Jefferson’s Memorandum Book 1773

Lately I have been digging around more in my direct line – in this case I speak of William Longmire Jr born ca 1740’s. I believe he was the youngest son of the hat thief and like his older brother, George, left a few evidentiary items pertaining to his life in Virginia. Not only was he apparently the only one of the three brothers to buy land in Virginia but he also ran afoul of the law while residing in Goochland County. No, you won’t find this nugget in any local court cases – at least I have not so far – nor was it mentioned in the Virginia Gazette or like publications where people of note can be followed in such fashion. Nope, I discovered this “indiscretion” or shall I say, “transgression” whilst perusing the Memorandum Books of one Thomas Jefferson. Yeah, that guy. In this particular case the year of record was 1773 – just before Mr Jefferson decided to give up his fledgling law career and enter the world of Virginia politics. And being the big fan of T.J. that I am I was pleased to find a somewhat recent published edition of his Memorandum Books and dug right in … and lo and behold I ran across this: Thomas Bolling Chesterfield vs William Longmire Goochland Damages L500. Aha! That’s my boy, William Jr! But what of this case? And the large amount of damages? Just what in the world was he up to to draw the ire of one Maj Thomas Bolling – an esteemed gentleman from the family forever linked to Pocahontas? Well, since this is the Musings section of my little corner of the internet publishing world I will amuse myself and perhaps others by speculating … just a little bit.

As has been covered somewhat in the page here on William Britt, father in law of my 6x grandfather Wm Longmire Jr, Mr Britt owned several parcels of land in and around Goochland County. He is generally confirmed to have lived adjacent the lands of his father in law, Bryan Connolly (var sp), and Dr Arthur Hopkins. However, he also owned land adjacent Dungeness Plantation – the heralded (and largest) Randolph homestead along the James River. And suspiciously located nearby was Bolling Island and land where Bolling Hall was later built. The Bollings also owned land near Lickinghole Creek near Wm Britt’s land. Hmmm, I wonder where exactly in Goochland County my Wm Longmire was living at the time of this court case in 1773? I note that in Wm Britt’s will it is mentioned that his daughter, Hannah Longmire, has received her legacies and/or gifts prior to those enumerated for the other (younger) children named. I also note that Wm Britt was in various litigation with John Bolling – married to Thomas Jefferson’s sister and brother of Thomas Bolling mentioned here. Perhaps Wm Longmire was caught up in some of his father in law’s legal troubles? Or a land dispute? Or was it something different – perhaps a punitive type case given the hefty, and round, sum of L500? Either way finding records for this case may be near impossible as it apparently had no Goochland County jurisdiction per se and T.J. handled General Court cases not local ones. Few if any General Court case records remain and/or are only referenced in passing such as in the Jefferson Memorandum Book cases listed, hence no disposition for the later examples such as this one.

I suspect that Wm Longmire may have been overseer for one of his father in law’s properties and somehow found himself in legal entanglement with one of the local big boys. However, I find it of interest that even though this case was given over by Jefferson to our first Attorney General, Edmund Jennings Randolph, probably by 1774, Wm Longmire himself had adequate funds to buy land in Lunenburg County that same year and therefore may have been found not liable. He is shown in Lunenburg County Processioning records shortly thereafter and signed the Baptist Dissenters Petition (10,000 Names List) in 1776 and would have been easily found otherwise for later prosecution of law or debt. It is also of interest that he was not charged taxes for several of those years upwards until when he sold his land in Oct 1779 indicating that he may have previously unknown Militia service prior to the Revolution. Given that Thomas Bolling was Major of Militia as well I just do not see Wm Longmire having run away from any settlement as large as L500 without consequence.

Rest assured I will keep poking around and see if somehow Miss Elizabeth Longmire – who mysteriously shows up in Lunenburg County in the 1770’s and marries a near neighbor of William Longmire – has anything to do with this case. Given that her husband, John Cabaniss, was born ca 1740’s perhaps she was a previously unknown daughter of the hat thief who withdrew from a marriage pledge that Wm Longmire was Security for? Hmmm, now that’s a muse worth thinking about …

Categories: Musings

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