THOMAS EAST OF PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, VIRGINIA
(Revised, 1947, by Ernest Edward East, Peoria, Ill.)
Pages 1 - 4
Thomas East was in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, as early as August 1,
1772. He appeared with Joel Huntt as a witness to a deed of trust
executed by John East, senior, in favor of John Smith of Halifax County.
Thomas East died before September 16, 1797 at which time an inventory of his estate was filed.
Thomas East married Obedience, maiden name unknown to the
compiler. Obedience East died before April 2, 1805 at which time
land which she received from her husband's estate was partitioned.
It seems likely that Thomas East was living on or near Straightstone
Creek in 1773 for on February 1 in that year he, with John East,
witnessed a deed conveying land in that vicinity from Byrd Prewett to
Thomas East was living on Staunton River in Pittsylvania County in
1776. He was a member of Camden parish of the Established Church
of England. The parish vestry book under date of February 23
contains record of the appointment of Thomas East and others to
procession patented lands.
On September 22, 1781, Thomas East, then of Bedford County, bought of
Thomas Dillard of Pittsylvania County a tract of land lying along
Staunton River, containing by estimation 342 acres. The price
paid was 400 pounds.
Mrs. N. E. Clement (Maude Carter Clement) an experienced genealogist of
Chatham, countyseat of Pittsylvania, made a report on the East family
and related lines in 1924 at the request of the compiler. She
wrote: "We see from the foregoing that Thomas, who had been living in
Bedford, returning to Pittsylvania." Mrs. Clement added that he
was "a man of responsibility at this time, say 30 to 40 years old."
The Virginia state census of 1782 shows that Thomas East had then a
family of seven white persons. He also owned three slaves, listed
as "blacks." In 1785 the census enumerator found eight white
persons in the family of Thomas East. He had on his plantation
one dwelling and four other buildings.
Dates and places of the birth of Thomas and Obedience East are unknown
to the compiler but it appears probable that the husband was a native
of Lunenburg County.
Thomas East, aged 15 years or more, and less than 21 years, was in
Lunenburg in 1756. At the February court of that county he
appeared as the orphan of Thomas East, deceased, and chose John East
for his guardian. James East and William Robertson became
sureties for John East. The residence of the guardian and his
sureties was not stated. The relationship of the orphan to John
East or to James East was not stated.
Virginia law provides that his guardian may be selected by a minor who
has attained age 15 years. If such law then prevailed, Thomas
East was born not later than 1741 and not earlier than 1736.
(Facts from the records of Lunenburg County were furnished in 1932 by Mrs. James S. Jones, genealogist of Chatham).
No further record was found concerning Thomas East, deceased parent of
the orphan, Thomas. Records of Lunenburg County between 1760 and
1775 are incomplete.
Thomas East on April 4, 1761 purchased 232-1/2 acres. The land
was in that part of Lunenburg which was cut off in 1764 or 1765 to form
Charlotte County (Deed book 7, page 4).
The name of Thomas East appeared on the list of tithables in Lunenburg
in 1764. He paid taxes on 700 acres. He may have inherited
land from his father but no will or administration appears of
record. No other land purchase by him is recorded.
Thomas East was a member of the grand jury at the November term of 1765
in Charlotte County (Order book 1, page 102). He was an
"intelligent freeholder," which qualification evidently was requisite
to grand jury service. In Charlotte County also lived William
East, the elder. He executed his will on July 9, 1766 and died
before January 5, 1767 when his will was recorded (Will book 1, page
50). Seven children were named in the will. They were:
William East, Shadrack East, Richard East, Mary Dickinson, Kesiah East,
Sarah East, and Obedience East.
William East, Sr., and William East, Jr., evidently the same Easts
named in the foregoing, patented 400 acres of land each in Lunenburg in
1748. This was between Ellis and Buckskin Creeks and appears to
have been in that part of Lunenburg cut off in 1752 to form Halifax
County. William East, Sr., probably never lived on this
patent. Shadrack East was living in Halifax in 1785. It
seems likely that William East, Jr., also settled in Halifax although
another William East, minor son of John East, was named in his father's
will which was filed in Halifax in 1758.
John East patented land in Halifax which was surveyed Aug. 12,
1758. It seems likely that this John East was the guardian of
Thomas East, the orphan of Lunenburg County. This tallies with
evidence that Thomas East of Charlotte became a resident of
Pittsylvania, then of Bedford, and again of Pittsylvania County.
When John East, Sr., died he left another minor son, John East, who
removed to Pittsylvania County or else lived in that part of Halifax
which was cut off in 1767 to form Pittsylvania
The marriage record of Thomas and Obedience East has not been found and
the maiden name of the wife is unknown to the compiler. It is not
improbable that she was Obedience East, daughter of William East, Sr.,
of Charlotte County. Thomas and Obedience East named their first
daughter Sarah. Obedience, daughter of William, had a daughter,
Thomas East named one son, probably his oldest, Thomas. The name
Thomas appears in nearly every generation of each descending
branch. The compiler's father was named Thomas and his gfather
was named Thomas. Each was the second son of his parents to be
named Thomas. The first so named died young. It is evident,
therefore, that persistent effort was made to keep the name alive.
On the list of tithables of Henrico County, Virginia, in 1679 was
Thomas East, who was born in 1640. Mrs. Glenn W. Gates (Lenna
East) of Anderson, Indiana, is a descendant of this Thomas and it is
well-settled tradition that Thomas of Henrico emigrated from
England. He probably married first Winifred Hudnate Napper, a
widow. He appears to have married Dorothy Thomas in 1685.
Thomas East, Sr. and Thomas East, Jr., were both on the rent roll of
Henrico County in 1704, the father with 475 acres and the son with 554
acres. Thomas East, Jr., married Ann Perrin in 1695.
Thomas East, the elder, died in Henrico . His will was probated
on Jan. 2, 1726. Mentioned were Thomas, Jr., and Edward East,
sons, and one daughter, Marvel Alsope, wife of John Robinson.
Thomas, Jr., son of Thomas of Henrico, had three sons, Thomas, John and
William East. Thomas of Lunenburg, father of Thomas, the orphan
was of suitable age to have been the son of Thomas, Jr., of Henrico
Edward East, son of Thomas, Sr., had sons Edward, Isham, Tarlton, and
Joseph, and daughter Mary. Tarlton East was a colonial militiaman
in Lunenburg County in 1758. He entered 400 acres on Buckskin
Creek adjoining William East in Halifax County. Joseph East
entered 400 acres on Rocky branch of Difficult Creek in Halifax County,
James East, born August 10, 1753, a Revolutionary War Soldier, probably
was a son of Thomas and Winifred East of Goochland County. The
ancestry of the soldier has been traced to Thomas who was in Henrico in
Goochland County on Oct. 23, 1757. Ministers often reported
marriages long after they took place, sometimes years afterward.
It appears that both Thomas I and Thomas III married Winifred, or
Winnefred. Mrs. Gates, great-granddaughter of the soldier, states
that he was wounded several times. The family is in possession of
a watch which the soldier carried. The watch case bears the
imprint of a bullet. James East was pensioned on his application
dated Dec. 31, 1832 at which time he was living in Rockbridge County,
Virginia. He died Oct. 4, 1844
Henrico and other tidewater counties of Virginia furnished many of the
early settlers of Lunenburg, Halifax, Charlotte, Pittsylvania and other
counties nearby. Maude Carter Clement, The History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia
(p. 43), wrote: "In 1745 Brunswick County was divided and all this
western country became part of Lunenburg County, and it was from this
date that settlement of this section becomes active."
The plantation of Thomas East, husband of Obedience, appears to have
been in the northeasterly part of Pittsylvania County near the point at
which Straightstone Creek empties into Staunton river, opposite
Campbell County. The conveyance from Thomas Dillard, and wife,
Martha (Deed Book No. 6, p. 217), describes the land by metes and
bounds, in part as follows: "Beginning at an ash on the river bank and
running thence south 42 degrees west crossing 2 branches 280 poles to 2
red oaks, north 43 degrees west 50 poles to a red oak on the river bank
and thence down the same as it meanders to the first station."
Camden Parish of the Church of England was co-extensive with the
boundaries of Pittsylvania County. Bruce's Institutional History
of the 17th Century
says the vestry "was composed of the foremost men residing in the
parish, whether from point of view of intelligence, wealth or social
position. As first gentlemen in the county, apart from the
prestige they derived from being the principal guardians of the public
morals, they were looked up to as the models of all that was most
polished and cultured in their respective parishes."
Maude Carter Clement adds that "it was also incumbent upon the vestry
to care for the poor, collect taxes and mark the boundaries of land."
The ceremony of marking land boundaries was called "processioning," the
name coming from the act of the parishioners in going in a procession
to see the boundary trees re-cut or marked. The custom came from
England and was practiced every four years. The Virginia assembly
in 1661 enacted the practice into law and provided that the vestry of
each parish should mark trees on boundary lines. Boundaries three
times "processioned" were unalterably fixed.
The Colonial Parish Vestry Book has the following entry:
"At a vestry meeting held at Pittsylvania court house Feb. 28, 1776:
"Pursuant to an order of the vestry of Camden Parish bearing date Feb.
23, 1776 for appointing processioners it is ordered that William
Colliers, John Vaughan, Stephen Colliers, Thomas East, Jesse Polly,
James Doss, do procession the patented lands between Doss' Road on
Staunton River. Beginning at James Doss's, thence along Doss's
Road to Clement's Road to Hickey's Road, thence down Hickey's Road to
Staunton River, and that they return to Vestry by last day of April
next ensueing an account of all land they shall procession, &
persons present at same and what land they failed to procession and
reason of failure."
Thomas East was a Patriot during the War of the Revolution. He
renounced allegiance to Great Britain and adhered to the cause of the
Colonies. His name is among subscribers to the oath taken by
Thomas Dillard and reported to the court of Pittsylvania County.
All men above 16 years, including militiamen, were required by act of
the Virginia Assembly in 1777 to take the oath of allegiance to the
Commonwealth or leave its borders. No other Easts were on
Dilliard's list. Thomas East's sons, therefore, were unborn or
under the age of 16. Thomas Dillard was an early settler, a
justice of the peace, a captain of militia and an influential citizen.
Source: Virginia State Library Archives, Richmond, VA; Accession #22660.
Transcription by Susan Shields Sasek, 6 Jan 2004.
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