Tag Archives: Williamsburg

Revolutionary War Patriot “John Prior”… Who Went By Another Name

I go back through and check Pryors in different ways. This week it was looking at some of the Revolutionary War pensioners. The first I’m posting about is John Prior of Burke county, GA.

John Prior applied for a Revolutionary War pension on September 30, 1820. He was a resident of Burke county. Unlike many of the volunteer troops during the war, Prior served A LONG TIME. He stated he volunteered in 1775 in the 12th Virginia (this was a regiment that formed in Williamsburg). And didn’t leave service until after he was captured by the British and then released in 1781. That’s about six years of service.

He stated he served in the 12th Regiment that was later merged into the 8th Regiment from Virginia under Colonel Wood and Captain Swearingen. He stated he was captured by the British and released in Charleston, SC in 1781– Wikipedia article states most of the 8th Regiment was captured in Charleston in April 1780.

The FindAGrave.com memorial for Capt. Joseph Van Swearingen is interesting because it corroborates Prior’s statement. Apparently Swearingen was also captured at Charleston.

On ancestry.com I was able to locate the regimental records for the 8th Virginia under the command of Swearingen. There was only one Prior serving… JACOB Prior, beginning to appear in records in 1775 through 1779. On every single record he was recorded as Jacob, although the spelling of the surname changes from various spellings such as Prier, Prior, and Pryor.

There was a Jacob Prior from Prior Mills, NJ. He died between 1824-1826 in probably NJ. He was described as an “old” resident. His will was made after 1823 when the John Prior died in GA.

The use of two names raises all kinds of questions. Did Jacob use the name John before his service in the Revolution?

His family is also a bit of a riddle. He states he had a family of a boy of about 14 years old and two girls. He doesn’t state if they were his children, grandchildren or some other relationship. There’s no mention of a living wife.

Was he born about 1760 or earlier?

Where was he between 1781 when he was released by the British and his 1820 application? There are so many possibilities of who this John Prior may have been– from Virginia, from another colony, a recent immigrant who wanted anglicized his name Jacob to John.

If John/Jacob Prior was in Burke County up to his death in 1823 then surely he must be on the 1820 Census. I’m not really sure how much of the census is accurately indexed when so much of it is unreadable black blobs (see above example). Go to FamilySearch.og because the census is easier to read. Sorry, no John Prior found.

There’s another document for this John Prior on Fold3.com. It’s in the Georgia Final Payment Vouchers.

State of Georgia, Chatham County
…The said John Prior being by me duly sworn, saith, soldier in the Army of the Revolution in Captain Sweringham’s Company of Infantry of Colonel Wood’s regiment; that he now resides in the County of Burke and has resided there for twentyfive years past; previously to which he resided in Charleston in the sate South Carolina.
John [his mark] Prior

The Fold3 file is also worth a read because it contains a follow up letter dated 12 August 1822 in which Prior asked for a speedy decision. He mentions that his application was mailed with the application of Jesse Farrow. There’s another document dated 25 April 1822 stating John Prior appeared in front of Judge Jno. H. Montgomery to swear to the statements in his application. At the bottom of this document it states that Jesse Farrow swore in open court that he knew John Prior during the war and was at the Battle of Brandywine.

I took the trip down the rabbit hole… when was the Battle of Brandywine? September 11, 1777. So was Farrow in Prior’s regiment during that month? Prior was on the roster for August and September, but no Farrow. Farrow’s application states he served through South Carolina and there’s no mention of the Battle of Brandywine. Was Farrow’s statement just doing a friend a “solid” or did these men actually know each other during the war? Like Prior, Farrow stated he was taken prisoner by the British at the fall of Charleston, so perhaps the men met in captivity.

Wow. He made his application in Burke county, had some kind of tie to Chatham county (or traveled the 100 miles to this other county!) and lived in Charleston, SC perhaps between 1781 and about 1798 when he arrived in Georgia. That means he could be one of the two John Priors in Charleston on the 1790 Census. I haven’t found any other record of this John Prior in Chatham county.

This doesn’t get any easier to figure out. There was a John Pryor who died intestate in Chatham county in 1790 (before this John arrived and before this John died in 1823). So not the same man, but yet another John Pryor.

I’m wondering. I checked the list of patriots on the DAR website and this John Prior is indexed. I’m wondering why he’s listed as John Prior and not Jacob Prior or under both names.

I love this kind of stuff! I hate this kind of stuff! It’s what makes sorting out the John Pryors so darned difficult!

Croxton Pryor of Williamsburg (d. 1777)

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I wrote about Croxton Pryor back in 2012 (see post) because he had some pretty fancy shoes in his will. There’s futher notice of his estate published on May 9, 1777 in The Virginia Gazette, a Williamsburg newspaper.croxton-pryor

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Revolutionary War – Henry Pryor of Botetourt County?

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On 1 August 1777 an H. Pryor, Lieut advertised in Purdie’s Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg). He was seeking his friend Thomas Vaughn Nance who had enlisted with him in Col. Harrison’s artillery in York. He was entreating his friend to return to the unit before he was “deemed a deserter.” Thank goodness for Wikipedia.org, because there’s some good information there on this artillery. They formed in Williamsburg and fought in the Southern theater during the Revolutionary War, so Virginia should be the right place to start looking for this Pryor.

So Lt. H. Pryor may have been from Gloucester, Hampton, York Counties, or James City, Elizabeth City. I’ve got lots of records on the Pryors and “H” is a stand-out name in VA in the 1700’s. I have only one more Pryor that begins with “H” — Henry Pryor who was  recorded in Botetourt County, VA in 1786.

Now Botetourt is interesting because this H. Pryor was looking for a Nance and there are several Nance’s later in Botetourt.  Children of Joseph Pryor in Botetourt married into the Nance family: Molly Pryor married Peter Nance, and Thornton married Mary/Polly Nance.

The surname Vaughn is also connected to this line of Pryors: Joseph of Botetourt’s nephew John Alexander Pryor married a Martha Vaughn. Shadrack Vaughn married Mary Meriwether — Mary was one Joseph of Botetourt’s step nieces and nephews through his brother Samuel’s marriage to Frances Morton who had children from her first marriage to a Meriwether (I hope that had some clarity — there’s no easy way to state that relationship!)

I think we may be on our way to ID a “lost” Pryor.

It’s A New Pryor to Add to The List– Arthur Pryor (d. abt. 1752)

lunenburg1It has driven me absolutely NUTS. Catherine Pryor who married Henry Lansford and they are connected to Pittsylvania County, VA and Williamson County, TN– who were her parents? Several researchers have posted online that she was from Lunenburg County, VA. But, there aren’t any Pryors in Lunenburg! At last I think I have a clue.

There’s an ad placed in The Virginia Gazette of Williamsburg, VA on 10 April 1752.

King and Queen, March 20, 1752
To Be Sold
One thousand and Eighty Acres of good Land, lying in the County of Lunenburg, on Toxekiah Creek, joining Lines of Baker, and Stunks, purchased of Mr. Charles Stunks, purchased of Mr. Charles Irby, by Arthur Pryor, deceas’d, the Pattent to be taken out in the Purchaser’s Name, or good lawful Deeds to be made by the said Irby, before the 10th day of June next, or after, when required, one Half the Money to be paid down, the other Half twelve Months after. Any Gentleman inclinable to purchase may know the Price, and by Direction may be met with at any convenient Place, to be treated with at any Time by
John Waller
Christopher Pryor,

ARTHUR PRYOR. Who the heck is Arthur Pryor?????

I suspect the Christopher Pryor is NOT the Christopher born about 1745 who was married to Catharine Clayton and living in Gloucester County. This is an older Christopher Pryor. I don’t completely trust Gatewood Pryor’s book, but here’s an interesting post that ID’s a Christopher Pryor in 1704 (see post). If this older Christopher and the Arthur in Lunenburg are connected then it suggests a kinship between that line and the Pryors who migrated through Pittsylvania County and Williamson County.

I can find only one other reference to Pryors in Lunenburg County: Thomas Dozer (or Dozier) married Caty Pryor on 17 June 1775. John Barry (or Berry?) was surety. This is about 30 years after Catharine and Henry Lansford married, and about 3 years before his death, so for now I have to believe this is a different Catherine or Caty Pryor.

Off to explore!

Nancy Pryor Marriage in York County, VA 1796

Alas there are times when people are lost to the ages. Sometimes it feels like many of our female Pryors are lost. I have an idea of which line this Nancy Pryor belongs to.

There’s a York County, VA marriage…

Thomas Sands to Nancy Pryor
Bondsman: Edward Brook (signed “Brooke”)
Witness: Ben. Waller, Jr.
August 23, 1796,  p. 426

I suspect this Nancy Pryor is related to Major John Pryor of Richmond.

1. Major John Pryor’s sister was Mary Pryor who married James Quarles. When Mary died, James married Dorothy Waller.

2. The Waller’s were a prominent family in Virginia (as were Major Pryor’s family). Benjamin Waller Sr. was the son of a Dorothy King. Was Benjamin Sr. the father of both Benjamin Waller Jr. and Dorothy Waller Quarles?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Waller

3. The will of John Tayloe Corbin was witnessed by Benjamin Waller of Williamsburg in 1793. Major John Pryor was connected to the Tayloes through his horse trading:

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.

I’m keeping a note of this Nancy Pryor as a possible niece of Major John Pryor.