Col. John Wise Sr.

Is your surname Wise?

Research the Wise family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Related Projects

Colonel John Wise, Sr.

Birthplace: Sydenham, Damerel, Devon, England
Death: November 19, 1695 (78)
South Chesconessex, Accomack, Virginia, British Colonial America
Place of Burial: Chesonmack, Virginia
Immediate Family:

Husband of Hannah Wise
Father of Mary E. Anderson; Hon. John Wise, Jr.; Barbary Nicholson; Hannah Scarburgh; William Wise, I and 1 other

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Col. John Wise Sr.

He is not a son of Sir Thomas Wise and Mary Buller; Sir Thomas Wise who married Mary Buller died 24 years before John Wise, the emigrant to Virginia, was born.

His ancestry is not specifically known, but that he belonged to the Wise family of Sydenham, Devon is likely. (Or not - his naming a property "Clifton" may be significant; Sydenham House is in the parish of Marystow. Clifton, Devon, is sixty miles away.) He did not, however, descend from Sir Thomas Wise, KB, MP, and probably not from his father Thomas Wise of Sydenham either. The latter, however, had either four or five brothers, and descent from one of the younger siblings (James, Charles, Erkenbold, or the sometimes-included Nicholas) is a possibility.


John Wise was the first of this family in Virginia. He sailed from Gravesend, England 4 July 1635 on the ship "Transport", and settled in Accomac, then Northampton County. When Accomac was formed from this county in 1662, he served as a Justice, and Speaker of the House of Delegates. He was a Colonel of the Accomac Militia. On 24 Mar 1655 he patented 200 acres of land on Nandua Creek. His wife Hannah was named as one of the headrights. In 1663 he owned 1200 acres in Accomac, Virginia. Land being passed down without transfer of deed for generations.

In 1662, he was one of the Justices.

He was granted by Heads of State, the right to possess a family insignia, once among the most closely guarded rights of Western Society. It is in the registry of Virginia families that were allowed a coat of arms. (source: The Virginia Heraldica)

From John Sergeant Wise's The End of An Era (Houghton, Mifflin and Co., The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1899):

In 1655, we find him [John Wise] locating his grant from Governor Diggs on Nandua Creek, and in 1662, he was one of the first presiding justices of the newly formed county of Accawmacke In this year, also, the Indian chief Ekeekes, for "seven Dutch blankets" sold him the two thousand acre tract in Chesconesseck, named "Clifton" by its new purchaser - a tract of which the greater part descended without deed from father to son for six generations, until sold to pay the debts of the seventh heir, who was killed in 1864 in the American war between the States.,,


  • Ye kingdome of Accawmacke, or, The Eastern Shore of Virginia in the seventeenth century (1911)
  • Pg.87
  • John Wise, of Devonshire, the progenitor of the Wise family in Virginia, sailed, according to Hotten, from Gravesend in the ship Transport, bound for Virginia, July 4, 1635, and settled on the Eastern Shore. He was a mere youth when he arrived in Accomac, but soon married Hannah, the daughter of Captain Edmund Scarburgh, and from him five consecutive generations of John Wises de- .... __________________________
  • John Wise
  • Birth: 1617, England Death: 1695 Accomack County, Virginia, USA
  • Justice of General Court. Colonel of Accomac Militia.
  • Husband of Hannah Scarburgh, and Father of John Wise, Barbara Wise Robbins, Hannah Wise, Mary Wise Anderson, Johannis Wise, & William Wise.
  • Family links:
  • Spouse:
  • Hannah Scarburgh Wise (1622 - 1693)*
  • Children:
    • John Wise (____ - 1717)*
  • Burial: Wise Cemetery, Accomack County, Virginia, USA
  • From: _____________________
  • Col. John Wise of England and Virginia (1617-1695) ; his ancestors and descendants (1918)
  • The parentage of the immigrant John Wise is unknown, but, with the many clues which the ancient records of the family of Wise in England afford, and those to be found in the court records of England and Accomack County, Virginia, it would seem to be but a matter of trouble and expense to establish the connection of the English and American branches of the family with exactitude.
  • It seems fairly certain that the immigrant was of the Devonshire family of Wise. The late Governor Henry A. Wise wrote, in his "Seven Decades of the Union." that he was descended from Sir William Wise, and that the Wises were from the North of England. He was obviously mistaken as to the locality where the familv was seated. While using the motto of the Devon family — "Sapere aude" — he took the head of Minerva for a family crest — the head of the Goddess of Wisdom being appropriate to the family name of Wise. .... etc.
  • While it is not necessary to establish the lineage of the immigrant—John Wise of Accawmacke — consideration of the subject is interesting. His own record is such, and the legal records of his descendants are so perfectly well established for three centuries, that the latter may say of him, as Junot said of himself, that he was his own ancestor.
  • In the Home Office, London, is recorded a petition of one William Hudson to the Commissioners for the Admiralty and Navy, dated 1634, for the release of John Wise, his kinsman, from a ship called the John and Catherine, John Miller, Master, bound for the Barbadoes. This petition recites that John Wise
  • "coming to town, being a country lad, was deceived and most violently brought on board." and that "he being forced aboard against his will it will not be only the heartbreaking of his parents, but utter ruin for the lad, who was sent to town for better fortune."
  • How much of this petition is legal verbiage, and how much an accurate statement of fact is unknown. It undoubtedly set forth the best plea possible, and, therefore, the boy actually may not have been forced upon the ship, but may have entered into a contract of labor for his passage, which was a common practice. At any rate, there was some reason why it was necessary to invoke the aid of a court to release him. But without regard to this point, the petition would seem to establish several facts, to-wit : that the John Wise referred to therein did not sail for Barbadoes in 1634, that his home was in the country, that his parents were living, that he was not heir to any large estate, and that he was sent to town by his parents in order that he might better his fortune, and that he was in the ship without the approval of his parents, whether voluntarily or by duress.
  • Furthermore, we know that he did not sail on the John and Catherine for the Barbadoes, for he and the same William Hudson were later booked to sail for America on the merchant ship Bonaventure, James Roccost, Master, January 2, 1634, and, failing to cross on this vessel, took passage for Virginia from Gravesend, July 4, 1635, on the ship Transport, appearing as William Hudson, age twenty, and John Wise, age eighteen. The names of both soon appeared in the records of the Shire of Accawmacke, Virginia, where John Wise married Hannah, the daughter of Capt. Edmund Scarburgh and his wife, Hannah Butler. ______________________________
view all 11

Col. John Wise Sr.'s Timeline

November 16, 1617
Sydenham, Damerel, Devon, England
November 16, 1617
St. Martin, Birmingham, Warwick, England
Clifton, Fairfax County, Virginia, British Colonial America
Clifton, Accomack County, Virginia, Colonial America
Clifton, Accomack, Virginia, United States
Clifton, Accomack, Virginia, United States
Clifton, Accomack County, Virginia
Northampton (now Accomack) County, Virginia
November 19, 1695
Age 78
South Chesconessex, Accomack, Virginia, British Colonial America