Benjamin Fowle Borden, II

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Benjamin Fowle Borden, II

Birthplace: Middletown, Monmouth, New Jersey
Death: Died in Winchester, Frederick, Virginia
Place of Burial: Winchester, Frederick, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Benjamin Fowle Borden and Abigail Borden (Grover)
Husband of Zeruiah Borden
Father of Rebecca Borden; Abigail Borden; Mercy MacKay; John Borden, Sr; Benjamin Fowle Borden, Gent. and 11 others
Brother of Richard Borden; James Benjamin Borden; Safety Borden; Rebecca Borden; Amy Borden and 4 others

Managed by: Nancy Presley
Last Updated:

About Benjamin Fowle Borden, II


The second of ten children, Benjamin Borden II, was born 6 April 1675 at Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey. He married about 1710 to Zeruiah WINTER, his first cousin. She was born in Monmouth Co., New Jersey, about 1690. They lived at Freehold in Monmouth County, New Jersey, before moving to Virginia. He was evidently honest, intelligent, ambitious, and enterprising. His first recorded appearance in Virginia is on 21 January 1734 when he was appointed one of the justices of the newly formed Orange County. His name appears frequently in land transactions in various parts of the Shenandoah Valley. His most important enterprise was the settlement of "Borden's Great Tract," a grant to him from King George II of England of 92,100 acres in what later became Rockbridge County, Virginia. The legend has been told that he killed a young buffalo, presented it at Williamsburg to Governor GOOCH, who was so delighted that 500,000 acres were granted to him. Another version of the legend claims that Benjamin captured a buffalo calf, sent it to England as a present for the Queen, who out of appreciation granted him 100,000 acres in the Virginia Valley. Benjamin's legal requirement as proprietor of this tract was to put up a bond of 1800 pounds and settle within a stated time a minimum number of families on the tract. He was to receive a thousand acres of land for each cabin built on the tract. When he first set out to inspect the area, he became lost. He stumbled upon the camp of a backwoods family, the son John McDowell being a surveyor. Benjamin promised him 1000 acres if he could help him find all his land. The land was thoroughly surveyed before December 1738. Some sources claim that Benjamin travelled to England once or twice and brought back settlers, though no evidence has been found for this. Benjamin received his patent on 8 November 1739 after 92 cabins had been constructed in the area. As one might expect, there came to be many lawsuits involving this large land grant. He died in 1743 near Winchester, Virginia, shortly after his appointment as one of the original justices of Frederick County, Virginia. From Benjamin's will it is estimated he owned 120,000 acres of land, including several tracts on the lower forks of the James River. Most of the land was ordered sold by the will and the proceeds divided among the children. It took until 1897 (154 years) before all "known" descendants were satisfied with the division and further court battles ended. (The Cowan descendants, all among the unknown heirs to the estate, never learned of the case so lost their share in 1907. The documents related to this case were filed in Drawer #1 in the Circuit Clerk's office of Augusta County, Virginia, in 1841 and 1897. The file was identified as "Jacob PECK's Adm'r vs. Jno. BORDEN's heirs and Jno. BORDEN's heirs vs. Jos. BORDEN's heirs.") Zeruiah remarried about 1747 to Joseph WRIGHT. They were living in Hamilton Parish, Prince William Co., Virginia, in 1748. She died from smallpox about 1751/53. Benjamin and Zeruiah left ten children: Hannah (BORDEN) ROGERS (c.1711-prob. before 1760), Abigail (BORDEN) WORTHINGTON PRITCHARD (b. c.1713), Rebecca (BORDEN) BRANSON (c.1710-c.1780), Mercy (BORDEN) FERNLEY BURKE McKAY, Benjamin BORDEN (1715-1753), Deborah (BORDEN) HENDRY (d. 1799), John BORDEN, Sr. (c.1718/19-1798), Lydia (BORDEN) PECK (1728-1800), Elizabeth (Eliza) (BORDEN) PATTON NICHOLAS (d. c.1752), and Joseph BORDEN (c.1734-1803).


Hopewell Friends

(Hopewell Friends was a community of Quakers in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the residents of which emigrated to America to avoid religious persecution)

Benjamin Borden was born in 1692, a son of Benjamin Borden and ---- Grover, near Freehold, N. J., and died in Frederick County, Va., in 1743. He married Zeruiah Winter of West New Jersey, and came to Virginia sometime in 1732. He was prominent in the affairs of the county and was appointed to the first bench of justices on the organization of Orange County in 1734, and of Frederick County, when it was set off from Orange in 1743. He with others was the subject of religious persecution by the Orange court in October and November, 1737. His will, dated April 3, 1742, and probated October 9, 1743, in Frederick County, mentions his wife Zeruiah, his sons Benjamin Jr., John, and Joseph, and his daughters Abigail, wife of Jacob Worthington, Hannah, wife of Capt. Edward Rogers, Mercy, wife of William Fearnley, Rebeckah, wife of Thomas Branson, Elizabeth, wife of ---- Branson, and Deborah and Lidy, still single. Witnesses: Thomas Sharp, Lancelot Westcott, Edward O. Borden, Thomas Hankins, and Thomas Rogers.

The religious persecution of his family continued after his death, and the Frederick County records show that on May 7, 1746, the grand jury for that county presented Zeruiah Borden, Deborah Borden, and Mercy Fearnley "for speaking several prophane, scandalous and contemptable words against the Holy Order of Baptism."


Benjamin Borden’s Will 1743

In the name of God Amen the third day of April in the year e of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & forty two I Benajmin Borden of Orange County in Virginia yeoman being in good estate of helth and of sound mind & membery thangs be given to God for it therefore calling unto mind the mortality of my body I do make this my last Will and Testamen tthat is to say princiablely & first of all I give & recommend my sole unto God that give it and for my body I recommend it to the Earth to be buried in a Christianlike manner at the decretion of my Ex'rs nothing douting but at the General Reserrection I shall recive the same again by the Mighty Power of God and touching such worlly estate it hath pleased God to bless me with in this life I give & dispose of the same in the manner & form following: Imprismiss I will all the funeral charges & my just debts should be paid and satisfied. Item I give & bequeath to Zeruiah Borden my wife all the improvement & what lands shee has or shall have a leation (? ) to ... as long as shee remains my widow & if shee should get married then shee shall have but half the improvement and what Land shee & her husband should have leation (? ) to clear of this plantation I now live on in Orange County in Virginia on Spaught Run during her natural life Item I give & bequeath to my son Benajmin Borden & my son Joh n Borden & my son Joseph Borden to them & there heirs & assigns forever this plantation and the lot on the said Spaught Run that my ...... lands on of one hundred and fifty acres that I have agreed to rent to my said three sons to be equilly devided between son Benajmin Borden & my son John & my son Joseph Borden in qualtity to be divided by way of lots drawing between my sons Benjamin & John & Joseph Borden guardians that is all this plantation I now live on excepting eight hundred acres I give to Edward Rogers and his wife Hannah Rogers and the heirs of her body forever, and five hundred acres I give William Fearnley & my daughter Marcey his wife to them & there heirs for ever. Item I give to my daughter Hannah Rogers but five shilling shee having her posion before. My Will is all my lands & estate that I have in New Jersey then to be sold and all my land at Bulsken and my land on Smith Creek & North Sherrando and all my enterrys every where and all my lands on the waters of James River should be sold excepting five thousand acres of land that is all good I give to five of my daughters that is Abegal Worthington and Rebeckah Branson and to Debourah Borden & Ledy Borden and to Elezabeth Borden that is one thousand acres of good land apease to every one of the sd five daughters above mentioned to them & their heirs and assigns forever. And all the rest of my land to be soldd aforesaid excepting this I now live on to be all sold and eaquelly divided between my wife & my son Benjamin my son John & my son Joseph and my daughter Abagal Worthington and daughter Rebeckah Branson and my daughter Marcey Fearnly & my Deburah Borden & my daughter Elizabeth Borden & my daughter Lidy Borden and my moveables to be devided between my said wife and sons Benjamin Borden Joseph Borden and my aforesaid six daughters Abegal Rebeckah Marcey and Deburah Lidy & Lezabeth Borden first before my movabl eestate be devided there must be taken out my grate brown riding horse and my bay mare that cam of my grate hip shot May and the best bed witt firniture to it good that I have in the house that I give to my wife first & all the test to be eaquelly between my wife & my aforesaid three sons and my six daughters as aforesaid devided. I constitute and apoint my wife Executrick & my son Benjamin Borden & my son in law William Fearnly Executors to this my last Will & Testament and to Execute deeds for the land I have sold and all other wills made by me void between the sixteen and seventeen line the words this plantation is interlined & lower down the words be & all & my & acres is interlines before ssealing & signing in the sixth line it is blated the word God in the firfteen line the Words and no longer is blated out and the words shee haveing five shillings is blated out the word Exectuors all blotted out before seeling & signing and the words and assigns is blotted out before sealing & signing - Benjam Borden Sealed and Delivered in the presents of us - Thomas Sharp [his mark]Lancelot WestcottEdward Corder [his mark]Thomas Haenkins [his mark]Thomas Raxcer [could this be a Roger?] At a court held for Frederick County on Fayday the 9th day of Oc'ber 1743.


Family Data Collection - Individual Records about Benjamin Borden

Name: Benjamin Borden

Spouse: Zeruiah Winter

Parents: Benjamin Borden, Abigail Grover

Birth Place: Monmouth Co, NJ

Birth Date: 6 Apr 1675

Death Place: Winchester, VA

Death Date: 1743


U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 about Benjamin Borden

Name: Benjamin Borden

Gender: Male

Birth Place: NJ

Birth Year: 1675

Spouse Name: Zeruiah Winter

Spouse Birth Year: 1691

Marriage Year: 1711

Number Pages: 1

Benjamin Borden was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey, the son of Benjamin Borden and Abigail Grover-Borden. Little is known about his early life, but in April 1726 his name appeared on a deed as an inhabitant of Freehold, New Jersey, where he was probably acting as a land agent and speculator. Borden married a cousin, Zeruiah Winter, and they had at least three sons and seven daughters.

By April 1734, Borden had taken up residence in Virginia in the northern, or lower, portion of the Shenandoah Valley. On October 3, 1734, Borden received a patent for 3,143 acres in an area of what is now Clarke County that came to be called Borden's Great Spring Tract. He raised tobacco and lived there until his death. In addition to acquiring other tracts in the lower Valley near Apple Pie Ridge, Bullskin Run, and Smith's Creek, Borden received 100,000 acres along the branches of the James River in the upper part of the Shenandoah Valley in May 1735 from the governor's Council. According to an apocryphal story, he obtained this large grant by winning the favor of Lieutenant Governor William Gooch through the gift of a buffalo calf. For the next four years Borden gave much of his attention to fulfilling the settlement requirement for the grant of one family for every 1,000 acres. On November 6, 1739, he solidified his claim to this land by receiving a patent for 92,100 acres of what by then was called the Borden Tract.

Borden was among the most important of those land promoters, also including William Beverley, Jost Hite, and Alexander Ross, whose activities helped populate Virginia's first frontier settlements west of the Blue Ridge. By actively recruiting among recent emigrants from the north of Ireland, Borden furthered the emergence of an ethnically and religiously pluralistic society in the region. After his death the duty of settling the Borden Tract fell to his namesake son, who also served as a militia captain and justice of the peace in Augusta County. Legal disputes over surveys and deeds on the Borden lands were not fully resolved until 1885. Other complaints about large land grants also arose. In 1786, residents of Rockbridge County in the upper part of the Shenandoah Valley protested to the General Assembly that the large colonial grants represented "hard and oppressive" monopolies characteristic of monarchies, "where the natural rights of men are so much abused." They complained that the speculators had avoided paying taxes on their land and had sold the actual settlers small tracts at excessive prices. The petitioners requested the legislators to resurvey the tract and dispose of ungranted land at reasonable prices. Borden's reputation had become that of a beneficiary of privilege rather than an entrepreneur opening to ordinary immigrants the possibility of landownership.

Borden was appointed a justice of the peace for the area northwest of the Blue Ridge in April 1734 and was a member of the Orange County Court in January 1735. His name appeared second in seniority in the list of the first justices of the peace for Frederick County in October 1743, but he did not serve in this capacity. Benjamin Borden wrote his will on April 3, 1742, and died probably about the time that the new county's court began to function in November 1743. His will was proved before the justices of the Frederick County Court on December 9, 1743.

( - thx, Angie)

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Benjamin Fowle Borden, II's Timeline

April 6, 1675
Middletown, Monmouth, New Jersey
Age 20
Cumberland, Providence County, Rhode Island, United States
Age 31
Staunton, Virginia, United States
Age 34
Monmouth Co., NJ
Age 35
Frederick, Virginia
Age 37
Botetourt County, Virginia, United States
Age 37
Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey
Age 39
Frederick, Virginia
Age 42
Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States
Age 52
Monmouth, New Jersey