Martha Patsy Hicks
1786 – 1880
Relationship to Fawn: 4th great grandmother
By Richard Gwynallen
I have written a few essays, and there’s more to come, on my father’s Allen line. This is one of what will be two essays that explore one of the female lines connected to the Allen/Allan family. Martha Patsy Hicks married Benjamin Allen in North Carolina sometime before 1808, when their son, my great-great grandfather, George Benjamin Allen, was born.
This essay will focus on the Hicks (sometimes spelled Hix) family, that was centered in Bristol, England when they emigrated. The follow-up essay will be on the Lewis family from across the Severn estuary from Bristol in what was then Monmouthshire, Wales.
Map showing the Welsh and English sides of the Severn Estuary
The Hicks surname is an English medieval surname derived from the personal name Richard. It was occasionally found in different parts of England prior to the 10th century, then seemed to proliferate in Anglo-Saxon communities after the end of the 12th century. According to The Internet Surname Database: “The substitution of “H” as the prime initial resulted from the early inability of the native English to cope with the Norman pronunciation of “R”, so arguably Hick is English and Rick is French.”
The Immigrant Ancestor
A Henry Hicks appears to be our immigrant Hicks ancestor. The Bristol Registers of Servants: Sent to Foreign Plantation records that on 22 December 1658, Henry Hicks of Tetherington, Glouchestershire, England, was bound for six years to John Morgan, upholsterer, and transported to Virginia. Some genealogies assume he was born about 1638 since the average age of transported indentured servants was 20 years of age.
It is possible that a relative joined him the following year. The Bristol Registers of Servants: Sent to Foreign Plantation records that on 5 September 1659 Thomas Hicks (Hix) sailed from Bristol for Virginia as an indentured servant to John Morgan as an upholsterer’s apprentice for seven years. He listed his home as Cromhall, Glouchestershire, which is adjacent to Titherington. Both towns are about 10 miles north of Bristol.
This John Morgan seems to have moved back and forth between Bristol and the Virginia Colony, and was apparently a Parliamentarian by political temperament. In 1682 he is back in Bristol and is imprisoned for the second time for refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown. Judith Watkins is said to be his wife. They lived on Temple Street, Bristol. He “suffered considerably from distraint upon his goods.”
There are two references quoted in other genealogies that offer other possibilities:
“On October 4, 1675, according to Virginia Land Grant and Patent Book No. Six, page 563, Thomas Cocke received a land grant of 1983 acres on the north side of the James River in Charles City County Virginia, for the transportation of persons, including Henry Hix/ Hicks.
“Twelve years later, on April 20, 1687, according to the Virginia Land Grant and Patent Book Seven, page 556, Thomas Cock, Junr. in Virina Parish, Henrico County, Virginia, received a grant of 671 acres for transportation of persons, including Henry Hix/Hicks.”
I don’t know who Henry Hicks married, and the circumstances of their lives is very vague, but they resided in St. James of Northam Parish, Goochland County, Virginia. It is believed that Henry had a son, also named Henry, who became the father of our ancestor, Samuel Hicks.
There are a great many people bearing the name Hicks, Hix, Hux, or other variants of the name who immigrated to the Virginia Colony in the mid-17th century. Their emigration seemed to be motivated by one of two broad causes:
- Many of the earliest Hicks immigrants were involved in the tobacco trade, which flourished in the colony in general, and Henrico County in particular, and appear in the records as both ship Captains and growers. These were most probably Anglicans, and fairly well to do.
- On the other hand, and this seems to be more the case with our ancestors, many of the Hicks’ were Baptists and other non-conforming denominations that were under pressure from the Church of England. They also tended to be people of modest means who were seeking the promise of a better life in the new world.
Migration from Virginia to North Carolina
Samuel Hicks is the earliest reasonably documented of our Hicks ancestors. There are gaps in connecting these early ancestors, but Samuel Hicks is believed to be a son of Henry Hicks, Jr., and the grandson of the immigrant Henry Hicks. We first see Samuel Hicks in historic records on 1 January 1717 when he witnessed a deed from Robert Napier of Henrico County, Virginia to Nicholas Cox of Charles City County, Virginia. Samuel had to be at least 21 years old in order to witness a legal document, which means he was born prior to 1697.
He becomes a small farmer in 1726 when he purchase 69 acres from John and Hannah Price of Henrico County, Virginia. The property was located in the fork of Tuckahoe Creek. Samuel was already residing on the property at the time of the purchase. (Deed Book No. 1, Part 1, Henrico (later Goochland) County, Virginia). At that time there were only two ways of legally acquiring property. One could receive it as a grant from one of the Crown officials empowered to issue land grants. The other other was to purchase it from someone who had received a land grant.
We do not know when Samuel Hicks and Dianah Willis married, but we assume it was between 1726 and 1732. Had they been married in 1726, Dianah would have been listed in the purchase of the 69 acres. Will and Deed Book 1 of Goochland County, Virginia records that on 16 May 1732, Major Robert Willis, who presented an appraisal of the estate of Samuel Butler, which was prepared by Samuel Hicks and others. Major Willis is referenced as Samuel Hicks’ brother-in-law. The name Willis can be found among Samuel and Dianah’s descendants.
Dianah was the daughter of Francis Willis and Jane Lewis. The early ancestry of the Willis’ is uncertain, but Frances appears in Goochland County, Virginia records by 1681. The Willis’ of the area seem to have been artisans engaged in carpentry, shoemaking, coopering, and other trades. Frances appears to have been a carpenter and a cooper.
Samuel may have mined a quarry as well. On 5 June 1732 or 33, according to The Will and Deed Book 1 of Goochland County, Virginia, Samuel Hicks is identified as a planter and records that he mortgaged his 69 acres of land for five shillings sterling. In the mortgage, mention is made of a quarry being on the property.
Some of these farm families must have feuded a bit. The Goochland County Court Minutes Book 6, (page 226), of March 1747 shows that Samuel Hicks and Dianah Willis were charged by Thomas Farrar with “trespassing. I don’t know the outcome.
However, they were still neighbors ad had to live with each other. On April 4, 1764 Samuel Hicks and his wife Dianah sold their 69 acres of land at the fork of Tuckahoe Creek to John Farrar. (Will and Deed Book 8, Goochland County, Virginia)
Sometime later in 1764 Samuel and Dianah moved to North Carolina. On 22 October 1764, Robert Harris, brother of Captain Sherwood Harris, granted 100 acres of land to Samuel Hicks. This land was located on Tabbs Creek, Granville County, North Carolina. Two of the witnesses to the deed were Samuel and Dianah’s son and daughter-in-law, Absalom Hicks and Mary Harris.
Abstract of Samuel Hicks’ Will:
March 7, 1770 proved Nov. 1772
Samuel Hicks of Granville Co., N.C. wills to his wife Diana, the plantation whereon I live for her natural life on west side of Tabbs Creek and all my personal estate for her widowhood but if again married, then to receive 1/3 of estate; after death of my wife, I lend to Jacob Woodal and his wife Agnes for their lifetime on condition they pay quit rents and, after their death, to their son James Woodal; to Agnes Woodal, after my wife’s decease, a feather bed and all thereto belonging and lend to Nathaniel Whitlow and his wife Diana the remainder of the land, viz: from the Great Branch to the back line on condition they pay the quit rents thereon; to Nancy Hicks Whitlow, daughter of Nathaniel Whitlow, a feather bed and all thereto belonging; to David Hicks, son of Samuel Hicks, Jr., a cow and a calf after my wife’s death, and also a rifle gun and one sow; to Bishop Hicks, son of Absalom Hicks (the name also spelled Hix throughout the will), one heifer after my wife’s death; to Solomon Whitlow, the land given to his parents, Nathaniel Whitlow, after death of his parents; all other stock, etc. to be equally divided to Samuel and Henry Hicks, whom I appoint as executors. Wts: Robert Allison, John Allison.
Source: Abstracts of Granville County, N.C. Book 1, 1772-1787. Item 4,5.
Absalom Hicks was the youngest son of Samuel and Dianah, and it is from him that we are descended.
ABSALOM HICKS & MARY HARRIS
Absalom Hicks was the youngest son of Samuel Hicks and Dianah Willis. He was born in Goochland County, Virginia. As he was omitted from the Tithings list of 1747 he must have under 16 years of age at that time. Therefore, he was probably born around 1733. He married Mary Harris, daughter of Sherwood Harris. Mary was born about l740, so most genealogies assume the marriage to have taken place in the late 1750s.
When the Harris Family arrived in Granville County is uncertain, but Virginia land records indicate they sold a tract of land in Goochland County, Virginia on 21 October 1756. Records in North Carolina show that they owned land in Fishing Creek and Sherwood Harris was a Captain of the Granville Colonial Militia. Sherwood died in 1763 in Granville County and his will mentions his wife Jane and their seven children: Sherwood Jr.; Sarah, who married her first cousin, Thomas Harris; Jemima, who married Henry White; John; Elizabeth; Ann; and Mary Hicks. The will also mentions his son-in-law, Absalom Hicks as residing upon the land being willed to Mary.
Abstract of Will of Sherwood Harris, Granville Co., N.C.
Source:Abstracts of The Wills And Estate Records
Of Granville County, North Carolina, 1746-1808
by Zae Hargett Gwynn
Unrecorded Wills, 1746-1771, Page 20
June 15, 1763 — proved August court 1763 on oath of Patrick Brady
and Ralph Hudspeth. Jane Harris and Robert Harris qualified as exrs.
Sherwood Harris wills to his son Sherwood Harris 160 acres of land
which he bought of Jonothan White and also the plantation whereon
Henry White formerly lived; to my daughter Mary Hix (Hicks), 100
acres — part of a larger tract bought of Jonathan White, whereon
her husband Absalom Hix now dwells; to my son-in-law Absalom Hix, all
sums of money due me; to daughter Sarah Harris, a mare called Pheaby;
to my son Sherwood harris, a black natural pacing mare, a saddle and
bridle; to son John Harris, all my wearing apparel and a gun; to my
daughter Jemima White, 5 shillings sterling of England; to my
granddaughter Mercey White, 20 pds. when she arrive to age 18 or
married; to Joshua Hays, 200 acres of the land I bought of Jonathan
White on condition he pay 60 pds. to my executors on demand — if he
fails to do so, then the land sold; to wife Jane, a white horse which
is now in possession of James Farguson, a side saddle, the best bed
and furniture I have; to daughter Sarah Harris, a feather bed and
furniture; to wife Jane all the other beds and bedding for use of my
younger children: Ann and Elizabeth Harris, and also all my stock; to
daughter Ann, a white horse I had of Gibson; all other estate sold
and money devided to my three youngest children: Ann, Sherwood, and
Elizabeth Harris; my executors to make good the deed for me of 320
acres on Fishing Creek bought of John Jones. Exrs: my wife Jane
Harris, brother Robert Harris. Wts: Patrick Braddey, Ralph Hudspeth,
It seems that when his own father died, Absalom was already a landowner from land acquired through his wife’s inheritance.
Absalom died in Granville County North Carolina. His will was dated 8 February 1770 and proved during the April term of Court the same year. Unlike many wills I have seen that divide property among the wife and the children, and perhaps others, Absalom left all of his estate to his wife, Mary. One of the witnesses to the will was Mary’s brother, Sherwood Harris, Jr. Only their son Bishop Hicks was mentioned in the will. Bishop seems to have been the eldest child, and it is from him we are descended.
Other children of Absalom and Mary show up in affidavits being used to support applications for Revolutionary War pensions. One of those sheds light on what the family’s occupations were at the time.
During the 1832 Fall Term of the Orange Co. NC Superior Court, on September 11, 1832, Solomon Whitlow in a signed affidavit, under oath stated that he was age 70 years the 22nd of April, 1832, and that he was a resident of Person County, NC. Solomon Whitlow declared that he remembered the facts as follows:
“That at about the age of three years his parents removed from Hanover Co. VA and settled on Tabbs Creek in Granville County, NC; that his mother (Dianah Hicks Whitlow) was the sister of Absalom Hicks (Snr.) who had married and settled in the neighborhood of his father and mother, about one mile and a half from where the said Absalom Hicks (Snr.) died (in 1770) and left three sons: Bishop Hicks, Absalom Hicks and Harris Hicks.
Bishop Hicks was bound apprentice to Thomas Norman [to learn to be a tailor] and Absalom Hicks and Harris Hicks were bound to Harry Melton to learn the art and mystery of a blacksmith; that before the completion of his apprenticeship, the said Harris Hicks, contrary to the wishes of his master, eloped from him and enlisted as a soldier in the Army of the United States.
The affiant, Solomon Whitlow, stated that Harris Hicks was substitute for a term of three months duty for Jeremiah Frazier, Sr. He, Solomon Whitlow, knew that the said Harris Hicks “received a mare, 2 cows and calves for taking his (Jeremiah Frazier Sr.) place in the army.”
Solomon Whitlow also remembered that “Harris Hicks performed part of another term of duty as a substitute for David Hicks, his uncle; David Hicks was in service and desirous of going home to his family. The previous term of Harris Hicks had just expired and he (Harris Hicks) was prevailed upon to take his uncle’s place and did so for some compensation.
This affiant (Solomon Whitlow) was a soldier with the said Harris Hicks in the tour of duty in Charleston. After the war his old master Harry Melton wanted Harris Hicks to come and work in his blacksmith shop and learn more about the trade; Harris Hicks declined.”
Another document that appears in Hicks genealogies is the well respected source commonly called The Douglas Register. The Douglas Register is described online as: ‘being a detailed record of births, marriages and deaths together with other interesting notes, as kept by the Rev. William Douglas, from 1750-1797 : an index of Goochland Wills : notes on the French-Hugeunot [sic] refugees who lived in Manakin-Town. Richmond, Va.: J.W. Fergusson & Sons, 1928.”
From this document, we learn that:
Absalom and Mary had a daughter, Jeani, on 20 April 1760 in St. James Northam Parish of Goochland County, Virginia. Jeani was baptized on 1 June 1760 in that parish.
Absalom and Mary had another daughter, Diana, on 5 December 1761. Her baptismal date is listed as 7 March 1762.
The brothers Bishop and Harris Hicks were bound by the the Granville County North Carolina Orphans Court to others so that each may be taught a trade. The court records confirm Harris Hicks year of birth as 1762 and Bishop’s as 1756.
Whitlow’s affidavit makes Bishop’s brother, Harris, seem like an adventures sort.. Above we quoted from the affidavit showing that Harris ran say from indenture to join the army. It seems he enlisted as a soldier in the Continental Army under John Farrar for a nine-month tour of duty. “This affiant was a soldier with the said Harris Hicks in the tour of Charleston. Said Harris Hicks served as a substitute for Jeremiah Frazier Sr. and as pay received a mare and 2 cows and calves. He also served part of a tour as substitute for his uncle, David Hicks, the latter was in service and desired to return home to his family. Said Harris Hicks was without a wife and family, being a ‘young, active man’. Said Harris Hicks returned home with a ‘very sore leg’, occasioned by the kick of a horse while on duty in this tour.”
Later Harris joined the Light Horse, under Capt. John Henderson, Lt. John Dickerson, and Capt. Soloman Walker. Harris Hicks’ old master, Harry Melton, told Harris “if he had not run away from him and joined the army, he would not have had such a sore leg and be obliged to undergo the pain and misery of it — and wished him to come and work with him in his shop – telling him that if he would do so, he(?) sutton (?), would learn him a great deal in the Trade, which he had never learned him But Hicks declined”.
Harris Hicks’ leg continued to bother him, and he got “old William Cocke to Doctor it for him and under his care it was entirely cured up – But it very soon had like to have killed him and it broke out anew and then he felt some relief”.
Harris Hicks was also under the care of Mrs. Taylor, wife of Col. Joseph Taylor. James Satterfield and Thomas Morris of Person County attest to the foregoing affidavit.
Apparently Harris did return to the blacksmith trade. An 1832 affidavit of Rankin McKee of Orange County, North Carolina certified that he worked with Harris Hicks as a blacksmith, 12 or 14 years prior.
From the above affidavits, plus the Douglas Register of Goochland County Virginia, it comes out that Absalom Hicks and Mary Harris had three sons and three daughters.
BISHOP HICKS & CATHERINE “CATY” JETER
Some genealogies assume Bishop Hicks must have been at least 21 to be listed in his father’s will in 1770, making his year of birth 1749 or earlier. Others argue for a 1756 year of birth, believing he was closer in age to Catherine “Caty” Jeter who he would marry about 1780 and who was born about 1759. As stated earlier in Solomon Whitlow’s 1832 affidavit, Bishop Hicks was bound apprentice to Thomas Norman to learn to be a tailor. I do not know whether he ever worked as a tailor, though it was likely for an apprentice to do so after several years of learning there trade. He is also listed in some genealogies as a horse breeder in Granville County.
In 1790, Bishop and Caty are listed in the Granville County census. He also witnessed a deed in Granville County in 1790. However, they were not listed in the 1796 Granville County Tax Polls, which indicates that by that time they were in Wake County.
In 1795, Caty Jeter’s father distributed his property by deeds of gift. He died not long after. The Jeter Mosaic, Seven Centuries in the History of a Family, by Grata Jeter Clark corroborates their residence in Wake County when it states that “after Samuel Jeter’s death Mary Dudley Jeter moved to Wake County, North Carolina where her daughter Catherine “Caty” Hicks and her son Dudley Jeter then resided”.
Wake County land records show that Bishop Hicks acquired a large tract of land on Horse Creek, Newlight District in Granville County in 1796. He died intestate in September of 1798. The Settlement of Estate Records, Book Nine,1809-11, Wake County showed that Bishop Hicks owned at least 450 acres of land. They also indicate he was a slave owner. According to these records, rather than inherited intact by a eldest son or left intact with the widow, the tract of land near Horse Creek, Newlight District, owned by the late Bishop Hicks, was partitioned among eight heirs, which included Martha “Patsy” Hicks.
Caty Jeter Hicks had a brother, Barnett Jeter, who apparently never married. When he made his will 31 August, 1823, Caty and her children were among those tho were named as heirs to a portion of his estate, again including Martha Patsy Hicks.
Martha seems to have brought this property into her marriage with Benjamin Allen, though at present the 1850 Wake County census is currently the earliest census we have placing Benjamin and Martha on a farm in Wake County. Fortunately, they were not slaveowners.
Here we end the Hicks story as it now merges with the Allen family story as related in From the Farm to the City.