I keep trying to piece together the family of Major John Pryor of Richmond. If you’ve heard any loud frustrated sighs, that’s probably me. The Major had no children so what I’m curious about is who were his siblings and who was his father. This week I’m taking another look at his family tree with some of the new information I’ve found.
First Wife: John Pryor married Anne Beverly Whiting, the daughter of Thomas Whiting and Ann Sewall. Anne was a socialite with dwindling fortunes. They married in 1796 when the Major was in his late forties, over-weight and in poor health and Anne was in her teens. The marriage dissolved when Anne ran off with her French tutor, Mr. Fremon. In 1811 Major Pryor asked the Virginia Legislature for a divorce, however there is no evidence that they ever granted a divorce, in fact there is strong paper evidence they said “no.”
Second Wife: The Major was a creature of habit– he married twice and each time married considerably younger women. In 1815 at the age of 65 Major Pryor married Elizabeth Quarles Graves, who was about 15 years old. They remained married until his death in 1823. There is a fat file of depositions which were collected in the 1850’s when Elizabeth applied for a Widow’s Revolutionary War Pension. A deposition from Sarah Hatcher of Richmond states she was the daughter of Methodist minister Edmund Lacy who married John Pryor and Elizabeth Graves. She said she remembered the ceremony because of the “disparity” of their ages. Sarah also remembered that John was related in some manner to Elizabeth. A letter in the file written and signed by Elizabeth herself states she was the grand-daughter of the “reputed” Major James Quarles. A while ago I figured out that Major James Quarles was married first to Major John Pryor’s sister, Mary Pryor, and Elizabeth was a daughter born to Major Quarles and his second wife Dorothy Waller. Therefore, Major Pryor and his wife were related, but not by blood.
There is some other connection between the Virginia Pryor families and the Wallers. I’m not exactly sure how it came about. Here are some more posts where the name Waller was discussed. So this is another connection that remains on the back-burner for now.
Sister, Mary Pryor Quarles: The Major’s marriage to his brother-in-law’s daughter (It starts to sound like a soap opera!) is supported by the Revolutionary War Pension application made by Patsy Minor Quarles the wife of Robert Quarles and also the mother of Pryor Quarles. Patsy states that Robert’s mother was Mary. http://revwarapps.org/w9868.pdf. There is still a question whether Mary was a sister or an aunt– Major Pryor named his nieces and nephews in his will, however Robert Quarles was still alive at the time was not named in the will.
Sister, Elizabeth Pryor Hankins, born about 1755. Elizabeth probably pre-deceased the Major as she was not named in his will although her children were named:
- Archer Hankins b. 1771 – 1780. He was the presiding justice in James City. He’s on the 1830 Census in James City.
- Pryor Hankins b. 1782. In 1810 Pryor was counted in York County and in 1830 and 1850 he was counted in James City, VA.
- Dorcas Hankins b. 1785-1790. Dorcas married John Bryan and is named as Dorcas Bryan in Major Pryor’s will. Researchers state her husband died in 1806 which I believe pushes her year of birth back to around 1785 – 1790. Dorcas is a head of household on the 1810 and 1820 Census in York Co., VA (probably Williamsburg area). There are several Hankins households near Dorcas on census records and Pryor Hankins administered the estate of her step-son Frederick Bryan.
A Hankins Mystery:
There are Hankins families on the 1850 Census in Knox County, TN. Eli Hankins was married to Nancy Graves and had a son they named Pryor Hankins. I suspect there is a connection to the Hankins, Graves, and Pryor families from Richmond, VA. Are other Pryors in Knox County related to the Richmond Pryors? Well, I may have the answer to this in my next post!
Nieces, Elizabeth Taylor and Rebecca Taylor – These nieces were probably daughters of the Major’s sister, Sally Pryor Taylor, who was deceased by 1800 per the Major’s will. I do not not know which Taylor married Sally Pryor.
Niece, Mrs. Charlotte Morrison (of Williamsburg, VA) was counted on the 1850 Census in York County. Charlotte was the widow of George F. Morrison.
Nephew, Thomas Pryor. I believe he is the Thomas Pryor on the 1820 Census in Rockingham County, NC. He was counted one line above Elizabeth Pryor Archer. They both have connections to Pryors in Pittsylvania County, VA. There’s a whole lot more on Thomas in one of my next posts!