Mary "Elizabeth" Rice

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Mary "Elizabeth" Rice (Claiborne)

Also Known As: "Harris", "Royce", "Rice", "Elizabeth Claiborne Rice"
Birthdate: (80)
Birthplace: Essex, England or, New Kent or Hanover County, Virginia Colony
Death: February 9, 1710 (76-84)
Glen Cairn, Doswell, Hanover County, Province of Virginia
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Col. William Claiborne and Elizabeth Claiborne
Wife of Edward Rice, of New Kent, VA and Maj. Robert Harris, of "The Forks"
Mother of Thomas Rice; Col. William Claiborne Harris; Judith Harris; John Harris; Robert Harris and 4 others
Sister of Leonard Claiborne; Lt. Col. William Claiborne, Jr.; Jane Brereton; John Claiborne and Lt. Colonel Thomas Claiborne

Managed by: Jeffery Shoemaker
Last Updated:

About Mary "Elizabeth" Rice

disputed ancestry

There has been much speculation about "Mary" Elizabeth Claiborne. Some researchers claim she never exists, some claim she is not a daughter of William Claiborne, others claim she was never married to Robert Harris, while finally others claim she was not married to "our" Robert Harris.

  • The basic premise is that Mary (Elizabeth) Claiborne was the daughter of William Claiborne, and that she was married for a short time to Edward Rice. After Rice's premature death, Mary went on to marry Robert Harris.


The Mary CLAIBORNE who m. (1) Robert HARRIS was b.abt. 1630, since she bore her first child in 1652.She later m. (2) Edward RICE, and she had one son by each husband to whom she gave the name "Claiborne," a sure sign of this lineage.This Mary CLAIBORNE can only be the dau. of Hon. William CLAIBORNE 1st and wife Elizabeth BUTLER, who were having their children in the 1630s and 1640s -- there were no other CLAIBORNE families in New Kent or the Pamunkey Neck at this date.THIS MARY IS TO OLD TO BE THE WIFE OF JOHN WHITWORTH.

Some of the following information seems helpful, but other aspects seem questionable, such as the "Albermarle, King William Co, VA" (which is not a place, so I've deleted them here) and the listing of Rice children and their dates, about which I'm quite skeptical. If she married Harris AFTER being married to Rice, and her first Harris child was born when she was age 19 in 1849, then giving birth to 13 Rice children would have been impossible. However, the dates of the Harris children are reasonable.

Mary Claiborne

  • Birth 1630 Essex CO, England
  • Sex Female
  • Died 9 Feb 1710 Glen Cairn, Doswell, Hanover CO, VA

Last Modified 24 Aug 2004

Father William C. Claiborne, b. 10 Aug 1600, Crayford, Kent CO, England Mother Jane Elizabeth Butler, b. 1610, Roxwell, Essex CO, England

Family 1 Edward Rice, b. 1636 Children

	1. Thomas Rice, b. 1656, Shirementon, Bristol County, England
	2. Edward Rice
	3. Claiborne Rice

4. Susannah Rice, b. 1699, VA

	5. David Rice
	6. William Rice
	7. Michael Rice
	8. James Rice
	9. John Rice
	10. Francis Rice
	11. Henry Rice
	12. Mary Rice
	13. Elizabeth Rice

Group Sheet F511 Default Tree

Family 2 Robert Harris, b. 1615, Glamorgan, Wales Married Abt 1652 Children

	1. Robert Harris, b. 7 Jun 1649

2. William Harris, b. 1652

	3. Judith Harris, b. 3 Jun 1655
	4. John Harris, b. 3 Oct 1657

5. Mathew Harris, b. 1661

	6. Edward Harris, b. 1665
	7. Mary Harris, b. 10 Aug 1665

8. Thomas Harris, b. 1667

Hanover County was created on November 26, 1719, from the area of New Kent County called St. Paul's Parish.,_Virginia

Elizabeth "Mary" CLAIBORNE Surname: Claiborne Given Name: Elizabeth "Mary" Sex: F Birth: ABT 1630 in Elizabeth City, VA Death: 9 Feb 1710 in Glen Cairn, Doswell, Hanover, VA _UID: 7D2CFC2FF5F7D6119BCD93052FFC382F39EA Note:

   1. Her paternal family, that of William Claiborne, who came to VA in 1621,
   was of royal descent through the DeToneys and Cliffords. William
   Harris was appointed surveyor general of VA, was a member of the
   Virginia Council, was Secretary of the VA Colony during 1625-1635 and
   1652-1660. Four of his ancestors signed the petition demanding the
   Magna Carta of King John.
   2. Her mother's father, John Boteler, was a son of Cressett St. John who
   married Boteler. Cressett was a bastard daughter of Sir John St. John
   and Ann Nevell. The St. John family line goes back to William Malet of
   the Magna Carta Surety of 1215.
   3. Mary Claiborne first married Edward Rice and had a son, Edward Rice,
   who had a son, Claiborne Rice. Her second husband was Robert Harris
   with whom she married about 1665 in New Kent (=Hanover). They had
   William Harris (Captain) who married Temperance Overton and who had
   Robert Harris (Major) who married Mourning Glenn.
   4. William Deyo determined from his research that Mary was her christening
   name, a name she chose to use. Her name, Elizabeth, was found in
   the will of her mother.
   5. Have also seen the date and place of her death given as 1689 in Hanover
   co., VA.
   Deyo, William. Harris Family of Essex, England, and Virginia.

Father: William CLAIBORNE b: c: 10 Aug 1600 in Crayford Parish, Kent, England Mother: Elizabeth Jane BOTELER b: ABT 1610 in Little Burch Par, Roxwell, Essex, England

Marriage 1 Robert HARRIS b: ABT 1622/1625 in Henrico, VA

   Married: ABT 1650/1660 in Hanover, VA


   Has No Children Thomas HARRIS b: ABT 1665 in New Kent, VA
   Has Children William HARRIS b: 1669 in , New Kent, VA

Marriage 2 Edward RICE b: ABT 1630 in New Kent, VA

   Married: ABT 1647 in New Kent, VA


Fr Bill Deyo – I have had a number of e-mail with J. Phil Harris about Elizabeth ‘Mary’ Claiborne. I showed him where he had many holes in his thinking. I cannot understand why many are so adamant about not wanting Robert Harris to have married Mary Claiborne, when they admit Robert Harris' father was a surveryor "partner" of William Claiborne. Your referenced note of his stated that Claiborne only had a daughter, Jane, but there is proof that he also had a daughter, Elizabeth! Elizabeth's patent is in walking distance from Robert Harris' land! There are many other connections as well. There is no documented record of "Mary" Claiborne because her given/legal name was Elizabeth. Mary was simply her religious confirmation name that she preferred to be called by. This is the exact case of William Harris' mother-in-law, Elizabeth "Mary" (Waters) Overton, and was not uncommon. I have a Catholic friend who assures me that it is still a common practice for people to use their confirmation name among friends, but their given/legal name must be the one recorded on legal documents. In the 1600s not only the Catholic Church, but also the Anglican Church, kept the practice of confirmation names. After all of my e's with Phil Harris, he stated that he had no problem in Robert Harris marrying Elizabeth Claiborne!! I was glad to see the current DNA references. I had checked on this a few months ago when there were no participants from the William Harris/Temperance Overton line.

DNA would solve the mystery of whether the husband of Mary Giles came from the Capt. Thomas Harris line or the Robert Harris/Mary Claiborne line. The tradition is the latter and was even spelled out in an old Harris diary, but it is no longer available.



There is no primary source that identifies Mary Rice as a Claiborne or the daughter of William Claiborne. She should not be included in a list of his children. The connection is wholly through supposition by use the Claiborne name in the Rice family.

Edward Rice married Mary Elizabeth Claiborne, born ca. 1635, when she was a teenager, after 1650. They had 3 sons: James, John/Claiborne and Thomas. Edward died in 1660, leaving Mary with at least 2 babies to raise alone (the 3rd likely died as an infant). As was often the case, young Mary married a local widower, also with young children, Robert Harris, in 1661. Robert, son of Thomas Harris and Adria (Osborne) Harris, had been born in England in 1615 and left behind when his parents emigrated to Virginia in 1619. Raised in England, he sailed for Virginia in 1650 with his own family. His wife (Names: Unknown) died around 1660, leaving him with several young children. Robert and Mary had one son together: William Harris, who married Temperance Overton in 1697.

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Mary "Elizabeth" Rice's Timeline

New Kent or Hanover County, Virginia Colony
June 3, 1655
Age 25
The Forks, Hanover, Virginia
October 3, 1657
Age 27
Age 28
New Kent County, Virginia Colony
Age 34
Age 38
Age 39
Forks, Hanover County, Virginia
December 1, 1672
Age 42
Henrico County, Virginia Colony