Catherine (Digges) Herndon

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Catherine Herndon (Digges)

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

Daughter of Edward Digges, Colonial Governor of Virginia and Elizabeth Digges
Wife of 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 (Digges) 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.

Youngest daughter of Governor Edward Digges.

From Family Puzzler 1105, page 7. DIGGES-HERNDON MARRIAGE IN 1677 ...

Dr. Julian D Kelly, Jr. 601 E 66th St., Savannah, Ga 31405 has prepared an evaluation of this family connection, after having doubts as to the accuracy of some published lineages. While official records of the Herndon-Digges marriage were never discovered, Dr. Kelly brings to light a number of factors which seem to confirm this union.

The families lived near each other. Two different families of descendants named a daughter Catherine Digges Herndon, so one would believe that at the time both families knew the name of their early ancestress. These two families had in common ONLY the immigrant William Herndon and Catherine Digges!

Until conflicting records can be found, one will have to accept this circumstantial evidence to prove the marriage of William and Catherine. He also reminds us that there are times when the preponderance of evidence may have to substitute for clear proof. Perhaps as researchers go deeper into colonial and British records that missing proof will come to light. Until then, he makes a good case from the records at hand.

"The first published reference to the Digges-Herndon marriage originated from information supplied by Mr. Moncure Daniel Conway (1832-1907)..."

I.William Herndon m 1677 Catherine Digges, youngest dau. of Edward Digges, Governor of Va in 1655.

II. Edward Herndon, William's eldest son, was b 1678, m 1698 Mary Waller. Their two sons:

III. Edward Herndon, eldest son of Edward and Mary Waller, m Mary Brock and

III. William Herndon, son of Edward and Mary Waller, m Ann Drysdale, dtr of Lt. Gov. Hugh Drysdale.

Conway stated that he thought of writing a sketch on the Herndon family, and for this reason had gathered information on the family from original records of New Kent Co Va before they were destroyed by fire in 1871, and from some old letters. A quilt existed in the Dudley Digges House in Yorktown that bore the name of Catherine Digges...."

The lineage was continued by J.G. Herndon in THE HERNDON FAMILY OF VIRGINIA (1947), as the families moved to Ga:

Edward Herndon Sr., b 7-16-1739, d 5-11-1831, m 11-30-1762 Mary Ann Gaines b 5-10-1742, d 6-15-1829

Edward Herndon Jr b 5-6-1758, d 9-22-1827, m 8-18-1792 Nancy Ann Rucker b 5-8-1845.

_______________________________ Catherine was born in 1654 in Hampton, Elizabeth City, Virginia. Catherine's father was Edward Digges and her mother was Elizabeth Page. Her paternal grandparents were Sir Dudley Digges and Mary Kempe; her maternal grandparents were Francis Page and Isabel Wyatt. She had two brothers and a sister, named William, Dudley and Mary. She was the second oldest of the four children. She died at the age of 75 in 1729 inCaroline County, Virginia. General Notes A few people say there is no hard proof that Catherine Digges is the daughter of Edward Digges, but I think it's pretty likely. "The Digges and Herndon marriage, though well established by evidence, has become controversial because of a debunking article published by Ross Boothe, Jr. many years ago [I think 1893]. However, Boothe's arguments were throughly answered by Albert Caswell Metts in his book "Metts Ancestors in America: The Direct Line", 1984. The Herndon -The Digges Connection is established at length in readable prose and with good and complete documentation on pages 213-221. Anyone who questions or studies this line should read this material, usually the book is in libraries."

There is also evidence of the marriage and parents of Catherine Digges in family records and Bibles. Ancestor Pedigree Chart James Digges* - b.~ 1473 in Digge’s Court, Barham, Kent, England d.~ 1536 Leonard Digges - b.~ 1520 in Digge’s Court, Barham, Kent, England d.~ 1559 in England Philippa Engham* - b. in Chart, Kent, England Thomas Digges - b.~ 1546 in Digge’s Court, Barham, Kent, England d.24 Aug 1595 in London, England Bridget Wilsford Sir Dudley Digges - b.~19 May 1583 in Chilham Castle, Kent, England d.18 Mar 1639 in Chilham Castle, Kent, England Anthony St Leger* - b.~ 1496 d.16 Mar 1559 Sir Warham St Leger - b.1525 d.1599 in Cork, Ireland Agnes Warham* - b.1504 in Croydon, Surrey, England d.08 Mar 1558 in Ulcombe, Kent, England Anne St Leger - b.1555 in Ulcombe, Kent, England d.~ 1636 in England Sir George Neville, 5th Baron Bergavenny* - b.~ 1469 d.28 Sep 1535 Ursula de Neville - b.~ 1528 in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, England d.1575 in Ulcombe, Kent, England Mary Stafford* Edward Digges - b.29 Mar 1621 in Chilham Castle, Kent, England d.15 Mar 1675 in Bellfield Plantation, York County, Virginia William Kempe* - b.~ 1478 in Ollantigh, Chilham, Kent, England d.1539 Thomas Kempe, Sheriff of Kent - b. in Ollantigh, Chilham, Kent, England d.07 Mar 1591 Eleanor Browne* Thomas Kempe - b.1551 in Chilham, Kent, England d.1607 in Ollantigh, Chilham, Kent, England Sir Thomas Moyle* - b.< 1500 in Chilham, Kent, England d.02 Oct 1560 Amy Moyle - d.1557 Catherine Jordeyne* Mary Kempe - b.1583 in Ollantigh, Chilham, Kent, England d.1631 Anne - b.07 Nov 1551 in Wye, Kent, England d.May 1629 in Wye, Kent, England

Catherine Digges - b.1654 in Hampton, Elizabeth City, Virginia d.1729 in Caroline County, Virginia John Page - b.1521 in England Richard Page - b.~01 Jan 1564 in Boxted, Essex, England d.13 Nov 1605 in Boxted, Essex, England Audrey Redding Francis Page - b.13 Oct 1594 in Bedfont, Middlesex, England d.13 Oct 1678 in Bedfont, Middlesex, England Frances Mudge Elizabeth Page - b.1615 in England or Hampton, Elizabeth City, Virginia d.24 Sep 1691 in York County, Virginia Sir Thomas (the Elder) Wyatt* - b.1503 in Allington Castle, Boxley, Kent, England d.11 Oct 1542 Thomas Wyatt - b.1521 in Allington Castle, Middlesex, England d.11 Apr 1554 in London, England Elizabeth Brooke* - b.~ 1503 in Cobham, Kent, England d.~ 1560 Sir George Wyatt - b.~ 1550 in Allington Castle, Boxley, Kent, England d.01 Sep 1623 in Ireland William Haute Jane Hawte - b.~ 1522 in Allington Castle, Boxley, Kent, England


Isabel Wyatt - b.1595 in Allington Castle, Middlesex, England William Finch* - d.1553 Thomas Finch - b.~ 1525 in Eastwell, Kent, England d.19 Mar 1563 in enroute to Le Havre Elizabeth Cromer* - b.~ 1475 Lady Jane Finch - b.~ 1560 in Eastwell, Kent, England d.27 Mar 1644 in Allington Castle, Boxley, Kent, England Sir Thomas Moyle* - b.< 1500 in Chilham, Kent, England d.02 Oct 1560 Catherine Moyle - b.~ 1529 in Eastwell, Kent, England Catherine Jordeyne*

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Catherine (Digges) 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
January 2, 1990
Age 75
January 23, 1990
Age 75
February 23, 1990
Age 75