Tag Archives: Gloucester County

Positive ID on Richard Pryor and Son Beverly Pryor

I found a newspaper article that will help to turn up the ID to “positive” for Richard Pryor and son Beverly Pryor in this recent post.


When the tale of their Virginia adventure made it’s way into an Alabama newspaper, the editor chose to ID the Pryor men.

From The Selma Daily Reporter, September 19, 1835

I can’t let go of Richard Pryor of Madison County without some more pondering of his possible connections.

Richard was born in 1798, but I’ve seen the surnames involved in the Richmond “ruckus” that took place in the 1830’s connected to a Pryor line. In 1774 a notice was published in Rind’s Virginia Gazette; it mentioned business conducted by Matthew Anderson of King and Queen County and Christopher Pryor of Gloucester Courthouse. There’s the Anderson surname again.

Hmmm… Christopher Pryor? His Son married Betty Armistead Tyler and his daughter was named Elizabeth Whiting Pryor. Both Armistead and Whiting are names that come up with Richard Pryor of Madison County.

I’m putting Richard and his line again on the the back burner, but considering he may be connected to the Pryors in Gloucester County.

Christopher Pryor of Gloucester County: 1787 Signature

We now have a signature of Christopher Pryor of Gloucester County, VA. He signed a 1787 legislative petition concerning the taxation of slaves.

And an earlier signature from 1786. I noticed that he signed near John Whiting on both petitions. (see post that explores Whiting connection)

And yet another signature from 1785 and again near John Whiting. Under Whiting is James Baytop– Col Thomas Baytop was master of Botetourt Masonic Lodge and the executor of Christopher Pryor’s estate.

Major John Pryor of Richmond… And Gloucester

OpponentsDirty, dirty, politics. If you think things are bad now, well, they were no better in the distant past. On August 27th, 1856 The Weekly Wisconsin published an article titled “The Slanders on Col. Fremont’s Mother.” Apparently this was published about the time that John C. Fremont was considering a run for the White House. His opponents were making accusations that he had been born out of wedlock.

Remember this article was written about 30 years after the death of Maj. John Pryor of Richmond… we’re now almost 200 years from his death.  Perhaps there is some accuracy in this being closer to the events. It states Fremont’s mother was from Gloucester, and Maj. Pryor, her first husband, was also from Gloucester.

I found that interesting because of the connection I’ve pondered between Major Pryor and Christopher Pryor of Gloucester.  It states that the Major was 62 years old when they married (in 1796), but I think they added about 20 years on to his age, perhaps to make him look bad and to make Fremont’s mother look less culpable for leaving the Major. The article states that a divorce was granted before Major Pryor and his wife remarried, yet there is a document that shows the divorce was rejected and no later order granting the divorce. The writer states Pryor remarried his “housekeeper”, when in fact he married the grand-daughter of a well-respected officer of the Revolutionary War who probably had ties to Pryor’s own family.

I suspect Major Pryor has been maligned in history as a slovenly, elderly husband to the young Anne Whiting (later Fremont).  But I’ll take the Gloucester County connection as an interesting lead!

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!

Connecting Major John Pryor of Richmond to More Pryors!

I’m not sure what to call this chart… David Pryor? Major John Pryor of Richmond? Christopher Pryor? Not sure because it has all of these men in it. I’ve found that keeping this chart has been quite helpful because sometimes keeping track of everyone feels like a dancing in a bowl of Pryor spaghetti– a tangled, mushy mess!

chart - david pryor

I don’t yet know the father the David and I don’t yet know his brother. I suspect Nicholas Pryor of Henrico County is David’s father. David died 1747 in Henrico County and Nicholas died in 1746. I have a suspicion but not enough proof to speculate that Edward Pryor may be David’s missing brother. Edward was in Henrico County on land described at a similar location as land owned by Nicholas and Edward was in Pittsylvania County.

To tame the “spaghetti”– I’ve drawn in arrows and bubbles where people seem to intersect.

  • Major John Pryor married Ann Beverly Whiting. When Anne’s brother Henry Whiting died his estate was handled by John C. Pryor, who I believe to be the Major’s nephew. We know for sure that the “paperwork” says John C. Pryor was Christopher Pryor‘s son.
  • While Major Pryor lived in Richmond, many of his heirs and their aligned families lived in James City, Gloucester, Elizabeth City, and in Williamsburg. These locations are also true for Christopher Pryor and his descendants.
  • Major Pryor died childless but among  his heirs were Archer Hankins and Thomas Pryor. I believe he is the Thomas Pryor counted next to Elizabeth Pryor Archer on  the Rockingham Co., NC census. Elizabeth’s son, Creed Taylor Archer, state she was a daughter of David Pryor and Mary Cunningham of Buckingham County, VA (the David Pryor marriage to Miss Cunningham is new to me and will be explored in another post).
  • Thomas in Rockingham County named his son John Randolph Pryor— was he named for the President’s brother John Randolph Jefferson who married Mitchie Pryor?

I’m working on another chart of all the Pryors that lived in or passed through Pittsylvania County. Looks like that may answer some of our questions!