Catherine Herndon

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Catherine Herndon (Digges)

Birthplace: Elizabeth City, Hampton, Virginia
Death: Died in Caroline County, VA, USA
Place of Burial: Caroline County, Virginia
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Edward Digges, Colonial Governor of Virginia and Elizabeth Digges
Wife of Sir William Herndon and Sir William Herndon
Mother of Edward Herndon I; James C Herndon; Philip Herndon; William Herndon, II and Matilda Herndon Cline
Sister of Mary Kempe; Dep. Gov. Col. William Digges; Ann Digges and Dudley Digges

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Catherine Herndon

Catherine Digges's parentage has recently been called into question because her brothers and brother-in-law (and first cousin) did not include her in the distribution of her mother's property in 1692. I have left these links intact, because I believe she was one of the thirteen children of Edward and Elizabeth Page Digges, and was left out of the distribution for reasons that did not survive in the records—specifically the possible enmity of her brother William, who was head of family when she married.

My source is a compilation of original Virginia documents by a Huddleston descendant, who cites a 1698 reference to Catherine as William Herndon's wife and Edward Digges's daughter. This compilation is sympathetic to Nathaniel Bacon and his 1676 rebellion, and specifically to Bacon's right-hand man Thomas Hansford. It also gives an account of Captain William Digges, who accidentally came upon Hansford one day in York County. A sword fight ensued, which ended when William cut off one of Hansford's fingers, and Hansford fled. Shortly thereafter, the political tables turned and William himself had to flee for safety, to Maryland, only returning to Virginia after Bacon's death and Hansford's execution. The writer of the manuscript that describes this event added, "for her son's loyalty his mother [Mrs. Elizabeth Digges] suffered considerably in her estate.

If William Herndon supported Bacon, then William Digges may have disinherited his sister Catherine on her marriage in 1677. Or it simply could have been that Catherine had already received her portion of the estate, perhaps as a delayed marriage portion after her mother's finances recovered from brother William's actions. The four heirs who benefited from the distribution of the estate were all men involved in the distribution: brothers William, Dudley, and Edward, and brother-in-law/first cousin Francis Page, acting as guardian for his daughter Elizabeth Page. Catherine was the only surviving sister, and we do not know the details of the sisters' marriage portions. Elizabeth Page was not only Elizabeth Page Digges's namesake and granddaughter, but her great-niece, and she was a minor in 1691.

Several descendants have joined the Magna Charta Dames Society through the Digges-Herndon lineage. 

The Digges-Herndon lineage has also been accepted by the Colonial Dames of America.

Family links:

 Edward Digges (1621 - 1674)
 Elizabeth Page Digges (1625 - 1691)

 William Herndon (1649 - 1722)

 Edward Herndon (1678 - 1758)*
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: Unknown

Maintained by: Dee Originally Created by: P Fazzini

Resources that document Catherine Digges Herndon:

1. The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol. XXIII, p. 29, 1933 gives a detailed life of William Henry Herndon (1818-1891), the law partner of President Lincoln. It states Herndon's first known ancestor was William Herndon who patented land in St. Stephen's Parish, New Kent County, Virginia, in 1654, and that this William married Catherine daughter of Edward Digges, Governor of the Colony of Virginia.

2. The Virginia Historical Magazine, Vol. IX, p. 318, 1902 covers the early Herndons. It states that in 1677 William married Catherine Digges, youngest daughter of Edward Digges, Governor of Va.,. Also covered is the patent of land in 1674 in St. Stephen's Parish, New Kent County, Virginia.

3. The biography of Chester Alan Arthur, 21st president of the US, shows that he married Ellen Lewis Herndon (1837-1880) in the year 1859, and that she was descended from Catherine Digges (1654-1727) daughter of Gov. Digges of Virginia. This is the Catherine that married William Herndon (1649-1722) in the year 1677.

4. Listing of Immigrant Ancestors in Virkus..."Herndon, William (1649-1722) from England patented large tracts of land in St. Stephen's Parish, New Kent County, Virginia, Feb. 1673-74 and in 1677 married Catherind dau. of Gov. Edward Digges of Virginia.

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Catherine Herndon's Timeline

Elizabeth City, Hampton, Virginia
Age 23
New Kent, Virginia
March 1678
Age 24
New Kent,Virginia,USA
Age 26
New Kent, New Kent, Virginia, United States
Age 29
New Kent County, Virginia
Age 31
New Kent, New Kent, Virginia, United States
Age 75
Caroline County, VA, USA
January 2, 1990
Age 75
January 23, 1990
Age 75
February 23, 1990
Age 75