Is your surname Hughes?

Research the Hughes family

Orlando Hughes's Geni Profile

Records for Orlando Hughes

7,718,324 Records

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!


Orlando Hughes

Birthdate: (78)
Birthplace: New Kent County, Virginia
Death: between July 25, 1768 and September 26, 1768 (74-82)
Southam, Cumberland County, Virginia, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Rice Hughes, Jr and Elizabeth Hughes
Husband of Elizabeth Hughes
Father of Anthony Hughes; Leander Hughes, I; Josiah Hughes and Mrs. Maney
Brother of Edward Hughes; Anthony Hughes; Rice Hughes, Jr. and Simon Hughes

Managed by: Jennifer Lee Mintzer
Last Updated:

About Orlando Hughes

According to a family tradition, three brothers Orlando, Leander and William Hughes came from Wales to Virginia about 1700. "Orlando Hughes is assigned as a son of Rees Hughes, Jr. primarily on the basis that he had obviously inherited (or at least, was living on) a portion of the land (430 acres) that Rees Hughes, Jr. had patented Dec 23, 1714. This was brought out in a 1734 Hanover County, VA deed, below." (Vince Hughes)


Jan. 4, 1734. --- Samuel X Ruther, St. Paul's P. to Rich'd Tyree of St. Peter's P., James City Co., (said land willed by Rees Hughes of New Kent to heirs of Mr. Wm Philips & Wm Watkins proving himself heir of said Philips as appear on records of New Kent, 14 April 1720), being part of 400 acres granted Dec. 23, 1714, to Rees Hughes. (Records of Hanover Co., VA - Wm & Mary Qrtly, Vol 21, No. 1)

"Another account of this deed is at Which brings out that the other 230 acres of the original Rees Hughes 1714 Grant was owned by Orlander (Orlando) and William Hughes. This would make it very likely that Orlando and William were sons of Rees Hughes Jr. and that Dr. William Phillips was a son-in-law of Rees, all three being recipients of Rees' land. This, if it is true, destroys the idea that Orlando was an immigrant from Wales. More likely he was the grandchild of the immigrant, Rees Hughes, Sr., and the Wales connection, even for Rees Sr. is looking very shaky." (Vince Hughes)

Will of Orlando Hughes

Orlando Hughes will dated July 25, 1768 & proved after his death on Sept. 26, 1768 [Cumberland County, Virginia Will Book 1 pp. 359 - 360.] In the name of God Amen, I Orlando Hughes planter of Southam parish of county of Cumberland in the colony of Virginia am weak in body but in perfect mind and memory thanks be given to Almighty God. Therefore calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my last will and testament that it may principally revoking & disannulling all other wills heretofore made by me. first of all I give & recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it me and my body to the earth to be buried in a christian like manner nothing doubting but at the general resurrection to received the same again by the mighty power of God and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me with in this life, I give and dispose of the same in the following manner and form that is Secondly I lend unto my beloved wife Elizabeth all my personal estate excepting two beds for my two youngest sons Josiah and Anthony until my beloved wife Elizabeth?s decease or during her widdowhood and then all my personal estate to be equally divided amongst all my children. Thirdly I give & bequeath to my son Anthony Hughes the tract of land whereon I now live to him and his heirs lawfully begotten of his body but if no such heir should happen then I give the said land into my son Josiah Hughes and to his heirs legally begotten of his body but if no such heir should happen then I give the said land unto my son Caleb Hughes. To him and his heirs & assigns. Fourthly Remembering from the beginning of my will that all my just debts & burial charges to be paid before any division of my estate be made. Lastly I do appoint and ordain my son-in-law John Murray my son Leander Hughes executors to my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have set my hand and fixed my seal the twenty fifth day of July in the year of our lord Christ one thousand seven hundred & sixty eight.

Signed, sealed and delivered to be his last will Orlando Hughes

and testament in the presence of us. Willian Torrell Micajah Hughes Josiah Hughes

At a court held for Cumberland County the 26th September 1768. This last will and testament of Orlando Hughes deceased was proved by William Torrell and Micajah Hughes two of the witnesses thereto and by the court ordered to be recorded and on the motion of John Murray and Leander Hughes the executors therein named who made oath according to law certificate is granted them for obtaining a probat [probate] thereof in due form giving security whereupon they together with Robert Douglass and George Carrington junior their securitys entered into bond according to law. Test. Thompson Swann, clk.

Other Notes

Information taken from link above:


BY Becky M. and Larry D. Christiansen

All material copyright 2004 Henry H. George

This page is a narrative of Orland Hughes, his son Leander and his Grandson Archelaus. The authors have meticulously backed their statements with a wealth of references, not supositions.

This is a lengthy, in depth history not only of the Hughes family, but life in the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries. It contains over 289,000 Bytes on six pages, plus pictures.

The Christiansens have very generously given me permission to post their work on my site because Archelaus Hughes is my Fifth Great Uncle thru his marriage to my Fifth Great Aunt Mary Dalton.

Becky M. Christiansen is the Fourth Great Granddaughter of Archelaus Hughes.

The Situation and Problem

The origin of this family of Hugheses in America has been briefly told by Lucy Henderson Horton in a book entitled Family History which was published at Franklin, Tennessee, in 1922. In Mrs. Horton’s work the Hugheses were only the first of several families traced and cover the first seventy-six pages in her book. Mrs. Horton was the granddaughter of John Hughes, the son of Archelaus Hughes, who was the son of Leander Hughes, who was the son of the Orlando Hughes (supposed to have been one of three immigrant brothers from Wales). From her father Mrs. Horton possessed stories and some documents that related to the Hughes family from Archelaus, her great grandfather’s time forward, and she wrote: “I have a great many old family papers, business papers and letters which came to me through my grandfather, Captain John Hughes (1776-1860).” However, none of these papers date prior to Archelaus Hughes. For the earlier years it is fairly easy to see the sources of her information, and it appears that if it was written in a book or newspaper, it was an acceptable source in her mind. She also explained some of her research as follows: “I began to gather data for this work in 1897, when making research to establish my eligibility to membership in the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. When becoming a member of Colonial Dames of America in 1904, I went deeper into the study.” Through the ensuing years few individuals, if any, have questioned the coming of the first immigrants of this family of Hugheses to Virginia. For many family members Mrs. Horton’s book contains all they know of these beginnings, and to some her book has become their historical and genealogical guidepost.

Mrs. Horton’s account of the beginning of her Hughes ancestors in America comes with a two- sentence paragraph as: “Orlando, Leander and William Hughes came from Wales to Virginia about 1700. The public records of Powhatan and Goochland counties, Virginia, which we quote later on, bear us out in this assertion.” She moved immediately to a “Mrs. Harriett D. Pittman” who had written a book entitled Americans of Gentle Birth and Their Ancestors, which claimed the Hughes heritage came through Roderic the Great, a famous king of Wales. Then Mrs. Horton quotes her source, giving volume number and page and quoting her as follows: “Mrs. Pitman says, ‘About 1700 there appeared in Virginia three brothers, Orlando, Leander and William Hughes, from Wales. Orlando and Leander had land grants in Powhatan and Goochland counties, near Richmond’ [she forgot to use a closing quotation mark]”. So the source for her initial statement on the three immigrant brothers was Mrs. Pittman’s book. Both of these were covered on the first page of Mrs. Horton’s book.

The given name of “Harriett” was wrong; Hannah D. Pittman produced the two-volume work Americans of Gentle Birth and Their Ancestors published in St. Louis between 1903 and 1907 (reprinted in 1970). Mrs Pittman was primarily a compiler and put together the various family accounts sent to her. The material quoted by Mrs. Horton as from Mrs. Pittman came instead from Felix T. Hughes from Keokuk, Iowa, and was incorporated into Mrs. Pittman’s book. The quote from the volume and page number given by Mrs. Horton went as follows:

"About 1700, A.D., there appeared in Virginia three brothers, Orlando, Leander and William Hughes, from Wales. Orlando and Leander had land grants in Powhatan County, near Richmond, 1740, where their families remained until the latter part of 1700, when they removed westward, passing through the Cumberland Gap, into Tennessee, Kentucky, and thence to Missouri."

From Felix T. Hughes in Keokuk, Iowa, came the assertion that three Hughes brothers from Wales immigrated to Virginia about 1700, and this has become the basis of the belief that this was the beginning of this family of Hugheses in America. Mr. Felix T. Hughes was born in 1839 in Illinois, and his father William Powell Hughes (another source has the father as Joshua W. Hughes) was born in Virginia in 1808 and his mother was from Kentucky. The family moved to Missouri when Felix was twelve and here he remained for thirteen years. Felix was admited to the bar in 1866 and practiced his profession first in Missouri and then Iowa. Later he served as a judge plus held the office of mayor of Keokuk for a period of time. For about fifteen years he was president and general counsel for a series of small railroads-the Missouri, Iowa & Nebraska Railway, The Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway and finally the Keokuk and Western Railroad. He was found on the 1880 census in Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa, and at the time of his article in Mrs. Pittman’s book, he had been living in Keokuk for twenty-six years. His contention stands alone unsupported by family accounts or other documented evidence for either the three Hughes brothers or their arrival date. Immediately after the above quote came Felix’s descent with these words: “William Powell, son of Orlando Hughes, was born in Powell’s Valley, Virginia, 1808. His parents removed, when he was about twelve, to Illinois, near St. Louis, Missouri, where they remained until he was grown, and served in the Black Hawk war, afterwhich he removed to North Missouri . . He married Martha Stayten . . [and] Their son Felix T. Hughes . . “ The Orlando Hughes, the grandfather of Felix, was not the immigrating Hughes, so Felix Hughes was over two generations away from the Hughes brothers or Hugheses that led the way to America for this branch of the family. No lineage was given to connect these Hughes with those said to have immigranted about 1700. To add to the confusion, on the same page there was a short account under the heading “Leander Hughes,” which in the unexplained manner of its placement would lead one to think this was the brother of Orlando the immigrant. But this could not be since this statement had Leander being the father of Archelaus Hughes. It is unclear if this inclusion was a continuation of Felix T. Hughes’ story or the work of the compiler, Mrs. Pittman.

Together with the above assertion came the second part of the story for these Hugheses that they descended from royal Welsh lines that included “Roderick the Great.” Felix T. Hughes included this in his claim and Mrs. Horton carried it further. She described “Roderic the Great” as the “most famous of the ancient Britains of whom we have knowledge” and who “governed all Wales.” Furthermore, Roderic the Great “came of a race of heroes, whose line transcended by ages all the other royalties of the North.” This quote was followed by the apparent source “(Bulwer)” and no further citation, suggesting it came from Mrs. Pittman’s work with two page numbers cited, but not found in Pittman’s book. In quick succession Mrs. Horton continued with what in her mind were proofs of the royal lineage of the Hughes line without establishing which Hughes line she was writing about or if they had any provable connection with her line. From Burke’s Peerage page 801 she quoted: “The family of Hugheses (as testified by their emblazoned pedigree drawn up in 1622 by Jacob Chaloner of London) shows itself to be of royal Welsh origin.” Then from Burke’s Peerage and Barontage page 803 she continued with: “a branch of the Hughes family is shown to have descended from Gwaith Vald Mawr, king of Gwent, a prince of Cardigan, and from Blethyn ap Cynyn, Prince of Powis Arms.” Mrs. Horton then concluded with what became a recurring theme of her work about the Hughes with the page numbers listed in brackets referring to Mrs. Horton’s book:

"Their descent from princes of Wales is many times reiterated by genealogists, both living and past. Frances Cowles in the Nashville Banner of May 13, 1911, ‘If you are a Hughes you are almost sure to have Welsh blood in your veins, and Welsh blood to be proud of, too, for the first of the name were princes of the royal line of Wales. [page 8] . . . . If you are a Hughes you are almost sure to have Welsh blood in your veins, and Welsh blood to be proud of, too, for the first of the names were princes of the royal line of Wales. [page 10] . . . . We are told by several authorities that the Hughes family of Virginia and the Daltons have a common origin in Roderic the Great. [page 11]"

A third point of focus involved should be the geography in the Hughes immigrants’ relocation. Mrs. Horton cites Mrs. Pittman as the source for the information that the three brothers left Wales and came to Virginia. In the very next sentence she continued with-“Orlando and Leander had land grants in Powhatan and Goochland counties, near Richmond.” This quote was actually a continuation of Felix T. Hughes’ contention with the addition of Goochland County. Then on the following page she became more specific on the area of departure stating that “Orlando, Leander and William Hughes came to Virginia from Glamorganshire or Carnarvonshire, Wales. The family had holdings in both of those counties. We are told in Burke’s Landed Gentry [John Burke, Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland published in 1846] that the Hughes descent in the county of Carnarvon occupies twenty-four pages of the Golden Grove MSS., now in the Record office.”

Fourthly, Mrs. Horton gave very few details on the immigrant Hugheses.

1). Orlando -“The county records show that Orlando Hughes, the immigrant, died in 1768, and his wife’s name was Elizabeth. His sons were Anthony, Josiah and Leander.” “The Hughes family are long-lived people. Many of them have lived more than ninety years. Thus, it is not surprising that a man who came to Virginia about 1700 should have died in 1768.”

a). His son Leander-according to Mrs. Horton on page twenty-one “. . . Leander Hughes was born and reared in Powhatan county, Va. After his marriage he lived in Goochland county. Here his children were born.” From page 13 Leander died in 1775 and his sons were Powell, Stephen, John and Archelaus. “Leander Hughes, son of Orlando, and the father of Col. Archelaus Hughes, moved from his father’s home in Powhatan county, Va., at the time of his marriage, to their estate in Goochland county, Va. Here all his children were born.”

b). A surprise and a mystery - On page 10 of her book Mrs. Horton included the following, “Stephen Hughes, of the Orlando branch of the family, who was born in Wales in 1690, married Elizabeth Tarlton, who was born in 1696 and died in 1775 (see American Ancestry, Vol. IV., 1889, pages 77-78).” No matter how this is turned it has thorns for this Hughes tale. It has either another, and previously unknown, son for Orlando or worse yet a grandson born in Wales before the migration to America! The age of Orlando would have to be greatly extended and his situation as an immigrant would be greatly changed. Or Mrs. Horton is casting a wide net or suggesting that her line of Hughese was some how unexplained connected to a Stephen Hughes, who resided in eastern Virginia and can be found in her records from the period in question. However, it was not shown how this Stephen was “of the Orlando branch of the family,” and his advent in Virginia could very likely have been prior to Orlando’s. All this leaves a dilemma concerning Stephen in Mrs. Horton’s claim and account.

2). Leander - not the son of Orlando but his brother. “Orlando and Leander, brothers, who came to Virginia from Wales about 1700, had, as we have proved, grants of land in Powhatan and Goochland counties.” This is the faintest of leads and impossible to verify by the sources given in the time period and locations cited.

3). William the third brother was mentioned only as with his immigrant brothers and one general catch-all blending statement-“The Jesse Hughes branch and the Orlando, Leander and William Hughes branch, through intermarriages, have become the same, if they were not originally identical. Jesse Hughes came to Virginia in 1675. Orlando, Leander and William Hughes came to the same county (Powhatan) about 1700 . . . “ As with the Leander referenced above, both brothers, if they existed, have no known facts and thus are relegated to even less than folklore status.

Now the problems with the Hughes story as related by Mrs. Horton. The primary difficulty lies in connecting the three immigrant brothers to truly proven people residing in Virginia. The cited three Hughes brothers have been next to impossible to find and trace in the public or church records of Virginia in the first three decades of the 1700s. The only one found in the records was Orlando, and even then the time of immigration probably needs to be adjusted a couple of decades. It has not been ascertained that the three brothers existed or immigrated together except for the brief unsupported statement of Felix T. Hughes of Keokuk, Iowa. His one-half page statement of three Welsh brothers with a possible royal connection was incorporated in Mrs. Pittman’s book. Mr. Felix T. Hughes’ statement said in part-“About 1700, A.D., there appeared in Virginia three brothers, Orlando, Leander and William Hughes, from Wales. Orlando and Leander had land grants in Powhattan County, near Richmond, 1740, where their families remained until the latter part of 1700, when they removed westward, passing through the Cumberland Gap, into Tennessee, Kentucky, and thence to Missouri.” Felix Hughes’ statement on the three Hughes brothers comprised only two sentences and with the errors on the county’s name and the relationship of Orlando and Leander had as many errors. He was completely mistaken on the geography as his “Powhattan” or Powhatan County was not created until 1777. He strongly implies Orlando and Leander were brothers and the immigrants with the land grants, but interestingly has the land grants in 1740, something Mrs. Horton ignored. It can be established that Orlando and his son Leander lived in and owned land in Goochland County south of the James River. In 1749 while remaining in the same area their old county was divided, and they were thereafter in Cumberland County through the remainder of their lives. Their known land on the tributaries of Willis River and Muddy Creek are today still in Cumberland County. However, Mr. Felix T. Hughes’ two sentences (with two serious errors) were incorporated into Mrs. Horton’s book (attributed to Mrs. Pittman on page nine). She had no additional or confirming evidence except to add Goochland County to establish or flush out the story of the three immigrant brothers, but her book promulgated this little known contention into a family story, highly treasured by some. Now the hard conclusion has to be drawn that the story of the three Hughes brother immigrants is not based on any evidence but upon a sweeping statement filled with serious errors. Until confirming evidence is found, the story has to remain shrouded in doubt, a lead or possibility to be researched. The date of the migration of “about 1700” needs to be reconsidered as well. Although there were Hugheses who lived into their nineties, the branch under consideration had some to die in their fifties, such as Leander and his son Archelaus.

An extensive check into Internet sources on early immigrants to Virginia in the 1700s and an equally expansive research into the compiled lists and indexes of emigrants from England and Wales (including indentured servants) have failed to find the three Hughes brothers. Due to the great interest in genealogy in the last several decades, many ship lists and the vast majority of English public records have become available and indexed, covering those that took ship to America from 1607 down to the American Revolution. None of the three Hughes brothers could be located even in the concentrated time period of 1700 to 1740 which was searched the most intensive. The lack of success on the actual immigration lists, while disappointing, was taken in stride by the vastness that the research had to encompass plus the realization that prior to 1820 a great many ships carrying immigrants to America did not document their passengers. When this search failed to produce the immigrant Hughes brothers, an examination of the counties of the Royal Colony of Virginia was undertaken. This included all Royal grants and patents to land, land transactions in colonial deed books, parish vestry records and extended down to available tithing listings, listings of bounties paid for predators, headrights and the records of the county courts (primarily the minute or order books). Henrico and Goochland counties were covered in detail but Accomak, Charles City, James City, Isle of Wight, Princess Anne, Warwick and York were looked into on their land and probate records. Nothing was found for the three immigrant Hugheses-Leander, Orlando and William-in the period from 1700 through 1739. Felix T. Hughes stated the brothers settled in Powhatan County, and Mrs. Horton broadened that to include both Powhatan and Goochland counties and stated that those two counties’ public records would bear her out on her assertions and claims.

The main quandary was the two counties’ public records that were cited to prove the Welsh immigrants’ early arrival in Virginia were not created until much later. Goochland was carved out of Henrico County in 1728, and Powhatan was not created until 1777 after both Orlando and his son Leander had died. So the public records of these two counties could not be used to verify what Mrs. Horton claimed. Her other sources cited by name and page number were equally incredulous. Mrs. Horton’s proofs are proving a mystery in and off itself. She repeatedly asserted her intentions to verify her claims and a few examples should suffice: Page 8 regarding the three Hughes brothers coming to Virginia in about 1700: “The public records of Powhatan and Goochland counties, Virginia, which we quote later on, bear us out in this assertion.” A section entitled on pages 12 and 13 “Powhatan and Goochland County Records” mentioned an inventory of one deceased Hughes and the wills of ten Hugheses plus two deeds involving Hughes. Among the wills were those listed for Orlando Hughes (1768) and his son Leander (1775) but besides not proving anything, they were both from the Cumberland County records and not the two counties cited. More important the cited references say nothing about immigration or owning property anywhere except a September 1746 case when Leander Hughes sold land in Goochland County. On page 20 for the fourth time Mrs. Horton stated, “Orlando and Leander, brothers, who came to Virgrinia from Wales about 1700, had, as we have proved, grants of land in Powhatan and “Goochland counties.” Her citations of sources ranging from the cited county records to Burke’s works did not deal directly with her family line, and even more importantly, they do not prove her contentions.

The claims that these Hugheses were of royal Welsh lineage, so often reiterated by Mrs. Horton with sources ranging from Burke’s Peerage to newspaper articles, has numerous difficulties. Just because something was written in a book or newspaper did not mean it was true. Even more consequential, the cited references that Mrs. Horton used never specified the line of Hugheses, but were general references to Hugheses and in a few cases a particular Hughes but no connecting link made to Mrs. Horton’s Hugheses. Furthermore, on Burke’s work, the noted 19th century English author Oscar Wilde once said, “Burke’s Peerage, it is the best thing the English have done in fiction.” Somehow Mrs. Horton tied her line to those first of the name who were princes of the royal line of Wales. This was a tremendous leap of belief, almost to the point that if they were Hugheses (in its wide variation of spelling from Hewes, Hue, Hough, Hughs, etc.) and they were noted and royal, they were hers, and all blended together, however untidily and unexplained.

Two classic examples of the above will be given specifically. On page 10 of her book Mrs. Horton wrote: “Stephen Hughes, of the Orlando branch of the family, who was born in Wales in 1690, married Elizabeth Tarlton, who was born in 1696 and died 1775 (see American Ancestry, Vol. IV, 1889, pages 77-78).” Later on page 20 she stated: “The will of Leander, son of Orlando, was proved June 26, 1775. His legatees were his sons, Powell, Stephen, John and Archelaus. John Hughes, son of Leander, is spoken of as the offspring of intermarriage between the Hughes family of Welsh blood and the Jesse Hughes branch of Huguenot blood. That these two Hughes branches intermarried, see pages 77-78, American Ancestry, Vol. 4, 1889, Muncell’s sons, publishers. See Frances Cowles.” If one goes to the fourth volume of American Ancestry to the cited pages, one finds the descent of Robert William Hughes, born in 1821 in Powhatan County, Virginia, back through six generations to Jesse Hughes, a Huguenot emigrant who came to Virginia between 1675 and 1700 and settled the Hughes Creek Plantation in Powhatan County. Then to the crux of the subject - the article stated that this family of Huguenot Hugheses intermarried with another of Welsh blood who were among the colonizers of Powhatan County, whose original immigrant was Stephen Hughes. This Stephen Hughes had been born in Caervarvonshire, Wales, or Glamorganshire and married Elizabeth Tarlton, who was born in 1696 and died 1775. Although the American Ancestry never connected the Welsh line of Hugheses to Orlando in any way, Mrs. Horton did and then in her usual way proved it by citing her source. Also, she now could proclaim the name of where her Hugheses emigrated from in Wales. But the American Ancestry article did not prove her claim on either Stephen or John, and besides its accuracy was questionable as it cited Powhatan County a hundred years before its formation.

The Hughes section of Mrs. Horton’s Family History had a multitude of problems starting with the basic claims and the very dubious proofs she asserted. Her work has numerous errors (some of which will be noted later), and some of her materials are suspect as she had little regard for geography, time, actual documented evidence and establishing relationships. She wrote more like a painter with a broad sweeping brush, leaving a blurred incomplete word mosaic or story rather than the details and facts of a sharp pen. Her brush like strokes did as much to obscure as to reveal, and she repeatedly asserted her proof strokes, wandering to other things, often extraneous, only to return with more reporting and proving again of what she never did verify. Perhaps the prism by which Mrs. Horton viewed her topic was the key to her work. She never heard of nobility that did not please and impress her. She wrote: “In lifting the veil from the past . . . It may seem to some that I have made a vainglory effort to trace your origins back to European nobility, but ‘I do not think that lords are small things anywhere. Lords are made by kings for great deeds or great virtues.’ ‘Then they are lords of their own making. Kings only seal the patent nature has bestowed.’” She declared her line of Hugheses were thus descended and endowed. Whatever one may think of this prismatic view, it takes a tremendous leap to nobility when even the first step-parents of the three Welsh immigrant brothers-cannot be given. Thus, Mrs. Horton leaps, soars and jumps to conclusions beyond her bounds to verify. Her coverage of the first two generations of her Hughes in America gives very little, if any, that is creditable. With this much established, it must be realized that Mrs. Horton had access to both family stories and some papers on the later Hugheses that were important. So her work must be used but with extreme caution.

Orlando Hughes and his son Leander:

Some background material of this family of Hugheses is essential in gaining some understanding of them, but this had to be followed by extensive research into the available records, trying to strip myth and fancy away from their actual story. Because of the difficulties with the account of the three immigrant Hughes brothers, the focus of this paper will only deal with Orlando. Even he was impossible to find in early Virginia before 1740, and we know precious few details. As a case in point we don’t have a good fix on when Orlando Hughes was born with family genealogists coming up with a wide range of dates from as early as 1679 (perhaps attempting to get his arrival as an adult about 1700) to as late as 1706. The latter date would place his migration to Virginia much later than the “about 1700” heralded by Mrs. Horton, but the more circumspect place Orlando’s birth date somewhere between 1690 to 1695. His will in 1768 just months before his death indicates no earlier date for his birth. If so, then his migration to America must have come in or after the second decade of the 1700s and could help explain why he was not mentioned in the public and parish records of Henrico, Charles City, Goochland counties and adjacent areas up through 1740.

Orlando Hughes probably came to Virginia as a bachelor and met a young lady named Elizabeth (surname unknown but some suggesting it was Clark) and married her. In due time they began a family which came to consist of at least four sons-Leander, Caleb, Josiah and Anthony and at least one daughter-known only as Mrs. John Murray. His wife’s name and names and number of children come from Orlando’s will, which specifically cited Josiah and Anthony as the two youngest sons. For whatever reason son Caleb has been almost totally missed by Mrs. Horton and other family genealogist and historians. Probably Leander was the oldest son. Most family genealogists place Leander’s birth between 1715 and1720. Mrs. Horton and almost all genealogists place Leander’s birth in Virginia, as well as all the remaining children were also Virginians by birth. Other than what is stated in his will in regard to his wife and children, the remainder of his life and activities prior to 1740 can only be surmised or guessed. Although it seems a safe assumption that he emigrated from the Old World to the New World and landed in Virginia, that cannot be proven with evidence. We do not know when, how, with whom or from where he came. He could have come from Wales, and the rest of this narrative will follow that line of thought.

At the time of his arrival, Virginia was the most populous English colony in the New World by a wide margin. This would remain true well past the American Revolution, and the primary routes of travel were the various rivers with the James River being a main course. If he came directly to Virginia, he would have traveled by ship up the James River, passing Jamestown where a century earlier the first permanent English settlement had been established. However, by this time Jamestown had fallen into decay, no longer appealing to new settlers. So Orlando and any with him sailed further up the broad estuary of the James River to possibly Charles City (one of the eight original shires or counties formed in the Virginia Colony in 1634) and a likely point of departure from their ship. Ocean going vessels could not go farther as the falls of the James River (where Richmond came into being four decades later) prevent this. Wherever he landed, he soon moved westward above the falls of the James River into Henrico County (another of the original counties). This broad county extended from its eastward boundary with Charles City County and extended along both sides of the James River for much of its length. The county line ran to the north along the Chickahominy River and then west and northwest to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and on the south the line followed the Appomattox River to the same mountains. Henrico County kept these huge boundaries until 1728 when Goochland County was formed from the western expanse to be anotber large county extending west to the Blue Ridge Mountains with generous north and south boundaries. This brings to bear two time references -- prior to 1728 anything along the James River west of Charles City was in Henrico County, and after 1728 the western region along the James River west of Henrico County was in Goochland County.

Orlando was an immigrant from Great Britain, and probably from Wales, although the name of Hughes was common in England and Ireland as well in the early 18th century. He may have spoken in a tongue other than English for the prevalent tongue in the countryside of Wales was more properly called Cymraeg in preference to Welsh. In the larger population centers English was in the process of become more common as the English rulers tried to bring the Welsh people into their orbit of laws, customs and language. If Orlando had not picked up some English, he spoke a language vastly different from English, and even other Gaelic tongues were mutually not understandable. Even today in Wales a roadside sign bearing the words “Croeso i Gymru” means simply “Welcome to Wales.” The Welsh tongue is one of the oldest surviving vernaculars in Europe. At the start of the 18th century there was in Wales a resurgence of learning and Welsh literature. The Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge set up a network of charity school in Wales, and unlike places such as Scotland where their native tongue was forbidden, in Wales between 1700 and 1740 the Welsh language was condoned and thus used in the schooling. There was in addition a sudden burst of published books, mostly translations of religious works, in this same period. This brief setting may help to understand why Orlando Hughes could read and write while his son born in Virginia could not. Possibly young Orlando attended one of these schools, and whether his native tongue was Welsh or English, he picked up the rudiments of reading and writing of English.

The vast majority of European immigrants came to America to obtain land. In Virginia there were a number of ways to obtain land. First, there was the headright system, whereby the Crown offered inducements to come to the American colonies. Those paying the passage cost for an individual (head) were able to receive land for so doing, usually 50 acres. This headright system was popular in Virginia and all the southern colonies. If someone paid the passage for a person, they received the license for the land, not the immigrant. In many cases the immigrating person was an indentured servant, who in return for their passage agreed to work for the payer a stated period of time, commonly five years. Secondly, land could be obtained by a grant from the Crown and frequently large tracts were granted to influential supporters or friends of the government. Thirdly, land could be purchased from peviously designated Crown property. Fourthly, land could be bought or rented from a proprietor, speculator or land agency. Tenancy became an oftused stepping stone to ownership. Fifthly, there was squatting on the unclaimed or unused land. Many, possibly most, people ranging from servants to people working for wages eventually became landowners before many years passed. They may well have worked for wages for a period of time until they had saved enough to buy some land. Some of the squatters on land along the fringes of settlements found a way to finally secure title to some land.

Because none of the first three ways can be found for Orlando, he must have either rented (cash or share cropped), worked for wages until he saved enough to buy or illegally squatted on some land. While to some this may be unthinkable for the princely ancestors painted by Mrs. Horton, how else can it be explained that land ownership cannot be verified until the mid 1740s? Another option would be that Orlando Hughes came much later to America’s shores, making the time without land ownership of a much shorter duration. Since no headright has been found for them, they could have come as indentured servants to those paying for their passage. In return for this passage they would work for a stated period of time usually five years. However he came, he did not have enough presence in the area to find his way into the public or parish records even in the simplest forms -- witness in court or to a land transaction, processioning, tithables and bounty lists until after 1740. Then he and his sons would be witnesses to land transactions, secured property, be assigned processioners and their names placed in the public records and in the parish vestry books. Notwithstanding all those early land grants mentioned by Mrs. Horton, no land grant or title to land has been found for Orlando Hughes in Henrico County or adjacent counties. Neither has his name been found on a tax list or tithable report, or on lists of bounty payments for killing wolves, or parish records or on the county court order or minutes books. Only after this family of Hugheses was living in Goochland County can any of their names be found in the Henrico public or parish records. This lone reference was in the Henrico County Court Order Book (for 1737 to 1746). Leander Hughes’ name appeared between November 1745 and July 1746 as the plaintiff in a chancery case against a defendant. Leander was living in Goochland County and filed suit against a resident of Henrico County in that county’s court. Apparently this case was dropped by Leander after two of several continuances were charged to him for the costs of the court.

In the official county records, Orlando Hughes was first listed in Deed Book #3 for Goochland County on May 31, 1740, when he and two other men served as witnesses in a land transaction on land south of the James River in Goochland County. The first known land obtained by this branch of the Hughes family came to Orlando’s son Leander on March 20, 1743. Leander Hughes paid John Woodson £55 for a parcel of land (acreage not stated) situated in St. James Parish of Goochland County. In a memorandum attached to the deed, it was stated that Leander took actual possession of the land the previous day, March 19th. Eight months later on November 25, 1743, Leander Hughes obtained by way of a Royal patent 390 acres of land on Pidy Run of Willis River in Goochland County from the Royal Land Office. The grant was in the name of King George II and actually signed off by William Gooch, the Lieutenant Governor and Commander-in-chief of the Colony of Virginia (and person the county was named after). Leander Hughes paid 40 shillings and promised to pay a yearly rent of one shilling per every fifty acres plus make improvements in the form of a certain amount of cultivated land. Twenty-two months later Orlando obtained his first known land as a grantee to a patent for 400 acres on the north branches of Cat Branch of Willis River in Goochland County. Again as with Leander’s, it was under the name of King George II and signed by William Gooch with the grantee Orlando paying 40 shillings and promising to pay rent and make cultivation improvements. On April 23, 1755, Orlando Hughes was the grantee for another Royal patent of 800 acres of land on the branches of Randolphs Creek and Cat Branch that took in Cumberland County (created in 1749) and extended westward into Albemarle County. Orlando paid four pounds for this acreage with the usual promises of paying rent and making improvements.

Thus, it was not until the 1740s before this branch of the Hughes family had title to their own land. Thereafter Orlando Hughes and his son Leander become engaged in the buying and selling land through the 1760s. Perhaps the most telling thing about the dates is their relationship to when they arrived in Virginia. If the assertion that they arrived “about 1700” was correct, then Orlando did not gain his own land until four decades later. And if he came as an adult (born about 1679), then he was around the age of 66 before he possessed land in his name and would have lived to be 99 years old. The long interval between arrival and ownership of some land raises many questions. What was he doing during this long period. Some explanation needs to be rendered to account for the long time lapse between arriving in America and obtaining of land or the time of arrival needs to be adjusted to a later date, especially if they were of royal descent and had station and property in their native land.

Seeking any help on when Orlando may have arrived, a check was made in the modern day reconstructed censuses of Virginia for the years 1720, 1740 and 1760 with the first officially entitled-Virginia in 1720: A Reconstructed Census and the same except for the date of 1740 and 1760. These censuses were based on a detailed survey of all Virginia counties’ primary records such as deeds, wills, tax lists and order books. The reconstructed census for 1720 did not reveal any Leander, Orlando or William Hughes. But in Henrico County there were some Hugheses found in the public records-Ashford, two Johns, two Roberts (Sr. & Jr.), Sarah and Stephen. In the 1740 reconstructed census Orlando Hughes was listed as living in Goochland County. This reference to Orlando came because his name had been extracted from the Goochland Wills and Deed Book covering the years 1736 to 1742. On the 1760 reconstructed census both Orlando and his son Leander were listed. Then in the 1780s the late 18th century actual enumeration listed Leander’s sons, Powell, Stephen and Caleb, residing in Cumberland County and Archelaus in Henry County.

A research into the church records revealed no sign of the supposed three immigrant Hughes brothers (Orlando, Leander and William) in the early 1700s. The parish vestry records reveal Orlando’s presence much later, and very much in line with the discoveries in the county land records. While an examination of the Henrico Parish and St. James Parish records provided no evidence of the Hugheses in question, the next division brought some success. In 1745 St. James Parish was divided to form two parishes in Goochland County-St. James-Northam north of the James River and St. James Southam south of the same river. The latter parish in time became more commonly called Southam Parish and for its first four years was part of Goochland County and then thereafter into the 1770s completely in Cumberland County formed in 1749. In the Vestry Book of Southam Parish on September 10, 1751, Orlando Hughes was mentioned for the first time. As with the county records it had to do with land ownership. The established church by both custom and law played an important role in obviating lawsuits over boundary lines and preventing serious property lines problems and expensive re-surveys. The parish did this through the procedure and practice known as processioning whereby the established boundaries were well known, agreed upon and boundary markers maintained. The county appointed and ordered the parishes to divide their area into precincts. The parish vestry then assigned two or three leaders in each precinct to walk the property line with the landowners or their representatives and renew and mark the important boundary markers. The most frequent boundary markers were trees with certain blazes, chopped place and/or marks on them. Every four years this processioning was to be done so all boundary trees so chopped or marked would maintain their marked appearance, and any fallen tree replaced with another appropriate boundary marker. This processioning with any changes, disagreements and other comments was reported back to the parish and duly recorded in the vestry books. In 1747 the property lines were so checked or processioned in 34 precincts, and the area south of the James River in Goochland County was so recorded in the Southam Parish vestry book. Because neither Orlando nor his son Leander was chosen as processioners nor was there any notable incident or problem concerning this processioning of their own lands, their names were not mentioned. In 1749 the southern portion of Goochland County became Cumberland County, and in 1751 processioning was again to be undertaken by the various parishes. The Southam Parish on September 10, 1751, assigned processioners in its several precincts and among these was the following:

Ordr [Order] That Ralph Flipping[,] William Terrill & Orlander Hughes on the 11th Day of November next do begin & procession all the lands between Muddy Creek[,] the River Road[,] the Path from the Widow Dillions by Thos. Potters & John Salmons to Ham Chapil [sic] & the Chapil [sic] Road & make their return according to Law.

On May 16, 1752, the return made by processioners Ralph Flippin and Orlando Hughes was recorded and Hughes’ name was correctly spelled Orlando instead of “Orlander” as on his initial call as a processioner. The entry in the vestry book of Southam Parish went as follows:

In obedience to an order of vestry we have processioned the Lands and marked the Lines within our bounds Excepting John Salmon[,] Rachel Farisses and part of Nicholas Davis[,] part of Benjamen Harrisons[,] part of John Blevens[,] part of John Rowlands [,] part of Benjamen Dumas, part of Stephen Hughes[,] being Not Done For want of attendance.

Two pages later and under the date above in the vestry book, the returns from several processioners were listed included those of “Ralph Flippen, Orlando Hughs” and ordered to be recorded. Most often property owners were not mentioned. In some of the returns the processioners stated their tasks had been performed “in peace and quietness.” Serious disputes were seldom experienced with the most notable problem being that some of the respective land owners failed to be in attendance when the processioners were there. In many cases this prevented the precessioning from taking place, but sometimes the precessioners preformed their work, noting the absence of the respective landowners. Processioners Ralph Flippen and Orlando Hughes (his name spelled correctly two of first three appearances in the record) did not do their processioning in the absence of the land owners. The next processioning of property lines began on August 11, 1755, when the parish assigned men to do the work. On this date the parish assigned the same three men (Flippin, Terrell and Orlando Hughes) to the same precinct they had four years earlier with the addition of some extra words on their assignment. They were to “Procession all the Lands and Renew and Mark the several Lines” in their district. While those specific words were not included in their earlier assignment they were realized as part of the job. The next round of processioning began in 1759 and on the 11th of August when Orlando Hughes and William Terrel were joined by John Creacey in their assignment to “Procession all the Land & Mark the several Lines Between Muddy Creek[,] the River Road[,] Carters Ferry Road and the Chappel Road to Scotts Mill and make Their Return according to Law.” Their precinct’s lines had changed, but they were still in the same northwest section of Cumberland County west of where the boundary line with Powhattan County would eventually be fixed in 1777. The “Chappel Road” was the way to Ham Chapel, one of four Anglican churches in Cumberland County in this time period. While no trace of the old building remains, its location would be north of U.S. Highway 60 along Virginia State Road 45 near the present day Ashby. The Carter Ferry Road led to the ferry that crossed the James River at present day Carterville some ten miles north and a little east of Ham Chapel.

Orlando Hughes had served as a processioner the first three times the property lines of Cumberland County were done. In the 1759-1760 processioning Orlando’s son Leander became involved. In August of 1759 the parish assigned three men-John Woodson, Charles Anderson and Saymore Scott-to procession the several property lines between Randolphs Road, the Clover Forrest Road and the County Line (which happened to be the Appomattox River). When the return was posted in the vestry records for August 22, 1760, it stated in part:

In compliance to an order of vestry of Southam Parish Dated September 11th 1759.we the subscribers had Possessioned [more correctly Processioned] the several Lines Between Randolphs Road and Appamattox River the County Line and Clover Forrest Road (Viz), Ryland Randolps Line & Leander Hughes . . .[followed by many more adjoining property owners] Witness Our Hands. Present.

John Woodson[,] Sheriff, Charles Anderson

Leander Hughes, John Woodson

Roger Williams, Saymore Scott

Powel Hughes

Whether this meant that Leander Hughes was now a full processioner or just assisting them is not known, but all of the men listed as subscribers had property listed in the return except for Powell Hughes. Powell was the 19-year-old son of Leander, and another father and son team was probably the two John Woodsons. At the next processioning Leander Hughes was mentioned in the vestry book and the February 27, 1765, parish minutes stated that the return of “Leander Hughes[,] Wm. Flippin and Thos. Montague to be Registered.” On the same page and twenty-nine pages later these processioners’ return was recorded as follows:

We the appointed Possessioners [Processioners] between Muddy Creek[,] Carters Ferry Road and the Middle Road and Chappell Road have bin [sic] according To order and Possessioned [Processioned] such lines as we found (to Witt,): the line between John Pleasants and Sampson Fleming, Sampson being Present . . . [a half page of various property lines] also the line between Leander Hughes and Thos. Montague, Leander Hughes Present, the line between do. [ditto meaning Leander Hughes] & Orlando Hughes. Do. [ditto] Present. the lines between do [ditto meaning Orlando H.] & Boler Cocke, do [ditto] Present. . . . [another half page of property lines] And if there Remains any More we dont [sic] Remember them.

Leander Hughes

William Flippin

Thomas Montague

The frequent use of ditto can make the returns complicated to read, but the importance of the last two returns comes in establishing that the processioners’ precincts usually took in the area where their property was located. It also shows that Orlando and Leander had adjacent properties in the Muddy Creek area not far from the James River and in the vicinity of Carter Ferry and Ham Chapel. Significantly, these parish records provide dates in the 1750s and 1760s that dovetail with the deed records to more than suggest that the immigration of the three Hughes brothers came much later than Mrs. Horton stated. Or they took forty some years before they could obtain land in their own names.

2004 Henry H. George

Elizabeth Hughes

Born: 1702 in [city], [parish], [county], Wales

Died: 1768 in Southam Parish, Cumberland, Virginia, USA


Children Sex Birth

Josiah Hughes M abt 1707 in [city], [county], Virginia, USA

Leander Hughes M 1715 in [city], Powhatan, Virginia, USA

Anthony Hughes M 1722

Josiah Hughes F 1748

The Southam Parish vestry records contain three references to Orlando Hughes outside the work of establishing property lines. On December 2, 1755, the vestry listed payments made or to be paid, and among these was “To Orlando Hughes for work when finished” payment of £14 and 4 shillings. There was nothing further to suggest what Orlando had done for the parish. Nearly a year later on November 29, 1756, the vesty book recorded, “To Ditto [cash] to pay Orlando Hughes for a gallery at Ham Church when finished” payment of £13 and 6 shillings. Over a year later on December 15, 1757, in a listing of parish payments and bills another entry “To Orlander Hughes for work when Finnished [sic]” a payment of £6 and 4 shillings. For the second time in the vestry record Orlando’s name was spelled wrong, but the interesting thing was the work he performed for the parish. It is possible that all three references had to do with the same work-a gallery at Ham Church-but that can’t be proven. However, since the gallery was mentioned, a few words should be included on the church south of the James River in what became Southam Parish. The first church in this area was the Peterville Church built on the site where outdoor meetings had been held for several years. The meetinghouse was constructed sometime between 1730 and 1735. Initially it was in St. James Northam Parish, but after 1744 it served as the primary church for Southam Parish. The Peterville Church was 40 feet by 20 feet which would soon prove too small for the population.

Among the first business of the new Southam Parish, after being formed, was the building of two more chapels. The first built was below Peterville Church and came to be called Tar Wallet Chapel and it was constructed in the same dimensions as Peterville Church. The other chapel would be between Peterville and the James River and called initially “Willis” but shortly Ham Chapel. The parish entry detailing its construction is torn but most likely stated that it was to be constructed “as the other” in size and shape, etc. Its site using the names of the time was along Pruett’s Path and Widow Dillion’s Path or today’s along Virginia Road 45 north of U.S. Highway 60 near Ashby. Ham Chapel was finished sometime in 1747, but repairs, modifications and additions were frequently needed. At a vestry meeting on February 8, 1755, it was ordered “That George Carrington and Nicholas Davies Do agree with Workmen To Build a Gallery in Ham Chappel in the land of the Building and in A Workmn [workman] Like mannar [sic] of Such Dementions [sic] as shall be Directed by The Said Persons Impowered.” The next meeting of the vestry came on December 2, 1755, in which the payment of £14 and 4 shillings to Orlando Hughes was mentioned due when his work was finished. The next meeting of the vestry came in April of 1756 and all of the entries dealt with the returns of the processioners. The rest of the business of the parish was done at the November 29, 1756, meeting of the vestry. Here the only reference to work on the gallery at Ham Chapel was that of Orlando Hughes with a payment as soon as he finished. It appears that Orlando constructed the gallery at Ham Chapel. But what was a gallery in the 1750s? It probably was a balcony installed to increase seating capacity within the building. In December of 1759 three benches were added to Ham Church at a cost of thirty pounds of tobacco. Then in August of 1760 the vestry ordered an enlargement of Ham Church by an addition of 24 feet at one end and in November of 1760 William Terrell was paid £49 .19 .6 for this addition. However, the problem of inadequate space continued to plague the church even though a fourth chapel was constructed in the southeast area of the parish and called South Chapel. In December of 1762 the vestry ordered a man “to Build a Gallery or Pew in the North side of Ham Chappel Joining the old Gallery. . .” The “Gallery or Pew” most likely should be considered an option of one or the other, not that a gallery was the same as a pew.

During the colonial era the official religion was the Church of England or Anglican Church by law, and all residents were required to support it with yearly taxes. By the mid 1700s a little indulgence of other or dissenting religions was creeping in slowly whereby at least one dissident congregation was tolerated by the established church. In the confines of Southam Parish in Cumberland County a small group of Presbyterians had established themselves by July of 1755 with an official minister, Rev. John Wright. In 1759 these Presbyterians purchased land for a church from Charles Anderson, who had served as a vestryman in Southam Parish from 1745 to 1749. Anderson had resigned his vestry seat in 1749, and it is not known if he was connected or converted to the dissident sect. However, the land deed indicates that a church building was already on the site at the time of the deed, giving some cause for wondering. The tide of religious dissenters came in areas not well covered by the established church and then the relationship with the Mother Country became strained. The Revolution brought serious changes although the local parishes attempted to continue with their work and efforts as they had for well over a century and a half. But they were swimming against a strong tide and in 1785 Virginia enacted freedom of religion and disestablished the Episcopal Church (the old Church of England in America with a new name) with the mandatory public financial support. Their record keeping became brief and intermittent with no records for 1784 and then after a January 1785 meeting, a gap of six years existed to April of 1791. In 1792 Southam Parish went out of business after posting the processioners returns in April of that year.

By law Orlando and his family had to belong to the Church of England. In the frontier area of Virginia the church was slow in following the settlers. In 1720 the first church in the western portion of Henrico County was appointed to be built, being 50 feet long and 24 feet wide and costing an estimated 54,990 lbs. of tobacco. This area of the county had only 326 tithables, and a man was appointed to preach once per month for 540 lbs. tobacco and “cask” (to hold the tobacco). The church building was completed in 1724, and the number of tithables had increased to 635. The following year Mr. George Murdock was received as minister of the parish church, meaning the previous sermons were probably given by a lay reader. Mr. Murdock proposed that on the last Sunday of each month he preach successively at two other locations-the first month at Rob. Carter’s on the south side of the James River and the following month at “Major Bollings Quarters” on the north side of the James. Early religious meetings in the western area, when held, could be monthly or bimonthly at best. In Orlando’s will, made shortly before his death, he expressed great praise to his Creator and recommended his soul to that source. He requested that his body be buried in a Christian manner, and with “nothing doubting” that at the general resurrection that body and soul would be reunited. The vestry records of Southam Parish in Goochland County reveal that Orlando was active in the civil land function performed by the Church of England, but these records reveal next to nothing of the spiritual side. Orlando’s expression of piety in his will, common to many early last testaments, remains about all we have to assess his regard toward religion.

It is only after this much information has been obtained from the available records that the true story of Orlando Hughes in American can begin to be revealed. The Orlando Hughes family, along with most early Virginians, was closely tied to the watercourses, and in their case it would have been the James River with residence probably in Henrico County until 1728. This county took in both sides of the James River clear back to the Blue Ridge Mountains. While living in Henrico County no specific details are known of how Orlando Hughes made his living, if by a trade, laborer or working the land. He could have remained in the same basic area and had his county of residence change-first to Goochland in 1728 and then to Cumberland County in 1749.

A look at Orlando Hughes’ will suggests a more realistic time period for the arrival of Orlando Hughes would have been in the second or third decade of the 1700s. Orlando made his will on July 25, 1768, and he died within two months of this date for on September 26th the will’s two exceutors-son Leander and son-in-law John Murray-had the last will and testament of Orlando proved by the Cumberland County, Virginia court. He bequeathed all of his personal estate (moveable property) to his wife Elizabeth except for two beds for his “two youngest sons Josiah and Anthony.” Then he directed that Anthony be given the tract of land whereon Orlando lived with the stipulation it should he his and his heirs “lawfully begotten of his body” unless “no such heir should happen.” In this event the home place property was to pass to his son Josiah with an identically worded requirement. If the second son failed to produce lawfully begotten heirs, then the home place was to be given to son Caleb and his heirs with no restrictions. Apparently neither Josiah nor Anthony had any children in 1768, and they possibly could have been unmarried. Those family genealogical listings that place Josiah and Anthony among the first three sons born to Orlando and Elizabeth have failed to adequately research their roots. Placing Orlando as an adult (born around 1679 or so) in essence had a 99 year-old Orlando telling his two sons (aged between 64 and 58 years according to these listings) that either they produce heirs lawfully begotten of their bodies or they could forget about possessing the home place. It is far more reasonable to back away and reassess the situation using the admittedly few documented sources in the land, will and court records and see if “about 1700” arrival of Orlando needs to be re-thought. The early arrival date also produces questions about the extremely long time before acquiring title to land. But if Orlando arrived in Virginia in the second decade of the 1700s-probably close to 1720-then at the time of making his will and death, he would have been in his early 70s. Most likely his oldest son was Leander, who was between 50 and 55 years-of-age at the time of his father’s will, with sons of his own all in their 20s. Then Orlando’s youngest sons could have easily been in their 30s or early 40s. The giving of Anthony and Josiah beds from the household property could be interpreted that they had not married, still lived at home, or even that the two youngest were significantly younger than Leander and Caleb.

Even with this much later arrival in the Virginia scenario, it was over two decades before they had title to their own land, but that is much more understandable than some 40 years. If they had paid for their own passage to America, each brother was entitled to claim a headright of 50 acres of land. The headright was not an actual deed to the land but a right or license allowing the possessor to take any 50 acres not yet occupied or claimed by another person. To establish or “seat” the headright claim and receive a title to the land, the person had to mark the boundaries, prepare the ground for cultivation, plant a crop and build some type of dwelling upon it. The land was free but required much labor and some capital. No such headright has been discovered for Orlando or his two brothers. The headright system induced landless Europeans (including Welshmen) to relocated to America. But unless they had sufficient means to pay their passage, they may have been forced to so do as indentured servants whereby someone else paid for their trip across the ocean. If they had just enough funds to pay for passage, they may not have had the resources to secure or “seat” a headright, or acquire other land. Surely if the Hughes had come with the wealth and position that some claim, they would have secured land at the offset and would have been easily found in the public records. Instead, the late acquisition of land titles suggests Orlando (and his brothers if they existed and came together) likely arrived with very little and had to work to obtain sufficient funds before obtaining land. If Orlando arrived in the second decade of the 1700s and served an indenture of five years, then he was probably no longer in getting his own land than many of the immigrants to Virginia. A contemporary who can be traced in the same area was born about 1696, married in1721, and received his first land title in 1742 in Goochland County. Apparently this individual’s experience closely paralleled Orlando Hughes’ in regard to obtaining title to land.

While religion, lack of roads and dependence upon the rivers for movement were important, the most essential element was the land. Most immigrants came for it. County divisions came when there was sufficient population to justify divisions, and in 1728 the western portion of Henrico was split off to form Goochland County. The new county retained the huge expanse west to the Blue Ridge Mountains and covered both sides of the James River. Whether due to this county division or relocation, Orlando Hughes and his family became part of Goochland County. By 1740 when Orlando’s name first appeared in the public record as a witness to a deed, the location in Goochland County was south of the James River, where apparently he resided.

Orlando Hughes’ name in the public records not only give some idea of where he was living, but his 1740 signature as a witness reveals he could read and write. His signature can be found on his will, land purchases and witnessing other legal documents. A typical example as a witness came on a deed dated November 3, 1744, where three other witnesses made their marks (X’s) and only Orlando Hughes and the man transferring the property signed their names. In early Virginia the majority of people went without formal schooling and the ability to read and write was not common. The inventory of his estate listed books in it. Very likely his literacy came as a result of being born and growing up in Britain. His son Leander was born in frontier Virginia where rural schools were non-existing. Leander signed his will and all land deeds with his mark, and his estate inventory has no hint of reading materials. Environmental factors must have been the crucial factor in Leander not possessing the literacy possessed by his father.

Both Orlando and his son Leander were included in a list of tithables for Cumberland County in 1759. In this listing Orlando Hughes was responsible to pay for 8 tithes and Leander 5. This tax list was nine years before Orlando’s death and bearing in mind what he stipulated in his will about his two youngest sons, they could well have been among the tithes the father paid. If so, then the remaining five tithes were most likely slaves. Leander’s five tithes probably included his three oldest sons-Powell (age 19), Stephen (age 18) and Archelaus (age 16)-with his youngest son being under the age of 16 and not tithable yet. Then with one tithe for himself and three for his sons he must has had only one slave. It appears that Orlando resided on the south side of the James River throughout his life although residing in three counties-Henrico, Goochland and Cumblerland. The latter county was formed from Goochland in 1749. Albemarle County had also been formed from Goochland 1744, and in this county Orlando owned some land. In 1760 Orlando sold this land and because two counties were involved there were preliminary processes that had to be taken care of before the deed could be given for the land. An abstract of these preliminaries leading to that eventual transfer were as follows:

GEORGE the second by the Grace of God of Great Britain France & Ireland King Defender of the Faith etc. to George Carrington, Thomas Tabb & Thomas Prosser Gentlemen Greetings. Whereas Orlander Hughes of the County of Cumberland by his Indenture of Feoffment bearing the date the Eleventh day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty hath conveyed the Fee simple estate of four hundred acres of land lying in the County of Albemarle And Whereas Elizabeth the Wife of the said Orlander cannot conveniently travel to our County Court of Albemarle to relinquish her right of Dower to the said Estate Therefore we do give you or any two of you power to receive the relinquishment which the said Elizabeth shall be willing to make before you of her Right of Dower in the Estate contained in the said Indenture which is hereunto annexed And we do there command you to personally go to the said Elizabeth & Examine her privately and apart from the said Orlander Hughes her husband and whether she doth the same freely & voluntarily without his persuasion or Threats and whether she be willing the same to be recorded in our County Court of Albemarle And when you have received her relinquishment and examined her as aforesaid that you distinctly & openly certify our Justices thereof in our said County Court under your seals send then there the said Indenture and this Writ.

Witness John Nicholas[,] Clerk of our said Court at the Courthouse

the thirty first day of December in the

Thirty fourth year of our Reign.

In Obedience to the Commission hereunto annexed to us directed we have caused to come before us Elizabeth the Wife of Orlando Hughes and taken her privy examination for relinquishment of her Right of Dower in Four hundred acres of land conveyed by the said Orlando Hughes to George Walton and she declares that she doth relinquish her right of Dower in the said land freely & voluntarily without the threats or persuasions of her husband.

Given under our hands & Seals February 23rd 1761

Geo. Carrington

Thomas Tabb

All such official documents in the Royal Colony of Virginia were executed in the name of the King, and in this situation King George II. George II died suddenly in October of 1760, the year of the initial document, and was succeeded by his grandson, George III of Revolutionary War fame or infamy. The first document originated by the Albemarle County Court had the seller of the property as “Orlander” while the court officials in his resident Cumberland County had his name correctly as Orlando Hughes. George Carrington was a member of the vestry for Southam Parish in Cumberland County and a justice in the County Court and most assuredly knew Orlando personally. The county courts went to great lengths to protect a wife’s right of dower to her husband’s property as illustrated in these two documents.

The first son of Orlando and Elizabeth Hughes was Leander, probably born in Virginia between 1715 and 1720 in western Henrico County. This would be in partial agreement with Mrs. Horton’s claim that Leander was born and reared in Powhatan County (page 21 of her book). The accord coming only that he was born in Virginia, since he died two years before Powhatan County was formed. Leander’s birth and rearing had to take place in Henrico and Goochland Counties with the last twenty-six years of his life and burial coming in Cumberland County. He married Nancy Edith Powell sometime before 1740, and they had four sons and at least one daughter. The oldest son was named Powell for his mother’s side of the family, and he was born January 22, 1740, in Goochland County. Another son, Stephen, was born in either in 1741 or 1742, and Archelaus in 1743 and John about 1745. There was no mention of the daughter’s name, but her son was mentioned in her father’s will in 1775. As with his father, we are at a loss as to what Leander did prior to owning his own land, but he was likely engaged in some form of agriculture, either renting land or working on someone else’s land.

Into the story comes Mrs. Horton’s account: “Leander Hughes, son of Orlando, and father of Col. Archelaus Hughes, moved from his father’s home in Powhatan county, Va., at the time of his marriage, to their estate in Goochland county, Va. Here all his children were born.” Once again Mrs. Horton’s geography and history were totally confused. Neither Orlando nor Leander ever saw or resided in Powhatan County; it was created after their deaths. Both father and son came to possess property which was located first in Goochland County south of the James River, and later became part of Cumberland County in 1749. Their properties were always in the same counties and fairly close to one another. Even belatedly none of the streams mentioned in the two Hugheses’ deeds were ever within the bounds of Powhatan County after its formation in 1777. As for Mrs. Horton’s stating that Leander, after his marriage, left his father’s home and took his bride to “their estate” in Goochland County, all that can be said is for once the county was correct. He did not own any land at the time of his marriage, let along an “estate,” and he and his wife had two children before Leander obtained his first land title on March 20, 1743. Leander’s first known land purchase is recorded a year and a half earlier than his father’s first land acquisition. Leander purchased for £55 a tract of land from John Woodson of St. James Parish in Goochland County. Seven months later on November 25, 1743, he purchased 390 acres on both sides of Pidy Run of Willis River by a patent from the Royal Land office upon payment of 40 shillings and promises of rent and cultivation improvements. He would both buy and sell land thereafter, and had enough presence to be cited in the Goochland and Cumberland counties’ public records. All of Leander’s land and his father’s were in Goochland County and south of the James River. Most likely both Orlando and his son Leander probably remained where they had established themselves, and only the name of the county changed in 1749 when Goochland was divided to form Cumberland County, which placed Goochland County north of the James River with Cumberland County south of the river.

Orlando Hughes made a will dated July 25, 1768, and then within two months passed away. The exact date of his death remains unknown, but the Cumberland County Court proved the will on September 26, 1768. He was a resident of Southam Parish in Cumberland County when he died. His will named his wife Elizabeth and four sons by name -Leander, Caleb, Josiah and Anthony-with a daughter inferred as Mrs. John Murray. Orlando willed the land upon which he lived to his son Anthony with the stipulation about final inheritance being to a son with lawfully begotten heirs as discussed earlier. The two youngest sons did not have any children at the time of the will but the two other sons did. The personal estate was to be equally divided among all of Orlando’s children. The executors of the will, son Leander and son-in-law John Murray, made a “true and perfect inventory” of Orlando’s estate and gave it to the county court, which in turn appointed three men to officially inventory the estate and appraise the value of all moveable property. Their inventory and appraisal came in April of 1769. Some information can be gleaned from the inventories, such that he possessed 22 head of cattle, four horses, 21 sheep and 31 pigs. Along with some farming or “planter” tools he had a single “cart” for transport. Besides the normal household goods, he owned a gun, sword and “a parcel of old books.” Between the two inventories he had 850 pounds of tobacco, 50 bushels of wheat, 40 bushels of oats, and a “parcel of corn.” Included in the inventory list was an amount of “old pewter.” This could suggest either the appraisers lumped together several utensils and other pewter items into one parcel for the inventory, or Orlando (or his son or sons) may have been engaged in making pewter items such as plates, utensils, cups, chamber pots or even decorative objects. Pewter, an alloy of tin and copper, was easily workable, but unless much time and effort was expended, few became adept at creating fine ware from it. Orlando owned three slaves and the total value of his estate was a very modest £189 and seven shillings with the estimation for the slaves being slightly over half the amount of the estate. Home, land and buildings were not counted in these estate valuations. The initial inventory by the executors listed two pounds of cash in Orlando’s home, and two accounts against other Hughes-one against Rees Hughes for £15 and one against Micajah Hughes for £ 4 ½. Plus there was a £15 bond against Nicholas Morris due March 15, 1769. When the court appointed appraisers submitted their evaluation, the bond was not listed, so apparently it had been paid. In reality the cash and account payable to the estate added £21 ½ to the estate. One could guess from the inventory that the family traveled but short distances since they only had one cart and one saddle and bridle. Their primary crops were tobacco, wheat, oats and corn. Orlando’s possessions could legally be listed as an estate, but in the vernacular they hardly deserve the name, and strongly suggest no assistance from a royal Welsh heritage of wealth and prestige claimed by some. Instead, the immigrant Orlando Hughes came with little or nothing, and by the mid 1740s began to accumulate property and possessions so that within a little over two decades, he had enough resources to lend small amounts of money and secure a bond.

Almost seven years after the death of his father, Leander Hughes (only in his late fifties to sixty) of Littleton Parish in Cumberland County made out his will dated March 24, 1775, and within three months he died. After Leander’s death his will was proved before the Cumberland County Court on June 28, 1775. Since there was no mention of his widow, wife Nancy Edith preceded him in death. Sons, Powell and Archelaus, were named executors of the estate. According to the father’s wishes, the tract of land upon which he had lived was divided among sons, Powell and Stephen, with the former to receive the upper portion and the latter the remaining half whereon Leander lived with the “houses” being part of Stephen’s inheritance. The will has the plural “houses” in which Leander had lived, suggesting he probably built another house to replace the first house. While he lived in one, he had two sons (Powell and Stephen) in their mid 30s, and likely at least one lived in the first home. The plural could extend to more than two houses, so the other son could have also lived nearby, and there were quarters needed for the slaves. The father’s will gave four slaves to son John Hughes, and the value of the remaining eight slaves being equally divided among three sons-Powell, Stephen and Archelaus-with grandson John Watkins to receive a sixth part of the eight slaves’ value. Then Leander desired that his tract of land in Charles City County should be sold at public sale, and this along with the proceeds from his moveable property-cattle, horses, sheep, hogs along with household and kitchen furniture be used to pay his debts. The remainder was to be equally divided between his four sons-Powell, Stephen, Archelaus and John Hughes. The father Orlando lived in Southam Parish in 1768 and son Leander resided in Littleton Parish in 1775. The two parishs’ names do not indicated they lived far apart as the latter parish was created in 1772 in eastern Cumberland County. Leander Hughes made his mark (X) to seal his will and one of the witnesses did the same.

At face value son Archelaus received the least from the father’s will, but he may have received some portion of his inheritance when he relocated to southern Virginia in the early 1760s. The most intriguing thing in Leander’s will was the instruction to sell his land in Charles City County. This land comes as a surprise unaccounted for by any known grant or purchase, and he possibly inherited it from his mother Elizabeth. Just over a year after Orlando Hughes died, an “Elizabeth Hughes” placed her mark witnessing a land transaction in Charles City County on October 3, 1769. Six years later Elizabeth Hughes’ son Leander has land in his will in the same Charles City County that he may have obtained by way of his mother. While not proven, it is perhaps a lead to try and determine Elizabeth’s maiden name.

The Cumberland County Court ordered an inventory of Leander’s estate, and shortly three assigned persons took the inventory and appraised its value and returned the same to the court on June 28, 1775. Among the items listed were three horses, 20 head of “old cattle” and six calves, 18 hogs and 23 shoats (young hogs), 12 sheep and 20 geese. Also included were 20 pounds of feathers worth 50 shillings, one horse cart, one “men’s old saddle,” and two guns. There were the usual farming and wood working tools, but a great number (18) and variety of hoes. Two feather beds were included in the listing of household and kitchen furniture along with a loom and tools to process wool, cotton and flax. The number of items made of pewter included 17 pewter plates, three pewter dishes and one pewter chamber pot. Also there was a “parcel of old pewter,” suggesting he may have made some pewter items. He owned 12 slaves with one listed as a child of one of the female slaves. The value of the slaves was placed at £ 525, while the estate’s total movable property was appraised at £ 638 and four shillings. The slaves accounted for over 82% of the estate’s movable property. Leander’s estate inventory was three times the value of his father’s, and while he was not a wealthy man, he certainly had considerable means. The second generation of this family of Hugheses in America had made substantial progress; they had come for that very reason and Virginia had proven a good choice.

Leander’s life had been spent around the James River, and land transportation was of minor importance to him, hence he had one men’s saddle and one horse cart, but no wagon, buggy or other horse-drawn vehicle. While during his lifetime water transportation remained important, there began to be changes and more travel overland via trails and roads. In the mid 1700s a beginning to what came to be called the “Great Wagon Road” began in Pennsylvania. While difficult to pinpoint such development, a Treaty of Lancaster seemed to be the official start of this important road. The road connected Philadelphia with other Pennsylvania towns and over to and down Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley where the Great Wagon Road joined the Great Valley Road to Big Lick (Roanoke, Virginia) where the Great Wagon Road branched. The southern branch went through Staunton Gap and on south into North Carolina and was called the Carolina Road, while the Valley road continued southwest through present day Kingsport, Tennessee. By 1775 the Great Wagon Road stretched some 700 miles down through South Carolina and on to Georgia. At the local level in and around Cumberland and Goochland counties there were advances in roads. A map printed in England in 1771 shows a road from Richmond along the north side of the James River to Goochland Courthouse. There it turned to the southwest crossing the James River (crossed at first by ferry) and through Cumberland County between Willis River and Muddy Creek before turning to a westward direction. In addition, other roads began to interconnect with each other and with the main thoroughfares. The roads did not have much bearing on Leander Hughes, but they did for his son Archelaus. At first only a trickle of travelers with perhaps most in simple carts journeyed on the road, but in time they conveyed a mass migration and the simple two-wheeled vehicles gave way to four-wheeled wagons up to large Conestoga wagons. In the period from 1760 to 1776 the Great Wagon Road was the heaviest traveled road in America and the southbound traffic numbered in the tens of thousands.


view all

Orlando Hughes's Timeline

New Kent County, Virginia
Age 20
United States
Age 25
Powhatan County, VA, USA
July 25, 1768
Age 78
Southam, Cumberland County, Virginia, USA
Age 78