Volume 1 Issue 10
October 2001
Home Page and Index



by Willard Gentry
Rewritten November 2013

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we have reviewed the evidence that is available for Samuel-II Gentry and Nicholas-II Gentry, the second and third sons of Nicholas-I Gentry (the Immigrant). The present article will review both what is known about Nicholas' oldest son, Joseph-II, and what we can conclude about the identity of sons of Nicholas-I younger than Nicholas-II.. Where children of these sons can be clearly identified, they are summarized here. Possible children that are ambiguous or unknown as to relationship and grandchildren will be discussed in later issues of this Journal.

Parish Records - (Continued)
Before considering the identification of sons and grandchildren of Nicholas, it will be convenient to review the remaining St. Paul's Parish records beyond those that have been considered so far. In previous articles we have discussed parish records that relate to Nicholas-I, Samuel-II, and Nicholas-II. Let us now review the vestry book records that relate to other Gentrys, the page number in the reference being given below<1>.

Joseph Gentry Sr.

(p.32) 1709 Joseph assigned to assist Nicholas in a road maintenance crew.
(p.32) 1709 Joseph, together with Nicholas Gentry, included in processioning order for precinct 13.
(p.230) 1712 Joseph included in processioning order for precinct 25.
(p.242) 1716 Joseph included in processioning order for precinct 27.
(p.263) 1720 Joseph included in processioning order for precinct 19
(p.89) 1720 Joseph delegated vestry responsibility for support of Sarah Tyler and child; to be repaid.
(p.111) 1724 Joseph assigned road maintenance duty with John Jones who was responsible as overseer.
(p.278) 1731 Joseph included in processioning order for precinct 11.
(p.134) 1732 Joseph and William Gentry assigned road maintenance duty with Peter Harroldson's gang.
(p.283) 1735 Joseph included in processioning order for precinct 1.
(p.292) 1739 Joseph included in processioning order for precinct 1.
(p.176) 1743 Joseph (identified as Joseph Gentry Sr) assigned to road duty with John Jones' gang.
(p.302) 1743 Joseph included in processioning order for precinct 1.
(p.312) 1751 Joseph included in processioning order for precinct 1.   [In this year, James Gentry first appears in a different precinct (#22), but one which must have been a closely neighboring precinct based on the names of individuals in that precinct compared to family names that in previous years had lived in the same area as Joseph.]
The following references have a bearing on judging when Joseph may have died
(p.339) 1755 Precinct 1 processioning order, containing almost identically the same members as in 1751, is missing Joseph Gentry.
(p.389) 1759 A Joseph Gentry (assumed to be Joseph Jr.) is included along with James Gentry in processioning order for precinct 20.
(p.426) 1763 A Joseph Gentry is included along with James Gentry in processioning order for precinct 20.

William Gentry (the Elder).

(p.134) 1734 William Gentry assigned ("if he be willing") to join road gang of Peter Harralson that included Joseph Gentry
(p.144)1735 William Gentry added to road gang of Edward Sims

James, Joseph Jr., David and William Gentry (the Younger)

(p.321) 1751 James included in processioning order for precinct 22 (note this is a different precinct than that in which Joseph was listed for that same year).
(p.363) 1756 There is no processioning return for precinct 22 in 1755 where it would normally be recorded in the vestry book, but in its place is a copy of a case in Hanover County court in which James, as one of the overseeing processioners, appeared in court to represent the vestry in a controversy concerning a boundary line between two land owners in the precinct.
(p.389) 1759 James included along with Joseph Gentry in processioning order for precinct 20. In the return James is mentioned as among those lately making land purchases, replacing Alexander Kersey and Joseph Crenshaw from the order.
(p.426) 1763 James included along with Joseph Gentry in processioning order for precinct 20.
(p.564) 1767 "James Gentry Heirs" included along with Joseph Gentry and David Gentry in processioning order for precinct 21.
(p.363) 1756 "James Gentry's Heirs" included with Joseph Gentry and William Gentry in processioning order for precinct 14.
(p.487) 1771 "James Gentry dec'd" included in processioning order for precinct 15.
(p.524) 1775 [Note. no returns filed for any order in this year, David Gentry assigned to oversee precinct 15.]
(p.555) 1779 "James Gentry's Heirs" included with William and Joseph in processioning order for precinct 14.
(p.556) 1779 David assigned to oversee processioning and included in return in precinct 15.
(p.573) 1784 David assigned to oversee processioning in precinct 15, no returns filed for any precinct.

George Gentry

(p.410) 1763 To Mary Spraddling for Keep'g Widdow Cawthon 6 months with a cancer 6 pounds. To George Gentry for keep'g Edy Cawthon from 16th April till now, 5 pounds.
[Note. Despite the vestry entries for Mary Spradling (widowed in 1733), Widow Cawthon, and George Gentry, the processioning report for precinct 6 in 1763 continued to carry the names John Spradling, James Cawthon and Nicholas Gentry and no mention of George Gentry.]
(p.494)1771 George Gentry included in processioning order for precinct 26.
[Note. In line with other parish precinct changes in this year, precinct 26 replaced the former precinct 6 with most of the members of the latter precinct present in the new precinct.]

Accounting for Gentrys Absent from Parish Records
As we mention George Gentry, this is an appropriate time to discuss and account for the absence from St. Paul's Parish records -- either partially, or entirely -- of several Gentrys. These include:

The first situation that must be considered are the bounds of St. Paul's Parish. In the early days of its existence, the parish was still a part of New Kent County and represented rhe limits of settlement. As people moved farther west, Hanover County was formed and along with that a new parish, St. Martin's Parish. This served the western end of Hanover County, and after Louisa County was divided from Hanover County in 1742, this parish continued to serve a part of that county. The change in parish is significant because the parish records we have available for study today are for St. Paul's Parish which have been remarkably well preserved. Corresponding records for St. Martin's Parish do not exist. Therefore any Gentrys living in the latter parish, west of Stone Horse Creek and the South Anna River, are not included in any church records, but only in other civil and county records. The same situation exists for any Gentrys living on the north side of the Pamunkey / North Anna Rivers who were in St. John's Parish. While county records exist after 1742 for Louisa County, unfortunately Hanover County is singularly void of records due to the courthouse having been burned down in the Revolutionary War and again in the Civil War. Records of land grants do exist because they were a transaction by the Crown and the records were either in Yorktown or in London.

St. Paul's
Relationship of St. Martin's Parish to St. Paul's Parish

Geography explains the lack of records for Gentrys who did not remain in St. Paul's Parish. There is another complicating factor, however, which we discussed briefly in issue #8 of this journal which was a peculiar set of processioning records involving Nicholas-II Gentry. It could explain the failure of Gentrys being in the records even though they remained in the parish. This peculiarity involves the fact that beginning in 1735 and continuing up to but not including 1771, in the the precinct lying between Stone Horse Creek and Beech Creek in which Nicholas-II was listed, virtually the same land owners were reported year after year for the entire period. This precinct was designated precinct #1 in 1735, and as precinct #6 for the years 1739, 1743, 1755, 1763, and 1767. (In 1751, a processioning order was recorded in the vestry book, but no "return" recorded in the space reserved for that.)

For several of these reports, the processioning "return" included statements similar to that in 1759 (p.380), "In Obedience to the within Order, we the Subscribers have processioned the Lands within mentioned, and Other Adjacent Lands not mentioned in the Order". In each case, the "adjacent lands" were not named, nor in any of these returns was there any indication of the lands, "mentioned in the Order" no longer being correctly identified. This in spite of the fact that a number of irregularities are known to have existed. In particular we know that in 1736 Nicholas-II Gentry moved from St. Paul's Parish to Fredericksville Parish which later became a part of Louisa County. We can only guess at what might have prompted these presumably incomplete reports. The precinct in question was at the far western end of the parish, and thus less subject to parish oversight or involvement. The most likely explanation perhaps, is that the individuals responsible for processioning reports were lackadaisical and unless there was an obvious and distinctive change in the precinct land-holdings, they were content to simply submit the same report year after year without filling in details about boundary or ownership changes.

It is possible that Nicholas continued to be the owner of record during all those years even though he was absent. There is a strong probability that a member of the Gentry family continued to occupy the property, whether or not it was held in Nicholas' name, during that time and the processioners simply neglected to change their quadrennial report. In 1771, when the precinct was newly consituted, George Gentry was finally reported as a land-holder. He is known to have been living in that vicinity from at least 1763 onwards. Indeed George's father and other Gentrys may have lived there before him, from before the time Nicholas left or after.

[Note. We make reference here to George living in the Stonehorse Creek area for a number of years before 1771. This is based on testimony relating to Revolutionary War service, that his son, George Jr., was born in the vicinity in about 1765, as will be discussed next month in an article by John W. Reed devoted to George and his family. That George was a member of the parish before 1765 is shown by the 1763 vestry record reimbursing him for care, but which says nothing about where he was living.]

In studying the parish records it is apparent that Joseph Sr. and James Gentry appear to be older than the others. Joseph appears to have died between 1751 and 1755 and James died between 1763 and 1767. The other names are consistent with being children of these two or a third unnamed Gentry. The use of the term "Joseph Sr." in 1743 and the presence of a Joseph Gentry in the 1759 and succeeding records strongly suggests that the later Joseph was a separate Joseph, a son of Joseph Sr. The older William Gentry clearly is most likely another son of Joseph Sr. As to David and the younger William Gentry, their names do not appear in the vestry records until after James appeared, late in life, and obviously returning after a prolonged absence from the parish. We can confidently assume that they were children of James. The question of George is not quite as clear-cut and will be discussed in the journal article on that family by John Reed.

Tax Records as a Source of Information
After 1779 it is necessary to turn elsewhere than to parish records for information about the Hanover County Gentrys. Two sets of records survive for Hanover County (some of which also apply to parts of Louisa County), both adopted by the new State of Virginia in 1782 at the end of the Revolutionary War. One was a listing of tithables for which state and county poll taxes, and personal property taxes (which included slaves, horses and cattle) were charged. The other was a listing of real estate or land taxes. The earliest records combine these two functions and we find that a James Gentry was taxed for 400 acres in the portion of St. Martin's Parish that was situated in Louisa County (the eastern end of the county, adjoining Hanover County) in 1767, 1768, and 1769<9>. We assume that this was the same James Jr. who was executor for the estate of his father, James Sr. (see below). We don't know if this was land that James Sr. had owned in Louisa County which was inherited by James Jr. or if it was land that James Jr. had acquired separately. This gives us a clue, however, as to where James Sr. was living before he moved back to St. Paul's Parish.

We can benefit most from these tax records in trying to identify the families of James Sr. and Joseph-III. For example, there are multiple references to David Gentry in Hanover County tax lists that begin in 1782. The listing of land taxes for 1782 to 1796 show that David owned 397 acres of land in St. Paul's Parish<11>, while the lists of tithables for the period 1782 to 1815 show him with a substantial number of slaves, horses and cattle<12>. With respect to Joseph, the tithables tax lists are somewhat ambiguous. They mostly list just "Joseph' and do not identify Senior or Junior but they do appear to include a "Joseph Sr" (that is, Joseph-III) for the years 1782, 1783, and 1785, and then another Joseph with less property (Joseph-IV), for the years 1783, 1785, 1786 and onwards. In the same collection of tithables, a Susanna Gentry is listed for 1786 to 1792. The contemporaneous land tax lists for 1782, 1783, 1787, and 1788, show taxes being charged to Joseph for 100 acres of land. Beginning in 1789, the tax was assessed to the "Joseph Gentry estate". It seems certain that Joseph had died by 1786, so the land tax lists for the years 1786 to 1788 probably represent a time when the tax list was simply slow to acknowledge the fact that Joseph had died. From the information given above, we can not only get an estimate of Joseph's death, but also that Susanna appears to be Joseph-III's widow. In the same manner, listings of other Gentrys provide valuable information in identifying them as descendants of Joseph-II and James-II.

A.  Joseph-II Gentry, Son of Nicholas-I

-- Birthdate estimated as about 1684, born in New Kent County (later Hanover County), Virginia;
-- Wife or wives unknown.
Death estimated as about 1751.
The vestry records of St. Paul's Parish, Hanover County, Virginia, are the only evidence we have concerning the identification of Joseph Gentry, for nowhere else is he mentioned in the few civil or church documents that survive from early Hanover County. Nor does he appear at all in Richard Gentry's book, "The Gentry Family in America" [GFA]. From these parish records we have earlier concluded that:

All of the vestry entries from 1709 to 1751 are unambiguous in indicating that Joseph Gentry Sr. was alive and active in St. Paul's Parish. The entries for 1759 and 1763 are probably for Joseph Gentry Jr., both because there was an absence of Joseph from the 1755 processioning orders, and also because the 1759 and 1763 entries for a Joseph Gentry are for a different precinct, with different neighbors, than that in which Joseph Sr. had last been listed. While it is possible that Joseph Sr. gave up his land due to old age and moved in with one of his sons (or sons-in-law?), it is more likely that he died in the interval between 1751 and 1755.

As to the date of Joseph's birth, we see that he was assigned parish duties in 1709 that would be appropriate only for individuals who had reached maturity. This would suggest that he was born at least by 1688, and more likely several years earlier. His father, Nicholas, is known to have been occupying and farming land in 1684 that adjoined the land which was granted in that year to his brother Samuel-I (see articles 1 and 3 of this Journal). Nicholas could not marry while he was still an indentured servant, but almost surely was married by 1784 (though probably newly-so), thus we can estimate that Joseph was likely born in about 1784.

Beyond the bare statistics above, and the names of his presumed sons (who will be discussed below), we know nothing of Joseph--not the name of his wife or whether he had more than one wife, nor the size of his family, nor whether he had any slaves. He probably occupied the same parcel of land that was owned by his father (totalling some 250 acres in 1702), which was a very respectable size for that time and place. Joseph was not sufficiently important to be a vestryman, and was not given the duty of being a road overseer, but overall appears to have been a respected and responsible member of his parish.

B.  Other Sons of Nicholas-I Gentry
In determining which other Gentrys that are on record in early Virginia records might be children of Nicholas-I, the primary consideration will be the age of the individual. We have concluded above that Joseph was probably born in the vicinity of 1684. Allowing for the normal age of marriage at the time, Joseph was probably married in the interval between about 1705 and 1715. There is an overlap period between 1705 and roughly 1710 when any Gentrys that were born in the parish could have been children of either Joseph or his father, Nicholas. Any children born after the latter date, the approximate date of death of Nicholas, obviously could not have been those of Nicholas.

Existing records include four candidates for Gentrys, known to be living at the time, who may have been sons of either Nicholas or Joseph, namely: William (the Elder), James, Joseph Jr., and John Gentry.

[References to an additional candidate, David, are found only in the region that later became Louisa County and in Lunenburg County, Virginia. His life was closely connected to Samuel-II and will be studied in detail in future issues of this journal. He is a candidate as a son of Nicholas, but not of Joseph-II.]
The first three names come from an interpretation of the St. Paul's Parish records and succeeding Hanover County records. John Gentry appears in no parish or eastern Hanover County records. He is found, however, in records outside of the parish, in the western part of Hanover County that later became Louisa County, then eventually in Amelia, Augusta and Botetourt Counties. William and Joseph Jr. are strong contenders for status as sons of Joseph. In the case of James and John, we have to ask whether they might be brothers of Joseph rather than sons. We will consider each of these possibilities as we review what we know about each individual.

B1.  James Gentry

-- Born in New Kent County (later Hanover County), Virginia, in approximately 1704;
-- Name of wife or wives not known.
James died probably in 1767 in Hanover County.
Until 1751, James was not included in any St. Paul's Parish records, whether they were for processioning orders, or road maintenance assignments, or any other parish responsibilities. Where was James during this time? In most cases in processioning orders, even if James was living on land which he did not own, he would still be listed among the land holders. The absence of James from any road maintenance orders, such as the one in 1735 that involved William, and one in 1743 that involved Joseph Sr., is hard to explain if James was living with Joseph. When he did finally appear in the parish records, it is apparent that he was well along in years and must have been absent from the parish for a considerable number of years. This is supported by a record of James sixteen years earlier in Hanover County Court documents for the year 1735. In that year, James witnessed a deed of sale of land in St. Martin's Parish, and an accompanying establishment of a security bond for John Tyler Jr.<2>. This reference gives a clue as to where James may have been living at least part time if not in St. Paul's Parish. There are reasons for suspecting that James Gentry was the father of the George Gentry which we will not go into here but will defer to John Reed's article. It is possible that during at least some of the years James was absent from the Totopotomoy Creek area, he was occupying Nicholas' land in the Stone Horse Creek precinct and George simply continued this occupation after his father left.

We do not want to limit our searchs for James to Hanover County, however, for there are two references to him in Louisa County Court records that we must mention. The court records for 1768 document a suit by a James Gentry [Jr.] (and others), "executors of the last will and testament of James Gentry [Sr.], deceased"<3b> This was an action to recover payment for a debt allegedly owed James Sr. A year earlier, in 1767, when new members of a road maintenance gang were appointed to replace the "hands belonging to the estate of [blank] Gentry deceased"<3a>. the action unquestionably refers to the late- departed James, and to slaves or other field hands in Louisa County owned by him. Tax lists for the years 1767 to 1769 for the Louisa County section of St. Martin's Parish show a James Gentry taxed for five tithables and 400 acres. It is not clear whether this refers to James Jr. as the new owner of this land, or to the James Gentry Sr. estate. In either case James Sr. must have lived in Louisa County long enough to acquire a sizeable amount of land and a number of slaves, and we can certainly assume that James Jr. must have been a son of James Sr. Moreover since James Jr. had been appointed executor of his father's will, it is probable that he was the latter's oldest son.

We have a different problem in rationalizing James Sr.'s move back to the eastern end of the parish near Totopotomoy Creek to his father's home. We do not know just when that happened or why but it may have been tied in with the death of Joseph and settlement of his estate. There was a gap in processioning orders between 1743 and 1751, so James could have moved back anytime during that interval. James' exact date of death is likewise uncertain, but it was obviously some time between 1763 and 1767.

All of this speaks to the existence of James Gentry and where he was located at different times in his life but it says nothing about whether he was a son of Nicholas-I or Joseph-II Gentry. GFA devotes only a single sentence to him (#184);
"Born in Hanover, probably aboout 1710, and is either a son of Nicholas[-I] or Samuel[-I]."
The best clue for his birth lies in estimates of birth for James' children. As we will see, John Reed suggests that George Gentry was born about 1730-1732. James Jr. has been suggested above as being the oldest son of James Sr., hence his date of birth would precede George, let us say about 1728. If James Sr. was about 25 years of age when he married, and considering that Nicholas' youngest daughter, Mabel, was baptized (and presumably born) in 1702, we can count back to a date of about 1704 for his birth. This is strong evidence for James being a son of Nicholas-I and we so conclude.

B2.  John Gentry of Louisa, Augusta and Botetourt County
In attempting to complete the identification of sons of Nicholas-I and Joseph-II, we need to consider John Gentry who never appeared in any St. Paul's Parish records. Denny Ellerman was the first to give wide circulation to the theory that a John Gentry who appears in Louisa County records in the 1740's, and a John Gentry who appears after 1758 in Augusta and Botetourt County, Virginia records, and died in 1779 in the latter county were the same person, and that this John may have been a son of Joseph-II<4>.

In 1740, John Gentry was named as an adjoining land owner, in a patent granting land to a John Cosby<5>. While the exact location of this land cannot be identified today, it was in the vicinity of the Little River and Elk Creek, a tributary of the North Anna River. The grant identifies the land as being in Hanover County but that was before Louisa County was divided, and the location described was in an area that later became Louisa County. The fact that this John was old enough to be a land holder indicates that he must have been born before 1719 leaving very few choices other than for John to have been a son of Joseph or a son of Nicholas-I. As to other possibilities, there is no John known to be a son of Nicholas-II, nor would the fact that this John was a land owner as early as 1740 be possible for a son of Nicholas. Samuel-II did indeed probably have a son John, but one who was much younger than this John. The absence of John from any St. Paul's Parish records raises the same questions as to why his presumed brothers James Gentry and David-II Gentry did not appear there. The answer must be variations of the same conclusion, that he left Totopotomoy Creek and either was "hidden" in the Stone Horse Creek processioning for Nicholas-II and/or continued farther west beyond the bounds of the parish.

Louisa Co.

Before answering the question of parentage, it will be necessary to consider what other information is known about John. Following the land grant reference, John was mentioned in three Louisa County Court orders in connection with road maintenance in his neighborhood: once in 1743 when he was appointed overseer for the road, again in 1744 when he was reimbursed for preparing direction signs, and finally in 1747 when a new overseer was appointed to replace him, apparently after he moved away<6a-c>. John was also cited in court in 1744 for payment of a debt, the same case being continued some nine months later in 1745<6d>.

From Louisa County, John apparently moved south to Amelia County, Virginia, where tax list and road order references place him between 1747 and 1751. Moving from the eastern watersheds across the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah Valley, John's name next occurs in an Augusta County Court record of 1758<7>, and then either the same John or a son, John, later in records in Botetourt County which was split from Augusta County in 1769. As of the date of this writing, John's parentage is uncertain. He could have been a son of Nicholas-I. He could also just as well have been a son of Joseph-II.   [Note added Nov. 2013 -- an updated and more complete record of John was published in the Gentry Journal for 2011, issue D in which it is proposed that John was the youngest son of Nicholas-I.]

C.  Children of Joseph-II Gentry

William Gentry
-- Born about 1712 - 1715, New Kent County (later Hanover County), Virginia;
William's date of death is unknown but was probably relatively early in life.
William is the first Gentry named in St. Paul's Parish records following Joseph, Samuel and Nicholas-II. He is mentioned only twice in any records of which we are aware, both in connection with orders for road maintenance in St. Paul's parish<8>. In 1732, he was named "if he be willing" to assist a road gang of which Joseph was a part. Three years later, he was assigned to a different road gang, and then he drops off the pages of history and we hear no more about him. There is no direct evidence of his age, but by the year 1732, William must have reached maturity, or been so close as to warrant individual consideration as a member of the parish. Otherwise, he would not have been assigned road work, or he would have been a part of a phrase such as assigning "the tithables of Joseph Gentry" which would include male members of the family over 16, slaves, and indentured servants. Counting backwards from there, William was probably born about 1712 or shortly after, which strongly favors the presumption that he was a son of Joseph-II and not a son of Nicholas.

What happened to William after 1735? Did he die soon afterwards of accident or illness? Did he move to St. Martin's parish and/or beyond and then die before records for that part of Hanover County and for Louisa County were created? Or did he wind up in a situation where he was living in St. Paul's Parish but was not included in any parish records? In either case, one can expect that he may have had children who survived to appear in various records at a later time, but William himself must have died at a relatively young age. There were a number of Gentrys living in Louisa County in the late 1700's who cannot be clearly identified as to parentage. We have speculated that some of these Gentrys may have been surviving children of William. They will be discussed more in depth in the future.

Joseph-III Gentry

-- Born probably about 1718 - 1720, New Kent County (later Hanover County), Virginia;
-- Married Susannah   --?--.
Joseph died about1788 in Hanover County.
We have already listed above, those occasions , beginning in 1759, when Joseph-III was apparently included in processioning reports. In addition, Joseph, specifically identified as "Joseph Jr.", was reimbursed by the vestry in two successive years, 1764 (p.433) and 1765 (p.437), for the care of George Cawthon for 7 months in each of those years. In the same fashion as William and James, we have to depend on the slenderest of clues in estimating Joseph's date of birth and age at the time of these records. The one clue we have to this is the 1743 vestry order assigning "Joseph Gentry Sr." to road duty. The necessity of specifying the senior Joseph implies that a younger Joseph was old enough to be recognized as an individual member of the parish, not just a child in the household. This suggests that Joseph-III was probably in his early twenties at the time, thus born about 1718. This is too early for Joseph to have been a son of William-III or James-II, nor could he have been a son of Nicholas-I. We cannot automatically expect him to be Joseph Sr.'s son because of his name. Renewing the caution given in earlier articles, in that time and place the use of the terms Senior and Junior did not necessarily imply father and son, but in this case the relationship is very probable and by default he must have been a son of Joseph-II.

Joseph Jr. appeared in Hanover County records other than parish records, in particular he was included in tax lists that have been published for the period beginning in 1782. Joseph appeared in the 1782, 1783, 1787 and 1788 land tax lists as a resident of St. Paul's Parish and owner of 100 acres. By this time he was known as Joseph Sr and there are scattered contemporary references to a Joseph Jr, his son. In 1782 also, he was also included in a special state enumeration in which he was identified as having a family consisting of five members present. In 1789, his land was listed under the name "Joseph Gentry estate". The obvious conclusion is that he died probably in 1788. His estate continued to be taxed as such for a number of years until finally in 1800, the tax list has a notation that the estate had been conveyed to Susannah Gentry.


D. Children of James-II Gentry

A brief summary is provided here of a proposed family for James Gentry.
  1. A James Gentry Jr. has been noted as being the executor of his father's estate in court proceedings in Louisa County in 1768. James is listed from 1767 to 1769 in the land tax lists with five tithables (James plus 4 slaves?) and 400 acres in St. Martin's Parish (northwest Hanover County and eastern Louisa County)<9>. He was also listed in 1778, 1780 and 1781 for personal property taxes for 1 and 5 tithables <10>. James is also listed for land taxes for 186 acres in St. Martin's Parish beginning in 1783 until the land was finally sold in 1791 (presumably by his estate, although there is no notation to that effect in the tax records)<11>. A marriage bond for what must have been the second marriage of James, to Sarah Dickerson, is dated 15 Jan 1778 in Louisa County with Thomas Poindexter as surety<13>. James moved to Guilford County, North Carolina in about 1783. A will was proved for him in 1786, in which he left his estate to his widow Sarah, to his son Watson Gentry (which included land in Hanover County on which Watson was then living), and to two daughters, Nancy Sharp and Mimey Gardner<14>.
    It is interesting to note that the land given to Watson adjoined that of William Morris, presumably the same Morris as that who was in charge of processioning the Stonehorse-Beech Creek precinct for many years and who lived there at least through 1779. This suggests that while the Gentry property was not listed in St. Paul's Parish, it was so close that it bordered land owned by Morris that was at least partly in the parish. James also owned land on Deep Swamp (apparently a tributary branch of Totopotomoy Creek) which he sold in 1783 after his move to North Carolina. We can speculate that this was land he inherited as part of the division of land held by his father in eastern Hanover County and was not land he had been farming himself.
    James appears in GFA in a bizarre entry for #219 in which the description of James and his family was combined with a description of William-III Gentry, son of Samuel- II.
  2. George Gentry, of St. Paul's Parish records, has been suggested as a possible son of James Sr.. As indicated earlier, a review of the information about his family will be published in the Gentry Journal next month, so will not be described further here. If he was indeed a son of James Sr., it is likely that he was younger than James Jr. but older than David. George is included in GFAas #185 in a section labeled "Other Gentrys".

  3. Aaron Gentry was a hypothetical brother of George Gentry. He served as a witness in 1759 for the sale of land in Goochland County by Ralph Crutchfield of St. Paul's Parish, to William Strong of St. Martin's Parish<15>. This implies that Aaron was living at the west end of St. Paul's Parish. George Gentry had a son Aaron, who was born long after the time of this Aaron, but the correspondence of names is very suggestive of a family relationship.

  4. Diana Gentry, was married by the Rev. William Douglas to George "Cothon" (Cawthon) in 1761<16>. She is another hypothetical sibling of George. This is based on the prevalence of Cawthon family members in the precinct where George lived, and the fact that George was assigned by the St. Paul's vestry to care for an Edy Cawthon. In addition, members of the Cawthon family are known to have purchased land not far from Stonehorse Creek in Goochland County.

  5. John Gentry was a probable son of James. Although he did not appear in any parish records with James, there is an appreciable number of other records for him. This includes his presence in the 1782 state enumeration of Hanover County and among those owing land taxes beginning in 1783<11,12>. John will be discussed further in a future Journal article along with a contemporaneous John Gentry of Louisa County.

  6. David Gentry's appearance in St. Paul's Parish records after the return of James-II to the parish argues strongly for his identification as a son of James. The appearance of David Gentry in 1767 as a landowner indicates that (1) he was of age by that time, and thus probably born in the vicinity of say 1740 to 1745; and (2) he must have been a son of either James or Joseph Jr. The former possibility is much the more likely because James, being the older of the two, was the most likely to have had adult children appearing first in the records, and because, like George Gentry, David's first son was named James, and neither had a son named Joseph.

    In addition to parish records, there are multiple references to David Gentry in Hanover County tax lists that begin in 1782. He appears to have been very prosperous. The listing of land taxes for 1782 to 1796 show that David owned 397 acres of land in St. Paul's Parish<11>. The lists of tithables for the period 1782 to 1815 show him with as many as nineteen slaves at one time, along with half a dozen horses which were taxed with the slaves<12>. David appears to have died shortly before 1817. A tax record for that year shows a distribution from David's estate to James Gentry Jr., Henry D. Gentry, Bassett Gentry, Elizabeth, Nancy and Susanna Gentry and Matthew Gentry.

  7. A William Gentry was probably among the sons of James. Whether he was the one in processioning orders in 1771 and 1779 is not certain. The William in the parish records was younger than David and certainly far younger than the William we have proposed as a son of Joseph-II. Based on the 1771 record and using the same rationale as for David, we can guess that William was probably born in approximately 1745 to 1748. The question of William's parentage is an unusually complicated one since there appear to have been at least three William's living contemporaneously for a period of time in Hanover County, although only one was included in parish records. We will not attempt to answer the question at this time but defer it to a later article in which a number of other Gentrys, for whom relationships are uncertain, will be analyzed together as a group.

We have discussed here two of the sons of Nicholas the Immigrant, Joseph-II (the oldest) and James-II (one of his youngest children). Many of the descendants of both of these sons remained in Hanover County and Louisa County in contrast to the families of Samuel-II, Nicholas-II, David-II (and John?). Attempts to identify later Gentrys who lived in the area have always been handicapped by the lack of historical records surviving for Hanover County, but in most cases they can be tied back simply by geography to these two sons. We plan to identify and discuss in detail a number of these descendants in future issues of this journal.


1. "The Vestry Book of St. Paul's Parish, Hanover County, Virginia, 1706-1786", transcribed & edited by C.G. Chamberlayne, publ by The Library Board [of Virginia], Richmond, 1940, reprinted 1973.
(Page references are given in text)

2. "Hanover County, Virginia, Court Records 1733-1735. Deeds, Wills, and Inventories", Rosalie Edith Davis, Manchester, MO, 1979.
  1735 Jul 1 p.6     James Gentry witnessed deed and bond.

3. "Louisa County, Virginia Orders 1767-1768" and "Louisa County, Virginia Orders 1766-1772" Ruth and Sam Sparacio, The Antietam Press, McLean, VA, 1999
(a) 1767 Apr 13 p.29 in 1767-1768 order book
  ". . . hands belonging to the estate of [blank -James?] Gentry deceased" assigned road duty.
(b) 1768 Apr 12 p.130 in 1767-1768 order book
  James Gentry, etc. Executors . . . of James Gentry, decd. . . . Plaintiff - In Debt.
  1768 Aug 9 p.217 in 1766-1772 order book
  [James Gentry case continued.]

4. Denny Ellerman, "A Preliminary Hypothesis about John Gentry of Botetourt County, Virginia", "Gentry Family Gazette and Genealogy Exchange", vol 7, p.126-133 (Oct 1989).

5. "Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants", "Vol IV (1732-1741)", edit. by Hudgins, Denis, publ by Virginia Genealogical Society, Richmond, 1994.
  1740 Jun 10 p.222 (Patent Book 18, p.693):
  John Cosby [granted] 3000 ac, Hanover Co. on both sides of Tanfat/Tanfatt fork of the Little Riv.; crossing brs. of the South fork of Elk Cr.; adj . . . John Gentry.
6. "Louisa County, Virginia Orders 1742-1744", edited and compiled by Ruth and Sam Sparacio, The Antietam Press, McLean, VA, 1999
(a) 1743 Apr 11 p.17 [27]
  John Gentry apptd Overseer of the Road
(b) 1744 Nov 13 p.100 [124]
  [Payment] . .To John Gentry for setting up a post of directions.
  "Louisa County, Virginia Orders 1744-1747"
(c) 1747 Jun 23 p.100 [232]
  Ordered that the Road wherof John Gentry was formerly Surveyor be divided . . .
(d) 1744 Oct 22 p.145 [169]
  Nathaniel Chancey agst. John Gentry - In Case.
  1745 Jul 23 p.38 [162]
  Nathaniel Chancey agst John Gentry . . . The Defendant . . . is to be returned at next court.
7. "Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia", extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1745-1800, by Lyman Chalkley, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1965
  1766 Vol I, p.492
  An Augusta County Court judgment "Christian vs. King," references some type of transaction by a John Gentry in 1758.
8.Chamberlayne Op. cit.
 1732 Apr 11 p.134 [114]
  "Order'd that the Tithables of Henry Tyler, Nich'o Madelin, Joseph Gentry, Sarah Archer, and W'm Gentry (if he be willing), be added to Peter Harralson's gang, to assist him in Clearing his road."
 1735 Oct 18 p.144 [121]
  "Orderd, that there be added to Edw'd Sims gang, W'm Gentry, Alex'r Kersey and Nich'o Needin."

9. "Louisa County Virginia Tithables and Census 1743 - 1785", edited and compiled by Rosalie Edith Davis, Manchester, Mo., 1988.
  St. Martin's Parish tithes - acres  
  p.6 1767 James Gentry 5-400  
  p.15 1768 James Gentry   Jno Watson 5-400  
  p.20 1769 Gentry, James 6-400 s. Side of South Anna River

10. Davis, Op. cit.
  p.127 1778 James Gentry 1 tithe
  p.120 1780 James Gentry 5
  p.136 1781 James Gentry 5

11. "Hanover County, Virginia, Land Tax Books", compiled and edited by Ruth and Sparacio, The Antietam Press, McLean, VA, 1997, Book I (1782--1788), Book 2 (1789-1793), Book 3 (1793-1796)
[Entries re-arranged and consolidated]
  Joseph Gentry   St. Paul's Parish
  1782-1783    100 ac.
  1787-1788   100
  Joseph Gentry est   St. Paul's Parish
  1789-1790   100
  1792-1796   100
  David Gentry   St. Paul's Parish
  1782-1783   397
  1787-1790   397
  1792-1796   397
  James Gentry   St. Martin's district
  1783   186
  1788-1790   186
  1791sold land -186
  John Gentry   St. Paul's Parish
  1787-1790     40
  1792-1796     40
  George Gentry
  1788sold land   -66 1/2
  William Gentry   St. Paul's Parish
  1794bought land      6
  1795       6
  1795bought addl    39
  1796       6
  1796     39

12. "Hanover County Taxpayers, St. Paul's Parish, 1782-1815", compiled by William Ronald Cocke III, Columbia, VA, 1956 Unless another individual indicated, also taxed for 1 adult (himself).
    slaves horses cattle  
David Gentry 1782 19 3 25
  1783 Petitioner 18 3 25
  1784 17 3 26
  1786-87 17 53 28
  1788-1803 11 5 -
  1805-12 14 5 -
John Gentry 1783 1 2 3
  1784-85 0 1 -
  1786 Patrick Gentry, a minor 0 2 3
  1787-89 0 1 -
  1790 + 1 adult 0 2 -
  1791-1803 0 2 -
  1805-09 0 1 -
  1812 + 1 adult 0 3 -
  1815 0 2 3
Joseph Gentry Sr. 1782 1 0 3
   (Sr. or Jr.?) 1783 0 4 7
         " 1785 0 2 4
Joseph Gentry Jr. 1783 0 0 3
   (Sr. or Jr.?) 1784 0 0 0
  1785 0 1 3
  1786 0 1 3
  1788-89 0 1 -
  1790 0 1 -
  1791-93 0 1 -
  1794-95 0 0 -
Susanna Gentry 1786-87 0 1 8
  1788-92 0 1 -

13. "Marriages of Louisa County 1766-1815", compiled by Kathleen Booth Williams, 1977, C. J. Carrier Co.
  1778 Jan 15 James Gentry   to    Sarah Dickerson Sur: William Poindexter
14. "Rockingham County North Carolina Will Abstracts 1785-1865", abstracted by Irene B. Webster, Southern Historical Press, Easley, SC, 1984. [Includes box of old wills discovered in 1957 in Rockingham Co. courthouse, that had never been recorded. Photostatic copies bound into a book entitled, "Old Wills Discovered in Office Dated Prior to 1804".]
  1783 Sep 28 p.6 Probate Feb 1786, County of Guilford, State of North Carolina.
  Will of James Gentry: to wife Sarah; son Watson Gentry, land in Hanover Co., VA adj William Morris; daughters Nancy and Minny [Mimey].
15. File c6320001.txt, <>, transcribed by Karen L. Salisbury from Goochland County, Virginia records
  1759 Sep 6
  INDENTURE between Ralph Crutchfield and Alce, his wife of the Parish of St. Pauls in the County of Hanover of the one part and William Strong and Frances his wife of St. Martins Parish and County of Hanover aforesaid of the other part, . . . for . . . the sum of eighty five pounds . . . doth hereby . . . sell . . . land . . . in the County of Goochland containing by estimation one hundred and fifteen acres . . . lying on the Branches of Allens Creek in the aforesaid County of Goochland . . . [Wit: William Hawes, Adam Hunter, Aaron Gentry; Signed: Ralph Crutchfield]
16. The Douglas Register", transcribed and edited by W. Mac. Jones, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1977 (reprinted), p.65
  A. Marriages by William Douglas
  1761 Mar 22 Gentry, Diana    to    George Cothan both in this parish

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