Major Robert Beverley, of Jamestown

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Major Robert Beverley, of Jamestown

Also Known As: "Beverly"
Birthplace: Beverley, Yorkshire, England (United Kingdom)
Death: March 15, 1687 (45)
Jamestown, James City County, Province of Virginia, Colonial America
Place of Burial: Jamestown, James City County, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Peter Langley Beverly and Susanna Beverley
Husband of Catherine Hone; Mary Beverley; Mary Beverly; Mary Beverley and Katherine Robinson
Father of Joanne Beverley; John Beverly; Mary Roman; Bob Beverley; Robert Beverley and 15 others

Occupation: Lawyer, Surveyor, Milita, Lawyer; 1670 Clerk Virginia House of Burgesses, surveyor, militia, justice
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Major Robert Beverley, of Jamestown

Robert Beverley, also known as Major Robert Beverley or as Robert Beverley the immigrant, served as clerk of the House of Burgesses from 1677 until his death in 1687 despite attempts by the Privy Council and various royal governors to displace him. Born in England, Beverley moved to Virginia after the death of his first wife. There, he served as surveyor of Middlesex County, justice of the peace, a church vestryman, a major in the militia, and, in 1676, acting attorney general. He became wealthy exporting tobacco and importing other goods, and during Bacon's Rebellion (1676), stoutly defended his friend the royal governor Sir William Berkeley. In 1677 he was elected clerk of the House but ran afoul of Berkeley's successor, to whom he refused to turn over the legislative journals. Beverley was arrested in 1682 and confined to jail for two years, charged with conspiring to destroy tobacco in order to inflate the crop's market price. After his release, he was elected to the House of Burgesses and reelected the House's clerk. He was accused to altering a bill after it was passed but he died before a trial could be held.

Beverley was the eldest of four sons and four daughters of Peter Beverley and Susannah Hollis (or Hollice) Beverley of Hull, Yorkshire, England. He was christened in Hull on January 3, 1635, in the parish of Saint Mary Lowgate. Nothing is known about his youth, but he was reasonably well educated, eventually learned something about the law, acquired the rudiments of surveying, and became well acquainted with commerce. Sometime before 1662 he married a woman named Elizabeth, whose maiden name is not known. Their only known child, Peter Beverley, was christened in Saint Mary Lowgate on May 7, 1663, two days before the burial of Elizabeth Beverley.

Robert Beverley moved to Virginia within a few months to start a new life. He settled in that portion of Lancaster County south of the Rappahannock River that in 1669 became Middlesex County. In March 1666 he married Mary Keeble, widow of a local planter, and he began accumulating land, eventually owning about twenty-eight thousand acres in four counties. He became surveyor of Middlesex County, and during the next twenty years he held other local offices, including justice of the peace, vestryman of Christ Church, and major in the militia. During the General Court session in March 1676 he was acting attorney general of the colony. His annual income from his public offices in 1683 was reportedly about £425.

Beverley's main source of income in the early years was commerce. He exported large quantities of his own and his neighbors' tobacco (more than thirty-five thousand pounds during the 1671–1672 season) and imported soap, nails, wrought iron, shoes, haberdashery, cloth, saddles, and other merchandise. He became one of the wealthiest men in that part of Virginia. After his death his personal property alone was worth £1,591, and the debts due to him were valued at about £2,200.

Beverley has often been referred to as Major Robert Beverley or as Robert Beverley the immigrant, to distinguish him from other Robert Beverleys of later generations. He and Mary Keeble Beverley had from four to six sons, of whom three survived childhood, and one daughter. Mary Keeble Beverley died in June 1678, and he married Katherine Hone on March 28, 1679. They had three sons and one daughter. Beverley sent his sons to England to be educated, and the three eldest among those who lived to adulthood, Peter Beverley, Robert Beverley (often referred to as Robert Beverley the historian), and Harry Beverley, made use of their educations and the advantages conferred by a wealthy and influential father to become important in their own right. They and their children made the Beverley family one of the most prominent in Virginia by the early years of the eighteenth century.

Beverley befriended Governor Sir William Berkeley, who probably assisted him in obtaining many of his large and valuable land grants. When Bacon's Rebellion broke out in 1676, Beverley unhesitatingly supported the governor and commanded one of the mounted units that the governor raised in his attempt to crush the rebellion. The royal commissioners later described Beverley as "a person very active & Serviceable in surprizinge & beatinge up of Quarters & Small guards about the Country." Beverley may have suffered damage to his own property as he claimed, but the commissioners also reported that he was "the only person that gott by those unhappy troubles, in Plunderinge (without distinction of honest mens Estates from others)."

For several years Beverley was a leader of the so-called Green Spring faction, political supporters of Berkeley who took their name from Berkeley's James City County residence. In February 1677 the House of Burgesses elected Beverley clerk of the House. That April, when Berkeley's successor Herbert Jeffreys demanded that Beverley turn over to him the legislative journals in his care, Beverley refused to do so without House authorization. The royal commissioners who had been sent to Virginia to quell the rebellion and inquire into its causes forcibly seized the records, and the Privy Council later barred Beverley from office for his attempt to obstruct the commissioners. Beverley nevertheless continued to serve as clerk of the House of Burgesses, even after Governor Thomas Culpeper arrived in Virginia with explicit instructions to displace him.

In May 1682 Beverley was charged with taking a prominent part in the plant-cutting riots in Middlesex and surrounding counties. The plant cutters destroyed portions of their own and their neighbors' tobacco crops in an attempt to create a shortage and raise prices. As a result of legislation he had authored the previous year ordering the creation of a town in each county from which tobacco had to be shipped on penalty of seizure, Beverley had acquired large amounts of tobacco and thus had a strong interest in limiting the amount of tobacco exported. He was arrested and confined until 1684, when he was tried before the General Court and found guilty of "high Misdemeanors" but not of treason. He received a pardon after he supplicated the bench "on his bended Knees." Beverley won election to the House of Burgesses the following year and on November 3, 1685, by a vote of nineteen to seventeen won reelection to the office of clerk.

Beverley and Governor Francis Howard, baron Howard of Effingham, became embroiled in another controversy over the clerkship, and Beverley was charged with altering a bill that had passed the House. On August 1, 1686, James II issued a command again barring Beverley from all civil offices and granting the governor the power of appointing the clerk of the House of Burgesses. Before another trial could be held on the new charges against him, Robert Beverley died at his home on March 15, 1687. He was buried four days later, on the same day that his last son was christened.

Time Line

January 3, 1635 - Robert Beverley is christened at Hull, Yorkshire, England. He is the eldest son of Peter Beverley and Susannah Hollis (or Hollice) Beverley.

May 7, 1663 - Peter Beverley, son of Robert and Elizabeth Beverley, is christened at Hull, Yorkshire, England, two days before Elizabeth Beverley's burial.

March 1666 - Robert Beverley marries Mary Keeble, the widow of a Middlesex County planter, and begins accumulating land, eventually owning about twenty-eight thousand acres in four counties.

1671–1672 - Robert Beverley exports more than thirty-five thousand pounds of his own and his neighbors' tobacco.

1676 - During Bacon's Rebellion, Robert Beverley supports Governor Sir William Berkeley and commands one of the mounted units raised to fight Nathaniel Bacon and his men.

March 1676 - Robert Beverley serves as acting attorney general during the General Court session.

February 1677 - Robert Beverley is elected clerk of the House of Burgesses.

April 1677 - Virginia's new lieutenant governor, Herbert Jeffreys, demands that Robert Beverley, clerk of the House of Burgesses, turn over to him the legislative journals in his care. Beverley refuses to do so without House authorization.

June 1678 - Mary Keeble Beverley, second wife of Robert Beverley, dies.

March 28, 1679 - Robert Beverley marries his third wife, Katherine Hone.

1682–1684 - Robert Beverley is jailed for participation in a scheme to destroy tobacco in order to create a shortage and thereby raise the crop's market price.

1683 - Robert Beverley's annual income from his public offices, which include clerk of the House of Burgesses, is reportedly about £425.

1685 - After receiving a pardon and being released from jail, Robert Beverley is elected to the House of Burgesses. November 3, 1685 - Robert Beverley wins reelection as clerk of the House of Burgesses by a vote of nineteen to seventeen.

August 1, 1686 - James II issues a command barring Robert Beverley, clerk of the House of Burgesses, from all civil offices and granting the governor power to appoint the clerk. Beverley is charged with altering a bill after it has passed.

March 15, 1687 - Robert Beverley dies at his home in Middlesex County.


Robert Beverley

  • Birth: 1641 Beverley East Riding of Yorkshire, England
  • Death: Mar. 15, 1687 Jamestown James City County Virginia, USA
  • Son of Peter Beverly and Susannah Hollis
  • Married 1) Mary on April 1666 Jamestown VA 2) Katherine
  • Burial: Jamestown Church Cemetery Jamestown James City County Virginia, USA Plot: Possibly buried here ? Record Created by: P Fazzini Record added: Sep 16, 2011 Find A Grave Memorial# 76586248


wives are controversial


Children of 1st wife Margaret (Boyd?)

  • 1. Elizabeth Beverley b. Jamestown, Virginia

[LATER EDIT: This source says Peter Beverley was a son by this first wife, Elizabeth, christened in England, May 7, 1663, two days before his mother Elizabeth died. If there are, in fact, records at Saint Mary Lowgate showing this, it might explain why the "first child" was mistakenly named Elizabeth.]

Children of 2nd wife Mary (Byrd Carter?) (Keeble)

  • 1. Peter Beverley b. Bef 4 Apr 1667, Jamestown, Virginia d. 1728, Gloucester County, Virginia
  • 2. Harry Beverley b. 1669, Jamestown, Virginia d. 12 Feb 1730/31, St. George's Parish, Spotsylvania County, Virginia - Probate
  • 3. Mary Beverley b. Between 1672 and 1677, Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County, Virginia d. Aft 1694, King & Queen County, Virginia
  • 4. Robert Beverley b. 1673, Jamestown, Virginia d. 21 Apr 1722, Beverley Park, King and Queen County, Virginia

Children of 3rd wife Catherine / Katherine (Hone) (Armistead?) survived him and married Christopher Robinson

  • 1. William Beverley b. 4 Jan 1679/80, Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County, Virginia d. Abt 3 Aug 1702, Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County, Virginia
  • 2. Thomas Beverley b. Abt 1682, Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County, Virginia d. 20 Sep 1686, Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County, Virginia
  • 3. Christopher Beverley b. 19 Mar 1685/86, Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County, Virginia  d. Aft 1729, King & Queen County, Virginia
  • 4. Catherine Beverley b. Abt 1684, Gloucester County, Virginia

family notes

About 3 years after his move to the colonies, Robert married his first wife, Mary, whose surname is a matter of much conjecture and debate. She has been listed as Maria Carter, Mary Carter, Mary Whitby, Mary Keeble, Margaret (Mary) Boyd, and there is even an Elizabeth Unknown in the list. Most researchers agree that whoever Mary was, she was a widow when she married Robert, and she had had seven children with her first husband before she was widowed at age 29. (The consensus leans toward George Keeble as Marys first husband. Keeble was a prominent man, serving as a justice in Lancaster County and as a vestryman of Pianketank parish. See note below about vestry.)

April Fools Day of 1666 was the wedding date for Robert and Mary. If the date had any sinister meanings for the couple or caused them to be wary, their concern was evidently groundless as their married life seemed to progress well. They began with a ready made family of Keeble children

  • (Walter,
  • George,
  • Mary, and
  • Margaret)

and soon had an even larger family as they added five more children to those Mary brought from her first marriage:

  • Peter (1668-1728),
  • Robert, Jr. (1673-1722),
  • Henry called Harry (1675-1730),
  • John (1675-1742), and
  • Mary (c1677-?).

Robert and Mary Beverley made their family home in the farmlands of Middlesex County, about 20 miles outside Jamestown. Within a very short time Robert was involved in the colony's civic affairs, military concerns, and religious matters. He soon held the rank of Major in the Virginia Militia, and it is by this title that he is usually remembered. He was elected Clerk of the House of Burgesses in 1670 and was also appointed by the Governor as a member of the Governors Council. (In a simple analogy, the House [elected] was similar to England House of Commons, and the Council [appointed] was similar to England House of Lords.) In addition to these responsibilities, Robert was a lawyer of learning and ability (Most lawyers in the colonies were self educated and learned by reading law under the tutelage of an established attorney if one were handy.) This background or interest in law may have helped him to be elected Justice in 1670, and his legal knowledge also probably held him in good stead while he served as a vestryman of Christ Church parish. (Note: The vestry in an Anglican or Episcopal parish is made up of the rector and a group of elected parishioners who handle the secular or earthly affairs of the parish.) Thus in addition to being a planter, Robert was involved in a great many aspects of colonial life. His reputation was good, and his neighbors held him in high esteem.

As the years passed, Robert and Mary became quite prosperous. During the 12 years of their marriage, they acquired a great deal of land and possessions.

In 1678, Mary died at the age of 41. She was buried under the floor of the lower church of Christ Church Parish, Middlesex, VA. During a renovation many years later, her tomb was found and the inscription could still be read:

Here lyeth interred the Bodi of Mrs. Mary Beverley, Wife of Major Robert Beverley Mother of nine sons and three daughters Who departed this life the last day of June 1678 aged fortie one years and three Months having been married to him 12 years & 2 Months and was a Careful Mother teaching Virtuous Life Happy and making happy when a wife Religious to Example, May all strive To imitate her Virtues whilst alive

(If you enjoy counting and working out the 9 sons and 3 daughters, heres some help:

  • Keebles: Walter, George, Mary, Margaret, John, Thomas, and William.
  • Keeble/Beverleys: Peter, Henry, Robert, John, and Mary.

[John, Thomas, and William Keeble may have died before Mary and Robert wed since they are not listed as coming with her to the new marriage. Likewise, Mary Keeble may have died after the Keeble/Beverley wedding, suggesting Mary Beverley may have been named in honor of her step sister, Mary Keeble.])

Second Marriage

With such a large family, even if some children were grown, it should not be surprising that very shortly after Marys death, Robert married his second wife, Catherine (1643-1692). Their wedding took place 28 Mar 1679. Like Mary, Catherine surname is in dispute. She is variously called Catherine (or Katherine) Hone, Armistead, Keeble, and other names. Many believe she was born Catherine Armistead, vehemently denied by others! who then married Theophilus Hone, Sr. (Others say she was Catherine Hone, [daughter of Theophilus Hone, Sr.] who married William Armistead.) When Theophilus died, Catherine married our Robert Beverley who needed help with his children.

[LATER EDIT: In Robert Beverley's will he refers to his BROTHER, John Armistead. John and Robert owned property together and were contemporaries. It isn't a stretch to think Catherine [Katherine] was John's sister who had married a Theophilus Hone. The only Theophilus that shows up in the church records of the time died in 1686 (after Catherine had married Roberty Beverley), so that THEOPHILUS could have been a child by her first marriage.]

She brought with her to the marriage at least one child,

  • Theophilus Hone, Jr.

She and Robert had four more children:

  • William,
  • Thomas,
  • Christopher, and
  • Catherine.

In 1680, the children in the Robert and Catherine Beverley household would have included: Walter, Mary, George, and Margaret Keeble; Theophilus Hone, Jr.; and William Beverley, the first of Robert and Catherine's four children.

(Later, when our Robert died, Catherine Armistead?-Hone-Beverley married Christopher Robinson who had had some children with his first wife, Agatha Bertram Obert (1652-1686):

  • Anne [1679-1712],
  • Clara [1683-1697],
  • John [1683-1749], and
  • Christopher [1681-1727].

[The names and number of these Robinson-Obert children vary in different accounts. Many list only one child for Agatha and Christopher [John]

In any event, Catherine and Christopher are said to have had 4 more children named

  • Agatha [c1687-?],
  • Elizabeth [1688-1695],
  • Benjamin [1690-1761], and
  • Theophilus [1691-1691].)

Lets just run through this:

  • Robert Beverley was married at least twice (Mary and Catherine);
  • Mary was married twice (George Keeble and Robert Beverley);
  • Catherine was married at least three times (Theophilus Hone and/or William Armistead [depending on what her maiden name was], Robert Beverley, and Christopher Robinson.)
  • Christopher Robinson was married twice (Agatha Obert and Catherine Whoever).

The surviving minor offspring of all these marriages eventually ended up with the longest-surviving adult. Catherine died 23 Apr 1692 and her husband Christopher Robinson died about 10 months later on 13 Feb 1693. Thus, for almost a year all the children were technically under his care. Hopefully the children from all these marriages were in the most part grown by the time Catherine/Katherine married Christopher Robinson. Otherwise, the Robinson household must have been teeming with children of various ages and surnames. [Maybe that 1 Apr 1666 marriage date was significant after all.])

(Another note: This marital situation was not extremely unusual. Remember, lifespans were short; people married fairly young and remarried quickly. These children, although they were all at some time orphans and/or stepchildren, were actually lucky. Had they been from poor families, they would probably have been apprenticed out to help with family finances; as it was, they stayed with their families.)

(I tried for months to get enough evidence to figure out the surnames of Mary and Catherine because I did not want to lose whole branches of our family tree which is what happens whenever we run into an unknown last name. We wont be able to claim any of the maternal surnames in this mess. We have ancestors from both Mary and Catherines lines:

  • Harry Beverley [1669-1730] from Mary whatever her name was, and
  • Catherine Beverley [1686-1726] from Catherine/Katherine Whozit.

In addition, we have the Hon. John Robinson (son of Christopher) who married Catherine Beverley, child of Robert Beverley. Ist genealogy fun?)

(Note: Please remember that almost all of this information comes from secondary sources; thus names, dates, and other facts are all suspect.)

Life with Catherine

Robert and Catherine added to the plantation life he and his first wife started. He even sent some of his sons back to England for schooling. (Son Thomas, unfortunately, died at school in England, some say of an accident, and was buried there.

When Robert himself died in 1687, the year after Thomas, he owned more land in Virginia than any other person had owned up to that time ”38 000 acres. (Some say 50,000 acres) He owned several plantations, plus all that goes with them. All this was accomplished in the fairly short life span of 46 years; actually, it was accomplished in the even shorter span of 24 years that Robert had lived in the colonies.

A description of the plantation of Col. William Fitzhugh, Robert friend and his attorney during the plant cutting trials, [see below] might give us an idea of what Roberts own plantation would be like:

on [the land] was a comfortable dwelling, dairy, dovecot, stable, barn, henhouse, and kitchen, an orchard of 2,500 apple trees, a garden one hundred feet square, large tobacco fields, and a good stock of cattle, hogs, horses, and sheep.

As far as possessions inside the Beverley house are concerned, the 1674 inventory of Ambrose Fielding, a well-to-do Virginia planter who lived at about the same time as our Robert, might give us an idea of what we might expect to find in a Seventeenth Century Virginia plantation.

If we toured Fielding a great room containing a dining table, a serving table, another small table, fourteen rush-bottom chairs, two chests, a cupboard, a bottle case and bottles, some linen, earthenware, glassware, pewter, two brass candlesticks, a silver bowl, and a silver tankard. In one chamber [we might see] great bed with damask canopy, curtains, silk counterpane, feather mattress, and blankets; two chairs, a chest, a pewter basin and ewer, a looking glass, a warming pan, and a brass candlestick. In the parlor two tables, twelve chairs, a couch, a cupboard, several books, a Turkey carpet, a pair of silver candlesticks, and four family portraits.

It would seem that after a Spartan beginning, the Virginia planters did all right in the long run. Even so, we must remember that at that time. Matches had not been invented; there was no running water in the house, no gas for lighting and heating, no sewer to carry off the waste matter, no central heating, and no powered washing [or cleaning] machines. As Governor William Berkeley said in a letter describing the living conditions in Virginia, we live after the simplicity of the past age.

Into every idyllic life, some rain must fall. Two major events were to occur that would change Roberts life forever.

biographical notes

Bacon's Rebellion

When Rebellion broke out in 1676, Major Robert defended his friend, the Royal Governor William Berkeley, and the Governor in turn appointed him in charge of all the government forces. Beverley was so successful and zealous in his defense and the governor was so pleased with his service that he said of our Robert, major Beverley has proved himself to be most loyal, circumspect and courageous in his majesties service." (For information about Bacons Rebellion, see the AOM for our ancestor William Hatcher, who was on Bacons side)

When Bacon and his followers attacked and burned Jamestown, Major Robert accompanied the Governor to the Eastern Shore to protect him. The governor sent him back to Jamestown with a force of 20 to 30 men, and Major Robert distinguished himself in battle. Beverley did receive some criticism, too, for he felt that war should support war and because of this belief plundered and seized property and land belonging to the dissidents who had aided Bacon. The court later held that this property and land had been justifiably seized and that Major Robert and his militiamen could keep what they had taken.

After Bacon was forced to flee and after his horrible death, (See the Hatcher AOM) both Beverley and Governor Berkeley expected more praise than they received from the King. Beverley had always been a supporter of the king, and he was irritated when the King Charles did not seem to recognize his contributions. This may have been a turning point, for as someone once said, tiimes change and men change with them. King Charles II sent a group of Commissioners to VA to investigate the uprising, recalled Berkeley to England, and appointed a new governor. By the time the soldiers and Commissioners arrived, the rebellion was over. Although he had backed the Governor (and thus, the King), Major Beverley refused to turn over the records of the House of Burgesses without the permission of the House. Though Governor Berkeley had been recalled to England, he died in his rooms there in 1677 without having an audience with the King. However, according to Robert Beverley ll, son and namesake in his writings about Bacons Rebellion, his majesty declared himself well satisfied with his [Berkeley] conduct in Virginia, and was very kind to him during his sickness, often enquiring after his health, and commanding him not to hazard it by too early an endeavor to come to court On the other hand, as far as Major Roberts friendship with Berkeley was concerned, by this time, the two men had had a falling out, for Robert believed that Governor Berkeley had committed illegal acts in regard to his office, especially in passing on land and valuables to his cronies.

The Plant Cutters

Adding to the situation and making matters even worse was the so-called plant cutting. Virginia economy of the time was built on tobacco. Unfortunately, in the early 1680 s tobacco had dropped in price. Our Robert and several others pointed out that having less tobacco would raise the product price. He encouraged planters not to plant tobacco and/or to cut back the crops they had already planted. The low prices caused riots, and with Beverley encouragement, groups of men raided tobacco fields to cut the plants. The new royal Governor Lord Thomas Culpepeper was in England, so the Lieutenant and Acting Governor, Henry Chichley had to handle the situation. Proclamations were issued stating that unlawful Assembling to cut up pull up or otherwise destroying tobacco Plants to be open Rebellion and that people who did so would be prosecuted as Rebels. Many were arrested, some punished, and a few executed. Chichley was more easygoing than Culpeper, however, and he pardoned a number of the plant cutters, as they came to be called in VA history. When Culpeper returned, he was livid.

In Virginia the Kings Commissioners originally sent after the Bacon Rebellion had the House of Burgesses records seized. (The King had sent word to seize the records even if the men have to kick the doors down.) Members of the House supported Beverley in his defiance of withholding the records since in a way doing so protected them and thus they sent a protest to Parliament. This protest angered the king who ordered Beverley removed from both his position as Clerk and his position on the Governors Council. Beverley thus lost his seat and office but was reinstated some time later. In addition, during the next election, the people re-elected Robert Beverley to the House.


Because of his refusal to hand over the Legislative Journals, Beverley was charged with sedition and arrested in May of 1682 . He was held prisoner aboard the Duke of York in the Rappahannock River. He claimed the right of a free borne Englishman and was transferred under guard to another ship, The Concord. Next he was moved to the Colonel Curtis sloop with the intention of him being taken to Northampton for confinement. All this moving about permitted Beverley to escape from the Sheriff of York during the transfer from the sloop. He made it back to his home in Middlesex, but was recaptured and sent to the Eastern Shore. He applied for a writ of habeas corpus but was refused and escaped again. In January of 1683 he was again captured and newly charged with sedition. The specific charges were:

  • 1. breaking open letters addressed to the Secretary office
  • 2. making up the journal he had refused to hand over to officials, and
  • 3. refusing to give copies of the journal to the Governor and Cousayingsaying he might not do it without leave of his masters [the Burgesses]

Our ancestor had also incurred governmental wrath for being largely instrumental in instigating the plant cutting, and in stirring up the discontent caused by the governments foolish attempt to force the people of Virginia to trade at certain towns

Major Robert Beverley was found guilty of the charges. On his knees the formerly gallant Beverley begged for pardon, and it was granted. After he was forced to pay 2000 in fines to insure his good behavior, he was released, but for the remainder of his life, he was restricted to Middlesex County.

King James II Steps In

Although he had fallen from favor with the new governor and new King, Major Robert was still held in high esteem by the colonists. At the next election he was returned to the House of Burgesses and in 1685 was again elected Clerk of that Body. In addition, the House began protesting against the actions of the governor and king, passing proclamations and resolutions against them. The new King, James II, who assumed the crown in 1685, was most upset and blamed Robert Berkeley for these democratical [sic] proceedings in the House. The King commanded that Beverley be incapable of holding any office, and that he should be prosecuted and that in future the appointment of [the House of Burgesses Clerk] should be made by the governor.

Shortly after all this political strife, Robert Beverley died 16 Mar 1687. Since his wife Catherine was pregnant when he wrote his will on 26 Aug 1686, he included his unborn child as one of his heirs. This child is probably Christopher, who was not mentioned in the will and who was born 19 Mar 1687, three days after his fathers death. (Some sources give conflicting dates for Christophers birth.)

Major Robert's will is the well-thought-out, lengthy document of a very wealthy man. Considering all his honors, contributions, and adventures, Robert Beverley's greatest gift to America was probably the influence he had on his children and on Americans who would come later.

His oldest son, Colonel Peter Beverley was Clerk of the House of Burgesses from 1691-1699. He was Clerk of Gloucester County from 702-1714. He served as Treasurer of Virginia and was appointed as a member of the Council in 1719.

His second son, Robert Beverley, Jr., was Clerk of the General Court, Clerk of Council and Clerk of the General Assembly. As a freeholder of Jamestown he served in the House of Burgesses, in the Assemblies of 1699. He wrote "History of Virginia in Its Present State and is considered one of Virginia foremost historians. Thomas Jefferson read Beverley, and it is said that Beverley, Jr writings include the seeds of political ideas that were to flower in the prose of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson considered Robert, Sr. a forerunner of the American Revolution by creating antagonism with the British government

His third son, Captain Harry Beverly, served as a Justice and Burgess of Middlesex County and was elected Clerk of the House of Burgesses. He was a surveyor of King and Queen Co. and King William County 1702-1714; he assisted in surveying the Virginia-North Carolina boundary line with Col. William Byrd. In 1716 VA Governor Spotswood sent Capt Harry to search for pirates and Spanish wrecks in the Bahamas. Harry was captured by a Spanish man-of-war and held prisoner in Vera Cruz for seven months without a trial before he managed to escape. He returned to VA before August 1717. About 1720, he moved to Spotsylvania County, where he was Presiding Justice of Spotsylvania County for a number years. Harry is our ancestor.

Although it was difficult for a woman of the time to become a leader, his daughter, Catherine may have become a woman of influence since she married the Honorable John Robinson, member of the House of Burgesses, member of Council between 1720 and 1749, and Acting Governor of Virginia in 1749.

When he died, Robert Beverley was considered by his neighbors as a great patriot of Virginia. History remembers him as a man loyal to the king, yet an ardent supporter of the liberties of the Colony of Virginia and of the House of Burgesses, of which he was long a faithful and useful officer, a courageous and active soldier, a true and stanch friend, and the possessor of a very general popularity and influence among the people.


  • Beverley Family
  • Beverley Family Genforum
  • Beverley, Robert. The History and Present State of Virginia. London, England: n.p. , 1705. Reprint Richmond, VA: J.W. Randolph,
  • Descendent Register of J. Peter Bev.
  • Hawley Davis Stowell Payton Family Association
  • Description of The Beverley Family of Virginia: Descendants of Major Robert Beverley (1641-1687) and Allied Families, by John McGill (Columbia, South Carolina, 1956), 8vo, 1118 pages, with twelve interleaved images and 112 pages of index
  • Faber, Temple Christian. Caste and Christianity: A Looking-glass for the Times.
  • Published by Robert Hardwicke, 1857
  • Original from the University of California
  • Digitized Dec 11, 2007
  • "Fitzhugh, William." Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright 2001 VirtualologyTM
  • Kennedy, Mary Selden. Seldens of Virginia and Allied Families. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin. Reprint. Frank Allaben Genealogical Company, 1911. Digitized Nov 29, 2007 pp336-345
  • Robert Beverley On Bacon's Rebellion, 1704
  • Stanard, W. G. Major Robert Beverley and His Descendants.
  • Tate, Thad W., and David Ammerman. The Chesapeake in the Seventeenth Century. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1979. pp. 155-156.
  • The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography By Virginia Historical Society Published by Virginia Historical Society, 1910 Item notes: v. 18, pp. 252-256.
  • Warner, Charles Willard Hoskins.
  • œRobert Beverley in Ancestor Sketches a Closer Look at Our Ancestors. Prepared by Members of the Chesapeake Bay Company.
  • "Dictionary of American Biography," p.233. Biography of son Robert Beverley
  • (2) "Virginia Historical Magazine," Vol. 2,3,20,21,22. "Major Robert Beverley and His Descendants," by W.G. Standard. Cites: (a) "Burke's Landed Gentry." (b) Hening II, p.489; III, p.258-259,543-549,561-567,570-571. (c) Beverley's "History of Virginia." (d) Sainsbury Abstracts. (e) Parish register of Christ Church Parish, Middlesex Co., VA
  • (3) "Cavaliers and Pioneers - Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants," by Nell Marion Nugent (VA State Lib., Richmond, 1977) Vol. 2, p.159. Cites: (a) Patent Bk 6, p.544
  • (4) "Virginia Vital Records from the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the William and Mary College Quarterly, and Tyler's Quarterly" (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1984), "Inscriptions on Old Tombs in Gloucester Co., Virginia," p.72. Cites: (a) Barradall's Reports, MSS, VA Hist. Soc. and Law Lib.
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Major Robert Beverley, of Jamestown's Timeline

November 30, 1641
Beverley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Jamestown, James City County, Virginia Colony
Middlesex County, Virginia Colony, Colonial America
Jamestown, Middlesex County, Virginia
Jamestown, James City County, Virginia
Middlesex County, Virginia
March 24, 1678
Orange County, Virginia, United States
June 28, 1678
Middlesex County, Virginia, United States