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Thomas Harbour

Birthplace: Wales (United Kingdom)
Death: August 08, 1770 (79-80)
Henry county, Royal Colony of, Virginia, USA
Place of Burial: Henry County, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Sarah Harbour
Father of David Harbour; Talmon Harbour; Abner Harbour; Sarah Witt; Elisha Harbour and 8 others

Managed by: Mark Alexander Fowler
Last Updated:

About Thomas Harbour

Thomas Harbour

  • Birth: 1675 - Somerset
  • Death: Aug 8 1770 - Henry county, Royal Colony of, Virginia, USA
  • Brother: George Harbour
  • Wife: Sarah Harbour (born Witt)



    This section focuses on the early Harbours of Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama. Material from Louis William's book provides the framework for the section on the Virginia Harbours but has been augmented by outside sources. Many of the Harbours at this time had large families and used the same names, including many biblical ones, repeatedly for their children. This has often made it difficult for researchers to sort out the different lines as several individuals with the same name can be found in Virginia and Georgia at the same time. The records kept in Virginia in the 1700's have not all survived to the present, making the history of the Harbours incomplete. Sections in the book by Williams covering the early Harbours rest on deduction and single sources of information. The instances in which personal research was conducted in this area reinforced what was found in the Williams book. Nevertheless, much of the material on the children of Thomas cannot be proven "in a court of law" and should be read as so. ... 



nch word 'herberjour,' meaning one who gave lodging. In French there were various spellings, Le Herberjurs, Le Herbers, and Le Herberers are but a few [1]. The word has been carried over to English in the form of harbor. Webster's Dictionary traces the word back to the Middle English form of herberge, which is very similar to the French. In the English form as a noun it denotes a place of security and comfort. As a verb, it represents those who provide such places. This does not mean that all of the ancient Harbours were inn-keepers of some type, but the forefathers of many at some time must have provided such a place and became known for it.

    Another item of note from Webster's is that the word 'harbour' is the chief British variant of 'harbor.' Thomas Harbour's family in the British Isles, before he migrated to the New World, must have adopted this spelling as it was maintained in that form in E. T. Harbour's family [2]. 
    There have been several unconnected lines of Harbours in North America throughout its history. One of the earliest was a John Harbour in Massachusetts in the early 1600's [3]. Another line was a family of Acadians that moved from Novia Scotia to Louisiana and later changed the name to Arbour. Researchers of the Harbour family mentioned in the Williams book found several other Harbours living in Colonial Virginia but failed to connect them to any known line. 



    The progenitor of E. T. Harbour came from the British Isles to Virginia in the early part of the eighteenth century. Thomas Harbour was born in Wales [1]. The year of his birth is in dispute but it is likely that it was somewhere around 1695 [2]. The small country of Wales had been populated and the land developed for centuries before the birth of Thomas. Unless a man came from a wealthy family or was the eldest son, he stood little chance of obtaining any land. To the people of the time land was equated with wealth and security as most of the economy centered on agriculture. In Wales there was very little available land and without it one was forced either to work in the fields as a laborer or to pick up some type of trade as a skilled worker. 
    These options must not have been pleasing career choices to young Thomas Harbour. If so, he would have stayed in Wales. Instead Thomas opted for an opportunity that had been open to ambitious, adventurous risk takers for only a short time. The frontier land of the New World was a chance to escape the limitations of life in Wales. At some point as a young man, Thomas decided to seek his fortunes in America. 
    Nothing is known of Thomas Harbour from preserved records before the year 1728. Judging from facts gleamed from later years, Thomas seemed to hold some excellent qualities. He acquired a large amount of land, all on the frontier, during his lifetime. In the hardships of this frontier Thomas raised a large family and lived to be an old man. These achievements must reflect the intelligence, discipline, determination, and health of Thomas that made this possible. 
    The first trace of Thomas in America is the tradition of his marriage to Sarah Witt in Charles City County, Virginia. The Witts and Harbours had a very close relationship in those early days of Virginia. Wherever deeds for one family are found, the other family is found nearby. The Witts were French Huguenots that were driven out of Europe for religious reasons. The British Crown and the colony of Virginia gave them the privileges of British citizenry [3] and immediately the Witts began to become large landowners. The first Witts in America were John Witt and his two sons, John and William. John Witt first appeared in the latter part of the 17th century in Virginia. His name appeared several times in a series of land patents. 
    Before 1699 when treasury rights were instated, land was deeded in the form of head bounties granted to people who brought new immigrants to the colonies. One of these individuals who obtained land by bringing in settlers was Captain William Randolph. A relative of Thomas Jefferson [4] , Randolph amassed a hugh estate known as Tuckahoe. Randolph and others like him to obtain more land often made several patents claiming the same individual. One of the individuals claimed several times was John Witt. The first patent that John Witt was included in was for 623 acres in Charles City County, Bristoll Parish. It was for land on the south side of the Appomattox River, beginning at Hugh Lee's, to the Great Meadow, up the swamp, andwas dated 20 November 1682 [5]. Another, submitted by Thomas Cock Sr., was for 816 acres in Henrico County on the south side of the Chickahominy. This was dated 20 October 1689 [6]. John Witt is found in another claim of William Randolph's recorded on 25 October 1695. This was for 2,926 acres in Charles City County, Wynoake Parish, on the south side of the James River. These three land patents have some common names between the listed immigrants, making it likely that the John Witt listed is one and the same. 
    John Witt was married to Ann Daux, daughter of Walter Daux. Walter, the son of a London merchant, Richard Daux [7] , is first found in Virginia in 1637 when he is listed on a patent of land near Herring and Oldman's Creeks in Charles City County [8]. A series of court entries from the 1670's concerning a dispute between orphans of Walter Daux establishes John Witt as the husband of Ann. In February 1687 a work order was issued to clear and lay a road from the Chickahominy down towards the James River. This road was connected to the main road [9] near John Witt's land [10]. 
    By 1715 both of the Witt brothers, John and William, moved a few miles west to Henrico County. On 13 September 1715 the brothers bought 300 acres from Charles Hudson for 10 pounds. The land was on a fork of Tuckahoe Creek, bounded by the southern branch and John Bradley's land [11]. The Witts may have already been established here before 1715 as the land noted in the patents submitted by William Randolph was in this area. Also, in 1695, John Witt had a court suit in Henrico County [12]. 
    According to the tradition noted in the Williams book, John Witt Jr. had a wife named Lavina. A will dated 5 August 1730, in Charles City County, leaves that in doubt. John Rogers of Westover Parish left livestock and items to his daughter Ann, wife of John Witt [13]. Tradition also is that Thomas Harbour married Sarah Witt in Charles City County. If this is true, Thomas followed his wife's family to their home in Henrico County. 
    The first existing document of Thomas Harbour dates from 28 September, 1728. He paid 40 shillings for a land grant of 400 acres of new land on the lower forks of Deep Creek [14]. Deep Creek is in Henrico County on the north side of the James River less than a mile from Tuckahoe Creek. When Goochland County was formed from Henrico in 1728 Tuckahoe Creek formed the eastern most boundary, encompassing the Witt lands in the new county. Three Notched Road, an old track following the watershed between the James and South Anna Rivers and named for a long-gone peculiar tree mark along the route, connected the short distance between Thomas Harbour and his father-in-law [15]. 
    It was in Goochland County that the second record of Thomas is found. Thomas was involved in a court case there in 1729/30 in which he, as a plaintiff, had a case dismissed [16]. It was around this time that the couple began to have children. Four sons were likely born here, David, Talmon, Abner, and Elisha [17]. Lavina and Mary, two daughters [18] would also have been born in this period. 
    The movement of the Harbour and Witt families was typical among the early Virginians. Jamestown had only been settled 100 years earlier. The lack of roads made it necessary for people to live on navigable waters. Few homes were without private wharfs. As the population grew, the people begin to move west along the James River and the local creeks around it. It appears from surviving records that the Witts and Harbours began to amass property as they slowly continued to move westward. 
    John Witt and his wife Elizabeth sold 400 acres, both south of the James and granted to him 1731, in two 200 acre parcels on 28 April 1734 [19]. That same year John Witt paid 3 tithes in King William Parish, Henrico County [20]. 
    The land in western Goochland County during the 1730s was virgin wilderness. Though not many Indians lived in the area, few white men had seen the area before 1730. Land grants were first available there in 1727 [21]. On 1 August 1734, Thomas was granted 400 acres on both sides of Ballenger's Creek in Goochland County, Virginia [22]. 
    It is unclear if Thomas kept his land on Deep Creek when he received the new parcel of land. Thomas was recorded in Goochland as witnessing a deed for Charles Cox on 17 November 1735 [23]. Three years later Thomas received 1,463 more acres in the form of a land grant adjoining his 400 acre farm [24]. By this time Thomas must have established himself as a man of means. A 1704 Virginia law limited land patents to 500 acres. Exceptions were made only to those who could employ the land with at least five servants or slaves, which apparently Thomas must have had. 
    It is possible that Thomas was moving closer to his Witt relatives when he received the Ballenger's Creek grant. William Witt was known to have lived there as well. In a deed dated 10 August 1741, William left to his son John 200 acres bounded by the James and Rivanna Rivers, and Ballenger's Creek. He stated that this land was his place of residence [25]. A deed from 1737 lends weight to the possibility that William lived there near Thomas. On 28 May 1737 John Graves of Goochland County sold 400 acres known as "Graves Indian Field" on both sides of Ballenger's Creek. The deed stated that the land was next to Thomas Harbour's and was witnessed by William Witt [26]. 
    On 18 July 1739, Thomas was appointed as a surveyor in Goochland County. He worked along a road that led up to the ridge of Mechunk Creek [27] Four years later, on 18 October 1743, he did some more surveying along the road from Ballenger's Creek to Mountain Road [28] This was the "Three Notched Road" [29] in the vicinity of his wife's family, the Witts. 
    Around this time frame the last of Thomas and Sarah's children were born. Elijah and Adonijah are two known sons and two daughters, Jane and Sarah, may be included here as well. Around 1742, Sarah's father, John Witt Jr., died [30]. 
    Any details of the personal and daily life of Thomas and Sarah have been lost over the generations. What their political and religious beliefs were are unknown. It is evident that religion played an important part in their life as many of the children were given biblical names. Sarah, as the daughter of Huguenots, had a Protestant leaning and probably associated with those of similar beliefs. The family was most likely Baptist. In 1760 their son Talmon was a charter member of the Dan River Baptist Church. Regardless of the affiliation, however, religion was important to the family. 
    Thomas on 20 September 1745 received another land grant in Goochland County. A 400 acre tract was obtained on the north branch of Horsley's Creek [31]. Thomas must have moved his family there for that same month he sold 1,000 of his acres around Ballenger's Creek to John Bisby and he may have needed a new home [32] Houses, fences, and orchards were established here as fifteen years later it was sold as developed property [33]. 
    As they grew older, Thomas's children were probably very important in helping him run his vast land holdings. On 28 September 1753, Thomas acquired eight separate grants for land in Southern Virginia, and they were most likely obtained for his children. 354 acres were acquired on Fall Creek and the Mayo River junction in Halifax County [34]. According to Williams, this was the land that Thomas chose for his own farm. The land bordered Rockingham County, North Carolina along the southern property line. 
    That day he also obtained two tracts on Irwin's River [35] in Lunenburg County, one of 130 and another of 150 acres [36], two tracts of 204 and 144 acres on Sycamore Creek, Halifax County [37], 115 and 318 acres on Goblintown Creek [38], and one 140 acre tract on both sides of Blackberry Creek, in Halifax County [39]. This land totaled 1,555 acres. Thomas probably had spent some time down in old Halifax County, where the land was located, save that part on nearby Irwin's River, and handpicked the choice areas of land as the tracts were not all together. The survey dates on the land dated back to 1749 so perhaps Thomas left Sarah and his younger children at home while he looked for land in Southern Virginia. The rules for land grants required that someone settle on each tract for cultivation, so it is possible that each son and daughter, along with himself, settled one [40]. 
    This would be the last big move for Thomas Harbour. He was nearing the end of middle age. In October 1760, Thomas sold the land that he had received years before on Horsley's Creek up in Albermarle County. With all his family down south, Thomas no longer had any need for it [41]. It was sold for 25 pounds. After raising a large family he settled down in the beautiful hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by children and grandchildren [42]. 
    Of the large family that surrounded Thomas, only a partial picture can be formed from the remaining records [43]. One daughter, Lavina, is believed by some to have married her cousin Charles Witt around 1746 and to have lived near her parents in Halifax County. This is questionable but a Charles Witt did own land that bordered Thomas's farm. 
    There is strong evidence to believe that Mary, wife of Palatiah Shelton, was the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Harbour. Shelton was their close neighbor. In a 1767 tithe in Pittsylvania County, Palatiah was listed as a neighbor [44]. He became owner of three tracts of Thomas's land. On 18 September 1766 Thomas sold 144 acres on Sycamore Creek to Palatiah Shelton [45] Shelton sold this land 4 years later, on 29 November 1770, to Richard White for 50 pounds [46]. The land was described as being a south branch of Smith's River, on the south side of Sycamore Creek, crossing a branch of the Sycamore, and crossing two branches. Shelton's wife Mary relinquished her right of dower. If Thomas gave Shelton this land as a gift to his son-in-law and daughter, it would have been necessary for Mary to do this. 
    On 25 August 1768 Shelton bought two tracts from Thomas. For 100 pounds Shelton received the 130 acre tract on Irwin's River, being on both sides and starting at the mouth of Peeping Creek [47]. Witnessing the deed was Thomas's two sons, Abner and Adonijah, and Adonijah's brother-in-law, Sam Dalton Jr. Again, four years later, Shelton sold it. He received 70 pounds from Sam Crowly, the land was recorded as being on Smith's River, a place known by the name of Rock Castle, up Peeping Creek, down Smith's River, formerly Irwin's. This deed was recorded the same day that he sold the previous tract, 29 November 1770. Again his wife Mary relinquished her right of dower. Shelton took a 30 pound loss on the land if he actually paid 100 pounds for it. 
    Shelton on the same day that he received the 130 acre tract on Irwin's River, sold 200 acres on both sides of Falling Creek, on the Mayo River, and on the dividing line between David Witt and Shelton, to Adonijah Harbour for 100 pounds [48]. This land was surveyed in a 400 acre parcel for David Witt and Shelton in 1765, and later granted to them in 1767. The price, 100 pounds, is significant as it is identical to what Shelton paid Thomas for the 144 acre lot that same day. It was most likely an even swap. When Adonijah sold this land later, he described it as the land his father "gave" David Witt and Shelton. What became of Mary and Palatiah Shelton after 1770 is not clear, but evidence does support the belief that Mary was a daughter of Thomas. 
    Abner married Joyce Thornhill around 1750. Abner lived near Irwin's River on Sycamore Creek. Thomas deeded him the 204 acre tract there on 17 August 1763 [49]. 
    Abner witnessed several deeds for his brothers and father and it appears that he was the only one to leave his mark vice a signature. Sycamore Creek lies in what is now Patrick County. Abner's Ridge in Patrick is near his old farm. Part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is said to be named after him [50]. Abner died in 1778, leaving his land to his four sons, and other items to all his unnamed children. His widow Joyce remained in Virginia [51] 
    Elisha Harbour married a woman named Margaret around 1760. On 17 August 1763 Elisha was given a 150 acre tract on Irwin's River by his father [52]. He appeared on Edward Booker's tax list of 1765 near Abner [53]. On a 17 July 1767 tax list, Elisha paid 1 tithe for 150 acres, next to him was his brother Elijah [54]. This was the land that his father gave him 4 years earlier. On 22 September 1769, Elisha sold the Irwin's River tract of 150 acres to Thomas Henderson for 35 pounds, beginning at Charles Witt's land [55]. The last record of Elisha dates 22 May 1773, when he bought 243 acres from John Witt on Marrowbone Creek [56]. 
    Elijah was one of the younger sons of Thomas and Sarah. He married Prudence Pusey around 1758. They lived on the 318 acre Goblintown Creek tract that his father deeded him in October 1761 for a mere 10 shillings [57]. He was living there on 17 July 1767 when Peter Copeland recorded him there on his tax list. Elijah had 310 acres and "a negro named Hannah", he paid two tithes [58]. Elijah died fairly young in 1769. The appraisal of his estate included a stock of hogs, sundrey cattle, 3 horses, and a parcel of books, all totaling 57 pounds [59]. 
    Not much is known about Jane, the daughter of Sarah and Thomas. Her sister Sarah deeded her half of her personal belongings after her death. Sarah referred to her as Jane Witt of Patrick County [60]. Some researchers believe, through the process of elimination, that Jane was the wife of Elijah Witt, but no direct evidence exists for this. 
    Sarah married David Witt and lived near her parents. David was a son of William Witt, making him a cousin. David, like Palatiah Shelton, received a land grant of 200 acres near Thomas, apparently with his help, in 1767. David and Sarah's two sons, 
    John and William Witt, were deeded the 140 acre Blackberry Creek tract by their Grandfather Thomas [61]. The Witts also came into some land on Goblintown Creek as David sold a 313 acre tract on the south fork to David Harbour, a son of Elisha, for only 40 pounds on 28 May 1772 [62]. Both Sarah and David appeared to have lived in Southern Virginia for the rest of their lives. As they lived in the part of Virginia that eventually became Patrick County, they recorded their wills there, David in 1808, and Sarah, through a series of deeds, in May of 1809. She died in 1814. In 1815, their son John Witt sold two tracts on Blackberry Creek, including the one his grandfather Thomas gave him 53 years earlier. Soon after this he moved to Tennessee [63]. 
    Adonijah Harbour appears to have been the youngest son of Thomas and Sarah. In 1767 Adonijah was listed in a tithable entry with his father. In 1768 Thomas and Palatiah Shelton became involved in some land trading that resulted in a deed of 200 acres on Falls Creek in Adonijah's name. A year later, on 25 August 1769, he married a neighbor, Ann Dalton, in Pittsylvania County [64]. Only a few years later Adonijah later moved across the border to North Carolina. After a short stay, he moved his family to East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he died around 1815. 
    As noted earlier, it appears that Thomas passed the deeds he received in 1753 on to his family. Only one tract was not directly passed to a known relation. On 17 August 1763 George Vourtman was deeded the 115 acre Goblintown Creek tract, for only 40 pounds [65]. Vourtman does not appear in later tax lists and his identity is unknown. 
    After Thomas completed the last of these transactions he was well within old age [66]. Still surrounded by family and friends, including many grandchildren, Thomas probably enjoyed the twilight of his life. It is not clear when exactly this long and busy life ended. In 1767 he was listed in a tithable entry with his son Adonijah [67]. He was recorded as paying 4 tithes on 790 acres that he owned [68]. He later paid tax on 1,302 and 1,392 acres in Halifax County [69]. A series of three deeds were made in August of 1777, documenting the sell of three tracts and using the name Thomas and Sarah Harbour. In two of these deeds, Thomas and Sarah sold Philip Anglin 304 and John Journican 50 acres on Falls Creek and the Mayo River [70]. Put together, this maybe the 354 acre tract that Thomas received back in 1753. It was passed through the family that Thomas had died in 1768, but if he was alive in 1777, he had not long to live. From a work order dating around 1779, Sarah is listed without Thomas [71]. Sometime after this date, Sarah passed on as well. 
    After the death of Thomas and Sarah, the family that they left behind continued to prosper. It seems that most of this generation remained in the Virginia area. The family house probably went to Abner Harbour as his oldest son, David, later obtained the land [72]. It remained in the family until David's death when it was sold in 1849 as part of the estate in what had become Patrick County [73]. The grandchildren however, began to spread out towards Tennessee and North Carolina. Only one son, Adonijah, left the region. 
    Thomas Harbour left a legacy that was to last many generations in his family. The restless spirit that drove him out of Wales was kept alive in his offspring. The Harbours were never content to remain in any one place that had been settled for long. They did not spend energy on the politics in towns, but rather moved their large families [74] to the outer fringes of the ever expanding frontier. From Georgia to Alabama, to Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas, the drive of Thomas Harbour lived on. 



    Talmon Harbour was the son of Thomas and Sarah Harbour. He was likely one of the oldest children but his birth date is uncertain. He was born in the central area of Virginia, in either Henrico or Goochland County. His parents lived on Deep Creek, Henrico County, during the 1720's, which was the time frame of Talmon's birth. 
    By 1747 Talmon was a young man in his twenties. He married Mary Wright [1] ...

ID: I587643587

Name: Thomas HARBOUR

Given Name: Thomas

Surname: HARBOUR

Sex: M

Birth: 1675 in , , , Wales

Death: 1770 in , Henry, Virginia

Change Date: 18 Jun 2004 1

Note: Ancestral File Number: 27VH-TL

Marriage 1 Sary (Sarah) WITT b: 1695 in , Of Charles City, Virginia

Married: 1715 in , Charles City, Virginia

Note: _UID7D2EA9891BF5D647BED2382A44F90B03473F


Abner HARBOUR b: 1730 in , Hanover, Virginia
Sarah Sally HARBOUR b: Sep 1732 in Hanover, , Va
Talmon HARBOUR b: 1718 in , Hanover, Co, Va
Lavinia HARBOUR b: Abt 1725 in , , Va
Elisha HARBOUR HARBER b: 1733 in , Of Halifax, Virginia
Elijah HARBOUR b: 1735 in , , Of Botetourt, Va
Mary HARBOUR b: Abt 1726 in , , Virginia
Jane HARBOUR b: Abt 1736 in , Goochland, Virginia
Lavinia HARBOUR b: 1720 in Halifax, Halifax, Virginia
David HARBOUR b: 1715 in Virginia
Adonijah HARBOUR b: Aug 1748 in , Goochland, Virginia


1. Jane Harbour

2. Thomas David Harbour b: 1716 in , , Virgina USA

3. Lavinia Harbour b: 1720 in Manakin, Goochland County, Virginia

4. Talmon Harbour b: 1718 in , Hanover County, Virginia

5. Mary Harbour b: 1726 in Royal, Albemarle County, Virginia

6. Abner Harbour b: 1730 in Hanover, Hanover County, Virginia

7. Elisha Harbour b: 1733

8. Sarah Harbour b: 1740

9. Adonijah Harbour b: 1743 in , Goochland County, Virginia

view all 17

Thomas Harbour's Timeline

Charles City, Charles City County, Virginia, United States
Colony, Laurel, Kentucky, USA
Charles City, Va, United States
Halifax, Halifax County, Virginia, United States
Charles City, Charles City County, Virginia, United States
Hanover County, VA, United States
September 1732
Hanover, Virginia