An Owen(s) Odyssey
 Our Genealogy & Family History

William and Lydia

William Owens (about 1672-1752)


Lydia Lunsford (????- about 1746)

William , the son of Bartholomew and Joanna Owen is presumed to have been born in Surry County, Virginia at his father's plantation on Gray's Creek. No original source records can be found to help us pinpoint his actual year of birth. It was most likely around 1672 give or take a few years. His parents were married about 1666, his father died in 1677, and William was their 3rd or 4 th child--do your own math. William had an older sister, Katherine, and an older brother, Robert. It is unclear if his brother Thomas was older or younger.

William was still a child when his father died. Apparently, William's mother managed her late husband's plantation for about 12 years after William's father died--possibly with the help of William Rogers in the early years (he resided in the same household) and in the later years with the help of her teenage sons and her adult son-in-law, Joshua Proctor (he resided in the same household after William Rogers was gone).

OK, this next part is a mix of facts and wild speculation; so, I'll be very careful to label the proven and verifiable facts as (fact) and the speculation as (unproven). If you copy any of this, please make sure you do the same:

Around December/January 1688/1689, Thomas Owen died intestate in Henrico County, Virginia with no close relatives to claim the body (fact). Some have speculated that Thomas was the father of Bartholomew and thus the grandfather of Bartholomew & Joanna's children (unproven).

On 1 Oct 1689, the Henrico County court issued an order that anyone who had claim against the estate of Thomas Owen should present themselves at the next court session (true).

Sometime before 20 Oct 1689, 131 people including William, his mother, and his brother, Robert, were transported to New Kent or Henrico County, Virginia as headrights for Edmond Jennings, Esquire (fact). William's brother Thomas was not on the list (fact). Was it an inadvertent omission (unproven), or did he stay behind to look after the plantation (unproven)? Not much later, Robert had returned to the plantation in Surry County (fact) and Thomas had joined his mother in Henrico County (fact).

So, what was the purpose of the move? Usually, but not always, poor people were transported after they sold themselves into indentured servitude in exchange for a new start and possibly a plot of land when their period of indenture was up. This probably was not the case for Joanna because she lived on a 648-acre plantation with 3 teenage sons and an adult son-in-law to work it. For 12 years, the plantation had apparently been sufficient to support Joanna and her children.

I offer another explanation, wholly from my own imagination. It's possible, but unproven, that Joanna had heard of the death of her father-in-law, Thomas Owen, and she went to Henrico County in response to the court order so her sons could present themselves as rightful heirs to their grandfather's estate. Of course, this presupposes that Thomas Owen really was their grandfather (unproven). If that was Joanna and William's aim, it didn't work out as well as they might have expected.

Thomas Owen had been sick for some time before he died and was cared for by Edward and Martha Stratton, Sr. in their house (true). Edward Stratton, Sr. died about the same time as Thomas Owen (true). Edward Stratton, Jr. and his mother arranged and paid for Thomas Owen's funeral and burial expenses (true). I don't know what relationship the Stratton's had with Thomas Owen but we, the descendants of William Owen (abt 1672-1752), have DNA matches to descendants of Thomas Owen and to descendants of the Strattons (true).

On 1 Feb 1688/89, Edward Stratton, Jr. was ordered by the court to sell the contents of the estate of Thomas Owen at outcry auction in the presence of the coroner and present an accounting in court nine months after Thomas had been dead, at which time the estate would be settled (true).

On 2 Dec 1689, Edward Stratton, Jr was awarded 400 (pounds?) for his claim against the estate of Thomas Owen and Henry Randolph, clerk, 145 (pounds?) for his claim (true). Other claims referred till ye next court. Apparently, there were no other claims or there was nothing left of the estate (unproven). If the amounts were British pounds sterling, that would have been a considerable sum back then. I rather suspect it was pounds tobacc--not all that much.

I've only seen snippets of the court records pertaining to the estate of Thomas Owen and there is no mention of William or his siblings. Perhaps the full text of the court proceedings might give us better insight.

Sometime between 20 Oct 1689 and 17 Apr 1693, William's widowed mother married Thomas Brookes, himself a widower with two teenaged daughters. The merged family settled in Henrico County. There is hearsay evidence that within a year or two, William's brother Thomas married his new step-sister, Elizabeth Brookes. Sometime before 1695, William married a Miss (first name unknown) Brookes, the sister of Elizabeth Brookes (only circumstantial and hearsay evidence). William and Thomas are both mentioned as son-in-law in the will of Thomas Brookes written 23 Feb 1694/95 but no record can be found giving us the actual date(s) the brothers married their step-sisters. In the 1600's. the term son-in-law was sometimes mistakenly applied to step-sons so it's possible that the brothers did not marry their step-sisters until some time after Thomas Brookes wrote his will (or perhaps not at all in the case of William).

According to some family lore, William's wife was childless when she died around 1700. That may add slight credence to the theory that they weren't married as early as 1695 because it would have been unusual for a married woman to remain childless for about 5 years.

In 1695, the Orphans court of Henrico County ordered Jone (Joanna) Brookes to appear at the next court to give security for performance of Thomas Brookes' will. This is a possible indication that Elizabeth Brookes and/or her sister were born later than 1675 (would not have been an orphan if age 21 or over) and, were not yet married (would not have been an orphan if married).?

It should be mentioned that the only document from the 1600's that even hints at this wife for William is Thomas Brookes' will and we may possibly have misinterpreted the intended meaning of son-in-law. The earliest positive mention on record for this wife is a 1911 family history book written well over 200 years after she supposedly died--it only gives her name as Miss Brookes. That book has to be taken with a grain of salt because it contains some obvious errors relative to the early Owen family that don't mesh with 17th century documents. Many family trees show the wife's name as Alsoe but not one of them offers any evidence other than a reference to someone else's family tree. Alsoe seems to be a recent invention because the earliest tree (or document) that can be found using the name is dated 2003. Another problem is that "Alsoe" is not a real name in English or any other language.

In light of the above, there is ample reason to question when (or if) William actually married a Daughter of Thomas Brookes. With the available evidence, it can neither be proved nor disproved. Almost certainly, her name was not Alsoe.

On the subject of names, people of Welsh descent often added an 's' to the end of their surname to indicate it was no longer patronymic. This appears to have been the case with William. His surname was usually spelled Owen in old records but, by the time he wrote his will, he used the Owens spelling. My line of his descendants has used the Owens spelling ever since.

In 1702, William purchased 100 acres from Seth Rench on the south side of the Chickahominy River in Henrico County. Exactly one year later, he deeded the property over to John Woodson. We can assume William was not married in 1703 because no wife was mentioned in the deed transfer. In 1704, William's brother, Thomas, witnessed the will of Seth Rench--a fair indication that William, Thomas, and Seth Rench had all been neighbors.

William's 2nd (?) wife was Lydia Lunsford and this has been confirmed by DNA. The marriage almost certainly took place in Henrico County but no evidence can be found for the date. Nor, can any evidence be found as to when/where Lydia was born. We, who are William & Lydia's descendants, have a significant number of DNA matches to descendants of Sir Thomas Lunsford (about 1610-1653). Sir Thomas is almost certainly Lydia's great (or 2nd-great) grandfather and based upon the DNA, it is probably safe to say that William Lunsford (1655-1693) was Lydia's father or grandfather--it's not clear which because documentary evidence is lacking and we don't know when Lydia was born.

Since we've seen above that William was not married in 1703, he and Lydia must have been married sometime after that date. Don't believe all those trees showing some of their children born before 1703--none of the trees offer a shred of credible evidence and many of them show imaginary children and children born in places where William & Lydia never lived.

William and Lydia had the following children:

  1. John Owens- eldest son Probably born in Henrico County, Virginia.
  2. William Owens - probably born between 1728 and 1732 in Henrico or Goochland County, Virginia, moved to Cecil County, MD in 1749 and married Araminta Veazey. He appeared on a Cecil County, MD tax list in 1766 but no record can be found after that date.
    He should not be confused with the William Owen who was married to Elizabeth Meacham and who died about 1788 in North Carolina. DNA evidence proves they are two entirely different men.
  3. Lansford Owens
  4. A daughter whose name is unreadable
  5. Mary Owens - wife of a Mr. Jennings
  6. Ann Owens - wife of Nicholas Medlin
  7. Joanna Owens - wife of John Kerby
    Find-a grave reports she was born 3 Jan 1713 and died 1795 but there is no tombstone and the information is unproven,
  8. Lydia Owens - wife of William Adkins
    Find-a grave reports she was born 1724 and died 1782 but there is no tombstone and the information is unproven.

I have listed the children in the same order William listed them in his will but this does not appear to be their birth order.

Some folks claim there was a son, Myron Owens but this is wrong. That myth came about because of a faulty transcription of William's will. Someone transcribed the words "my son" as "myron" and a whole bunch of people jumped on it as proof for Myron. If you look at a photocopy of the will (online at, you can see that it's "my son" and not "Myron." Note that the "m" is not capitalized, while proper names in the will always begin with a capital letter. Also, whoever wrote the will always ran the words "my son" together as if they were one word. Not surprisingly, no one can find any records for a Myron Owens in Virginia in the 1700's. But lack of evidence didn't stop some people from giving this imaginary person dates of birth, death and other personal information--never trust what you see in family trees.

Another imaginary son for William & Lydia is Jonah. Seems someone confused him with the daughter Joanna, an actual person.

The jury is still out for a daughter named Agnes who reportedly died as an infant. No evidence can be found for her but, perhaps she did not die as an infant. Could she possibly be the daughter whose name is unreadable in her father's will? On 6 Aug 1745, William & Lydia Owen transferred a land deed to Michael Holland, Sr. This is nothing but wild speculation but could Michael Holland Sr. have been William's son-in-law, and the husband of Agnes Owen? We only know of Agnes from family trees--no concrete evidence. But we do know other instances where William deeded land to a son-in-law. So, maybe this was one of those deals? There is absolutely no proof that it is. But then again, no proof that it's not. More investigation is needed.

It should be mentioned that Virginia was growing rapidly in the first half of the 18th century. Consequently, old county lines were shifted as new counties were being formed. Thus, records can be found for William & Lydia in Henrico, Goochland, and Hanover Counties. Quite probably, they never moved but it was the county lines changing around them.

Many family trees claim some of William & Lydia's children were born in Prince George County but they are wrong. The evidence is clear that William & Lydia never lived in Prince George County.

William had clearly moved from Goochland County on the north side of the James River to Lunenburg County on the south side of the James by 20 Mar 1746/47. On that date, he transferred 200 acres at the mouth of Ruddy's Creek to his son-in-law, William Adkins. Since his wife, Lydia, was not mentioned, it's possible she died sometime between 6 Aug 1745 and 20 Mar 1746/47. It's not clear if William moved before or after Lydia died.

Tithe lists and property records show that William's final years were spent in Lunenburg County in close proximity to several of his children. In 1752, Halifax County was formed from that part of Lunenburg County where William lived. William wrote his will in the newly formed Halifax County. I have kept the original spelling and punctuation in the following transcription:

"I William Owens of Halifax County be in my perfect sences but low & weak in constension and don't now how sune it may please God to call me out of this state of life and I think it fel to gif what Leattel good health geaven me to my sattesfaxon as follows my sole to the Lord my maker and my boddy to the earth In the name of God amen Also to myson (blank) Owens I give to him and his heares for Ever one shellen starlen. Also to myson William Owens I give one shellen starlen to him and his heares for Ever. Also to myson Lansford (tear through the first part of Lansford) Owens one shellen starle... (page torn) Eares for... (page torn) ...ver . also to (unreadable) one shellen starlen to her and her Eares for Ev... (page torn) ...Dafter Marey Genens one shellen starlen to her a... (page torn) ...Eares for Ever. Also to my Dafter An Medlin I give one shellen starlen to her and her Eares for Ever. Also to my Dafter Joaner Kearbey I give one negro gal named Diner and her In Cres to her and her Eares for Ever. Also to my Daftor Leyda Adkins I give one shellen starlen to her and her Eares for Ever. Also to Frances KERBY one Bed and furniture and one Pot and for Dishes and for Basons a set of Wedes and a fro to him and his Ares for Ever. Also to my grandson John Kerby I give my horse bridle and Saddel to him and his Ares for Ever. Also John Kerbey Senr and Frances Kerbey hole Execetors of my last Will and Testement after my D... (page torn) ...This my Last Will made the 23 day of october in the Year of our Lord God 1752 as witness our hands Sined Sealed In The Presence of ous"
William (his mark) Mullins William (his mark) Owens SS
Jacob (his mark) Adkins
Joseph Keatton

The will was submitted for probate on 20 Mar 1753. The attorney for John Owens immediatly filed a caveat against proving the will. It seems John's name had inadvertently been omitted from the court copy of the will through clerical error.

click Here for William's family group sheet.

This document is a work in progress. Feel free to use it for your own research but please do not post it anywhere, in whole or in part, without my express permission. Virgil Owens 15 Jun 2019.

Copyright © 2019 Virgil Owens
Discussion, additions, and corrections will be appreciated