George Longmire – his life in Virginia

George Longmire, to us descendants of William of London, is the progenitor of what some of us call the “Southern Longmires”. I believe him to be the eldest son of William Longmire. Why is this many might ask. Because William’s father’s name was George. How simple can it be? To temper that assessment somewhat let’s look back at what our intrepid hat thief, William Longmire, would do when faced with assimilating into foreign environs after first having to shed the “felon” moniker from his persona. And so, before George first saw the light of day his name was probably already assigned due to the prevailing customs of the day when it came to naming children. And that custom was to name the first-born male after the paternal grandfather, the second after the wife’s father, and the third usually after the father himself. And to top things off George died before his two brothers. See how easy that was? In all seriousness though the odds are that George was the oldest due to some other factors as well. He apparently married several years before his brothers as his first known child, William, was born ca 1762 whereas his brother’s first children were born 1765 and 1769, respectively. His was the only other Longmire court case in King George County other than what his father was involved in – before all three brothers were later found in the Louisa/Goochland area in the later 1760’s. This same court case also helps us in another respect as will be seen.

With the above speculation indicating that George was the eldest son of the hat thief the question remains as to when he was born. Well, I have an answer for that: 1738 or prior. How can I be so certain? The court case I referred to above, George Longmire Plt vs William Payne Dft, took place in March 1759. In order to have your name assigned to a case as plaintiff you had to be 21 years of age. By the way, George did win his case and received for it 435 lbs tobacco. And it just so happens that George’s lawyer in this case, Joseph Jones, was the uncle of President Monroe.

Before proceeding with George’s later movements west of King George County I will add in a couple of comments, again relating to his birth. As deductive (reductive?) logic helped in deriving a limitation on the latest year George was born so can the supposed year range of the birth of his first child be derived which can then be used to zero in on the timeframe of his marriage to Frances Garrett. At the time most men did not marry until their mid twenties which somewhat aligns with this pre 1738 year. It is also of note that George’s son, William, was known to have fought (as a Dragoon) in the American Revolution. Apparently brother John is credited with this same service and his birthdate is given in the Douglas Register as Nov 23, 1765. Suffice to say that the year range of service of both William and John is documented. It should also be noted that in Roger E. Barnes very well researched family history book “Those Who Came Before … “, of which a great deal of early documentation on the southern Longmires is compiled, the month and year given for William’s birth is Oct 1762 – apparently from a bible entry. This same source gives a marriage year as 1762 as well, which may be (late) 1761 or earlier, if William’s birthdate is to be accepted. Would like to see that bible entry … Either way it can be deduced that relatively shortly after George won his court case in King George County he married Frances, who at that time most probably lived across the Rappahannock River in Caroline County with her father, John Garrett.

George’s whereabouts in the 1750’s and early 1760’s have not as of yet been brought to the light of day. It could be reasonably assumed he was thereabouts in King George or a nearby county in the 1750’s due to this court case and his age and circumstances. However, several researchers including myself, have, over the years been unsuccessful in actually locating he and his mother and brothers for that period. No mention of him is of record until the birth of his son, John, which was recorded by Rev Douglas in 1765 in Goochland County, Va. However, this researcher suspects that George was in Caroline County at least from about 1760 or 1761, if not earlier, before he settled in Louisa and/or Goochland County. I believe it a strong likelihood that George worked for John or Robert Garrett in Port Royal and this subsequently was a factor in his marriage to Frances Garrett. It was but a 150 yard, easily navigable, ferry crossing directly to King George County from Port Royal, where Conway’s Warehouse was located nearby. And this is where the Garretts had set up shop at their Ordinary in addition to their Tobacco Inspection duties. One other mitigating factor should not be overlooked when considering the possibility of George and family residing in Caroline County at this particular time: Despite the availability of local records in surrounding counties which would normally indicate the presence of Susanna Longmire and family none are to be found. Curiously, no mention of Susanna or her children are found in the Orphan Adjudication records for King George County. This raises the possibility that before any court term to exercise the customary process of binding out orphans – what the Longmire children would be considered by law at that time – Susanna either moved or her children were taken in elsewhere. Worth mentioning here is that Caroline County is a “burnt county” and many pre-Civil War records were destroyed or stolen. Perhaps it is a case where what we do not see is almost as good as what we can. Another strong probability was that Susannah re-married. Afterall William did leave a fair amount of material goods judging by his estate inventory. And children were oftentimes looked upon as extra labor by prospective husbands. In this regard the widow Susannah was an attractive bet. This area of research I still pursue. Moving along …

Next we find George Longmire in Louisa County, Virginia in March 1768 where he witnessed a deed for George Barclay. Interestingly, although George Longmire has not been found on any tax lists at this particular time a near neighbor of Mr Barclay was one William Garrett, a very well to do gentleman and large landowner. It is not clear the relation of this Wm Garrett to John or Robert Garrett though many publications state a relationship and we do know of persons of the same name who are proven relations to the Caroline County Garretts. More research on this must be done to see if perhaps there is a previously undocumented tie here with the presence of George Longmire being so conspicuous nearby. Needless to say, and profoundly more of interest to this researcher, is the fact that by 1770 George Longmire is listed on the Trinity Parish tithes of John Jouett who lived in Luoisa County. And by 1771 George is listed again, this time adjacent the name of Matthew Jouett, the celebrated American portrait artist. For all those Jefferson and Colonial American History buffs out there the name John “Jack” Jouett certainly does not go without notice as he is often referred to as “The Paul Revere of the South” for his exploits in saving the “rogue” Virginia legislators , including Thomas Jefferson, from certain death at the hands of General Tarleton. The circumstances leading to how George managed to be in league with Mr Jouett, a well respected and wealthy landowner at the time still perplexes me. However, by about 1772 George Longmire apparently is no longer in Louisa County and is by this time on his way to, or already had arrived in, Ninety-Six District in South Carolina to join the Garrett and Goode families, amongst others with ties back to King George and Caroline Counties. 


Categories: Genealogy

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