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Ancestor of the Month

February 2009  

 

John Hixe

b. 1658   d. 1720

 

Our ancestor, John Hixe, lived during the formative years of Virginia and American colonial history and probably participated in a number of historical events.  As is so often the case with our forefathers, however, facts concerning his biography are somewhat “iffy.”  In some cases we have no information, and in some we have information which may belong to another colonist named John Hix, Hicks, or Hixe who is not related to us.  We must realize that our John Hixe was born over 350 years ago; thus, much of the information about him is hard to find and/or prove.

 

Early Life

 

John was in born in England in 1658, (reportedly the son of Thomas Hixe and his wife. ) [Correction:  John's parents have not as yet been identified.]  Information about John’s early life indicated that he had at least two brothers, and that around 1680, when they became adults, the three young men immigrated to the new English colony of Virginia.  We’ve all heard the stories of the difficulties faced by the first colonists in Jamestown, Roanoke, and Plymouth in just staying alive.  The hard life of our early Americans may have been the reason that John’s two brothers changed their minds about living in the New World.  Whatever the case, not too long after they had arrived, they boarded a ship bound for England and returned home.

 

Rather than going back home with his brothers, 22-year-old John prepared to set down roots in Virginia.  By making this decision to remain in Virginia, John Hixe became “The Immigrant” for our branch of the Hixe family.  Early in his life in the colonies John dropped the “e” from his last name.  We do not know exactly when and why the spelling change occurred, but it may have been made as part of his decision to stay in America.  On the other hand, it may have been made around the time he met his future wife.  (Although John dropped the “e” from his name, we will keep it in this article to distinguish him from other John Hix, Hicks, and Hixes since most of today’s information about him seems to use this spelling.  All of his children, however, used the spelling Hix.   Documents of the time show our John’s name under several spellings.)

 

Marriage

 

John was not alone for long in his new homeland.  Soon he found a young lady, and she became his wife.  Her name was Sarah Preston (1662-1697); she was 19 years old, and she was the daughter of Joseph Preston (c1635-?).  (A few sources list John’s wife as Margaret Preston, daughter of Joseph, but Sarah is usually the name given. [Perhaps her name was Sarah Margaret or Margaret Sarah.] ) John and Sarah were wed in James City County, VA in 1681, and the next year they acquired land in that same county.  The VA Patent book shows the acquisition as: “Patent to John Hicks, … October 22, 1682, for 183 acres, James City County, beginning on the South side of South swamp over against the mouth of Preston’s [S]pring [B]ranch.”  Other sources mention land he owned along the Chickahominy River and in Henrico County, but these descriptions usually mention Preston’s Spring Branch and may be speaking of the same 1682 land purchase in James City County.  (I suspect a link between the Preston of Preston’s Spring Branch and John’s wife Sarah Preston but have been unable to find any proof.) 

 

Children

 

The consensus is that John and Sarah had five children:

 

1.     Sarah Hix (1680-?),

2.     Joseph Hix (c1682-1711), 

3.     Nathaniel Hix (c1684-1735),

4.     Thomas Hix (c1686-?), and

5.     John Hix (c1688- d. c1778). 

 

(Claims have been made that the family contained other children as well.  One source, for example, lists eleven children.  Some of these claims may have merit, but some may only exist because a particular person was named Hix, lived in the area, and needed to be attached to a family.  These additional children include:  Marmaduke, Samuel, Robert, Henry, Hubbel, Richard, Daniel, George, and William.  Some, none, or all of these children may or may not be children of our John Hixe.) 

 

Of the five “established” children, Sarah, our ancestor, married a Scotsman named Martin Martin, Sr. (1678-1744) in St. Peters Parish, New Kent Co., VA on 10 Feb. 1698 or 1699.  Martin, who had been born on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, was the son of Thomas Martin,  (One source listed Martin Martin, Sr. with the title, “Rev.,” but I was unable to find anything to back this up.)  Although Martin and Sarah later moved to what is now Washington Co., VA, their children were all born in New Kent County, VA and included:

 

1.     Amesen Martin (b. 6 April 1706-d.?);

2.     Anne Martin (our ancestor)  (b. 9 Jun 1708-d. before 8 Mar 1805) m. 1722 to Meredith Webb in Goochland County, VA; Anne and Merry are the 3-great grandparents of Elder Israel Hatcher, Mamaw’s father.  Anne’s original name was apparently Elizabeth Anne, but she is called Anne in many documents

3.     Valentine Martin (b. 1710- d.c1760 in Cumberland Co., VA), m. Jane Bridgewater;

4.     Orson Martin (b. 1713-d.?); 

5.     Martin Martin, Jr. (b. c 1715-?);

6.     Henry Martin (b. c 1717-d.?);

7.     Thomas Martin (b. 4 June 1720-d.?), and

8.     Lucy Martin (b. c1726-d. after 1793 in Franklin Co., VA), m. William Amos. 

 

(As one might expect, dates, number, and names for Martin and Sarah’s children are disputed.)

 

Of the remaining “established” children, Joseph is usually considered John and Sarah’s eldest son, but some sources say Nathaniel was born before him.  Joseph may have married a woman named Susannah Peawd (no dates).  (The name Peawd is unusual and is often followed by a period, indicating that it may be an abbreviation, perhaps for Peawood.  However, the name Peawd Hicks appears later in several official documents.  For example in 1767, he is on the list of Tithables, and in 1784 when he has “grown old and incapable,” he is the subject of what we would probably call a conservatorship today.  Peawd is apparently the son of Joseph and Susannah.)  Some sources say that Richard, another of Joseph’s sons, was killed during the Revolutionary War, and that Joseph brought up Richard’s son Robert (his grandson).  Information on other children of Joseph and Susannah was not located.

 

A Nathaniel Hix definitely existed, and we have a copy of his will as proof.  Some, however, do not feel that he is John Hixe’s son.  Nathaniel married a woman named Rebecca (Rebekah, Rebecker) Johnson in 1709 and named seven children in his will on 26 Nov 1728.  The names of the children are in dispute because of the penmanship and spelling on the original will.  They are thought to be: Archibald (Arcbd or Arch’l in the will), Elsie (Elce in the will), Ann (An in the will), Amos, Sarah, Stephen, and Edith (Edeth in the will)

 

Information on the two remaining “established” children, Thomas and John, is more difficult to verify—especially that for John since there were several John Hix, Hixes, Hicks, etc.  For example, in 1704 a John Hix rented 400 acres of land in Essex County, VA, but we do not know which John Hix.  John Hix the son would only have been 16 years old at the time—too young to own land and probably too young to rent.  (Seventeen was the legal age for owning land.)   His father, however, would have been 46 and more likely to be the person involved in this transaction.  In addition, it seems that another John Hix family lived in the Goochland County area at the same time our John Hixe lived in James City County.  Records show that some of our John’s children may have moved to the Goochland area, confusing things even further.

 

Hardships

 

John and Sarah made their home in Virginia during a difficult time.  In addition to the trials of living in a new land, there were also problems with Indians.  One early Virginia document discusses a dispute between the Pamamunkey Indians and some of the settlers of the Diascund Creek area in James City County.  This is the area where our John and Sarah lived.  The John Hixe mentioned in that document may very likely be our John.  He is called, “a Great Man of the Paumaunk.” (On the other hand, the John in this document could have been an Indian since he is described as “of the Paumaunk,” [could either name the region or the tribe] and since there were colonists who had married into Indian tribes of the area.)   Records from the House of Burgesses mention in 1698 that a committee of both houses was appointed to ”settle the controversies arising from claims to lands in Pomunkey [sic] Neck and on that side of the Blackwater Swamp.”  If our John lived in the area and was also part of this committee appointed by the House of Burgesses, he might indeed be called a “Great Man of the Paumaunk,” or these may have been two totally different land controversies.

 

House of Burgesses

 

In the late Seventeenth Century John was appointed to the position of Doorkeeper of the Virginia House of Burgesses.  For us this is both good and bad news.  The good is that it gives him a mark of distinction; the bad is that House of Burgesses’ doorkeepers were not taxed.  Although seemingly good, that fact keeps John off tax records and makes researching him more difficult.  In addition, tradition has it that some of John’s sons and grandsons filled the same post or office; thus, they, too, were tax exempt and not listed on tax records. 

 

Being associated with the Virginia House of Burgesses was no doubt a feather in John’s cap.  The House of Burgesses was the first elected political body in the colonies and turned out to be the longest-lived of all the colonial governments.  It had been in operation since 1619—39 years before John was born and 61 years before he came to the colonies.

 

Over time the name House of Burgesses came to represent the entire official legislative body of the colony of Virginia. The Burgesses could make laws—which could be vetoed by the governor or the directors of the Virginia Company—but even at the risk of being vetoed, the colonists had some control over their destinies, and the Virginia Company thought that this “control” would help keep the colonists happy.

 

William Hatcher 

 

John Hixe was not the first of our ancestors to be associated with the House of Burgesses.  Earlier in the Seventeenth Century another of our ancestors, William Hatcher, was elected as a member of the House of Burgesses seven times.  The last two terms he was elected—1658 and 1659—were the last years of his public service in elective offices.  He was first elected at age 31 and was about 47 years old when he left office for good. Although he was an old man by the time Bacon’s Rebellion occurred, he participated in it.  He was “punished” for his part in the uprising by being forced to pay a very large fine (in commodities, not in cash.)

 

(Read about the House of Burgesses and Bacon’s Rebellion in the AOM concerning our ancestor, William Hatcher)

 

Elected or Appointed?

 

It is not entirely clear whether our ancestor John Hixe was an elected member of the House of Burgesses or an employee of the group.  Officers in the House included the Speaker of the House, Clerk of the House, a Sergeant-at-arms, Doorkeepers, and a Chaplain.  The Speaker and Clerk were elected by the members of the House from within their own ranks; the other officers were appointed.  Whether elected or appointed, one would assume that “officers” came from within the group itself.  This assumption, however, may not be correct.  First of all, in the first session in 1619, the speaker, clerk, and sergeant-at-arms were all paid offices—two were elected; one was appointed.  (Later all members received payment, first in tobacco and later in currency.)  Secondly, names of men who were appointed Doorkeeper were not listed as Burgesses on the Election Committee’s “List of Elected Delegates to the House.” For example, when John Hix was appointed Doorkeeper in 1699, three other men, Richard Morris, John Remington, and William Drew were also appointed to that office.  None of their names appear on the list of elected Burgesses for that year.  In 1700, the same four men petitioned to “continue as Doorkeepers to the House.”  Morris, Remington, and our John had their petitions granted, but William Drew was denied, and another man, Anthony Evains, was “admitted to a doorkeeper’s place.”  This petition sounds as if the doorkeepers were employees.  Again, none of these men, including Evains, was listed on that year’s list of Burgesses.  In view of these findings, one is led to believe that the Doorkeepers, although called “officers,” were in actuality employees of the House of Burgesses.  (If anyone knows for sure, please let me hear from you.)   (One source indicates that Sarah’s father, Joseph Preston, also served as a House of Burgesses’ Doorkeeper in the late 1600’s.  This information could be in error or it might give us an idea of how John obtained the position.  I was unable to find proof of his service.)

 

John Hixe held his post in the House of Burgesses some 30 years after William Hatcher served and some 70 years before the Revolution began. (I was not able to find the exact years of his time in the House, but he was serving as Doorkeeper on 4 Mar 1692 when he was 34 years old, and the Journal of the House of Burgesses shows him being appointed again on 2 May 1699 when he would have been 42 years of age.  We know, also, that he was serving in 1700.  Thus he was a Doorkeeper for at least 9 or 10 years, probably longer.  We must remember that John also had the responsibility of attending to at least 183 acres that were probably planted in tobacco.  Sarah lived long enough to see him achieve the position of Doorkeeper.

 

Location of House of Burgesses

 

The original House of Burgesses was in Jamestown and that town remained as the colony’s seat of government even though the actual building where the governmental body met burned down 4 times.  The last time it burned, in the fall of 1698, the members voted when they met in 1699 to move to Middle Plantation, 6 or 8 miles away.  When the government actually moved in 1700, Middle Plantation’s name was changed to Williamsburg in honor of King William III. Apparently John Hix served at both the old and new sites of government—for how long we are unsure.

 

A Doorkeeper’s Duties

 

The list of duties for a Doorkeeper of the House of Burgesses seems to have been lost in time.  However, references indicate that a doorkeeper may have been needed.  In the early days of the assembly in Jamestown, there were arguments over who should be seated, and the minutes seem to indicate some pettiness and squabbling.  In 1783, after the Revolution and 63 years after our John Hixe was dead, the House was moved again—this time from Williamsburg to Richmond.  A visitor to the House of Burgesses at that time described it in the following manner:

 

During my stay at Richmond the Assembly was in session. A small frame building serves as House of Assembly, and with a change of properties as ballroom and banquet room. The term is used, 'the Assembly sits.' This does not seem to me to be precisely descriptive. The members appeared to me to be anywhere rather than in their seats, and to be discussing anything except laws to be framed. The doorkeeper was busy, and in the vestibule there was an uproar. The vestments of the members are diverse -- boots, trousers, Indian leggings, great-coats, the usual coat, and short jackets. In other words, each one wears what he pleases. The members                 from the West are greatly inconvenienced in coming so far. They even speak of establishing a separate government for the West, as in the province of New York, where there is a Governor at New York and another at Albany. If this is done, the West will very likely become in a short time an independent State. The pay of members has recently been fixed at 18 Virginia shillings or 3 Spanish dollars per diem. During the war they preferred tobacco (50 pounds) to currency. At a vote, the Speaker calls for the Ayes and Noes, and judges with a critical ear which side has made the majority of sounds. If the predominance is a matter of doubt a division is called.   (One may guess that the earlier sessions of the House of Burgesses might have been equally or more unruly.  After all, our ancestor William Hatcher was forced to pay a fine and apologize on his knees in the House of Burgesses in 1754 for publicly defaming the Speaker of the House)

 

Religion

 

John, Sarah, and their family were in all probability members of the Church of England (Anglican Church).  We can be fairly sure that they attended church regularly.  One of the first laws enacted by the House of Burgesses in Jamestown in 1619 was that everyone attend church or suffer a fine or punishment. During the time John and Sarah lived in Jamestown and Williamsburg (1681-1720), all public officials in the royal colony of Virginia were required by law to attend church.  As a Doorkeeper of the House of Burgesses, John would have been not only expected but also required to attend.  The logical church for them to attend in a royal colony would have been the Church of England.  In addition, when he died, John was buried in the cemetery of an Anglican church.  Hence, John and Sarah were probably Anglican.

 

Note:  Many of the Virginia colonists in pre-Revolutionary times had no religious affiliation at all.  Some ethnic groups—like German Lutherans and Scottish Presbyterians—secured ministers for their members, and by the 1760’s Baptist missionaries were converting farmers.

 

Bruton Parish Church

 

The major church in Middle Plantation in John and Sarah’s time was Bruton Parish Church, which housed an Anglican (Church of England) congregation. Bruton Parish Church had been built in 1683 and dedicated in 1684.   The building was small but finely constructed and located basically in the center of town.  In 1700 when both the government and the College of William and Mary moved to Middle Plantation, two things happened:  the town’s name was changed to Williamsburg (in honor of King William III), and Bruton Parish Church was strained almost to the breaking point.  In addition to the regular members, the church after 1700 drew government officials, college officials, and college students.  By 1706 church officials were asking the government for help in building a new, larger church.  In 1715 the new church was finished and outfitted with all needed furnishings and equipment.  This church was almost certainly the one John and Sarah attended.  A number of prominent Virginians attended Bruton Parish Church during the 1700’s.  These included George Washington, James Madison, John Tyler, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Harrison, and Thomas Jefferson, all of whom were also members of the House of Burgesses.

 

Military Service

 

Although John and his sons were born too early to serve in the Revolutionary War, some of his descendants might have served.  By the time the “Declaration of Independence” was signed in 1776, John had been dead for 56 years. Three Hix men from Virginia did receive pensions for serving in the Revolutionary War, but their relationship to John Hixe has not been established.  One was a William Hix who moved to Kentucky with his wife Mary; one was a William Hix from Goochland County, VA, and the third was a Farthing Hix. 

 

End of the Road.

 

Not much else is recorded of John Hixe’s life in Virginia.  He died in Williamsburg in 1720 and was buried in the cemetery at the new Bruton Parish Church which had just  been built 5 years before.   He was 62 years old.  His wife, Sarah had preceded him in death 23 years earlier (1697) when she was only 35 years old.  At the time of her death the couple had been married for 16 years.  Hopefully more information will become available as more researchers dig into the past.

 

John Hixe is Mamaw McCarter’s 6 great grandfather.  If you are Mary Elizabeth Hatcher McCarter’s great great grandchild, John Hixe is your 10-great grandfather.

 

Line of Descent from John Hixe to Mary Elizabeth Hatcher

 

John Hixe (1658-1720) + Sarah Preston (1662-1697)

Sarah Hix  (1682-?) + Martin Martin (1678-1744)

Ann Martin (1708-before 1805) + Meredith “Merry” Webb, II (1698-1779)

Meredith “Merry’ Webb, IV (1747-1816) + Elizabeth Davidson  (?-c1830)

Meredith “Merry” Webb, V (1786-1864) + Mary Nancy Couch (no dates)

Elizabeth Webb (1808-1881) + Israel McInturff II (1805-1845)

Mary Elizabeth McInturff  (1837-1915) + James H. Hatcher  (1829-1911)

Elder Israel Alexander Hatcher (1860-1950) + Susan Ann Sutton (1866-1903)

Mary Elizabeth Hatcher (1889-1969) + Rev. Eli McCarter (1886-1955)

 

Sources 

 

Descendants of John Hixe.”  
NCRANDOL-L Archives http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/NCRANDOL/2006-10/1160766972

 

“Hix Family Genforum.”

http://genforum.genealogy.com/hix/ 

 

“Jenny’s Family Forest:”  http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~jennycase/wc_toc.html

 

 

“John Hix.“ http://shelleysscrapbooklayouts.com/Genealogy/getperson.php?personID=I07030&tree=BROYLES

 

“John HIXE.”      http://garthhagerman.com/fambly/fambly6-30-04.ged
 John Hixe Lineage.”http://members.tripod.com/~genealogy_thomas/hix.html

“Martin Martin” in Appalachian Home

http://appalachian_home.tripod.com/martin_martin.htm     

 

McCarter Family Charts and Information

 

Our Family Genealogy Pages”  http://www.rootspi.org/getperson.php?personID=I4646&tree=CatherineKing

 

Pargellis, S. M.  “The Procedure of the Virginia House of Burgesses.”  The William and Mary Quarterly, Second Series, Vol. 7i, No. 2 (Apr., 1927), pp. 73-86. Published by Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

http://www.jstor.org/pss/192102

 

“Petition of John Remington…” From: 'America and West Indies: December 1700, 6-10', Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 18: 1700 (1910), pp. 716-731. URL: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=71381 

 

Pory,  John.   "A Reporte of the Manner of Proceeding in the General Assembly Convented at James City" (July 30, 1619) found in The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 8. Virginia Records Manuscripts. 1606-1737.   Susan Myra Kingsbury, editor. Records of the Virginia Company, 1606-26, Volume III: Miscellaneous Records http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj8&fileName=mtj8pagevc03.db&recNum=177

 

Preston Family Genforum  http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgibin/pageload.cgi?Joseph,Preston::preston::415.html

“Report of the Committee of Elections.”  From: 'America and West Indies: December 1700, 6-10', Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 18: 1700 (1910), pp. 716-731. URL: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=71381  .

 “SOURCE NOTES FOR JOHN
                                    HIX/HIXE:” 
http://members.aol.com/hickspage/wvtax.html

 “The House of Burgesses”

US History

http://www.ushistory.org/us/2f.asp

 

“Virginia Patents regarding Hicks/Hixs and Related Families”

Virginia Patent Book 7, p. 183.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~vabrunsw/hicks/patents/hicks14.htm

 

 



 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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