Gee Colonists

©2009 Kathryn Gearhart (No portion of this web site may be reproduced, in any form, including Internet, electronic or print, in whole or in part.)

Among the gentry the tradition was that the oldest son inherited the estate and its resources and debts.  The second son was usually guided into the clergy.  The third would serve in the military or at sea.  Younger sons were frequently apprenticed or joined in an overseas merchant venture of the family.  Boys as young as 7 or 8 often were apprenticed to relatives or close friends.

1630 Henry Gee ~ New Hampshire

1630 Ralph Gee ~ New Hampshire

FIRST SETTLERS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE. In The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 2:1 (Jan. 1848), pp. 37-39.

Contains “The names of stewards and servants sent by John Mason, Esq., into this province of New Hampshire,” p. 39. Date of arrival is believed to have been somewhere around 1630. Published with variations in no. 0053, Adams; also in no. 9151, Tepper, Pas PG39

1635 ~ John Gee age 18 ~ Virginia

SOMERBY, HORATIO G. “Passengers for Virginia, 1635.” In The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 5:1 PG 343

From originals of the Master of Rolls, London. Articles in various numbers of the register. The late appearance of the final list was because it had been lost.

1637 ~Jonathon Gee ~ Virginia

NUGENT, NELL M. Cavaliers and Pioneers: A Calendar of Virginia Land Grants, 1623-1800. Vol. 1:1-6. Richmond, VA: Dietz Printing Co., PG 117

Date and place where land was patented and record was created listing those transported/imported. Only the names of those to be transported were indexed. Abstracted from Land Office records located at the Virginia State Library.

1639 ~ William Gee ~ Virginia

NUGENT, NELL M. Cavaliers and Pioneers: A Calendar of Virginia Land Grants, 1623-1800. PG 153

Date and place where land was patented and record was created listing those transported/imported. Only the names of those to be transported were indexed. Abstracted from Land Office records located at the Virginia State Library. See also source numbers 62

1643 ~ Edward ~ Virginia

NUGENT, NELL MARION. Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, 1623-1666

Record of 20,000 very early immigrants, with much relevant information. Taken from Patent Books 1 through 5.

1653 ~ Peter Gee ~ Maine

TURK, MARION G. The Quiet Adventurers in North America. Parts 1 and 2. Bowie, MD PG 244

Date and port of arrival, date and place of marriage, or date and place of first mention of residence in the New World. Names were only indexed if birth overseas was specifically stated in source. An A following the page number indicates entry appears in

1653 ~ John Gee ~ Maryland

SKORDAS, GUST, editor. The Early Settlers of Maryland: an Index to Names of Immigrants, Compiled from Records of Land Patents, 1633-1680, in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: PG 178

1654 ~ Thomas Gee ~ Virginia

GREER, GEORGE CABELL. Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666. Richmond [Va.]: W.C. Hill Printing Co., PG 125

Includes 25,000 names from records of the Virginia State Land Office. Excerpts of the Irish names from the Greer list were published in no. 6258, O’Brien, Early Immigrants to Virginia….

1666 ~ Thomas Gee ~ Virginia

NUGENT, NELL MARION. Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants. PG 2

Date and place where land was patented and record was created listing those transported/imported. Only the names of those to be transported were indexed. Abstracted from Patent books 6 through 8, from the Land Office records located at the Virginia State

1673 ~ Joshua Gee ~ Massachusetts

PAIGE, LUCIUS R. List of Freemen of Massachusetts, 1630-1691. Baltimore: Clearfield Co., 2002. 60p PG 30  Date and place of mention

1675 ~ Thomas Gee ~ Maryland

SKORDAS, GUST, editor. The Early Settlers of Maryland: an Index to Names of Immigrants, Compiled from Records of Land Patents, 1633-1680, in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: PG 178

1682 ~ John Gee ~ Pennsylvania


1693 ~ John Gee ~ Boston, Massachusetts

FARMER, JOHN. A Genealogical Register of the First Settlers of New-England

Childs, in Relique of the Rives attributes William Gee as the founder of the Virginia Gees.  W. J. Fletcher, in The Gee Family, does not agree because of the absence of the name William, among the first and second generations, in Virginia. Fletcher indicates there is no record in deeds, wills, or other notations that show a link between William Gee and Charles or Henry.  He proposed the family came from Stretford, near Manchester, and that Henry and Charles were the immigrants. Patty Gee, writing a family genealogy after the Civil War, indicated that Thomas Gee, of Boston, was the progenitor.   There are difficulties with all three of these positions.

William Gee, 1612

Sir William Gee, 1612, was a signer of the Third Charter of the Virginia Company.  This however was an investment in New England, and the Plymouth Plantation.  Many knights and lords were investors in the company, but they did not set sail to encamp in a new, foreign location.  It is doubtful William made that journey, and his date of death is 1612.  His son William is documented as remaining in England.

John Gee, 1625

John Gee listed as deceased in the Virginia census taken in 1624. He had been an indentured servant to Peter Langman.

John Gee b. 1617, arrived in 1635

Over the years several Gees were listed as immigrants.  The most promising is John Gee, age eighteen. He arrived in 1635 on the Transport.  What is intriguing about John is the two young men who arrived on the same ship with him.  William Cooke, age twenty, and Richard Atkinson, age twenty-one, were both passengers on the Transport.  Both of these young men settled in Isle of Wight County.

These families seemed to be connected to the family of Charles Gee I.  However, as with the other early Gee immigrants, John Gee is absent from the records of Virginia after his transport.  The early records are sparse and his absence from them is not conclusive evidence that he did not at least live in Virginia for a few years.  What seems likely is that he either returned to England, as many did after a brief stay in Virginia, or that he died not long after arriving.

William Cook returned to England in 1636 for a short time before finally settling in Virginia.  His marriages and the birth of his children are recorded in the family parish register in England.  In the same parish register at Bristol, Gloucester, St. Augustine the Less, it is noted that on July 26, 1632, John Gee married Martha Smyth.  It could very well be that this is the same John Gee that was noted for a brief time in Virginia.

You will recall the records of Stretford in England note in 1633 the birth of Charles and in 1634 the birth of James, both sons of a John Gee.  Also in 1625 at Manchester, Robert son of John of Stretford was buried.  Clearly, during this period the family of Gees at Stretford were using the names Charles, James, William, Robert and John.  While unproven, it would seem likely that this John Gee of 1635 was related in some fashion to our Charles Gee I.  Further research into the records of Bristol should disclose the connection.

John Gee, 1625 to 1685, of Maryland

The earliest record of John Gee was in 1642, in St. Maries (Mary’s) County at St. Clements Manor.

St Maries 25th November 1642. An Assessmt made by the Lieutent Grall & Counsell for the levying of 1210l tob, allowed to John Hollis & Henry Hooper by order of the house of Assembly 13th September last, upon the severall psons, & according to the proportions following, vix  St. Maries Co. John Gye 05 later as John Guy. It is not clear if this is the John Gee of subsequent records, however, clearly the John Gee, noted in 1653, is later the person indicated in many records in Maryland.

1653 ~ John Gee ~ Maryland

(SKORDAS, GUST, editor. The Early Settlers of Maryland: an Index to Names of Immigrants, Compiled from Records of Land Patents, 1633-1680, in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: PG 178)

The next record is in 1656 and we learn that John Gee had been a servant to Captain Mitchell.  At a Court held at Putuxent for the Province of Maryland the 24th of September 1656.

Capt William ffuller mr John Pott

Present me, Richard Preston, Michael Brooke mr Edward Lloyd

Capt Mitchell pift

Upon a difference depending between Tames Langworth cleft c Capt Mitchell pift and James Langworth Defendant

Concerning one Servant of the Said Mitchells Named John Gee Sold by Will Johnson agent of Capt Mitchell unto the Said Langworth, and whereas it appears by the Said Mitchell’s Letter of advice the Said Johnson was not to put of the Servant for any Longer time then one yeare or untill he Should Come into the Countrey, The Court weighing both their allegations, have thought fitt to Confirme the Sale made by Johnson untill the Said Mitchells Comeing in and have thereupon Ordered that the Said Langworth Shall forthwith dd the Said Servant unto the Said Mitchell and both parties to have their Remedy against the Said Johnson or his Estate wherein either of them are Injured in the Sale of the Said Servant.

1659: Court Leet and Court Barron: St Clements, St. Mary’s County, Maryland, John  Gee as a juror did find that Samuel Harris did break the peace with a stick and striking about the head, causing blood shed to, John Mansell.

Later he was a witness in a case of murder. Provincial Court Proceedings, 430- 431.

Item wee present that Clove Mace about Easter last 1659 came to the house of John Shancks one of the Lord of the Mannors tenants beinge bloudy & said that Robin Coop (Coox) & his wife were both upon him & the said John Shancks desired John Gee to goe with him to Clove Maces house & when they the John Shancks & John Gee came to the said Cloves his house in the night & knocked att the dore asking how they did what they replyed then the sd John Shancks & John Gee haue forgotten But the sd John Shancks asked her to come to her husband & shee replyed that hee had abused Robin & her and the said John Shancks gott her consent to come the next morning & Robin up to bee freinds wth her husband & as John Shancks taketh shee fell downe on her knees to bee friends wth her sd husband but hee would not bee freinds wth her but the next night following they were freinds and Bartholomew Phillipps saith that shee related before him that her husband threatned to beat her & said if hee did shee would cutt his throat or poyson him or make him away & said if ever Jo:Hart should come in agayne shee would gett John to bee revenged on him & beate him & hee heard the said William Asiter say tht shee dranck healths to the Confusion of her husband and said shee would shooe her horse round & hee the said Bartholomew Phillipps heard the said Robin say if ever hee left the howse Cloves should never goe wth a whole face It is ordered that this businesse bee transferred to the next County Court accordinge to Law

The Indictment retourned by the Grand Jury agt Elizabeth Harris whereupon they retourned billa vra.  Let it be Enquired for the Lord Proprietary whether Elizabeth Harris late of St. Clements hundred in the County of St. Marys Spinster in the Easter holly dayes in the yeare of our Lord 1657 at St Wynifrido in the County and Hunndred aforesaid then and there a certaine man child alive did bring forth and afterward the said Elizabeth at St Wynifrido aforesaid the aforesaid Infant living did throwe out of Doores hard by the Landing, by which the said Infant immediately did dye and soe the said Elizabeth Harris and said Infant at the place and tyme aforesaid feloniously did kill and murder contrary to the peace of his Lords rule and dominion.

The Informacon of Rober Joyner aged twenty six or thereabouts Sworne and Examined the fourth day of January 1660 Sayth That he this depont in Easter Holly dayes in the yeare 1657 living at Mr. James Langworths howse went to helpe  hawle a Cow out of the Mire and retourning homeward by the water side there was a woman Servant called Elizabeth now the wife of Samuell Harris and one John Geeretourned with this depont: And hard by  the landing place this depont did see as it were a bundle of Lynnen and out of itt hung a thing much like unto fish gutts and this depont asked the woman Servant, whats this that looketh like fish Gutts And the woman replyed that they were fish gutts And this depont would haue faine scene what it was But the woman pushed this depont away and Snatcht it up and flung it into the water and this depont run into the water and fetched it out and opened the Cloth and there was a man Child within itt, And John Gee standing by did see the child when this depont opened the Cloth And the woman sayd burye itt, But this depont and John Gee and the woman went vp to the howse together And this depont did intend to acquainte Mr Langworth with itt, but the howse being full of Company thought best to lett it rest vntill the next morning And this depont went to the water side the next morning and the Child was taken away and further sayth not. The marke of R Robert Joyner
Jurat coram me William Evans

P. C. R.

John Gee sworne and Examined the Eight day of January 1660 aged twenty seaven yeares or thereabouts Sayth That he this depont being at the howse of Mr James Langworth in the tyme of Easter in the yeare 1657 went to helpe to hawle a Cowe out of a Swamp with Robert Joyner and as they were hawling the Cowe out Elizabeth now the wife of Samuell Harris then Servant to Mr James Langworth came to them and as they were againe retourning to the howse by the water side their lay a Bundle of Clouts And the said Joynor asked the said Elizabeth what that was, and the said Joyner goeing to see what it was, the said Elizabeth pushed him into the water from itt And the said Joyner snatching at it the Bundle broake and there appeared the face of a dead child it being black in the face and this depont and the said Joyner were intended to speake of itt to Mr Langworth, but the howse being full of Strangers did not And this depont went home the next morning And further sayth not.
The marke of [mark] John Gee

26th of Aprill 1660 John served as a juror.

John Gee married Henrietta Mac Donall in 1663.  As he likely obtained his release from indenture about 1656, she may not have been his first wife.

1663 Provincial Court:

Two warts exiarant agst John Legatt minister for marying John Gee & Hen:(rietta) Macdonall wthout Lycence &c: John Lumbrozo informes the Court agst John Legatt minister how tht the sd Legatt marryed wthout Lycence, or asking of the Banes according as is provided by Act of Assembly

And Likewise tht the sd John Legatt marryed John Geewthout Lycence as aforesd to a mayd servant belonging to Mr. Robt Slye, Wch sd mayd was ffree from the sd Slye the last Spring.

1665 summoned in case of Thomas Nottley Attorney to John Bowcock of Appamattax in the County of Westmerland in Vergena plantt Executor of the Estate of Thomas Miller decd Complaineth agst Joseph Harrison of Auon River in Charles County

1665 The Deposn of John Gee aged ffowrty yeares taken in open Court

12 Octobr 1665. Assuming that John knew with certainty his birthdate, John was born in 1625 and was 28 when he migrated to Virginia.

The Depont sayth tht Raphael Haywood did or neare the last day of March Last past, owne & acknowledge att the howse of Thomas Nottley in St Maries County, That hee did owe unto the sd Thomas Nottley Two good sownd yowng Cowes, eyther greate wth calf e or to haue calfes by their sides, And tht the sd Haywood did att the same time aforsd give order unto the sd Nottley to send for the sd Cowes to the sd Haywoods Plantaton on St Clemts mannor, And the sd Nottley did in pursuance of the sd Order send this Depont for the sd Cowes, And att this Deponts comming to the Plantaon of the sd Haywood,The sd Haywood did only shew him this Depont a small heifer wch this depont did iudge was not calfe, And did only say hee would some time afterward looke for other Cowes to pay the sd Nottley, & further sayth not.

John Gee testified in a court case: 1667

St Maries County ss.   An inquisition indented taken at Greene Spring On Basford Man-nour in the County aforesaid the Second day of November in the first yeare of the Dominion of the Rt Honble Charles &c Over this Province Annoq Dom 1676 before me Clement Hill Sheriff of the County aforesaid by virtue of a writ from the Lord Proprietary to me directed & to this inquisition annexed by the Oathes of John Goldsmith John Smith Thomas Carvile John Hilton Henry Poulter Thomas Reeves John Hopkins John Gee John Bullock Vincent Mansfeild Robert Atkins & Edward Turner all of the County aforesaid who say upon their Oathes that Thomas Gerard Esq in the writ aforesaid named being indebted ….It is granted by the Court here that the Said Thomas Gerard hold the said Mannor of Basford as his ffreehold to him & his assignes dureing the terme of forty-yeares fully to be compleate & ended.

Offices held by John Gee included: appraiser, 1675, juror, Provincial Court, 1665, 1680

John married as his second wife Lydia Newman daughter of George and Lydia (Ashcomb) Newman of St. Mary’s County.

In October, 1654, George Newman, planter residing on the western shore of Maryland, stated that he was 20 years of age or thereabouts…. He had indentured himself to William Battin about 1651 and was living in the Province of Maryland.  The records indicate that William Battin demanded 650 acres in January 1652/53 for transporting himself, Margarey his wife, and Lydia Ashcomb his wife’s daughter, and Thomas Joyce a servant which he bought of Robert Brooke Esq. for whom he should receive 50 acres as well as Richard and Susannah his servants in the year 1651 and George Newman his servant in the same year.

Captain Battin was at first on the Patuxent in what is now St. Mary’s County, in Maryland, but after 1656 he and George Newman settled at Pickawaxon-the oldest settlement in Charles County on the Wicomico River.  Prince George’s County was split off of Charles County in 1696.

George Newman on January 9, 1655/56, purchased from Mary Smith, widow of Captain John Smith, the 100 acre dwelling-plantation on which she was then residing. About the same time he married Lydia Achcomb, the step-daughter of Captain William Battin.

George and Lydia were the parents of Lydia Newman who married first John Gee, then Edward Smoot and afterward Gerard O’Cane.   The records show that Edward Smoot, who marryed the widow of the said deceased, on February 25, 1684, was made the administrator of the estate of John Gee, late of St Mary’s County.  Lydia married thirdly Gerard O’Cane and died in 1713 at Wicomico Fields along the west side of the Wicomico River in Wicomico County.

Colonel John Gee, noted in the Surry Records

In the Surry County Records, on page 66, June 21, 1655 Settlement of the Account of the Estate of Mr. James Tayler, deceased by James Mason and William Batt.  Payment made to Colonel John Gee.

Thomas Gee noted in the Norfolk Records

In Norfolk County is the will of Thomas Gee, who departed this Country of Virginia April ye 5th, 1672, Book E 158, dated 5 April, 1672, proved 21 August, 1673… unto my loving wife…land…for life…and after her decease to my Brother James Peeters …. Thomas Gee. Witnesses were Myles Donnell and Jane Gariot

Thomas Gee, Maryland

January 1673, Thomas Gee noted in Court Records in Somerset County.

11 Feb 1675, came William Lee, Charles County & proved rights 250a for
transporting himself, Thomas Gee, Ann Granger, Geo Green & John Ealwood into Province. Warrant then granted.

1675 at Somerset County Court Thomas Gee The deft being Called three times appeares neither by himselfe or attorney where upon ye Attorney for the plte Craves ordr agt ye Sherife for the Debt & thereupon the Cort ordrs yt the Sherife bring the deft next Court to answr unto William Stevens gentl in a plea of Debt.

1688 Subpa: Wm: Mead Thomas Gee and honner woman Servt: to Wm: Harper on part of plt:  agreed Cap: ag: Thomas Williams to Answer unto John Taylor in a plea of Debt – – – – –

January 1687 The Same Day Commrs: as afore John Strawbridge plte appeares agt: Thomas Gee deft: Stephen Costen appeares on the behalfe of y deft: & then before the Cort: the Sd: Stephen Coston ingaged to pay John Strawbridge for Thomas Gee Sixteen hundred pounds of tobacco & Charges / whereupon both accons were withdrawne

1688 Jno: Trupshaw to answer unto Thomas Gee of a plea of Trespass on the Case —

1691 Thomas Gee to answer unto Bernard Ward in an action of the Case

1692 Bernard: Ward plt agt James Barry  agt  } dismist no Decln Thomas Gee.

Sept. 1692 Cases settled out of court, dismissed Benard Ward vs. Thomas Gee

1693 agt James: Barry to answer unto Thomas: Gee. accon of the Case.  Writs returnable

1693/94 March 2nd Tuesday Thomas Gee, answer to Bernard Ward Archibald Smith, Pltf. vs. Thomas Gee, Deft. for 160 lbs/pork; Robert Pirrie, attorney for Smith, says debt is for a hat delivered to Gee at Manokin on 14 November 1693; Gee admits debt; ordered to pay, with costs. Thomas Gee late of Somerset County, Planter.

William Gee, Maryland

Queen Anns Parish in Prince Georges County, William Gee among those who are to draw lots for a pew in the chapel.

Widdow Gee, St. Phillips Parish, Maryland

Noted in the Account of Inhabitants of the Parish of St. Philip in 1680.

John Gee 3 acres 1 Negro

Widdow Gee 4 acres

Richard Drury 25 acres 12 Negro

John Cook Sr. 5 acres  1 Negro

John Cook Jr. 5 acres

The Protestant Rebellion in Maryland

Of the 140 first settlers to Maryland only 20 can be identified as Catholic.  By 1640, the population had reached 600 persons, but by 1645 severe economic difficulties and civil turmoil had reduced the population to about 200.  The privateer Ingle, hired by Protestants in England attacked the St. Mary’s Colony.  Governor Leonard Calvert and others escaped to Virginia.   Most of these were Protestants who had served as laborers or tradesmen in the employ of wealthy Catholic planters.   After the Ingle raid small farmers fro England came with their families and ex-servants from Virginia also settled in Maryland.  The sons of English merchants became the displaced landed English families as the governing class.  In 1654 Protestants overthrew Baltimore and were in control of Maryland until 1658.  There were 400 to 500 Puritans from Virginia who settled in Maryland by 1688.

Prior to the Calvert charter for Maryland, William Claiborne of Virginia had placed trading posts on Kent Island and the upper Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.  When Cromwell overthrew Charles I, Claiborne hired Engle to invade Maryland.  First they took Kent Island and then the remainder of Maryland.  Governor Claiborne and Catholic settlers fled to Virginia, raised an army and regained power.  He required settlers in Maryland to swear allegiance to himself and his government.  After this Protestants and the 50 percent Catholic population lived well together until 1694.  The Anglicans and Puritans wanted a voice in the government and the rise in taxes reversed.  They rebelled and by 1715 took over Maryland and set up their own government.  This is when the Church of England became the official church of Maryland.

English Civil War and Virginia Opportunities

In England the period 1640 to 1650 was a time of economic depression.  Agriculture had bad harvests and suffered the ravages of military campaigns vthe English Civil War that began in 1642.  Shipping and commerce also suffered as preoccupation with internal conflict allowed other nations to capitalize at sea.  England’s main industry, wool, was in a shambles.

From 1640 to 1660 England was rocked with political and economic turmoil.  The power of the merchant elite was broken and a new more competitive merchant class turned to the colonies for opportunity.  The Dutch had capitalized on England’s troubles and taken control of the tobacco trade, restoring its vitality.

King Charles I was beheaded in 1649 and his heir, Charles II lived in exile. With the rise to power of Cromwell and his Puritan supporters the great migration of Puritan Congregationalists to New England dropped dramatically.  A smaller migration of Anglican Royalists to Virginia and Barbados began.  As early as 1644 a few titled Royalists fled England. Most of the nobility that fled over the next fifteen years went to Barbados.  Only a handful of these Cavaliers went to Virginia.

In 1649, soon after King Charles I was executed, seven ships loaded with Royalists left England for Virginia. Reprisals soon began against Anglicans that resulted in their deportation and exclusion from political and economic influence.  In 1651, 1,600 Royalist prisoners were sent to Virginia to serve as servants.  Many more were sent to Barbados in chains and sold as slaves.  Among the lists of prisoners sent to Barbados are family surnames Gee, Heath, Hancock and Chappell.

In 1660 another depression hit England and King Charles II was restored to the throne.  In 1667 a complaint was heard in Parliament concerning the drain of Englishmen to Virginia.  Most of these were free Englishmen who indentured themselves or criminals from English jails who were sent to Virginia as servants in lieu of incarceration.  Few of these servants survived the first year that was known as the year of seasoning.  They were shipped to Virginia by the thousands, as there was a severe labor shortage in the colony.  It was 1680 when African slaves began to replace these English servants.

The Royalists who fled to Virginia during the 1645 to 1660 period were not large in number but they were men of ability.  They founded the Virginia aristocracy and included the families Lee, Washington, Randolph, Carter, Mason and Page among others. Most of the immigrants were not nobility and had not fought for King Charles I, but they were members of the Anglican faith.  They were the younger sons of country gentlemen, yeomen farmers, traders, craftsmen and merchants.  Many came already owning land.  Their families held land grants from the defunct Virginia Company.  They came to secure their land claims and to do well financially.  During the period 1645 to 1660 over half of the settlers in Virginia came with enough capital to buy land.  Land acquisition in England was difficult and members of the emerging middle class aspired to be landed country gentlemen. Virginia provided the opportunity.  It was a colony that was known for it loyalty to the crown and opposition to Parliament.  The Anglican faith was the recognized religion.

The aspirations of middle class Englishmen to attain the position of country gentleman meant they aspired to justice of the peace, vestryman, and perhaps to eventually become a Member of Parliament, a knight, or perhaps a lord.  In Virginia ambitious men aspired to the House of Burgesses.  It was ambition not only for increased financial well-being but public service and responsibility.

In the early years in Virginia the opportunity was available to rise into the gentry, to become justice of the peace, sheriff, vestryman, member of the County Court, or House of Burgesses.   Until 1700 free Englishmen probably lived better in Virginia than they had in England.  There were numerous yeomen farmers with 50 to 500 acres.  Most were hundred acre men.  At the top of the financial and social ladder were the grandees.  Some of these had come with very little and had managed to acquire huge tracts of land.  The head right system allowed land speculation because of the ease with which it could be abused.  Large grants were also obtained through favoritism and political connection. Only a few of the grandees bought their land at market value.  Many land speculators were captains of transport ships.

After 1660 the profit margin for planters narrowed with the passage of the Navigation Acts.  The market for tobacco was depressed until the turn of the century. Despite this, many planters prospered.  It was the newcomer who found it difficult. Indentured servants no longer settled in tidewater Virginia after their service was finished but moved west and south, often to the Carolinas.  By 1660 a steady flow of people into the Albermarle District of North Carolina began from the southern tidewater region of Virginia.  It was an easy progressive movement south of families seeking new land to replace worn out fields.

Near the end of the seventeenth century it was no longer easy for a newcomer to anticipate rising socially. By the early 1700’s very few newcomers to Virginia came with enough capital to buy land. Governor Nicholson complained in 1701 that it was no longer possible to get men of quality to migrate to Virginia because the good land was taken. By the turn of the century Virginia had become an aristocracy. Most of the ruling families, the Masons, Byrds, Carters, Lees and Randophs, among others, had already acquired vast tracts of land.  By this time along each of Virginia’s great rivers there were between ten to thirty planters who had acquired large estates.  By the middle of the eighteenth century there were more of these landed gentlemen, but the small planter began to disappear.  Small farmers were pushed out of the coastal tide lands and political and economic power was vested in the wealthiest plantation owners.


The Anglican Church was one of the governing institutions in early Virginia.  While it is clear that Quakers resided in Prince George, Surry and Sussex Counties, they did so under frequently adverse conditions.

Surry County, before it was split into Surry and Sussex Counties, was composed of two parishes which ran the length of the county from the James River to the Carolina border.  This was about 120 miles in length.  Two letters exist which were sent to England in 1724 by the ministers of both parishes in Surry.

Reverend John Warden wrote of Lawnes Parish

I arrived in Virginia in 1712 when Governor Spottswood sent me for six months in Jamestown.  Thence I went to the parishes of Weynoake and Martins Brandon, both of which parishes were hardly sufficient to support a minister; therefore I removed to this parish where I have been since January 30th, 1717.  (The Parish) is ten miles wide along the river and one hundred twenty long, with seven hundred tithables in it.  There are some Indians, bond and free, and Negroes, bond and free.  Some masters will have their negroes baptized and some will not be sureties for them.  I cannot persuade parents and masters to send their children and servants to be catechized.  I sometimes get eight shillings and four pence for my tobacco per hundred, and sometimes not so much; and if I send it to Europe, perhaps it brings me in debt, (costing more to ship than it sells for), as of late years it hat happened.  The vestry will not keep my glebe-house in order; but if I choose to do it myself, I may and welcome.  I have a church and a chapel thirty miles apart, twelve communicants at the former, and thirty or forty at the latter.

Reverend John Cargill wrote of Southwark Parish in 1724

I have been here sixteen years.  My parish is twenty miles in width and one hundred inhabited in length, being a frontier-parish.  It has three hundred and ninety-four families.  The school of Mr. Griffin, called Christiana, for Indians, is on the borders of my parish.  There is one church and two chapels, and seventy or eighty communicants.  My tobacco now sells at five shillings per hundred; my salary from thirty to forty pounds.

My glebe-house is in very bad condition, and the parish will not repair it, so I must look out for a house elsewhere.  No school, no library, in the parish.

When Surry was split in 1754 Lawnes parish was eliminated. Albermarle Parish was established in the area south of the Blackwater River for Sussex County. Southwark Parish served all of Surry County.

Martins Brandon Parish was the old parish of Charles City County which also included Westover, north of the James River and Weynoake north and south of the river.  In 1642 Bristol Parish was taken from the area served by Martins Brandon.  Martins Brandon Parish was centered at Old Merchant” Hope in what became Prince George County.  It was this parish in which Charles Gee I resided as well as most of the related Prince George families.  There is no vestry book, no register, and no letter in London for this parish.  Vital information on births, deaths, and marriages is lost.  In 1720 Martins Brandon Parish was enlarged to include the southern portions of Weynoake and Westover Parishes.

Bristol Parish was taken from Martins Brandon and in 1662 it included the area on both sides of the Appomattox River at City Point to Falls which was near Petersburg.  The Appomattox River was also known as the Bristol River at this time. The parish included Bermuda Hundred, where the original church was built.  Ferry Chapel was built near Falls and in 1702 Wood’s church was built on the north side of the Appomattox at Petersburg.

In 1724 Reverend George Robertson wrote he had been a minister thirty-one years and had been at Bristol Parish sixteen years.  The parish was twenty-five miles wide and forty miles long and extended into Brunswick and Amelia Counties.  There was one church and a chapel with full congregations in good weather, sometimes more than pews would hold.  The tobacco he was paid was of inferior quality. His glebe land had no house and was forty acres of barren land.  There was no public school or library in Bristol Parish. He held services at Ferry Church and at Bermuda Hundred in 1724.

Religious Settlement in Virginia

In 1648 as Cromwell and the Puritans took over England and executed Charles I, Virginia continued to support the Anglican Church.  Puritans migrated from Isle of Wight County into Maryland.  Others located at Hack’s Neck in Accomack, where Quakers were developing a community.  Many of these Puritans converted to the Quaker faith.  They were often successful merchants who did not want the clergy to stand between God and themselves.  The Quaker faith began in England about 1643 and by 1648 there were tens of thousands in England.  Quaker leader Francis Whittington and his wife Elizabeth settled in the Northern Neck in 1650.  His brother, William Whittington had settled on Old Plantation Creek in 1640.   A large settlement was founded at Merchants Hope in Charles City County.

Toward the end of the 1650’s Quakers were forbidden to conduct business, and contract with any Anglican in Virginia.  It was at this point that they began altering their names so that they could continue commerce.  If discovered, the Anglican and the Quaker lost the property and the Quaker was imprisoned.  In 1663, Virginia officials drove out the Quakers at Merchants Hope, and burned their settlement.  The Quakers fled, some fell victims to Indian attacks, others stowed away in ships to flee to North Carolina and Maryland.  Some relocated near Nussawatocks on the Eastern Shore of Virginia where there was a Quaker community.  Many, using different names, fled to the Northern Neck of Virginia, to later cross into Maryland where they settled near Puritan communities.  Eventually Quaker migrated from the Eastern Shore to Maryland, and eventually these Quakers were forced to leave Maryland for Pennsylvania.  Quakers were hard working and often wealthier than most average Virginians.  In the early settlement years, wealthy ship captains and merchants supported the immigration of Quakers to Virginia.  Among these were the families of Barker, Baker, Taylor and others.

Early Settlers of New England

Peter Gee, Newton Ferrers, Devon

Peter Gee was christened on January 25, 1614 in Newton Ferrers, Devonshire, England. He was the son of John Gee of Dunsford, Devonshire. Peter migrated; first it would seem to the area that is now Maine.  He was the master of a fishing vessel that sailed out of the Isle of Shoals off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He was on the Isle of Shoals at least by 1653 and left to settle in Boston by 1673.

Peter and his wife Grace had sons Thomas, 1643, John, 1650 and Joshua, 1655. Peter’s son, Thomas, falls from the records after 1673. The other two sons, John and Joshua, were respected citizens of Boston.  They were prosperous ship builders.  John came of age in 1671 and died 8 days after his wife, Joan, on July 25, 1693.

Although the family was residing in Massachusetts, there were links to England and evidently at least some travel between the two points occurred.  There is an interesting provision in a deed from Peter to John.  Peter gives John a life annuity in a piece of property in consideration for John’s paying a ransom to secure the release of his brother Joshua from slavery in Algiers.  Joshua had been captured and sold by pirates into slavery in 1680 while crossing the Atlantic on a voyage from Boston.   Later, Joshua wrote a pamphlet about his capture by pirates, dated 1687.   In his pamphlet Gee recorded the cruelty of his master who …swore he wold the next daye boare owte my eyes with his knife… and gave him …many evell treatments. Joshua was a respected Boston shipwright and mariner.  He first married Elizabeth Harris on September 25, 1688.  His second wife was Elizabeth Judah who he married in 1697.  Upon Joshua’s death, she married Peter Thacher.  His will in 1720 lists 4 children by his first wife and five children by his second.

Joshua’s son, Rev. Joshua Gee, born Jun 29, 1698, was a colleague of Cotton Mather at the Old North Church in Boston. Rev. Gee succeeded Mather as pastor of the Old North Church and preached at Mather’s funeral. At Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Boston, there is a tomb emblazoned with the Gee family arms.  Joshua Gee purchased the small private lot in the centre of the ground. The inscription on his tomb reads simply: The Arms and Tomb belonging to the family of Gee. The arms are described in Gore’s Roll, and include elements from the Thatcher arms.

The noted Gee shipyard was located on the southwest side of Prince Street, while the family mansion stood on the corner of Salem and Prince Streets, known as Gee’s Corner. The adjoining lands were also in possession of the Gees.

John Gee, Lost at Sea

Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts and Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, Dukes County, Massachusetts John Gee first appears at Great Harbor, as far as the records show, on Dec. 23, 1661, when he submitted to the Patentee’s government, but it is probable that he had been there some time before. It is stated that he was born in 1617 in London.

John Gee b: 1617 d: 27 Dec 1669 married Hazelelponi Willix b: 1636 c: 19 Sep 1671 d: 27 Nov 1714.

Their children were:

Mary b: Abtr 1660 d: Bef 1730 who married Thomas Pickering

John b: 27 May 1662 Boston

Hannah b: 1664 d: 28 Jul 1724 who married Samuel Hodgkins b: 2 NOV 1658

Martha b: ABT 1666 who married Thomas Cotes

Hazelponi b: ABT 1668

Two years later he was granted land on Aug. 20, 1663: Voted by this town (Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, Ma) that John Gee shall have that lot and commonage which was given to Thomas Trapp: it forfeited: which lot is ten acres upon the line and half a commonage and he to build and inhabit according to the order in fifty two.

He participated in the divisions of Felix Neck and Machemys Field the next year, and on March 12, 1665 was chosen to divide the fish caught at the town weir. On May 11, 1667, the town voted that John Gee is to have three thousand of fish for orderly dividing of the towns fish every morning.

He was one of five men chosen by Chief Magistrate Thomas Mayhew in 1667 to dispossess Francis Usselton from Homes Hole Neck.  He was given one-sixth part of the land there as payment and this land remained in his estate for sixty years. John Gee’s share became a source of litigation upon his death in 1669, because his heirs had moved to the mainland. In 1673 the land was joined to the town of Tisbury (later West Tisbury).

John was lost at sea, and is marked as deceased in the town records, Dec. 27, 1669. It is supposed that he drowned off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

John Gee and Mary of Eastchester, Westchester County 1665

John Gee first appeared as a landowner in Eastchester, Westchester County, NY in 1665.  He was among those residents of Hutchinson’s Book who signed the Twenty Seven Articles of Agreement written in 1665.  John served in the army on the frontier at Albany in the Eastchester Company of Major Schoyler, and was discharged on 1 May 1695.    On 31 January 1698, John Gee signed the Oath to the King at Eastchester.  John and Mary Gee had three known children:  Joseph Gee (1676-1716); Moses Gee (1679-1701); and James Gee (1681-?).

On 29 May, 1703 in a recorded agreement between Joseph Gee of Eastchester, son of John, John is described as “deceased” and his wife, Mary, as “widow of John Gee, deceased.” John Gee’s wife Mary died after 31 May 1703 in Eastchester.  “On November 25, 1699, by order of Francis Doughty and Thomas Farrington, both living in Flushing, Queens County upon the Island of Nassau, did receive full satisfaction of the mortgage by Joseph Gee, eldest son of John Gee. Received by Thomas Baytes and Roger Barton on June 4, 1702.”  Some 13 historical documents bear his name.

Ralph and Henry Gee of Little Harbor, Strawberry Banke, Portsmouth

The first settlement in New Hampshire, at a place called Little Harbor, near the mouth of the Piscataqua River, was established by Scotsman David Thomson, in 1623.  In 1622, merchants of Plymouth, England obtained a lease for five years on land at the mouth of the Piscataquis River for establishing fisheries. The next year the “Jonathan” came to America with men in the employ of the merchants.

The enterprise did not do well and fell into the hands of the Laconia Company, of which Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Capt. John Mason were member.  These sent the bark “Warwick,” from London in March, 1630.  John Mason, a former governor of Newfoundland who had received a large grant of land in America, secured the interests of the Laconia Company and control of the enterprise.  At Little Harbor prior to 1633 was the employee, Ralph Gee, a boy.  In 1634 John Mason sent over more hands and it appears that among these was Henry Gee.

The lines of business were fishing, manufacturing salt, potash, lumber and pipe staves.  A sawmill was sent in 1634.  Capt. Mason died in 1635 and his widow was indebted to the workers.  In 1638, her agent directed the workers to shift for themselves.  The employees seized upon all the property, divided the cattle and other personal effects, each taking in proportion to his claim and what else he could; portions of the land were also allotted among them.

In his 13 July 1633 letter to his superiors in London, Ambrose Gibbons (overseer) designated Ralph Gee as one of those who would remain with “Mr. Wanerton” at “the house at Pascatawa”   Ralph kept the cattle and made staves.

On 20 July [1643?] Realfe Gee planter of Pascattaqua deposed that “himself and one Thomas Feverill was left at the great house in Pascattaqua upon Captain Mason’s account and there continued looking to the cattle about a year and a quarter, and during all the time above said, they received all their diet and lodging from Mr. Thomas Wannerton.

Ralph Gee, had charge of Mason’s cattle at Odiorne’s Point. Some time 1641 and 1645, these cows were driven to Boston by Capt. Norton and others, the servants of Capt. Mason and sold.  On 30 March 1660 Joseph Mason (kinsman of Captain John Mason and acting under a letter of attorney from his widow Ann Mason) noted that Captain Mason, having entrusted one Ralph Gee a foreman to look after a portion of his property, did furnish him with a plantation near adjoining upon the same lands to him belonging for the better performing of his trust, and since the said Ralph Gee is deceased & died in the year 1645, but much engaged & indebted at the time of his decease unto Wm. Seavey the elder as by his account more at large doth appear to the value of £52(?) or thereabouts & the said Ralph Gee having no other means to make satisfaction but his house & grounds & small stock upon it, the value of all not accounting the debt he oweth the said Wm. Seavey whereof the land and house was appraised at £18 towards the discharge & so by order of court here in PiscattawaSeavey to receive all & pay himself, which he hath sithence as in right he may, in consideration of which debt due by our servant Ralph Gee as aforesaid & for other considerations moving, Joseph Mason renounced any claim which Ann Mason might have on this land On 16 April 1666 the town of Portsmouth laid out unto Wm. Seavey 101 acres of dividend land together with 8 acres he bought of Gee .. letter[s] of administration were granted to the said Wm. .

Member of the Virginia Company

In the spring of 1607 three ships arrived in Chesapeake Bay and sailed up the James River with 120 men aboard.  The early years of Jamestown were wretched.  Plagued by disease, disorganization, and threats of abandonment by the proprietors in England, the early colonists suffered high losses.  Time that should have been spent raising food went into searching for gold, gathering lumber, tar, pitch and iron ore because of the edicts sent from England.

In 1607 the original 142 settlers arrived aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed, Discovery, and Phoenix, which was delayed by a storm.  Eight or nine months later the first supply arrived with 120 more colonists.  In October of 1608 the second supply of sixty passengers arrived on the Mary Margrett.  Most of her passengers were gentlemen.  The third supply brought 500 colonists in 1609 in the largest fleet ever assembled for the purpose of bringing settlers to a new land.  The immigrants arrived on the ships Sea Ventures, Diamond, The Falcon, The Blessing, The Unity, Lion, and Catch.  Many of the captains and masters would have members of their families migrate to Virginia in the future.  Robert Pitt, master of The Unity was among these.  Captain Robert Pitt was from the family of ship masters of Bristol that was a branch of the Earl of Chatham.  His descendants settled in Isle of Wight County near the Neville’s.

John Smith returned to England in 1609.  The winter of 1609-1610 has become know as the starving time.  Only sixty of the colonists survived, some by resorting to cannibalism on the corpses of their dead. A late arriving supply ship finally rescued the 60 surviving colonists in 1610.  Among the survivors was William Spencer, brother of one of our ancestors Nichols Spencer.

During the period 1613 to 1624 the population in Jamestown expanded from 400 to 1,400.  In 1619, young women arrived to be purchased as wives for no less than 150 pound of tobacco.  In 1622 there were Indian uprisings that resulted in the deaths of 347 settlers.  More settlers died over the next few years from conflicts with the natives. This was followed by a plague that reduced the population further. It was a true test of fortitude for those who chose to remain in Virginia after the massacres.  Many returned to England.

In 1644 another massacre of colonists resulted in the deaths of 500.


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