Branscomb/Branscum Genealogy

The Genealogy of
Richard Branscomb
of Brunswick County, Virginia,
and a Number of his Descendants


by Fred Tubbs


 

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Sarah Proctor, wife of Richard Branscomb

Richard Branscomb, the immigrant to America, married Sarah Proctor, but the date of their marriage is uncertain. In their genealogical charts several people have shown the date of marriage for Richard and Sarah as 9 September 1744; others show 9 September from some earlier year. No one has cited a document to support any such marriage date. The date of 9 September 1744 comes from Augusta B. Fothergill’s Marriage Records of Brunswick County, Virginia, 1730-1852, (1953), in which she wrote, “9 Sept. 1754, by *** Sarah Proctor, dau. of Robert (W. B. III; 263).” The asterisks occupy the space in which the husband’s name, if known, should appear. Fothergill’s entries were alphabetized by surname of the groom, and this entry appears after the entries for Benjamin Branscomb and Thomas Branscomb. Had Fothergill written “by 9 September 1754,” instead of “9 September 1754, by,” perhaps most readers would have been able to translate the entry as follows:
“Sarah Proctor was married before 9 September 1754, as shown by the will of Robert Proctor (Will Book III, p. 263).”

Robert Proctor’s will, dated 9 September 1754, does indeed name Sarah Branscomb as a daughter and an heir, but she was married long before Robert made his will. Those who retain the 9 September but posit an earlier year were probably influenced by the records showing that Isaac Branscomb, son of Thomas and grandson of Richard and Sarah, was born ca. 1765. Perhaps those people assumed that the 1754 date for the marriage was a typographical error, and they “corrected” it to allow time for Thomas to be conceived, born, reared and married before fathering Isaac. If anyone can show a valid document to support a marriage date for Richard Branscomb and Sarah Proctor, it will be welcomed.

Women of the eighteenth century were mentioned infrequently in the official records, and then most often in marriage records, in deeds, or in connection with the settlement of estates; so it was with Sarah. She and her son Richard qualified as executors of the estate of Richard Branscomb Senior. In 1778 Sarah and her son Richard as executors deeded to William Richardson the 145 acres which he had contracted to purchase from Richard Sr. prior to his death.

The three unmarried children, Richard II, John and Sarah, probably continued to live at home until they married. Richard, at least married soon after his father’s death. Since John inherited from his father the land on which the family dwelling had been built, he could have continued to live in the family home even after marriage. The first tax list available for Brunswick County is for the year 1782, and in that year Sarah and her son were taxed separately, and it is therefore probable that by then they had separate residences. In 1782 Sarah Branscomb was taxed for one horse and eight “cattle.” Her name is not found again on the tax rolls until 1787, when she was taxed for one horse and four cattle. Thereafter she was listed on the tax rolls for Greensville County for the years 1788, 1791-1794 and 1796, and was assessed each of these years for taxes on one horse. Her name is not found on the tax rolls thereafter, and it is possible that she died soon after 1796, or, more likely, that she resided in the household of one of her children.

Sarah’s father Robert Proctor

The will of Robert Proctor is dated 9 September 1754 (Will Book #3, pp. 263-264). It was proved in court on 25 July 1758 (Court Order Book #7, p. 226). The will names his wife as Mary; his sons as Thomas and Robert; his daughters as Sarah Branscomb, Jane Randle, Priscilla Towns, Kathrine Rogers, Elizabeth Bennett, and Mary Proctor; and a grandson as Joshua Proctor. No official record has been found for another Branscomb to whom Sarah Proctor may have been married; no deed, no land grant, no entry in the county court minutes or the vestry book. It is therefore almost certain that Sarah Branscomb the wife of Richard Branscomb was the daughter of Robert Proctor. The order in which the daughters were named suggests that she was the eldest daughter if not the eldest child; in many wills the sons were named first in order of birth and then the daughters in order of birth.

Robert Proctor bequeathed to each of his children except Thomas and Mary either five or ten shillings. These bequests suggest that he had already provided adequately for these children at their marriages. He made a more substantial bequest to Mary, the unmarried daughter. The bulk of the estate went to Thomas, the first named son.

During the late 1600s a number of Proctors were in the area of the Blackwater River, which flowed from Surry County through Isle of Wight County. At least two Robert Proctors are found in the records, and further research is necessary to determine which documents in the official records apply to Robert the father of Sarah Branscomb. Robert Proctor received a land patent of 80 acres in Surry County on 24 January 1717 (Virginia Land Grants, Book 10, p. 364). The 80 acres were “on the south side of the Main Blackwater Swamp, extending below the mouth of the Cattail Branch.” Robert Proctor also received a patent of 95 acres in Isle of Wight County on 9 July 1724 (Book 12, p. 92): “on the south side of the Main Blackwater Swamp and the north side of Chicopen Swamp.” A Cattail Branch in northern Greensville County formerly was part of Sussex Co.; it empties into Three Creek to the south. Chinquapin Swamp is east of Waverly and near the current boundary between Sussex and Surry Counties. (Caution! It is not certain that either of these patents was to Robert Proctor the father of Sarah Branscomb. However, they were within a short distance of earlier patents to Joshua Proctor who had sons Robert, Richard and Nicholas; see below.)

A long interval separates the foregoing record from the next known record for Robert Proctor. By 1754 he was in Brunswick County, as shown by these entries in the vestry book for St. Andrew's Parish:
27 November 1754: “Ordered that the Parish Trustee pay Robert Proctor one hundred pounds of Tobacco for making Anne Smiths Coffin.” (page 62)

11 April 1755: “Robert Proctor is discharged from paying the Parish Levie” (page 64).

A parallel entry appears in the county court minutes for April 1755: “On the petition of Robert Proctor it is ordered that he be discharged from payment of County and Public Levies for the future.” (Book 5, p. 384)

These entries come during the wane of Robert's life, and they suggest that poor health was the justification for his being excused from paying tithes and taxes. His will was probated three years later.

(A land patent to Robert Proctor on 23 May 1763 for 40 acres along Rocky Run and Fountains Creek was obviously for Robert Jr., Sarah’s brother.[Virginia Patent Book 35, pp. 137-138])

Joshua Proctor, the (presumed) grandfather of Sarah

The available evidence suggests that Joshua Proctor was the grandfather of Sarah. Joshua Proctor's will was probated in Surry County in January 1719 (Surry County Wills & Administrations, Book 7, p. 235). Joshua's son Robert was executor. The will names other sons as Richard and Nicholas. Numerous records in Brunswick County cite Nicholas Proctor. Richard Proctor witnessed a deed in Brunswick County on 1 October 1748 (William Gray to Thomas Washington; book 3, p. 519). Perhaps this was the same Richard Proctor whose name appears on the tax rolls of adjacent Warren Co., NC, in 1786, 1787 and 1789.

The official records show three land patents to Joshua Proctor, all in Surry County:

(1) 900 acres patented on 20 April 1685 jointly to him and William Rogers “between John Chehockon and the Main Blackwater.” (Book 7, p. 463) Bordering land was owned by John Collins and by Thomas Smith. Johnchecohunk Swamp runs roughly parallel to and north of the Blackwater River, running from County Road 40 northeast of Waverly until it joins Cypress Swamp several miles to the east at Spratley's Mill.
(2) 566 acres patented in October 1688 jointly to him and Nathaniel Roberts (Book 7, p. 669). The land bordered a tract “already granted them,” which statement implies that Joshua received other patents for which the records are not available.
(3) 50 acres patented 1 May 1706 (Book 9, p. 718). This land bordered Joshua's existing land, and it also bordered land of William Rogers.

On 4 November (the 9th month) 1689 Nathaniel Roberts deeded to Joshua Proctor 283 acres of land in Southwarke, “half of a pattent for ffive hundred 60 and 6 acres granted unto Joshua Proctor & myself” (Surry County Deeds & Wills, Book 4, p. 130). In his will Joshua bequeathed 566 acres of land “adjoining Spring Branch” to his sons Robert and Richard; he also bequeathed 140 acres to his son Nicholas. Spring Branch is just north of Waverly and south of the Blackwater River.

(CAUTION: Although it is likely that Joshua Proctor was the grandfather of Richard Branscomb's wife Sarah, the ancestry is not proven. No one should cite me as the source for a proven lineage of Sarah Proctor Branscomb.)

See also:
The Children of Richard Branscomb and Sarah Proctor
Richard Branscomb, the Immigrant to America

 

 

Copyright 2004
Frederick B. Tubbs

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