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A New History of Two Hurst Families of Virginia


This is mainly a history of the two largest known Hurst families who have lived in Virginia. The family size is based on participation in the Hurst Surname DNA Project.[1]


The old theory of the Hurst family of Virginia often known as the "Hursts of Shenandoah" was of a Henry Hurst from Leckhampstead Parish, Buckinghamshire, England, who possibly came to America with his sons - the famous "three brothers" - John, James and William.[2] Research in England had already shown that Henry probably never came to America and did not have sons with those names.[3] Y-chromosome DNA tests in 2003 showed that that particular English family was not at all related to the Hurst family in Virginia, or to any other American Hurst who has tested. However, the DNA tests have proved that two major branches of Hursts who lived in the Shenandoah Valley in the mid-1700s were very closely related.[4]


The first Hurst in America is usually given to be Tobias Hurst who landed in Jamestown, Virginia, on the Ship Treasurer in 1618.[5] Tobias was soon found living in Elizabeth City County, which is where the City of Hampton is now located. Tobias next lived in Lancaster County; where he died about 1655. Tobias left no will and no descendants were mentioned in his estate inventory. There are those who claim descent from a son of Tobias named John, but documentation has not been forthcoming. One claimed descendant of Tobias has taken a DNA test and does not match any other Hurst who has tested so far.


The next to be found was Henry Hurst Sr., who was in Northumberland County, just north of Lancaster on the Northern Neck of Virginia, at least by 1650.[6] There have been suggestions that Henry Sr. was another son of Tobias. Henry Sr. had a son Thomas, whose descendants are well documented in the history of Northumberland. No Hurst descendant of Thomas has been DNA-tested. Henry Sr. also may have had sons named Henry Jr. and John, whose existence is much less well documented. Henry Jr. was possibly the father of a son John, known to us as “John of Stafford,” and a son Henry, known as "Henry of Orange."[7] [8] [9] [10]


John “of Stafford” Hurst was an employee of Robert “King” Carter of Lancaster, who was possibly the richest man in American at the time. John was mentioned in Carter’s will and other documents as a carpenter and an overseer.[11] John was first recorded in Stafford County in about 1708. He received a grant of land, next to land belonging to Carter, of 312 acres in 1719 on Accokeek Run. A recently discovered 1747 deposition by John Hurst shows that he was born about 1675 and was working in Stafford County by 1697.[12]


John of Stafford’s death on December 6, 1747, was recorded in the Overwharton Parish Register.[13] Overwharton Parish of the established Anglican Church was coextensive with Stafford County. John’s will mentioned his wife Jane, sons Henry and James, and daughter Mary, who married Owen Wingfield.[14] The document proving the will listed John Hurst as “heir at law.” Previously, this younger John was thought to have been the elder John’s grandson John “Mill Creek” Hurst, also known as "John of Pass Run," but he was probably John of Stafford’s own son John.[15] [16]


John of Stafford’s eldest son was probably “John of Fairfax.”[17] This John is first found in Prince William County in 1740 on a lease which mentions his wife Elizabeth (Summers) and a son John. The latter John may have died young, as he does not appear in later records. Fairfax County was created in 1742 and John lived out his life there. He did appear in the records of neighboring Loudoun County, but mainly because of the shifting boundary between Fairfax and Loudoun. John of Fairfax was sometimes called John Jr., usually before the death of John of Stafford in 1747. John's other children were James, Ann, William, Elizabeth, Sarah, Jane, Bathsheba, and Susanna. John's second wife was probably Sybil Moxley. John had received bounty land in what is now Jefferson County, West Virginia, so some of his children moved there.[18] [19]


The next son of John of Stafford was probably William “Brindle Bill” Hurst, who married Judith Calfee of King George County in about 1732. The marriage took place near Rappahannock Falls, where Fredericksburg is located, but which was then between Stafford and Spotsylvania counties. Brindle Bill and Judith moved west perhaps as early as 1735, buying 400 acres of land in the Shenandoah Valley in present Warren County in 1741. Brindle Bill died in 1781, with his land being divided between his two sons and four daughters.[20] The daughters were Nancy, Elizabeth, Judith and Hannah. The two sons, William and “Capt.” John, moved to Montgomery County in Southwest Virginia in the 1780s. Both sons were then found in Wythe County when it was created in 1790. Capt. John and his family moved to Greene County, Tennessee, by about 1800, but soon moved on to Kentucky and Indiana.[21] [22]


The third son of John of Stafford was probably Thomas. The births of his children with his wife Mary were listed in the Overwharton Register. Thomas's children included John "Mill Creek" (also called John of Pass Run),[23] two named James (the first one probably died young), Landen, Nathaniel, Priscilla, Nanny, Absalom, and possibly George. Thomas and his sons Absalom and John “Mill Creek” moved to the Shenandoah Valley in present Page County by 1769.[24][25] They lived on Pass Run and Dry Run east of the current city of Luray. After Thomas died, Absalom and John took their families to Wythe County. Absalom stayed in Wythe, although many of his descendants ended up in Pulaski County after that county was formed in 1839.[26][27] Other Absalom descendants moved to Claiborne County, Tennessee,[28] as did John “Mill Creek” and his large family. Hurst, Texas, was named after William Letchworth Hurst, a descendant of John "Mill Creek."


DNA tests performed in 2002-2004 proved that William "Brindle Bill" Hurst and Thomas Hurst had identical Y-chromosome DNA. Perhaps future tests will definitely connect them to the other sons of John of Stafford, and to Henry of Orange and Henry Hurst Sr. of Northumberland.


Assignment of the birth order of John of Stafford’s next two sons is based mainly on their marriage dates. Henry Hurst, who was specifically listed in his father’s will, married Ann Pyke on March 20, 1750. This marriage, as well as the birth of their daughter Nancy, was recorded in the Overwharton Register. John and Ann's children included Nancy, Amelia, Henry, William, Mary, Michael and John. Henry had a second wife Sarah, whose children included James, Nancy, Nathaniel, Harmon, Jean, Lucy and Catherine.


James Hurst, who was listed in his father’s and mother's wills, married Rosannah Jones on April 4, 1751. The Overwharton Register lists their marriage and the birth of two of their children, Elizabeth and Henry. Their other children were Amelia, Nancy, Delila, and Jane. James probably followed his eldest brother John to Fairfax County, where he died fairly young in 1766. His widow Rosannah was the administrator of his estate.[29] Rosannah and Henry were found later in nearby Fauquier County.[30]


John of Stafford's daughter Mary married Owen Wingfield in 1748. There was another possible daughter of John; a Jean Hurst married William Bethel in Stafford in 1739.


There was another Hurst family and one individual Hurst who ended up in Southwest Virginia, living close to the major Hurst family above. William Hirst or Hurst married Rachel Cummins in 1798 in Loudoun County. This couple may have traveled first to Maryland, since there are references to that state in their children’s records. William bought and leased land on Big Reed Island Creek in the part of Wythe which became Pulaski in 1839. When William's estate was administered in 1839, the administrator was son Jesse Thompson Hurst and one of the buyers was son Franklin Hurst. Sons Franklin and William Jr. ended up in Carroll County before 1850, as did daughters Catherine, Mary and Lucinda. Son Jesse Thompson Hurst moved to Lee County, Virginia, but was back in Pulaski when he died in 1876. Son Joseph Hurst lived in Pulaski and Wythe counties before moving to Warren County, Indiana.[31]


A Samuel Hurst, born in Virginia in 1808, but whose father may have been born in Maryland, married Lucinda Hurst of the Absalom line. It has been suggested that he was another son of William and Rachel Hurst. A descendant of Samuel has Y-DNA only slightly different than that of descendants of Joseph Hurst and William Hurst Jr.


Much of the above information was obtained from June Reed's hurstpage,[32] from Gwen Hurst and Dennis Hurst, and other sources.


William R. Hurst

[4] The A group entries on the Hurst DNA Project website are those of the “Hursts of Shenandoah.” All are tested or predicted as haplogroup R1b. Note that descendants of Thomas Hurst, such as A03, have perfect or very close matches with descendants of William “Brindle Bill” Hurst, such as A06. The present-day English Hursts of the Leckhampstead branch in group B are in haplogroup I. Hurst Surname Project Success Stories