Katherine Isham

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Katherine Isham (Banks)

Also Known As: "Elizabeth Katherine Banks", "Catherine Banks", "Katherine Royall"
Birthplace: Canterbury, Kent, England
Death: December 01, 1686 (59)
Dale Parrish, Henrico County, Virginia, Colonial America
Place of Burial: Presque Isle, Henrico County, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Christopher John Banks, II; Christopher John Bankes/Banks; Janet Katherine Banks, II and Katherine Bankes/Banks
Wife of Cap Henry Isham; Capt. Joseph Royall, II and Henry Isham, I
Mother of Mary Randolph; Jane Sarah Royall; Margaret Thomasin Dennis; Katherine Perrin; Capt. Joseph Royall and 12 others
Half sister of Christopher Banks; Mary Banks and Anne Banks

Occupation: 1627 & 1620 alt b M: 1640 or 1645
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Katherine Isham

Additional Curator's Notes:

Katherine Banks was born into a prosperous family in Canterbury, England in County Kent in 1627, the same year the Massachusetts Bay Colony had been chartered to colonize the eastern coast of North America. Her father, Christopher Banks, was one of England's most influential commoners in his position with the Old London Company, which financed the settlement of Jamestown and Virginia.

Sometime in the early 1640s, Katherine journeyed to America, landing in Charles City County, west of Jamestown on the James River. It was not long after her arrival that she married her cousin, Joseph Royall, twice a widower and 27 years her senior. Royall had come to Jamestown aboard the Charitie in July 1622, just after Powhatan Chief Opechancanough had murdered three hundred-forty-seven colonists. Royall survived "the burning fever," which killed even more settlers. By transporting colonists to Virginia, Joseph Royall was able to accumulate a large plantation, which he called "Doghams" after the French river D'Augham, on the James River above Shirley and opposite current day Hopewell, Virginia.

Joseph Royall died in the mid 1650s. As was the custom in those days, his wife's dower from his estate passed to her during her widowhood. When Katherine married Henry Isham in 1656, Royall's estate passed to Isham, who immediately added another wing to his residence on Bermuda Hundred.

By her first husband, Katherine gave birth to six children, Joseph, John, Sarah, Katherine and two other unknown daughters. With Henry, Katherine had Henry, Jr., Anne and Mary. By far, her most famous child was Mary Isham.

Mary was a much courted belle of Virginia. Suitors swarmed to get a glance of this charming young woman, who played the cittern, a three-stringed early version of the mandolin. Mary captured the heart of the wealthy William Randolph of Turkey Island. Over the next three centuries, the couple would come to be known as "the Adam and Eve of Virginia." The Randolphs were the parents of ten children, most notably Isham Randolph. His daughter Jane married Peter Jefferson. They were the parents of President Thomas Jefferson. Elizabeth, daughter of William and Mary Randolph, married Richard Bland. They were the great-great grandparents of the noble and the revered, General Robert Edward Lee. William and Mary’s son Thomas was the great-grandfather of John Marshall, the nation’s longest serving Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In point of fact, Katherine’s descendants included the wives of both President Jefferson and General Lee.

Among the most well known descendants of Katherine Banks Royall Isham are presidents John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter, first lady Edith Wilson, authors William Faulkner, Willa Cather, Robert Penn Warren and Ray Badbury. Among the most interesting name on the list is Booker Talieferro Washington, a former slave, who became a highly revered educator, author and political leader.

Katherine died Dec. 1, 1686. She left a will distributing her wealth to her children and many grandchildren. The text of that will is included among the source documents attached to this profile. She was buried in the Randolph Family Cemetery on Turkey Island, near what today is the Presque Isle National Wildlife Refuge, Henrico Co., Virginia.

Many thanks to all the members who contributed to this profile and added material to the overview. I have used your data to write this short overview bio. Maria Edmonds-Zediker, Volunteer Curator, 9/16/2011.

Links to additional material:

Children of Katherine Banks and Joseph Royall, Jr.:

  • Joseph Royall III, (1646-1732) married Mary Archer
  • John Royall
  • Sarah Royall, married John Wilkinson
  • Katherine Royall, married Richard Perrin
  • 2 daughters known only by the husbands they married ( one married a Dennis, the other married a Maschell)

Children of Katherine Banks and Henry Isham:

  • Henry, Isham,Jr., died unmarried
  • Anne Isham, married Col. Francis Eppes III
  • Mary Isham, married William Randolph


The Will of Katherine Isham 1686 Henrico Co., VA: (original spelling and punctuation)

In the name of God amen. I KATHERINE ISHAM being sick & weak of body but of sound & pfect mind & memory (praise be therefore given to almighty god to make and ordain this my last will & testament in manner & form following -

First, I principally commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God hoping through the merits of my Savior Jesus Christ to have full and free pardon and forgiveness of all my sins and my body I commit to the earth to be decently burried at ye descretion of my Extr, hereafter named. And as the disposition of all such temporall as it hath plesed Almight God to bestow upon me I give and dispose of as follows:

First Item, I will all my debts and funeral charges be paid and discharged. I give to my grandson William Randolph 20 pound sterling money of England such is ot in the custody of my son-in-law Willilam Randolph to be disposed of after my decease for the proper use & benefit of my grandson above named, but in case of his mortality before he comes to age, then I give & bequeath unto my grandson Henry Randolph the 20 pound sterling money about to be disposed as above sd for his proper use and further I give to my grandson Henry Randolph five pds. sterling money of England and to my Granddaughters Mary Randolph & Elisa Randolph five pounds a piece of like sterling money all such money above specified is now in the custody of my son-in-law William Randolph. And further I give the residue of my mony such is in custody of my son-in-law William Randolph to my tow daughters, Mary Randolph and Ann Epps to be equally divided. I also will that my claw trunk with all that is in it be equally divided between my two daughters Mary Randolph and Ann Epes and I give to each of them two silver saltcellars. And to Mary Randolph I give my wedding ring and best feather bed and furniture to it and my 'least silver tankard but one and fifteen shillings to buy a mourning ring and desire the said Mary Randolph may be exempt from bearing any part of paying my debts or funeral charges. And this is all my legacy to my loveing daughter, Mary Randolph.

Item, I give to my grandson Joseph Royall one servant named John Johns all the time he hath to serve and my small silver tankard. And further I give to my child of my son Royall's two silver spoons. And to my loveing son, Joseph Ryall the last tankard.

Item, I give to my grandson Richard Dennis one of my best cows and two silver spoons.

Item, I give to my grandson, Isham Epes, my Negro Dick and to my Grandson Francis Epes, my biggest silver tankard but one. I also give to the child my daughter Ann Epes now goes with my largest silver Porringer and great silver cupp. My sealed ring and great hoop ring with a pair of silver clasps and silver bodkin I give to my daughter, Anne Epes.

Item, I give to my Grandson Richard Perrin, one feather bed and furniture to it.

Item, I give to my granddaughter Sarah Royall one yearling heifer.

Item, I give to my granddaughters Katherine Farrar, Mary, Sarah & Anne Perrin to each of them two silver spoons. And to Katherine Farrar one Guiney and to Anne Perrin one silver porringer.

Item, I give to my granddaughter, Sarah Dennis two silver spoons and one pair of dowlass sheets. And to my two daughters Sarah Wilkinson and Katherine Perrin all my wearing cloths woolen and linnen.

Item, I give to my loveing friend Mary Parker six Ells of my best dowless and as much of my finest serge as will make her a gown and petticoat.

Item, I give to my grandson Maiden Marshall one heifer two years old. Item, I will and bequeath all my land to my son, Joseph Royall to him and to his heirs forever

Item, I give my whold crop of corn and tobacco to my executors hereafternamed except for much as will buy two gravestones, one to cover me and the other my departed dear husband. All the rest and residue of my estate and estate goods and chattels, Sarah Wilkinson, Joseph Royall, Katherine Perrin and Anne Epes and to each of them fifteen shillings to buy a mourning ring.

And I do hereby constitute and appoint my loving son, Joseph Royall and my loving son-in-law, Frances Epes full and sole Exers of this my last will and testament. And I desire my body may be buryed near my dear husband on my own plantation. And I do hereby revoke, disannul and make void all former wills and testaments by me heretofore made and to this my last will and testament do sett my hand and seal this tenth day of Oct Ao Dm 1686

(Will was proved in open Court to be the last Will and Testament of Katherine Banks Royall Isham by the oaths of John Worsham, Nath Hill and Littlebury Epes and was entered amongst the records of ye said county.)

Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 4, pp. 123 and 324, 1896. Will of Katherine Banks Royall was dated 10 August 1686 and proved December 1686 in Henrico County, Virginia. This names son Joseph Royall and daughters Katherine Perrin, Sarah Wilkinson, and Ann Epps; also grandsons Henry Randolph, William Randolph, Richard Dennis, Maiden Maschall and Richard Perris; and granddaughters Elizabeth Randolph, Mary Randolph, Sarah Royall, Katherine Farrar, Ann Perrin, Mary Perrin, and Sarah Perrin.

Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 32, 411, 1924. Katherine's will is re-discussed with an interpretation of the family.

Birth: 1627, England Death: Dec. 1, 1686 Henrico County Virginia, USA

Daughter of Christopher Banks. Wife of Henry Isham. First marriage was to Joseph Royall. Daughter Mary Isham married Col. William Randolph.

Family links:

 Joseph Royall (1600 - 1655)*
 Henry Isham (1628 - 1670)*

 Katherine Royall Perrin (1642 - 1686)*
 Joseph Royall (1646 - 1732)*
 Mary Isham Randolph (1659 - 1735)*
 Anne Fitzhugh Isham Eppes (1665 - 1718)*
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: Randolph Family Cemetery Presque Isle Henrico County Virginia, USA

Created by: Pat Jackson Record added: Jun 22, 2002 Find A Grave Memorial# 6537631


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Katherine Isham's Timeline

Canterbury, Kent, England
October 10, 1644
Age 17
Charles City, VA, United States
Age 18
Henrico, Virginia
Age 19
Henrico County, Virginia, Colonial America
Age 19
Charles City, Charles City County, Virginia, Colonial America
Age 21
Henrico County, Virginia, Colonial America
Age 21
Conjuror's Neck, Virginia, Colonial America
Age 21
Mecklenburg County, Virginia, United States
Age 24
Barby, , Leicester, England