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Copyright 2003 by Martha B. Wiley.  All rights reserved.  This information may be used by anyone for private genealogical use only.  Commercial use of this information is strictly prohibited without prior permission.  If copied or used, credit must be given to Martha B. Wiley.


April 5, 2003.  This page will be updated periodically.  If you have additional information, can clarify any of the fuzzy areas or correct any of the no doubt numerous mistakes in this history, please email me:  Comments are always welcome!

Nathaniel Hickerson[1] and Keziah

Nathaniel Hickerson lived in Fauquier County, Virginia.  Nothing is known for certain about his parents.  His grandfather was possibly John Hickerson, who patented more than 2000 acres in New Kent County[2] in 1716.[3]  John T. Hickerson died February 2, 1743 in Overwharton Parish, Stafford County, Virginia,[4] leaving his wife, Elizabeth, and three children, Hannah, John and Thomas.[5]  After John T. Hickerson’s death, his widow, Elizabeth, married John Waters on June 5, 1743, and married a third time May 20, 1747, to Samuel Elliot.[6]  Hannah Hickerson married James Whaley July 8, 1739.[7]  John Hickerson married Jean Jackson, January 20, 1742, and died the February 2 of the following year.[8] Thomas married Sarah (maiden name unknown, but possibly Elwood) prior to 1743; their daughter Sarah Elwood Hickerson was born March 27, 1743.[9]  That Thomas Hickerson died in Overwharton Parish at John Water’s house February 21, 1755; another Thomas Hickerson had previously died without a will in Stafford County in 1742.[10]  It is possible but not documented here that John or one of the Thomas Hickersons was Nathaniel’s father.


Nathaniel possibly had three brothers, Joseph, Thomas, and Charles, as these three Hickerson men were all active at the same time in Fauquier and Stafford County (see Contemporaries of Nathaniel Hickerson). 


Nathaniel’s birth date has not been documented, but can be calculated.  He was listed as a taxpayer in 1759;[11] since he had to be at least 21 at that time, the initial estimate of his birth date is 1738 or earlier.  However, his son William was born by 1754 (see Children of Nathaniel and Keziah).  Since men were commonly at least 21 at marriage, it seems reasonable that Nathaniel was at least 21 by 1754.  Thus, his birth date is estimated to be about 1732 or earlier. This makes him a contemporary of fellow Virginians George Washington, who was born in 1732, and Thomas Jefferson, born in 1743.


Fauquier County was on the frontier in 1700, but by the time Nathaniel had attained his majority, it was fairly well settled.[12]  Indians were still a threat in the county prior to 1722 and the Treaty of Albany.  With that treaty, the Indians agreed to keep westward of the Blue Ridge and the whites to keep to the east between the Blue Ridge and the Atlantic.  Although the whites did not keep their part of the bargain, the Indians did, and there were no known Indian raids in Fauquier County after 1722.[13] 


There were no towns or villages of any size in the county.[14]  Fredericksburg was the closest city, about 25 miles to the southeast along the Rappahannock River.  That was about as far as a horse and rider could travel in one full day, assuming there was a road and it was in good condition.  A carriage would have taken longer, perhaps two full days if the weather was good.  Traveling to the city was clearly a major trip, and most farmers stayed home and tended their crops.[15]


Nathaniel was probably married by 1753, as his oldest known son, William Hickerson, was probably born before 1754 (see Sketch, below).  In 1802, Nathaniel’s wife was known to be Keziah (maiden name unknown).[16] Keziah could certainly have been the mother of all of Nathaniel’s children, who were born between 1754 and before1784 (see Sketches, below).  Assuming she was 21 years old at marriage in 1753, she would have been 52 years old in 1784, which is the latest year that her youngest child could have been born according to the 1810 census.  This makes is likely that the younger children were born earlier than 1784.[17]  Nothing else is known about Keziah.


There is much evidence that Nathaniel lived in Fauquier County (which was formed in 1759 from Prince William County) for all of his adult life.  By 1759, Nathaniel was paying taxes.[18]  In June 1761, Nathaniel Hickerson was granted administrator for the estate of John Brown,[19] and served on a jury in 1762 and 1770.[20] He was tithable in 1775 in Hamilton Parish, Fauquier County,[21] and listed again as tithable from 1781 through 1799.[22] 


Virginians paid taxes to the colony, the county and to the parish.  All free men 16 years and older, and all slaves (both male and female) were classified as “tithable,” and the head of the household paid the taxes for all the tithables in the household.  A young man’s tax was paid by his father until he set up his own household.  If he were apprenticed to learn a trade, the master craftsman paid his tax until the apprenticeship was complete.  Tithables all paid the same taxes, regardless of their financial status.[23]  Nathaniel probably paid his taxes with tobacco like most of the colonists, since cash was rare. 


Taxes were also paid to the county and to the parish.  County taxes were set by the county officials (justice of the peace, clerk of the court, sheriff, county surveyor, etc.).  Parish taxes were paid to the Anglican church, which was recognized by the colony as the established church.  No other religion enjoyed such support, which paid for the minister, the church buildings and many welfare functions (aid to the sick, poor and orphans).[24]   There was no separation of church and state in Virginia.  In fact, in order to have a franchise to vote, a man must have been a member of the Anglican church (as well as being 21 years old, white, and owning at least 100 acres, or 50 developed acres, or holdings of similar value in town).[25]  The actual voting population was probably less than 5% of the total.[26]


In 1776, Nathaniel was one of more than 10,000 signers of a state-wide petition asking for relief from payment of tithes to the parish church, because “taxation deprived them of their property.”[27]  The petition asked that the Virginia General Assembly consider the issue of freedom from religious taxes, comparing the tithe to taxation from the British.  This petition illustrates a facet of the American Revolutionary War period not nearly as well known as the more famous “taxation without representation” tyranny of the British King.  As the colonists put it in Massachusetts, “all America are alarmed at the tea tax, though, if they please, they can avoid it by not buying the tea,” but the parish tithe was made mandatory for all taxpayers by the colonial governments.[28] 


Nathaniel owned at least 200 acres on a branch of Deep Run by 1779,[29] and he paid land taxes on 200 acres from 1783-1791.[30] He is said to have bought land with his brother (probably Joseph Hickerson) before 1759 on the Green Branch and Deep Run in Fauquier County from George Washington.[31]


Nathaniel was most likely a farmer.  Outside the larger towns, farming was the most typical livelihood.  Farms (which raised food crops) and plantations (which raised marketable crops such as food or tobacco) were generally small, no more than about 250 acres, since that was the size that could be cultivated by a single family.[32]  At his death in 1813, he owned a “home plantation” of 75 acres, orchards and 40 acres of woodland,[33] which implies both that he grew some kind of market crop (plantation vs. farm) and that he had additional land away from his residence.


Tobacco was probably Nathaniel’s prime market crop, as Fauquier County was in that part of Virginia which produced tobacco as its major crop.[34]  Tobacco farming was quite labor intensive; a single person could manage only three to five acres annually, so it was likely that Nathaniel had some kind of assistance (children, slaves or employees).  “A very high percentage of the people in Fauquier owned slaves.  Few families had many but there were usually enough to help substantially with household chores.  The planter and his sons usually worked their land along with” his slaves.[35]  In 1787 and 1790, Nathaniel did not own slaves,[36] but he is listed as having one slave in 1810,[37] and certainly could have had them at other times.


Nathaniel had at least ten children:  William (born about 1754), John (1760), Joseph (born between 1760 and 1766), Mary (born about 1765) Charles (born about 1770), Daniel (born about 1775), Raleigh (born about 1776), Elizabeth (born between 1765 and 1784), Sarah (born between 1765 and 1784) and Winifred (born between 1765 and 1784) (see Children of Nathaniel and Keziah).


Nathaniel is not known to have served in the Virginia Militia, in either the French and Indian War (1754 – 1763), or the Revolution (1774 – 1782), and none of his sons are known to have served in the Militia until 1810, when Rawleigh was appointed Ensign (the lowest officer rank), and later, Captain (see Sketch, below).  Fauquier County was fortunate to be located away from all of the major campaigns and military actions of both of these early wars, and for the most part, the county did not see any fighting.  The closest major action  in the Revolution was Lafayette moving down the York River as part of the Yorktown Campaign that ended the war in 1781, and that was nearly 100 miles away. 


The 1787 personal property tax list shows that Nathaniel had five horses and 12 cattle, and did not own slaves.[38]  That was the year that Americans voted on the ratification of the new Constitution.  Although some states accepted the Constitution unanimously, in Virginia the issue was closely debated, and the outcome (53% for; 47% against) was in question until it became clear that George Washington, a Virginian (and near-enough neighbor to Nathaniel), would be the first president. Although Nathaniel’s personal feelings about this issue were not known, this area of Virginia did vote in favor of the new Constitution.[39] 


In 1790, Nathaniel paid taxes on two tithables, himself as head of household, and Charles Hickerson.  Nathaniel’s older sons (William, John and Joseph) were living away from home at that time, and in fact, William and John are listed on the 1790 Tax list for Fauquier County as heads of household that included no other male tithables.  Nathaniel’s younger sons, Daniel and Rawleigh, were not yet 16 in 1790 and thus were not included on the tax list.  Nathaniel also was taxed for five horses.  He did not own slaves at that time.


In 1799, Nathaniel paid the tax for John Hickerson,[40] indicating that the said John was between the ages of 16 and 21 (born between 1778 and 1783).  Since Nathaniel already had a son John, born about 1760,[41] it seems more likely that Nathaniel was the boy’s grandfather or possibly great-uncle.


In 1802, Nathaniel and Keziah sold a one acre parcel on Deep Run to James Thompson,[42] on which he built a saw mill.[43] Both Nathaniel nor Keziah made their mark on the deed rather than sign.  This doesn’t mean they couldn’t write; they could have been too old or too sick to sign.  Nathaniel was 70 years old then, which was relatively old for the time.


The 1810 Virginia Census lists Nathaniel in Fauquier County, and his household included, in addition to Nathaniel, one man between the ages of 16 and 26 and four women between the ages of 26 and 45, and one slave.[44] The young man could have been John Hickerson, the possible grandson for whom Nathaniel paid the tithe in 1799.  The women most likely included his three youngest daughters, Winifred, Sarah and Elizabeth, who were all unmarried in 1810.  Because the census does not include any women over the age of 45, it is assumed that Keziah died before 1810.  At that time, Nathaniel’s place of residence was said to have been Carter Run, Fauquier County.[45]


Nathaniel died December 12, 1813, and his will left the use of his “home plantation” of 75 acres, orchards and 40 acres of woodland, household items, utensils, crops and stock, to his unmarried daughters Sarah, Winifred and Elizabeth. The residue of his estate (not described) was left to his other children (not named).  His executor was his son, Daniel Hickerson.[46] 


The 75 acres Nathaniel left for the use of Sarah, Winifred and Elizabeth was surveyed and divided some 20 years later (1835 and 1842).[47]  It is possible that by 1842 all three of these daughters had died, since the last record is of Sarah Hickerson in the 1840 US Census; since the land was left to them for their use instead of outright, once they died or had no use for the property, it reverted to the other inheritors.  Or they may just have decided to subdivide the property. 

Children of Nathaniel and Keziah


Copyright 2003 by Martha B. Wiley.  All rights reserved.  This information may be used by anyone for private genealogical use only.  Commercial use of this information is strictly prohibited without prior permission.  If copied or used, credit must be given to Martha B. Wiley.


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[1] Hickerson is sometimes spelled Higgason, Hickason, Higginson, Higgeson, and so on.  For the sake of clarity in this work, Hickerson is used throughout, regardless of the spelling of the name in the record or reference.

[2] As counties were created in Virginia, old counties were divided and subdivided as population grew.  Stafford was created in 1664. In 1731, Prince William County was subdivided from Stafford, and in 1759, Fauquier County separated from Prince William.  It was therefore possible for the county of residence to change without actually moving.

[3] English Duplicates of Lost Virginia Records, compiled by Louis des Cognets, Jr.  (Princeton, New Jersey, 1958) p. 107.

[4] The Register of Overwharton Parish, Stafford County, Virginia 1723-1758 and Sundry Historical and Genealogical Notes,  compiled and published by George Harrison Sanford King (Fredericksburg, Virginia, 1961) p. 52.

[5] Jay A. Hickerson, correspondence to Elizabeth Hickerson Butterworth, August 22, 1980.  In 2001, this letter was in the possession of Elizabeth H. Butterworth.

[6] The Register of Overwharton Parish, p. 52.

[7] The Register of Overwharton Parish, p. 52.

[8] The Register of Overwharton Parish, p. 52.

[9] The Register of Overwharton Parish, p. 52.

[10] Alice Daniel Pritchard, Pioneers of Coffee County, Tennessee, Their Ancestors and Descendants (1996) p 126.

[11] William Grant, “List of Tithables for the Southern Part of Hamilton Parish, 1775,” contained in John P. Alcock, Fauquier Families, Vol. 2 (Supplement) (Athens, Georgia:  Iberia Publishing Company, 2001).

[12] The American Heritage Pictorial Atlas of United States History.  Ed. Hilde Heun Kagan (New York:  American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1996) p. 86.

[13] John K. Gott, “Life in Fauquier Before the Revolution,” News and Notes from the Fauquier Historical Society, Warrenton, Virginia, Vol. 4, No. 3 (summer, 1982), p. 1.

[14] Gott, “Life in Fauquier Before the Revolution,” p. 1.

[15] Gott, “Life in Fauquier Before the Revolution,” p. 4.

[16] Fauquier County Deed Book, 1802, quoted in M. D. Gore, “Thompson Graveyard,” Old Homes and Families of Fauquier County, Virginia, Writer’s Program of the Works Projects Administration in conjunction with the Virginia Conservation Commission (Berryville, Virginia:  Virginia Book Company, 1978) Book II, p. 107.

[17] Jay Hickerson notes that Winifred, one of the younger children, was born in 1795.  This does not seem likely, given the 1810 census data and the age of Nathaniel’s older children.  It is possible, of course, particularly if Keziah were not Nathaniel’s first wife. 

[18] Grant, contained in Alcock, Vol. 2.

[19] John P. Alcock, Fauquier Families 1759-1799, Comprehensive Indexed Abstracts of Tax and Tithable Lists, Marriage Bonds and Minute, Deed and Will Books, and Others (Athens, Georgia:  Iberian Publishing Company) p. 45.

[20] Virginia, Fauquier County, Court Records, Fauquier County, Virginia Minute Book 1759-1790, edited and published by Ruth and Sam Sparacio (McLean, Virginia:  The Antient Press, 1998).

[21] Grant, contained in Alcock, Vol. 2.

[22] Alcock, Fauquier Families 1759-1799, p. 169.

[23] Colonial Taxes in Virginia, September 27, 2002 <>

[24] Colonial Taxes in Virginia.

[25] Dale Taylor, The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America  (Cincinnati, Ohio:  Writers Digest Books, 1997) p. 147.

[26] Taylor, p. 147.

[27] Alcock, Fauquier Families 1759-1799, p. xxii, and 169.

[28] “Freedom Embraces Religion as Well as Politics,” The Spirit of Seventy-Six, The Story of the American Revolution as Told by the Participants.  Ed. Henry Steel Commager and Richard B. Morris (New York: Da Capo Press, 1995) pp. 394-401.

[29] Fauquier County Deed Book 7, pages 209-211, October 25, 1779, transcribed by John K. Gott in Fauquier County, Virginia Deeds, 1778-1785 (Bowie, Maryland:  Heritage Books, Inc., 1993) p. 20.

[30] Virginia, Fauquier County, Court Records, Fauquier County, Virginia Land Tax Books 1783-1787, compiled and edited by Ruth and Sam Sparacio (McLean, Virginia:  The Antient Press, 1997) pp. 11, 34, 54, and 75.   Fauquier County, Virginia Land Tax Books, 1787-1791, compiled and edited by Ruth and Sam Sparacio (Bowie, Maryland:  Heritage Books, Inc., 1993)  pp. 11, 36, 60 and 85.

[31] Jim Boales, “Re: Nathaniel Hickerson C. 1700s (Dau. Mary),” online posting,  April 16, 2000 <>.

[32] Taylor, p. 222.

[33] Fauquier County Will Book 6, Will of Nathaniel Hickerson, November 28, 1813, p. 84.

[34] The American Heritage Pictorial Atlas of United States History, p. 88.

[35] Gott, “Life in Fauquier Before the Revolution,” p. 4.

[36] Virginia, Fauquier County Personal Property Tax 1787 – List “A”, p, 271; Virginia, Fauquier County Personal Property Tax 1790.

[37] US Census, 1810, Virginia, Fauquier County, p. 243.

[38] Virginia, Fauquier County Personal Property Tax 1787 – List “A”, p, 271.

[39] The American Heritage Pictorial Atlas, p. 116-117.

[40] Alcock, Fauquier Families 1759-1799, p. 169.

[41] Rae Hickerson, “Re:  Hickersons in Warren County Virginia,” online posting, November 13, 2000,  <>.

[42] Gore, “Thompson Graveyard,” p. 107. 

[43] Abstracts of Fauquier County, Virginia, Wills, Inventories and Accounts, 1800-1865.  Abstracted and compiled by Dee Ann Buck (Fairfax, Virginia: 1998) p. 334.

[44] US Census, 1810, Virginia, Fauquier County, p. 243.

[45] L.B. Atwood, correspondence to Clyde V. Hickerson, September 10, December 14, and December 18, 1951.  In 2001, this correspondence was in the possession of Elizabeth H. Butterworth.

[46] Wesley E. Pippenger, Index to Virginia Estates 1800-1865, Vol. 1 (Richmond:  Virginia Genealogical Society, 2001).  Nathaniel’s will was listed in Will Book 6, p. 84.

[47] Abstracts of Fauquier County Wills, Inventories and Accounts, 1800-1865, p. 163.


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