trans. of 10 persons: Robt. Lucas, Wm. Debnam, Tho. Powell, William Oakely, Henry Bullard, Christopher Copeland, Robert Seeker, Jon. Burges, Jon. Merler, Henry Goodson.

4. For a discussion and explanation of these other records, see Origins infra.

5. Patent Book No. 3, p. 350.

6. Patent Book No. 4, p. 126 (186).

7. This was further acknowledged in the York records, where by instrument dated 24 August 1655, 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.

8. Patent Book No. 4, p. 232 (330).

9. Appearing in the records of Westmoreland Co. is a quitclaim deed from George Richman & Elizabeth, his wife, daughter & heir of Nicholas Watkins, dec’d, to Thomas Ballard of James City Co., “Our interest in 130 acres at Middle Plantation belonging to Nicholas Watkins father of Elizabeth, which was sold unto John Peeters 21 October 1651 by John Miles & Margret his late wife, mother of Elizabeth, & by Peeters assignes over to Ballard, 29 July 1667. Recorded 29 September 1670″ Westmoreland Co. Deeds & Wills 1, pp. 363-64.

10. The records show other land speculation. For example, in the Minutes of the General Court appears the following: “16 May 1672. Upon the petition of Capt. Francis Kirkman, for 800 acres of land lying in ye freshes on ye southside of Rappahannock River formerly granted to Thomas Ballard, Esq. & by him not seated according to patent dated ye 6 November 1666. It is ordered ye above mention land being not seated according to an order of ye General Court ye 25 March 1665, that Mr Ffrancis Kirkman have a graunt thereof according to ye bounds mentioned in ye former patent granted to Mr. Tho: Ballard.” H.R. McIlwaine, ed., Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia, 1670-1676 (Richmond: Virginia State Libraries, 1924), p. 306 [hereinafter Minutes.]. This Patent dated 6 November 1666 appears in Patent Book No. 6, p. 16, with the note: “725 acres sould to Hen. Corbyn, Esq. Patented 8 July 1673, adj. Prosser & Creighton on upper side of Swann Cr. over Brs. Of Weire Cr., adj. his own land called Naemcock.”

Also in the York records is a Certificate to Thomas Ballard, assignee of William Thomas for 600 acres of land dated 24 Februray 1658 for the importation of 12 persons: Ann Thomas [Ballard’s mother], Jane Hilleir [Ballard’s sister], Owen Mockength, John Barrett, Richard & Elizabeth Page, William Cheyny, Richard Hill, Jane Kannaday, Margaret Horton, Thomas Standon, and John Jackey. York Co. Va. Deeds, Orders, Wills, p. 46A.

11. This conclusion is incorrect, as explained in the footnotes following this one. Anna was not the daughter of William Thomas, but rather William Thomas had married the mother of Thomas Ballard, Jane Hillier/Hilliard, and Sarah Herman. We do not know the family name of Anna Ballard, although there are a couple of clues: most notably, she and a woman called Hester Hickes witnessed an indenture of mortgage between John Claxon and Nicholas Trott that was recorded 25 August 1656, York Co. Va. Deeds, Orders Wills No. 1, p. 302; this same Nicholas Trott with may have witnessed the will of Capt. Nicholas Martiau on 1 March 1656/7 (will proved 24 April 1657), with Thomas Ballard, York Co. Va. Deeds, Orders, Wills No. 1, p. 337. It is also worth noting that the name Hester Hickes appears as a headright in a Certificate for 300 acres of land taken by Thomas Ballard and assigned to William Light in 1657 (for the transfer of Joane Cooke, Morock O. Royall, Robert Strong, John Botwright, Hester Hickes, Thomas Wolfe). Deeds, Orders Wills No. 3, p. 8. Could Anna Ballard’s maiden name have been Trott and Hester Hickes her sister?

12. The document in the York records dated 20 March 1658, recorded 24 June 1659 reads: “I William Thomas give unto my loving daughter in law Jane Hillier one heifer, to be delivered to her by my wife & sonne in law Thomas Ballard; Jno. Hillier, husband of the sd. Jane, not to have any right to the sd. cow & caf, hir dispose of them without the consent of my sonne in law Thomas Ballard … Thomas Ballard & wife Anne Thomas, in case the sd. John Hillier shall kill or dispose of them, are to take them into their hands.” York Co. Va. Deeds, Orders, Wills No. 3, p. 55A.

13. This conclusion is incorrect. Research in Surry county records reveals that Thomas Ballard did not marry a step-daughter of William Thomas, but that he was a step-son of William Thomas, for Jane Hillier/Hilliard was actually the sister of Thomas Ballard, and it was their mother who had married William Thomas. The Will of William Thomas dated 1664 recorded among the York county records names his wife, Anne, his son-in-law Thomas Ballard, daughter-in-law Sarah Herman, and daughter-in-law Jane Hilliard, wife of John Hilliard, indicating that the three are siblings related to one another in the same degree. The precise identity of the father of Thomas Ballard and the presumed first husband of Anna Thomas, remains a mystery; a good candidate, as noted by Cabell, is the Henry Ballard who patented land in Warwick county 31 October 1642.

Among the Surry county records is an acknowledgment dated 17 April 1664, in which John Hilliard acknowledged that “all the cattle now in my possession being three cowes named Tilly, Blossom, Cole, two heifers of two years old & one yearling bull with the increase of the sd. female cattle are the p:p: cattle & estate of my wife Jane Hillier & that I have not a power to sell or allinate them or any of them as apears by ye deed of guift from Wm. Thomas … which deed remains in the custody of my brother, Thomas Ballard.” Surry Co. Va. Records, Book 1, p. 240; also Book 2, p. 237. Also appears a record where Thomas Ballard consents to the sale of a heifer: “These are to certifie that I did & doe consent to ye sale of a heifer of a yeare old sold by my sister Hilyrd . . . to Francis Gray for a sow & piggs being a stock of hogs for her own & children’s use, but that none of ye hogs be disposed of without my consent, per deed of gift made by Wm. Thomas to my sd sister.” 31 August 1667, Surry Co. Va. Records 1664-1671, Book II, p. 288. See also John Bennett Boddie, Historical Southern Families, Vol. IX (Honolulu, HI, 1965) pp. 88-90.

14. A deed dated 28 December 1653 but not recorded until 24 February 1663/4 among the records of Westmoreland Co. was witnessed by Thomas Ballard and Francis Townshead [Townshend; Townsend]; Townshend was an adjoining landowner to Robert Baldrey in York Co.: “William Baldwind, Gent., attny of my well beloved sister Mrs. Francis Jones, widow to Oliver Balfe of Va., planter” for the sale of “200 acres in Potomack, part of 2,200 acres granted unto Frances Jones by patent February 1650.” Westmoreland Co. Va. Deeds & Wills, 1661-64, pp. 219-21. He witnessed another transaction in the same county on 24 1662/3, between William Peirce of Westmoreland Co. To William Drummond of James City Co. for 600 acres, the “full moity or ½ part of a tract of land whereon I now live containing 1,200 acres, William Peirce to have half part whereon the housing are built.” Witnessed by Thomas Ballard and Henry Randolph. Westmoreland Co. Va. Deeds & Wills No. 1, 1653-1671, pp. 239-40. It is unclear if the documents were executed in Westmoreland or in James City, then recorded in Westmoreland. One other transaction in 1677/8 shows that Thomas Ballard had to settle claims in that county, for on 9 January 1677/8, “Mr Jno: Foxhall confessed judgment to the Honorable Coll. Nich: Spencer attorney of Mr Tho: Ballard Esqr. For 1,500 pounds of tobacco & £5 sterling.” Westmoreland Co. Va. Order Book 1675/6-1688/9, p. 103.

15. This is not correct, for Ballard was sworn in a few years later: “22 June 1670. Tho: Ballard, Esq. was this day sworne one of the councel of state for this colony.” Minutes, p. 223.

16. See, for example, this record from the Minutes, “21 April 1670. Mr Thomas Ballard informs this court that there is a ship in James River, one Emanuell Lory, Master, which goeth by the name Dolphin of Dartmouth, which belongeth to Dutch owners & is manned contrary to act of Parliament. . . if it appear that the said ship is forfeited the said Mr Ballard to have a grant thereof according as the act of Parliament in that case provides.” On 22 April 1670, “Said ship found to be a free ship; Master failed to have certificate recorded, ordered to pay fine of 1,000 pounds tobo.” Minutes, pp. 212, 214. “21 October 1670. Tho: Ballard, Esq. Make claim of 2,274 pounds of tobo & cask due to him from Mr. Jno. Newell, dec’d, when he the said Mr Ballard was sheriff of James City Co.” Minutes, p. 235.

17. The Minutes include the following: “23 September 1674. It is ordered that Tho: Ballard, Esq. take into his possession all such estate as doth belong to Ann Bromfeild, the daughter of Mrs Mary Marsh, by her late husband Tho: Bromfeild, and that he have the increase of the stock & the profits of her land which is to be for her maintenance & education & that the said Tho: Ballard, Esq. return the said stock in kind according to their number & ages.” Minutes, p. 377.

18. Wilcomb E. Washburn notes that on his arrival in the colony, Bacon purchased 1,230 acres along the James River from Thomas Ballard: a main plantation at Curles, about twenty miles below the falls where he took up residence, and an outer plantation at the falls, run by an overseer. The original deed is preserved at the Library of Virginia in “Colonial Papers, 1652-1689, Folder 1674.” Wilcomb E. Washburn, The Governor and The Rebel: A History of Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1957) p. 18.

19. This is known from notes taken by earlier researchers; the will does not survive. The witnesses were “Nath. Bacon, Tho: Ballard, Wm. Cole, Phill Ludwell (dep’ty sec’ry), Jos Bridger, Robt Beverley – from a book in the Office of the Gen. Court labelled Bonds, Comm’s etc. 1677-1682 No. 2, p. 140″; printed in Hening’s Statutes at Large, Vol II, pp. 545-60.” Minutes, p. 535.

20. Jon Kukla notes that this date is probably Old Style, the last date of the Julian Calendar then in use. Adjusting for the modern calendar, the correct year of his death and burial is 1690. Kukla, p. 77.

21. Now called the Library of Virginia.

22. Anna Ballard’s family name is unknown. This assumption was based on a mis-reading of the deeds previously cited where William Thomas had conveyed chattel to his “daughter-in-law” Jane Hillier (see note 13). Other documents prove that William Thomas had married Anne, the widowed mother of Thomas Ballard.

23. “Anna, the wife of Thomas Ballard, Esq. deceased Sept 26 1678,” Bruton & Middleton Parish Register, p. 16/85, cited in Nancy Chappelear, Bruton & Middleton Parishes, James City Co., Va. Parish Register, 1662-1797. Thomas Ballard’s burial is noted in the same register on p. -/92: “Thomas Ballard, Esq. deceased & buried 24 Mar 1689.” Chappelear, p. 27.

24. Among Old Rappahannock Co. Records appears the following: “1 January 1689 – 6 April 1692. Judgment upon scire facias is granted to Mrs Alley Ballard as Administratrix of Colnll Tho: Ballard against Tho: Hawarton as Adminstrator of James Southerne, dec’d for 5 pds Sterling upon an order of New Kent Ct dated 30 July 1688, & 95 pds of tobo the cost of the Order to be paid with cost of suit als. exe. (Old) Rappahannock Co. Orders, 1689-1692, p. 204.

25. Cabell is incorrect, for this patent names a wife and child, and this family is known to have prospered in Nansemond and Isle of Wight counties, leaving many descendants.  See Patent of Jno. Ballard, Nansemond Co., Patent Book No. 6, p. 469. “300 acres, for the transfer of 6 persons: His own person & Besheba his wife, Jno. & Joseph his sons. Wm. Freeman & Jno. Napp.”

26. Cabell writes “It is stated on excellent authority that he died without issue before 1694” (without citation). He may have been referring to the Will of John Ballard, recorded in Henrico Co.; however, this John Ballard appears to have been of modest means and was probably not a relation. Will of John Ballard: “To Richard Parker, all of my estate after debts paid. To God-daughter Sarah Perkins, dau of Nicholas Perkins, a cow calf. To God-daughter Jane Whitly, dau of William Whitly, a cow calf. Richard Parker, sole executor.” Witnesses: James Morrice, Robert Sharp, William Peirce. Recorded 1 Feb. 1691, Henrico Co. Va. Wills & Deeds, Book 3. Yet there appears in the York records a notation that Capt John Ballard presided over a court held 24 March 1698, with Joseph Ring, Robt Read, Capt Charles Hanford, Capt Willm Buckner, justices; the next court held 24 June 1698 indicates that Capt Thomas Ballard was present, which suggests that the prior record was in error. York Co. Va. Deeds, Orders, Wills 1698-1700, p. 56.

27. According to Cabell, “Matthew Hubard and John Hubard were brothers living in York by 1650. Matthew Hubard patented 595 acres in York county, 18 August 1655 . . . . He was justice of the peace for York for several years, and died in 1667, his will being proved 4 April 1667. His inventory shows a library remarkable for size and quality. Matthew Hubard left issue: John Hubard, who died unmarried; Rebecca Hubard, who married John Edloe; and Matthew Hubard of James City county, who married Ellen _____. Matthew Hubard’s wife, Sibella, survived him, and married, second, Jerome Ham (a burgess for York 1657-8), and third, William Aylett.

“John Hubard the younger brother, probably died in the January of 1667-8, as his inventory was ordered to be taken 24 February 1667-8. His estate was valued, 8 May 1668, at £784, 1s, 9d, which was notable wealth for the time and neighborhood. His widow, Katherine Hubard, was not long in finding consolation, inasmuch as James Besouth gave security for £500 on marrying her by a deed dated 14 July 1668, recorded in York 12 April 1669.

“John Hubard left issue: I. Elizabeth Hubard, who in 1677 married Captain James Archer, and died 13 December 1727, leaving issue. II. Matthew Hubard, mariner, dead in 1694, who left issue: James Hubard. The will of this James Hubard, dated 12 January 1719, recorded in York 15 February 1719, shows that he married Elizabeth _____, and left issue: James Hubard; and Matthew Hubard. III. Katherine Hubard, born circa 1660, who in 1684 married Colonel Thomas Ballard of York.

“Colonel Thomas Ballard of James City, father of Colonel Thomas Ballard of York, was appointed guardian to Matthew Hubard, the two girls being entrusted to their mother, now remarried. Colonel John Page was administrator of John Hubard’s estate, as shown by an acknowledgment from Matthew Hubard, recorded in York 8 May 1682, of having received his share therein – 9,318 pounds of tobacco and £182, 15s. Elizabeth Hubard had received her portion when she married in 1677: and Page relinquished his responsibility as to Katherine Hubard’s inheritance by a deed dated 5 May 1679 and recorded 26 June 1682, to James Archer (her brother in law) and Mrs Katherine Besouth (her mother), who became thereby joint trustees. As has been seen, Katherine Hubard’s portion was not delivered to her husband until 1691; she must, however, have been of age in 1682, as she witnessed a power of attorney from John Taton to James Archer, dated 15 August 1682. She married Colonel Thomas Ballard, as has been said, in 1684.

“James Besouth, her mother’s second husband, died in 1681. His will, dated 10 November 1677, was recorded in York 24 October 1681: his whole estate is left to his wife for life, with reversion at her death to Elizabeth, wife of Bridges Freeman. Freeman and his wife sold their interest in 176 acres, a part of the land involved, to Matthew Hubard the elder (the son of John Hubard, as distinguished from John Hubard’s nephew, also named Matthew), by a deed dated 4 October 1683, recorded 14 October 1683. Katherine Besouth survived her second husband by more than twelve years, dying 19 March 1693-4: her will, dated 28 February 1693-4, was recorded in York 26 March 1694.” Cabell, pp. 68-70.

28.  In the York records appears “24 July 1691. An order against Mr Tho: Barbar, High Sherriff, is granted Mr Thomas Ballard assgin Alice Ballard executrix of of Coll. Tho: Ballard assigne Henry Waring, being for the nonappearance of John Eaton. An attachment is granted Mr Tho: Barbar, Sheriff, against the estate of John Eaton for 500 lbs of tobacco due per bill, being for his non-appearance at the suite of Mr Tho: Ballard assignee Alice Ballace executrix of Coll. Tho: Ballard, assign Henry Wareing, returnable to next court for judgment.” York Co. Va. Deeds, Orders, Wills Book 9 Part 1, p. 40.

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15 thoughts on “Thomas Ballard of James City County, Virginia (1630-1690).

  1. I am a descendant of James and Jane Ballard Hilliard. I am interested in any information you have on them. Thank you very much.

  2. Hi, Stephen. I am trying to trace my roots back from Chapman Ballard born 1799 in Monroe County, Va and died in Boone County, WV 1879. Can you tell me if you have any info on this line? Thanks so much.

    • Chapman — what a great name! I have not spent much time on West Virginia lines, since my lines were primarily in Virginia and Kentucky. You’ve probably already seen what appears on the web — that some researchers believe a Chapman Ballard was the son of John C. Ballard (born c. 1772 in Orange County, Virginia), who was the son of Elijah Ballard (1751-1829), who was in turn the son of Philip Ballard and Nancy Ann Johnson, placing him as a descendant of the Ballards chronicled in the work of the rather suspect Margaret Burnside Ballard, whose research I don’t have much confidence in.

      See http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=hagerj&id=I233194 and follow the links.

  3. Yes, that’s what I have. Why do you not have much confidence in her information? My father actually mentioned a cousin named Joe Burnside…hmmm.

  4. Col. Thomas Ballard had a daughter, Anne who married Gabriel Maupin, also, of the Williamsburg area. Their descendants run down to me. It’s awesome to trace back to the Ballard and Maupin families. Now I live in the Obion County, TN region, of which the Maupins moved into.

  5. My family history shows that I am a descendant of Thomas Ballard. I have done the DNA through Ancestry. Are you still seeking DNA from descendants? I am currently living in James City County.

    • Thanks for reaching out. My focus in this blog is on yDNA, so unless you can produce a male Ballard descendant in your line, I’m afraid your results don’t help.

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