Looking in Virginia for Pryor and Dennis Connection

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Quill etcWhen I wrote Leroy B. Pryor – Part II: Can We Connect the Cousins? I was looking for a Pryor and Dennis connection. I may have found it in a Chancery Court case on the Library of Virginia website.

The Richard Pryor of this suit was the son of John Pryor and Ann Bland. When John died in 1785 Richard Pryor and his brother in law John Timberlake (also of this case) were the executors of the will. The case states that Richard’s father John was married to Mary Dennis. Huh? Did Ann Bland die first and John remarried to Mary Dennis? And are these Pryors connected to the families in Jackson County, TN?

Here’s a summary of the Chancery Court Case…

A Bill of complaint, the entitled in the Worshipfull Court of Amelia County by JOHN TIMBERLAKE and RICHARD PRYOR executors of JOHN PRYOR, deceased against RICHARD DENNIS, executor of DEAREST DENNIS, deceased.

Humbly complaining —? Unto your worships your Orators, executors of John Pryor, dec’d that some time in or about the year of our Lord Christ one thousand seven hundred and —-  a certain Dearest Dennis departed this life after having first published her last will and testament in writing being of sound and disposing mind, memory, and understanding in manner and form following to wit.

In the name of God amen. I Dearest Dennis of Raleigh Parish in the County of Amelia, by the mercy of god in a sound  and disposing mind, make and ordain this my last will and testament in the following manner.  I give and bequeath unto my son JOHN DENNIS twenty pounds to him and his heirs forever. I give and bequeath unto my daughter MARY PRYOR twenty pounds to her and heirs forever.  I give and bequeath to my daughter ELIZABETH PINEHAM twenty pounds to her and her heirs forever. I give and bequeath  to my daughter MARY ROYALL** twenty pounds to her and her heirs forever. I give —? And bequeath all remaining part of parts of my Estate of every kind whatsoever to my son RICHARD DENNIS to him and his heirs forever and I nominate constitute and appoint him the said Richard Dennis exectutor of this my last will and testament which I sign, seal, publish, and deliver the 21st day of April 1780.

Two questions asked as part of this case explain that Mary Dennis Pryor was married to the late John Pryor.

Whether she did bequeath to the wife of your orator’s testator Mary Pryor the sum of twenty pounds? Whether he has ever paid the same or any part there of either to the said Mary Pryor or John Pryor, her husband in this life times.

The entire orginal case is scanned and available at http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/full_case_detail.asp?CFN=007-1792-033#img

There are other references to the Dennis family in VA. All seem to link to this same Pryor line.

1772 in Amelia County – Richard Dennis of Raliegh (Rawley) Parish in Amelia County, conveyed to his grandson Richard Pryor, son of John Pryor, of Nottoway Parish a negro girl “Cate” and her children (Notes on Southside Virginia By Walter Allen Watson, pub. 1925)

And this other reference

1798 Deed – Deed from Peter Randolph and Sarah, his wife, to Henry Dennis, conveying a tract on Cellar Creek, bounded by Luke Pryor, Isham Clay and others, it being the same land recovered of the heirs of Lettice Bland, deceased. (Notes on Southside Virginia By Walter Allen Watson, pub. 1925)

It looks like this is the same line that begat the Civil War general Roger Atkinson Pryor. The Richard Pryor noted above would have been his grandfather, Luke Pryor his great-uncle, and John his great-grandfather. However, I’ve never seen a reference to Mary Dennis before. Is this something new or have I missed something?

I Googled to see what I could find. I found John and Mary’s marriage.

John Pryor & Mary Dennis, 21 May 1754, Amelia Co. Virginia.

Another search turned up John Pryor’s 1785 will, which I  had seen before but it was worth reading at again to see how this case fits in with it. (read the will).

Another priece of evidence that John Pryor was married to Mary Dennis is their son Luke Pryor who married Ann Batte Lane named a daughter Mary Dennis Pryor (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography)

I’m convinced that Mary Dennis was married to John Pryor, son of Samuel Pryor of Prudence Thornton. The same John Pryor who had children Richard, Elizabeth, Luke, Mary, Philip, and John. So how on earth did so many family trees on Ancestry.com come to have Ann Bland as the wife of this John Pryor?

** Did Dearest Dennis really have 2 daughters named Mary?