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Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Confusion

So much confusion exists regarding the ancestors of Alexander West I.  Owners of many on-line trees are confused by the many John Wests and Alexander Wests and have mingled those from various trees or sources with the descendants of Alexander West I (unknown spouse) who was the father of Alexander West II (married Hannah Langley) and John West (married Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon).  This post will attempt to present an overview of the major sources of confusion and draw conclusions based on research data.

Some researchers believe (as I once did) that this West line descended from the royalty of Colonial Virginia, specifically from Sir Thomas Leighton, the 2nd Lord Baron, De La Warr West (1557-1602) and his wife Lady Anne Knollys as outlined in the following male lineage:  Sir Thomas Leighton (1557-1602)/Lady Anne Knollys; Governor John West I (1590-1659)/Lady Anne Percy; Colonel John West II/Ursula Unity Croshaw; and John West III (1676-1734)/Judith Armistead.  However, this is where the “dead-end” occurs because John and Judith West had only one child, a son, Major Charles West, who never married and died without issue.  Charles willed his 4000 acre inheritance, West Point, Virginia, to his first cousin, Thomas West, who was the son of Charles’ uncle, Captain Thomas West.
Another scenario, one that is not presented in any on-line trees which connect with the Wests of Wilkes, is that the son of Colonel John West II and his mistress, the Pamunkey Indian Queen, Cockacoeske (1640-1686), could have provided a link to my West family.  Their son was also named John (abt 1657-1713) and is referenced in some documents as John, the Indian, West.  I have seen him referenced in some on-line trees as Josiah John West. The story of Queen Cockacoeske and her role in the Treaty of the Middle Plantation of 1677 provides interesting reading.  Supposedly, John, the Indian, West married Elizabeth Rose in 1677 and had several sons (possibly Thomas, Robert, Benjamin, and Richard).  They lived in the area of Chowan, North Carolina.  Thomas was born before 1700 and died about 1800. He had a son John born in 1762 who had a son John born in 1786. Robert died in 1898; he supposedly had sons named Robert, Thomas, John, and Richard.  Research regarding this family has been limited and confusing, but the names and dates do not lend credibility to any of the sons being the father of a John West (b abt 1703) or an Alexander West (b abt 1720-1730), who were the ancestors of my West family.
A second area for confusion with many researchers is one regarding the Wests of Accomack, Virginia, on the Eastern Shore. In 1649 Anthony West and his wife Ann Barloe Huffe along with their two children, John and Katherine, were transported by Randall Herle to the Eastern Shore from Jamestown.  In 1649 Herle received a patent of 600 acres for transporting 12 individuals among whom were the four Wests. This was the first recorded record of any Wests on the Eastern Shore. Records indicate that Anthony West first came to the Virginia Colony as an indentured servant or as an apprentice.  He returned to England where he married Ann Barloe Huffe and then returned to Jamestown.  In addition to John and Katherine, Anthony and Ann Barloe Huffe West had two more daughters after they came to live at Accomack.  Their son, John West (1638-1703), became known as Colonel John West who married Matilda Scarburgh/Scarborough.  This John West is often confused with the Colonel John West of Jamestown.  Colonel John West of Accomack and his wife Matilda had fourteen children six of whom were males.  The list below provides the names of their sons, their grandsons, their great grandsons, and their known spouses for several generations.
As one examines these John and Alexander Wests, one must keep in mind their dates.  A John West (1707-abt 1800) and his wife, Mary Madden, have been suggested as parents of Alexander West I (abt 1720/30-bef 1790)/unknown spouse. Also, the Alexander West, ancestor of the Wests of Wilkes, North Carolina, was alive and active between the years of 1752 and 1790 as noted in land and census records of Orange, Surry, Wilkes, and Burke counties of North Carolina.  Please note that the land in Surry and Wilkes counties where Alexander West I had lived was the same land.  Initially, the land was part of Surry County (created in 1771), but when Wilkes County was created in 1777 from Surry and the District of Washington, the land became part of Wilkes County.
And now, back to the male descendants of Colonel John West and Matilda Scarburgh/Scarborough West.
·         John, the Elder, West (d bef 1708), no children;
·         Anthony West (d bef 1717)/Elizabeth Rowles
o   Anthony West (abt 1700 – 1778)/Comfort Rogers
§  Richard West (abt 1727-1788)/Ann
§  John West (abt 1788-Oct 1799)/unknown spouse
·         Anthony West (abt 1776-?)
§  Jeremiah West (1735-1793)
·         William West
·         John West
o   John West (1696-bef 30 Nov 1773)/unknown spouse
§  Anthony West (d 1778)/Elenor (Eleanor)
·         Revel West/Susannah
o   John Rowles West/unknown spouse
o   Revell West/Margaret C.
o   Edmond Revell West/unknown spouse
·         George West/unknown spouse
o   George R. West
·         Isaac West/unknown spouse
o   John West
·         John West
·         Alexander West* (1665 Accomack-1727 Accomack)/1st Bayly; 2nd Mary Robinson Hurtley
o   Child with daughter of  Richard Bayly:
§  Scarburgh West (abt 1700-1760)/ Mary?
·         Edmund West (abt 1726-1797)
·         Alexander West (abt 1730-26 May 1761 in Accomack)/Judah
·         Philip Parker West (abt 1732-18 Oct 1796)/Elizabeth
o   Children with Mary Robinson Hurtley:
§  Major West (abt 1707 - ?)
§  Edmund West (abt 1710 - ?)
§  John West (abt 1695-Jan 1755)/Agnes Burton
·         John West (abt 1728 Accomack - ?)
·         Major West (abt 1705-bef 30 Oct 1782)
o   John West (abt 1775 Accomack- bef 28 Mar 1814 Accomack)
·         Jonathan West (1674- bef 4 Oct 1727)/unknown Spooner
·         Benony (Benoni) West (d bef. 1 Feb 1708)/Sarah Snead
·         Major John, the Younger, West (d 1718)/Frances Yeardley
o   Argall (Argol) Yeardley (Yardly) West/Comfort
§  John West
o   John West/Ann Godwin
§  Jonathan West
·         Jonathan West II/Anne Simpson
o   John West
§  John Custis West
o   Thorowgood West/Susanna
o   Jonathan West III/Susanna
o   Thomas West
§  Charles West
§  James West/Tabitha
·         Solomon West
·         Samuel West
o   Robinson West
§  Thomas West
§  William West
o   William West
o   Thorowgood West
o   Charles West**/Elizabeth
§  Jonathan West
·         Charles West
Some believe that these Wests of Accomack were related to the Wests of Jamestown.  However, no one has been able to prove any familial relationship between the two families of John Wests (Colonial Governor John West and his son, Colonel John West of Jamestown and the Colonel John West of Accomack).  One compelling artifact which lends credence to this theory that a familial relationship may exist is the tombstone of Charles West**, son of Major John, the Younger, West.  This tombstone is inscribed with the De La Warr coat of arms. In his will, Charles had left instructions that a headstone with this crest be ordered from England and placed on his grave. The tombstone had been removed from the grave at some point in time and was used as a bucket rest at a well.  It was retrieved a number of years ago and stored in a museum.  It is broken and not well preserved, being on display on the basement floor of the Ker Place, Onancock, Virginia.  The Ker Place is a museum and the home of the Accomack Historical Society ( Although, this tombstone is inscribed with the De La Warr coat of arms, no one has been able to prove that these Accomack Wests were related to the English royalty Wests of Jamestown. Was Charles only “a want-a-be,” or did he know something we don’t – that his family was related to West royalty?  However, after having seen and read about this tombstone in reference books, I was excited to view and photograph it myself while I was in Accomack in May 2010.  
Confusion exists among noted authors, who have complied and published court and land records, concerning the heirs of Alexander West* (1665-1727) with one source indicating no heirs and another indicating two male heirs.  Since authorities do not always agree, determining lineages and relationships becomes a difficult task.  Of course, we are looking 340+ years back in time!  Perhaps, I expect too much.
Good genealogical research does not start at the earliest ancestor and work toward the most recent one but starts at the most recent ancestor and works back proving everything with reliable, primary sources. I certainly found this out the hard way.  When I first started my research, I did it the wrong way by starting with those Wests from the colonial days and working forward using published books as my sources.  Was I ever wrong!
I did use published resources as I tried to unravel the John and Alexander Wests of Accomack. I spent the fall and winter months of 2009-2010 researching various references written by noted authorities by borrowing the books from my public library and through inter-library loan.  In May 2010, I spent two days in Accomack, Virginia, researching the Wests of Accomack in the Eastern Shore Public Library, which is the county library for Accomack County, and in the Accomack County Court House. At this point, I wish to express thanks to my sister who helped me with the research in Accomack and to my husband and brother-in-law who tagged along with us in support of our efforts!  We had a great time, too, touring the part of the Delmarva Peninsula that is in Virginia and seeing the ponies at Chincoteague.
As a matter of reference, most of the genealogical data described in this post regarding the Wests of Accomack were taken from the following sources:
·         Miles Files 11.0,
·         Myer, Virginia M. and John Frederick Dorman. Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5.  Richmond, VA: Dietz Press Inc.
·         Nottingham, Stratton.  Wills and Administrations of Accomac County, Vol. I, 1663-1800.  Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, Inc., 1990.
·         West, Elmer D. Some Descendants of Anthony West of Accomack, Virginia, 1980.
·         Whitelaw, Ralph T. Virginia's Eastern Shore, A History of Northampton and Accomack Counties, Vol I, 1951.
·         Whitelaw, Ralph T. Virginia's Eastern Shore, A History of Northampton and Accomack Counties, Volumes I and II. Gloucester, Mass: Peter Smith, 1968.

In conclusion to this discourse of the Wests of Accomack, one might assume that Alexander West (1720/30-bef 1790) could be the ancestor of this line of Wests.  However, the Alexander West from Accomack died on 26 May 1761.  The Alexander West in this lineage of Wests is noted in land and census documents as living in Orange, Surry, Wilkes, and Burke counties of North Carolina during the period of 1752-1790.  Therefore, the Alexander West of Accomack who was married to Judah could not have been the ancestor of this line of Wests. No direct male line is found to indicate that Alexander West (1720/30-bef 1790) is directly descended from a West of Accomack. 
And then, there’s another story…which adds to the confusion!  A Robert West (1612-1646) has been documented as playing “nine pins” at the home of John Dennis in Accomack in 1636.  At one point in time, he supposedly worked on a plantation, which may have been in the Jamestown area, owned by Lady Elizabeth Throgmorten Dale (Mrs. Thomas Dale) and could have been an indentured servant, an apprentice, or an orphan. Supposedly, he first married an Elizabeth and had one son, George West who, subsequently, had four sons.  His second wife with whom he had no children was a widow named Mary Rayne who died in 1649.  Robert West and Elizabeth’s descendants are listed below.
·         Robert West (1612-1646)/1st: Elizabeth
o   George West (1639 VA - 1702 DE)/married 1st: Susannah;
married 2nd: widow DuParkes, on 28 Mar 1688, no children
George West and Susannah had 4 sons which are listed below along with their offspring:
§  Thomas West (aft 1660, Accomack, VA – 1708 Somerset County, MD – present Sussex, DE), married Elizabeth
·         Robert West, married Elizabeth Lewis
o   Lewis West
o   Peter West
o   John West
o   Joseph West
o   Robert West
o   Wrixam West
·         Samuel West
·         Thomas West
·         John West (b aft 1700, Baltimore Hundred, Somerset, MD - ?)
·         George West
o   2 unknown children
·         William West
§  John West (aft 1660 – abt 1708 Somerset County, MD)
§  Robert West
§  George  West
After an examination of the data regarding Robert West, the only possibility of a connection might be with his grandson, John West, who was born after 1700 in Maryland.  He was the son of Thomas West, one of Robert’s sons.  Could this have been the John West who was married to a Mary Madden?  Looking back at my research data regarding a John West, Sr. and a John West, Jr., a John West, Sr. is recorded in land and census records of Orange County, North Carolina, between 1752 and 1785.  Could he be “The One”?



  1. This is probably old news to you, but just in and other West descendants may wish to keep an eye on the West DNA Project. Robert West's descendants are in Group 1 of the study--John West who m. Mary Madden is in this group. Descendants of Gov. John West (the Delaware line) are in Group 22. Descendants of Lt. Col. John West who m. Matilda Scarburgh are in Group 24.

  2. Amy, Thanks for your comment. I wrote this post in July 2011 and much has changed since that time. I do keep up with the West DNA Project but probably haven't updated my information in this blog about the project since then. I do appreciate your comment and interest in my blog. Best regards, Charlotte


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