About William Thornton, IV
William "The Immigrant" Thornton
- Birth: 1620 in "The Hills", Yorkshire, England
- Parents: William Thornton, Bridget Marshall
- Married: Alicia Billington, Elizabeth Rowland
- Death: 1708 in Cod's Creek, Stafford County, Virginia
- Burial: "Fall Hill", Stafford County. Virginia
- 1634, York County, Virginia was formed (known as Charles River County until 1643).
- 1651, Lancaster County was formed from York and Northumberland Counties, Virginia.
- 1651, Gloucester County was formed from York County, Virginia.
- 1653, Westmoreland County was formed from Northumberland County, Virginia (part of King George County was added in 1777).
- 1656, (Old) Rappahannock County was formed from Lancaster County. It became extinct in 1692 when it was divided into Essex and Richmond counties.
- 1664, Stafford County was formed from Westmoreland County, Virginia.
- 1669, Middlesex County was formed from Lancaster County, Virginia.
- 1692, Richmond County and Essex County was formed from Old Rappahannock County, Virginia.
- 1720, King George County was formed from Richmond County (Part of Westmoreland County was added in 1777).
- 1720, Spotsylvania County was formed from Essex, King and Queen and King William Counties, Virginia.
- 1833, Rappahannock County was formed from Culpeper County, Virginia.
He died in 1708 at the home of his son, Col. Francis Thornton, in Stafford County, and it is stated that his tombstone bears his Coat of Arms, (See Crozier's "General Armory," 1904 edition, page 126, Burke's "General Armory," 1878 edition, page 1010.) Crozier, best considered of all of the plublished American heraldic authorities, records the above described coat and crest as authentic for descendants of William Thornton, of "The Hills", Yorkshire, England who came to America and settled in York County, Virginia, in the year 1646. Burke, British authority, records the same as authentic for the family of Thornton, of Scarborough, Yorkshire, which was the center of residence of this family. Kirkland Hall, in Lancaster, was the seat of one line. This line bore the lion's head of red. A line owning the estate of Birkin, in Yorkshire, England, bore the lion's head of purple, and placed the cornoet around the nect of hte lion rahter than under it. A Yorkshire line with branchess in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, England, bore the same armsw, but changed the crest to a dragon's head nad wings of silver issuing from the ducal coronet of gold. O'Hart, in the 1923 edition of his "Irish Pedigrees," Volume 2, states that the Thorntons of England were among the twelve families among whom Queen Elizabeth divided 111,000 acres in the County of Limerick, in Ireland, which she had taken from the FitzGeralds, Earls of Desmond. This accounts for the branches of the family which settled in Ireland."
In Virginia, there have been several different families of this name, the largest and most prominent has been that which originally settled in Gloucester county, spread to Stafford, King George, Richmond, Northumberland, Essex, Caroline, Spottsylvania, Orange, Culpeper, Madison, Brunswick, and other counties, and has now representatives in almost every State in the Union. (2)
This William Thornton originally settled in York County and later moved to Stafford County where he built a home and named it "The Hills."
William Thorneton is a headright of William Pryor who received 1300 acres on the north side of Charles River in 1642 (York County, Va.?) (5) This may be the same William Prior who died between 1646 - 1647 and owned the ship Honor.
The first of the name of whom there is any record is said to have come from Yorkshire. On May 11, 1646, William Thornton obliged himself, by a paper recorded in York county (including Gloucester), to care for the cattle of John Liptrot until the latter came of age. [York County, Virginia Wills & Deeds, 1645-1649, #2 page 278/9] (2)
In 1649 he received a land grant of 164 acres in Gloucester County, the grant being awarded for the transfer of 4 persons from England, this being one of the first Patents in Virginia. (Virginia Land Patent Book 5, page 573.)
On February 16th, 1665-'66, as "Mr. William Thornton", he had a grant of 164 acres of land, in Petsworth parish, Gloucester, adjoining the land where he lived, and that of Mr. Richard Barnard. And in 1675, William Thornton, Sr., filed a deed of gift to his four children: Francis, Rowland, William and Esther.
He was a vestryman of Petsworth parish in 1677.(1) There is on record in Essex a power of attorney, dated September, 1673, from William Thornton, of Gloucester, to James Kay, of Rappahannock County, concerning 2,000 acres of land in the freshes of Rappahannock, on the north side of the river, adjoining the lands of Andrew Buckner, Col. Wm. Ball, and Mr. Richard Whitehead, and Muddy Creek, a tract of land which he had bought from Mott. (2)
On November 4, 1679, William issued the below deed to his wife, Elizabeth in Rappahannock County, Virginia. (4) William Thornton to his wife, Elizabeth (NOTE: Spelling updated to current practice)
November 4, 1679
Know all men by these presents that I, William Thornton for the consideration of the acknowledgement of the thirds or dower my wife, Elizabeth Thornton, now has or hereafter may have of and to one dividend of six hundred acres of land sold to Mr. Waters and his heirs, have given, granted, bargained, sold, aliened, feeoffeed and confirmed unto my said now wife, one mare about three years old also a sorrel color, whitish in the forehead and marked with a hole in the right ear. And also one yearling cow calf marked with two cross and two shoats natural marked, being black with a white face. To have and to hold the said mare and her increase (except one weanable foal), such as the said William Thornton or his heirs or assigns shall at any time hereafter make choice of happens to have fallen so from the above said mare, upon such demand as the said Thornton or his assigns shall make together with the so above said yearling cow calf, with all their & every of their increase, unto the aforesaid Elizabeth Thornton & to her own proper use, & to her heirs and assigns forever (except as before excepted)……. all of him the said William Thornton, his heirs or assigns, or any other person claiming from by or under him, them any of them.
In witness whereof I have here unto set both my hand & seal this 4th day of November 1679.
Sealed & delivered in fee (S) William Thornton (SEAL) Recorded in Circuit Court Rappahannock anno 1649 Edmo. Craske Cl Cur
1. As shown in (Old) Rappahannock Deed Book 6, Page 86, William Thornton issued a deed to John Waters on October 22, 1678.
2. Rappahannock County Deeds 1682-88, VII, Page 265 includes a deed dated 7 April 1686 from John Waters to John Savage showing Savage paying Waters 3,750 pounds of tobacco for 200 acres in Gloucester County on the South side of Piscaton Creek, land purchased by Waters from Wm. Thornton.
There is also recorded in Essex, in 1708, a deed, dated July 16, 1675, from William Thornton, of Gloucester, gentleman, to Francis and Rowland, "two of his sons", conveying 2,000 acres in Rappahannock county, and also a power of attorney, dated 1708, from Wm Thornton, formerly of Gloucester, but now of Stafford, authorizing the confirmation of said deed. So in his old age Wm. Thornton removed from Gloucester to Stafford. (2)
He died in 1708 at the home of his son, Col. Francis Thornton, in Stafford County, and it is stated that his tombstone bears his Coat of Arms, (See Crozier's "General Armory," 1904 edition, page 126, Burke's "General Armory," 1878 edition, page 1010.). (3)
- Arms: Argent, a chevron sable between three hawthorne trees proper.
- Crest: Out of a ducal Coronet or, a lions head proper.
- Motto: None recorder, few of the older arms being accompanied by recorded mottos. One Yorkshire line of the family used the motto: Deo spes mes (My hope is in God).
- Authority: Crozier's "General Armory," 1904 edition, page 126. Burke's "Geneal Armory," 1878 edition, page 1010.
Crozier, best considered of all of the published American heraldic authorities, records the above described coat and crest as authentic for descendants of William Thornton, of "The Hills," Yorkshire, England, who came to America and settled in York County, Virginia, in the year 1646.
Burke, British authority, records the same as authentic for the family of Thornton, Scarborough, Yorkshire, which was the center of the residence of this family. Kirkland Hall, in Lancaster, was the seat of one line. This line bore the lion's head of red. A line owning the estate of Birkin, in Yorkshire, England, bore the lion's head of purple, and placed the coronet around the neck of the lion rather than under it. A Yorkshire line with branches in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, England, bore the same arms, but changed the crest to a dragon's head and wings of silver issuing from the ducal coronet of gold.
O'Hart, in the 1923 edition of his "Irish Pedigrees," Volume 2, states that the Thorntons of England were among the twelve families among whom Queen Elizabeth divided 111,000 acres in the County of Limerick, in Ireland, which she had taken from the FitzGeralds, Earls of Desmond. This accounts for the branches of the family which settled in Ireland.
It is believed, although no proof exist, that William Thornton married, first Elisa Belling, about 1640/42, a daughter of Luke Belling (Bellington?) and Elisa Russell in Linenburg Parish, Richmond County, Virginia. (13) He married second Elizabeth Rowland, March 27, 1648 in Gloucester County, Virginia. (See also deed, Rappahannock County, Deed Book 6, Page 83 which lists wife "Elizabeth"). I believe the importance of the Thornton - Belling marriage was to ligitimize Luke Thornton as a son of William. However, the Thornton DNA project has conclusively proved that Luke was not a son of William the Immigrant. There has been no evidence to show that William the Immigrant had a first wife nor any additional children other than the one's listed by Elizabeth Rowland.
After doing lots of research I have concluded that William THORNTON could NOT have married Eliza BILLINGTON, the daughter of Luke BILLINGTON as is currently believed.
To come to this conclusion, I first searched for information on the Wills of Luke Billington and his wife Barbara, of Rappahannock County, Va. which were proved in 1672 and 1674. This listed their children: Luke, Elitia, Elizabeth, Jane, Barbara and Mary. (6) (12)
Several sources have shown that Elizabeth is the one who went by Eliza and that Elitia was also known as Alicia. I also found that Eliza Billington married Dennis McCarty and had at least one child by 1679 as is shown in the quote below. (7) (12)
"Captain Daniel McCarty, of Cople Parish, Westmoreland County, the son of Dennis and Eliza (Billington) McCarty of Northumberland County, was born in 1679, and died May 4, 1724." (12)
Since it is believed that Luke and Edward Thornton were born circa 1642-1646, you could assume that their mother was 18 when Luke was born - but this would make Eliza 55 years old when her son Daniel was born by Dennis McCarty. Something which is quite unlikely. I therefore decided that Luke, Jr. must have had a daughter named Eliza and that this is the one who married Dennis McCarty. However, I've discovered that Luke, Jr. died without issue. (8)
I also checked on Alicia/Elitia in case I had the wrong daughter and found that Alicia married John Russell on September 11, 1673. (9)
"RUSSELL, JOHN married Alicia Billington, 11 September 1673. NFPR, p.161 (North Farnham Parish Register) (The bride was the daughter of Luke and Barbara Billington. Sweeny, p.16-17, 29.)" (9)
William had three sons by his second wife, William, Francis and Rowland. The son, William, was born 27 March, 1649, died 15 Feb., 1727. Like his father, he was a vestryman of Petsworth Parish. He married three times, and had sixteen children. Francis Thornton of Stafford County was born 5 Nov. 1651, and died 1726. His first wife was Alice, daughter of Capt. Anthony Savage of Gloucester, and by her had issue, seven children. He had no issue by his second wife. Rowland Thornton, third son of William, married Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Fleming. He was dead in 1701, and it is thought left no issue. (3)
We also know of one daughter. In a deed of gift to his sons, Francis, Rowland, and William, he named a daughter Esther. (Rappahannock County).
Various Virginia records reveal that the elder William and his three sons were active in matters pertaining to the purchase and sale of lands, involving some extensive tracts; they were active in the Church of England, the High Church, though at one time were, by their own request, removed as Vestrymen, publicly avowing their disbelief in the doctrine of Transubstantiation. They were Justices, members of the Burgess, and honored with various offices of public trust. (5)
(1) Meade, William. Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia, Volume I. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1857. Article XXVII. The following people were listed in the Vestry of Petsworth Parish: William Thornton, William Thornton, Jr., Francis Thornton, Seth Thornton, Sterling Thornton, and Meaux Thornton.
(2) William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 2. (Oct., 1895), pp. 89-93. "The Thornton Family" By W. G. Stanard. Online Source: http://searches.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/ifetch2?/u1/data/va+index+6584106797913+F
(3) Crozier, William Armstrong. Virginia Heraldica, Being a Registry of Virginia Gentry Entitled to Coat Armor, With Genealogical Notes of the Families. Richmond, VA: - , 1908.
(4) Deed, (Old) Rappahannock Deed Book 6, Page 83 (this deed is now kept in the current Essex County Courthouse). William Thornton to his wife, Elizabeth, November 4, 1679.
(5) Genealogies of Virginia Families, Volume V, "Some Thorntons", Pages 67-75.
(6 1) O'Brien, Michael J., The McCarthys in Early American History. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1921. Call Number: R929.2 M12
(7 2) Ancestral Records and Portraits vol.2 The Grafton Press. New York. 1910. Page 817. Call Number: R929.1 C72 v.2
(8) King, George H.S. (Compiled and Published), Marriages of Richmond County, Virginia (1668-1853), Page 246, "Luke, Jr., d.s.p., 1687 [Sweeny, p. 127-8.]."
(9) King, George Harrison Sanford, (Compiled and Published) Marriages of Richmond County, VA 1668-1853, 1964, page 175.
(10) Wilkerson, Eva Eubank, Index to Marriages of Old Rappahannock & Essex Counties, Virginia, (Whittet & Shepperson, Richmond, Virginia, 1953), Page 22, "1672 - Billington, Elitia, daughter of Luke Billington, married John Russell, Book W & D, Page 1, 114, 165."
(11) Genealogies of Virginia Families, Volume V, The Thornton Family (Compiled by W.G. Stanard), Pages 44-57. I have seen this article also in the William and Mary Quarterly.
(12) Genealogies of Virginia Families, Volume V, The Thornton Family (Compiled by W.G. Stanard), Pages 586-594.
(13) Thornton lineage by Adelle B. Harper, in the Georgia Magazine, volume 11, number 4 (Dec. 1967), pages 32-33. ----------
Fr. Jeff Duvall - email@example.com.
From the genealogical column of the Richmond (Va.) Times Dispatch of Sunday, October 23, 1904:" Later the following "From them was William Thornton, gentleman of the Hills, Yorkshire, who emigrated to Virginia and settled in York County 1646 in Pentworth Parish, new Gloucester County. He built his home four miles north of Gloucester Point, which he called "The Hills, after his English home. In later life he moved to Stafford County. He married THREE TIMES and had NINETEEN CHILDREN". [Marcine's note: William, Jr. married three times, no proof found that William, Sr. married three times. I believe he's got the two William's confused.]
Lineages of Hereditary Society Members, 1600s-1900s), Seventeenth Century Colonial Ancestors, Ancestors, Page 252.
The book says it's true that Wm. I married twice, but where did they find the documents that say so? "Thornton, William (1620 - ) Va.; m. Avice Russell & Elizabeth Howland (Rowland?). Landowner." "Thornton, William (1642-1708) Va.; m. Elisie Bellington. Landowner"
Virginia County Records, VII; Gloucester County, Book 5. Original Source Page #: 573 Name: Wm. Thornton Date: 1665 Comment: 164 acres
He was from Royalty, coming from Yorkshire, England no later than 1646, and settled in Stafford County, VA. His plantation was called Fall Hill, located in Stafford Co., VA., where he was buried. The Thorntons were originally fair-haired Norwegian Vikings. The family has been traced back to Firgot, about 13 generations before Rolla. The Norse spelled Thornton as Thurston. William, The Conqueror, from Normandy, was the great-grandson of Rolla. William, the Conqueror, was crowned King of England in 1066.
William Thornton, IV's Timeline
February 15, 1620
Stonegrave, Yorkshire , England
January 5, 1622
Harpers Lane, St Josephs Parish Centre (E-bound)
Location: Chorley Parish, Lancashire, England
Lunenburg Parish, Old Rappahannock, Virginia, United States
Richmond, Wise, Virginia
March 27, 1648
March 27, 1649
Petsworth Parish, Gloucester, Virginia, United States
November 5, 1651
Gloucester , Virginia