The wife of William Witt (c1680 – 1754) has been the subject of considerable speculation among descendants.
She has been claimed to be a woman named Mildred Daux. Or a woman named Elizabeth Daux. Or a woman named Mary. The fact is that we have not one single record of her name. She appears in no records whatsoever.
The only conclusion we can reasonably reach is that she was surely not a Daux. We know that Walter Daux had only two children, the daughters Anne and Susannah – one of whom was William Witt’s mother. There is no sign of anyone else named Daux in the area.
Her Gravestone – per Virginia Soldiers of 1776
This is surely a case of mistaken identity. According to a brief entry in Virginia Soldiers of 1776, Volume II:1
“Note. The original Register of the church of the French refugees was sold to Mr. Henry Huntington of San Gabriel, California, a collector of rare manuscript and it is said that he has decided to will it to the public library at Pasadena. Should you visit St. Ann’s [sic] Parish, where is located the old church of Rev. Robert Ross [sic], you may be fortunate enough to find the tombstone of William Witt’s wife, and read the very interesting inscription thereon. The old Witt homestead at Roselands in Nelson County remained in the possession of some representative of the family for about two hundred years. It passed from the family only a few years ago.”
This is a very confusing statement for several reasons, not the least of which is that the first three sentences in this paragraph seem to be unrelated to one another. Let’s examine the facts:
- St. Anne’s Parish and Albemarle County were both established in 1745. Rev. Robert Rose moved from Essex County in 1747 to the part of Albemarle County that later became Nelson County and ministered to St. Anne’s Parish until his death in 1751.2 At that time there were only two churches in Albemarle County, one of them the Ballenger’s Creek Church near Howardsville on the James River and the other the Forge Church on the Hardware River. (Note that Ballenger Creek of modern Fluvanna County (where William Witt lived) is a different watercourse than Ballenger Creek of Albemarle County where the church was located.) 3 But by 1820 both buildings were in ruins, one of them burned to the ground and the other site occupied by a private residence.4 Neither church could have been visited in 1927, and neither has a discernible old cemetery.
- The same article also claims that William Witt died in 1741 [sic] and that his wife died before him. We know that no wife relinquished dower in his deed of gift to his son John on 15 September 1741, suggesting the possibility that she was indeed deceased by that date. However, it is clear from the Goochland deed books that at least some relinquishments of dower in that period were not recorded with the deed. His wife’s death by 1741 is best left as a very plausible hypothesis rather than a fact.
- The “old Witt homestead at Roselands in Nelson County” couldn’t possibly refer to William Witt, son of John Witt I. As far as we know, he never set foot in what became Nelson County. He lived and died in the part of Albemarle County that is now Fluvanna County.
- Nor could the homestead have been in the family for “about 200 years.” There weren’t any land acquisitions by his descendants in what became Nelson County until well after the death of William Witt.