Maternal Generation I: Elizabeth Hill married William Pinley
Hannah Mountney: The Years Alone
Hannah,Hannah Boyle (Hill, Spelman, Mountney) was born 1599 in Chirbury, Shropshire, England. She was the daughter of Richard Boyle and Eleanor Brayne. Hannah married Edward Hill at Chirbury on August 17, 1619, and they arrived in Virginia aboard The Bona Nova on June 21, 1620. Their 100 acre home was on the banks of the Hampton River, at present day Hampton, Virginia. Sometime after arrival but before February of 1623/4, their only child Elizabeth was born, who eventually married William Pinley. The family survived the Friday Massacre of 1622, but faced starvation in the aftermath, according to the letter sent by Edward to his father-in-law, Richard Boyle on April 14, 1623. Edward, surely weakened by the desperate days after the Massacre, was buried on May 15, 1625. See the Chapter: Edward & Hannah Hill of Virginia.
The Years Alone
1643 - 1659
Shortly after Hill’s death, Hannah married her westward neighbor, Thomas Spelman, Gentleman. The Spelman’s resided on 150 acres along the Hampton River. Hannah gave birth to a daughter, Mary Spelman born circa 1626. Thomas Spelman died in 1627, shortly after a voyage to England. See the Chapter: Thomas & Hannah Spelman of Virginia.
By December of 1628, Hannah married her eastward neighbor, Ancient Planter Alexander Mountney. Their marriage continued sixteen years until Alexander’s death in 1644. The combined planations of Hannah’s three husbands amounted to 250 acres, but about six years after marriage they left the Hampton River and moved across the Chesapeake Bay to Accomack/Northampton County, Virginia. Alexander and Hannah Mountney gave birth to two children, daughter Francis Mountney and Alexander Mountney, Jr. See the Chapter: Alexander & Hannah Mountney of Virginia.
Hannah Mountney lived seventeen years after the death Alexander, but never married again. She moved to Lancaster County, Virginia, probably around 1654, and died there in 1659, near the age 60 years.
In 1636, seven years before Alexander's death, Hannah Mountney was certified a grant of 150 acres near Onancock, near Alexander's new, but separate land grant of 150 acres. Oddly, only Hannah’s name appears on the 1636 grant. The fact that a married woman was given a land grant solely in her own name was absolutely extraordinary for the time period. Inheritance of Edward Hill and Thomas Spelman's "second or third dividents" on their Ancient Planter deeds may explain the grants, but most deeds of "landed widows" went directly to their next husband. The Mountneys never moved to Onancock, nor ever had the land surveyed.
In 1642, Alexander Mountney went to court to “humbly request” a land certificate for Danniell Tanner, as he had exchanged the land both the Elizabeth Hill and Mary Spelman inheritances in Elizabeth City for cattle. In this monumental but brief court appearance, Mountney proved that:
•Hannah Boyle, Hannah Hill, Hannah Spelman, and Hannah Mountney were indeed all the same person, Our Hannah.
“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. ”
October 28, 1642 (p. 212, 213, Northampton II, Ames )
Thank you, Mr. Mountney, for your “humble request”.
Hannah continued to live on their leased land at Towne Fields and voluminous records prove she continued to run the tavern and company store after Alexander's death. The Mountney's 21 year leases of "company lands" should have expired in 1656 or 1658 (Northampton I, p. 15, 16) and by 1657 Hannah moved to Lancaster County.
The Mountney home was the local tavern, a gathering place for the community, the only place in the county with a liquor license. Court records refer to many conflicts, negotiations and transactions taking place in their home. People came to the Mountney home to pay taxes, debts, file complaints, make their wills and arrange for trips back to England. Debts were paid in beaver pelts, tobacco, tar, corn, and occasionally they used money, English sterling pounds and shillings.
The Mountney home was quite likely the scene of most of the early court sessions, as Whitelaw indicates the Accomack/Northampton court sessions were held in private homes and taverns until a court house was built in 1665. Three different waterways were named Mountney Creek, indicating the influence of the Mountneys in the early days of the Eastern Shore.
Reading hundreds of court records from this era while searching for scraps of information and variant spellings of our names affords great historical context. In addition to business and property transactions, the County Court Records of Accomack/Northampton relate every form of low class human behavior. Public drunkenness, sexual deviance, cursing, child abuse, wife and servant beatings, lying, cheating, stealing, murder and rebellion were common court room subjects in the hostile environment of early Virginia.
In the found records, the Mountneys were never accused of outrage, infidelity, violent outbursts (like friends Taylor and Drew), or public drunkenness, even though they held the only liquor license at the Community Store. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Mountney appear governed by higher personal standards than most of the citizens found in the courtroom. They paid their debts, and collected their due as well. Their business deals required court visits, not their personal behavior.
December 20, 1643: Northampton, VirginiaThe last court reference to the living Alexander Mountney is on December 20, 1643, in a dispute regarding a Mountney servant, Henry Lilly. The matter was referred to a jury for the next court.
(p. 319, Northampton II, Ames) [County Court Records of Accomack/Northampton County, Volume II, 1640 - 1645, Edited by Susie M. Ames for the Virginia Historical Society. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia: 1973.]
February 10, 1644: Northampton, VirginiaOn this date, Hannah Mountney was referred to a widow for the first time. This is the first known occasion where Hannah represents herself in court. Anne Wilkins was a frequent disputant in the court records. Curiously, Hannah made her MARK instead of a signature on this document, even though she used a signature on later documents. Was this an expression of early timidity in the courtroom? If so, Hannah grew into the job left to her, and became a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom.
At A Court houlden at Northampton the 10th day of February, Anno 1643 ......The deposition of Hannah Mountney, widdow taken in open court sworne and examined. Saith That shee knoweth not what became of Mr. John Wilkins his Ring which hee before hee departed out of this Countrey pretended was lost neither did this deponent to her best Remembrance ever see it. And deposeth not.
This is a typical Hannah appearance in court. When she owed, she confessed the debt and saved the court time and trouble of proving her liability, although she made a practice of paying her creditors without courthouse involvement. In this case, it appears that she contracted to provide a servant for William Fisher, and then was unable to meet the contract. Fisher doesn't want a refund, he wants a servant. This era is notorious for its labor shortages. Having only ten days to comply, Hannah may have been forced to give Fisher one of her servants. Although there are several references to servants indentured to the Mountneys, not one extant reference indicates ownership of slaves nor slave trade conducted. Slaves were first brought to Virginia in 1619.
This reference, and another similar entry, seems to indicate that Hannah served as the local banker in addition to her other duties. Taxes, credits and debits were paid at the local TAVERN. Those who owed Hannah "either by bill or Accompt" needed to pay up "whereby she may satisfy her creditors". This local drought in the flow of cash could have been caused by low tobacco prices in the previous year. At least one descendant of Hannah, PenleyPearls' daughter Jane, should be thrilled to learn that her chosen career was the family business 400 years ago.
April 10, 1644: Northampton, Virginia
Testimony on a conversation at the Mountney house: Lewis White, William Berry, Phillip Taylor, Gentleman: regarding a contract to build a boat for Taylor. (p. 357, Northampton II, Ames)
Later on in the day of the same court session, a transcript verifies that Mrs. Mountney continued to operate the Community store after the death of Alexander, and continued to hold the liquor license for the county. This long narrative involves a dispute over "Cutting the Butt ends of Tymber", and probably occurred during the previous year. In one place William Johnson refers to sending a note to Mr. Mountney, and the next deponent, Martin Kennett refers to a note sent to Mrs. Mountney.
....... “and the said Reginald was by agreement to give unto the said Martin one gallon of sack or strong waters. And the said Reginald did write a noate unto Mr. Mountney for to send him the said strong waters or sacke. And there was not anyone whould goe for it, ....”
May 28, 1644: Northampton, VirginiaOn this day, Hannah filed her first law suit, a resumption of Alexander Mountney's suit against indentured servant Henry Lilly who demanded a trial by jury the previous December.
“Memorandum that Mr. Richard Lemon hath engaged himselfe to the Board That Henry Lilly shall make his personall appereance ..... at the next Countye Court houlden at Northampton. Then and there to answeare the suite of Hanna Mountney Widdow......Hannah stood her ground, the trial took place and a verdict was reached on July 28, 1644.
"... the said Lilly shall according to the said Verdict of the Jury serve the said Hanna Mountney or her Assignes one whole yeare or give other satisfaction."(p. 375, 377, 378, Ames II)
July 24, 1644: Northampton, Virginia
This gift of a cow by family friend Mary Drew to Francis Mountney may have been a wedding gift or contribution toward a dowry, as Francis married Will Crumpe near this time.
“Bee it Knowne unto all men by these presents That I Mary Drew of the County of Northampton doe with the Consent of my husband Edward Drew Freely and absolutely give unto Francis Mountney one Cowe Calfe with all her Increase ... unto the said Francis Mountney and her heires and assignes for ever. ... The marke of MARY DREW, ...
July 29, 1644: Northampton, Virginia
September 20, 1644: Northampton, Virginia
January 7, 1645: Northampton, VirginiaBy court order Hanna Mountney won an attachment against a "heifer" owned by Thomas Knapton who had left the county owing Hannah 400 pounds of tobacco. "Ordered by this Court that ... [ the cow be ]..delivered into the possession of the said Hannah Mountney Widdow by the sheriff of the County of Northampton". (p. 400, Northampton II, Ames)
March 1, 1645: Northampton, VirginiaThis is an example of Hannah being called to the house of a dying man to hear adjustments to his last will and testament. Alexander Mountney was often called for the same purpose. Mountney testimony was well respected in Northampton courts, and both Alexander and Hannah were trusted to carry out the last wishes of the local citizens.
The deposition of Reginald Hawis and Hannah Mountney taken in open Court. The deponents saith That being at the house of Phillip Chapman about one day or two before hee dyed the said Chapman desired the deponents to beare Witnes that notwithstanding any thinge in his will by writeing to the contrary hee the said Chappman did give full power and Authority unto Capt. William Roper to sell or dispose of his Land and Plantation for the good of his Children. And further these deponents saye That hee the sayde Chapman was then in perfect sence and memory And further not.
April 29, 1645: Northampton, VirginiaThis entry may have pained Hannah, as an old friend of Alexander's, Phillip Taylor, attempted to take advantage of the widow. See the chapter on Alexander Mountney for details on this friendship. Captain Taylor was long the head of Claiborne's army on Kent and at Accomack, and was wealthy and powerful. Phillip Taylor apparently lured away John Deere, a servant already under contract to Hannah. Again, Hannah stood her ground and won a judgement that forced John Deere to honor his contract, and barred Phillip Taylor from making another contract with Deere for one year.
If Taylor misunderstood the contract, or had been tricked into hiring Deere, this would have been taken care of outside of court. Only a year after Mountney's death, this was an insult to both Hannah and Alexander. Taylor obviously thought Hannah would shrink into a corner and let this slide, but he was wrong.
Whereas John Deere by his owne Confession in open Court made an absolute agreement with Hannah Mountney on the 5th day of March last past to (fol. 226) serve the sayde Hannah Mountney for and dureing the tyme and terms of one whole yeare from the said fifty of March in Consideration of one thousand pounds of Tobacco and three barrells of Corne sithence which tyme the said Deere hath absented himselfe and hath hyred himselfe to serve Capt. Phillip Taylor. It is therefore ordered by this Court That the said Deere shall serve the said Hannah Mountney hee being First hired unto her from the day of the date hereof for and during one Compleate yeare provided that the said Capt. Taylor can make noe precedent agreement with the said Deere to appeare.
July 28, 1645: Northampton, Virginia
Martin Kennett was ordered to pay debt and court charges to Hannah by November 10.
All of the preceding court records in this chapter are from County Court Records of Accomack/Northampton County, Volume II, 1640 - 1645, Edited by Susie M. Ames for the Virginia Historical Society. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia: 1973.
The following court records are taken from Northampton County Virginia Record Book, Orders, Deeds, Wills & c, Volume III, 1645 - 1651, Edited by Dr. Howard Mackey and Marlene Alma Hinkley Groves, CG. Picton Press, Rockport, Maine, 2000.
PenleyPearls has recently acquired the long sought Volumes III and IV of Northampton records:
Northampton County Virginia Record Book, Orders, Deeds, Wills & c, Volume III, 1645 - 1651
( edited by Dr. Howard Mackey and Marlene Alma Hinkley Groves, CG. Picton Press, Rockport, Maine, 2000.)
Northampton County Virginia, Orders, Deeds, & Wills, Volume IV, 1651 - 1654, Transcribed by Frank V. Walczyk, Coram, New York: Peter's Row: 1998.
That treasure chest of knowledge contains 36 page references to the name of Hannah Mountney, and many of those pages contains multiple references to Hannah. No laborious attempt will be made to add each of the records to the website, as 23 of the 36 pages involve Hannah appearing in court to justify or collect debts from various Northampton residents. The emphasis of this section will be on those court references which provide new information about our ancestors and their lives.
January 28, 1646
There are several entries worded much like this, again suggesting Hannah was the local tax collector. It just is not logical that the commissioners would call Hannah to court to remind her that she should use "good caution for the payment" of her personal debts. It is deemed very likely that Hannah was collecting debts due to the colony, the court, and the King.
"It is ordered by this Court that Hanna Mountney widd shall upon demand deliv' upp all bills bonds Accompts or whatever els belonging & apptayning unto thestate of Rich: Wright dec unto Willm Burwell gent Attorney of Nath: Warren Adm' of the sd estate the sd Burwell puting in good Caution for the payment of what is dew unto the sd Hanna Mountney by such bill as shee shall make Choyse of in hir hands or els exec. & c."
Especially for the three years beginning in 1644, Hannah was a regular fixture in the Northampton court sessions, as her husband had been for ten years until his death. But on this one and only day, Hannah was fined twice for non-appearance in court. Given the nearly 100 Hannah Mountney notations in the records where she was ready at the beck and call of the court, this day was absolutely unique, and for unknown cause.
A fresh look at Ralph Whitelaw's Virginia's Eastern Shore provides a quite plausible cause for Hannah's sudden absences: They moved the courthouse ! Until 1646, sessions of court had been held at Towne Fields (also referred to as Townefields, Accomack, Cheristone), likely in the tavern owned and operated by the Mountneys. Beginning in 1646, court sessions were rotated to Fishing Point, Hungars, and Occohannock, but only occasionally a court was scheduled back at the Townefields.
February 16, 1646
"It is ordered by this Court that Hanna Mountney widd shall pay unto Mr. William Jones 50 lb of tob: for none appeance to psecute" (p. 44, Northampton III, Mackey)
"Whereas John Dennis was arrested at the Suite of Hanna Mountney upon an Accon of debt and the sd Mountney haveing apped neither by hir selfe nor Attorney to psecute The Co't doth therefore order that the sd Hanna Mountney shall pay unto the sd Dennis 50 lb tob: for his Charges and lose of type./" ( p. 53, Northampton III, Ames)She may have been ill, she may have been called away. Many Eastern Shore residents traveled back to England or Holland surprisingly often for visits and business.
Mrs. Mountney was also absent from the next two court sessions for no obvious reason. She was not summoned at the April or July court sessions, and was not fined for non-appearance. This amounts to a seven month hiatus from the court room. Dating back to 1632, there was not another such extended period when neither Alexander nor Hannah Mountney appeared in court. Mystery solved. They moved the court to Fishing Point in 1646, details needed !
September 15, 1646: Northampton, Virginia
Hannah returned to Northampton court sessions in September with a flurry of activity, obviously making up for her absence, and perhaps leaving a few clues. There is a notable change in the nature and frequency of Hannah's court appearances after the seven month absence. Hannah's actions may be construed to indicate she was wrapping up her business in Northampton, perhaps making plans to move to a new location.
•The second order of business was the testimony of William Jones regarding a cow that had been promised to Hannah's daughter Betty three years earlier by the dying John Holloway. The cow was probably already grazing at Hannah's, but she wants the ownership certified. Why? By this time, Betty was married to William Pinley. Pinley bought cattle in Maryland in 1644. Were Hannah and Betty moving somewhere, such as Chickacoan?
•The third order of business records the cancellation by Hannah of a contract for the building of a new house. Though cancelled, Hannah's house plans provide fascinating insight into the daily life of our ancestors. The location of the dream house was not divulged.
"Whereas it appeth unto this Court by condicon under the hand of John Knight Carpenter that the sd Knight did consent and Agree w'th Hanna Mountney widd to build hir a dwelling house of ffive and Thirty ffoote long & 20 ffoote wide w'th pticons & Roomes & porch & c. And to bee finished by the first of July last past. And upon none p'formance it appeth that the sd Knight was to fforfeite ffive hundred pounds of tabacco & Caske w'ch the sd Knight was willing to Satisfy and soe not to pforme his sd bargayne. The Court doth therefore order the sd Knight shall by the 20th day of November next ensuing the date of this order pay unto Hanna Mountney or hir Assignee the full & just quantity of ffive hundred pounds of M'chatable tobacco and Caske w'th Co'rt Charges or els exec. & c./ (p. 97, Northampton III, Mackey)
•Hannah then proceeded to fire off a volley of thirteen individual suits for overdue debts, and in twelve of those cases the court ruled "it is ordered by this Court" and a payment deadline was set for November 20. (p. 97, Northampton III, Mackey). Only on the debt of Rowland Mills, the court deferred judgement until the next court session. This was tobacco country, and most debts had a due date in November because farmers would earn credits at the Community Store as soon as their tobacco was shipped to England.
• Her tempo was only interrupted once by court docket eight with an appraisal of some "40 weight of feathers, w'th an old ticking, two old torne blanketts, a little iron pot & a Chayne at 300 pounds of tobacco". The owner of the appraised items is not given, this appears to be random data, but imbedded in the widow's agenda, one suspects that Hannah was directing this show, as the same William Jones gave the appraisal.
•Hannah was on a roll, and in Item 17 on page 99 of Northampton III, a certificate was "graunted unto Hanna Mountney widd for 150 acres of Land". Under earlier laws, each name would have earned Hannah 100 acres, so this allotment of only 30 acres per name is curious. As headrights, she claimed her deceased husband and his four brothers. This was a certification of headrights, but no grant of land is assigned to her, which would afford portability to another county.The bedazzled court accepted into the record two very small inventories of estate, a letter of attorney from Henry Fleete to William Eltonhead, and they adjourned court for two months. Out of twenty items on the agenda, Hannah had submitted sixteen of the suits.
Where had Hannah been for seven months? Perhaps more importantly, where was she going? There was a notable change in pace after her long absence was followed by the barrage law suits in September of 1646.
In the ensuing months of 1647, Hannah appears in court on a less regular basis, though winning judgements on seven debts.
November 11, 1646: Hannah won the only case delayed from her October assault on debtors, Rowland Mills was ordered to pay Mrs. Mountney. (p. 104, Northampton III, Mackey)
December 29, 1646: Hannah won an attachment on the estate of Phillip Taylor, now deceased, for his debt to her. p. 107, Northampton III, Mackey)
February 5, 1647: Rowland Mills testified about his creditors, he listed Hannah, but there was no indication of her presence in court. ( p. 156, Northampton III, Mackey)
June 29, 1647: Hannah's presence in court is possible but not positive when she won a suit against Sir Edmund Plowden, Knight "upon an attachment formerly granted unto her". This debt was only "150 powndes of tobacco" and court charges, but Hannah may have enjoyed collecting a food or bar tab from a blueblood. (p. 189, Northampton III, Mackey)
October 28, 1647:•Hannah was arrested (subpoenaed) with Reginald Hawis by Robert Warder concerning a debt, but his case was dismissed when he failed to appear in court.
•Hannah was referred to in testimony about a debt by John Marshall. ( p. 227, 229 Northampton III, Mackey)
•Hannah was sued by William Jones as attorney for Ralph Wormley. The court ordered Hannah to pay the full amount within twenty days. This is a rarity, as Hannah made a practice of settling her debts outside of court. No further explanation is provided. (p. 237, Northampton III, Mackey)
February 1, 1648Hannah seems to be present to collect an amount due from Doctor Rich.
April 28, 1648A debt to Hannah is listed in an estate inventory, but Hannah was not noted present.
January 8, 1649:The inventory of cattle belonging to William Burdette includes the entry:
Att Mris Mountney's feildes, towe stears four yeares old or thereabouts and one heyffor of foure yeares old". (p. 321, Northampton III, Mackey)
August, 1649Hannah submitted a bill to the court amounting to 1221 pounds of tobacco, stating that the bill was previously submitted to the court in September of 1646. The bills are itemized by person for particular court sessions and include references to diet, ordinaryes, and wine. This gives all proof ever needed that Hannah did indeed run the local tavern, and catered to the court when it was in session. There is no explanation why the bill had not been paid, but it is subsequently paid by the clerk on October 6, 1649.
(p. 354, 355, Northampton III, Mackey)
November 28, 1649:Hannah filed suit for debt against Reginald Hawis, the court found him liable for the debt. (p. 364, 365, Northampton III, Mackey)
August 28, 1650
When William Pinley died in 1650, Hannah was made the executrix of his estate, paid his debts, and was given custody of William’s three orphaned children, Will Jr., Dorothy and Thomas Pinley. See the Chapter: William Pinley, Immigrant for detail.
The order by the court that ad..mission of Administration shall be granted unto Mrs. Hanna Mountney upon y.. estate of Wm. Penley decd. / on ye behalf of ye orphs. Estate granted ye sho prof in security to ye court. (p. 225, Northampton III, Mackey)In the months after Hannah Mountney was appointed executor of William Pinley's estate, creditors appeared in court to lodge proof of debts owed by William Pinley, as was the custom. Hannah was given bills by Mr. William Waters for George Clark, Mr. Obedience Robins, Peter Walker, Hannah Mountney, Thomas Leatherbury, Mich Taynter, and Jn. Woods for Jn. Younge , as documented on pages 431, 437, 441, 446, and 461 of 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).
Excepting the execution of William Pinley's estate, Hannah conducted very little court business in her own name.
October 28, 1650: In a complicated entry, the old Reginald Hawse debt is settled with his estate, with Hannah agreeing to discounted payment in the future if a bill is submitted by a descendant signed by "ye sd Mris. Mountney". She also acknowledged satisfaction of the Sir Edmund Plowden, Knight debt.
December 30, 1650: The court ordered William Berry to make payment on a bond with court charges to Mrs. Mountney, as if she was again collecting fees for the court, but this is such an isolated entry in this time frame, it is not fully understood. (p. 436, 437, 447, Northampton III, Mackey)
January 4, 1651:
Through the request of Jno Dolbey Mris Mountney came to testifye for ye endinge of controvrsie what she knew Concrneinge ye will of Mr Edward Drew lately decd To wch this depot repythe: I asked my sonn William Pinley whether Mr. Drew had a will or not not[sic] & hee answrd hee had for I William Pinley writt it And Mr Jno Wilkins & I am witness to it The Dept furthr saith yt she sawe her sonne write it in her howse And they went from her howse to ye water side (as she heard afterward saye it was to sign it.
Beginning in October of 1651 there was a year long interesting exchange involving assets of John Sturman (Thomas Sturman's son) which were being held by Hannah. After four courtroom exchanges, the final court decision appears to rule that Hannah had satisfied the debts owed from Sturman's account. Hannah does not appear to be present in court except on September 28, 1652. Shortly after her September testimony, the judgement was recorded in her favor. This is yet another connection between the William Pinley and Thomas Sturman families. (p. 40, 56, 82 and 83 Northampton IV, Walczyk)
May 25, 1652:William Melling petitioned the Northampton commissioners about difficulty having land surveyed, and claiming that
"some goeth about to settle Mrs. Mountney there on (which had never any right there unto)."Hannah Mountney was not present in court on that day, so the petition concerning the:
"land he now liveth upon (laid claim unto by Mrs. Hanna Mountney widow)" was referred to the next court because "Its thought fit that that said Mrs. Mountney have notice here of in the interim".
July 29, 1652:
"Fore as much as it appeareth to the court by the humble part Mrs. Hanna Mountney widow that (at present) she is sick and lame and cannot under take so great a journey to the court. Its therefore ordered that the difference dependent between the said Mrs. Mountney and Mr. Wm. Melling (concerning a title of land ) be referred to the next court."
September 28, 1652
"Where as Mr. Wm. Mellinge is seated on a parcel of land at the head of Kings Creek...containing three hundred acres to which Mrs. Hanna Mountney laid a pretended right there unto and entered a (anent) at the secretary's office for taking out a patent upon trail there of a sequiter" [squatter?]
"There of the said Mrs. Hanna Mountney (not making any title there unto appear). It is therefore ordered by this court that the said Mr. Wm. Mellinge shall peaceably enjoy his said land."The court ruled in favor of Mr. Melling. The Secretary of Virginia was asked to remove the covet which had prevented Melling's survey.
Extant court records contain Alexander and Hannah's original grant to the land, so it is not understood why the court ruled against Hannah, unless there was a statute of limitations on the grant.
If PenleyPearls can find Hannah's land grant 400 years later,
(Virginia's Eastern Shore, Ralph T. Whitelaw, Volume I, Camden, Maine, Picton Press: 1989, page 156), why couldn't Northampton court locate the grant in 1652?
The 1636 Mountney land grants were sixteen years old, and no evidence proves they were ever surveyed. Hannah did enter action at the Secretary's office to prohibit the forfeit of the land, but her illness may have prohibited her from fighting Melling in court for the land.
(p. 67, 68, 76,77,84, Northampton IV, Walczyk)
(Northampton County Virginia, Orders, Deeds, & Wills, Volume IV, 1651 - 1654, Transcribed by Frank V. Walczyk, Coram, New York: Peter's Row: 1998.)
September 29, 1652Hannah presented Pinley's inventory to the court, and was released from the bond posted as executrix. The inventory of William Pinley's estate was recorded in court records on October 5, 1652. Please see the chapter on William Pinley, Final Inventory. (p. 87. 89, Northampton IV, Walczyk)
Sometime after 1653, but before 1657, Hannah moved across the Chesapeake Bay to Lancaster County, Virginia. Alexander Mountney’s 21 year leases to the property at Town Fields in Accomack/Northampton County would have expired in 1656 and 1658. Hannah may have chosen not to renew the lease because of Alexander’s death and her age, or renewal may have been denied because she was an unmarried woman. If a new storekeeper was appointed, the Kings Creek trading post, tavern, and the Mountney home would have been required by the new Keeper of the Common Store.
In Lancaster County, on February 5, 1657/8, Hannah Mountney and Edwin Connaway laid claim to 1,650 acres due to them for the transportation of 33 indentured servants to the Virginia colony. (Nugent, p. 359) Only rarely did women patent land in their own name in this century, the details of this partnership would be interesting to learn. Edwin Connaway and Hannah probably combined headrights belonging to each of them. Edwin Connaway was previously the Clerk of the Northampton County Court where Hannah had lived.
Mr. Edwin Connaway & Mrs. Hannah Mountney, Widdow, 1650 acs. Lancaster Co., 5 February1657, p. 148, (216) . Near the head of Corrotoman Riv., S. W. upon land of sd. Connaway, a litttle below Moratticoe path, N. W. upon a branch dividing this from land of Mr. Dominick Theriott (Ferriott). Trans. of 33 persons: Henry Patten, Thomas Roffe, Griffin Thomas, Paul Harwood, Robert Wilson, Thomas Parrish, Robert Watts, Fortune Greene, Georg Hawkins, Alex Mountney, Thomas Mountney, Jno. Mountney, Leonard Mountney, Edward Jno.son (Johnson), Bryan Harris, Roger Mountney, Rich Rostall, Georg Hewes, Nicholas Battinge, Nicholas Peryne [Porquér?], Wm. Berryman, Tho. Howell, Mary Linsey, Mary Hall, Henry Paulle, Wm. Edwinn, Roger Winter, Geo. Shabin, Wm. Duce, Edwd. Goodwinn, Ann Boyle?, Ann Lightfoole, Rich. Ashworth. (Nugent, p. 359)
The most interesting name among those listed as headrights is Ann Boyle. Hannah was a common nickname for Ann in that day, and the letter written to Edward Hill’s father-in-law in Blackfriars proves that Hannah’s maiden name was Boyle. Hannah appears here to claim land in her own maiden name. If Hannah had kept the documentation from her original 1620 passage on The Bona Nova, she would have earned 50 acres if she herself had paid for the transportation charges, rather than coming as a servant to the Virginia Company. Here she would have needed to claim the land under the same name as she used on the receipt from the Bona Nova. She also claims land here in the name of Alexander Mountney. The name Ann Boyle here supports the belief previously explained that Hannah did marry Edward Hill after her arrival in Virginia.
Thomas Mountney, Jno. Mountney, Leonard Mountney, and Roger Mountney are listed, they are all the probable brothers of her third husband, Alexander Mountney. Another notable entry listed on this land grant is Thomas Parrish, who was a Spelman servant on the 1624/5 Muster.
One other notable headright entry is Nicholas Peryne. Since no other findings support this spelling, it may be a misinterpretation of the old document. Nichola Porquér is thought to be the husband of Hannah’s daughter, Mary Spelman, and he eventually adopted and abused William Pinley’s orphans in Lancaster County. Northampton court records spell his name differently in each entry (Porque, Perqier, Parkey, Parque, Parkque, Pargue). The letter Y in the middle of Nugent’s Peryne could have been a Q or a G on the original document.
The ommissions on this land patent are equally revealing. As executor of William Pinley’s estate, and guaradian of his orphans, she should have been able to claim headrights for his move from Maryland to Virginia. Hannah may have had reason to keep those headrights separate from her partnership with Connaway. It is confounding that William Pinley’s name has never been found land on a grant from Virginia or Maryland. A William Pinley land grant may be forever hidden in a misspelling or transcription error. The fact that Hannah did not claim headrights for any of William and Elizabeth Pinley’s orphans, combined with the fact that Will Crompe did claim headrights for Dorthy and Thomas Pinley in Maryland, is taken as proof that the children were born in Virginia.
Also, Hannah should have been able to transfer her own headrights from Northampton County to Lancaster. Some of the names listed above may have been transferred from Northampton. No headrights are claimed for Edward Hill, Thomas Spelman, or his brother Henry. Headrights did expire if land was left unplanted. Hannah may have sold those headrights in Northampton to afford the move to Lancaster.
On March 31, 1658, all five of the Mountney headrights from the Connaway/Mountney land grant were used again by William Jordan to secure a patent in Northampton County. Headrights were used, abused, bought sold and traded, so the meaning of this transaction remains foggy. William Jordan may have jiggled the books after Hannah moved away from Northampton County, or Hannah may have liquidated her land when she became ill before her death. No document has been found dissolving the partnership with Edwin Connaway before her death.
Hannah Mountney, outliving three husbands, died before November 28, 1659, at about the age of 57. Her estate was administered by her son-in-law Will Crompe, and showed only a few typical household items. In comparison to other inventories of the day, Hannah’s inventory indicates a very meager existance. Three feather beds, basic kitchen tools, and two pewter chamber pots are listed, but the inventory lists no livestock. There are no personal items, clothing or bed linens inventoried. Speculation is afforded that Hannah was probably living with one of her children at the time of her death, possibly her daughter Frances since Will Crompe was made executor of her estate. The Crompes may have distributed some of Hannah’s personal items among themselves or the orphans before inventory. The fact that the executor of the estate was the only name listed on the inventory was unusual, and Peggy Crane, who acquired and interpreted this inventory from the original, noted that it was not signed by anyone.
Hannah Boyle (Hill, Spelman, Mountney) was found by accident while searching for William Pinley. Northampton County Court abstracts referred to one William Pinley who had witnessed a will for Edward Drew. A copy of the original document was ordered, and it was a treasure chest of information. Our William Pinley had written and witnessed the will of Edward Drew. Because William Pinley was deceased by the time of Drew’s death, Hannah Mountney was called to attest the authenticity of the will, and she declared William Pinley to be her son.The Inventory of the Estate of Hannah Mountney decd
Hannah was a surprise in our research in 1999, and we took great delight in proclaiming the legal documentation of William as her son. For five years Hannah’s testimony was accepted at face value, until advanced reasoning and prolonged research exposed that William Pinley had married Elizabeth Hill, and that Hannah Mountney was indeed his mother-in-law instead of his mother. In every possible scenario, Hannah is certainly ours, and her tenacity and survival skills still ebb and flow through our veins 350 years later.
Hannah Mountney was a tough and complex woman. Early in the research, she was dubbed the “Black Widow” because she outlived so many husbands, but historical context gained by extended research exposed Hannah’s many marriages to be consistent with survival skills and lifestyles in the colonies. Life was tough in those early days of America; and survival itself often depended on marriage and hasty remarriage in the harsh environment. Multiple marriages were common because of short life spans and practical necessity.
This section on Hannah will be concluded after access to Lancaster County record is achieved. Also, Northampton records have only been fully scrutinized up to 1645.
The will or inventory of Alexander Mountney needs to be acquired. Existing court documentation needs to be edited after final review.