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Maternal Generation I: Elizabeth Hill married William Pinley

Hannah & Thomas Spelman of Virginia

Thomas and Hannah Spelman

1624/1625 Muster of the Inhabitants of Virginia
[The residents of the household were listed as:]
Thomas Spelman, age 24, in The George, 1616
Hanna Spelman, aged 23, in The Bona Nova, 1620
Elizabeth Hill, borne in Virginia
The Servants of the household were listed as:
Robart Browne, aged 25, in the Marygold, 1618
Rebecca Browne, aged 24 in the Southampton, 1623
Thomas Parrish, aged 26 in the Charity, 1622
John Harris, aged 21, in the Jacob , 1624

Provision: Corne, 16 barreles; Swine 2; houses, 2; pallizado (palisade), 1; boat, 1;
Armes: Peeces, 10; Swords, 2; Coates of male, 4; powder, 10 lb.; lead, 100 ct.


Adventurers of Purse and Person, 1607 - 1624/5, Volume I, 4th Edition (Dorman, p. 58-59)


This reference establishes Thomas Spelman, Gentleman of Kecoughtan, as the brother of the flambuoyant Captain Henry Spelman of Jamestown. Henry Spelman is documented as the nephew of British famed antiquarian Sir Henry Spelman (see letters written about Henry Spelman by Sir Henry Spelman in the chapter on Henry Spelman which follows at this site. It is this family connection that causes PenleyPearls to standardize the spelling as SPELMAN, except when the various misspellings are from a direct quote.

 

This dispute took place in the starving days after the 1622 Massacre. In April of 1625, Thomas Spelman went to court concerning payment for fifty bushels of corn sold by his brother, Henry Spelman prior to his death. Spelman seems more interested in regaining 50 bushels of corn rather than the 25£ owed to his brother.

1625 - In April 1625 Thomas SPILMAN had a controversy concerning payment for fifty bushel of corn sold by his brother, Henry SPILMAN, prior to his death:
Thomas SPILMAN, gent., sworne and examined sayeth that Capt. COWNES did offer Capt. Henry SPILMAN, his brother, twenty-five pounde in satisfactione of Fyftie bushell of Corne. And further he sayeth yt Capt'n COWNES beinge dead, Lieut. John CHESMAN promised to pay the fiftye booshell of Corne, to this Examinat'. And Capt'n SHIPWARDE cominge into ye countrye would not let Lieut. CHEASMAN pay the said corn, but afterward this EXAT' received fower bushell of Corne of Capt'n SHIPWARDE and after he made over fortye six bushel of corne beinge ye remainder of the fifty boushell to Capt'n CROSHOW."

(p. 17, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Virginia Historical Society, Volume 23, January, 1915)

Edward Hill was buried May 15, 1624. Before the February 7, 1624/5 Muster, our Hannah Hill married her neighbor to the west, Thomas Spelman. In the environment still hostile under the Powhatan Wars, the resultant famine, disease and starvation, Hannah probably had no choice but to remarry quickly in order to keep baby Elizabeth alive. Given the hunger expressed in Edward Hill’s letters home, he may well have starved himself to death to keep Hannah and Elizabeth alive. In his absence, a 22 year old Hannah could not farm the 100 acre plantation, forage for food, fight the Natives and nurture Elizabeth alone. Her only other option would have been to return to her father in London. Perhaps she was too weak to travel, and ships were not on a set schedule. It is possible, but difficult to imagine that she actually wanted to stay in Virginia after the Massacre and the year of starvation before Edward’s death.

Thomas Spelman married Hannah quickly, perhaps because she was young, strong and beautiful or perhaps because he wanted to benefit from young orphan Elizabeth Hill’s land, increasing the size of his plantation to 150 acres. Factors indicate that Spelman could have easily procured more land without marrying a widow.

Hannah, a landed widow with a child, must have had good reason to choose Thomas Spelman from the long list of bachelors in Virginia. He just barely made the cutoff to acquire his meager plantation of 50 acres as an Ancient Planter, but it is probable that Spelman’s wealth was larger than his small plantation indicated. We have no sample of Thomas Spelman’s writing, but the the grammar and spelling used by brother Henry in Relations of Virginia do not reflect the quality education provided to other branches of the Spelman family.

Between 1625 and 1627, Hannah gave birth to Thomas Spelman’s only child. Little is known of Mary Spelman, except that she inherited her father’s property in England. Mary was less than two years old when she last saw her father. In 1642, her guardian Alexander Mountney sold her property in Elizabeth City to Daniel Tanner in exchange for cattle. In 1643 she had a dispute with Mrs. Wilkins that ended up in Northampton/Accomack County Court. That dispute involved butter taken to Nicholas Porquér’s house.

 

Mary Spelman married Nicholas Porquér (also found as Porque, Parque, Parke). Orriginally, the only hard evidence of the marriage was that Nicholas Porquér was eventually named a guardian for William and Elizabeth (Hill) Pinley’s three orphans after the death of Hannah Mountney and their abuse by Will Crompe. The children were not indentured to Crompe or Porquér because both men were uncles of the orphans.

According to the laws of England and Virginia, orphans were to be given to family members to raise. If no family member was available or willing, an approved member of the community would be given indentured contracts or apprenticeships which would specify responsibilities and time limits. These guardianships were assigned to Hannah Mountney, Will Crump, and Nicholas Porquér with no stipulations of indenture because of the family relationship.

No records have been located in Lancaster County for Nicholas and/or Mary (Spelman) Porquér after 1665. It was long believed that Mary Spelman may have traveled to England to investigate the property inherited from her father. That theory has now been validated by finding Nicholas Porquér and his wife Mary in Bristol, Gloucester, England in 1666, receiving her inheritance which had been converted to cash. Spelling variations impede research, the name Porquér may have been Americanized at some point if they left descendants in America. The phonetic pronunciation of the various spellings of the name could indicate the eventual usage of Parker or Porter. More information on Crompe and Porquér as the cruel guardians of William Pinley’s orphans is provided in the chapter on the Orphans.

Thomas Spelman was 24 years old at the time of the Muster, but would have only been sixteen when he arrived aboard The George in 1616. According to his Ancient Planter land grant, Thomas Spelman arrived at his own cost and charges (Nugent p. xxxiii, 6), but Sir Henry may have paid the cost for Thomas, just as he manipulated brother Henry’s exit from England. Spelman’s 1616 arrival may have required him to pay annual rent of one shilling. If he arrived before the 1616 departure of Governor Thomas Dale, his land would be  exempt from rent and taxes.

The George’s 1617 passenger list indicates it was somewhat of a celebrity cruise including Pocahantas, John Rolfe, their young baby, newly appointed Governor Argall, their families, servants, ministers, attendants, a few Virginia Company officials sent to restructure management of the colony, and a few wives of Virginia landowners. Henry Spelman, a frequent ally of Governor Argall was probably on board. The George never appeared to be  crowded with debtors, criminals, or street urchins to be sold as servants. In 1617, Pocahontas died on board The George, and she was carried off at Gravesend and buried there.

At his young age Thomas Spelman was already referred to as the Gentleman of Kecoughtan (Nugent, p. 6), and he was the brother of the flamboyant Captain Henry Spelman of Jamestown fame, “the best woodsman and interpreter” in the colony (Steele, p. 47). Although Henry Spelman died in 1623 before Hannah’s marriage to Thomas, he probably visited at his brother’s home when he wasn’t on an escapade.

John Smith related that Henry Spelman returned to Elizabeth City immediately after hearing of the massacre. Captain Spelman had a house, probably located along the James River at the eastern end of Elizabeth City. “Captaine Spilman’s Divident” is referenced on Extracts of All the Titles and Estates of Land, sent home by Sir Francis Wyatt , May, 1625 (Records of the Virginia Company Vol. 4 pages 553-558 ) but the location is ambiguous. The 1637 Hooker land grant refers to a boundary as "Speilman’s" place, near Weyanoke (Nugent, 72).

Details about Henry Spelman’s adventures in Virginia are added later, as no historian could pass the opportunity to add Pocahontas to their family’s experience, and few colonist’s lives are documented as well as Henry Spelman’s. Thomas Spelman and his brother Henry, the sons of Erasmus, had at least one other brother, Francis Spelman, who was the executor of Thomas Spelman’s estate.

Henry (born circa 1595) and Thomas (born circa 1600) are often erroneously cited as the sons of Sir Henry Spelman of Norfolk, England, although Spelman family research has produced the 1613 Francis Sanders will proving them to be the grandsons of Sir Henry Spelman, the nephew of the second Sir Henry, but actually the sons of Erasmus Spelman. Both of the knighted Henry Spelmans were wealthy and well educated authors and historians, so called antiquarians. The Sanders will grants a 3£ inheritance to each of the seven youngest children of Erasmus, but it specifically excludes Henry Spelman of Virginia from the bequest, and commands that the inheritance should be tended by their uncle and not given to their mother.

Publication by the Library of Virginia of letters written by Sir Henry’ Spelman supports the Spelman family research. In these letters to his son John Spelman, Sir Henry consistently refers to young Henry as cousin. A letter from the adventurous Henry to Sir Henry in 1619, is signed “Your Loving Cosen”, but sends regards to Sir Henry’s wife, his “Aunte”. The terms cousin and nephew seem to be used interchangeably, but the family connection is well documented.

These letters indicate that Uncle Henry was most anxious to facilitate Henry’s return to Virginia. In spite of young Henry’s near death experiences in Virginia, Sir Henry mentions contacts with Lord Delaware (Governor) Richarde Hackluite, a unspecified baron, and Captain Argall, in order to ensure his nephew’s passage to Virginia. Sir Henry was a man able to go directly to the top of the ruling class when he needed a favor.

Sir Henry may have made similar efforts to send Thomas Spelman to Virginia, indicated by his passage on the same ship as Pocahontas, Governor Argall and John Rolfe. This upper class line of Spelman knights may have wanted Henry and Thomas in Virginia to manage their tobacco exports. Records at the Library of Virginia relate to taxes and duties on tobacco imports paid in the 1620’s by Sir John Spelman, Sir Henry Spelman’s son who conspired in 1612 with his father to get young adventurous Henry Spelman back to Virginia. Sirs Henry and John were involved with numerous colonial expeditions, serving as legal advisors or council members to the Plymouth and Guyana explorations.

Evidence of Thomas Spelman’s comparative wealth is found in the 1624/5 Muster where he is listed with four servants. In the miserable days after the attack, money was almost useless, food, water, and arms mattered, and the Spelmans had few provisions. Apparently none of Edward Hill’s cattle had survived. The provisions do not seem substantial enough to provide for seven people until the next harvest. He would have had possession of any remaining ARMES from Edward Hill, but his weapons also appear meager against the hostile climate.

1624/5 Virginia Muster
Adventurers of Purse and Person, 1607 - 1624/5, Volume 4
(Dorman, p. 58-59)
[The residents of the household were listed as:]
Thomas Spelman, age 24, in The George, 1616
Hanna Spelman, aged 23, in The Bona Nova, 1620
Elizabeth Hill, borne in Virginia
The Servants of the household were listed as:
Robart Browne, aged 25, in the Marygold, 1618
Rebecca Browne, aged 24 in the Southampton, 1623
Thomas Parrish, aged 26 in the Charity, 1622
John Harris, aged 21, in the Jacob , 1624

Provision: Corne, 16 barreles; Swine 2; houses, 2; pallizado (palisade), 1; boat, 1;
Armes: Peeces, 10; Swords, 2; Coates of male, 4; powder, 10 lb.; lead, 100 ct.

In April of 1625, Thomas Spelman went to court concerning payment for fifty bushels of corn sold by his brother, Henry Spelman prior to his death. Spelman seems more interested in regaining 50 bushels of corn rather than the 25£ owed to his brother.

The corn was to be transferred to Spelman first by a Captain Cownes who died, then by a Lieutenant John Cheesman. A ship captain would not allow Cheesman to hand over the corn to Spelman, but then the Captain of the ship did give Spelman four bushels of corn, but gave the remaining 46 bushels to Captain Croshaw. The abstract found does not indicate final disposition in the case, but it does verify that Henry Spelman was Thomas’ brother.

On December 27 of 1625, Spelman again appears in court in a controversy involving a barrel of corn. Spelman was evidently in dire need of corn, and could not meet the terms demanded by Luke Eadens. Spelman evidently borrowed the corn “left a boy as satisfaction for the said corne until it was repaid” (Virginia Magazine, Vol. 25, p. 124). There is no indication of who the boy was; Spelman’s servants of record are too old for the description. In the time after the February 1624/5 Muster, Spelman may have purchased a new indenture for one of the children scooped off the streets of London and sent to the colonies. The List of the Living cites a Luke Aden as a survivor in 1623/4, but he was deceased before this debt was resolved.

In light of his brother’s sale by John Smith to the Powhatan tribe in 1609, Spelman may not have considered this bargain unusual. “Several English boys, including Henry Spelman, were left with Indian tribes in order to learn the language and the culture.” (Jamestown Interpretive Essays: Indians and English Meet on the James, Karen Ordahl Kupperman http://www.virtualjamestown.org/essays/kupperman_essay.html )

The situation provides a harshly realistic vision of life in Virginia at this time: children were disposable. Youngsters referred to as “street urchins” were snatched off the streets to cleanse London, and shipped to Virginia where they were sold to the highest bidder. They often arrived in the already starving colony without food or clothing, slaves until their indenture was served at adulthood, if they should live so long. The English government sanctioned the process, and it is not amazing that a starving Englishman living in Virginia would leave a child as a deposit for a barrel of corn he desperately needed to save his own wife and children.

On October 9, 1626, Thomas Spelman appeared in court to prove the will of Albiana Lupo, his westward neighbor. In the same court session, a controversy over a debt owed to Spelman by Captain William Tucker ended when Spelman agreed to accept tobacco in payment for the debt. Tucker was an important man in the colony. He was Elizabeth City’s representative to the House of Burgesses, and owned 650 acres down the river from Thomas Spelman; Tucker’s land was adjacent to Albiana Lupo’s land. The fact that Tucker owed Thomas Spelman money is interesting, and may have signaled improvement in Spelman’s finances.

It was Captain William Tucker who concluded a peace treaty in May of 1623 with the Powhatan by serving up a special toast, laced with poison by the company doctor. This event was likely inspired by revenge for Henry Spelman’s death. Two hundred died instantly, Tucker and friends slaughtered another 50 before the night ended.

On October 13 of 1626, Thomas Spelman, William Gainye, William English, and Frances Mason appeared in court in James City and were granted permission to “goe for England”. No reason for the visit is found. Mason and Gainye had family connections, Ganey had also arrived on The George in the 1616 (Dorman, p. ) with Thomas Spelman. Ganey petitioned Governor Wyatt in 1623 for wages and reimbursements owed to him by the deceased Captain Nuse, describing himself as an employee of Nuse who had paid the debts and wages to other employees since Nuse’s death, indicating he may have been an accountant for the Company Land at Elizabeth City. (Jefferson Papers, Vol. 4, p. 455-456) Ganey’s 200 acre land grant describes him as a mariner seated at the harbor of the Hampton River, near Spelman’s plantation. In various records, William Ganey is listed as arriving on the The George, The Bona Nova, and The Treasurer, which could indicate business travel. Records do not indicate that these men were with Spelman when he died shortly after arrival in County Cornwall, England.

Because he was our Elizabeth Hill’s guardian, the Spelman plantation now amounted to 150 acres, and might have been sufficient to grow enough food for himself, Hannah, and two children, but probably not support four servants as well. Only rudimentary tools were available, as The Virginia Company had mostly equipped them with the tools necessary to process the expected mounds of gold instead of farm tools. There were no plows in Virginia at the 1624/5 Muster, and only one horse in the entire colony. Every family needed a cash crop as well. The chief cash crop in the colonies at this time was tobacco. Sadly, by the time the Ancient Planter land grants were certified in 1624, the soil was typically exhausted by tobacco. Spelman did not own enough land to profit as a tobacco farmer, but his landed position near Hampton Roads may have allowed a lucrative import/export business at some point in the future. A blurry copy of the Spelman land grant appears to specify “creek front” property and frontage on the Hampton River. Edward Hill’s land grant is missing, but appears contiguous to Mountney’s grant, which implies Hampton River frontage.

By 1627, Virginia was probably stable enough to allow Thomas Spelman to make the trip back to England. Hannah, obviously a strong woman but with two young children, might have managed well enough if the servants were cooperative. Spelman’s mother was still living in 1612, a death may have motivated Thomas’ 1627 journey. Hannah might have enjoyed a visit with her family as well, but the ocean voyage was expensive and still very dangerous.

Brother Henry Spelman had died owning Weyanoake property in 1623, there is no indication found that brother Thomas received that inheritance. Thomas Spelman may have gone to England to lodge a complaint to that regard. He may have traveled in hopes of settling family funds regarding inheritance from Henry, or his mother. Both of the Knighted Henry Spelman’s lived until the 1640’s, both actively supported colonization in Guyana and Newfoundland, but took no known interest in early Virginia. Perhaps Thomas Spelman hoped to gain investment funds from them for his business interests in Virginia. That he owned property in England is documented by his will, he may have gone to prepare a home for Hannah and family in England, or to liquidate property in England to finance his home in Virginia. Although permission to depart was granted to the four men in October, at least Spelman’s voyage was delayed.

On January 10, 1626/7, Thomas Spelman was appointed administrator of Edward Hill’s estate for the benefit of Hannah’s daughter, Elizabeth Hill.

1627 - At the Court of James City 10 Jan. 1627, 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. VIRGINIA MAGAZINE, vol.I, p.196; v.27, p.36.

By this time, Spelman had been married to Hannah for at least two years. There may have been delay in this adoption proceeding because of the misery and starvation in Virginia, but it is intriguing that Spelman had appeared before the court at least four previous times after his marriage to Hannah without requesting guardianship over Elizabeth.

Spelman did, however, before leaving for England put his affairs in order, and our Elizabeth Hill officially became his ward just before his departure. After May 15, 1624, but before the Virginia Muster, Hannah Hill married Thomas Spelman. Sometime after February 7, 1624/5, but before her father returned to England in 1627, baby Mary Spelman was born.

Thomas Spelman’s last will and testament was nuncupative, delivered orally to witnesses. Court documents refer to him as Thomas Spelman, Gentleman of Virginia, formerly of Truro, County Cornwall.

He died while lodging at the house of Mr. Castle in Truro, “deceased, in the time of his last sickness whereof he died vizt. in the month of March Anno Domini 1627”. Witnesses described Thomas Spelman as “always in a readiness when the last proposition Was propounded to him, as what, 'he would do with his estate after life”. His answer was that his daughter Mary in Virginia should have all that he had here in England, and what he had in Virginia his wife should have. Witness all here under written that hear him often repeat the words, that his daughter Mary Spelman should have that which he had in England.

Spelman pronounced his will “In the presence of Jane Bridges, and Mary Rowe, witnesses then present. Bridges and Rowe signed the court documents by mark, and his brother Francis Spelman who gave signature. Another source interprets their names to be Jane Bigge and Mary Lawe. It is possible that Jane Bridgse and Mary Rowe were both sisters to Thomas Spelman. The Sanders will bequested only to the seven youngest children of Erasmus Spelman, indicating a higher number of children in the family. It is possible that Erasmus married a second time after being widowed, and that only the children of the second wife were young enough to warrant sympathy from Uncle Francis Sanders.

Probate was granted to Francis Spelman, brother of the deceased, on April 24, 1627, in the absence in Virginia of Hanna Spelman, widow of the deceased. It appears from the abstract that Francis Spelman resided elsewhere, as he was also described as “late of Truro”.

According to the index entries for the PREROGATIVE COURT OF CANTERBURY, Spelman owned land in both Truro and Virginia. “The following is a list of persons who held lands in Cornwall, or resided in Cornwall, and had wills proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Given is the name, lands held in Cornwall and other counties, year, folio and volume. Note: Most persons who had wills proved at Canterbury were persons of wealth or rank.” (http://webs.lanset.com/azazella/PCC.html).

It seems that Francis Spelman may have been slow or reluctant to settle the estate in Hannah and Mary’s favor. Documents cite another entry in December of 1628, regarding claims of Hannah Mountney, alias Spelman, widow of the deceased, and Francis Spelman, brother of the deceased, to establish the validity of the will. By that time, Hannah had married her neighbor Alexander Mountney. The validity of the will was confirmed by the court, no specification of property distribution is found.

Executor Francis Spelman may have held Mary Spelman’s inherited property hostage in England awaiting her arrival to take posession. With the high mortality rate in Virginia, and with already losing to brothers there, Francis had reason to suspect she might not achieve adulthood.

The Knighted Spelmans (Henry, Henry, and John) are consistently cited as residents of Norfolk, in northern England, with business connections in London. Young Henry Spelman was connected in various documents to London. It is not known how or when the sons of Erasmus Spelman, Thomas and Francis, became residents of County Cornwall in southern England.

As to Thomas Spelman, Gentleman of Virginia, his financial status at the time of his death is unknown. His wife, twice widowed by the age of 25, soon married her third and final husband, neighbor Alexander Mountney. The lifestyle of the Mountneys until her death in 1659 does not indicate that she gained any significant inheritance from any of her husbands. Her rapid remarriage after the deaths of Edward Hill and Thomas Spelman may have been misunderstood by both their families back in England. It would have been difficult to fathom the hostile, cruel, unforgiving environment of Virginia without the personal experience.