Tag Archives: Richmond

George L Pryor, black attorney and politician

george-pryor-black-lawyer

George L Pryor is on the 1900 Census in Norfolk. He was recorded as born May 1857 and “black” which means he was an African American born before the end of slavery. He and both of his parents were born in Virginia and his profession is recorded as “lawyer”.

He married Mary Sewell in Norfolk in 1888. His parents were recorded as P Pryor and L. A. Pryor.

George L is on the 1880 census in Elizabeth City, VA in the household of Peter Pryor and Lucy A. Pryor. George’s occupation at that time was “school teacher.” Both Peter and Lucy were recorded as “black” and Peter’s profession was recorded as carpenter and Lucy was a seamstress.

The 1870 Census was the first census after the end of slavery. Peter Pryor and his family, including George, were recorded in Elizabeth City. Peter was a carpenter and owned a house worth $1200 and had a personal estate valued at $200. Peter was recorded as a mulatto at this time, indicating he was part white.

George L Pryor appears to have been a prominent African-American engaged in politics.

  • 1880 speaker at Republican gathering in Hampton, VA (Richmond Dispatch, 28 August 1880)
  • 1881 appointed clerk in the pension office (Baltimore Sun, 9 April 1881)
  • 1884 represented Norfolk, VA at the Republican National Convention.
  • 1888 represented Norfolk, VA at the Republican National Convention.
  • 1896 second vice president of Republicans in Norfolk, 4th Ward.
  • 1897 secretary for the development of the first colored beach resort
  • 1898 recognized by the Federal government as an agent to prosecute cases before the Department of Interior. He was disbarred from this practice in 1898 without explanation. (National Archives)
  • 1900 he was the president of the Central Republican League. (Virginian-Pilot, March, 15, 1900)

1901 appears to have been a rough year for George L Pryor. The Times in Richmond reported that he was also a clerk at the Navy Yard and was fined for charging illegal fees in a pension case as a government employee.

My curiosity is piqued on how out of slavery George L Pryor became a lawyer. How did he get from point A to point C?

Pryor Slave in Richmond Tobacco Factory Fight

ye-olde-pryor

A slave named Aleck Bagby, owned by Dr. Sam’l Fauntleroy, of King and Queen, on yesterday evening bit off the entire lower lip of Fleming Pryer, a slave, owned by W. R. Robinson, Esq., in a fight, at the factory of the latter, on Franklin, below 20th street — Dr. James Dove was summoned in haste, and stitched on the dissevered part.
— Richmond Dispatch, Richmond VA 4 March 1861

Samuel G Fauntleroy is on the 1850 census in King and Queen County and states his profession as physician, but do the slaves or their owners lead back to a Pryor?

W. R. Robinson is on the 1860 Non-Population Schedule, recorded as a manufacturer of tobacco.

It should be noted that Dr. James Dove was also summoned to a Richmond scene

I may have found Bagby– an Alexander Bagby worked in a tobacco factory in Richmond:

1870 Census, Henrico county, Richmond Clay Ward
Alexander Bagby 44 male B works in tobacco fac. Virginia.
Elizabeth 44 female B keeping house Virginia
Jeremiah 18 male B works in tobacco fac. Virginia.
George 17 male B ? Virginia.

Fleming Pryor was also on the 1870 Census and the 1880 Census:

1870 Census, Goochland County, VA
Lickenhole, page 120b, house Fleming PRYOR 67 black male born VA

1880 Census Richmond, Henrico County, VA
Richmond, page 487c, Fleming PRYOR 71 black make born VA, parents both born in VA, sick with old age. Edith wife 59 washer woman born VA, parents both born in VA. Edith Pryor 27. Martha 14.

Fleming Pryor died in 1886 in Richmond. He was recorded as a “factory hand” and he was born in 1824 in Hanover County, VA.

Bagby’s owner Samuel G. Fauntleroy connects to a Pryor. Samuel Fauntleroy with Elizabeth Antoinette DeNeuville Pryor (the widow of Brazure Williams Pryor) witnessed the will of Robert B. Boyd in 1838.

1838 Will – Will of Robert B Boyd 1838. Records of King and Queen Co. King and Queen C.H. Virginia. Will Book 1, page 102. Will of Robert B Boyd. Dated 30 May 1838. Prob. 11 June 1838. Friend Christopher John D PRYOR Esqr to be guardian “of my two children Mary Francis and Roberta Byrd Boyd. Two uncles Beverly D. Roy and Augustus G. D. Roy to have blooded horses. Wife Mary A Boyd. Exor: “my friend George K Carlton. Wit: E.A. PRYOR, Samuel G Fauntleroy, Junius x PRYOR. This will recorded 2nd Nov 1869

There are so many pieces connected to this simple 1861 news piece. Slaves such as Alexander Bagby were hired out to factory owners like W. R. Robinson. Maybe Fleming Pryor was another rented slave or perhaps Robinson acquired him from a Pryor or Fleming family. Does his name shed light on a Virginia Pryor family?

John and David Pryor, Orphans of David Pryor – Another Look

va-pryorsI’ve been going back and forth discussing Christopher, John and David Pryor with a couple of other Pryors. The chart in an older post (Connecting Major John Pryor of Richmond to More Pryors!) was gnawing at us. We decided to play with the the relationships to see if there is a way to make better sense out of these Pryors. Maybe it will feel less like a bowl of spaghetti?

We decided to move John Pryor of Richmond right up next to David Pryor of Buckingham County and Christopher Pryor of Gloucester — all brothers.

  • “Major” John married Anne Beverly Whiting. Christopher Pryor’s son was the administrator of Thomas Whiting’s estate, Anne’s father.
  • “Major” John housed the cousin of President Jefferson during a scandal. David’s daughter married Jefferson’s brother.

Now, you know what that would mean? John and David are the orphan sons of David Pryor who died in 1747 in Goochland County. Hmmm. That would certainly steer some Pryor research in another direction.

One of the naggy questions we mulled over was why in the senior David’s estate different guardians were bestowed on John and David: Samuel Taylor was John’s guardian and Abraham Childress was David’s grandfather and guardian. One of my Pryor cousins thinks it was to divide duties. I think it was because John and David had different mothers. David’s mother was obviously a Childress, but if we look at this John as his brother, then he may have dropped a clue while serving in the Revolutionary War — he wrote a letter indicating his mother was still alive:

October 10th, 1782, Richmond.
Capt. John Pryor to Col. Davies
Asking leave to visit his mother “in great distress with a probability of losing her husband, who is my Father in Law, by sickness, and wishes much to see me.
— Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts, pub. 1883

There is also a Carrington connection that wends its way through these Pryors:

  • In May 1778 David Pryor was serving with Lt. Mayo Carrington (Mayo, son of George Carrington). see post
  • “Major” John Pryor of Richmond attended the marriage of Capt. Dandridge in 1782 with Col. Edward Carrington (Edward, son of George Carrington, brother of Mayo Carrington, and the foreman of the Aaron Burr jury). see post
  • “Major” John Pryor received land grant in 1785 in KY, near C. Carrington (Codrington, son of George Carrington) see post
  • 1747 George Carrington deeded land to John and David, their father had already paid him for the land. see post

You know I’ve got my pencil out and I’m working around the Pryor chart testing out new relationships. Autosomal testing, as annoyingly hard to decipher as it can be, showed a connection between testers in my line to the Childress family (see post).  As I said… Hmmm.

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!