Robert Hester (1686 – c1741)

Robert Hester, son of Francis Hester and his unnamed wife, was baptized in New Kent County on 10 October 1686.1    Based on other entries in the parish register during the same timeframe, he was probably born within a few months of the date of baptism, most likely in the late summer or early fall of 1686.  (Some entries in the register have both a birth date and a baptism date.  Looking at those for the late 1600s, it appears that the great majority of children were baptized between the age of six weeks and three months.)    The purported family Bible mentioned in detail elsewhere gives his birth date as 28 October 1686, which obviously conflicts with the parish register.2

The next record of him is in the vestry book of St. Paul’s parish, in a 1 February 1724 vestry order that a child named John Richards be apprenticed to Robert Hester.3   Since only a freeholder would have served this role, Robert Hester may have inherited his father’s land by then.

Patents in Hanover (later Louisa) County

Given the destruction of New Kent and Hanover county records, we have little early information on Robert Hester. However, he did receive three land patents in the part of Hanover County that later became Louisa County.  On 27 September 1729, as Robert Hester of Hanover County, he was granted 1300 acres on both sides of Christopher’s Run just south of the North Anna River.4  On 26 June 1731 he was granted another 400 acres on the south bank of the North Anna about 300 yards north of the earlier patent.5   Some secondary sources attribute this patent to Robert “Foster” but the name on the original document is clearly Hester and the adjoining patents also clearly identify the neighboring patent as Hester’s.6  The third patent, dated 10 January 1735 was for another 400 acres adjoining the first patent to the west.   This nearly contiguous 2100-acre parcel was located on the south side of the North Anna River in the northernmost part of present Louisa County, about two miles east of the point where Louisa, Spotsylvania, and Orange counties now meet.

The jurisdiction into which these lands fell changed several times over the next few decades. The land fell into St. Martin’s Parish of Hanover County when it was carved out of St. Paul’s in 1726, which accounts for the absence of processioning records for these parcels in the St. Paul’s vestry books.7   In 1742 his lands fell into Louisa County, which was created from western Hanover, and was in a new parish called Fredericksville formed from the western part of St. Martin’s.   The land then fell into Trinity Parish when that new parish was created in 1761.   Unfortunately, only a few records of Fredericksville Parish survive, but Louisa County records are largely complete from the formation of the county in 1742.

Robert Hester died sometime before 1742

Robert Hester also evidently had inherited, and still owned, his father’s land several miles eastward in what remained St. Paul’s parish.  The vestry book of St. Paul’s parish mentions the processioning of Robert Hester’s land in 1732 and, from the names of others in the precinct, this was the same land owned by Francis Hester in 1720.8   (In the same precinct were Robert Tate and four persons who were neighbors of Francis Hester in 1720.)   Robert Hester’s land was again processioned in 1736, 1739, and 1744 with him in attendance on each occasion.9    By 1751, the processioning for the same precinct listed the land only as “Hesters” and “Zach: Hester” was present as the processioner.10   From this we might conclude that Robert Hester died sometime after the 1744 processioning, which had been returned in March of that year.

It is possible, of course, that he died prior to the 1744 processioning and that the Robert Hester referred to in the 1744 record was the son rather than the father.   Indeed, that appears quite likely for two reasons.   First, as mentioned below, we know that his wife was apparently contracting with his son for distribution of his land prior to 1742 – an action only his widow and his heir would have undertaken.

A further clue that suggests he was dead by 1744 appears in the ledger of the Hanover County merchant Partridge & Company.   Purchases on behalf of Hugh Hester were paid by George Thomason on two occasions in 1744, including two “boys hatts”.11  This is typical of a record one might find for a minor and his guardian, and I note that Hugh Hester was likely still a minor in 1744.   Whenever Robert Hester died, he was surely dead by 22 September 1746 when Robert Hester, the son, sold land adjoining one of his father’s patents, the deed referring to both properties as “Robert Hester’s.”12

Robert Hester Jr.’s deeds of land identify his siblings

Robert Hester evidently died intestate as his son Robert Hester Jr., who must have been the eldest son, inherited all his lands.  Robert Hester Jr. retained for himself his father’s 400 acre patent of 1735 and divided most of the 1729 and 1731 patents, totaling 1700 acres, among his siblings.  On 26 July 1748, Robert Hester of Louisa County made deeds of gift to eight persons, presumably all his brothers and sisters, “for and in consideration of the natural love and affection…but more and especially for and in consideration of a certain contract and agreement made between Rachel Hester of Hanover Co. and mother of sd. Robert Hester which may more fully appear in the records of Hanover County.”13  (The contract referred to is, of course, among the lost records of Hanover County.)   Robert Hester deeded a total of 1400 acres to Zacharias, Francis, William, David, Hugh and John Hester, and to Mary Wicker and Elizabeth Hester (who was apparently the widow of Henry Hester).14

Clearly, Robert Hester Sr. had died intestate and his eldest son had inherited the land.   The contract referred to between his widow and his eldest son seems to have been to distribute the land to the younger children, 200 acres each to the sons and 100 acres each to the daughters.  Whether or not the New Kent property was still in the family is unknown, as any deeds executed there were lost in the destruction of the courthouse.

These deeds also identify Robert Hester Sr.’s widow, and the mother of the children, as Rachel.  She was dead herself by 26 July 1748, for none of the deeds were accompanied by a release of dower.   These deeds are, in fact, the only record of her name.   There is a theory, unsupported by any evidence, that she was Rachel McAllister who was perhaps the daughter of Andrew McAllister.  [The “Bible” record addressed separately, which was apparently a modern genealogy rather than a family record, contends that he married Rachel McAllister in 1706.]

We should note that the contract between Rachel and her son Robert was apparently recorded in Hanover County, meaning that it must have been dated prior to the formation of Louisa County in 1742.   As noted above, that implies Robert Hester Sr. was dead by 1742 and that the timing of the deeds of distribution might have been triggered by the youngest sons coming of age rather than by the death of the father.

Nine or ten children

Thanks to the series of deeds in 1748, we can identify seven sons and two daughters.   There was perhaps an eighth son, James Hester, whose omission from the Louisa County deeds might be explained if he was given land located in Hanover County (with the deed thus lost among the Hanover records) or if his father had previously settled land on him.  Since we cannot explain the presence of James Hester by any more likely scenario we have assume that he was given land in Hanover and was a tenth child.

(The following is an abbreviated version of a genealogy that I published in 2001 on a predecessor website.  I am not confident in my identification of some of Robert Hester’s grandchildren, and so I have either omitted or much abbreviated my earlier remarks about those grandchildren.)

  1. Robert Hester (c1710? – 1770) He was clearly the eldest son.   He made at least one purchase of 200 acres in Hanover County prior to 1742 (which is, alas, among its lost records), as he and his wife “Barbary” sold the land in 1746 when it was in Louisa County.15    The 1748 will of Abraham Cook shows that he had married Barbara Cook, probably about 1735.16    While he gifted his siblings in 1748 with 1,400 acres of his father’s land, Robert Hester kept for himself his father’s 400-acre patent of 1731 on the North Anna, which he and his wife Barbara sold on 28 February 1761.17    He also evidently kept Francis Hester’s original land in Hanover County, which was described as Robert Hester’s when processioned in 1755, 1759, and 1763.18    Thereafter it was processioned as the land of Charles Hester.   Robert Hester also retained at least 200 acres of his father’s other grants in Louisa County, and bought 225 acres in 1751.19   He appears in the Louisa tithables lists for St. Martin’s parish in 1767, 1768, and 1769 with 630 acres.20

    His will was written in Louisa County on 6 November 1769 and proved on 12 March 1770.21   Barbara survived him and was named executrix.  Robert Hester left to his son Abraham Hester 300 acres in Mecklenburg County which he had patented in 1745, and on which Abraham then lived.22   The will split another 516 acre tract in Mecklenburg between sons James Hester and Nathan Hester, and gave the 430 acres he lived on in Louisa County to his son Charles Hester.   Minor sons Francis and Samuel were given money.   The will bequeathed one slave each to his married daughters Sarah Smith, Agnes Walton, and Barbara Walton, and their heirs.  Four daughters received bequests to be delivered when they reached the age of eighteen:  Anne Hester, Susannah Hester, Mary Hester, and Elizabeth Hester.   The personal estate was inventoried in both Louisa and Mecklenburg.  Robert Hester’s Louisa County inventory consisted of several slaves and modest stock valued at a total of £427.23   Barbara Hester was taxed on five tithables and 431 acres in 1770.24   She appears in a Louisa court record in 177125, but that same year she moved to Mecklenburg County, Virginia where she is mentioned frequently in its records. Her own will was dated 28 October 1793 and proved 14 June 1802.26   Her estate went to her son Samuel, who was named executor.

    The children of Robert Hester and Barbara Cook from other records were: Abraham Hester, James Hester, Charles Hester, Sarah Hester (wife of David Smith), Nathan Hester, Agnes Hester(wife of Simeon Walton), Barbara Hester (wife of Edward Walton), Anne Hester (wife of Edward Lewis, and later of a Vaughn), Susannah Hester, Francis Hester, Elizabeth Hester, and Samuel Hester.

  2. Francis Hester (c1712? – ?)   He was married to a woman named Agnes whose surname is unknown.   On 20 November 1744 he bought 200 acres adjoining his brother Robert from Samuel Thompson.27   He and his wife Agnes, he sold that land on 20 May 1757 to James Tate.28   Francis apparently lived on the 200 acres nearby which his brother Robert gifted to him in 1748.29   That land fell into Trinity parish when it was formed in 1762, and Francis Hester subsequently appears in the parish tithables through 1777.   On 3 December 1777, he sold his 200 acres in two parts, describing part of it as the land he lived on and part as the land that (his presumed son) Robert Hester and Elizabeth Hester lived on.30   Francis Hester and Robert Hester moved to Granville County, North Carolina after that sale and apparently before the June 1778 tithables, from which they are missing.   Francis Hester, Henry Hester, and James Hester are listed consecutively among those who produced certificates of having taken the oath of allegiance in Goshen District of Granville County in 1778.31His children are identified as Robert Hester, Henry Hester, James Hester, and perhaps others.  
  3. Zachariah Hester (c1714? – ?) He was “of Hanover County” when his brother gave him 200 acres in Louisa County in 1748.   the land originally owned by Francis Hester continued to be processioned in St. Paul’s Parish. In 1751, the land that had been described as Robert Hester’s in 1743 was described only as “Hester’s”, and Zachariah Hester was the representative on the viewing crew.32   He was apparently the Zachariah Hester living in Hanover County ca 1750. He moved to Granville County, NC where he is one of several Hesters listed in the 1769 tax list.
  4. William Hester (c1716? – 1774)  See separate page.
  5. David Hester (c1718? – ?) In 1754, David Hester traded the land given to him by Robert Hester for a parcel in Lunenburg County.33   He sold another 100 acres in 1764 as a resident of Louisa County.34   His wife Letitia relinquished dower in both cases. He appeared as a witness in Louisa County in 1757.35  He moved to Granville County, NC where he is one of several Hesters listed in the 1769 tax list.  He evidently moved to Edgefield District, South Carolina where the “Letsaha Hester” listed in the 1790 census was apparently his widow.
  6. Mary Hester (c1722? – ?) She was “Mary Wicker” when she received the distribution from her brother in 1748.36    She had married Thomas Wicker (1717-1784), apparently sometime in the late 1730s.   The land given to Mary Wicker by Robert Hester is later referred to as the land of Thomas Wicker, and a 1756 deed by Thomas Wicker is signed by his wife Mary.37  I found no record of their selling the inherited land, and indeed the land was processioned as late as 1775, long after Thomas Wicker had left the state.  Thomas Wicker had bought land near the Hesters in 1754, which he and his wife Mary sold just two years later in 1756.38   Thomas Wicker was already “of Granville” on 6 April 1757 when bought 320 acres in Granville County, North Carolina, 100 acres of which he and wife Mary sold a year later on 7 March 1758.39    He left a life estate in the home plantation to “Mary my dearly beloved wife.”  The will named six sons and one daughter: Robert (Hester) Wicker, David Wicker, Thomas Wicker, Benjamin Wicker, James Wicker, John Wicker, and Temperance Wicker.
  7. Henry Hester (c1720? – ca1747)   It is therefore assumed that the Elizabeth Hester who was given 100 acres by Robert Hester in 1748 was the widow of Henry Hester.40   She evidently did not remarry, for the land was processioned for a number of years in her name.41   Deeds by neighbors also referred to the land as Elizabeth Hester’s as late as 9 October 1769.42    It appears that Stephen Hester, presumably their son, sold this land in 1777.43    From Louisa County court records, there were at least two sons, Henry Hester and Robert Hester, and perhaps a third son named Stephen Hester.
  8. Hugh Hester (c1724? – by1754)   He was perhaps a minor and under the guardianship of George Thomason in 1744, when Thomason paid for his supplies, including two “boys hatts”.44    He was deceased by 27 August 1754 when a deed referenced the land of “Hugh Hester’s dec’d.”45   He evidently had only one child, Rachel Hester, who became the wife of William Hughes.   When the four children of William and Rachel Hughes sold the 200 acres on Christopher’s Run in 1812, they called their mother “the daughter and heir of Hugh Hester”.46   The name of his wife is unknown.
  9. John Hester (c1725? – 1819) He was “of Hanover County” when his brother gave him 200 acres in Louisa County in 1748.    He married Rachel Tate, for the Louisa County will of her father James Tate, dated 17 October 1776 and proved 11 November 1776, mentioned his grandson Charles Hester.47   When the estate was finally settled in 1793, the executor reported that Rachel Hester, the daughter of James Tate, had predeceased her father leaving a son named Charles Hester who was still living.48   Charles Hester died a few years later, leaving a will dated 12 February 1792 and proved 12 June 1797, bequeathing his entire estate to his father John Hester.49   Only one John Hester appears in the Louisa tithables, thus it was apparently the same John Hester who married Agnes Mayfield in Louisa County 26 August 1779 with Joseph Tate his surety.50   He produced a second family by that marriage.  On 11 March 1833, the four children below sold their inherited 238 acres on Christopher’s run in Louisa County.51    He was apparently the John Hester living in Hanover County. Perhaps the one who died there in 1819.The son Charles Hester (1750/1 – 1797) was evidently the only child of his mother Rachel Tate, and was childless himself.   John Hester (1780 – ?)  married Patsy Bibb in Louisa County sometime in 1801.   Robert Hester (c1782 – ) must have been of age by March 1804 when he was a surety for John T. Nelson’s marriage bond.    Elizabeth Hester “daughter of John Hester Sr.” married John T. Nelson on 21 March 1804 in Louisa County with her two brothers serving as sureties.  She and her husband were living in Madison County, Alabama when they sold their share of the land in 1833.  Mary M. Hester (? – )  was of age when she married Augustine S. McGehee on 1 August 1812 in Louisa County with her brother Robert as surety.  She and her husband were living in Fluvanna County, Virginia when they sold their share of the land in 1833.


  1. The Vestry Book and Register of St. Peter’s Parish, New Kent County, Virginia 1684 to 1786, edited by Dr. C. G. Chamberlayne, (Virginia State Library, 1937),entry on page 14 of the original. []
  2. The birth date, which was probably not written in the Bible but rather theorized by modern family genealogists, is more than two weeks after the baptism.   Even if the year was actually 1685 and was miswritten, he would have been a year old at baptism, which was much older than was normal at the time. []
  3. Chamberlayne, p94. []
  4. Virginia Patent Book 13, p419. []
  5. Virginia Patent Book 14, p193. []
  6. This patent is reported in secondary sources as the patent of Robert “Foster”, but it was clearly Robert Hester’s. Robert Tate’s patent dated 25 August 1731 was for 400 acres on both sides of Christopher’s Run bordering Robert Hester.   When the second Hester patent is plotted, it was separated from Robert Hester’s first patent by portions of Tate’s patent and a later one to John Grimstead which refers to both adjoining patents as Robert Hester’s. []
  7. St. Martin’s Parish covered roughly everything between the North Anna and South Anna Rivers. []
  8. Chamberlayne, pp279-280. []
  9. Chamberlayne, pp290-291, pp299-300, pp309-310. []
  10. Chamberlayne, p321. []
  11. Ledgers of Partridge & Company, a Hanover County merchant,  Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 1, p40.  []
  12. Louisa County Deed Book A, pp252. []
  13. The eight deeds all contain the first phrase, only two contain the second phrase. This may have been the clerk’s doing since all eight are recorded consecutively on the same date. []
  14. Louisa County Deed Book A, p319-321. []
  15. Louisa County Deed Book A, pp253. []
  16. Lunenburg County Will Book 1, p7. Will of Abraham Cook dated 2 April 1748. []
  17. Louisa County Deed Book C, p71. []
  18. Chamberlayne, p352, p389, pp425-426. []
  19. Louisa County Deed Book A, p440. []
  20. 625a in 1767 and 631a in 1768 and 1769. All in St. Martin’s parish. []
  21. Louisa County Will Book 2, p71. []
  22. Virginia Patent Book 23, p950. The land was then in Brunswick County. []
  23. Louisa County Will Book 2, pp105-106. []
  24. Robert Hester had been taxed on 8 tithables and 631 acres the year before.  []
  25. Louisa County Will Book 2, p111. []
  26. Mecklenburg County Will Book 4, p399 []
  27. Louisa County Deed Book A, p160. []
  28. Louisa County Deed Book B, p185. []
  29. Louisa County Deed Book A, p319. []
  30. Louisa County Deed Book E, p250 and p251. []
  31. The State Records of North Carolina, Walter Clark, ed., Vol.22 (1907), p177.  These lists date from 22 May 1778 to late August 1778 in Granville County.   Also note that there were two James Hesters listed among the oath-takers, one in Goshen district and one in Island Creek district. []
  32. Chamberlayne, p321. []
  33. Louisa County Deed Book A, p547. []
  34. Louisa County Deed Book C½, p5. []
  35. Louisa County Deed Book B, p185. []
  36. Louisa County Deed Book E, p320. []
  37. Louisa County Deed Book B, p122. []
  38. Louisa County Deed Book A, p507 and Book B, p122 respectively. []
  39. Granville County Deed Book C, p? and p500.)   He appears on the next available Granville tax list in 1760 with a single tithable.   Thomas Wicker sold the bulk of that Granville land in 1765, and the rest in 1769.   By 5 November 1771 they were in Chatham County, where Thomas Wicker witnessed a deed.  He wrote his will in Chatham County on 24 August 1781, proven at February court 1784. ((Chatham County Will Book 1, pp17. []
  40. Louisa County Deed Book E, pp320-321. []
  41. Fredericksville Parish Vestry Book Indentures and Processioning Returns 1742-1787, Vol. II, Rosalie Edith Davis (1981). []
  42. Louisa County Deed Book D½, p160. []
  43. Louisa County Deed Book E, p197. []
  44. Ledgers of Partridge & Company, a Hanover County merchant.  Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 1, p40. []
  45. Louisa County Deed Book B, p23. []
  46. Louisa County Deed Book M, p65. []
  47. Louisa County Will Book 2, pp239.  The will divided the residual estate among his grandchildren with Charles Hester and another excepted. []
  48. Louisa County Will Book 3, 507. []
  49. Louisa County Will Book 4, p19. []
  50. Marriages of Louisa County, Virginia 1766-1815, Kathleen Booth Williams (C. J. Carrier Co., 1977). []
  51. Louisa County Deed Book U, pp173. []