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Justinian Wills, Sr. 1735-abt. 1805 - Generation 1

The oldest identified member of my branch of the Wills family is Justinian Wills, Sr. One of the descendants of Justinian has a family note that Justinian was born October 26, 1735 in Virginia. The earliest records I have been able to locate mention a Justinian Wills living in Caroline County, Virginia in 1756.

The book titled "Caroline County, Virginia Order Book 1756-1758, Part 1", pages 141, 142 & 144 show Justinian in court on February 13, 1756. On that date Justinian filed a petition against Richard Fortune and having proving his account was awarded £4. The court then ordered Justinian pay John Elliot Paine 50 pounds of tobacco for two days of attendance as evidence for him against Fortune.

Actually, there are two Justinian Wills mentioned in the 1756 to 1758 time frame. One of the two died in late 1756 or early 1757 according to Caroline County Order Books. This makes it impossible to be sure if the earlier record in 1756 belongs to Justinian Wills, Sr. or the Justinian that died.

I have often wondered what the relationship between the two people was. I feel that based on the unusual name, there had to be a relationship of some sort. My favorite speculation is father or uncle. My Justinian Wills, Sr. would have been approximately 21 at the time.

The Caroline County Order Book for 1768 , Justinian was fined for not frequenting his parish church in Drysdale Parish. A map provided in the book "Colonial Caroline" , by T. E. Campbell, shows Drysdale Parish as one of three Parishes during Colonial days. Drysdale is the center of the parishes (see map below) with St. Mary Parish in the North and St. Margaret Parish in the South. This reference to his church parish is the only clue Iíve found to date indicating where he lived in Caroline County. Since the only churches in this area, at that time, were Episccpal, it is most likely he was a member of the Joy Creek Church.

 

 

In 1758 the Bedford County, Virginia records show Justinian served in the militia in the French and Indian War as a Sgt. Major under Col. Byrd. Why Justinian chose to serve with the Bedford County Militia is unknown.

The time frame from approximately 1759 to 1766 it seems Justinian may have been a bit of a wanderer. The only notes found on him is a suit filed against him by Ragsdale in Chesterfield County, Virginia. In 1766 the Sheriff notes Justinian is no longer in Chesterfield County.

By 1768 Justinian is back in Caroline County (if he ever left). During this year he was fined for failing to frequent his parish church for two months and failing to list his chaises for taxation.

Three books, Peter Angle 1754-1968, Frontiers Along The Upper Roanoke River and History of Pittsylvania County (Va.) all show Justinian as a teacher for the Smith family children and the children of Colonel James Calloway and others from 1770 to 1771. The Smith family was apparently well off and owned land on Pittsylvania, Bedford and Campbell Counties of Virginia.

It is not known what the relationship between Col. Calloway and Justinian was but it must have been close. Justinian often served as a witness for Col. Calloway and later in life, he leased land to Justinian and his wife on February 12, 1795. The lease agreement shows the payment to be one ear of Indian corn per year for as long as Justinian and his wife Elizabeth should live. Unfortunately, the lease does not spell out exactly where the land is located in Bedford County. Click here to read the lease.

Sometime after 1771 Justinian and family moved to Bedford and Campbell Countyís area. Records are a bit confused and show him on numerous occasions in the Bedford County Order Books while paying taxes in Campbell County (adjacent to Bedford County) in 1787. We know that Justinian had a son, Justinian Wills Jr. We donít know when Justinian Jr. was born but I assume he may have reached adult age c1775 so it makes it difficult to sort out any reference to Justinian Wills that appears in records unless Sr. or Jr. are noted (found only in a few cases). Early land records hint that his land may have been located on the southeastern portion of Bedford county line near Campbell County and may have had land in both counties.

In the Bedford County Order Book 1774 to 1782, Justinian filed a claim for military service in the French and Indian War under Col. Byrd in 1758. Two documents I have show conflicting information but indicate he received land for his services. The book "Virginiaís Colonial Soldiers" by Brockstruck (pg 301) shows that in March of 1780 he was awarded 300 acres in an unnamed location. The second document, "A Calendar of the Warrants for Land in Kentucky, Granted for Service in the French and Indian War" by Philip Fall Taylor (pg 77) show him awarded 100 acres on March 4, 1783 in Lincoln County, Ky. on the waters of Sugar Creek. To date, I have not been able to verify either award.

Another interesting note is that in the Bedford County Will Book #1, pg 356, shows that on January 26, 1779, the will of Reynolds Allen shows a Col. Justinian Wills as one of three persons listed as executor. Previous records show him as a Sgt. Major but this record shows him as a Colonel.

Other personal information shows that Justinian married Elizabeth Chick (b. August 17, 1748) on November 22, 1768. Elizabethís parents are unknown but she was probably from Caroline County, Virginia. The records for Justinian while in Caroline County also list James Chick for failing to attend his parish church in 1768. Other members of the Chick family are mentioned in Caroline County records as well. One direct descendant claims to have seen a prayer book many years ago with the children of Justinian and Elizabeth listed in it. She says there were ten children in the marriage but I can only identify nine.

As a matter of pure speculation on my part, I feel it is likely that Justinian was married twice. When he married Elizabeth, he was 33 years old and she was 20. When taking some of the known dates of his children and grandchildren and estimating dates backwards, my conclusion is that his son Euclid and daughter Elizabeth were probably born before his marriage to Elizabeth Chick.

 

                        Descendants of Justinian Wills, Sr.
  1  Justinian Wills, Sr.  Born: October 26, 1735 in Virginia  Died: Abt. 1805 in
     Bedford Co. Va.  Age at death: 69 est.
  .  +Elizabeth Chick  Born: August 17, 1748  Married: November 22, 1768  Father:
     Mother:  Died: 1827  Age at death: 78 est.
    2  Euclid Wills  Born: Unknown  
  ...  +Betsy Stuart  Married: March 03, 1780 in Bedford Co. Va.  Father:
       Mother: Ms. Elizabeth Smith  
    2  William Wills, Sr.  Born: Abt. 1770  Died: 1830 in Bedford Co. Va.  Age at
       death: 60 est.
  ...  +Frances Tyler  Born: Abt. 1775  Married: January 13, 1791 in Bedford Co.
       Va.  Marriage fact: William Boatright surety  Father:  Mother:  
    2  Ignatius Wills  Born: Unknown in Bedford Co.,  Va.  Died: Aft. 1835  Age
       at death: ?
  ...  +Lucy Howard  Born: Abt. 1786 in Bedford Co. Va.  Married: May 24, 1804 in
       Bedford Co. Va.  Father: Mr. David Howard  Mother:  
    2  Justinian Wills, Jr.  Born: Abt. 1775  Died: 1839  Age at death: 64 est.
  ...  +Sarah "Sally" Howard  Born: 1790  Married: June 08, 1805 in Bedford Co.
       Va.  Father:  Mother:  
    2  Elizabeth Wills  Born: Unknown  
  ...  +Robert Gibbs  Married: March 08, 1802 in Bedford Co. Va.  Father:
       Mother:  
    2  Nancy Wills  Born: Unknown  Died: Abt. 1854  Age at death: ?
    2  John B. Wills  Born: Abt. 1770  Died: December 02, 1842 in Monroe Co., Va.
       Age at death: 72 est.
  ...  +Susanna Howard  Born: Unknown  Married: February 04, 1797 in Shelby
       County, Ky.  Father: Mr. Drury Howard  Mother: Ms. Mary Lane  Died:
       Unknown  Age at death: ?
    2  Sara Wills  Born: September 26, 1779  Died: Aft. 1850  Age at death: 70
       est.
  ...  +James Pitt  Born: Unknown  Marriage fact: Never married  Father:  Mother:

The exact date and place of Justinianís death remains unknown but is estimated to be about 1805 and most likely in Bedford or Campbell County, Virginia. It is speculation, on my part, that he is most likely buried in a private cemetery located on the land he leased from Col. Calloway mentioned earlier.

The family of Justinian Wills settled mostly in the Bedford and Campbell County area. I have found records in both.

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