John Holcombe –Qualifying Military Service

John Holcombe's qualifying service for the Society of Colonial Wars was as follows:

1) John Holcombe served as undersheriff1,2of Prince Edward County in 1769.

2) John Holcombe served as Captain3 in the Prince Edward Militia in 1773.

Evidence of John Holcombe's Revolutionary War Service is as follows:

John Holcombe's service as Captain in the Fourth Regiment of the Continental Army was confirmed on two occasions by the U.S. Government in response to inquiries by private citizens, as follows:

9 Dec 1916 – The War Department confirmed that John Holcombe was granted an Invalid Pension [accent on the first syllable of "Invalid"] pursuant to an act of 26 Apr 1808, at which time he was a resident of Campbell County VA, on the basis of his service as Captain of the Fourth Regiment, Continental Army. The letter further states that no additional information is available about Capt. Holcombe's service because records were destroyed when the British burned the War Office in 1814.

1920 – A second letter from the Department of the Interior contains much the same information.

Capt. John Holcombe was wounded at the battle of Germantown PA on 4 Oct 17774.

Holcombe probably left the Continental Army after he was wounded, but he continued service in the Virginia militia. He served at Petersburg as a Captain in 1779 5

By Jan 1781 Holcombe held the position of Colonel in the Virginia militia6.

Col. Holcombe commanded a unit of the Virginia militia at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse 15 Mar 17817, cited in Babits, p. 66.


1 Bradshaw, Herbert Clarence. History of Prince Edward County, Virginia. Richmond: The Dietz Press, Inc., 1955; pp. 55-56

2 Record of the session of the Prince Edward County Court, 18 Dec 1769, obtained from Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia

3 Bradshaw, p. 41

4 Babits, Lawrence & Joshua Howard. Long, Obstinate and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009, p. 66

5 McAllister, J.T. Virginia Militia in the Revolutionary War. Hot Springs: McAllister Publishing Co., 1913, under "Prince Edward"

6 Revolutionary Pension Declarations from Pittsylvania County VA. Virginia Historical Magazine Vol. XVI. Richmond: The Virginia Historical Society, 1908, pp. 174-175

7 Babits, op. cit., p. 66

John Holcombe and Martha Venable, parents of Sarah Holcombe

Sarah Holcombe (bef 1790 - 1850) was the daughter of Captain John Holcombe ( - bef 9 Feb 1818) and Martha Venable ( - bef 13 Mar 1826).

The marriage bond of Sarah Holcombe and William Walker1 was signed by Sarah's father, "J. Holcombe".

Several lines of evidence establish that the father of Sarah Holcombe, signer of her wedding bond, was Captain John Holcombe of Prince Edward County VA, later of Campbell County VA.

1) The 1787 Virginia census showed just one person with last name "Holcombe" and first name starting with "J": John Holcombe of Prince Edward County 2 This John Holcombe also owned land in Cumberland County.

There is a second listing in the index with a close but different spelling: "Holcomb, John" in Prince William County. This person is listed with no holdings, and is designated "not tithable". Accordingly, this individual was probably the same John Holcombe, who resided in Prince Edward, but had some connection to Prince William as a non-tithable non-resident.

2) According to Dorman3 John Holcombe, husband of Martha Venable, served in the Continental Army as Lieutenant, and later as Captain, resided in Prince Edward County, later moved to Campbell County. Dorman states that Martha was the daughter of Abraham B. Venable.

The fact that Sarah Holcombe was married in Campbell County is consistent with her father being Captain John Holcombe of Prince Edward County VA, later of Campbell County VA.

3) Sarah Holcombe's wedding bond was witnessed by Samuel Venable. Samuel Venable was the name of the brother of Martha Venable, wife of Captain John Holcombe 4 Thus it appears that Sarah's uncle, Samuel Venable, brother-in-law of her father, Captain John Holcombe, witnessed Sarah Holcombe's wedding bond.

4) A search on for "J Holcombe" on the 1810 U.S. Census in Virginia yields only two individuals5 The first, John Holcombe of Prince Edward, and his wife, are between ages 26 and 44, and have 4 young children. This listing is the son of Captain John Holcombe, still living in Prince Edward County. The second "John Holcombe" on the 1810 census is over age 45, as is his wife, and is thus consistent with Captain John Holcombe, residing in Campbell County.

Thus the 1787 Census of Virginia, and the 1810 U.S. Census: Virginia, show only a single candidate to be "J Holcombe", the signer of Sarah Holcombe's wedding bond in 1804, namely Captain John Holcombe of Prince Edward County. [Note: Virginia does not appear in the 1790 or 1800 U.S. Census records, so these records cannot be checked for John Holcombe.]

5) George Walker III (Col. George Walker) of Prince Edward County, father of William Walker, husband of Sarah Holcombe, purchased land on 5 Sep 1791 in Cumberland County from John Holcombe of Cumberland County6 This indenture shows a connection between John Holcombe and the family of William Walker.

We can assume that the John Holcombe of the 1791 deed is Capt. John Holcombe because of the findings on the 1787 Census: there was only one John Holcombe, resident of Prince Edward (presumably Capt. John Holcombe) and owner of land in Cumberland, which he sold in 1791 to Col. Walker. Therefore the 1791 deed circumstantially links Capt. John Holcombe to William Walker and his wife, Sarah.

6) John Holcombe's will was probated 9 Feb 1818 in Campbell County VA7 The will mentions a Deed of Trust set up for John's wife Martha by her mother Elizabeth (Michaux) Venable. The Deed of Trust was recorded in Prince Edward Co. in 1783, confirming that the John Holcombe, of this Campbell Co. will, resided in Prince Edward in 1783. The will further references a Deed of Trust from Campbell Co. on 9 Jul 1804 for the benefit of George Walker's executors (this was about 3 months after William Walker & Sarah Holcombe wed). These executors were William Walker and his cousin George Walker.

This 1818 will definitively ties together Capt. John Holcombe of Prince Edward Co.; the Venable family including his father-in-law Abraham B. Venable8 ; the John Holcombe residing in Campbell County in 1804 and 1818; and the 2 signatories of William and Sarah Walker's wedding bond, J. Holcombe and Samuel Venable.


1 Marriage bond, William Walker and Sarah Holcombe, Campbell County, Virginia, 23 Mar 1804. Obtained from the Campbell County Circuit Court Archives, P.O. Box 7, Rustburg, VA 24588

2 Schreiner-Yantis, Netti and Florence Speakman Love. The 1787 Census of Virginia. Springfield, VA: Genealogical Books in Print, p. 1709

3 Dorman, John Frederick. Adventures of Purse and Person, Virginia (1607-1624/5), Vol 3: Families R-Z, 4th Edition, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., pages 810-812

4Ibid., p. 811

6Holcombe-Walker indenture, 5 Sep 1791, Record of Deeds, Prince Edward Circuit Court

7 Hopkins, William Lindsey. Campbell County, Virginia, Wills and Inventories, 1782-1847. Richmond: William L. Hopkins, 1989, p. 60

8 Dorman, p. 811