William Spencer, Ancient Planter

Is your surname Spencer?

Research the Spencer family

William Spencer, Ancient Planter's Geni Profile

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!


William Spencer

Also Known As: "Ensign William Spense of Mulberry Island"
Birthdate: (94)
Birthplace: Wales
Death: July 5, 1654 (90-98)
Jamestown, Surry, Virginia
Immediate Family:

Son of William Spencer's father and William Spencer's mother
Husband of Alice Spencer and Dorothy Spencer
Father of Alice Spencer; William Spencer; Anne Amry and Elizabeth Anne Warren
Brother of Nicholas Spencer, of Lawnes Creek

Occupation: Burgess of Mulberry Island
Managed by: Francis Gene Dellinger
Last Updated:

About William Spencer, Ancient Planter

He had four children: William, Alice, Ann and Elizabeth. Two children survived to adulthood: Elizabeth and Ann.

Married Alice [Lightfoot?] and reportedly had a second wife named Dorothy (some sources say she was his first wife; more research is needed).

Not to be confused with Ensign William Spence who arrived in 1607. See notes below.

  • ************************************************************

Arrived Jamestowne, Virginia 1607 or 1611. Either with the Susan Constance or the Sarah. Records show his active involvement with colony.

"Sail w/ Cap. John Smith's 1st Expedition arrived 10/13/1607 Va. Colony"


[Please note, his alleged 1607 arrival appears to be a case of mistaken identity; he arrived 1611; see below.]

Please do not merge this record with one showing parents for William Spencer (unless you can prove them).

He is said to be a son of Robert Spencer and Rose Cokayne (aka Rhose, aka Cokain, Cockayne) of Cople Parish, Bedfordshire. They had a son William Spencer who was born 1576. Is there proof that this is the same man?

It seems more likely that the family was from WALES. His nephew Robert was insulted by his son-in-law, who called him a "Welch rogue Welch dog sonn of a whore...."


  • **************************************************************

There is NO PROOF of any relationship to Edmund Spenser, poet. Edmund Spenser's documented children were: Sylvanus, Katherine, and Peregrine.

  • **************************************************************

Please note: WILLIAM SPENCER and WILLIAM SPENCE were two different men.

WILLIAM SPENCE, member of the 1619 House of Burgesses, is NOT William Spencer, husband of Alice [Lightfoot]. The two men, both "Ancient Planters," have often been confused with each other. Alas, the spellings were used interchangeably in some of the original records. Even the usually-reliable John Bennett Boddie confuses these two men.

William SPENCE arrived 1607, on the "Susan Constant." He lived at Archer's Hope, and was a member of the first assembly of the House of Burgesses for James City in 1619. By 1619 he bore the rank of Ensign. He and his wife went missing during the second Anglo-Powhatan War (reported by John Smith, 1622, verified by court order, 1626), and were eventually presumed dead. They left behind a three-year-old daughter, Sarah--Susan Bush was appointed her guardian. Sarah Spence married Robert Allison or Ellyson of Newcastle and Archer's Hope, 1589-1656:

Robert Ellyson, of Newcastle

William SPENCER arrived 1611, on the "Sarah," along with his wife Alice and his daughter, also Alice (she died young). He was Burgess of Mulberry Island in 1624 and in 1632-33 (please note, William SPENCE died c1623-24).

He may not have come in the First Supply, but our William is still on the list of approved Ancient Planters:

"The term "Ancient Planter" is applied to those persons who arrived in Virginia before 1616, remained for a period of three years, and paid their passage. They received the first patents of land in the new world as authorized by Sir Thomas Dale in 1618 for their personal adventure."


For more information about the difference between William Spence and William Spencer, see notes here: http://polenpoore.org/getperson.php?personID=I5107&tree=tree2

  • *************************************************************

WILLIAM SPENCER arrived c. 1611 on the "SARAH." (Adventurers of Purse and Person, 2007, Vol. III, 4th Ed., page 226.)

As a "yeoman and Ancient Planter," William Spencer received a patent for 12 acres at James City, 14 Aug. 1624. This acreage was "part of his first dividend within the Island towards Goose Hill" and was to be deducted out of his divident at Spencer's Hole. In 1629 the General Court granted him permission to take up 400 acres "in any place not already taken up." Source: Adventurers of Purse & Person: VA 1607-1624/25

In the muster of 24 Jan. 1624/5 William Spencer resided at James Island (Jamestown) with his wife Alice and their daughter Alice, the family being well supplied, having ten barrels of corn, 200 fish and for their protection ammunition consisting of four pounds of powder, eight pounds of shot and three "pieces," along with twelve swine, three goats and two kids. They also had two dwelling houses and one boat.... Source: Adventurers of Purse & Person: VA 1607-1624/5 http://www.coveytrees.com/SpencerTree

On 21 January 1638, Nicholas Spencer, brother of William testified that John Lightfoot left all of his property to William Spencer in a nuncupative will. (Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia, page 181.) John Lightfoot thus appears to have been the father of Alice Lighfoot (or other relative).

Record showing date of death:

1685/6, January 4 - Indenture, Wm. Cockerham to Wm. Harris, 150 acres in Hog Island granted to Wm. Spencer, late of the County, dec'd February 1, 1637/8. Beginning at a marked white oak very neare a saw pitt in the line twixt said Cockerham and Robt. Barham, orphan, to the edge of the marsh of Hog Island Creek, east by a line dividing Cockerham and Wm. Sewards land, s and se by Jno. Case's cart path. (Note: this land deeded to Harris Taylor, grandson of Wm. Harris, to John Holt, Feb. 20, 1738/9).

  • ***************************************************************

LAND RECORDS 1624 Aug 14: William Spencer, Yeoman & Ancient Planter, 12 acs., James City; part of his 1st divident within the Island, towards Goose Hill, near land of Sir Thos. Dale & John Lytefoote, due for his personal adv. Land measured by Wm. Clayborne. Fee Rent: 3 pence...due yearly at Feast of St. Michael the Archangel....”which is to be abated out of his devidend at Spencers hole." [LVA Pat.#1, pg. 9]

1632 Sep 9: William Spencer of James Is., 250 acs on west sd. Lawne’s Creek at mouth, James Island, James City County [LVA Pat#1, p.120]

June 19, 1635 William Spencer [1], 1,100 acres on Lawne's Creek, adjoining a parcel of land which said Spencer has already taken up - due for the transportation of 22 servants (names below). By West, June 19, 1635. Head Rights: Robt. Stoakes, Edw'd Wilmott, Robt. Arnall, Ananias Coplestone, George Pruwer, Nicholas Atwell, Evan Williams, Franc Barle, Wm. Michaell, John Lewis, Katherine Perie, Ellen Alice, Antho. Streate, Hector Godbeare, Nicholas Spencer, Jon. Dodman, John Holdin, Thos. Powell, Thos. Smith, Thos. Clayton, Jon. Mathews, Eliz. Nicholson.

NOTE: See Virginia Historical Magazine, 1, 89. ABSTRACTS OF VIRGINIA LAND PATENTS Prepared By W.G. Stanard http://genealogytrails.com/vir/landpatents.html [LVA Pat.#1, p.249]

1637 Feb 6 - William Spencer, 1,350 acs. Lying in “Lawnes Creek”. [LVA Pat.#1, p. 521]

1667, May 24 - Nicholas Spencer of Lawne's Creek Parish (son of the aforementioned Nicholas), sells to Capt. Wm. Cockerham, a parcel formerly his uncle's: Wm. Spencer, deceased, and lately bequeathed to Nicholas Spencer by will or right of descent. (Surry Co. VA, D & W, Book I, 1652-1672, p. 287) 1685/6, January 4 - Indenture, Wm. Cockerham to Wm. Harris, 150 acs in Hog Island granted to Wm. Spencer, late of the County, dec'd February 1, 1637/8. Beg. near a saw pitt in the line twixt said Cockerham and Robt. Barham, orphan, to edge of the marsh of Hog Island Creek, east by a line dividing Cockerham and Wm. Sewards land, SSE by Jno. Case's cart path. (Surry Co., VA, D & W, Book I, 1652-1672, p. 287). (Note: this land deeded to Harris Taylor, grandson of Wm. Harris, to John Holt, Feb. 20, 1738/9).


view all

William Spencer, Ancient Planter's Timeline

Age 60
Jamestown, James City County, Virginia, United States
Age 62
Jamestown, James City, Virginia, United States
Age 65
Jamestown, James City County, Virginia, Colonial America
Age 65
Jamestown, James City County, Virginia
July 5, 1654
Age 94