The Real Bynum-Blow Connection

After examining the evidence, it is clear that there was a familial connection between the Bynum and Blow families, but it was not the one that virtually all family genealogists assume.

Was John Bynum’s wife Rosamond Blow?

There is not a shred of evidence that John Bynum’s wife Rosamond was a Blow.

The hypothesis that she was a daughter of George Blow seems to be of relatively recent origin, and appears to stem from a cursory examination of Surry County records, specifically the fact that no consideration was noted in the deed from George Blow to John Bynum of 1663.    The absence of a consideration might suggest a gift, as from a father to his daughter’s husband.   However, inspection of other Surry deeds of the period discloses that the majority omit any mention of consideration, so that its absence signifies nothing in the Blow-Bynum deed.

The notion that Rosamond was a Blow first appeared in print, as far as I am aware, in 1977 in The Cleggs of Old Chatham by Harold Broughton, who recanted the theory subsequent to publication, acknowledging that it was not based on anything resembling proof.  Nonetheless, one person’s theory has a way of becoming another person’s “fact” in these days of endlessly repeated internet genealogies.

A careful examination of Surry County records shows no evidence whatsoever that John Bynum married a daughter of George Blow.   In fact, the evidence argues against it.

  • The only connection between George Blow Sr. and John Bynum was George Blow’s sale of land to John Bynum in 1663.   There is only one record of John Bynum being associated with George Blow’s children, when Richard Blow (who had by then inherited his father’s land) witnessed a land sale by John Bynum in 1679.   Thus, the Surry records contain no indication of any relationship between George Blow and John Bynum other than as neighbors.  The Bynum-Blow connections in the records occur in the next generation of both families, for which there is a different, and much more plausible, explanation.
  • A strong case can be made that Richard Blow, son of George Blow, married a daughter of John Bynum Sr. (see the topic below).   This explains the later connections between the children of John Bynum Sr. and the children of George Blow Sr.  And it eliminates any remaining possibility that John Bynum was married to a daughter of George Blow, since Richard Blow would then have married his own sister’s child.
  • Timing also works against the Rosamond Blow theory, since any daughter of George Blow would have been significantly older than her siblings.  George and Margaret Blow had two provable sons: Richard, born in 1654, and George Jr., born in 1664.   Margaret Blow later had a daughter by her second husband, Richard Smith, sometime in the 1670s.   John Bynum’s two sons were born between 1664 and 1666.   Clearly, it’s quite unlikely that George and Margaret Blow could have had a daughter who was having children of her own by 1664.  Given the relatively narrow window of childbearing age in the 17th century, it’s simply not credible that Margaret Blow could have had a daughter of childbearing age in 1664 and yet still borne another child herself several years later.
  • In another timing oddity, Margaret Blow remarried to a second husband who was considerably younger than John Bynum Sr.   Along with the sons’ birth dates, that suggests that George Blow and John Bynum Sr. were about the same age.  We know that Blow’s widow Margaret remarried to Richard Smith as his first wife, and that Smith was fathering children through nearly 1690 and did not die until 1713.  Surely Margaret was nearly the same age as, or at the very most a few years older than, her second husband.  That would make her nearly twenty years younger than her supposed son-in-law.

In short, there is no evidence at all even hinting that Rosamond was a Blow.  And there is some evidence that suggests that it is very implausible.

Richard Blow’s Wife was Elizabeth Bynum

There was a connection between the Bynum and Blow families, but one that occurs in the next generation.   The evidence leads us to conclude that Richard Blow, the son of George Blow, married Elizabeth, a daughter of John and Rosamond Bynum.

Elizabeth Bynum’s First Husband: Richard Blow

Richard Blow, oldest son of George Blow, was tithable with his stepfather Richard Smith in the tithables of 1673, 1674, and 1675.1   He reached majority 4 before October 1675 when, as “son and heir of George Blow” he renewed his father’s 1664 patent for 635 acres.2  A month later, he petitioned the court to have his father-in-law [meaning stepfather] Richard Smith deliver his share of his deceased father’s estate.3  From 1677 through 1679 he was tithable as a head of household, a period when he began selling off his father’s lands.4  In early 1680 he sold the remaining portion of his father’s land in Lawnes Creek parish, which adjoined John Bynum Sr.5   He then moved several miles west into Southwarke parish, buying 100 acres on  Pidgeon Swamp in early 1681, and patenting an adjacent 210 acres in 1684.6

At about the same time, John Bynum Sr. sold his land and moved a few miles south – thus separating the two families for the first time in several years.  Why then, were John Bynum’s sons tithable in the Blow household a few years later?  A plausible answer is that they were living with their sister, the wife of Richard Blow.

The first mention of a wife of Richard Blow is in 1685.  That year, Richard Blow’s younger brother George Blow turned 21, and received his share of his father’s estate from Richard Smith.7   On 2 November 1685 Richard Blow and his wife Elizabeth gifted to George Blow the 100 acres on Pidgeon Swamp which Richard had bought in 1681.8  Thus Richard and George Blow were now living on adjacent land, several miles from John Bynum Sr. and in a different parish.  In the Southwarke parish tithables of 1685, Richard Blow had John Bynum Jr. in his household and James Bynum was tithable with George Blow, while John Bynum Sr. was in Lawnes Creek parish.  John Bynum Jr. was again tithable to Richard Blow in 1686, and in early 1687 George Blow sold him part of his 100 acres, thus making him a neighbor to both Blow brothers.9

Richard Blow died in late 1686 or early 1687, and his widow Elizabeth remarried to Robert Grice.  Richard Blow was alive for the June 1686 tithables, but  was dead by 3 May 1687 when his widow Elizabeth Blow was granted administration of his estate.10   Richard and Elizabeth Blow had no children, for his brother George inherited his land, declaring himself to be “the only brother and heir of Richard Blow” when he sold the land in 1688 and 1690.11

Elizabeth’s Second Husband:  Robert Grice

Richard Blow’s widow Elizabeth was still “Elizabeth Blow” when she released her dower interest in the 1688 sale of her late husband’s land by his brother George Blow.12  But by 2 July 1689 she had remarried to Robert Grice, when “Robert Grice as marrying Eliza. Blow, admx of Richard Blow deced” sued George Blow for her dower interest in the remainder of her late husband’s land.13   John Bynum II and Robert Grice were jointly listed in the tithables the same year.

Robert Grice continued to be listed in the tithables through the last surviving list, dated in 1703.  Beginning in 1697, the precincts were defined so that James Bynum and John Bynum appeared in different tax precincts.  Robert Grice consistently appears in the same precinct as James Bynum.  That suggests he had moved closer to James Bynum, though he apparently owned no land in Surry.  A 1704 record, in fact, tells us that Robert Grice was then living on land next to James Bynum.  The will of William Browne, dated 4 December 1704, speaks of an “agreement with Robt. Grice for a plantation where he now lives containing about 270 acres” for which Grice was to have eight years to pay.14  On 5 September 1710 William Browne, the son, sold Robert Grice the land he was then living on, describing it as a patent to William Browne and William Foreman of 1684.15   This land adjoined the parcels which James Bynum had bought from Luke Mizell II in 1691 and from Luke Mizell III in 1703.  It was this land which Robert Grice’s 1720 will left to his two sons and to “my well beloved couzen John Bynum.”16  Robert Grice’s will, dated 19 December 1720 and proved on 15 February 1720/21, did not mention his wife who evidently predeceased him.  It divided his land among his two sons and “my well beloved couzen John Bynum” to whom he devised “a piece of land belonging down at the burcheon island bridge.” Both William Bynum and John Bynum witnessed the will.

This will seems to prove what we already suspected, that Robert Grice’s wife was Elizabeth Bynum.  Some family researchers have interpreted this will, out of context with the earlier records, to mean that John Bynum Jr. married a daughter or sister of Robert Grice.  There is no evidence for that notion, since Robert Grice first appears in Surry the same year he married the widow Elizabeth Blow.  No one named Grice appears in any Surry records until Robert Grice makes his first appearance as a joint tithable with John Bynum Jr. in June 1689 and sued George Blow the following month.  There is certainly no evidence that he had any parents or siblings in the Surry or surrounding counties.

Although “couzen” could have meant several different relationships, it seems the only possibility in this case was the most common one of that era, that it meant “nephew”.  There are only two possibilities: either Grice’s wife was a Bynum or one of the Bynums had married a Grice.  The aforementioned records make it obvious that the former was the case.  That is, that Grice’s wife, formerly Richard Blow’s wife, was a daughter of John and Rosamond Bynum.

  1. Richard Smith appears in the 1673 and 1674 tithables with a second male tithable who is not named.  That was surely Richard Blow who is his second tithable in 1675.  The tithables for the years 1671 and 1672 are lost, as is the 1676 list. []
  2. Virginia Patent Book 6, p563. []
  3. Surry County Order Book 1671-1691, p106. []
  4. Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 2, p203. []
  5. Surry County Order Book 1671-1691, p106 and Davis, p250. []
  6. Surry County Orders 1671-1691, p442.  The transaction is referenced later by George Blow.  And also see Virginia Patent Book 7, p372. []
  7. Surry County Orders 1671-1691, p477. []
  8. Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 3, p41. []
  9. Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 3, p80. []
  10. Surry County Orders 1671-1691, p565-6. []
  11. Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 4, p32 and p191.  Incidentally, this means that Richard Blow was childless, else a child would have inherited.  The widow, of course, could not inherit from her husband.  []
  12. The widow had a lifetime interest in the land, regardless of who inherited it.  She had to release that dower interest in the sale. []
  13. Surry County Orders 1671-1691, p710. []
  14. Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 5, pp305. []
  15. Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 6, p36.  The patent to Browne and Forman, which Grice purchased, adjoined the Thomas Warren patent which Luke Bynum bought in 1691 and which he had conveyed part of to James Bynum. []
  16. Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 7, p307 []