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Pierce Mothershead Family Ties

John & Jonathan Mothershead (and all variant spellings)

It should be mentioned that 'John' was a very common given name (along with Charles and George, in particular) for the Mothershead/Mottershed/Motthershead (and all other myriad variant spellings) family to use. This, of course, can cause quite a bit of confusion when trying to sort out our beloved ancestors! In the information below, there will be different surname spellings for the same name; I'm simply copying the name as  it was recorded in the record the information came from.

The descendants report below deals only with the known (and one assumed) children of John Mottershead who left a Will of 1730 in Westmoreland County, Washington Parish, Virginia.

However, I would like to point out that many people overlook the fact that there is definitely another 'John'  or Jno. (presumed abbreviation of the given name 'Jonathan') Mottershed who was born circa 1640 and was living in Virginia in the latter half of the seventeenth century through 1703. This is known by these facts:

  1. Jonathan Mottershed (along with William Morgan) witnessed a paper for Samuel Mottershed in 1658 in Westmoreland County, Virginia.  Convention/law at that time stated that a male had to be at least 14 years of age to witness a paper; Jonathan would have to have been born no later than 1643/4. John with the Will of 1731 is presumed not to have been born until 1661. [source: Westmoreland County Court Order Book]
  2. Jonathan Mottershed, 29 March 1692, gives Deposition in Stafford County Court in a dispute over some hoggs (sic) that had been killed. Jonathan testified he was "...aged about fifty years or thereabouts...". This Jonathan Mottershed was then born circa 1642. [source: Deed & Will Abstracts of Stafford County, Virginia 1686-1693, Virginia County Court Records; Edited and published by Ruth and Sam Sparacio]

Also, in Stafford County, a Jonathan Mottershed gets a land warrant in 1694 for 301 acres of land on Little Hunting Creek; this property is bordered by land owned by Giles Vandegasteel. Giles Vandegasteel was the son-in-law (known from another Stafford County Court Deposition given in 1688) of Jonathan Mottershed. [source: Deed & Will Abstracts of Stafford County, Virginia 1686-1693, Virginia County Court Records; Edited and published by Ruth and Sam Sparacio]

In his Will of 28 Feb 1699, Giles Vandagesteel includes as his heirs, his daughter Sarah (not yet 14 years of age). On 24 Sep 1703, Inventory is made of Jonathan Motershead's (sic) Estate by his widow, Ann. Jonathan's Estate is Inventoried a second time " will taken this 3d day of Decr. 1706..." and is "...given his granddaughter Sarah Vandegasteel..." [source: Deed & Will Abstracts of Stafford County, Virginia 1699-1709, Virginia County Court Records; Edited and published by Ruth and Sam Sparacio]

Jonathan Motershead's widow, Ann, remarries to William Mackledebragh as evidenced when she signs over her "rights titles and interest of thirds " or "right of dower" in the land patented by her (deceased) husband Jonathan Mottershead. [source: Deed & Will Abstracts of Stafford County, Virginia 1699-1709, Virginia County Court Records; Edited and published by Ruth and Sam Sparacio]

My personal belief is that the Jonathan Motershead whose Estate was inventoried in 1703 & 1706 (what a shame the Will itself apparently didn't survive!) and given to his granddaughter, Sarah Vandegasteel, is the same Jonathan who appeared above in Fact #1 and #2. It's also marginally possible, though not proven, that he is the father of John Motthershead, presumed born ca 1661, whose family is listed below.

In the report below for John Motthershead Will of 1730, where assumptions are made I have tried to clearly indicate them. Source information for the report below is listed in the endnotes at the bottom of the page; though if you have a question or something's unclear, please don't hesitate to email. I have tried to be as accurate as possible, but if you notice any errors (either in facts or assumptions! :-), or would like to contribute information, please email me!

Descendants of John Motthershead

Note: The source for the following information is the Will dated 1730 of John Motthershead, filed in Westmoreland County Virginia. The Will itself is available on microfilm and in published transcripts of records of Westmoreland County. The information below is from my transcription of the original Will on microfilm.

Generation One

1. John1 Motthershead married Elizabeth (--?--) in Virginia.1  John died before 27 May 1731 in Washington Parish, Westmoreland County, Virginia. He signed his Last Will and Testament with his mark, a capital "M", on 13 Nov 1730; it was recorded intoWestmoreland County, Virginia, Court Records, on 27 May 1731. The witnesses to John Motthershead's Will were: William Quesenburey, Humphrey Pope and John Butler.2

While the exact date of John Motthershead's birth is not known, it is possible he is the John Mottershed who gave a Deposition 31 Jan 1707/1708 in Westmoreland County Court about a survey for a patent of land belonging to Mr. Vaulx. In the Deposition, John Mothershead testified that he was "...aged 46 or thereabouts..." and "...that about 21 or 22 years agone, being newly free...". The testimony indicates that the John in the Deposition was born circa 1661, and that he was freed from his indentureship circa 1686.

Children of John1 MOTTHERSHEAD and Elizabeth (--?--):

  • 2 i. Ann2 MOTTHERSHEAD In her father's Will, Ann is referred to as: " Daughter, Ann CLAYTOR." married (--?--) CLAYTOR before 1730 in Virginia.3
  • 3 ii. Elizabeth MOTTHERSHEAD In her father's Will of 1730, Elizabeth is referred to as " Daughter, Elizabeth QUESENBERY." was born in Virginia.4 She married (--?--) QUESENBERY before 1730 in Virginia.5
  • 4 iii. Christopher MOTTHERSHEAD was born in Virginia.6
  • + 5 iv. John MOTTHERSHEAD, born in Virginia.
  • + 6 v. Brookes Motthershead, [assumed son of John since he's not named directly - see paragraph below] married Mary (--?--); born possibly circa 1698 in Virginia.
  • 7 vi. Nathanell MOTTHERSHEAD was born circa 1705 in Virginia.7.
    [Nathanell inherited the Plantation his father John was living on at that time in Westmoreland County, Washington Parish, Virginia. It appears Nathanell had no sons of his own at that time since the wording is: "to him (Nathanell) and ye heirs male of his body lawfully begotten and in case of none such, then to...." It is possible this is the same Nathaniel Mothershead who married Mary(MINOR) and made his Will of 1781]
  • 8 vii. George MOTTHERSHEAD was born circa 1707 in Virginia.8
    [Possibly the same George Mothershead who made his Will of 1747]
  • 9 viii. Alvin Motthershead was born before 1730 in Virginia.9  
    [One published transcription of his father's Will of 1730 gives Alvin's name as "Olvin". There are no records of an "Olvin" Motthershead (or any other surname variation) in Virginia for this time period; however there is an abundance of records for "Alvin" Motthershead (and other surname variant spellings) for the early to mid 1700s]
Generation Two

5. John2 MOTTHERSHEAD (John1) was born in Virginia.10  
[This John Motthershead is possibly the same who made his Will of 1741; if he is, then his wife's name is Anne]

Children of John2 MOTTHERSHEAD and an unknown spouse were:

  • 10 i. John3 MOTTHERSHEAD was born before 1730 in Virginia,.11

6. Brookes2 Motthershead (John1) was born probably before 1700 13.  He died 1718 in Westmoreland, Virginia; leaving a wife Mary (--?--) and presumeably at least one small son , also named Brookes (see next paragraph). The elder Brookes died Intestate; in the Westmoreland County Court Order Book for 1718, Mary is granted  Letters of Administration to his Estate as "relict of Brookes Mottershead". Garrat Oneale is the security.12  

Children of Brookes2 Motthershead and Mary (--?--) were:

  • 11 i. Brookes3 MOTTHERSHEAD was born before 1730 in Westmoreland, Virginia.15,,16
    [In the 1730 Will of John MOTTERSHEAD, John includes as one of his heirs " Grandson Brookes Motthershead...". The name of Brookes' father is not stated. I am ASSUMING that the Brookes Mottershead who died Intestate in Westmoreland County Virginia in 1718, leaving widow Mary Mottershead, is (a) the son of John Motthershead who made the Will of 1730; (b) the father of this Brookes Mottershead named as John's Grandson in the Will of 1730. I BELIEVE Brookes mother, Mary, also - possibly - died prior to 1730. I draw these conclusions from John's Will of 1730 that stipulated grandson Brookes could have his inheritance "...provided he bide and remain with my wife and son Nathanell till he arrive to ye age of twenty one years..." If either of Brookes' parents had been alive in 1730, that stipulation would possibly not have been made.]


1. Last Will and Testament of John MOTTHERSHEAD, 1730, Westmoreland County VA Will and Probate Records.
2. ibid, Last Will and Testament of John MOTTHERSHEAD signed with his mark "M", 13 Nov 1730; Recorded into Westmoreland County Virginia Court Records, 27 May 1731. Witnesses to John's Will were: William QUESENBUREY, Humphrey POPE and John BUTLER.
3. 1730 Will of John MOTTHERSHEAD.
4. ibid.
5. ibid.
6. ibid.
7. ibid.
8. ibid.
9. ibid.
10. ibid, There are three generations of "John" represented by this Will: The Maker of the Will, who refers to " son, John Motthershead...and then to his son, John Motthershead..".
11. 1730 Will of John MOTTHERSHEAD.
12. Probate Record / Brookes MOTTERSHEAD, 25 Jun 1718.
13. 1730 Will of John MOTTHERSHEAD, John MOTTHERSHEAD's Will of 1730 refers to " Grandson, Brooks MOTTHERSHEAD...till he arrive to ye age of twenty one years...".
15. 1730 Will of John MOTTHERSHEAD.
16. Probate Record for Brookes MOTTERSHEAD.


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