He may have been raised in Charles City County, as he does not appear in any of the Surry County tithable records between his father’s death and 1693. He either returned to Surry County or came of age about 1694. It was probably the latter, as on 6 September 1692 the court ordered John King to reimburse Nicholas Wyatt, as executor of William Rookings, the £800 fee for surveying the lands of the Rookings orphans [plural], since it also resulted in King’s adjacent tract being surveyed.1 The adjacent property was apparently that purchased by King two years earlier, part of an old grant to Thomas Weekes.
William Rookins was not taxable in Surry County through 1693 but appears in the tithables lists of 1694 and thereafter as a single tithable. He first appears in Surry court records in May 1694 suing the widow Eliza Simons for 5,000 lb. of tobacco.2 In September 1694 he was a grand juror.3 The following year he was again appointed to the grand jury but failed to appear and was fined.4 He continued to appear periodically in court records until his death.
He Expands Flying Point
William Rookings was issued a patent for 400 acres on 28 October 1697 that was the same 400 acres previously patented by William Egbrough (Agberow) in 1647 and 1650.5 The original Egbrough patent had included a 100-acre parcel that had long ago been somehow acquired by William Rookings II and an adjacent 400 acre parcel which this patent says was never seated or planted. (Note that the court ignored, or was never made aware of, the sale of 100 acres of this land to James Elson, who apparently abandoned the tract.) A duplicate patent for the same land was issued two years later on 6 June 1699 but for only 296 acres, perhaps reflecting a re-survey of the land (or perhaps ignoring the 100 acres sold by Bilbrough).6 Years later in 1713 he repatented the same tract a third time after a new survey found that it comprised 418 acres.7
The 1704 Quit Rents credit him (mis-transcribed as “Wm. Rohings”) with 596 acres in Surry County, though how the extra 50 or so acres were acquired is unknown.
On 2 May 1713 William Rookings was issued another patent for 100 acres of land that had been found in 1709 to escheate from Sarah King, deceased. 8 This appears to have been the 100 acres that his father had sold to James Elson many years earlier, and had later been acquired by John King.
Two more patents were issued to him on 16 June 1714. The first was for 106 acres that had been patented by John King in 1688 but had escheated. 9 The second was for 94 acres escheated from Stephen Manwaring. 10 Both tracts were adjacent to his own land at Flying Point.
Inherits from Bartholomew Clements
The final acquisition of land is intriguing, as it was inherited from a man named Bartholomew Clements, who was the son and heir of Bartholomew Clements, a ship’s captain of London who died on 29 December 1712 according to British records. Bartholomew Clements (the elder) had appeared in the 1704 Quit Rents among a list of nonresidents of Surry County with 1150 acres plus “one tract of land he living in England the quantity unknown”. In 1685 Capt. Bartholomew Clements had obtained a judgement against John King for £6911 and in 1690 John King deeded 200 acres on upper Chippokes Creek, that he had earlier acquired from John Rawlings, to William Edwards as trustee for the debt owed to Bartholomew Clements.12 More than twenty years later Bartholomew Clements (the younger) wrote a will on 15 September 1713, probated on 25 October 1713, devising “my dividend of land on Upper Chippeaocks” and personal property to “friend” William Rookings who was also named executor.13 William Edwards, the son of William Edwards, promptly deeded the 200 acres “in trust for Bartholomew Clements now deceased” to William Rookings “as the devisee of one Bartholomew Clements decd. who was in turn the son and heir-at-law of Bartholomew Clements decd.”14 Exactly how Rookings and Clements knew one another is mysterious. Bartholomew Clements appears in no other records of Surry County and seems to be unrelated to the Clements family that lived there.
William Rookings Dies in 1715
William Rookings’ own will was written just a year or so later on 1 February 1714/15 and was probated on 16 March 1714/15.15 He had two daughters by his first wife (whose name is unknown) to whom he gave lifetime estates. To his daughter Elizabeth, if she married, he gave the property he had received from Bartholomew Clements. To daughter Susannah and her husband Charles Hamlin he gave the property known as “Greens” which was to go to his son William Rookings at their death. The other four children were by Ann. To daughter Mary, if she married, he gave the property at the head of Wm. Knott’s swamp which was to go to his son James Rookings at their death. The will also mentions his wife Ann and a daughter Jane. His widow Ann qualified as executor and filed an inventory in July 1715.16
The Widow Ann Remarries
By 21 May 1718 the widow Ann had remarried to Robert Nicholson Jr. when Nicholson and “Ann his wife executx. of the last will & testament of Wm. Rookins deceed.” appeared in court to answer a suit by George Hogwood.17 Unfortunately, the Surry County Order Books are missing for the following twenty-three years.
The Daughters Outlive the Sons
On 6 June 1775 James Watson and his wife Patty Watson executed two deeds to Adam Fleming. One deed was for 151 acres in two tracts known as the “Greens” of 61 acres, and “Broadneck” of 90 acres which had been left in William Rookings 1714 will to his daughters Susannah and Mary for their lives, then to go to his sons William and James Rookings. 18 The deed states that the daughter Susannah Cheatham was then occupying the Greens and his daughter “now Mary Austin” was occupying Broadneck. Both sons William and James Rookings were dead, so that possession would accrue to Fleming upon the death of the women.
The second deed was for 1,023 acres called “Flying Point”, 993 1/2 acres of which had been inherited by James Rookings whose own will devised it, plus another 23 acres later purchased, to his daughters Patty and Mary. 19 Mary being dead, the entire parcel was inherited by Patty Watson.
Three years later James Willison, the executor of Adam Fleming, sold the land which deed again contained the caveat that the two parcels were in the tenure for life of Susannah Cheatham and Mary Austin. 20
There were two daughters by his first wife, whose name is unknown.
Susannah Rookings (c1695 – aft1779) Probably the oldest child, had been widowed and already remarried by 16 August 1721 when Susannah and her second husband Timothy Bridges presented an accounting of Charles Hamlin’s estate.21 She was widowed again by 16 August 1721 when an accounting of the estate of Charles Hamlin was presented by William Hamlin, the administrator of the estate of Timothy Bridges.22 She may have married Marmaduke Cheatham shortly after his arrival in Surry County. We assume that she was the mother of some or all of Marmaduke Cheatham’s seven children, who appear to have been born beginning around the late 1720s — one of whom named a son Rookins Cheatham.
By the time Marmaduke Cheatham made his will in 1762 she had left him, as the will states “I give unto my wife Susanna her maintenance if she will come and live at home.” She may have left to live at the “Greens” after Cheatham had an illegitimate child by a neighbor girl in 1748. Her third husband died in 1766. The 1775 and 1778 deeds above clarify that she had not remarried and was living at the “Greens”. She was still alive when her son Joseph Cheathan wrote his will on 20 May 1779.
- Elizabeth Rookins (? – ?) She may not have married, or died young, as the property she was given in the will appears to have been occupied and owned by James Rookings in 1750.
And four children by his second wife Ann, whose maiden name is unknown.
William Rookings IV (? – 1750) He was alive on 3 September 1749 when he and his brother James Rookings took inventory of the estate of John Dewell23 He was dead by 16 May 1750 when his widow Ellen Rookings qualified as administratrix with James Rookings and William Short her securities.24 His inventory was taken 4 June 1750.25 Ellen Rookings was still a widow as late as 15 May 1753 when she filed an accounting of the estate. 26
Ellen was apparently the daughter of Jones Williams. On 16 September 1740 William Rookings and his wife Ellen of Southwarke parish in Surry County sold a tract of land in Isle of Wight County that had descended from “Jones Williams to Elin Rookings”.27 She may have also been related in some way to James Dewell whose will later in 1750 made her his executor.28 William and Ellen had no children according to the April 1751 court record referenced below. He owned 314 acres of land at his death, which was inherited by his brother’s daughter Patty Rookings (later the wife of James Warren.)
James Rookings (? – 1751) He married Elizabeth, the widow of William Blunt. On 16 April 1746 James and Elizabeth Rookings, widow of William Blunt, sold a tract of land in Albemarle parish to William Blunt, son and heir of William Blunt. (Surry County Wills & Deeds Book 4, page 407-8.)) They have been newly married as a month earlier, on 14 March 1745/6, there was no mention of a wife when James Rookings, identifying himself as a shipwright, sold 50 acres of the William Rookings patent to John Allstin. 29 James Rookings in 1741 had bought 100 acres next to his brother William 30 and two more plots of 80 and 126 acres in 1743. 31
He shortly after his brother William. He made a will in January 1750 (see below) but was still alive on 20 November 1750 when he qualified as administrator of the estate of John Collins. 32 He filed the inventory of the estate on 18 December 1750. 33 Neither his will nor an inventory appears to have been recorded in Surry County.
His had two children, daughters named Mary Rookings and Patty Rookings, but only Patty survived him. She must have been a very small child when her mother Elizabeth Rookings, on Patty’s behalf, petitioned the court on 16 April 1751 claiming that: William Rookings had died without issue so that his brother and heir-at-law James Rookings inherited the land; James Rookings made his will in January 1750 devising the land to his only heir Patty and “and soon after departed this life”; and that Ellen Rookings, William’s widow, had seized and was occupying her late husband’s land.34 She asked the court to compel Ellen Rookings to accept a dower partition of the land and in June a commission laid out her partition.35 Ellen must have been dead by 1775 when James and Patty Watson sold the land.
- Jane Rookings (? – ?) Nothing further is known. She may have died in childhood.
Mary Rookins (? – aft1778) She was “now Mary Austin” in the 1775 and 1778 deeds above. She married Thomas Alston or Austin before 19 November 1751 when Thomas and Mary Austin sold land in Southwarke parish.36 She was not further traced.
- Surry County Order Book 1691-1700, page 52. [↩]
- Surry County Order Book 1691-1700, page 100. I suspect this may related to the slaves formerly owned by his father, for I note that William Simons appears in earlier tithable lists with 2 extra tithables. [↩]
- Surry County Order Book 1691-1700, page 117. [↩]
- Surry County Order Book 1691-1700, pages 140, 147. [↩]
- Virginia Patent Book 9, page 109. [↩]
- Virginia Patent Book 9, page 202. [↩]
- Virginia Patent Book 10, page 116. [↩]
- Virginia Patent Book 10, page 84. [↩]
- Virginia Patent Book 10, page 126. Note that the original patent had sized the tract at 117 acres. [↩]
- Virginia Patent Book 10, page 161. [↩]
- Surry County Order Book 1671-1691, page 586. [↩]
- Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 4, page 162. [↩]
- Surry County Wills & Deeds Book 6, page 161. [↩]
- Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 6, page 171, abstracted by Hopkins. [↩]
- Surry County Wills & Deeds Book 6, page 224, abstracted by Eliza Timberlake Davis. [↩]
- Surry County Order Book 1713-1718, pages 79, 82, 84, 86. [↩]
- Surry County Order Book 1713-1718, page 141. Repeated on pages 143 and 144. [↩]
- Surry County Deed Book 10, page 510-12. [↩]
- Ibid., page 513-4. [↩]
- Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 11, page 8-10. [↩]
- Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 7, page 355, abstracted by Eliza Timberlake Davis. [↩]
- Ibid., page 488. [↩]
- Surry County Wills & Deeds Book 9, page 626. [↩]
- Surry County Order Book 1749-1751, page 159. [↩]
- Surry County Wills & Deeds Book 9, page 646. [↩]
- Surry County Wills & Deeds Book 9, page 868. [↩]
- Isle of Wight Deed Book 5, 521pp. [↩]
- Surry County Wills & Deeds Book 9, page 680. [↩]
- Surry County Wills & Deeds Book 4, page 386. [↩]
- Ibid., page 23. [↩]
- Ibid., pages 107 and 138. [↩]
- Surry County Court Orders 1749-1751, page 238. [↩]
- Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 9, page 689. [↩]
- Surry County Court Orders 1749-1751, pages 281-284. [↩]
- Ibid. page 336. [↩]
- Surry County Deeds & Wills Book 6, page 107. [↩]