Tag Archives: Christopher J D Pryor

Two Gamblin’ Alabama Pryors in Trouble in the Old Virginia (1835)

Lucky DiceA report of sex, guns, knives, vandalism… and the Pryors. It comes from the Richmond Whig re-published on 11 Sept 1835 in the The People’s Press and Wilmington Advertiser (NC).  This story was also published in the Maryland Gazette and the North Carolina Star. I guess a salacious story made it’s way through all the media outlets even in the 1830’s!

“Superior Court of Law for Henrico County was applied to for a bench warrant for the arrest of two men of the name of Pryor, father and son from Alabama, alleged to be gamblers by profession, (of great wealth) who on a visit to relations in Henrico county had been guilty, as alleged of an enormous offence.”

OK, they’ve got my attention. This is like a little mystery of who is who, so I’ve interjected my thoughts in brackets.

The complaint was brought by a man named Brown who said the older of the Pryor men had married his aunt (Was his aunt a Brown?). This older Pryor had made “overtures” (sexual advances?) toward a Mrs. Anderson, a niece of Pryor’s wife (So, Mrs. Anderson could be the complainant Brown’s sister or his cousin). The woman delayed the advances and when Pryor returned her husband was waiting with a gun. The husband fired, “lodging may shot in his arm.” Sounds like Mr. Pryor got an arm full of buck shot! They complained that both of the Pryors then rushed into the house and stabbed one of their Brown cousins, causing damage to the house by “spitting the furniture from cellar to garret.”

It doesn’t say how much time it took, but there was a warrant issued and a posse sent out to grab the Pryors. They were stopped on their way to “the city” (Richmond?) and they were “in a carriage and four, with a a traveling carriage and a tender.”  I wish I knew what that was… it sounds like they had a carriage pulled by 4 horses and an entourage. It goes on to say that the judge set bail at $5000 and would even consider $10,000 because these guys weren’t going to escape the law because they had a lot of money.

When they were questioned they were represented by attorneys Conway Robinson and Shirley Carter. Now this is really starting to sound like Law and Order!

I’m not sure why the names of the victims and the defendants weren’t published. Maybe because no one was convicted yet. Was it the practice of the time? I consulted the 1830 Census and found in Henrico County there was a William A. Anderson counted on the line above a John D. Browne. On another page there’s a William Browne recorded on the line above Rachel Anderson.

Luke Pryor of Limestone County, AL was the father of John B Pryor, a racehorse trainer. Lots of gambling around the ponies?  Samuel B Pryor, the first mayor of Dallas, plead guilty to gaming in TX, but that was in 1851 and he would have been 15 years old in 1835 and there’s no information to tie his family to AL. I thought of Joseph Pryor in Tuscaloosa, but he was about 68 years old in 1835.

I think we have an Alabama Pryor that we didn’t know connected to these families! I’d like to present an argument that whoever this Pryor is — he’s probably connect to Christopher Pryor of Gloucester.

1. I believe Christopher Pryor was wealthy and probably came from a well-heeled family. It’s recorded that he supplied the Continental Army with 800lbs of beef during the Revolutionary War– that implies that he  had means beyond a subsistence farmer. He had married well into the Clayton family and a daughter named after the Whiting family may indicate ties to that prominent family. His son John C. Pryor was the administrator of the estate of Henry Whiting, the brother of Ann Whiting who married Major John Pryor.

2. I found another document that mentions all 3 names: Pryor, Brown and Anderson. It’s much earlier than the incident but may point to family connections. A notice published in Rind’s Virginia Gazette on 4 November 1774,

The death of Mr. Hugh McMekin, late of Norfolk, renders it absolutely necessary that the bushels carried on by him there, by Mr. Matthew Anderson in King and Queen, end by Mr. Christopher Pryor at Gloucester Courthouse, be discontinued…
(posted by) BENNETT BROWNE, attorney in fact for Mr. John McDowell and Company.

3. Christopher’s grandson: Christopher J D Pryor is a possible candidate. This younger Christopher was born in 1800 so he would have been 35 in 1835. I can’t place a son with him to fit this story in 1835. However, Christopher was a teacher at Hampton Academy in 1833 (read my post on this Pryor), however he assaulted a Dr. Richard Banks. I haven’t found this Pryor on the 1840 Census and by 1850 he’s was on the census in ALABAMA.

Can anyone figure out the relationships? Who are these Pryors? Open to suggestions!

A New Look At Old Virginia Pryors and New VA Additions to the Website

2011 may be the Chinese year of the rabbit, but for Pryor research it’s turning out to be the year of the microscope!  No Pryor left unexamined. No family tree assumed correct! Why this fervor?  We’re at the point where we have a boodle (is that a genealogy term?) of  records available online and we have filled in enough information of what happened to the Pryors as they moved Westward to unravel which families they connected to before they left VA and the Carolinas. So get ready for lots of mini-mysteries and some big solutions. This is going to be a fun year!

In September 2009 I wrote Is Benjamin W. Pryor AKA B. W. Pryor of Elizabeth City? I’m now ready to make my final decision— Absolutely NOT.  B. W. Pryor is Brazure Williams Pryor who was on the 1810 and 1820 Census in Elizabeth City, VA. His name was recorded as “Braz” on the 1810 Census.  He was a hero of the War of 1812 where he defended Hampton (Elizabeth City), politically active as a member of the VA House of Representatives and member of the Electorial College that elected James Monroe in 1817. He was part of the reception committee that planned the visit of General Lafayette (the French general of the American Revolution in 1824). And his death in April 1827 was notable enough to be reported in the Washington Intelligencer.

I recently found an excerpt of a will for a Brazure Williams who died in Charles City in about 1793. He left his plantation where he lived to his grandson Brazure William Pryor! Also mentioned in the will is his wife Frances Williams, so we now know that B W Pryor’s grandparents were Brazure and Frances Williams. The excerpt also mentions the executor was Williams’ son in law Samuel Pryor, so there’s the possibility that Brazure was the son of a Samuel Pryor.

It would be easy to suspect that when Brazure W. Pryor died in 1827 John C. Pryor, who appears on the census in Elizabeth County in 1830, was his heir. Yes, too easy—after all, we’re looking at Pryors and nothing is that simple! A suit between Philip Taliafero and Skaife Pryor resolved that John C. Pryor (who had died about 4 years before) was the son of Christopher Pryor (who had died in 1803), and that Skaife (born 1832) was John’s only son.   The judgment entered on the case in 1855 further shows that in 1846 Skaife being a minor had Christopher Pryor appointed as his guardian.

This gets pretty convoluted but it’s an excellent example of why not to take genealogies at face value.  A  1910 account of the Pryors in The Armistead Family: 1635-1910, by Virginia Armistead Garber purports to give an account of family relationships as described by a relative who had first hand-knowledge.  In that account the recollection was that Skaife Pryor and his sister Harriet Pryor were children of Christopher J D Pryor and were sent to live with the Armistead family when CJD Pryor moved to Alabama with his new wife.  There appears to be a morsel of accuracy in this story in that Harriet was indeed living with Robert A. Armistead in 1850 and Skaife W. Pryor was living with Alfred B. Davies in Gloucester County, but it appears that Christopher J D was their guardian, and not their father.

The 1860 Census in James City, VA was unique. It states not just the state of birth but the county of birth for Christopher J D Pryor.  He was born in Charles City in 1800, which means he could related to Brazure W.  Pryor who inherited his grandfather’s land in Charles City in 1793. Christopher was a noted educator who attended William and Mary College, which is another connection. John C. Pryor  was on the college’s Board of Visitors (the board that elected the rector) from 1816-1837. It was during his time on the board that Christopher J D Pryor graduated from the college (1823)

So if John Clayton Pryor is the son of Christopher Pryor born about 1745 and Brazure Williams Pryor is possibly the son of a Samuel Pryor who would have been a contemporary of Christopher, how are these men related? I’ve looked through all the Samuel’s I have in my database and there’s only one who fits this timeframe:  Samuel  who was the son of Philip Pryor and Ann Haden.  As far as I can tell there is no information available on this Samuel.  I like him for a match because he would be a brother of Matthew J. Pryor who migrated to Marion Co., TN.  Matthew’s son Matthew Jr. married Williams sisters.  I know there are a lot of Williams families, but I’m interested to find if Brazure Williams and Matthew’s in-laws were from the same line.

One last piece of information for connecting these lines.  Theodorick Pryor, father of General Roger A. Pryor provided genealogy information during his lifetime and  it was stated that “Dr. (Theodorick) Pryor had a kinsman, Captain Pryor, at Hampton who distinguished himself in the war of 1812. General Pryor, the collector of the port of Norfolk, long ago, was also a kinsman; as was Luke Pryor of Alabama, United States Senator.” Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, Vol. 11-15. So taking this with a grain of salt for accuracy, Theodorick Pryor was alledgedly related to both Captain John C. Pryor and General Brazure Pryor who was the collector at the port.


I’m trying out a new format on what in the past were the Virginia census pages.  These pages are still in their location with census extracts, however I’m now including other records to try to complete the chronological order of events and establish connections.