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A. James Berry {A.}

     James Berry {A.} (~1690 - ~1756) is one of the two oldest, traceable people in this lineage bearing the Berry surname, the other being John Berry, who is here interpreted as being the brother of James Berry. Due to the repetitive use of the given name, James, in this family group, this individual is referred to as the elder James Berry in this report. While there seems to be a small body of unverifiable data that speculates on certain aspects of his life, there is very little information from primary or secondary sources documenting this man, and the few sources available merely record the last several years of his life. From the available information it appears that James Berry was probably born in northern Ireland or Scotland, and may have been married twice. Unsurprisingly, this data is quite incomplete and contradictory, expressing disagreement on his age, who he married, the identity of his children, where and when he emigrated to the American colonies, and when he died. Some sources claim that he had moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania before 1718, while other references don't place him in the American colonies until about 1740 when he settled in Westmoreland County, Virginia. What is known with certainty is that by late 1749 or early 1750 he had moved to Augusta County, Virginia. 


      The available sources estimate his birth as occurring between 1673 and 170993,95, 169096,99,101, 169294, and 1700.100  He had two known children, George and Thomas Berry, although only one (George Berry) has been identified through primary sources. While there is no available birth date for George, Thomas is believed to have been born in 1718.7,56,96,99 If Thomas's father (i.e. this James Berry) was at least 20 years old at the time of his birth, James' birth date could be approximately 1698. Based on this analysis and the available sources, a fair approximation of the birth date of James Berry seems to be about 1690. Defining his date of death is equally ambiguous. The various sources give dates ranging from 1789 to 180893,95,  174994,99,  1756,96  sometime between 1751 and 18111  after 1751100,  and 1779.98  As will be shown later in the report, the 1749 and 1779 dates represent the deaths of two other men named James Berry, and the mid 1750's references are related to the fact that this James Berry disappears from Augusta County, Virginia court records (the only known primary source material for this James Berry) about that time. With this large range of birth and death dates, it's hard to imagine that it is the same individual being described! Likewise, when considering the extreme diversity in the dates, there is, understandably, also some disagreement in defining the places of his birth and death. Most sources indicate that this James Berry was born in Ireland1,98,99,  or, more specifically, northern Ireland (possibly Donegal)101,  and they typically place him in Augusta County, Virginia94,101, for his death. As will be noted below in the section entitled "Timeline of James Berry and Elizabeth ? (Unknown Last Name)", James Berry can be traced in Augusta County, Virginia from 1750 through 175621, and, in several of his last entries, he appears to be old and in poor health. While there is no direct verification from primary or secondary sources, based on the content of several Augusta County court entries, James Berry is here considered to have passed away in Augusta County, Virginia not long after the spring of 1756.21,201


      When it comes to the identity of James Berry's spouse(s), there is a greater level of agreement, although the data is still not entirely clear. The names of  two women, Elizabeth Davis and Anne Elizabeth Enfield, are repeatedly mentioned in the various sources, so it seems quite likely that James Berry was married twice. Three sources record the name of his wife as being Elizabeth Davis.7,93,95  One source notes that he was married twice (to Elizabeth Davis and Elizabeth Enfield) with the latter being listed as the second wife,96 while another researcher came to the conclusion that Elizabeth Davis was the second wife.101  The Augusta County, Virginia court records (which are the only primary source documents), verify that Elizabeth was the spouse of James Berry, although there is no mention of her maiden name.21  At this point, no determination can be absolutely made concerning the order of marriage (if indeed there is more than one wife), nor of any maiden names. 


      Apart from a few dates and places, few of which are in agreement, it has been very difficult to identify just where and when this James Berry lived prior to his arrival in Augusta County, Virginia. He was probably born in northern Ireland around 1690, and possibly emigrated to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania by 1718, although he could have remained in Ireland until 1740, when he emigrated to Westmoreland County, Virginia. From the data presented below, it seems clear that he next moved from either Lancaster County, Pennsylvania or Westmoreland County, Virginia to Augusta County, Virginia sometime between 1742 and 1748, possibly as late as 1750. Although nothing certain is known of his whereabouts between 1690 and 1750, it may be possible to ascertain some limited idea of his movements through the known data of his children and grandchildren, as well as from a study of some associated Scotch Irish families that settled in the vicinity. 


      A potential source of data on the movements of the elder James Berry can be derived from his two known children, George and Thomas Berry. While there is solid documentation from primary sources for this assignment of George Berry, the assignment of Thomas Berry is based only upon secondary sources.21,209  In fact, the few available secondary sources defining the parentage of Thomas Berry unanimously note that he was the son of James Berry.7,96  Most families of this era were quite large, so it is entirely possible that there are a number of additional children. Unfortunately, there is no currently available documentation for any of them. While the birth date of George Berry is unknown, Thomas Berry is believed to have been born in 1718 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania,7 although other sources give the same birth date, but a birth place of Ireland.96,99  The indirect evidence from this generation, thus, suggests that James Berry lived either in Pennsylvania or Ireland prior to his arrival in Augusta County, Virginia. 


      The next generation of Berrys may also provide some clues to the movements of James Berry, although, once again, the information varies quite a bit. One source has the children of Thomas Berry born in Pennsylvania until about 1744. Beginning in 1754, the birthplaces are listed as Augusta County, Virginia.7 Another source, however, has his children being born in Westmoreland County, Virginia from 1740 through 1744.96  The next childbirths, from 1750 through 1756, take place in Augusta County, Virginia, and there is one reliable document that places Thomas Berry in Augusta County in 1748.21  From 1757 through 1760, and possibly 1770, several children are listed as being born in Rockbridge County, Virginia (which was split off from Augusta County in 1778).96,243 This information traces the movements of Thomas Berry, a probable son of James Berry, and if James Berry traveled with his son, it could, thus, provide indirect evidence on the movements of James Berry. 


      Muster rolls for the Augusta County militia also provide some negative evidence pertaining to the date of arrival of James Berry in Augusta County.21   These records list able bodied males in the area that were available to serve in the local militia, presumably to defend their communities against the native American tribes that were being incited to attack the English colonists by the French colonial powers. The conspicuous absence of any Berry names on this list strongly suggests that the Berry families had not yet migrated into the area, which places a lower limit on the date of the Berry migration into the area at 1742. Assuming that Thomas Berry and his father (the elder James Berry) traveled together, their movement from either Lancaster County, Pennsylvania or Westmoreland County, Virginia to Augusta County, Virginia can be broadly bracketed as occurring sometime between 1742 and 1748.7,21,96  Charles Berry, here interpreted to be a nephew of the elder James Berry, is known to have been in Augusta County by 1746, which may further refine the arrival time of the Berry family as having occurred sometime between 1742 and 1746.235

     Another, very indirect, source for tracking the possible movements of James Berry can be determined from a study of the Scotch Irish neighbors of James Berry. One researcher has tracked the John Davis family in their move from Donegal, Ireland to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania about 1740, and then a subsequent movement to Augusta County, Virginia about 1745.101  Another researcher has traced the Peery family from Scotland or northern Ireland through Philadelphia to Augusta County, where at least three plots of land were purchased in 1749 not far from the acreage purchased by James Berry in 1750.236  Both the Davis and Peery data matches quite well with the bracketed Pennsylvania to Virginia emigration of 1745 to 1750. The families of Hugh Campbell, Gilbert Campbell, William MaGill as well as the Beatty family follow a similar track, suggesting a northern Ireland-Pennsylvania route of travel for James Berry.36,100,116,118,169,248

 

Timeline of James Berry and Elizabeth ? (Unknown Last Name)

 

     From the records shown below, which are primarily derived from Augusta County, Virginia court documents, the elder James Berry can be traced from the fall of 1750 through the spring of 1756. A note of interest is the double date for some early colonial records, specifically, those before 1752. Until the Gregorian calendar was adopted by England in 1752, the first day of the new year was considered to be Lady Day, a religious feast day, occurring on the 25th of March (near the vernal equinox). Consequently, the period of time from 1 January through 24 March, which, today, would be considered part of the new year, was, until 1752, considered to be part of the “previous” year.222  Thus, before 1752, original Augusta County, Virginia court documents recorded during this interim period noted the date using the old method. A date of 28 February 1750/1751 or 28 February 1750, would actually represent 28 February 1751 and not 1750. It should also be noted that (?) or __?__ within a transcribed record indicates places where the writing on the original document was undecipherable or a portion of the document was missing.

 

27 Nov. 1750221

Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 3, page 64 
THIS INDENTURE made the 27 day of November in the year of our Lord 1750 between Robert Campbell, gent. of the County of Augusta of the one part and James Berry of the said County of the other part. Witnesseth that the said Robert Campbell for and in consideration of the sum of five shillings current money of Virginia to him in hand paid by the said James Berry at or before the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged hath granted bargained sold and by these presents doth grant bargain and sell unto the said James Berry one piece or parcel of land containing 149 acres the same more or less County of Augusta and bounded as followeth, viz: Beginning at three white oak saplings near the Mannor line being a corner to William Martain's land and runneth thence 77 ° east 280 poles with said Martain's line crossing the Middle Branch to Shannadoe to James Young's corner and with his line to between a white oak and a black oak sapling south 30' west 32 poles to a post corner a grave yard thence with the lines thereof north 77 ° east 12 1/2 poles to a post south 30 ° west 12 1/2 poles to a black oak south 77 ° east 12 1/2 poles to a hiccory south 30 ° west 48 poles east to a black oak corner to M. Glebe thence with a line thereof north east 208 poles to a walnut and white oak north 30 ° east 88 poles to the beginning. And all house buildings, orchards, ways, waters, watercourses, profits, hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever to the said premises hereby granted or any part thereof belonging owning appertaining and the reversion and reversions, remainder and remainers, be the same more or less and all and sigular other the premises hereby granted with the appurtenances unto the said James Berry his heirs Executors Administrators and assignes from the day before the date hereto __?__ during the full term of a whole year from thence fully to be complete and ended. Yielding and paying therefore the rent of one pepper corn on Lady Day next if the favor shall be lawfully demanded to the intent and purpose that by virtue of these presents of the statute for transferring uses unto possession the said James Berry may be in actual possession of the premises and thereby unable to __?_ and take agreed deed release of the reversion and inheritance thereof to him and his heirs. In Witness whereof the said Robert Campbell hath hereunto set his hand and seal the day and year first written.
Robert Campbell
Sealed & Delivered in presence of 
David Heuarn 
Andrew Cowan 
John Mildred

28 Nov. 1750221

 Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 3, page 64
THIS INDENTURE made the 28th day of November in the year of our Lord 1750 Between Robert Campbell, Gentleman, of the county of Augusta Witnesseth that for and in consideration of the sum of £53 current money of Virginia to the said Robert Campbell in hand paid by the said James Berry at or before the sealing of these presents the receipt whereof he doth hereby acknowledge and thereof doth release acquit and discharge the said James Berry, his Executors and Administrators to the said Robert Campbell and by these presents doth grant, bargain, sell, alien, release and confirm unto the said James Berry (in his actual possession now being by virtue of bargain and sale to him thereof made by the said Robert  Campbell for one whole year by indenture bearing the date the day next before the day of the date of these presents) ... and by the statue for transferring land unto possession and his heirs forever one piece or parcel of land containing one hundred forty nine acres more or less lying situated joining the Glebe land in Beverly Mannor in the said County of Augusta.

28 Feb. 1750204

Augusta County, Virginia Will Book 1, page 318
(This date is actually 28 Feb. 1751, as noted above.) 
Know all Men by these Presents That We James Berry, William Martin &  George Berry of the County Augusta County are held firmly bound unto Jno. Lewis the first Justice in the commission of the Peace for the said County for, and in Behalf and to the sole Use and Behoos (?) of the Justices of the said County, their Executors, Administrators or Assigns in the Sum of seventy pounds to be paid to the said Jno Lewis his Executors, Administrators and Assigns: To the which Payment well and truly to be made, we bind our selves, and each of us, by himself, our and each of our Heirs, Executors, and Administrators, firmly by these Presents. Sealed with our Seals, and Dated this 28 Day of Feb. 1750 
The Condition of this Obligation is such, that if the above bound James Berry his Executors and Administrators, shall well and truly pay and deliver, or cause to be paid and delivered, unto Jno. James & Wm. Berry Orphan of James Berry deceased, all such Estate or Estates as now is, or are, or hereafter shall appear to be due to the said Orphan, when and as soon as they shall attain to lawful Age, or when thereto required by the Justices of the said County Court, as also keep harmless the above-named and the rest of the said Justices, their and every of their Heirs, Executors, and Administrators, from all Trouble and damages that shall or may arise, about the said Estate: Then the above Obligation to be void, otherwise to remain in full force. Sealed and Delivered in the Presence of 
James Berry Willm Martin George Berry
Received 28 Feb 1750

28 Feb. 1750204

Augusta County, Virginia Will Book 1, page 319
At a court continued and held for Augusta County 
James Berry bein on his motion appointed guard to John, James & Wm Berry orphans of James Berry dec'd. with Wm. Martin & George Berry his securities in open court This their bond which is ordered to be recorded.

29 Aug. 1751208

Augusta County, Virginia Order Book 3, page 187
On the motion of James Berry Guardian to John Berry orphan of James Berry dec'd to bring forth that John Jones in whose custody this orphan now is abuses him, I'm therefore Ordered that the said Jones deliver him up to the said James Berry, his Guardian

29 Aug. 1751205

Augusta County, Virginia Order Book 3
To the Honourable Bench of Augusta now Sitting November 28, 1751 the Humble petition of James Berry
Whereas Your pettitioner being the Guardian of the Children of James Berry Deceased part of the Estate Which was Sold at Just (?) Vandue (?) Remaining as a Book-Debt and Notes not being taken for it, it was Drawn out of the Vandue - paper into another which paper John Johnes which married the Widow of the said Ja. Berry Dilivered to your petitioner notwithstanding that is to: John Johnes had before Collected that Money and Converted to his own use and the paper which said Jno Johnes Gave to your petitioner being of no force or Value Your petitioner Shall thereby be in damages to your petitioner therefore hoped that your worships will take case into your Consideration and be Plansed (?) to order Some Redress and your petitioner will as in Duty bound ever pray.

28 Nov. 175121

Augusta County, Virginia Order Book 24, page 439
James Berry, guardian of children of James Berry, deceased. John Jones married James Berry's widow.

30 Nov. 175121

Augusta County, Virginia Order Book 3, page 225
James Berry, guardian of the orphans of James Berry, decd., complains that John Jones, who married the widow of James Berry, is wasting the estate.

27 Dec. 175121

Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 4, page 244
John Cathey and Jean, lately come from Ireland, now in the County of Augusta, intending to travel and settle in Carolina, to Samuel Wallace, 300 acres. In Beverley Manor, on Cathey's Creek, a middle branch of Shanando, part of 466 acres sold by Beverley to Wm. Cathey, 28th September, 1738, and by death of William (died intestate) descended to John, his oldest brother; corner John Trimble (formerly Wm. King); Hugh Young's and John Jamison's lines; Beverley Manor line; corner Morris O'Friel.
Teste: Alexander Blear, Patrick Martin. Wm. McPhetters, James Scott, Morris O'Friel, James Berry.

23 Mar. 175421

Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 6, page 179
John McPheeters to Wm. Martin, 198 acres, part of land Jno. now possesses. Cor. John McPheeters in JamesYoung's line; cor. Robert Campbell's land, now James Berry's.

21 May 1754209

Augusta County, Virginia Order Book 4, page 252
On the motion of George Berry on behalf of his father James Berry To bring forth his great age poverty of informity And it is ordered that he be forth (?) return (?) Eserrgoted from the payment of public levys in this county 

01 Apr. 175590

Rockbridge County,Virginia Notebook
Then on April 1, 1755, Jacob Lockhart “plantationer” sold the 436 acres of land he had accumulated to James Clerk (Clarke) for £17. It was adjacent to Clarke's property, the Glebe land, and the farms of James Berry and James Young, all on Back Creek.

19 Nov. 1755201

Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 7, page 191
At a Court held for Augusta County November the 19th 1755 James Berry in Open Court Acknowledges this his decise for and Indented to George Berry which is on the Motion of the s.d George admitted to Record

19 Aug. 1755201

Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 7, page 1919
THIS INDENTURE made the Nineteenth day of August in the Year of our Lord one Thousand Seven hundred and fifty five Between James Berry of the County of Augusta of the one part and George Berry of the sd. County of the other part Witnesseth that the said James Berry for and in Consideration of the sum of five shillings Current Money of Virginia to him in hand paid by the s.d George Berry at or before the sealing and Delivery of these presents the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledges Hath Granted Bargained and sold and by these presents Doth Grant Bargain and sell unto the said George Berry one piece or parcell of land Containing One Hundred and forty nine acres be the same more or less lying situate joining the Glebe land in Beverly Manor in the said County of Augusta and Bounded as followeth Viz Beginning at white oak saplins Near the Mannor Line Being a Corner to William Martins Land and Runneth thence south seventy seven Degrees past two hundred and Eighty poles with said Martins Line & along the Middle Branch of Shanador to James Young & Corner and with his Line to Between a white oak and a Black oak Saplin South thirty Degrees West thirty-two poles to a post Corner to a Graveyard thence with the line thereof North seventy seven Degrees West twelve poles and a half to a post south thirty Degrees West twelve poles and a half to a Hiccory South thirty Degress West Forty Eight poles to a black oak Corner to the Glebe thence with a line thereof North Seventy seven Degrees West two hundred and Eight poles to a Walnut and white oak North thirty Degress East Eighty-eight poles to the Beginning AND all houses Buildings Orchards Ways Waters Water Coursis profits Commodities Heriditamints (?) and Appurtenances Whatsoever to the said paom (?) it is hereby Granted or any part thereof Belonging or in any wise Appertaining and the Reversion and reversions remainder and Remaindors Rents Issues and profits thereof  TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said one hundred and forty nine acres of Land to be the same more or less and all and singular other the Premises hereby Granted with the Appurtenances unto the said George Berry his Heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns from the Day before the Date hereof For and During the full Term and time of ONE WHOLE YEAR from thence next Ensuing fully to be Compleat and Ended Yielding and paying therefore the Rent of ONE PEPPERCORN on Lady Day next if the same shall by lawfully demanded to the intent and purpose that by Virtue of these presents and the Statute for Transferring elses (?) into possesion the said George Berry may in actual possession of the Premses and be thereby Enabled to Accept and take A Grant and Release of the Reversion and Inheritance thereof to Him and his Heirs IN WITNESS WHEREOF the said James Berry hath hereunto set his hand and seal Day and Year first above written 
SEALED AND DELIVERED 
IN THE PRESENCE OF James Berry (seal)
William Edmiston 
James Bower 
James Gillmor

20 Aug. 1755201

Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 7, page 191
THIS INDENTURE made the Twentieth Day of August in the Year of our Lord one Thousand Seven Hundred and fifty five between James Berry of the County of Augusta of the one part and George Berry of the said County of the other part WITNESSETH That for and in consideration of the sum of fifty-three pounds Current money of Virginia to the said James Berry in hand paid by the said George Berry at or before the Sealing and Delivery of these presents the receipt whereof he doth hereby acknowledge and there of Doth Release acquit and Discharge the said George Berry His Executors and administrators these presents He the said James Berry Hath Granted Bargained sold a lien of Released and confirmed and by these presents Doth Grant Bargain Sell Alien Release and Confirm unto the said George Berry in his actual Possession now being by Virtue of a Bargain and Sale to him thereof made by the said James Berry for one year of (rest of document missing)
Test John Madison

08 Apr. 175621

Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 7, page 343
Commission to Augusta to take acknowledgement of Elizabeth
wife of James Berry, in deed to George Berry, 20th August, 1755. Executed, May, 1756

08 Apr. 1756201

Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 7, page 331
GEORGE the second by the Grace of God of Great Brittain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith To Patrick Martin Robt McClenanhan and Robt Breckenridge Gent Greeting. Whereas James Berry of this County of Augusta by his Deeds of Lease & Release bearing date the 19th & 20th of August 1755 for the Consideration therein Mentioned did Give grant bargain sell release and confirm Unto George Berry of the county aforesaid and to his Heirs and assigns forever a Certain tract of land containing one hundred and forty nine acres Situate lying and being in Beverly Manor and Adjoining the Glebe Land of this Parish And whereas Elizabeth the wife of the sd James Berry is unable to travel to our County Court of Augusta to be Privately examined apart from her said Husband whether She Voluntarily or without the threats or Compulsion of her said husband is Willing to Relinquish her right of dower to the said land in the said Deeds mentioned as the Law in that Case Derects Therefore know ye that we give Power and Authority to you the s.d Patrick Martin Robt McClenanhan & Robert Breckenridge or any two of you to go to the house of the said James Berry & there Examine the said Elizabeth Privately and apart from her said Husband wither she be Willing to Relinquish her right of Dower to the said land in the said Deeds mentioned and whether she doth the same of her own free will without any force threats or Compulsion of her said husband and whether she willing that her acknowledgement shall be recorded with the said deeds and that you Certify the same distinctly of our Justices of our County Court of Augusta and that you have then those s.d deeds together with this Writ Witness John Madison Clerk of our s.d County Court at the Court House of the s.d County the 8th Day of April 1756 
THE EXECUTION of the within Commission appears by a schedule hereunto Annexed

19 May 1756201

Augusta County, Virginia Deed Book 7, page 331
BY Virtue of this Commisssion to us Robt McClenanan and Patrick Martin directed we did personally on the 19th of May go to the House of the within named James Berry and there privately and a part from the s.d James Berry did examine Elizabeth his wife whether she was willing to Relinquish her right of dower to the land sold by her said husband to George Berry who declared and Acknowledged that she freely and Voluntarily relinquished the same without force threats or Compultion of her s.d husband and that she desired the said deed together with this her relinquishment of dower should be recorded all which we do hereby Certifie to the Justices of our Lord the King. Under our hands 7 seals this 19th day of May 1756
Robt McClenanhan (seal) 
Pat Martin (seal) 
Admitted to Record. 
Test John Madison

21 May 1756201

At a Court Continued & held for Augusta County
This Examination of Elizabeth the wife of James Berry for her relinquishment of Dower to one hundred & forty Nine Acres of land Sold by her husband James Berry to George Berry being returned unto Court is on the Motion of the sd Geo Berry Admitted to Record.
Test John Madison

 

Analysis of the Timeline

 

     The first documented record of James Berry in Augusta County, Virginia dates from 29 November 1750, when he purchased 149 acres of land from Robert Campbell in Beverley Manor along the Middle Branch of the Shenandoah River. The location of this tract can be found on the Beverley Manor land ownership map (Figure 3). The associated listing of property owners are cross referenced in Table I.
Here the property of Robert Campbell, James Young and the Glebe church land, which includes a cemetery (the Glebe Cemetery), as well as the Middle Branch of the Shenandoah (called Cathey's Creek on the map) can be identified from the land description.213,214 Figure 4 shows a more detailed view of these property owners and the locations of their properties. Robert Campbell purchased the entire 350 acre tract in 1740, and later sold a portion of it to James Berry.213  These entries define the date of arrival in Augusta County, Virginia for the elder James Berry as having occurred at least by late 1750.213


     The next entry, 28 February 1751 involves the orphans of a deceased James Berry. All Augusta County court records entries on this subject are discussed in detail below under a separate heading. The next several 1751 entries are related to the orphans, as well. In the 27 December 1751 entry, James Berry served as a testamentary in a land sale for a relative of a deceased neighbor, William Cathey. The property of William Cathey, as well as those of several other people mentioned in the entry can be found on the map (Figure 4), including John Trimble, Hugh Young, Patrick Martin, Morris O'Friel and John Jamison. Also identifiable is the Middle Branch of the Shenandoah River (Middle River on the map), the upper reaches, of which, is referred to as Cathey's Creek on the map.213 In the spring of 1754, there are two entries. The first involves a land transfer on a property adjacent to James Berry. In the second, George Berry, who is identified in the entry as a son of James Berry, asks the court that his father be relieved of a property tax. The transcript of the original document cites the great age and apparent poor health of James Berry. In the spring of 1755, Jacob Lockhart, who owns property adjacent to James Berry, sold a 436 acre tract of land bounded by the property of James Berry and James Young, and in this land sale, James Berry is described as being a farmer. The property of James Young also adjoins that of James Berry on the map.213


    Several paired legal documents representing land transfers are found in the records, consisting of two indenture agreements recorded on successive days. The first involved a small down payment for a specified tract of land, and a nominal one-year rental fee of a peppercorn. The second of the pair of indenture agreements, which is dated the next day, involved the payment of a much larger sum and involved the actual land transfer. An indenture is a contract between two parties for the performance of services, and was a legal tool commonly used to transfer property in pre-revolutionary times.218,219 The double transaction appears to be an example of the lease and release process, a land transaction commonly practiced in colonial Virginia, that amounted to a sale, and consisting of two steps. First the property is leased to the buyer, then the lease obligation is eliminated with an exchange of money, representing the sale price of the land.220  The lease stipulates the payment of one peppercorn, which is initially somewhat confusing. A peppercorn is the dried berry of a black pepper, but in English law, it's use merely designates a nominal lease payment.229  Since these two land transactions are so similar, only the second, that between James and George Berry, will be closely examined. In the first part of this deal, which was recorded on the 19th of August, the record notes that for a paltry five shillings and the rent of one peppercorn, George Berry has leased this 149 acre tract of land for a period of one year from his father. On the next day, it appears that, after George had paid £53 to his father, James Berry, who then released his son from the lease obligation. It is of interest to note that the price of £53 that George Berry paid for the land is the same price that his father had paid Robert Campbell for the land.

 

  The remaining entries, dating from April and May of 1756, record the legal proceedings involved in the requirement of the courts to check with Elizabeth, the wife of James Berry, to see if she agrees with the land sale. Under English law, although the husband actually owned the land, a wife may inherit her share (amounting to 1/3 ) of her husband's land upon the death of the husband. This claim on her husband's land was referred to as her dower rights or dowry. In the American colonies, it was common for the woman to give up this claim in order to leave the property free and clear of any legal obligations, but it was the mission of the court to question the wife apart from the husband to ascertain whether or not she actually agreed with the sale, or was being bullied by her husband.219,220 The 8 April 1756 entry notes that Elizabeth Berry was unable for some reason to travel to the court house, so representatives of the court traveled to the Berry household and questioned Elizabeth. This indicates that her husband is still alive at this point, for if he was dead, there would be no reason to question her. The court-appointed party returned to the court on 19 May with the report that Elizabeth agreed to the sale, and it was recorded as such on the 21st of May.

 

   From this series of documents it can be determined that James Berry purchased a tract of land in late 1750, and sold it to his son several years later. His neighbors are identified, as well as the location of his property, and he is described as an old farmer, who was still alive in spring of 1756, but was in bad health, and was married to a woman named Elizabeth. There are a number of additional entries from the Augusta County court records for James Berry, involving the guardianship and custody of the orphans of a deceased James Berry. From these records, it can be seen that in the winter of 1751, James Berry was designated the legal guardian of the orphans of a deceased James Berry, and by the end of the summer he was complaining, in court, about John Jones, the step father of the children. It is this series of records that has caused many of the interpretation issues defining the children of James Berry, which will be discussed later in the report.

 

Guardianship of the Orphans of the Deceased James Berry
“The Orphan Saga”

 

28 Feb. 1750/51204

Augusta County, Virginia Will Book 1, page 318
Know all Men by these Presents That We James Berry William Martin &  George Berry of the County Augusta County are held firmly bound unto Jno. Lewis the first Justice in the commission of the Peace for the said County for, and in Behalf and to the sole Use and Behoos (?) of the Justices 
of the said County, their Executors, Administrators or Assigns in the Sum of seventy pounds to be paid to the said Jno Lewis his Executors, Administrators and Assigns: To the which Payment well and truly to be made, we bind our selves, and each of us, by himself, our and each of our Heirs, Executors, and Administrators, firmly by these Presents. Sealed with our Seals, and Dated this 28 Day of Feb. 1750 
The Condition of this Obligation is such, that if the above bound James Berry his Executors and Administrators, shall well and truly pay and deliver, or cause to be paid and delivered, unto Jno. James & Wm. Berry Orphan of James Berry deceased, all such Estate or Estates as now is, or are, or hereafter shall appear to be due to the said Orphan, when and as soon as they shall attain to lawful Age, or when thereto required by the Justices of the said County Court, as also keep harmless the above-named and the rest of the said Justices, their and every of their Heirs, Executors, and Administrators, from all Trouble and damages that shall or may arise, about the said Estate: Then the above Obligation to be void, otherwise to remain in full force.
Sealed and Delivered 
in the Presence of 
James Berry 
Willm Martin 
George Berry
Received 28 Feb 1750

08 Feb. 1750/51204

Augusta County, Virginia Will Book 1, page 319
At a court continued and held for Augusta County 
James Berry bein on his motion appointed guard to John, James & Wm Berry orphans of James Berry decd. with Wm. Martin & George Berry his securities in open court This their bond which is ordered to be recorded.

29 Aug. 1751208

Augusta County, Virginia Order Book 3, page 187
On the motion of James Berry Guardian to John Berry orphan of James Berry decd to bring forth that John Jones in whose custody this orphan now is abuses him, I'm therefore Ordered that the said Jones deliver him up to the said James Berry his Guardian

28 Nov. 175121

Augusta County, Virginia Order Book 24, page 439
James Berry, guardian of children of James Berry, deceased. John Jones married James Berry's widow.

28 Nov. 1751205

Augusta County, Virginia Order Book 3, page 225
To the Honourable Bench of Augusta now Sitting November 28, 1751 the Humble petition of James Berry
Whereas Your pettitioner being the Guardian of the Children of James Berry Deceased part of the Estate Which was Sold at Just (?) Vandue (?) Remaining as a Book-Debt and Notes not being taken for it, it was Drawn out of the Vandue - paper into another which paper John Johnes which married the Widow of the said Ja. Berry Delivered to your petitioner notwithstanding that is to: John Johnes had before Collected that Money and Converted to his own use and the paper which said Jno Johnes Gave to your petitioner being of no force or Value Your petitioner Shall thereby be in damages to your petitioner therefore hoped that your worships will take case into your Consideration and be Plansed (?) to order Some Redress and your petitioner will as in Duty bound ever pray.

 

Analysis of the Timeline

 

     The “orphan saga” covers a nine month period from 28 February through  28 November 1751. The earliest entries note that James Berry became the court-appointed guardian of John, James and William Berry, orphaned sons of a deceased James Berry. At this time, an orphan was considered to be a child whose father had passed away, regardless of whether the mother was alive or not. In this case, as will be shown later, their mother was, clearly, alive. By August, James Berry, the guardian, appeared in court, complaining that John Jones, who had married the mother of the orphans, Elizabeth Eleanor (MaGill) Berry, had been “abusing” young John Berry. The decision of the court was to remove the young man from the home of his mother and step-father, and place him into the home of his guardian. By November, John Jones, the step-father was back in court, being accused by the guardian of taking the money from the sale of his wife's deceased first husband's land. This “orphan saga” has been the key to a major difference in interpretations by Berry researchers, and will be explored in greater depth in the following section. 

 

An Interpretation Issue

 

     Since there is very little primary and secondary source material documenting the earliest existence of these Berry families in America, some relationships between individuals cannot be verified directly, and several interpretation issues have caused a great deal of confusion and disagreement among Berry researchers. The issue of importance at this level of the Berry family tree is the relationship between two individuals, here defined as the elder James Berry and the elder John Berry. The two primary alternatives for interpreting their relationship are: 1) the father/son theory and 2) the brother theory. Since the given names James and John were used so often in these families, it is not always clear which individual is being referenced, so to assist in eliminating some of this confusion, the two most senior family members bearing these given names, are described throughout this report as the elder James (as noted above) and the elder John Berry. 


     An elementary fact underlying this interpretation issue is that there is just not any documentation defining the exact nature of the relationship between these two men. Many researchers assume they were father and son (father/son theory), but is is equally plausible for them to have been brothers (brother theory). The father/son theory would require that their birth dates would be around 20 years or so apart, while the brother theory support closer birth dates. While there are a number of references to the birth date of the elder James Berry, none are supported by data from primary sources, and no sources document a birth date for the elder John Berry. In this report, the best guess for the birth date of the elder James Berry results in an estimate of 1690, and (as will be shown in a later section), the best guess for the elder John Berry's birth date is about 1700. While this data should not be considered to be exact, it does appear to provide tentative support to the brother theory. However, since no reliable sources have been found documenting the birth dates of either James or John, any supporting arguments must rest upon indirect evidence. Probably the best source available for such analytical scrutiny is the will of the elder John Berry. 


     The keystone to the father/son theory is the interpretation that the elder John Berry is a son of the elder James Berry, and a key corollary to this theory is that, since the elder James Berry became the guardian of the orphans of the deceased James Berry, the latter must be the son of the elder James Berry. One problem with this theory is that it creates a very implausible and overly complicated scenario for the identity of the people named in the elder John Berry's will. Another, and far more serious problem is that it based upon the tenuous assumption that the designation of guardianship denotes a specific family relationship (i.e. father and son). 


     Perhaps the most important bit of circumstantial evidence supporting the brother theory is the simplified interpretation it allows for the people named in the will of the elder John Berry. In this will, John Berry named two females and two generations of males, and while the two females are clearly identified as daughters, the relationship of the older males to the elder John Berry is not stated. Each of the older Berry males named in the will (Charles, James, Francis and William) had sons with given names other than John, but only their sons named John were identified in this will. In addition, the elder John Berry's daughter, Mary Berry, who married Samuel Nesbit, had a son named John Nesbit who is also mentioned in this will. This association of young males named John in the will appears to suggest that the elder John Berry is identifying those grandsons bearing his given name. This further suggests that the older males named in this will are his sons, including the deceased James Berry with the orphans. Furthermore, two known sons of the elder James Berry, George and Thomas Berry, also had sons named John that were alive at the time, but all of these people are conspicuously absent from the will, all of which casts great doubt upon the father/son theory. 


      The unique association of grandchildren with John Berry's given name, combined with the conspicuous absence of Thomas and George, as well as their sons named John, seem to provide a solid case for the brother theory. As a result there appears to be two distinct Berry lineages living in Augusta County, Virginia at this time; one group being the elder John Berry and his children and grandchildren; the other being the elder James Berry and his children and grandchildren. Thus, it is here interpreted that, based on the indirect evidence in the elder John Berry's will that the elder James Berry and the elder John Berry were most likely brothers; the older males named in the will of the elder John Berry are sons of the elder John Berry; and the orphans of the deceased James Berry are grandchildren of the elder John Berry. 


     The dilemma with this interpretation, of course, is why would the elder James Berry assume guardianship over the grandchildren of the elder John Berry, when they (the elder James and John Berry) probably lived almost next door to each other?  The entire situation makes no sense if it is assumed that the elder John Berry is living in the area at the time, but what if the elder John Berry was not in America yet or had not yet moved to Augusta County? In this scenario, the elder James Berry would be the oldest Berry family member in the area, and would, thus, be expected to assume guardianship over the orphaned children in the absence of the oldest direct line relative. There appears to be sufficient evidence to reach the conclusion that the elder John Berry, indeed, was not present in the Augusta County, Virginia area until after the “orphan saga” had ended, thus providing the opportunity for his brother (as will be shown below), the elder James Berry, to assume guardianship of his (John's) orphaned grandchildren. 


     As noted above, part of the reasoning for the elder John Berry being the father of the deceased James Berry is based on his arrival in the Augusta County area later than the rest of the Berry clan. In order to gain a fuller appreciation of the timing of migration events and land acquisition patterns for the Berry families as they settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, it is useful to examine the overall land purchase records for the Beverley and Borden Grant areas. It is also quite important to understand the role of the Beverley and Borden Grants in the general political framework.


     The importance of the Beverley and Borden Grants can be seen with a quick perusal of their historical background. While the English colonies were growing at a fast pace east of the Appalachian Mountains, a French colonial empire was slowly being established to the west of the mountains from Montreal to New Orleans. Both the English and the French utilized their native American Indian allies to harass settlers on the edges of their opponents' realm in an 18th century version of state sponsored terrorism. The English response to these frontier depredations was to rapidly populate the fringes of their colonial empire with new settlers, which not only established an English presence, but also provided a buffer for the wealthy plantations along the coast and coastal plain from the French-allied native American Indian tribes west of the mountains. The mechanism for implementation of this policy was the granting of large blocks of land to wealthy English and Scottish landlords, and Major William Gooch, the Royal Governor of Virginia at the time, made liberal use of this policy. In the late 1730's, William Beverley, (recipient of 118,491 acres), and Benjamin Borden (recipient of 92,100 acres) received adjacent grants in the Shenandoah Valley now occupied by Augusta and Rockbridge Counties. The implicit understanding between the crown and these grantees was that these large tracts were to be broken up into small segments to be sold at a reasonable price, and to encourage Scotch-Irish immigration into this area, Governor Gooch guaranteed religious autonomy to the Presbyterians. A flood of mostly Scotch-Irish and German settlers were, thus, attracted down the Great Wagon Road from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania into the Shenandoah Valley.237,238


     The graphs below (Figures 5 and 6 ) were constructed with the number of land purchases in both the Borden and Beverley Grants per year plotted against the purchase dates from 1738 through 1759. All data was obtained from the Beverley and Borden land ownership plats, which identify individual property boundaries and note the purchase date.213,235  From a broad view of both graphs, an overall pattern can be discerned, consisting of a two broad peaks in land sales separated by a distinct saddle of low land sales. Beverley and Borden land sales began in the late 1730's, probably about 1736, with Beverley sales proceeding briskly before Borden sales began picking up. This is represented in both charts by a peak that lasted from 1738/40 through 1743. This early land sale peak, here referred to as the "First Phase", is followed in both areas by a markedly depressed period of land purchases that lasted from 1743 to 1746. The few land sales experienced by both areas during this period suggests a period of low immigration into the area. Beginning in 1746 in the Borden Grant and 1747 in the Beverley Grant, and lasting until about 1758 (somewhat earlier in the Beverley Grant), another land purchasing spree began, here referred to as the "Second Phase". It consists of three mini-peaks in land sales: one in 1747, the next in 1749/1750 (the Beverley and Borden peaks are offset by one year) and the third in 1754. The close timing of these periods of land acquisition in the Borden and Beverley grants may be, at least partially, due to heavy immigration in to the area.


     The next task is to compare to the known dates of Berry land purchases to the various Beverley and Borden land purchase peaks. The earliest known Berry land purchase in the area was made by William Berry (a son of the elder John Berry) on the upper reaches of Moffet Creek in the Borden Grant in 1746. This corresponds to the beginning of the first mini-peak in the "Second Phase". The next known land sale came in 1750 when the elder James Berry bought 149 acres in the Beverley Grant from Robert Campbell. This date corresponds to the beginning of the second mini-peak within the "Second Phase". Although there were no new Beverley land purchases that year, there were many purchases in the Borden tract. Of the next three Berry land purchases, only one was an original purchase of grant lands. The other two sales were land transfers from previous owners to Berry men. During a small lull in land sales prior to the third mini-peak in 1754, Charles Berry purchased Borden land in 1752, but he can be documented as being in the Augusta County area since 1746. Thomas Berry acquired Borden lands from a previous owner in 1752, but had been living in the area since 1748, and the elder John Berry purchased land at an unknown location, probably in 1752. While George Berry did not purchase land until 1755 (and that land acquisition was from his father), his presence in the county can be documented by 1750.21


     All of the Berry families, therefore, appear to have migrated into the area during the "Second Phase" of land purchases. The importance of this analysis lies in the fact that, although the Berry families made land purchases fairly close to each other, they did not all make their purchases at the same time. The timing of their various purchases seems to correspond to peaks in area land sales, which may correspond to peaks in immigration dates. While most of them appear to have been living in the area since around 1746, several Berry men (the elder John Berry and his son Francis Berry) are not documented before 1753 (or later in the case of Francis Berry). This suggests that they may not have migrated into the area at the same time, which provides additional support to the contention that the reason the elder John Berry was not selected to be the guardian of his grandchildren was due to the fact that he had not yet migrated into the Shenandoah Valley.

 

Figure 5

Beverley Grant Land Purchases

 

 

Figure 6

Borden Grant Land Purchases

 


     When the primary source documents of the elder John Berry are examined in the next section, it will be noted that the first entry for him occurs in 1753. One of the first Augusta County court records for the elder John and James Berry and all of their male children (except Francis), is typically a recording of a land purchase or a reference to land ownership. While the date of the elder John Berry's land purchase is not known, the Augusta County document notes that he appears to be a landowner at least by 1753.  While he is clearly not an original land purchaser in the area at this time, as noted by his absence from the Beverley and Borden Grant maps, most of the other people mentioned in this land entry owned land in the western portion of the Beverley Grant (as is noted in the portion of the report dealing with the elder John Berry). If the elder John Berry arrived in the area and purchased land in 1752, then he could have been absent from the area when the guardianship case was taking place in 1751. The elder James Berry is known to have purchased land in 1750, and, thus, could have been the eldest Berry family member in the area for a year or so. If the elder John Berry did not arrive in the Augusta County, Virginia area until about 1752, then it makes perfect sense for the elder James Berry (who is probably the elder John Berry's brother, but could be his father or uncle), to assume guardianship in 1751, since he is the oldest family member in the area. 

 

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