Tag Archives: Randolph

Who was James Pryor in Cumberland County, VA Circa 1802?

james-pryor-cumberland-1It’s kind of fun with a “new” Pryor surfaces, but it also drives me absolutely C-R-A-Z-Y!

There’s a Virginia Chancery Court case “William Gay vs executors of Richard Eggleston deceased” — there actual pleadings are missing, so I can’t tell exactly what date it was filed.  I gleaned the gist of the case from two depositions which were noticed:

1st Deposition: James Pryor taken 22 Sept 1802 at the home of William Pryor in Cumberland County. He states that the case surrounds the trade of tabacco, iron, etc. for a Peacock Gelding (a horse) in 1782 or 1792. Names included are Richard Eggleston, John Eggleston, and Clough Eggleston.

2nd Deposition: In November 1804: Clough Eggleston in Amelia County, Clough was an overseer from 1780 to 1781, signed Thomas Randolph JP, James P Coke JP – noticed on 15 Oct 1804 by William Meriwether and Joseph Eggleston.


Banister L. Pryor married Rebecca Eggleston in Cumberland County in 1808 (6 years after James Pryor’s deposition in Cumberland County).  Banister was a son of David Pryor and Susannah Ballow of Buckingham Co., VA and later Nashville, TN.  Even with this information that connects the Pryors and the Egglestons I have no idea which James Pryor this may be!

I guess if James testified in a deposition in 1802 that he was 21 years old or older. So, he was born about 1781 or earlier. I have a pretty short list of possibilities…

James Pryor, brother of Nathaniel Pryor (the Lewis and Clark guy). James may have been an adult when his father died in about 1791 in KY. James ran a dry goods store with his brother in law, John B. Gilly and was likely in KY with the rest of his family in 1802.

James Paxton Pryor born around 1785 in Kanawha County was the son of Nicholas and Sally Paxton. He was named in a 1806 Chancery Court suit in Augusta County, VA, so he could have been in the area in 1802, but he would have been a young child when he witnessed the horse transaction which was the subject of the suit.

James Pryor b. 1776 – 1794  who was in Stewart County, TN with William Pryor married to Betsy Trammell. William was born in Botetourt County, VA and is first recorded in Stewart County in 1804. Cold this be the William and James in Cumberland County?

Well, I also suspect that the James in Stewart County was also the one who was in Pike County, IL: https://tennesseepryors.com/pryor-website/state-records/illinois-counties-m-s/#Pike  This James Pryor obtained land grants in Pike Co. in 1840. The oldest male in household for the 1840 Census was 50 to 59 years. A death notice from THE NASHVILLE CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE for REBECCA PRYOR wife of James Pryor, died Pike Co., Ill., Jan. 7, 1849; states they moved from Christian Co., Ky. to Stewart Co., Tenn., to Pike Co., Illinois.

This made me laugh. The James in Pike County was counted on the 1850 Census and his occupation was recorded as POSTMASTER. Good grief, could he be related to Banister Pryor and his kin who were postmasters and other public servants? (See John C. Pryor’s Letter to President Thomas Jefferson)


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?

Captain Pryor in the Revolutionary War?

I read a story online called “Our Grandmother’s Clock,” published in Catholic World, vol 38, October 1883 to March 1884 issue. It’s written by an adult recollecting their childhood when their grandmother told the story of meeting their grandfather during the American Revolution. Grandpa was a Captain Pryor with General George Washington’s army. It’s frustrating because there’s no author credit given and it’s hard to tell if it’s fact or fiction.  I’ve pulled some names and information from the story and I’m wondering if anyone sees any facts that match their ancestor.

  • Grandmother lived in Virginia as a girl and as an elderly widow she moved in with one of her children and grandchildren in Mt. Airy.
  • The story takes place on a plantation named Mount Airy. I looked in Wikipedia and found that it’s still a private mansion near Richmond, VA.  It was built by John Tayloe.
  • A  publication of a horse pedigree in The American Farmer states a horse named Federalist raised on the estate of John Tayloe, deceased, was sold to Major John Pryor by William Beale Jr. (published April 17, 1829, but the sale possibly occurred 10 to 20 years earlier). The America Stud Book, Vol. 1 states Federalist was bred at Mt. Airy.
  • Her mother’s married name was (Charlotte?) Lottie Randolph and she was (Mary?) Polly Randolph.
  • Captain Pryor was wounded and taken prisoner at Yorktown. He impersonated a British soldier to spy for General Lafayette.
  • This quote from the story indicates that the family moved westward: “This old clock was brought with other less sacred household goods when the spirit of adventure had seized upon grandfather and made him leave the honored borders of old Virginia for a home in the far West.” Where was the “far West?”– Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois?

I dug through my database and looked online, but I can’t figure out who this story is about. The frustrating thing is that if its fiction, the author has dusted it with real names to anchor it somewhat in reality.  My first thought was of Major John Pryor who lived in Richmond and who made the horse trade with John Tayloe. Major Pryor even at one point housed Nancy Randolph, a relative of President Thomas Jefferson who had a tarnished reputation. But he lived at Haymarket Gardens and his wife was a Whiting, not a Randolph and there were no children from their union (hence no grandchildren to tell stories to).  Major Pryor’s second wife was his housekeeper, Elizabeth Quarles Graves, but she remarried and moved to Boston also without children from her marriage to the Major.

So who was Captain Pryor? I suspect that the personas of the Captain and the Major have been melded together in history and in the research of some family historians. I did some searching for a captain rather than the major.

“I do certify that John PRYOR was c—–  (commissioned?) in a Captain Lieutenant in the first Regiment of Artillery on Continental —– the 13th of January 1777 —- in the service until the end of the war. Given under my hand this 29th day of June 1807. Samuel COLEMAN.” [from Revolution Bounty Warrants, Library of Virginia – online Catalog.  The back side of this document states that Captain Pryor was given 4000 acres.]**

A Goochland County will dated 1748 for a Samuel Coleman (obviously not the same Samuel Coleman who survived the American Revolution in the 1770’s) was witnessed by John Pryor, John Right, and Robert L. Woodson.

The Colemans, Pryors, and Woodsons were in Goochland County, VA records in the 1730’s onward. Samuel Coleman married at St. James Northam parish in December 1780. I suspect the John Pryor known by Samuel Coleman was John Pryor son of Col. William Pryor and Sarah Wood. This John Pryor was born in 1759 and was alive at the time of his father’s 1777 will. He was born in Goochland County and baptized at St. James Northam parish. He was the right age to be marriage material at the time of the Revolution.

I think that some of the confusion between Captain Pryor and old Major Pryor who married Anne Whiting comes out of them having close family connections. Major Pryor was a member of the Society of Cincinnati as was Samuel Coleman (the guy who knew Captain Pryor). A John Pryor, who I believe to be Major Pryor, is recorded in the board minutes of Hampden Sydney College in 1804 with Samuel Coleman.

Relying on “Twenty-One Southern Families: Notes and Genealogies,” by Elizabeth Pryor Harper, Capt. John Pryor received 4000 acres on Skaggs Creek in Kentucky. There’s a John Pryor on the 1800 Tax List of Barren Co., KY. John isn’t on Barren Co. records after that but it’s been offered that the John Pryor who was also getting large amounts of land near Louisville was the same person.

So is Capt. Pryor who spied on the British the John Pryor who was in Jefferson Co., KY and is believed to be the father of Nathaniel Pryor? Was Nathaniel Pryor’s mother actually a Randolph? That could explain why he was part of Jefferson’s Lewis and Clark Expedition!

To get to the root of Grandmother’s story it would be really helpful to know who Grandmother was and to know who were her grandchildren!

** Since first writing this post the writer has discovered the identity of the John Pryor who received the 4000 acres of bounty land [<<Read More>>]