Ancestor of the Month
b. c1616 d. after 1658
Our ancestor Elizabeth Wormeley had that certain something. Perhaps it was her beauty; perhaps it was her wealth; perhaps it was her social position;
perhaps it was her wit, cleverness, or intelligence. Perhaps it was all of these. Whatever it was, Elizabeth managed to make her way through the tricky mazes and games
of Colonial Virginia’s social and political hierarchy and pretty much ended up holding a winning hand. In a time when most women were considered chattel, Elizabeth Wormeley Kemp Lunsford Smith was not only
a winner; she may have even been dealing the cards.
Two theories are advanced concerning Elizabeth’s parentage. Version I says that she was born about 1616 in Riccall
(Rikall) Manor, Yorkshire, England, the only child of an upper class family. In
this version, her parents were Henry (?-1657) and Margaret Consett Wormeley (?-?). Her
paternal grandparents were Christopher and Elizabeth Hogg Wormeley . Version
II says Elizabeth was the child of Christopher Wormeley, the exiled governor of the Tortugas, and his wife, Mary Adams (who
later married William Brocus after Christopher’s death). Both factions
rely heavily upon wills as possible proof for Elizabeth’s birth.
Christopher’s will left his massive land holdings to his
brother Ralph, which probably meant that Christopher himself had no male offspring.
However, it does not necessarily follow that just because he did not have sons, he would have a daughter. (If Elizabeth was indeed the daughter of Christopher Wormeley, the fact that
she was apparently passed over in the will in favor of her uncle is typical of the practice of primogeniture of that time
in which estates were left to male heirs, specifically first born sons. Remember,
several of our ancestors were 3rd or 4th sons who, because they did not inherit, chose to come to the
colonies to make their fortunes.) In his own will, Richard Kempe (see below)
mentions his wife and daughter, both named Elizabeth, and names as executor his “Uncle Ralph Wormeley.” This “uncle,” no doubt, was probably his wife Elizabeth’s uncle—Christopher’s
brother—and adds credence to that version of her family history. However,
if Christopher and Henry were also brothers, as some say, then Ralph would be Elizabeth’s uncle in either case. Christopher and Henry’s relationship would be good mystery for investigating
on another day.
Marriage I: Richard Kempe
Whatever her birth story, Elizabeth grew to womanhood and
became much sought after. Her first husband was Richard Kempe (c1600-1656), whom she married c1652. Kempe had previously
been married to Ann Hogg (1617-before 1652) , and was considered an important figure
in VA society and politics. He was a “third son” who had elected
to move to VA to make his fortune. His father’s will had
only left him ₤40 per year, and his mother’s will left him nothing at all.
His move to VA
proved to be a wise one. He served as a member of the Virginia Council in 1642
at Jamestown and as Secretary of the Colony for a number of years. When Governor Berkeley was in England for 3 years, Kempe
served as acting Governor. It was under Kempe that the first recorded Thanksgiving Day in the Virginia Colony was celebrated. Kempe decreed: "That the eighteenth
day of April be yearly celebrated by thanksgivings for our deliverance from the hands of the savages."
Kempe was an asute
politician and a wheeler dealer. In addition to his salary he received fees from
filing legal papers for the colony and had received a substantial dowry when he married Elizabeth. He was able to acquire a good deal of land and built the first brick house in Jamestown in 1639. Then Governor John Harvey described the building as "the fairest that was ever known
in this country for substance and importance." It was into this home that Elizabeth
moved with her new husband. According to a 2006 report prepared by Julia
A. King for the National Endowment of the Humanities:
Kemp and his wife, Elizabeth, did something very different
than any of their English predecessors in the hinterlands around Jamestown: by 1640, they had built two structures entirely
of brick, a rare sight in Virginia in the first half of the 17th century….The site’s excavators believe that Kemp
may have been trying to reproduce the house he had lived in at nearby Jamestown.…The
Kemps also acquired and used enslaved people from Africa to work their plantation.
Kemp and Elizabeth
turned Rich Neck, their home on the Rappahannock, into quite a showplace. Of
special pride to Richard were the orchards he had installed.
Kempe had several
children from his first marriage, and soon Elizabeth presented him with a new daughter, Elizabeth Kempe (1652-before 1656). Unfortunately, the girl died in childhood
Richard Kempe himself
died in 1656, outliving his daughter Elizabeth and his “Uncle Ralph” both of whom were named in his will. He asked to be buried in his orchards at Rich Neck.
Richard made Elizabeth executrix of his will and left her all his lands in VA as well as his money. He wanted her to sell all his land in VA and return with his only daughter to England. Also in his will Richard asked Governor William Berkeley to “look after” his wife and daughter
and see that they be returned safely to England. He also requested that Berkley
see that “Uncle Ralph Wormeley” be entrusted with daughter Elizabeth’s
upbringing and education. By the time the will was probated, both Uncle Ralph
and daughter Elizabeth were dead.
Marriage II: Sir Thomas Lunsford
Shortly after her first husband
died, Elizabeth Wormeley Kempe became the bride of Sir Thomas Lunsford, Baronet (1610-1653).
Lunsford had been knighted 28 Dec 1641, and marriage to him gave Elizabeth the title “Dame Elizabeth.” As
a young man, Lunsford had been quite a handful. In 1633, he was indicted for the attempted murder of Sir Thomas Pelham,
one of his neighbors. He was jailed but escaped from Newgate Prison and fled
to Europe. While he was in Europe, Lunsford was fined ₤8,000 for failing
to appear in court in England. Seemingly unruffled by these events, he joined
the French army and became a colonel. By 1639 he saw a way of returning to England. He offered his services to King Charles who at the time was embroiled in the Bishop’s
wars and needed all the help he could get. Charles pardoned Lunsford and rescinded
For the next eight
to ten years, Lunsford was in and out of favor with the king. He would fight
courageously in one battle and become again a favorite; then he would be captured or unsuccessful in another operation and
be thrown into jail. Finally in 1648, after being released from his latest stay
in the Tower of London, Lunsford received permission to emigrate from England to VA.
(During the Civil War, [1641-1651] Lunsford was a Royalist. His luck in
the war was better than that of King Charles who was executed in 1649.)
Lunsford was married
to his second wife when he first came to Virginia. His first wife Mary
(Anne?) Hudson (1614-1638) had given him one son; the son, however, died in infancy.
His second wife was Katherine Neville (?-1649). Katherine was the daughter
of Sir Henry Neville of Billingbear, Berkshire. Katherine and Lunsford had three daughters: Elizabeth, Phillipa, and Mary. (Legend
has it that Mary was born in the Tower of London during one of her father’s sojourns there.) It was this second family who migrated to VA.
With Lunsford came a total of 65 people for whom he had paid passage.
These “headrights” as they were called, enabled him to claim 50 acres per person—a total of 3250
acres—to begin his accumulation of land in the colony. (For some reason
Lunsford received 3423 acres; the reason for the extra acreage is unclear.)
Upon his arrival in VA, Thomas served the crown as lieutenant-general of the Virginia militia. His wife Katherine died shortly after their arrival in VA, and Thomas turned to the recently widowed Elizabeth
Wormerley Kempe as his next bride. They were married in 1650. Soon Elizabeth and Thomas had children: Edward Lunsford
born c 1651-52 and Katherine Lunsford born in 1653. (Naming a daughter after a previous wife was common practice.)
Both children were born in Jamestown, James City Co., Virginia. (Some sources also list Daniel Lunsford, Richard Lunsford, and John Lunsford as the couple’s children.)
Lunsford died around 1656, leaving Elizabeth with an estate
and several minor children. However, Middlesex County Records show that “Elizabeth, Philippa, and Mary Lunsford, orphans of Sir Thomas Lunsford, Kt., were returned
to England...." Elizabeth is said to have
buried her second husband near her first husband, but no one knows for sure exactly where that was. A monument erected to Kempe, Lunsford, and Thomas Ludwell (who purchased Rich Neck from Elizabeth and her
third husband) was erected on the property in 1727 but was later moved to the church cemetery in Williamsburg.
Following the practice of the time, Elizabeth Wormeley Kempe
Lunsford again remarried quickly. This time her husband was Major General Robert
Smith (1605-after 1683). Gen. Smith had been born in Duffield Parish, Derbyshire,
England. The couple’s marriage took place in 1657 in Jamestown. Their only
son, Robert Smith, Jr., was born there in 1658. Elizabeth and the General sold
Rich Neck and moved to a smaller piece of land belonging to Elizabeth that was located on the Rappahannock closer to her Wormerley
relatives. On this land Elizabeth and General Smith together built “Brandon”
plantation which is said to be located “a little way downriver from Rosegill” on the Rappahannock.
Marriage III: Major General Robert Smith
Elizabeth’s third husband, like her earlier spouses, was
an important figure in VA society. He was a military man who defended the colony
against a Dutch attack and also was prominent on the government’s side during the plant cutting insurrection. (See AOM article on Robert Beverley to read about an ancestor who was on the other side of the tobacco
cuttings.) In addition Smith was an important voice in the Anglican church, serving
as a vestryman and as a spokesman for the congregation on trips to England. As
he will probably eventually be a subject for an AOM article himself, we will save Gen. Smith’s accomplishments for another
Robert Smith, Jr. (1658-aft 1678), Elizabeth and the General’s
only son, did not have a long life, but he did grow to adulthood and married Elizabeth Buckner (?-?), daughter of Anthony
(1628-?) and Sarah Ellis Buckner(?-?). Robert, Jr., and Elizabeth Buckner Smith
also produced only one child—a daughter whom they named Elizabeth (1678-1720).
This Elizabeth Smith, the General’s granddaughter, turned out to be her grandfather’s only heir since her
father died at a fairly young age. She probably had her choice of the eligible
young men of the time and chose as her husband our ancestor Captain Henry “Harry” Beverley, with whom she had
11 children. Unlike her mother, Elizabeth Smith Beverley did not outlive her
husband. She died in 1720, ten years before Harry died in 1730. (Remember the first rule of old VA families: At least
one daughter in every generation must be named Elizabeth. J)
The end of Elizabeth Wormerley Kempe Lunsford Smith’s
life is unclear and needs more research. We do know that she was involved in
a lawsuit in England over some tobacco shipments. She and her husband may or
may not have returned to England to stay, but such a move seems unlikely. It
is thought that they did visit England in 1683. (Perhaps the couple simply lived
out their lives in Virginia and enjoyed their great grandchildren.) Elizabeth
may or may not have outlived General Smith. Their place of burial is unclear.
Wormeley Kempe Lunsford Smith is Papaw’s 7-great grandmother. If you are
Eli McCarter’s great great grandchild, Elizabeth is your 11-great grandmother.
Line of descent from Elizabeth Wormerley to Eli McCarter
Elizabeth Wormeley (1616-aft.
1683) + Maj. Gen Robert Smith (1605-1687)
Robert Smith, Jr. (1654-?) +
Elizabeth Buckner (?-?)
Elizabeth Smith (1670-1720)
+ Capt. Harry Beverley (1669-1730)
(1716-?) + William Robinson (1709-1792)
(1737-1812) + Capt. William Sims (c1729-c1798)
Joanna Sims (1761-1852)
+ James Ownby (1761-1850)
John Ownby (1781-1857) + Mary Jane Koone (1793-1881)
Mary Ownby (1814-1846)
+ Thomas McCarter (1811-1888)
Thomas Hill McCarter
(1846-1923) + Marriah Reagan (1842-1923)
Rev. Eli McCarter (1886-1955)
+ Mary Elizabeth Hatcher (1889-1969
of Lazarus Long and Lily…”
of Roscoe Clinton Myers.” http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/m/y/e/Ron-C-Myers/GENE31-0120.html
of Virginia Biography, Under the Editorial Supervision of Lyon Gardiner
Tyler . Lewis Historical Publishing cCompany, 1915
Item notes: v.
1 Original from Harvard University Digitized Sep 12, 2006 p. 27
“Families of Webster, Bachman, Van Valkenburg, McCall, et al.”
Founders, The: Portraits
of Persons Born Abroad Who Came to the Colonies in North America Before the Year 1701…. http://www.archive.org/sstream/foundersportrait01bolt/foundersportrait01bolt_djvu.txt.
Kempe Family. http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/va/schools/wmmary/notes0012.txt
Historical Notes William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Vol. 3, No. 1. (Jul., 1894), pp. 68-74
Robert (AKA) Richard, 1567-1612.” http://cdn.optmd.com/V2/67072/140048/index.html?g=AQANLFM=&r=dugamer.tripod.com/id31.html
King, Julia A.,
et al. A Comparative Archaeological Study of Colonial Chesapeake Culture. Prepared for the National Endowment for the Humanities (RZ-20896-02),
June 2006. http://www.chesapeakearchaeology.org/Interpretations/NEHFinalReport.htm
LISTSERV 15.5-VA-HIST Archives http://listlva.lib.va.us/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=va-hist;qklofg;20051229115023-0800
“Lunsford, Sir Thomas c.1611-56”
“Masters of Rich Neck , The” Holly Hills Homeowners Assn, Williamsburg, VA
Meade, William. Old Churches,
Ministers and Families of Virginia. http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA357&lpg=PA357&dq=Major+General+Robert+Smith+1600s+VA&sig=qms8qtDZZRMjOZiz0hCgiXZd9Sg&ei=s_ZDSsvrFpmqtgfO0PmqAQ&ct=result&id=QjUSAAAAYAAJ&ie=ISO-8859-1&ots=LYXU3R38Bx&output=html_text
“Progenitor of VA Immigrant Buckners.”
Major Gen. Robert.” Roots L Archives .http://listsearches.rootsweb.com/th/read/ROOTS/1997-08/51241
“Smith Family, The.” From Tilgham B. Tillman Family website.
VA History Archives http://listlva.lib.va.us/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=VA-HIST;0MMhxg;20051228033634-0800
Society. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. I., 1893.
“Wormeley Family, The.” from Tilgham B. Tilman Family