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Maternal Generation I: Elizabeth Hill married William Pinley

Elizabeth Hill: Born in Virginia

Elizabeth (Hill) Pinley
(circa 1621 - circa 1650)
"borne in Virginia"

Elizabeth Hill was our first ancestor born in America, the only known child of Edward and Hannah (Boyle) Hill of Kecoughtan, Elizabeth City, Virginia. She was born sometime after her parents arrived on The Bona Nova, August 13, 1620, but before the List of the Living in Virginia, dated February 16, 1623/4.

Elizabeth Hill married William Pinley circa 1642, and the Penley dynasty in America was begun. They gave birth to three children during their estimated eight year marriage. Alas, by 1650, both William and Elizabeth Pinley were deceased.

Precious few details about the women who raised us were recorded until the 20th century, and the information on Elizabeth Hill is scant indeed. Her name is found on only four scraps of paper, and she is referenced as an orphan on only one other document.

•On the 1624 List of the Living and the Dead in Virginia, dated February 16, 1623/ she is listed with both parents as survivors of the 1622 Massacre.

List of the Living and the Dead in Virginia
"More at Elizabeth City"
Edward Hill
Thomas Best
Hannah Hill
Elizabeth Hill

•On the 1625 Muster of the Inhabitants of Virginia, dated February 7, 1624/5, Elizabeth is listed with her mother on the Thomas Spelman muster as "Elizabeth Hill, born in Virginia".  Her father Edward Hill was listed as "buried at Elizabeth Cittie on May 13, 1624.  Her widowed mother Hannah married Thomas Spelman sometime before the February 1625 Muster.

1624/1625 Muster of the Inhabitants of Virginia
at Elizabeth Cittie
Mr. Thomas Spilman His Muster
[The residents of the household were listed as:]
Thomas Spilman, age 24, in The George, 1616
Hanna Spilman, aged 23, in The Bona Nova, 1620
Elizabeth Hill, borne in Virginia

(p. 58-59, Volume I, Adventurers of Purse and Person, 1607 - 1624/5, 4th Edition, Three Volumes, Edited by John Frederick Dorman, Published by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: Baltimore, 2004, 2005, 2007, Copyrighted by the Order of the First Families of Virginia.)

•On January 10, 1627 in the James City Court records is found Elizabeth Hill's adoption by Hannah's second husband, Thomas Spelman:

“Elizabeth HILL, daughter of Edward HILL became the ward of Thomas SPILMAN and he was appointed administrator of Edward HILL's estate for her use.”
See:  The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography:
  • Volume   1, No. 2, Oct., 1893, p. 195-196.
  • Volume 27, No. 1, Jan., 1919, p. 36.
  • Volume 23, No. 1, Jan., 1915, p. 17-18.

  • •On October 28, 1642, Alexander Mountney appeared in court to “humbly request” a land certificate for Danniell Tanner, as he had sold the land in Elizabeth City in exchange for cattle. Mountney stated that the 150 acres in Elizabeth City “lay voyde and was noe wayes beneficial to the said Orphants." (Ames, p. 212, 213).

    Thank you, Mr. Alexander Mountney, for your “humble request”.

    This one court appearance by Alexander Mountney, discovered by esteemed genealogist Jerry Penley, documented positively that Hannah Boyle, Hannah Hill, Hannah Spelman, and Hannah Mountney were indeed one person, and verified that Hannah's family in Elizabeth Cittie was the same family living in Accomack.

    The fact that Alexander Mountney sold Edward Hill's land in Elizabeth City at this particular time, after holding onto it for twenty years, may indicate he was making arrangements for Elizabeth's marriage to William Pinley.

    “whereas the said Mountney marryed with the Relict of Thomas Spilllman and Edward Hill both deceased and haveing in his possession a Certayne quantity of Land amounting to one hundred and Fiftie acres Lying within the County of Elizabeth Citty belonging unto the Orphants of the said Hill and Spillman which Land Lay voyde and was noe wayes beneficial to the said Orphants in respect whereof the said Mountney converted the said land into Cattle for the sole use of the said Orphants and sold the land unto Danniell Tanner. The said Alexander Mountney his humble request therefore is that hee might have a Certificate to the Right Worshipfull the Governor and Councell That the pattent for the said Land might bee renewed in the name of the said Daniell Tanner. The court therefore thought it requisite and doth accordingly request the Governor and Councell that the said Pattent may bee renewed in the name of the said Tanner.” (Ames, p. 212, 213)

    •September 15, 1646: Northampton County, Virginia: As Mountney family friend, Dr. John Holloway lay dying, Alexander Mountney, John Rosier and William Jones were summoned to hear his last wishes. Three years later, Hannah Mountney summoned William Jones to court to validate the gift of a cow to Alexander Mountney's [step-]daughter, Betty.
    Hannah Mountney's court appearance on this day is intriguing, as she brought sixteen suits against locals, mostly for unpaid debts, and received an overdue certificate for land. This cow had been grazing on Hannah's pasture since 1643, but she suddenly wanted the ownership certified in 1646. Alexander Mountney, as Elizabeth Hill's guardian, converted her land legacy from Edward Hill to cattle in 1643. William Pinley bought cattle in Maryland in 1644. There are also legal documents which reference cattle being kept on the Mountney fields and Hannah accepting cattle as payment for debts.

    This session may be interpreted as Hannah wrapping up business dealings in Northampton County in preparation for a family move to Chickacoan, and it appears from various court records that they had several head of cattle to take with them. Other indications of an impending move are found in the chapters on Hannah and William Pinley.

    " the making of ye last will & testam' of the sd [John] Holloway, Alexander Mountney being at the sd house told the sd Holloway saying there is a Cowe Calfe in my ffeild of yo'r marke And the sd Holloway answeared saying if it proveth to bee myne I will give it unto yo'r daughter Betty, and Mr John Rosier Asked ye sd Holloway saying, shall wee put it into the will and the sd Holloway answeared saying doe not in Respect I know not certaynly whether it bee myne or not."

    (p. 96, Northampton County Virginia Record Book, Orders, Deeds, Wills & c, Volume 3, 1645 - 1651, Edited by Dr. Howard Mackey and Marlene Alma Hinkley Groves, CG. Picton Press, Rockport, Maine, 2000.)

    Because her parents and husband William Pinley left more footprints, we know a bit more of Elizabeth's life. The following facts are explained in detail in the related chapters, and documentation of sources is included there.

    • Her family called her Betty.
    • She was born near the Hampton River at Kecoughtan, Elizabeth City, Virginia She was born after August 8, 1620, but before February 16, 1624.
    • Her father, Edward Hill was buried on May 13, 1624, before Elizabeth's fourth birthday.
    • Her mother, Hannah (Boyle) Hill, married their neighbor Thomas Spelman, Gentleman by 1625, and brought a baby sister, Mary Spelman into the family.
    • Thomas Spelman's brother, Henry Spelman was a colorful Indian trader and interpreter who knew Pocahontas well.
    • Step-father Thomas Spelman died in 1627, and Hannah married another neighbor, Alexander Mountney.
    • The Mountneys moved to Accomack on the Eastern Shore by 1632, Alexander and Hannah ran the community store, trading post and local tavern, and served the Accomack County Court.
    • Hannah had two more children with Mountney, Betty's half-sister Frances and half-brother, Alex Jr.
    • After Alexander Mountney's death in 1644, with the help of her four children, Hannah continued to run the tavern and serve the court as bookeeper, banker and tax collector, and possibly cattle rancher.
    • Elizabeth's probable first cousin, Edward Hill was the son of her Uncle Robert Hill, and Edward became Governor of Maryland during Leonard Calvert's exile. William Pinley and his friends were big supporters of Governor Hill.
    • Around 1642, Elizabeth Hill met and married William Pinley from Maryland.
    • The cattle Mountney bought with her land proceeds  probably served as her dowry, and the cow from Dr. Holloway may have been a wedding gift.
    • Together, William and Betty  had three children before 1650:
      • Will, Jr., born circa 1643
      • Dorothy, born circa 1647
      • Thomas, born circa 1650
    • Elizabeth may have died of complications from the birth of Thomas.
    • William and Elizabeth (Hill) were both dead by 1650.

    The family survived the 1622 Massacre, but suffered miserably in the aftermath. Elizabeth's father, Edward Hill was a documented hero of the massacre, he was credited with saving many lives. Obviously weakened by the struggle to save his young family, her father died when she was less than four years old, he was buried at Elizabeth Cittie on May 13, 1624.

    Before his death, Hill wrote a letter to his brother and father-in-law Richard Boyle in London.
    "I have a great many people to keep and if I can but save their lives I hope I doe not amiss." The full text of his letter is published in the chapters on Edward Hill.