Issue E
October 2011
Home Page and Index

Part A. Gentrys in the South Carolina Militia

Part B. David and Richard Gentry, War Veterans, Revisited

Willard Gentry

Part A. Gentrys Serving in Loyalist Militia during the Revolution

It has been estimated that roughly one-third of South Carolinians remained loyal to the Crown during the Revolution. The fact that at least three Gentrys, and probably others, were Loyalists therefore should not come as a surprise to Gentry historians. The situation was very much like that in Border states during the Civil War when families were split in their loyalties, each believing their cause was right. Some of these Loyalists were more passionate in their beliefs than others and a significant number left South Carolina after the war to settle in places like Arcadia, in Nova Scotia. The Gentry Loyalists appear to have been moderate or marginal in their loyalty, for they remained in the state and were eventually re-habilitated. In September 1781, just before the Battle of Yorktown, the Governor of South Carolina offered a pardon to Loyalist militia who were willing to submit to certain conditions including serving in the Patriot militia for six months. In February 1782, with the British still stationed in Charleston, the General Assembly passed the Confiscation Act<1> which confiscated the property of named individuals and ordered that their estates be sold at public auction. The list of names was fiercely debated and started with some 940 names but was finally pared to a little over 200 and three auctions were held during 1782 to sell most of these properties and replenish the state coffers.

Records of Loyalist militia payments show Hezekiah, Robert, and William Gentry received pay for various lengths of service in the militia, mostly for the period between mid-June and mid-December 1780 beginning shortly after the capture of Charleston by the British in May of that year<2> . (Apparently overlapping periods of service in different militia companies for Robert and William probably represented short periods of service within the six-month pay period, for which the soldier was paid for the number of days actually served.) References to Hezekiah (or "Ezekiah") private, undoubtedly represent Hezekiah Jr., the brother of Robert, not their father, Hezekiah Sr., who by that time was more than fifty years old. References to a William Gentry for service in 1782 cannot be explained by any of the William Gentrys who were nephews of Hezekiah Sr. He was probably an otherwise undocumented (probably the youngest) and unmarried son of Hezekiah who died long before the rest of Hezekiah's family was identified in Hezekiah's will of 1820.

It is undoubtedly significant that in 1782, in the tax lists of Surry County, North Carolina, there appeared the names of Hezekiah, Robert, Runnels [Reynolds] and Nathaniel Gentry with a liability for tax on their horses but none for any land holdings.. They were listed along with Gentry cousins and brothers who had settled in Surry County a dozen years earlier. In 1783, the names of all four men were missing, and they are presumed to have returned to South Carolina. This appears to have been a case of finding a brief excursion to North Carolina being preferable to remaining at home where local feeling may have been running against them. That they returned to the good graces of their neighbors is shown by that fact that by 1784 Hezekiah had applied for and been granted title to three plots of land in South Carolina's Ninety-Six District. The same happened for Nathaniel who was granted land in 1786. To complete the picture with respect to the David-II Gentry family, Hezekiah's brothers, Cain, Elijah, John, and Simon were credited with service in the Patriot militia during the period from 1780 and 1782<3>. Richard Gentry, a fifth Gentry who served with Patriot forces is treated at length below.

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Part B. Ancestry of David and Richard Gentry

For years, long before the start of the Journal of Gentry Genealogy, there have been questions and some controversy about the family connections of the two Revolutionary War Veterans, David Gentry of Virginia and Tennessee, and Richard Gentry of South Carolina and Kentucky. We have written about them in this journal - an entire issue devoted to David, originally in issue B, 2007, which was recently revised. Richard Gentry has had less space devoted to him, but he has appeared from time to time as a subsidiary concern, plus a short section devoted to him in issue 10, vol. 2 (2002), and another section as a part of issue 3, vol. 3 (2003)<4>.

The two men were born within a year or two of each other, Richard in Lunenburg County, Virginia in December 1755; David at an unknown location in Virginia in about 1753. In both cases, what little we know about their background and early life has been taken from court testimony in petitions for a Revolutionary War pension and other benefits. In neither case is there any mention of their parentage and relation to other Gentrys. It will be profitable to consider both of these men in turn for they have been closely linked in suggestions in the genealogical literature as to the identity of their fathers for many years. To assist in discussing them and distinguishing them from their respective namesakes, we shall use the same convention for each. Our subjects we shall refer to as David-RWV and Richard-RWV. To identify other Davids of concern, we shall use the name David-II to apply to the second-generation David, son of Nicholas the Immigrant. Successive generations of Davids will then be referred to as David-III (son of David-II) and a presumed fourth-generation David as David-IV. Similarly, Richard-III will refer to the son of Samuel-II and grandson of Nicholas-I. Richard-IV will be used for a fourth-generation Richard who is presumed to be a son of Richard-III. We will also have occasion to refer to John-II and John-III.

David-RWV Gentry
We will start our discussion with a close examination of this David who lived in Jackson and Overton Counties, Tennessee during his later years. In various private and public genealogies, county histories (such as "History of Fentress County, Tennessee" and the like), etc., David is most often described as being the son of Nicholas-III who was a son of Nicholas-II. The latter connection comes about because of the mistaken entry in "The Gentry Family in America"<5> for the David who was truly the son of Nicholas-III. This fourth-generation David was an entirely different David than David-RWV. His sons, and then he, himself, moved from Virginia to Buncombe County, North Carolina and eventually died there. They had no connection with Tennessee whatsoever. The next most common choice as a father of the veteran David, is David-III, a son of David-II, who moved to South Carolina. This David is indeed a possibility as a father of David-RWV but there are a number of problems connected to this choice. In brief, this writer has rejected David-III as a choice for the father of David-RWV, but does think he is a possible candidate for father of the other war veteran, Richard-RWV.

The only thing we know about the background of David-RWV comes from his pension application, #W7511, on file in the National Archives together with a bounty land warrant application BLWt 31908-160-55, submitted by his widow, Sarah, after David's death<6a>. We have summarized this information in earlier articles but will repeat it here in a little more detail to see if there are any clues there that will help us in making judgments about David's early life. Statements made in the County Court of Jackson County, Tennessee, in connection with these applications are the basis of most of what we know about David and his widow, Sarah. Prompted by an Act of Congress, the Revolutionary Claim Act of 1832, David entered a claim for a pension in 1834. David appeared in person at the court sessions on 11 Feb 1834, and was described as being a resident of Jackson County, and age eighty (which considering the timing of the court session gives one an estimate of date of birth as probably 1753, or possibly early 1754).

David's testimony opened with a description of his military service most of which can be closely verified by the historical facts. He began with his enlistment in the militia in Bedford County, Virginia, in mid-1780. The historical basis for this was a call-to-arms for militia in Virginia, North Carolina, and the settlements "Over the Mountains", claimed by North Carolina that eventually became Tennessee. General Cornwallis was advancing westward in South Carolina after capturing Charleston and badly defeated Patriot forces at the battle of Camden. New London, where David presumably signed-up and which no longer exists, was the county seat and only town of Bedford County. It was a center of business and transportation, the location of an arsenal, and a mustering ground for Virginia militia. The fact that David enlisted there is undoubtedly because of the nature of the militia call and did not necessarily indicate that he had been living in Bedford County prior to his enlistment. David's home, however, surely was in the general vicinity of that location.

David enlisted "for during the war" rather than for the typical three-month period, and was placed in a company that was a part of the militia of Surry and Wilkes County, North Carolina, commanded by Colonel Benjamin Cleveland. In his application, David traces his steps after leaving New London, going first to Richmond, county seat of Surry County, North Carolina, where he joined the remainder of Col. Cleveland's regiment. After only a short time, the regiment marched to join the rest of the gathering Patriot militia forces at Kings Mountain, South Carolina. There in a pivotal battle, a Patriot militia force defeated a Loyalist force that was composed entirely of American militia troops, the only Britisher being its commander, Col. Ferguson. This force had been sent westward in South Carolina by General Cornwallis to support the local loyalist militia and to pave the way for an advance in that direction by Cornwallis' own troops. This battle, fought 7 Oct 1780, was an overwhelming victory for Patriot forces resulting in the death of Col. Ferguson and of a large number of Loyalist soldiers. Some 600 prisoners were captured and over the next few weeks, marched to North Carolina.

To briefly describe the rest of the Southern campaign and David's part in it, Cornwallis, whose headquarters at the time were at Charlotte Town, North Carolina, sent a force of picked British regular troops westward under the command of a Col. Tarleton. This was to prevent a suspected attack by Patriots at Ninety-Six, where a British fort was located in western South Carolina, and to put down any Patriot militia forces they encountered. Patriot militia and Continental Army forces, now under the overall leadership of General Nathaniel Greene, gathered again and another group of South and North Carolina, Virginia, and "Over the Mountain" militia under the leadership of Col. Daniel Morgan, met Tarleton's troops at a clearing called Cowpens (so-called because it was used for pasturing cows), in South Carolina on 17 Jan 1781. After a masterfully-planned and executed tactical battle, Morgan's forces decimated the best the British had to offer. Tarleton barely escaped, and his troops were completely routed. This battle and a subsequent one at Guilford Court House in North Carolina (which the British won after much effort) effectively ended Gen. Cornwallis' hopes of taking control of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. He withdrew from the territory and headed north for Virginia to get reinforcements and reprovision his forces. As every schoolchild knows, he was finally defeated by General Washington at Yorktown and surrendered his forces on 19 Oct 1781, a year and 12 days from the date of the battle at Kings Mountain.

After the battle of Kings Mountain, David was assigned to a different regiment than his original one and participated in an attack on Georgia Loyalist militia at Augusta, Georgia, then in the battle of Cowpens. Following that battle, he was reassigned to Col. Cleveland's regiment and accompanied it to Mulberry Fields (the county seat of Wilkes County, later renamed as Wilkesboro), and then to the "Moravian Towns" (Salem and Betharaba, at that time a part of Surry County, North Carolina). These locations are shown on Map 1 below. David did not say what his assignment was during this time. He may have been guarding prisoners or at this point it is very possible that David was released briefly from active duty. His creditable service for pension purposes was only six months, which would cover the months from September (prior to the battle of King's Mountain) to March (following the battle of Guilford Court House). While David did not take part in the latter battle, it marked the end of the Southern Campaign for Lord Cornwallis who then left the Carolinas behind and went up into Virginia. The Patriot general in charge of the Southern Campaign, Gen. Nathaniel Greene, did not follow him into Virginia where Continental troops under Washington were stationed. Instead, he stopped at the North Carolina line and remained in the south to preserve order in the Carolinas, where there were still frequent military clashes between Loyalist and Patriot militia forces (in North Carolina they called themselves Tories and Whigs). As for militia action in Virginia, Governor Thomas Jefferson, who proved to be a very ineffective wartime governor, was reluctant to call up militia for any military action for longer than a few weeks, because he felt the state could not support any military forces other than the Continental Army.

Map, 1780
Map 1
Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, 1780
(Shaded counties contained Gentrys in 1780-1790)

With the campaign in North Carolina over, and Jefferson being unwilling to contest Cornwallis' march through Virginia, David may have had several months of inactive service before he was formally mustered out of the militia in North Carolina. This was at Shallowford, a gathering point on the Yadkin River in Surry County. During the interim, there is a record in Lunenburg County, Virginia, of a David Gentry witnessing a deed in May 1781< 7 >. This was a deed for land along the Nottaway River on the border between Lunenburg County and Amelia County (in an area apart from that formerly occupied in Lunenburg County by the Samuel and David Gentry families). The only other David that could have been there at that time besides David-RWV, was David-III who had presumably left Lunenburg County fifteen years earlier. It is difficult to rationalize the latter's presence in Virginia, when he was presumed to have been in South Carolina from 1766 onwards. The location of this deed was close enough to Shallowford that David-RWV could have been the individual involved. David may have been furloughed from his militia unit giving him time to spare in this area of Virginia where he may have lived before or after the war.

At Shallowford, David was mustered out of service, probably in early 1782, and was free of any further obligations. At that point, David's description of his activities ends and he had no more to say about what he did next. He described his service as being two years (which would be mid-1780 to early 1782). He was given credit for pension purposes only for six months service for his time with Colonel Cleveland and the pension board awarded him $70 in pension arrears up to 4 Sep 1834 and $10 semi-annually from then on for life.

There follows a sizeable gap in our knowledge of David's activities. For this article, the only purpose of considering them is as an aid to understanding where he had lived during his early life. There are reports, especially in the LDS Ancestry Files that he married an Elizabeth J. or Eliza J. Smith who had been born in Louisa County. Whether the name is right or not, it certainly is probable that he was married in this time. A proposed oldest son, Jesse, was born probably by about 1783. (The 1850 federal mortality schedule lists Jesse as dying in May 1850 at age 70, born in North Carolina. This age does not quite match the timing of David's militia service. Census records in 1830 and 1840 show him as being born between 1781 and 1790.) David's residence in south central Virginia is not inconsistent with his wife being a native of Louisa County. We don't believe that David himself spent any time in Louisa County or its vicinity at this period of time. Tax lists for Louisa and Hanover Counties during the 1760's to 1790's show only two Davids, one who was the son of Nicholas-II and one who was a son of James-II. There have been many speculations that David spent some time in South Carolina (which were based on the thought that he was a son of David-III), but there is no evidence to support this.

We can summarize as follows:

David's proposed first wife, Elizabeth, is commonly described as having died in 1801 in Overton County, Tennessee (which was non-existant at that time). Because David later lived there for many years, this account of Elizabeth's death is probably an artifact -- a gratuitous insertion of information into the record of David's family by eager genealogists. We do know that David was married in 1807, presumably for the second time, to Sarah Gentry, his surviving widow, probably in a part of Rutherford County, Tennessee, that later became Bedford County. We know further that he spent the rest of his life in Jackson and Overton Counties, Tennessee.

The Ancestry of David-RWV
In the absence of other proof, evidence for the ancestry of David depends strongly on several factors:

The map shown here will be helpful in considering which Gentry families were located geographically in areas that might logically lead to a relationship with David-RWV and Richard-RWV.

Map with
Map 2
Expansion of Map 1 to show South Carolina Districts

David's military enlistment in Bedford County, Virginia, effectively rules out South Carolina as a residence immediately prior to his enlistment. This poses a problem with the many proposals that David-RWV was a son of David-III (son of David-II). All the rest of the family of David-II had moved south from Lunenburg County, Virginia, by 1766 shortly after David-II died. There is some question as to the timing of David-III's move, but he was in Pendleton District, South Carolina, in 1790. If David-RWV was a part of that family, why was he living along the Virginia-North Carolina border when all the rest of the descendants of David-II were living in South Carolina? And if he had lived in South Carolina for a time, why did he go back up north?

David-RWV could possibly have been a member of either the third or the fourth generation of Gentrys, starting with Nicholas-I, depending on whether he was descended from Nicholas' oldest son, Joseph-II, or one of Nicholas' youngest sons. David's date of birth effectively limits the choice of his father to those Gentrys born before approximately 1730 to 1733. A brief table of these possibilities is given here. The dates of birth in most cases are very approximate.

2nd-Generation 3rd-Generation Born Comments
Joseph-II William 1710 Children very speculative, born from approx. 1742 to 1758?
Believed to have remained in Louisa and Hanover Counties.
Joseph-III 1720 Children born approx. 1748 to 1863, all in Hanover Co.
Samuel-II Nicholas, Joseph, Allen, Simon, Richard, William 1717
All moved from Louisa to Lunenburg County, then all but Simon (who had only daughters) moved on to NC.
Children all sufficiently known as to exclude David.
No known Davids in this family.
Nicholas-II David, Robert, Nicholas-III 1722
Moved to Albemarle County then Kentucky or Tennessee.
Children sufficiently known to exclude David-RWV.
Note. Richard Gentry in "The Gentry Family in America" confuses David-RWV with the David who was a son of Nicholas-III. The latter David lived in Carolina County, Virginia, and followed his sons to Buncombe County, North Carolina where they and he died.
Benajah 1733 Oldest child born about 1760. Children sufficiently known that it would be very unexpected if they included David.
James-II James-III 1732 Moved from Louisa and Hanover Counties to Guilford County, NC in 1781. Will included Watson born 1761, two daughters, no David.
George 1735 Lived in Hanover, then Louisa, then Albemarle County.
Oldest child, James, born 1761.
Children named in will, did not include any David
David-II Hezekiah 1729 Accompanied parents from Louisa to Lunenburg Counties, VA, then joined mother in SC in Edgefield and Abbeville Districts.
Children all accounted for in will.
David-III 1733 Most common proposal for son of David-RWV. (See discussion).
John-II (Speculation)
David (?)
Lived in Louisa, Amelia and Botetourt Counties

The family of John of Botetourt County, Virginia, has never been suggested as a possible family for David-RWV to this writers knowledge, but there are some aspects of this family that make it a serious contender. A re-evaluation of this family has recently been published in the Journal of Gentry Genealogy< 8 > with the contention that:

If these hypotheses are true, there is reason to suspect that while living in Amelia or Augusta Counties, John-II had a son David born about 1753, who was David-RWV. If so, David left Botetourt County at an early age to live elsewhere. He does not appear in the list of tithables for that county which recorded the presence of John Gentry in 1773 to 1775 nor in other county records. Among other considerations, the name "David" fits the observed fact that those sons of Nicholas-I who were born of his proposed second wife all had children and grandchildren named David, whereas the name is not found among the families of the sons of Nicholas' first wife.

In summary, we suggest that David-RWV was a son of John-II Gentry who lived in Louisa, Amelia, and Augusta (Botetourt) Counties. We suggest David left Botetourt County and the rest of his family before 1773 when he came of age and settled in Bedford or a neighboring county until he was called up for service in 1780. We have described his further activities above.

Richard-RWV Gentry
Next we will go on to review the information available about Richard-RWV. We shall then consider both together in speculating as to their ancestry. Like David, the background of Richard Gentry is found entirely in the records of his application for a pension in 1832 and an application for a bounty land warrant by his widow Gestin (also "Justin", "Justina", "Justiney" and "Gestiney") in 1855<6b>. In the pension application in Rockcastle, Kentucky, County court Richard testified that he had enlisted in the South Carolina militia in Union District, South Carolina, (no date given). [As in the case of David above, this enlistment may have been at a neighboring mustering place and not necessarily where he was living. Later Gentrys are known to have lived along the lower Tyger River in Spartanburg District, close to the Union District boundary line.] He participated in both the battle of Kings Mountain and Cowpens as a guard for the baggage trains rather than as a direct military participant. The records show no other military engagements but he was credited with thirteen months service as a private with the militia. The records available do not show where or when he left military service. We can assume that he probably enlisted at about the same time as David-RWV shortly after the capture of Charleston by the British in May 1780. Thirteen months service would bring him approximately to the time of the battle of Yorktown when South Carolina militia units may have disbanded for lack of any further need.

Richard stated at the time of his court appearance that he would be seventy-seven years old as of the next December 27th (year of birth being 1755), and on being questioned, stated that he was born in Lunenburg County, Virginia. Richard went on to say that he lived three years in Lincoln County, Kentucky, before moving to Rockcastle County. Richard died 13 Feb 1836 in Rockcastle County.

Richard's widow, Gestin, testified on a number of times subsequent to Richard's death to establish her right for a widow's pension and then later to apply for bounty land warrants. Most of the testimony was taken up with establishing the fact that she married Richard before a justice of the peace in Surry County, North Carolina in the spring of 1792 (her cousin testifying on her behalf remembered the date as 1793). She confirmed the fact that Richard had enlisted in South Carolina, but interestingly, she remarked that she had known him from his visiting or living briefly in Surry County, before he returned to take up residence there after the war. She stated further that she and Richard continued to live in Surry County for a number of years before moving to Kentucky and that they had children born in each state.

To complete the picture of Richard's time in North Carolina, we turn to tax lists for Surry County which are unusually complete. They show a Richard Gentry paying taxes in the county beginning in 1771. This was Richard-III, son of Samuel-II. He was listed again in 1772, then there was a gap during the war until the lists resumed in 1782. This senior Richard owned 180 acres on Fox Knob, a promontory in the section of Surry County that eventually became Yadkin County. Over a period of years until 1802, roughly ten years before his death, he was taxed for this land, usually for 180 acres, sometimes for 200 acres. Richard-III had a son, Richard Jr. who was about the same age as Richard-RWV, and Surry County records become confusing in trying to sort out which was which during the time that they overlapped residence in the county. Beginning in 1791, a "Richard Gentry Jr" was taxed for 50 acres of land in the same tax district as Richard Sr, being listed next to Nicholas Gentry Jr., also a son of Richard Sr. [The suffix "Jr" did not necessarily indicate a son at that time, but was sometimes used for recognition of an older and a younger individual of the same name, for example Nicholas Jr. was not the son of Nicholas Sr.] For a period of years extending to 1801, Richard-III and sons appeared annually in the tax lists. We have said that Richard Jr. (Richard-IV) was taxed beginning in 1791. Son Simon joined the lists in 1793 and William was added in 1798. During this time, the acreage of land for which they were taxed fluctuated back and forth in being divided among different family members but the total for the family remained nearly the same.

The identification of Richard-RWV appearing in the tax lists cannot be made unambiguously. He does not appear to be included in the records until 1799 when he bought at a sheriff's sale at public auction, 80 acres of land that had been seized from his father-in-law, Ayres Hudspeth. This seems to be reflected in the 1804 tax lists when a Richard Gentry was taxed for 80 acres. But on the other hand, a Richard Gentry Jr. was taxed for 80 acres in 1796 to 1798. This could have been a case of Richard-RWV being taxed for farming land owned by his father-in-law. He does not appear again after 1804 and is assumed to have left for Kentucky soon after. This is consistent with census records that show his oldest son, David, being born about 1797, his son John born about 1800, both in North Carolina, and the only other son whose birth place can be identified, Richard Lee, being born in Kentucky about 1810. The best that can be said for the tax list and deed records of Surry County in that period of time is that they confirmed his presence in the county in 1799 at the time of his purchase of land, and the tax lists do not show any indication of his ownership of land in the years following the war up to possibly 1796.

Census records for Surry County are only partially helpful in sorting out the three Richards. In 1790, census records show Richard Jr. with two sons under the age of sixteen and apparently two daughters in addition to his wife and himself. This clearly could not be Richard-RWV who had not yet married Gestin unless he had some children by a first marriage who then were missing from later Kentucky records. Moreover, the 1790 Richard's family is entirely consistent with a Richard Gentry family that was present in 1810 in Pulaski County, Kentucky, that is believed to be Richard-IV. Both younger Richards were missing from the 1800 Surry County census, although Richard Sr., and three of his sons, Nicholas, Simon, and William are shown.

Richard-RWV testified to being in South Carolina when he enlisted, and the records show that he was in Surry County, North Carolina, some ten years after the war ended. What did he do in that time interval. The answer is that we simply don't know. Because of the fact that he was born and raised in Lunenburg County, Virginia, it would not have been unusual for him to at least visit in Surry County where all the Gentrys of sufficient age there had moved from Lunenburg County. If Richard married in that earlier interval there certainly is no record of such marriage or of any children resulting from marriage. The lack of any tax records indicates that married or not, he did not spend any time in Surry County before the time that he came to stay.

After leaving Surry County, Richard testified that he spent three years in Lincoln County, Kentucky, then moved to the adjoining county of Rockcastle where he lived until he died. Census records for him not only are missing for 1800 in Surry County, but are also missing for 1810 which may have been just about the time he was moving. He was included in the 1820 census but not 1830. His widow, Gestin, was living until at least 1855 when she applied for bounty land warrants. She appears to have been living with her son Richard Lee Gentry in Rockcastle County in 1840 and with a grandson, Thomas, in Pulaski County in 1850.

The Ancestry of Richard-RWV
The fact that Richard-RWV was born in Lunenburg very much restricts the possible parents for him. All of the children of Samuel-II and David-II and only those families lived in that county during the time Richard was born. Neither one of these patriarchs was the father of Richard so we have to look at his sons. When we consider the Samuel-II family, all but the youngest sons would have been old enough to be considered, although some of them just barely so.

We can quickly eliminate four of Samuel's sons. Joseph Gentry had three sons, none of them named Richard, and many daughters, all named in his will of 1804. Allen Gentry moved from Lunenburg County to Caswell County, North Carolina, rather than to Surry County where most of the rest of the family went. His will, written in 1801, includes three sons and two daughters, but no Richard. Simon Gentry can be excluded. He moved from Lunenburg County north to Cumberland County, Virginia, where he lived and was reported for many years until he died in 1792, leaving his property to two daughters -- he had no sons. Finally, an assumed son of Samuel-II, namely John, died in Lunenburg County in 1761 leaving an orphan son, Joseph, who was placed under the guardianship of his grandfather Samuel. There is no record of there being any other children besides that son.

There is much that can be said in favor of Nicholas-III being the father of Richard. His two oldest sons, Nicholas Jr., and Samuel had settled in South Carolina rather than Surry County, North Carolina, after the family left Virginia. If Richard-RWV had joined them there he would probably have come back to Surry County on numerous occasions to visit his family. This would account for the fact that his future wife, Gestin Hudspeth, had known him before their marriage. It would also explain why he returned there to settle after the war. Even his name fits this family for his maternal grandfather would have been Richard Brooks. Set against this is the need to reconcile the dates of birth of Richard and Nicholas' son Arthur (Artha). In the 1820 census for Pendleton District, South Carolina, Artha was listed as being born before 1755. Then in the 1850 census for Anderson District, South Carolina, Arthur was listed as age 94 (born in 1756). The census also lists him as being born in North Carolina rather than Virginia, and given his age, the census report leaves room for some doubt. We know Richard was born in December 1755, so a date of birth for Artha, say in either 1754 or 1757, would be very reasonable if Richard was a brother. We also need to account for the report of tithables in Nicholas' household in 1771 and 1772. There were three reported in 1771 which would represent Nicholas, his son Allen, and one other son born in 1755 or before (age sixteen) which suggests that this was Artha. In 1772, Allen was taxed separately and there were two tithables in Nicholas' household. If Richard was living with Nicholas at that time, he would have been liable for tax, whereas presumably not in 1771. The one surviving list for 1774 is for a different district than that in which Nicholas was living. No records survive for the period from 1775 to 1780. By 1781, Nicholas, Allen, and Artha were all listed separately.

Another possibility is that Richard-RWV was the Richard who was a son of Richard-III. For years, the late Leland Gentry of Salt Lake City, a very distinguished and knowledgeable expert in Gentry genealogy, contended that this was so. We agreed on many things, but this writer argued with him about this and we agreed to disagree. We have mentioned above the difficulty in unambiguously reconciling the census reports and tax lists between Richard-RWV and a Richard Jr. In addition this writer is of the opinion that Richard-III was not living in Lunenburg County in 1755 at the time of Richard-RWV's birth. He had probably remained behind in Louisa County, Virginia, to care for the remnants of his father's land when the rest of the Samuel-II family left during a period of several years from 1748 to 1751. The last of Samuel's property in Louisa County was sold in 1762 and Richard was one of the witnesses to that sale. Richard's name appears in Lunenburg County records as early as 1759, just once, when he witnessed a deed along with his brother Joseph, but he may have just been visiting then. Otherwise, records for him do not occur until 1763 and after.

The second major alternative is that Richard-RWV was a grandson of David-II Gentry. Looking at his family, the only sons of David that would be old enough to be a father of Richard were Hezekiah and David-III. The former's family has been well established from the evidence of his will (written in 1820) in particular and does not leave room for the presence of a Richard. An argument can be put forth to the effect that Richard was the oldest son of David-III. The age of the father, born about 1733, is just barely appropriate; he lived many years as a part of the David-II Gentry family in Lunenburg County; was there at the time of Richard's birth; and he moved to South Carolina from Virginia, joining all of his siblings there. In addition, Richard named his first son, David, a name which was not used among the members of the Samuel-II Gentry family with the exception of one grandson of Richard-III. Whereas most of David-II's family settled in Edgefield District, in 1790 Nathaniel was in Spartanburg District and David was in Pendleton District. Before that time there are only a very few scattered references to Gentrys in South Carolina and none for David or for a Richard.. At the time of the 1790 census he was living in Pendleton District with three sons and presumably three daughters (or perhaps one daughter-in-law) still living with him. David received two land grants totaling 151 acres in Pendleton District during 1790 and 1791. In 1795, he sold all his livestock and furniture and presumably died soon after, but in 1800 his son Joel was living in Laurens District and his son David-IV was living in Greenville District, both adjoining Pendleton District (see Map 2). In common with the rest of the Gentry family, there is a lack of any references to David or his family for the period before and during the first years of the Revolutionary War. David's presence in what was then Ninety-Six District would explain the possibility that a son Richard would have responded to a call to militia service in Union County (part of Ninety-Six District).

To assist in deciding between Richard being a son of Nicholas-III and David-III, two alternative family groups are given below. On balance, considering Richard's connections with Surry County, it seems to this writer that Nicholas was the more likely father and Alternative One is the appropriate family group.

Alternative One
Nicholas-III Gentry

  – born about 1717, Hanover County, Virginia
– married about 1743, Louisa, County, Virginia, Mary Brooks
Nicholas died about 1800, Surry County, North Carolina
  Children of Nicholas and Mary
i Nicholas Gentry Jr. born about 1744, Louisa County, Virginia; married Elizabeth Gibson; died about 1782, Davidson County, North Carolina (later Tennessee).
ii Samuel Gentry born about 1748, Louisa County, Virginia; married Frances --?--; died about 1818, Spartanburg District, South Carolina.
iii Allen Gentry born about 1751, Lunenburg County, Virginia; married Elizabeth Waddell; died 1824, Wilkes County, South Carolina.
iv Arthur Gentry (also Artha, Atha, Athe) born about 1754, Lunenburg County, Virginia; died 1851, Cobb County, Georgia.
v (Speculation) Richard Gentry born 1755, Lunenburg County, Virginia; married 1792, Surry County, North Carolina, Justina/Gestin Hudspeth; died 1836, Rockcastle County, Kentucky.
vi Agnes Gentry born about 1758, Lunenburg County, Virginia; married 1788, Surry County, North Carolina, Amariah Felton.
vii Jane Gentry born about 1761, Lunenburg County, Virginia; married 1788, Wilkes County, North Carolina, Jacob Lyon.
viii John Gentry born about 1764, Lunenburg County, Virginia; married Ruth --?--; died 1835, Campbell County, Georgia.

Alternative Two
David-III Gentry

  – born about 17, Hanover County, Virginia
David died about 1795-1800, Pendleton District, South Carolina.
  Children of David:
i (Speculation) Richard Gentry born 1755, Lunenburg County, Virginia; married 1792, Surry County, North Carolina, Justina/Gestin Hudspeth; died 1836, Rockcastle County, Kentucky.
ii (Speculation) John Gentry born about 1758-1762, Lunenburg County, Virginia; married Sarah --?--.
iii Joel Gentry born about 1765, Lunenburg County, Virginia; married Hannah --?--; died after 1850, Laurens District, South Carolina.
iv,v (Two Daughters?) born before 1790.
vi David Gentry Jr born about 1774; married (2) 1820, Baldwin County, Alabama, Nancy Highland; died before 1840, Baldwin County, Alabama?

Conclusion - Part B
We have seen that the Revolutionary War veterans, David and Richard were similar in the fact that for the first thirty-five years or so of their lives, we know nothing of their history aside from a brief interlude during the war. They were born within a few years of each other, both in Virginia, but then their paths diverged. David entered the militia from Virginia and appears to have remained in the vicinity of Virginia and the border counties of North Carolina before migrating westward to Tennessee. Richard entered the militia from South Carolina and presumably returned there for a time before moving north to North Carolina. Like David, he also remained for only a few years and then migrated north and west to Kentucky.

We have attempted to rationalize the most logical answer as to who was the father of each man. In the case of David, many factors point towards John-II Gentry, father of the John Gentry of Botetourt County, Virginia, and possible son of Nicholas-I. In the case of Richard, we propose Nicholas-III Gentry of Lunenburg County, Virginia, and Surry County, North Carolina, son of Samuel-II Gentry.


1, Estate Confiscation Act of 26 February 1782, "The Statutes at Large of South Carolina (Volume 4, Part 2)" by Thomas Cooper and David J. McCord (first published in 1836-1841), pages 516-523
South Carolina No. 1153 - "AN ACT for disposing of certain Estates, and banishing certain persons, therein mentioned."
2. Clark, Murtie June, "Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War", Vol I, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Md, 1981,
Pay Abstracts
Hezekiah Gentry, pvt, ... 14 Jun - 14 Dec 1780 ...
Robert Gentrey, pvt, and Ezekiah Gentrey, pvt., ...14-Jun -13 Dec 1780 ...
Robert Gentrey, pvt., ... 13 Jun -14 Dec 1780 ...
William Gentry, pvt ... 6 May - 2 Aug 1782 ... 6 Aug - 6 Oct 1782 ... - 11 Dec 1782 ...
3. "Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution", by Bobby Gilmer Moss, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1985, p. 350:
 Gentry, Cain served in militia under Capt. Dawson, 1781 and 1782.
 Gentry, Elijah served as private in militia.
  Gentry, John served in militia after fall of Charleston.
 Gentry, Simon served as sergeant in the militia after the fall of Charleston.
4. "Journal of Gentry Genealogy", vol 2, #4 (2002), David Gentry, Revolutionary War Veteran, withdrawn and reissued as Issue B (2007).
Ibid, vol 2, #10 (2002), The Sons of Samuel-II Gentry Part 5, Richard Gentry and Family
Ibid, vol 3, #3 (2003), The Spartanburg, South Carolina, Gentrys Part 7, The Sons of Samuel-II Gentry
URL: <>
5. Richard Gentry, "The Gentry Family in America, 1676 to 1909", The Grafton Press, New York, NY, 1909. (Commonly abbreviated as "GFA").
6. "Index of Revolutionary War Pension Applications", National Genealogical Society, Washington, DC, 1976
    a. File W7511, (BLWt 31908-160-55): David GENTRY, widow Sarah, of Jackson Co. TN
Credited with 6 months service as private in VA militia.
    b. File W8844, (BLWt 26713-160-55): Richard GENTRY, widow Justina or Gestin, [also Justin, Justiney, Gestiney] of Rockcastle Co. KY.
Credited with 13 months service as a private in SC militia.
Richard Gentry appeared in Rockcastle County court, KY, 12 Sep 1832, age 77 years as of next Dec. 27th [born 27 Dec 1755]. Testified that he had first volunteered for service in SC militia from Union District, SC, near the Tyger River. Was present at battles of King's Mountain, NC, and at Cowpens, in both cases assigned to guard baggage train during the battle.. . he gave his birthplace as Lunenburg Co. VA, and had lived three years in Lincoln Co. KY before moving to Rockcastle Co.
7. "Lunenburg County, Virginia, Deed Book 13, 1777-1784", abstracted by June Bank Evans, Bryn Efyliaid Publications, New Orleans, LA, 1991
 1781 May 17 Book(13-389) (p.77)
David Gentry witnessed a deed from William Puckett to Richard Crews Jr. for 50 acres on Rocky Branch, Nottaway River.
[Note. The Nottaway River forms the northeastern boundary between Lunenburg Co. and Amelia County and was at some distance from earlier Lunenburg Co. deed locations involving Gentrys.]
8. "Journal of Gentry Genealogy", Issue D (2011), New Proposals for the Family of John Gentry of Botetourt County, Virginia, by Willard Gentry,
URL: <>

October 11, 2011

© 2011, W.M. Gentry - All rights reserved. This issue may be reproduced in whole or in part for non-commercial purposes provided that proper attribution (including authors and journal names) is included.

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