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Maternal Generation I: Elizabeth Hill married William Pinley

Hannah & Edward Hill of Virginia

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Our First American Family
Mr. and Mrs. Edward (Hannah Boyle) Hill

Our first positively documented ancestor to arrive in America was Edward Hill, who came sometime before 1616 as evidenced by his land grant. Edward made multiple voyages back to England, but returned to Virginia with his new bride, Hannah (nee Boyle) aboard The Bona Nova on August 8, 1620. They began their new life together at the home he had prepared on his 100 acre land grant along the Hampton River in Virginia, at Kecoughtan (Elizabeth City). A sad addendum to the 1624/1625 Muster proves Edward Hill's death by May 13, 1624, as he is found on “A List of the Burialles in Elizabeth City". Hannah lived on until 1659.

The specific marriage and sailing dates were graciously provided by Jim White of Missouri,, (

Edward Hill (1587 - 1625) of England and Virginia
Born: 1587, Ellesmere, County Shropshire, England
Probable son of: George and Isabella (Cross) Hill
Died: May 13, 1624, Elizabeth City, Virginia, age 38

Hannah Boyle (1599 - 1659) of England and Virginia
Born: 1599 in Chirbury, County Shropshire, England
Daughter of Richard and Eleanor (Brayne) Boyle
{Married 1. Edward Hill, 2. Thomas Spelman, 3. Alexander Mountney}
Died: in Northumberland County, Virginia, age 60

August 17, 1619
Edward Hill and Hannah Boyle
Marriage Banns published July 28, August 4, August 11, 1619.
at Chirbury Priory, Chirbury, Shropshire, England.

Edward Hill's first arrival date in Virginia is unknown, but by 1619, our Edward was seated on a 100 acre plantation in Kecoughtan, renamed Elizabeth City in 1620. He obviously returned to England for his August, 1619 marriage. Shortly after the wedding, Edward Hill left his bride and sailed to Virginia alone, likely to prepare their home or to  harvest  his tobacco crop. Although the ship for his 1619 trip back to Virginia is not documented, his return voyage is recorded on May 8, when Edward arrived back in England as one of only two passengers listed on The Bona Nova's return voyage.
The Bona Nova departed Virginia bound for Manchester and Liverpool April 23, 1620 landed in London May 8, 1620 with two passengers ... Edward Hill, and Roger Smith [sic] of Virginia ... the Bona Nova underwent repairs.

Edward and Hannan [sic] Hill
Departure from England:

from Gravesend, aboard The Bona Nova on June 21, 1620.
Arrival in Virginia:
at Elizabeth City on August 8, 1620

"Edward & Hanan Hill" were listed on the manifest of The Bona Nova on June 21, 1620, when it departed Gravesend, England "loaded with ordinance and passengers" and landed at Elizabeth City, Virginia on August 8, 1620. Other passengers on board were:

"John Porge [Porquér] Gent. "on the King's business," Edward & Hanan Hill, William Browning, Ezekiel Raughton and wife Margaret, Leonard Moore, Robert Champion, John Russell, John Jefferson [possibly an ancestor of President Thomas Jefferson], Thomas Marloe, Thomas Bagwell, Thomas Bennett, John Shelley, Thomas Crouch, Nathaniel Floid, George Rogers, Thomas Ottowell ... two orphans from Bridewell orphanage ... Thomas Ferrar & Thomas Collins"
(This information graciously provided by Jim White of Missouri,,

Edward Hill, Ancient Planter?

By 1619, our Edward Hill was seated on a 100 acre plantation in Kecoughtan, renamed Elizabeth City in 1620. His neighbor on the west, Ancient Planter Thomas Spelman, would become Hannah’s second husband. His neighbor to the east was Ancient Planter Alexander Mountney, who would become Hannah’s third husband. Even before they each married our Hannah Boyle, their lives were deeply entwined in the struggle for survival in the wilderness.

To be consistent with the geographic organization followed in the Land Book, Edward Hill's plantation, nestled between Thomas Spelman's (Land Book I, page 35) and Alexander Mountney's (Land Book I, page 37), should be page 36, which is missing from the book. That omission has thus far denied Our Edward Hill the historic status of Ancient Planter in most secondary sources, though his grant and subsequent "dividents" were treated as Ancient Planter grants long after his death, until finally sold in 1642 by his daughter's guardian. Further evidence that Edward Hill was an Ancient Planter is provided at the end of this chapter.

After their August 8, 1620 arrival in Virginia, the newlyweds probably set quickly to work harvesting tobacco and preparing their new home for winter. The years between 1619 and the 1622 Massacre are sometimes referred to as "golden years" in the colony. Population, crops and profits were healthier and growing.

The 1622 Massacre
This era of prosperous tranquility ended abruptly on Friday, March 22, 1621/2, when colonists suffered a massive well orchestrated attack by the Natives. Nearly 400 colonists were brutally murdered as they casually went about their morning routines. A separate chapter of collected notes on the Massacre is provided herein.

At the behest of English authorities, a list of the victims and survivors of the Massacre was prepared eleven months after the Friday attack. Edward Hill, Hannah, and baby Elizabeth are listed as survivors at Elizabeth City.
List of the Living and the Dead in Virginia
"More at Elizabeth City"
Edward Hill

Thomas Best
Hannah Hill
Elizabeth Hill
Edward, Hannah and baby Elizabeth Hill did survive the Friday Massacre of 1622, as the settlements at Kecoughtan were mostly spared on that day, but they suffered miserably in the aftermath, evidenced by the poignant letter that Edward Hill wrote home to England (see below).

It is possible that our Edward Hill escaped the massacre because he was at Chickacoan with Henry Spelman and Raleigh Croshaw on that Friday morning. In John Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia, he relates the story of the flamboyant interpreter Henry Spelman being out on a trading mission when he was informed of the massacre by friendly natives who stole aboard his ship. Also on board was Elis Hill, who stayed with Raleigh Croshaw to further an alliance and do more trading with these friendly Natives.

A fervent search over the last ten years for any other reference to variant spellings for an Elis Hill in Virginia has found none. There were connections between Edward Hill, Croshaw and Spelman which certainly make Edward Hill's presence on that trip credible. Raleigh Croshaw's wife sailed over with a servant on The Bona Nova in 1620, possibly with Edward and Hannah Hill (there were two Bona Nova arrivals in 1620), as stated on Croshaw's Ancient Planter land deed, but she perished, or returned to England before the List of the Living in 1623/4. Henry Spelman was the brother of Edward Hill's next door neighbor, Thomas Spelman. John Smith left Virginia in 1609, and wrote his chronicles from tales passed across the ocean. A blurry scrawl of Edw. could have been interpreted as Els or Elis, which is here deemed probable because of the lack of documents indicating any other variation of the name.
Being in a small Barke called the Elizabeth, under the command of Captaine Spilman [Henry Spelman], at Cekacawone [Chickacoan], a Salvage stole aboord them, and told them of the Massacre, and that Opechancanough had plotted with his King and Country to betray them also, which they refused, but them of Wighcocomoco at the mouth of the river had undertaken it; upon this Spilman went thither, but the Salvages seeing his men so vigilant and well armed, they suspected them selves discovered, and to colour their guilt, the better to delude him, so contented his desire in trade, his Pinnace was neere fraught; but seeing no more to be had, Croshaw [Captain Raleigh Crashaw] went to Patawomek where he intended to stay and trade for himselfe, by reason of the long acquaintance he had with this King that so earnestly entreated him now to be his friend, his countenancer, his Captaine and director against the Pazaticans, the Nacotchtanks, and Moyaons his mortall enemies. Of this oportunity Croshaw was glad, as well to satisfie his owne desire in some other purpose he had, as to keepe the King as an opposite to Opechancanough, and adhere him unto us, or at least make him an instrument against our enemies; so onely Elis Hill stayed with him, and the Pinnace returned to Elizabeths City. (John Smith, Generall Historie of Virginia.)
Crosses and Losses
History books often refer to the Massacre of 1622 as a singular event taking place on March 22. The Natives made repeated strikes against the colonists for another year, destroying their crops and livestock, killing many more men, women and children as they ventured forth searching for food. John Smith described the year following the uprising as a series of “crosses and losses”.

Repeated smaller attacks were made against the survivors in the months that followed. Edward Hill is cited for heroism in saving many lives when they were attacked by Natives on September 9 of the same year. Hill wrote to his brother that he lost cattle valued at £100 in the September 9 attack. John Smith published an account of the attack.
“The 9. of September, we had an alarum, and two men at their labours slaine; the Captaine [Nuse], though extreme sicke, sallied forth, but the Salvages lay hid in the Corne fields all night, where they destroyed all they could, and killed two men more, much mischiefe they did to Master Edward Hills cattle, yet he [Edward Hill or Captain Nuse?] alone defended his house though his men were sicke and could doe nothing, and this was our first assault since the Massacre.” (John Smith, Travels, Macmillan Company, 1907, p. 303
Other sources also cite Edward Hill’s courage at Elizabeth City, "altho' much mischief was done to his cattle, yet did himself alone defend his house, whilst all his men were sick and unable to give him any assistance." PenleyPearls finds an absence of documentation as to whether John Smith was referring to Edward Hill, or the revered Captain Nuse in the above quote, and subsequent references all appear to base facts on the Smith entry. John Smith left Virginia in 1609, and relied on tales relayed across the ocean for his writing.

Fortunately for the proud descendants of Edward Hill, a great treasure of first-hand eye-witness information has been found in two letters written by our forefather Edward Hill himself. The full transcript as found in the Records of the Virginia Company, Volume 4, Kingsbury, page 234, is printed further below. PenleyPearls finds his heartbreaking concern for his family sufficient documentation of his heroism.
"For my part I care not for any proffitt, indeed it is as much as we can doe to save o’ lives. ... I have a great many people to keep and if I can but save their lives I hope I doe not amiss."
With the cattle dead, the crops burned, Edward and Hannah somehow suffered the winter of 1622 - 1623 by rationing their scarce supplies and eating oysters and crabs from the Chesapeake Bay, when they could be gathered. The sporadic attacks continued in the spring.

On April 14 of 1624, Edward wrote sad letters home to his brother and Hannah’s father, relating the scarcity and high price of food, and his fears that he could not save all their lives.
14. Edward Hill to his Brother, Mr. Jo. Hill, mercer in Lumbarstreet [London]:
dat’ 14 Ap. 1623
Now for the state of this Contrey, There was the first Massacre killd of o’ English 400 and odd psons: since at tymes there have been killd XX and odd.

And in this last Massacre there was cutt off by th’ Indians a Pinnace, a shallopp, and a small Boate w’th 26 men all in compleat Armour the 27 of M’ch 1623. [Henry Spelman Massacre]

So the truth is we lyue in the fearfullest age that ever christians lyued in: And to speake the truth I stay to gett what I haue lost and then god willing I will leave the Contrey: for this is the worst yeare here that ever I saw like to bee...We are all like to have the greatest famine in the land that ever was.

Now I protest I and myne are like to p’ish[perish]. Corne is at xxx s. [30 shillings] a bushell and not any scarce to be gott: Meale is at 12 £ a hogshead, but there is none to be soulde, yet if I gett not 40 buz [bushels] I am like to doe ill:

Yet I had not wanted proivsion but that we might not be suffered to plant as much Corne as we would: And indeed, we dare scarce stepp out of o’ dores neither for wood nor water.

The last yeare I had a very hard yeare of it by reason of th' Indians and I feare this wilbe as bad: I lost the last yeare as many Cattle as were worth a 100 £ "

Yet if we save but o{our} lives god willing the next year I will see yo

15. Idem to his father-in-law Mr. Richard Boyle in Blackfryars [London]: dat’ from Elizabeth City vt supra }

For my part I care not for any proffitt, indeed it is as much as we can doe to save o’ lives.

A hogshead of Meale is here at xii [12] £. Corne is xxx s [30 shillings] a bushell and but a little buz neither:

I have a great many people to keep and if I can but save their lives I hope I doe not amiss.

(Records of the Virginia Company, Volume IV, Kingsbury, page 256)

Survivors from the entire colony fortified the eight most secure settlements, one of which was Kecoughtan at Elizabeth City and waited for help to arrive from England. After much analysis, it was finally determined that on the List of the Living under "at Elizabeth City" the names mostly include the survivors from other plantations who were living inside the palisaded forts on the Hampton River. The names listed under “More at Elizabeth City”, including Edward and Hannah Hill, were the permanent residents of the settlement, their names are also found on associated land grants.

Edward Hill's name is immediately followed on the "Living" list by the name of Thomas Best, probably Hill’s servant. Scrutiny of the arrangement patterns of names on the List of the Living indicates that often the man of the household was listed first, followed by any other male residents, including servants, followed by the listing of the wife, other females, and children. Servant Thomas Best also wrote a letter home (included later) to his brother and cousin in England on April 12.

John Smith wrote that at Elizabeth City, Captain Nuce ordered all the corn fields burned to keep the Natives from hiding there to ambush the colonists if they dared venture outside. Nuse assured them they would receive food from England. Smith scoffed at that assurance given the random history of supply ships from the mother country. The English did not learn of the March 22 Massacre disaster until June 27. They sent supplies and armaments, but also sent boatloads of sick, weak and hungry new settlers without adequate provisions.

The families of Edward or Hannah may have sent emergency supplies, but starvation breeds greed, and many shipments from relatives never reached the intended. Distributing the emergency supplies from the ports to the homes was extremely hazardous. Those living inland gained little from England’s generosity. Wealthy colonists could afford the outrageous prices, but literally hundreds of common people who survived the Massacre, starved in the aftermath.

The relatively long and descriptive letters written by Edward Hill and others were used as evidence by the King of the misery and poor management by the Virginia Company in Jamestown, and their royal charter was soon revoked. In 1625, Virginia was placed directly under the authority of the king, it was no longer a proprietary colony. Additional information on the massacre and the arrogance of the corporate managers is provided in the chapter on The Massacre.

Was Edward Hill an Ancient Planter?
To achieve his 100 acre land grant in 1619 as an Ancient Planter, Edward Hill had to pay his own transportation charges and arrive in Virginia before the departure of Governor Dale in May of 1616. The criterion of surviving the 1622 Massacre was later added to the requirements for Ancient Planter status. Evidence indicates that Edward Hill was an Ancient Planter:

  • The bounds of Edward Hill’s already existing land grant are used as the limitations of the adjoining documented Ancient Planters Thomas Spelman and Alexander Mountney (Land Book I, p. 35 & 37, Cavaliers and Pioneers, Nugent, page 6).
  • Although Edward Hill's first documented trip to Virginia was in 1619, the Ancient Planters surrounding his property had chosen their land before that. In January of 1619/20, the Rolfe letter reports:
    • “All the Ancient Planters being sett free have chosen place for their dividend according to the Comyssion. Wch giueth all greate content, for now knowing their owne land, they strive and are prpared to build houses & to cleere their ground ready to plant, wch giveth the * * * greate incouragemt, and the greatest hope to make the Colony florrish that ever yet happened to them.” (Rolfe, Records of the Virginia Company, page 241)
  • Long after their decease, Edward Hill and Thomas Spelman's second dividents were registered alongside Alexander Mountney and Hannah Mountney's second dividents at Northampton County, all four grants at N39 on Ralph Whitelaw's grid published at the incredible G.H.O.T.E.S. website. (
  • Both the Edward Hill and Henry Spelman grants are listed in the Extracts of All the Titles and Estates of Land (Records of the Virginia Company Vol. 4 pages 553-558), sent home by Sir Francis Wyatt, May, 1625.
  • Hill's plantation was consistently titled in his name long after his 1624 death, until 1642, when Alexander Mountney, guardian to the heirs of both Hill and Spelman, sold their original land grants in Elizabeth City to Daniel Tanner.
  • It is now deemed likely that his father was the George Hill who arrived at Jamestown in 1608, as part of the First Supply convoy of ships that arrived with new colonists and provisions. George was a widower who apparently came to Virginia to forge new opportunities for his four sons after the 1606 death of his wife, Isabella Cross. George Hill died at Jamestown in 1610, but there is evidence that each of his sons attempted to fulfill his dream, each eventually came to Virginia for periods of time. Please see the chapter on George Hill for details on the Hill family.
    • On the Wyatt list for the Corporation at Elizabeth City, 28 plantations are listed, and 24 are owned by documented Ancient Planters.
    • Only Mr. Keyth (the minister) John Bush, Mr. Petter Arundell and Our Edward Hill are not certified Ancient Planters.
    • John Bush arrived late, and a dispute arose over his unnamed deceased brother's legacy and he eventually appealed his eviction from that land. The Susan Bush on the 1625 Muster may have been an Ancient Planter who married Bush's brother.
    • Mr. Petter Arundell also arrived late, but with royal connections supporting his mulberry trees and fledgling silkworm industry. Ancient Planter William Claiborne arrived long after the 1616 cutoff date, but with a commission that as a surveyor, he would be guaranteed privileges equal to the oldest planters.
      Wyatt List Another early settler whose Ancient Planter land deed did not survive the march of time was the intrepid adventurer, Henry Spelman, the brother of Ancient Planter Thomas Spelman. Henry arrived in Virginia in 1609 as a child only 14 years old. He was killed by Natives when he attempted to trade two years after the Massacre. Like Edward Hill, his land grant was used as the bounds of other land deeds, and the 1625 Wyatt List refers to his property, but his deed is not located in Land Book I, so he is officially denied Ancient Planter status. PenleyPearls believes Henry Spelman's life is one of the greatest untold stories of early Virginia, and a separate chapter is provided here on his incredible life.

      Both Spelman and Edward Hill are seemingly well qualified for Ancient Planter status, both chose land grants in 1619. Both survived the Massacre, but died in 1624, during the lethal aftermath of the attack.
      A sad addendum to the 1624/1625 Muster proves Edward Hill's death by May 13, 1625, as he is found on “A List of the Burialles in Elizabeth City 1624”.

      Our Elizabeth Hill's first cousin, the son of her Uncle Robert Hill is often confused in collected records with Our Edward Hill. "That Edward Hill" arrived in 1638 after completing his education in England, and settled in Charles County. That Edward Hill (son of Robert) lived on for many years as a military and political leader in Virginia, known for founding the Shurley Plantation. That Edward Hill was even elected Governor of Maryland during Calvert's 1646 exile, and was widely supported by William Pinley's associates.

      Hannah Boyle’s Ancestry
      One Richard Boyle operated a bookshop at the sign of the Rose in Paul's Churchyard in the Blackfriars section of London in the 1580’s. The marriage record of Richard Boyle indicates he was a stationer. It is positive that Richard Boyle, Hannah Boyle Hill’s father, lived in Blackfriars in 1622, as we have the letter written by Edward Hill with instructions for delivery to his father-in-law, Richard Boyle, in Blackfriars. It is not clear, however, that the Richard Boyle who operated the bookshop in 1588 was the same person, as he would have only been 24 years old by 1588, if all the other data is correct. The information about The Marprelate Tract is included here as a bookmark for further research.

      Undercover agents attempting to suppress the abundant Puritan literature in England kept Boyle’s shop under surveillance in 1588 hoping to seize religious tracts written by Puritans which criticized the Church of England.The Sixth Marprelate Tract refers to orders by John Canterbury to keep Boyle’s shop under close watch. The tracts were written under a pseudonym, but one John Penry was hung in 1593 as the suspected author. (Tract 6: THE JUST CENSURE AND REPROOF OF MARTIN JUNIOR: Modern spelling edition copyright Nina Green 1992, 2002. ( Jerry Penley of also located another book published by Richard Boyle of Blackfriars. in 1608, which would indicate that Richard Boyle was still in the publishing business after Hannah's birth in 1601/1602. Record 3 Ste. B. Counsel to the husband: to the wife instruction. A short and pithy treatise of seuerall and ioynt duties, belonging vnto man and wife, as counsels to the one, and instructions to the other; for their more perfect happinesse in this present life, and their eternall glorie in the life to come.