Knox County TN Pryors: The Bastard Child of Harris Pryor

I contacted the Knox County Archives and requested a copy of the bastardy case filed in 1805 against Harris Pryor. I’ve seen these cases in other counties and they can be chuck-full of great information like the child’s name, the witness names. Unfortunately this was a one page record. Perhaps it was a short-lived case because Harris not only agreed to support the child, but married the mother, Keziah Maxey in 1807.

First, the most disappointing thing: it doesn’t say who the the child was. The child was neither named in the case nor does the case hint at the child’s sex through references to “he” or “she”. Drats! However, there is information on the date the child was born– Keziah swore out her statement naming Harris on 17 September 1805 and at the time stated her child was born about 3 months prior to that date.

I think Harris may have made some moves between TN, KY and VA. In 1801 Harris (Jr.) was on the delinquent tax list in Knox County and we know he was in Knox County at the time the suit was filed in 1805 and he was in Knox County in 1807 when he married Keziah. By 1819 he was in Louisville, as he had been sued by William Dickinson in a Chancery Suit filed in Bedford Co., VA. He reported he was living in Louisville in 1820 (his sister Juggy Pryor Mays was in Breckinridge County, KY).  Keziah Maxey’s family was from the same area of VA as the Pryors: Harris Pryor (Sr) was in Prince Edward County, VA in 1784 as was Keziah’s father Shadrack Maxey.

The mother-lode of information may be in the names of the two men who stood as security for Harris Pryor: William Anderson and Benjamin Burnett. Again, these names hint that I’m on the right track when I connect Harris Pryor to the Pryors in Sumner County and Overton County, TN.

Allen L. Pryor of Sumner County, TN married Elizabeth Talley, the daughter of William Anderson Talley who was born in Cumberland County, VA and named for his maternal grandfather William Anderson.  Hmmm… I wonder if the Anderson on the suit and the Andersons in the Sumner County Pryor line are connected?

And the Anderson surname crops up over and over again in the Sumner County Pryors and their relations– Lucy H. Talley, another daughter of William Anderson Talley, married Robert Anderson Wright in Sumner County. When Allen L. Pryor’s wife died  he remarried to Margaret McWhirter, the spinster daughter of Isaac McWhirter and Emaline Anderson Tyree (daughter of Samuel C. Tyree and Elizabeth Anderson).  Anderson Woodson witnessed the will of Edmund Taylor (grandfather of Allen L. Pryor). Edward Pryor, son of William and Spicy Pryor of Overton County, TN, had a son named William Anderson Pryor.

Lots of Anderson connections.  So my next question was about the Burnetts. Are there Burnett connections to the Pryors?

John Pryor, who is our best suspect to be the father of William (married Spicy Taylor) and John (married Massie Taylor — they are the parents of Allen L Pryor), purchased land in 1788 in Campbell County, VA– the deed was witnessed by William Burnett. Later John Pryor witnessed a 1790 deed in Campbell County, VA with Martin Rector. Martin was married to Betsy Burnett.

There’s a marriage between a William Pryor and Sallie Burnett in 1826 in Roane County. I wonder if William was Harris’ son who was born in 1805.

Online I found a brief bio of Benjamin Burnett This seems to be the man who was security for Harris Pryor (Jr) in 1805. There are several VA Chancery cases involving Burnetts in Bedford County (the same county that Harris Pryor hailed from), however the Buckingham County cases are not in the database.

So stay tuned. We’ve got more digging to do.