Cornelius Dabney Sr.

public profile

Is your surname d'Aubigne (Dabney)?

Research the d'Aubigne (Dabney) family

Cornelius Dabney Sr.'s Geni Profile

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!


Cornelius (the Interpreter) d'Aubigne (Dabney) (Dawbney), Sr

Also Known As: "Cornelius Dabney", "D'Aubigny", "d'Aubigne", "Daubeney", "Dabonie"
Birthdate: (63)
Birthplace: Bucknall, Lincolnshire, England.
Death: Died in St. Peter's Parish, New Kent County, Virginia Colony
Place of Burial: New Kent, Virginia
Immediate Family:

Son of Theodore Dabney and Dorothy Dabney
Husband of Susannah Anderson, of the Pamunkey and Edith Dabney
Father of Frances Dabney; Benjamin Dabney; Dorothy Trice; Mary Carr; Robert Dabney and 7 others

Managed by: Pam Wilson
Last Updated:

About Cornelius Dabney Sr.

Dabney McLean has written (

The origin of Cornelius Dabney, ancestor of the Dabneys of Colonial Virginia, never has been proven to my satisfaction. However, keeping in mind the variant spellings of the name, I would accept the preponderence of evidence that he was the "Cornelius Daubeny christened 11 Dec. 1631, the son of Theodor Daubney, town parish of Bucknall," Lincolnshire, England (Bishops Transcripts of Bucknall). "Theodor Dawbney was christened 6 June 1606, the son of John Daubney, town parish of Scotter,"Lincolnshire (Lincolnshire IGI, p. 6215). According to the Lincolnshire archivist (e-mailed to me on March 6. 1997), "it is highly likely" that Theodor was the son of "John Dawbney, born Scotter 1570, an alumnus of Cambridge University (St. John's College 1588), Vicar of Calverton, Nottinghamshire, and Rector of Scotter, Lincolnshire 1605-1610" (J. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigiensis, Part 1. From the Earliest Times to 1751, Vol. II (Fabbs-Juxton), 1922, p. 18). Theodor Dawbney married Dorothy Batts (Batte?) on 30 April 1630 (Bishops Transcripts of Bucknall). It is significant that Cornelius Dabney, the first in Virginia, named two daughters "Dorothy," presumably for his mother (see below). Unfortunately, no wills are extant for John, Theodor, and Cornelius Dawbney (Dabney).

Cornelius Debany (Dabony) was granted 200 acres in New Kent County, Virginia on 27 Sept. 1664 beg, at the mouth of Totopotomoys Cr. Upon the S. side of Yorke Riv., etc. (Patent Book #5, p. 406); 640 acres upon the lower side of Tottopotomoys Cr. etc. on 7 June 1666 (Patent Book # 5, p.625), and 100 acres on south side Yorke Riv. Above Totopotomoyes Cr. beg. at the mouth of same on 16 Mar. 1667/8 (Patent Book #6, p.114; Cavaliers and Pioneers by Nell Nugent, Vol. 1, pp. 515 and 559, and Vol. 2, p. 31).This land is now in Hanover County. In 1679 the Pamunkey Indians leased for 99 years "six or seven hundred acres" to Cornelius Dabney (English Duplicates of Lost Virginia Records, compiled by Louis des Cognets, Jr., p. 58). In Sainsbury's Abstracts of Colonial State Papers, in the Public Records Office in London, there are two letters from Cornelius Dabney, the "Interpreter to the Queen of Pamunkey." The first is a state letter from the Queen of the Pamunkeys translated by Cornelius Dabney in his official capacity and transmitted to Colonel Francis Moryson of the Royal Commission of Virginia. The second is a personal letter to Colonel Moryson, dated Virginia, Jun ye 29th, 1678, in which Cornelius Dabney concluded: "...Sr. my wife Eedeth has her humble service p'sented unto y' Hono'. (she) would gladly send y' one of her Boyes a yeare or two hence.My humble service to y' Hono'. I am: Sr: y' Hono's most humble servant in all obedience. Cornelius Dabney." (Charles William Dabney, "The Origin of the Dabney Family of Virginia," Va. Mag. of History and Biography, April 1937, Vol. 45, No. 2, p. 134).

On 22 May 1686, Mr. Cornelius Dabnee was listed as a vestryman of St. Peter's Parish Church, New Kent. He died between 23 October 1693 and 1 May 1694 (Vestry Book and Register of St. Peter's Parish, New Kent and James City Counties, Virginia 1684-1786, transcribed and edited by C. G. Chamberlayne (Richmond: The Library Board, 1937, pp. 4, 40, 43)).

In 1699 his children "James Dabney, Geo. Dabney, Dorothy Dabney, and Sarah Dabney (were) devisees of Cornelius Dabney dec'd (of) 700 acres to which is added of Low Land thereto adjoining 150 acres" in Pamunkey Neck.(Louis des Cognets, Jr., English Duplicates of Lost Virginia Records, p.59).

"The Library of Virginia Digital Collection" (Electronic Card Index) records these Land Office Patents and Grants in King and Queen Co. in Pamunkey Neck:

Date To Whom Granted Number of Acres Patent Book

25 Apr 1701 Dabney, James 204

  1. 9, p. 346

" Anderson, Dorothy (Dabney) 179.5

  1. 9, p. 350

" Dabney, George 293

  1. 9, p. 351

" Dabney, Sarah 179

  1. 9. p. 352

1 Apr 1702 Dabney, James 1000

  1. 9, p. 445

Cornelius Dabney's children were recorded further by Louis des Cognets, Jr. (English Duplicates of Lost Virginia Records, pp. 4, 5, 14, 25, 36)as follows:

List of Justices of the Peace Appointed: 1702 King William Co. George Dabney 1710 " James Dabney, Gent. 1710 " William Anderson (husband of Dorothy Dabney) 1714 " George Dabney 1726 " George Dabney List of Sheriffs Appointed: 1713 King William Co. George Dabney

In the Vestry Book of St. Peter's Parish are records of:

Burials in April 1688 of "Jn: sone to Cornelius Dabenie (probably named for Cornelius' grandfather John Dawbney) and Eliz: daugh to Cornelius Dabenie" (Page 426).

Baptism on 11 Nov. 1698 of Eliz. daughter of Geo. Dabney (Page 349).

Baptism on 8 Jan. 1698/9 of Welthan daughter of James Dabney (Page 350).James Dabney had married Ann, daughter of Philip Sherwood of Rappahanock Co. (Essex Co. Book 8, p. 279, April 1690).

In Old New Kent County, Vol. 2, p. 883, Dr. Malcolm Hart Harris reported that after the death of his first wife Eedeth, Cornelius Dabney married Susanah, whose second husband was David Anderson. In her will dated 5 February 1724 (Hanover County Will Book 1, 1862-1868, Reel 1, pp. 632-634, Virginia State Library), Susanah Dabney-Anderson named her children:

Cornelius Dabney, the executor of her will. He married Sarah Jennings on 17 April 1721 (Virginia Marriage Records, by Wm. M. Clemons, Virginia State Library). His will was proved on 7 Feb. 1765 in which he named his wife Sarah and children William, John, Cornelius (deceased), Mary Elizabeth Maupin, Fanny Maupin, and Anna Thompson (Hanover County Will Book 1, 1862-1868, Reel 1, beginning page 634, Virginia State Library).An executor of his will was his second son, John Dabney, who became a Brigadier General in the Revolutionary War.

Dorothy, wife of James Trice. Therefore, Cornelius Dabney named two daughters Dorothy, presumably for his mother Dorothy (Batts) Dabney. (His first daughter by Eedeth named Dorothy married William Anderson and may have died before this second daughter Dorothy by Susanah was born).

Mary, wife of Capt. Thomas Carr. They were the grandparents of Dabney Carr, who married Martha, sister of Thomas Jefferson (Old New Kent County, by Dr. Malcolm Hart Harris, Vol. 2. pp. 956-957). David Anderson.

As a 10th generation Virginian, I have worked on the Dabneys for 25 years. My data is well documented, mainly by original records. Please advise me if you have any additions or corrections to this data.

Contributed by Dabney N. McLean, author of:

Henry Soane, Progenitor of Thomas Jefferson (1985) Mary Horsmanden Byrd of "Westover" (1989) The English Ancestry of Thomas Jefferson (1996)

For more information, please contact Dabney N. McLean at: or visit the Virginia Genealogy web site at VAGenWeb


Please read the following article by Charles William Dabney published in April 1937 Virginia Magazine of History and Biography regarding the longstanding controversy regarding whether the Dabney family of Virginia is of French Huguenot or Anglo-Norman origin.


The following article by Tor Hylbom is a well-written explanation of the controversies surrounding the origins of this family.

At this time, it is not definitely known from whom Cornelius Dabney (b. 1640) is descended. Many claims have been made that Theodore D’Aubigne was his father, and that that Theodore was a descendant of the French Huguenot Théodore-Agrippa d’Aubigné (1552–1630), who was a poet, soldier, propagandist and chronicler.[2] Whether or not Theodore D’Aubigne is actually the father of Cornelius Dabney (b. 1640) is unproven. There are also plausible theories that the Dabneys of Virginia were descended from Dabneys who had resided in England for centuries, and were not French Huguenots at all. Even under the Huguenot scenario, there seems to be agreement that the Virginia Dabneys migrated from England (or Wales), where they had lived for some years as refugees. The two theories are explained in an article in Charles William Dabney’s article entitled “Origin of the Dabney Family of Virginia“, Virginia Magazine, Vol. XLV, No. 2 (April 1937). The opposing theories are summarized as follows (paraphrased):

The Huguenot Theory[3]

One theory was that the original founders of the family were Huguenots who first fled to England, married there, and then came to America. The advocates of the Huguenot theory claim descent from a Cornelius Dabney who married Sarah Jennings for his second wife in 1721, and was a descendant of the French Huguenot Théodore-Agrippa d’Aubigné (1552–1630), through his son Constant (b. 1609?). According to this tradition, brothers Robert and John immigrated to Massachusetts and Virginia, respectively, around the same time as Cornelius and founded three separate Dabney lines in America. This was a persistent tradition in all branches of the family for many years and was widely promulgated by the publication in 1888 of Mr. W. H. Dabney’s book, The Dabneys of Virginia. This belief began to be questioned, however, when it was learned from old Colonial records that there was a Cornelius Dabney in Virginia as early as 1664, when he received land grants, at least twenty-one years before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In fact, Cornelius, the first immigrant who had established himself, learned the language of the Indians and been made agent of the Colony to the Indians, must have been in Virginia several years before 1664. It appears likely that the supposed progenitor of the Huguenot Dabneys in Virginia (Cornelius), was actually the son of the earlier Cornelius Dabney, who was resident in Virginia in 1664, prior to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the Huguenot migration to America.

The Norman/English Theory

The second theory was that the Virginia Dabneys were originally Norman French and came over with William the Conqueror. There are numerous Dabneys in England whose genealogies can apparently be documented from English records. The records in Virginia indicate not only are there no grounds for supposing that the Virginia Dabneys are descendants of any Huguenot, but that, on the contrary, there is every reason for believing they were of English origin. The insuperable difficulty in the theory of the Huguenot origin of this family is the fact that a Dabney had been in Virginia at least thirty years before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, which was the occasion of the dispersion of the Huguenots. Not knowing this, the advocates of the Huguenot theory claim descent from a Cornelius Dabney who married Sarah Jennings for his second wife in 1721, when, as a matter of fact, this Cornelius was the son or grandson of the Cornelius who was in Virginia in 1664 and died in 1693.

St. Margaret’s Church, Bucknall, Lincolnshire (photo credit: Gary Brothwell) One theory of the parentage of Cornelius Dabney is explained in William Deyo’s book (cited above). He cites the discoveries of Arden H. Brame, which were published in The Colonial Genealogist (Vol. XII, Issue 46, p. 172). According to Deyo (p. 31), Brame claims that:

“Cornelius Dabney was christened as Cornelius Daubney on 11 Dec 1631 in the parish of Bucknall, Lincolnshire, son of Theodor Daubney. His mother was Dorothy bate or Batts, christened on 18 Feb 1604, daughter of Humphrey Bate (christened 19 Mar 1576, son of Humphrey Bate and Rebecca Dowe, who were married 15 Jan 1561). Theodor Daubney married Dorothy Batts on 30 Apr 1630. Theodor Dawbney was christened on 6 Jun 1606, in the parish of Scotter, Lincolnshire, son of John Dawbney. Cornelius Dabney’s grandfather, John Dawbney, was born 1570 at Scotter, Lincolnshire. He graduated from St. John’s College, Cambridge University, in 1588. John Dawbney was the Vicar of Calverton, Nottinghamshire, and the Rector of Scotter (1605-1610). He was buried at Scotter on 28 Jan 1610/11. HJohn was designated on the records as the son of William Dawbney (about 1535-1613), whose wife was Agnes (bried 15 May 1604, Scotter). William Dawbney left a wil in 1613. William’s brother, John Dawbney, was the Vicar of Scotter before William’s son, John, had left a will at Scotter in 1605. William Dawbney (about 1535-1613) was named in the will of his father, Richard Dawbney (died 1545/6) of Scotter. Richard Dawbney’s wife was Isabell.”

My own belief at this time, based on the reading I have done, is that the Virginia Dabneys were descended from an established English family, which had been resident in England probably as far back as the Norman conquest, and that the Huguenot connection is a legend. If there were a Robert d’Aubigné, who went to Boston, and brothers, Cornelius and John d’Aubigné, who went to Virginia, it is certainly wrong to call them Huguenots, for their grandfather, Constant, renounced the Protestant faith, if he ever held it., and was denounced in his father’s wrtings for doing so. Moreover, there is evidence of at least one Dabney residing in Virginia decades prior to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, which led to widespread Huguenot migration to America. Presumably for these reasons, he Dabney/D’Aubigne line is not a recognized Huguenot line by the Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia (although the lineage has apparently been recognized by the National Huguenot Society and the Huguenot Society of America).

Colonial records indicate that there was a Dabney (cited as Cornelius De Baney and spelled variously de Bonis and deBoney) in Virginia certainly as early as 1664 when he received a grant of 200 acres on Tottopotomoy’s Creek, South Side of York River, a little below the fort of Manakin. (27 Sep 1664). Later, there is also record of a grant of an additional 640 acres on Tottopotomoy’s Creek (7 Jun 1666). These grants and subsequent records indicate residence in Virginia at least twenty-one years before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, casting doubt on the claim that Cornelius Dabney was a Huguenot.

Primary source references are cited in Virginia Magazine, “Origin of the Dabney Family in Virginia”, 1937. The author of this article concluded, based on the evidence reviewed, that, Cornelius immigrated to Virginia some time between 1649 and 1664 (at the latest). Furthermore, there is evidence that by 1664 he had established himself, learned the language of the Indians and been made agent of the Colony to the Indians, which suggests that a date closer to 1649 is probable. According to other sources, he is said to have been a negotiator and interpreter between the British authorities and Cockacoeske, queen of the Pamunkey Indians and widow of Chief Totopotomoi, a grandson of the sister of chief Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas.

Susannah Swann, the wife of Cornelius Dabney has been an enigma and not easily explained in the Swann family. Based on the birth dates of her children, she must have married prior to 1674. She requires further investigation, and gaps in the historical record may make it impossible to positively identify her. In many generologies, she is identified as the daughter of Thomas Swann and Margaret Delton. Thomas is the son of William Swann and Judith Greene. William had emigrated from England to America not long after Jamestown was settled, probably sometime after the year 1616, which was the year Thomas was born (whether in England or Virginia is unclear). William Swann was a pioneer when he crossed the James River and settled Swann’s Point, five miles from Jamestown. Several generations of Swann’s family were born, lived and died at Swann’s Point, in Surrey County, Virginia. Since Susannah’s actual parentage is so unclear, I have not included Thomas and William among my direct ancestors, pending clarification.

Thomas Swann and Margaret Delton’s first-born daughter, Susannah Swan, born 26 October 1640 and died 25 November 1660 without issue “Having been married to Major William Marriott eight months and twenty two days – and was buried at Swann’s Point”, according to the records available. If this is true, she was not the wife Cornelius Dabney, although Cornelius’ wife may have been connected to this Swann family in some manner that has not been discovered. It is thought, for example, that Thomas’ father, William, remarried in 1637 following the death of his first wife, Judith Greene, in Virginia around March 1636, although the name of his second wife is unknown at present. However, William died the following year[4], leaving no record of children by his second wife.

If Susannah Swann, wife of Cornelius Dabney, was not the daughter of Thomas and Margaret, then who is she? There is not another contemporary “Susanna Swann” that fits the known facts. Although the surname of Swann is frequently attached to her in the historical narrative, I know of no documentary evidence to explain how that name became attached to her. Of course, the absence of facts invites speculation, which leads to an alternative theory, which will probably never be proven or disproven:

A historical marker located on Route 30 in King William County, Virginia (N 37° 40.790 W 077° 00.337) At the time that Cornelius Dabney was married to Eedith, he know that he became the interpreter and close companion of Cockacoeske, Queen of the Pamunkey Indians, and widow of Chief Totopotomoi, a grandson of one of the sisters of Chief Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas. Because of Cornelius Dabney‘s close association with Queen Cocacoeske, it may be that he received a woman of the Queen’s family to wed after the death of his first wife, Eedith. According to some family traditions, Cornelius Dabney‘s second wife, Susanna, is considered to have been of the family of Chief Totopotomoi and Cockacoeske. This is plausible and supported indirectly by a persistent family tradition among the Dabneys of Indian descent. If it is true, Susanna was most likely a granddaughter of Chief Totopotomoi and Queen Cockacoeske (perhaps by an English father), or possibly even a daughter, making Totpotmoi and Cockacoeske our direct ancestors (either 10th or 11th grandparents). For this reason, I have included an article on these Indian leaders under “Notable Kin”, even though the relationship has not been proved and probably never will be.

Descendants of Cornelius Dabney include Patrick Henry (the orator and Governor of Virginia), Dolly Madison (wife of President James Madison), Dabney Carr (brother-in-law of President Thomas Jefferson), Nancy Astor (first woman to sit in the British House of Commons), Zacchary Taylor (President of the United States), and his daughter Sarah Knox Taylor, the first wife of President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy.

Cornelius Dabney is the 3rd great grandfather of Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), 12th President of the United States, as is another of our ancestors, Richard Lee[5], making President Taylor my 4th cousin 6x removed on his mother’s side (through Dabney) and my 3rd cousin 8x removed on his father’s side (through Lee).

Interestingly, Elizabeth Dabney Waller (1808-1881) was a descendant of Cornelius Dabney on both sides of her family, due to the fact that both of her grandmothers, Sarah Ann Dabney (1740-1822) and Mary Dabney (1742-1818), were children of John Cornelius Dabney (1724-1773) and Anna Harris (1724-1775). This means that Elizabeth’s parents, Dabney Waller (1772-1849) and Elizabeth Minor (1768-1832) were 1st cousins, and Cornelius Dabney was her 3rd great grandfather in both the paternal and maternal lineages. It is worth noting that Elizabeth Minor is not of the lineage of Thomas Minor (1608-1690) of Stonington, Connecticut, who is discussed under his own heading, but rather of Meinert Doodes (1617-1677), whose son took his father’s surname for his given name and adopted the Minor surname. With the marriage of Dabeny Waller and Elizabeth Minor, the Dabney lineage merges with the lineage of John Waller (1673-1754), and this lineage is continued under his own heading, as he was an immigrant to Virginia and is the first in his line.

Descendants in the direct lineage of Cornelius Dabney (i.e., those who are my ancestors) remained in Virginia until the mid 19th century, eventually settling in Spotsylvania County, where the Dabneys intermarried with the Waller and Carr families.


See: The Colonial Genealogist XII:3 has article written by Arden H. Brame Jr entitled "The English Birth and Ancestry of Cornelius Dabney (1631 - 1693/4) of Virginia".

Aka: Cornelius d'Aubigne. 1664- land patent New Kent Co., VA-Pamuney Nk. Father: John d'Aubigne descendant of: 1 Theodore Agrippa d'Aubigne , * b: 8 Feb 1551/52 d: 29 Apr 1630 + Suzanne Lezay d: 1596 2 Constant d'Aubigne , * b: 1584 + Ann Marchant 3 Theodore d'Aubigne , * b: ABT. 1610 4 John d'Aubigne , * b: ABT. 1640 5 Cornelius d'Aubigne 5 John Dabney 6 John Dabney + Sarah 7 Susanna Dabney b: 1700

At the time that Cornelius was married to Eedith he became the interpreter and close companion of Cockacoeske, Queen of the Pamunkey Indians, and widow of Chief Totopotomoi, a grandson of one of the two sisters of Chief Powhatan, father of Pocahontas.

Cornelius Dabney's second wife, Susanna, is considered by many to have been of the family of Chief Totopotomoi and Cockacoeske. Queen Cockacoeske had an illegitimate son, Capt. John West, by John West, son of Gov. John West of Va. Capt. John West was with his mother, Cockacoeske, and Cornelius Dabney in the late 1670s when the famous Treaty of Middle Plantation was signed by the various leaders of the tribes under Queen Cockacoeske. Died on the Pamunkey River, St. Peters Parish, New Kent County, Va

From: To: Sent: Saturday, June 08, 2002 Subject: Dabneys of Virginia: "I am looking for informations on Cornelius Dabney, I read somewhere on the web that he was born 1631, Lincolnshire, England, married twice, Eedith and Susanna Jenning : family of chief Totomatoi and Cockacoeske, Pamunkey indians; Totomatoi, a grand son of one of the two sisters of chief Powhatan, father of Pocahontas. Do You know any thing about a possible link between the Dabneys and the Powhatans? I come from the Winstons of Hanover Co, Va, and the brothers married Dabneys sisters, that's why I am searching for more informations. Confusing, I know, but if You know something or somewhere to look, I would appreciate it. Thank You very much."

Dorothy Batte/Batts/ Botts. She married Thoedor Dabney probably in England on April 30, 1690. They had a son named Cornelius Dabney whoes second wife, Susanna/Susannah is thought to be a relative of Pocahontas, this is still up for much discussion. Theodor Dabney from La Rochelle, France, and removed to England to escape persecution.

Settled on N. Bank of Pamunky River, Virginia 1715-1717

view all 20

Cornelius Dabney Sr.'s Timeline

December 11, 1630
Bucknall, Lincolnshire, England
May 2, 1631
Bucknall, Lincolnshire, England.
September 11, 1653
Age 22
March 20, 1658
Age 26
New Kent, Virginia
Age 28
New Kent, Virginia, USA
Age 28
New Kent, Virginia, USA
September 2, 1675
Age 44
St. Peter's Parish, New Kent County, Virginia Colony, Colonial America
Age 43
Sitenburne Parish, Old Rappahannock County, Virginia Colony
Age 44