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The Lunsfords, six generations and counting


Early Lunsford History (Precolonial)

The Lunsford family surname most likely originated in the Sussex County (now East Sussex County) region of England. This area is very close to Hastings the site in October 1066 of the battle where the Anglo-Saxons under King Harold were defeated by the Normans led by William, Duke of Normandy. For some centuries, the estate of "Windmill Hill" in the parish of Wartling was the family home of the ancient "Luxford" or Lunsford family (1). It is not clear whether these two surnames are completely synonymous. Huxford goes on to state that Burke's "General Armory" gives the same coat of arms for both names with little variation and only a pedigree for "Lunsford". Apparently both families originated in Battle, East Sussex Co. (the site of the actual battle of Hastings). Another source claims that the name may have originally been spelled as "De Lundresford" suggesting an early English or even Norman (French) origin (2). Ordinance Survey maps of Great Britian also note a town/cross-road named "Lunsford's Cross" situated on the A269 midway between Sidley and Ninfield just outside of Hastings.

A William Lunsford, who married the daughter of Sir John Pelham, came to live at Whyly in East Hoathly. A son, also William, married Margaret daughter of Sir Thomas Fiennes. The lineage continues through a John Lunsford to his son Sir John to Thomas who died in 1638. This Thomas had three warrior sons, Sir Thomas Lunsford, Col. Henry Lunsford, and Sir Herbert Lunsford. Huxford states that Thomas was the eldest. Another source claims that Sir Thomas and Sir Herbert were twin brothers (3). In his youth, Sir Thomas was "of lawless disposition and violent temper" (3). Having killed the deer of his kinsman, Sir Thomas Pelham, he was severly fined. Later, he attempted to kill Pelham on his way home from church. This caused the Earl of Dorset to suggest that the Council immediately consider that "young outlaw, Mr. Lunsford, who fears neither God nor man". Being committed to Newgate Prison, he escaped in October of 1634 and fled to the French service. Having served for nearly six years in exile, he returned to England in 1639 and received pardon from the King. This was during the period of the English civil war and one would imagine that any experienced soldier loyal to the Crown would have been welcome.

On December 23, 1641 he was appointed Lieutenant of the Tower of London producing much hostility and fear in the country. Although a strict royalist, he did not appear to show any more contempt for the parliamentarians than other cavaliers of his time. But for some reason he seemed to have received an inordinate amount of hate and scorn by the people particularly the Puritans. So vicious were the Protestant attacks that Sir Thomas and his men were accused of being baby eaters and the Puritans tought their children to fear his very name! The strength of the scorn was such that he finally had to be removed from the lieutenantship but not before being knighted. Following many exploits in service to Charles I during the civil war, he fled to Amsterdam. But upon hearing that the king had been beheaded he sailed in 1649 to the colony of Virginia which was still loyal to the crown. He previously had been created a baronet in 1647 but the land patent was never issued. After his arrival in Virginia, Sir Thomas was immediately appointed general of the militia by Gov. William Berkeley and later to the Council (4). Based on the historical record, he is considered to be the first Lunsford in Virginia and most likely all of America.

Lunsfords in Virginia, 1649

By October of 1650, Sir Thomas had brought over his family, Lady Catherine, first daughter of Sir Henry Neville and Elizabeth, and their daughters Elizabeth, Philipa, and Mary, and received a patent for 3423 acres of land (Portabago) on the Rappahannock River in the Virginia Northern Neck (3). Lady Catherine died shortly after their arrival. Sir Thomas then married Elizabeth the widow of Richard Kemp of Claiborne's Neck (later Richneck) secretary of the colony. This marriage produced one daughter Catherine who later married Ralph Wormeley of Rosegill. Sir Thomas retired from the Council upon surrender to the Parliamentarians and died about 1653. Lady Neville, grandmother of the daughters was appointed guardian and they most likely returned to England. Catherine had one child, Elizabeth, who married John Lomax in 1703. Near the rear of Burton Parish church in Williamsburg Virginia is a large stone slab with the following inscription: "Under this marble lyeth the body of Thomas Ludwell, Esq., Secretary of Virginia, who was born at Burton in the county of Somerset in the Kingdom of England, and departed this life in the year 1698; and near this place lie the bodies of Richard Kemp, Esq., his predecessor in the Secretary's office, and Sir Thomas Lunsford, Knight, in memory of whom this marble is here placed by Philip Ludwell, Esq., nephew of the said Thomas Ludwell, Esq., in the year 1727.". The remains of Thomas Ludwell were removed to the Burton Parish grave yard while those of Richard Kemp and Sir Thomas remain at Richneck to this day in unmarked graves.

It seems that Sir Thomas did not have any male heirs in either England or Virginia. An old newspaper clipping that appears to have originated from around Tappahannock, VA contains a similar general story to the above account about Sir Thomas and concludes with the assumption that his descendents through his "son" William established their family home near the Currotoman (Corrotoman) River in Lancaster Co. with additional descendents through the Wormeley family. At present, there is little if any historical evidence that any of the present-day Lunsfords living in Virginia or the US are directly descended from Sir Thomas Lunsford. Only further research will shed light on this issue.

Lunsfords in Fauquier County Virginia, circa 1760

The contemporary research of Jim Ball places the early Northern Virginia homesteads for the Lunsfords as well as the Creels, Balls, and Flynns in the Leeds Parish area of Fauquier County near the confluence of Carters Run and the Rappahannock River. This region borders the area know as the "Free State" because many of the folks living there were referred to as "freestaters" or "freeloaders" for refusing to pay their taxes. The approximate area of the Free State is outlined on the Schell historical map of Fauquier County (The Fauquier Bank, Warrenton, VA, and Eugene Schell, 1996). The coordinates are roughly B3 in the north to C3 in the south. John and James Marshall bought the leaseholds in Leeds Parish from the Fairfax family after the Revolution. Many of the leases were offered to the inhabitants for a fair price. But some, feeling that the lands were theirs already, refused to pay and relocated to other areas. We do not know for sure if this explains the Lunsford migration, but Jim feels this suggests a reason for the close relationship of the Lunsfords, Creels, and Balls and why it appears they moved together to the Turners District in the north-east section of the County near the Plains. Many of the land records for the Free State area were found in the possession of James Marshall upon his death in the 1840s and for this reason many were lost from the public archives.

The earliest known ancestor for our line of the Lunsford clan is one Baldwin LUNSFORD born about 1764. It is not certain exactly whether the surname was spelled with an "s" or "ce". Both spelling are found in various court and census records. My feeling is that the correct spelling is with an "s" since there is a Ball-to-Ball property transfer where his son Benjamin's name was spelled with an "s". Since this is an official court record, one would trust this over a census takers spelling, but as noted below, the court clerks were not perfect either. Baldwin also left a will that is interesting reading. Many of these individuals were illiterate farmers (signing their names with an "X") and may not have been able to convey the correct spelling to a census taker. It is very possible that this Baldwin may have actually been named "Archbald" or "Archibald" since several records refer to him as "Bolda", "Balda", and "Balday". Jim believes that this Baldwin was responsible in some way, perhaps as guardian, for the children of Benjamin and Nancy Ball who died in the mid 1820s. Baldwin is also listed in a guardianship for his son Benjamin as "Archbald Mumsford". This is considered a court notation error since his signature was recorded as "Baldy X Lunsford". Assuming the Mumsford part is incorrect, this could give some support for the Archbald or Archibald theory. It is interesting to note that the Schell historical map also indicates a "Lunsfords Mountain" (coordinate C4.5 near the intersection of Dumfries Rd. (Rt. 605) and Riley Rd. Interestingly, it is just off of "Baldwin Ridge". It will be interesting work to research the land records for this area to understand the Lunsford connection. Also a little further south is a Lunsford Rd. (Rt. 674) between Meetze and Old Auburn Roads just outside of Warrenton.

Baldwin married Anna BALL on January 4, 1792. Anna had one son, Benjamin LUNCEFORD born about 1793. Benjamin was their only child and it is possible Anna died during birth or shortly after. Baldwin subsequently married Judith Creel and they had ten children. It is interesting to note that Anna's sister, Clement, also married a Lunsford; one Rodham LUNSFORD born 1762. Presently, we can make no connection between our Lunsford clan and that of Rodham's although Jim Ball seems to think that they may have been either brothers, or close cousins. During this period, two Lunsfords marrying sisters would seem to suggest some type of close association. If some day it is possible to claim that they were indeed brothers, then we could easily trace our lineage back to one John LUNSFORD abt. 1677. Only further research will tell for sure. For this reason, Rodham's lineages through the Ball sisters have been included here for future reference.

Benjamin and Mary had eight children. The most important to our clan being Elijah Chilton LUNCEFORD[Photo] born in 1827. Elijah was most likely named after his maternal grandfather Elijah GRIFFITH. The derivation of "Chilton" is not known although this name is contemporary to our present generations through my grandfather Ernest Chilton LUNSFORD (1911-1999)[Photo]. Elijah has inspired a great deal of family folk lure due to his service in Mosby's Rangers during the War of Northern Aggression (aka Civil War, War Between the States, etc.). Officially known as the 43rd. VA Cavalry (attached to Stuart), this guerrilla unit gained notoriety by operating behind the Union lines in Northern Virginia. Their primary mission being to wreak havoc by disrupting supply and communication, capturing material, kidnapping Union generals, that sort of thing. Elijah married his cousin Harriet GRIFFITH and they had nine children. One was my great grandfather Edgar Marshall Lunsford (1870-1953)[Photo]. Two of Edgar's brothers, William and Samuel left Virginia in 1886 to live in Missouri. They were followed in the early 1900s by another brother John Henry.

Edgar Marshall married Ethel Maria WINE (1888-1925)[Photo]. Her middle name was pronounced "Mariah". They had eight children all of whom are the direct ancestors of our current living generations [Reunion Photo]. I am very fortunate to have a relic from their household in the form of a very large ironstone serving platter. Nearly all of Edgar and Ethel's descendents live in either Virginia or along the east coast of the United States. Edgar was a stone mason as were all of his sons. Elijah was believed to have been a "waller", a stone mason who builds those wonderful dry lay stone walls that flow across the Virginia landscape. As the saying goes, "Build with stone, build forever".

Surname Directory (family tree)

Essential Photographs; four generations (hyperlinked)

Photo Archive (hyperlinked)

Associated Documents


(1) Arms of Sussex Families, J. F. Huxford. Phillimore and Co., The Camelot Press Ltd. 1982.
(2) Is your name Lunsford? The Fauquier Democrat, July 26, 1962.
(3) The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 17., Dec. 1909. Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA. p.26-33.
(4) The Heritage of Virginia, James Hagemann, The Donning Co. Publishers, Norfolk, VA. 1988. p. 53.

Photograph Credits

All of the contemporary photos were taken by myself. The older photos are from the personal papers of E. C. Lunsford, Sr. and other family members. Tim Lunceford provided the photo of Samuel Shelton Lunceford.


I am indebted to the Lunsford clan for providing all of the information for our contemporary generations file. I need to thank especially Tim Lunceford for sparking my interest in the earlier generations and for providing Baldwin's will. Thanks to Bobbie Butler for her compilation of the Griffith family tree. I am especially grateful to Jim Ball for all of the background on the Free State region of Fauquier county, and for numerous discussions on court records and genealogy in general and early Fauquier life in particular as well as the Ball-to-Ball deed. The Allen lineage through my maternal grandmother was taken from "Allens: Quakers of Shenandoah. Their ancestors and descendants 1636-1984" by Rudelle Mills Davis and Peggy Davidson Dick, privately printed, El Paso, TX, 1984. This is a massive work that presently is not in digital form. Only the direct lineage to my maternal grandmother is reproduced here.

The index and accessory pages were coded manually in HTML with a text editor. The family surname directory was converted from GEDCOM to HTML with GedPage V2.16 by Rob Jacob (

©2000-2003 R. Dwayne Lunsford, PhD. All rights reserved.

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