Maj. William Wyatt – Qualifying Service for the Society of Colonial Wars

Major William Wyatt served as Sheriff of New Kent County in 1671, documented in Virginia land patents1. Other sources note his service as Sheriff in the same year2,3.

On 8 May 1673, Major William Wyatt swore out a warrant for Anthony Arnold, who was subsequently arrested4. This event may indicate that Major Wyatt was Sheriff of New Kent in 1673 as well.

Major William Wyatt served as Justice in New Kent in 1980 and 1988, and Justice in King & Queen County in 17925.

John Wyatt Sr. (ca. 1657-aft 1705 & bef 1710) was the son of Major William Wyatt (ca 1632-aft 1692 & bef 1704) and ?

William Wyatt first patented land on 27 Apr 1653, "400 acs. Gloster Co., upon S.E. side of Mettapony Riv." for the transport of 8 persons including himself6, indicating that he likely first arrived in Virginia in 1653. He patented another 400 acres for the transport of 8 additional persons on 20 Dec 16537. He appears 27 times in Cavaliers and Pioneers between 1653 and 1683, in Gloucester County then New Kent County, either on his own patents or mentioned on the borders of others' land. On 17 Apr 1669 he consolidated his patents in New Kent County into one patent of 2240 acres8. Farmer9 carefully details Major Wyatt's patents and the location of his land in New Kent County. Wyatt's last recorded patent was 850 acres in New Kent on 26 Apr 168010, and the last mention of him in land records was on a deed on 20 May 168311. He served as Justice of King & Queen County in 169212, but did not appear on the Quit Rent Rolls of that county in 1704, so was presumably deceased by that date.

Several sources state that Major William Wyatt had 3 sons13,14,15:

  • William Wyatt Jr. born ca. 1649-1652,
  • Richard Wyatt born ca. 1655, and
  • John Wyatt born ca. 1657.

No will survives for Major William Wyatt. His son, "Mr. Willm Wyatt, Junr." patented 500 acres in New Kent Co. on 20 Jun 167016. This is the first and last appearance of William Wyatt Jr. in available records. Given Major Wyatt's birth year of 1632, it appears that William Jr. patented the land before age 21, which men were able to do in Virginia, and were more likely to do if they came from wealthy families who did not need their young sons' labor on the family plantation17. Thus, like his father, William Jr. began his independent adult life farming life relatively early. He did not appear on the 1704 Quit Rent Rolls, King & Queen County, and was presumably deceased by that year.

The evidence that John and Richard Wyatt were brothers, and were sons of Major William Wyatt, is based on a deed from 1683, and on the King & Queen County Quit Rent Rolls of 1704. The chapter below will provide further support with evidence that Major William Wyatt was a direct ancestor of Richard Wyatt (1720-1803) of Plain Dealing, based on the relationship of each of these men to Sir Francis Wyatt, first Governor of Virginia. These men were all members of the Wyatt family of Boxley, Kent, descendants of Sir Henry Wyatt (1460-1537), and his son Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542), the English Renaissance poet.

On 30 Sep 1683, "John & Richard Wyatt" patented 650 acres in New Kent County, previously "granted [to] Maj. Wm. Wyatt 24 May 166418. This is a relatively large plot of land (one square mile), and it seems at least plausible that Major William Wyatt provided this land to his young sons John and Richard. The fact that John and Richard are entered together on the patent is consistent with their being brothers.

King & Queen County was established from New Kent County in 1691. The King and Queen County Quit Rent Rolls of 1704 show that John Wyatt paid quit rent on 530 acres and Richard Wyatt paid quit rent on 1843 acres19. Neither William Wyatt nor William Wyatt Jr. was listed on the 1704 Quit Rent rolls.

One source20 states definitively "the large landed estate of Major William Wyatt passed at his death to his sons, who were Richard Wyatt, John Wyatt and William Wyatt Jr.", and that on the 1704 King & Queen County Quit Rent Roll, "Richard Wyatt, son and heir of Major William Wyatt, was charged with 1843 acres of land". Harris also points out in the same paragraph that the total land on which John and Richard Wyatt paid quit rent in 1704 is about equal to the acreage owned by Major William Wyatt during his lifetime, further evidence that this land was inherited from Major Wyatt by his sons John and Richard.

Farmer's21 analysis of the location of the Wyatt land in King and Queen County led him to the conclusion that the 1704 Quit Rents show that John and Richard Wyatt lived on land which had been owned by Major William Wyatt, providing further evidence that John and Richard inherited this land from their father.

Even in the absence of this confirmation of the location of the land, it can be reasonably assumed that the disposition of this large estate (over 2,300 acres, almost 4 square miles) would be that it should pass to Major Wyatt's offspring, and that therefore John and Richard Wyatt were in fact his sons.

John and Richard Wyatt appear together in one additional record: in 1701/2 – John Wyatt and Richard Wyatt are each listed on the militia list for King & Queen County, each with the rank of lieutenant22.

John Wyatt Sr. last appears in Virginia records on 2 May 1705 when he patented 700 acres on Dragon Swamp, King and Queen County, previously granted to William Jones, Jr., now deserted, for the transport of 14 persons23.

Documentation of Major Wyatt's Dates of Birth and Death

Major Wyatt was presumably near age 21 or older when he first patented land in Gloucester County 27 Apr 1653, though he might have been a year or two younger. The will of John Wyatt of Boxley, Kent24, dated 27 Apr 1656, names son William, at or near age 24. These facts align to conclude that William Wyatt was born ca 1632. As noted previously, Major Wyatt last documented appearance was as Justice in 1692, and he did not appear on the Quit Rent Rolls for King & Queen County in 1704, placing his death between 1692 and 1704.

Citations

1Stanard, W.G. "Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Virginia Historical Society, 1895, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Oct. 1895), p. 179

2Genealogies of Virginia Families: from Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2007, p. 528

3Farmer, Michal Martin. The Genealogy of the Webster, Martin, Dozier, Staples, & Starke Families of Wilkes Co., Ga. Wolfe City, Texas: Henington Publishing Company, 1994, p. 619

4Arnold, Claude Wayne. "Descendants of Francis Arnold, Generation 4", from: http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/a/r/n/Claude-W-Arnold/PDFGENE2.pdf, viewed 5 Apr 2014

5Farmer, op. cit., p. 619

6Nugent, Nell Marion. Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants. Richmond: Virginia State Archives, 1992, Vol. 1, p. 229

7Ibid., p. 283

8Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 70

9Farmer, op. cit., pp. 619-628

10Nugent, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 208

11Ibid., p. 264

12Farmer, op. cit., p. 619

13"Wyatt Families". The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Apr. 1902), p. 260

14Farmer, op. cit., p. 628

15Wulfeck, Dorothy. Marriages of Some Virginia Residents, 1607-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1986, p. 317

16Nugent, op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 83

17Personal communication from genealogist Victor Dunn, email on 27 Apr 2014

18Ibid., p. 267

19"Virginia Quit Rent Rolls, 1704, King and Queen County". From The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Apr., 1924), pp. 144-158

20Harris, Malcolm. Old New Kent County [Virginia]: Some Account of the Planters, Plantations, and Places in King and Queen County, St. Stephen's Parish. Baltimore: Clearfield Publishing Co., Inc., 2006, p. 393

21Farmer, op. cit., p. 627

22Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt. Virginia's Colonial Soldiers. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1988, pp. 216-217

23Nugent, op. cit., Vol. 3, p. 94

24"Virginia Gleanings in England: Sir Henery Wyatte of Alington, co. Kent, knight", The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Jul., 1923), p. 240

The Ancestry of the Wyatt's in America

There is evidence that Major William Wyatt was a close relative of Sir Francis Wyatt, the first Governor of Virginia, and there is independent evidence that Major Wyatt's great-grandson Richard Wyatt was also a member of the same family. The evidence detailed below therefore provides further support for the conclusion of the preceding chapters that Major William Wyatt was a direct ancestor of Richard Wyatt of Plain Dealing.

The Ancestry of Major William Wyatt

Sir Francis Wyatt, first Governor of Virginia and Rev. Hawte of Jamestown were brothers, and were members of the Wyatt family of Boxley, Kent, descendants of Sir Henry Wyatt (1460-1537), and of his son, Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542), the Renaissance poet. There are three historical records that suggest that Major William Wyatt was a close relative of Sir Francis Wyatt and of Rev. Hawte Wyatt as follows.

Record #1 - In 1655, Major Wyatt was a witness to an acknowledgement made by an Indian, Pindabake, protector of the young king of Chiscoyack, regarding a plot of land that had been given to Mr. Edward Wyatt on the Pianketank River in Gloucester County1. This Edward Wyatt was probably the son of Rev. Hawte Wyatt and the nephew of Sir Francis Wyat2. The author states, "[Maj. Wyatt] was probably a near kinsman of Edward Wyatt"3. A second author reached the same conclusion, that Major Wyatt was "evidently a kinsman of Edward Wyat"4.

Record #2 - In 1683, Major William Wyatt was the first signer of a contentious petition from the residents of St. Stephen's Parish, New Kent County, requesting that the Lt. Governor of Virginia (and acting Governor) Sir Henry Chicheley allow the parishioners to dismiss their current vestry and elect a new vestry5. A copy of the original petition6 is on record, with William Wyatt's signature shown top left. A notation on this record states,

"The first signer, William Wyatt, was of the inner circle of the "Council Group" in Virginia. The Rev. Hawte Wyatt of Jamestown, Sir Francis Wyatt the Governor, Sir Dudley Wyatt of York his immediate family…"

The parishioners of St. Stephen's Parish felt that Major Wyatt should be the first signer of the 1683 petition because of Major Wyatt's close relationship with the leadership of Virginia, and because of the contentious nature of the petition.

The notation cited above7 makes reference to two facts that are no longer mentioned in any other currently available source:

  • The existence of a "Council Group" in Virginia in 1683, and
  • The fact that Sir Dudley Wyatt was a close relative of Sir Francis Wyatt.

Current research has not found any other mention of a "Council Group" in available sources, very little information about Sir Dudley Wyatt, and no information about the relationship between Sir Dudley Wyatt and Sir Francis Wyatt. The fact that the historian cites the now-obscure "Council Group" and the little-known Sir Dudley Wyatt increases the chance that the writer had access to additional information to support the close relationship among Major William Wyatt, the inner circle, and Sir Francis Wyatt. However, this conclusion is only conjecture.

Record #3 – The will of John Wyatt of Boxley, Kent was dated 27 Apr 1656 and proved 11 Jun 16568 His precise relationship to Sir Francis Wyatt has not yet been determined. The will names a son William, at or near age 24. This is the only William Wyatt of the Wyatt family of Boxley, Kent that we have found in records to date who might be Major William Wyatt. Further research is in progress to try to confirm that William Wyatt, son of John Wyatt of Boxley, Kent was Major William Wyatt of Virginia, but there are 3 facts that lend support to this conclusion:

  • The fact that William Wyatt of Boxley, Kent was about age 24 on 27 Apr 1656 conforms well to Major William Wyatt being about age 21 when he first arrived in Virginia and patented land in Gloucester County on 27 Apr 16539. The wording of John Wyatt's will leaves open the possibility that William is near, but not yet at age 24 on 27 Apr 1656. Men were able to patent land before age 21 in Virginia in the 1600s, and were more likely to do so if they were from wealthy families that did not require their labor on the family farm10. Thus the fact that William was near age 24 when John Wyatt's will was written in 1656 is consistent with his obtaining a Virginia land patent in 1653, and consistent with the age he might have decided to leave England because of his status as a younger brother, to wit:
  • The will of John Wyatt names an older brother of William, Stephen about age 26, who would have been in line to inherit the family estate in England. This fact would account for William Wyatt's leaving England promptly in young adulthood to establish a large estate in Virginia.
  • The fact that William Wyatt is listed as one of 8 persons transported on his first Virginia patent indicates that he paid for his own transport, and presumably the other 7 individuals11. Further, William Wyatt paid for the transport of 8 more individuals the same year on 20 Dec 165312. These patents suggest that William Wyatt was from a prominent family with sufficient wealth to fund the transport of 15 persons plus William Wyatt and his family in 1653, and to fund William's establishment of a working plantation, all presumably before the demise of the patriarch. These circumstances are consistent with Major William Wyatt being the son of a member of the Wyatt family of Boxley, Kent, and specifically the son of John Wyatt of Boxley, Kent.

The Ancestry of Richard Wyatt of Plain Dealing

Richard Wyatt (1720-1803) owned a painting of his English ancestors' coat of arms that hung near the fireplace in his Plain Dealing estate. A few years before the start of the American Revolution, Richard became so incensed at the way that the English were treating the American Colonists that he exploded in a fit of rage - he tore the painting off the wall, hacked it out of its frame with his sword, and threw the painting into the blazing logs. His eldest daughter Nancy reached into the fire and saved the damaged painting. Years later, she married Colonel Anthony New and moved to Kentucky. For many years, the New family proudly displayed the painting in their home13.

The painting of the Wyatt coat of arms was later lost in a house fire, but a sketch14 of the painting survives, drawn in 1830 by a nephew of Nancy's, Richard Ware Wyatt, who was visiting the New family during a 4-month journey on horseback from Louisa County, Virginia to St. Louis. The young man was exploring the Midwest and checking on land his father had been given for service in the Revolutionary War. Richard's sketch of the fire-damaged painting is shown on this site and others.

Another family member wrote of seeing the coat of arms painting, and gave a brief description. Judge David Walker (1806-1879) of Fayetteville, Arkansas was a great-grandson of Richard Wyatt of Plain Dealing. Judge Walker was the President of the Arkansas Secession Convention in 1861, and later served as Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. In a long, autobiographical letter written to his daughter Mary in 1865, he wrote15,

"[My grandfather] was apprenticed to Anthony New to learn the trade of carriage making. About the time his apprenticeship expired, he married Lucy Wyatt, daughter of John Wyatt of Virginia, of English descent [this is an error: Lucy was the granddaughter of Capt. John Wyatt]. I remember to have seen a painting on canvas or parchment called a 'coat of arms'. It has on it a hog's head (boar), a spear and some other devices, certifying that the Wyatts were of the English nobility."

Another family member wrote of the Wyatt family ancestry: Helen Call Hawkins was the sister of Governor Richard Keith Call, territorial governor of Florida 1836-1839, and was a great-granddaughter of Richard Wyatt of Plain Dealing. Helen wrote a letter16 to Judge David Walker in 1876 discussing family history. She wrote,

"James Hawkins the son of John Hawkins of Hanover County, Virginia married Lucy Wyatt of Louisa County. Her father was a branch of the same Wyatt family of which was the English Baronet Wyatt, Virginia's first Governor."

Helen Call Hawkins's letter establishes that there was a family tradition that the Plain Dealing Wyatt family was related to Sir Francis Wyatt. The relationship to Sir Francis is further supported by, but not proven by, the ill-fated painting of the Wyatt coat of arms, as follows.

The Wyatt Family Coat of Arms

Richard Ware Wyatt describes his sketch of the coat of arms painting in text below the sketch17: "An imperfect diagram of the 'Coat of Arms' of the Wyatt family from a defaced copy at Col Anthony New's in Todd County, Kentucky. Ao D 1830."

To the left of the sketch he writes "+ denotes the head of the wild boar". The sketch shows a boar's head with a band above, across the lower part of the shield. It would have been common for this configuration to include 2 more boars' heads, side by side above the first, sitting either above or below the horizontal band. The upper half to 2/3 of the shield is blank, erased by fire damage.

Judge David Walker's description18 mentions the boar's head, and also mentions "a spear and some other devices…", which may have been faintly visible in the upper, fire-damaged half of the shield. No spear and no "other devices" appear on Richard Ware Wyatt's sketch.

Evidently there is too little detail from the sketch and from Judge Walker's description to reconstruct the upper portion of the coat of arms. The most prominent features of Richard Ware Wyatt's sketch, the single boar's head with a horizontal band above head, is present on at least one coat of arms that was granted to Sir Francis Wyatt's great great-grandfather, Sir Henry Wyatt (1460-1537) by King Henry VIII, according to Burke's Heraldry19 This coat of arms was later transferred ("confirmed by grant with a difference, 28 Dec 1839") to the Wyatt family of Sussex.

The Burke passage describes the "Quarterly, first and fourth" shield [on a family's quarterly coat of arms, the husband's shield was in the top left and bottom right position, and the wife's family shield on the top right and bottom left positions. Thus Sir Henry's shield would be the first and fourth quarters]. The description by Burke of the boars' head feature from Sir Henry's coat of arms matches the lower part of Richard Ware Wyatt's sketch. The description from Burke follows, with translations of the heraldic terms shown in curly brackets:

"gu. {gules=red background} on a fess or {horizontal band, gold color}, betw. three boars' heads, couped {boars' heads cut off horizontally}, erm. {ermine=emblazoned with small fur tails} a lion pass. {lion passant = lion with three paws on the ground, right front paw elevated} betw. two pheons {heads of darts, barbed, engrailed on the inner side} az. {azule=blue}"

It is quite possible that the coat of arms painting originally showed 2 additional boars' heads above the one depicted on the sketch: this configuration of three identical animals, 2 above one, is common on heraldic shields. It is also possible that there was originally a "lion passant" on the upper part of the shield before the fire damage, and Judge Walker may have seen a faint remnant of the "pheons" that he called "a spear". Even more fancifully, one could speculate that Judge Walker saw remnants of the ermine-emblazoned lion, and interpreted the small fur tails as "other devices." But there is no way of knowing what was depicted on the burned area of the painting unless a pre-fire description surfaces.

In any case we learn from the Burkes' passage that at least one coat of arms granted to the ancestor of Sir Francis Wyatt, Sir Henry Wyatt, included boars' heads. Therefore the coat of arms depicted on the Plain Dealing painting is consistent with, but certainly not at all proven to be, the lower portion of a coat of arms of this Wyatt family.

The meaning of the unicorn crest over the shield, and the berried branches to the sides, is unclear. Further analysis of the Plain Dealing painting is the subject of current inquiry with a heraldry expert in London.

Summary

In summary, this essay has established that there was a family tradition that Richard Wyatt of Plain Dealing was of the same branch of the Wyatt family as Sir Francis Wyatt, first governor of Virginia; that Richard Wyatt owned a painting of a family coat of arms that is consistent with the lower portion of one granted to Sir Henry Wyatt, the ancestor of the Wyatt family of Boxely, Kent; that two Virginia documents provide circumstantial evidence that Major William Wyatt was a close relative of Sir Francis Wyatt; and that the 1656 will of John Wyatt of Boxley, Kent named a son William whose demographics and circumstances match those of Major William Wyatt of Virginia.

The conclusion is that both Major William Wyatt and Richard Wyatt of Plain Dealing were descendants of the Wyatt family of Boxley, Kent. The descendants of Sir Francis Wyatt and Rev. Hawte Wyatt are well researched, and do not include either Major Wyatt or Richard Wyatt. Therefore these two men are members of a third American branch of the Wyatt family of Boxley, Kent.

Citations

1"Wyatt Families". The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Apr. 1902), p. 260

2Stanard, W.G. "Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents". The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Virginia Historical Society, 1895, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Oct. 1895), p. 179

3The William and Mary Quarterly, op. cit., p. 260

4McGhan, Judith, indexer. Virginia Vital Records. Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1982, p. 87

5Virginia Colonial Abstracts. Vol. 2, King & Queen County. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1988, pp. 449-450

6"A Petition of the Inhabitants and Housekeepers of St. Stephen's Parish in the County of New Kent". Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Jul., 1933), p. 200 (facing)

7Virginia Colonial Abstracts, op. cit., p. 450

8"Virginia Gleanings in England: Sir Henery Wyatte of Alington, co. Kent, knight", The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Jul., 1923), p. 240

9Nugent, Nell Marion. Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of

Virginia Land Patents and Grants. Richmond: Virginia State Archives, 1992, Vol. 1, p. 283

10Personal communication from genealogist Victor Dunn, email on 27 Apr 2014

11Personal communication from genealogist Victor Dunn, email on 27 Apr 2014

12Nugent, op. cit., p. 283

13Wingfield, Marshall. A History of Caroline County Virginia. Baltimore: Regional Publishing Company, 1975, p. 490

14Wyatt, Richard Ware. Travel Journal, p. 1. The original journal is in the possession of Joseph B. Wyatt of Clarion, Pennsylvania. A digitized scan of the journal is available at the website: http://jbwyatt.com/Wyatt/history.html, viewed 5 Apr 2014

15Lemke, W.J., ed. Judge David Walker: His Life and Letters. Fayetteville: Washington County Historical Society, 1957, pp. 9-18

16Lemke, W.J., ed. The Walker Family Letters. Fayetteville: Washington County Historical Society, 1956, letter #68

17Wyatt, Richard Ware, op. cit., page 1

18Lemke, Judge David Walker, op. cit., p. 10

19Burke, John Esq., and John Bernard Burke, Esq. Encyclopedia of Heraldry, or General Armory of England, Scotland, and Ireland. London: Henry G. Bohn, Covent Garden, 1844, p. "WYB – WYE"