John Combs, of
John Combs, son of Archdale Combs, was born about 1662, in Westmoreland or King George [Counties, VA], before his father moved to Caroline [then Old Rappa Co, VA, later Essex]. Kendall and others have fixed his birth at 1662-1665. William F. Boogher says that John's daughter Elizabeth married William Kendall April 5, 1694. (She was pretty young, but they married young in those days). If this date is correct, John must have been born by 1662. Maj. William Underwood, John's mother's first husband, passes out of the records in December, 1660, and his widow, Elizabeth, could have married Archdale the following year. Boogher's date for William Kendall's marriage is doubtless correct, coming from the records; it is followed by a list of William's numerous family, with the dates, month and year, of their birth. These data have a possible bearing on Joseph Combs, of Stafford [Co, VA], to come later. (1)
First mention of John Combs in the records of Old Rappahannock [Co, VA] is December 30, 1690, when he and William Underwood, Jr., appear as witnesses in an indenture, or conveyance, Dabney to Francis James. The county is Old Rappahannock (King George). He has already been mentioned as having been deeded land in Richmond (King George) by his mother and William Underwood, Jr., in 1692 (O.S.). The following year he is styled "John Coombes, planter", conveying to Thomas Kendall, and his wife is Ann. Although he grew up in Caroline, there is nothing to indicate that he lived over there longer than three or four years, or between 1712-1715. In 1712 Wm. Underwood, Jr., made a conveyance of land to him and to Richard Tutt, on Peuman's End Run, in Caroline, a few miles south of the old Archdale Combs place near "the Mount". In 1715 John is on the quit rent roll of
Caroline, presumably in the same neighborhood. The records, with mention of certain creeks, neighbors and witnesses, and neighbors in old Westmoreland and old Stafford fix the locality of John and William Combs as being in the region of Jett's Creek. (2)
John Combs' land in Caroline [then Essex Co] was on Peuman's End Run, whose mouth is about three miles from Port Royal [present-day Caroline Co, VA], or several hundred yards from where Highway No. 301 crosses Mill Creek (very near where John Wilkes Booth was killed). The landsacpe [sic] around is obscured by the rank forest which has grown up on the Government military reservation. Peuman's End empties into Mill Creek. The region is historic, and not lacking in romance. Including such counties as Westmoreland, King George, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Caroline, it is the most historic in America for its size. The cradle of the Washingtons, Lees, Masons, Monroes, Pendletons, Fitzhughs and other famous families; old Fredericksburg [now an Independent VA City, but then Essex, and later Spotsylvania Cos], "America's most historic town", home of Mary and George Washington, and for a time, of John Paul Jones; in Fredericksburg was the "Rising Sun" tavern, "hot bed of sedition", where Revolutionary patriots and statesmen frequently foregathered, - where George Washington sometimes indulged in a game of poker, and, "losing, as usual", would remark: "The Fredericksburg boys are too smart for me". James Madison was born at Port Conway [King George Co, VA] in 1751, the year Mason Combs migrated to the Shenandoah Valley [then Augusta Co, VA]. It is no wonder that [British Prime Minister William E.] Gladstone once said: "Virginia produced more contemporary great men than any other piece of real estate on earth, Greece and Rome not excepted". Puman's End Creek is said to have been named for a pirate of the early days named Puman (or Peuman); the pirate fled up the Rappahannock [River], was hunted down, and finally caught and killed on the creek named for him. John Wilkes Booth, after shooting President Lincoln, fled southward to King George, and was ferried across the Rappahannock [River] from Port Conway to Port Royal. He was surrounded and killed two miles from Port Royal, on the Garrett farm, a short distance from Peuman's End Run. Just after the Civil War on [sic] Thomas P. Westendorf (born in Bowling Green [Caroline Co, VA], of a German family) married a Caroline belle and took her to Germany. Tradition has it that Frau Westendorf pined and pined for her native Caroline, and that Herr Westendorf promised and promised to bring her back; but the promise was not kept. Amid pining and promising, Herr Westendorf wrote one of our finest old love songs, "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen".
Archdale Combs' son John left a will, made December 11,1716,
and probated February 7, 1717, in Richmond County. He died some time between these two dates. It may be of interest to quote the will in full.
State of Virginia
County of Richmond
Will Book No. 3, p.300
In the Name of God Amen December the 11th: 1716. IMPRIMIS I, John Combs of the Parish of Hanover in the County of Richmond in Virginia being very sick and weak of Body butt of good and perfect sceince (sense) and Memory - thanks bee to God Doe make this my last Will and Testament in maner and form following that is to say First I Bequath my Soule and Spiritt into the hands of the Almighty God my Heavenly Father by whome of his Mercy and onely Grace I intrust to bee saved and Redeemed into through the Death of my Savour and Redeemer Jesus Christ in whose pretious Blood I sett the Whole and onely Hope of my Salvation My writched Body in hope of a Joyfull Resurrection I comitt to the Earth to bee Buried with such Charges as itt shall pleas my Exekutors hereafter mentioned. Item-I Doe give and Bequeath unto my youngest son Mason Combes two hundred acres of Land Lying upon the Branches of Pumans End in the County of Essex- being part of a Devident of Land formerly belonging to Warwick Cammack to him and his Heirs for Evermore Which aforesaid Land is allready Laid of - I Doe give and Bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth Kendall one Cowe. - My Will and Desire is that my Loving Wife Hannah Combes and my Six Children hereinafter named have all and singular my personall Estate Equally Devided amongst them as followeth that is my Son Archdell my Daughter Judith and Mary and Sarah and Aymee and Mason. Butt if in case my Son Archdell should bee soe unkind as by force to Caus his Mother my said Wife to Leave as Disposessed the house and Habitation I now Live in that then and in such Case my said Wife to take as her proper Goods all his part of my personall Estate before given to the sd. Archdell Excpting one Shilling of Good and Lawfull money of Ingland and to bee possessed of the same for Evermore, and that my said Wife doe take into her Care and Costodie my daughter Aymee and my Son Mason as also their parts of my personall Estate as aforesaid after the same is devided and the sd. Children and their Estate to remaine with her untill they shall Arive to the Age of Eighteen years or the Day of Marriage and that then they the sd. Ayme and Mason bee possessed of the same to them and their Heirs for Evermore. - I Doe likewise Nominate and Apoint my loving Wife Hannah Combes and John Anderson joynt Exekutors of this my last Will and Testament. And in Confirmation hearof I have hearunto sett my Hand and fixt my Seale the Day Month and Year aforesaid -Desiring
that my said Estate [not] bee brought to an apraisement itt being noe waise in Debt.-
|Signed Sealed and Published
- in the presents of us
Charles C Willis
Mary M James
|John FC Combes||SEAL|
Some remarks upon the will are necessary. For Richmond and Essex [Cos, VA] substitute the modern King George and Caroline. As to the signatures: John, "being very sick and weak of Body". [sic] makes his mark. What looks like a barred I is a J. which was often written like capital I in those days. Charles Willis and Mary James use C and M respectively for their marks. As explained in a previous chapter, it was a habit then to use an initial, or two initials for a mark. (3)
Elizabeth Kendall, an older daughter of John by his first wife, Ann, was living in the neighborhood, in Stafford. Possibly there were other older children, not mentioned in the instrument. Notice that Elizabeth receives the munificent legacy of "one Crowe" [Cowe]. Reference is made to "my youngest son Mason Combes". That is significant, for I propose to show, later, under "Joseph of Stafford", that Joseph was another son, older than Archdale and baby Mason (who was about two years old when the will was written). Notice also that John is careful to say, "my Six Children hereinafter named"; the older children, already married and on their own, do not figure in the will, except for Elizabeth and her "Cowe".
"Son" Archdale is grown and married, as the will says he had been given his share of the personal estate. Apparently he was living on Peuman's End Run, in Caroline, at the time, for in 1719 he sold to Thomas Dickeson fifty acres of the land "upon which his father did dwell, beginning upon a river (Jett's Creek, King George) at a gutt", etc. In the transaction he is styled of Essex (Caroline) County. In spite of the word "mother" in the will, Archdale was in all likelihood a son of John by his first wife, Ann. The will plainly shows that he was not in the good graces of the family, that he was guilty of the proverbial distrust of a mother-in-law. He is mentioned only once or twice more in the records, his inventory showing that he died in King George, in 1735.
Archdale left a presumed son, Archdale, Jr., who was living in (4)
King George in 1759. Henceforth the name Archdale practically passes out of the family, to re-appear in 1808 among the Clark County, Kentucky Combses. It had been in the family for a long time, two centuries or more, and was an honored name. While old Archdale Combs, of Caroline was living, John Archdale (supposedly of the London [EN] family) became governor of the Carolinas. To recapitulate, the children of John Combs follow:
Children by Ann
Joseph. Moved to northern Stafford [Co, VA], on Aquia Creek.
Elizabeth, m. William, son of Thomas Kendall. Lived in Stafford.
Children by Hannah
Mason, m. Sarah ------
An inventory of John Combs' personal estate, not to speak of his real estate and references to him in the records, indicates that he was pretty well off. The maiden name of his first wife, Anne, is conjectural, but circumstantial evidence points convincingly to the Masons. Pity the women of that hardy age, the era of colonization. In wills, deeds, etc. they were the victims of gross injustice, and were lucky to inherit even a "cowe" [sic] or a "best bed." The records all too frequently make no mention of their maiden names. Their business was to raise children, and here they came out with flying colors. Whenever a husband died, his "widder-woman" made haste to find her another man; sometimes she would go the route six or eight times. She was a cold realist, our Colonial woman, and had to live. But the heavy burdens of child-bearing and housekeeping often brought her to death in middle age; the husband would as often marry again, thus continuing the process of procreation.
There is only one reference to Ann as the (first) wife of John Combs. In 1693 "John Coombes, planter", of Richmond (King George) County, conveyed land to Thomas Kendall, of the same county. The
deed mentions Ann as his wife. Ann was probably a Mason. Combses and Masons lived in the same neighborhood, in the Parish of Sittenbourne (a part of which later became Overwharton, then Hanover). The Masons were in the region as early as the 1650's. Such given names as George, Josiah, Joseph, Francis and Millie were common among them. Josiah was a surveyor; George was high sheriff of Stafford - and put Archdale Combs on the Stafford jury twice in 1665; Joseph's land adjoined that of John Combs; and Josiah was a close neighbor of John Combs; Josiah died in 1687 (will); William Underwood, Jr. was executor of his estate and John Willis a witness to the will. There were Nicholas and John also. Joseph, Josiah, George, Nicholas, Francis, Mason and Millie have been names among the Combses since 1700. With the exception of Francis, these names were not given-names among the Combses prior to that date, either in Virginia or in Maryland. In fact, a few names, such as Joseph and others do not appear among the Maryland Combses until about the middle of the eighteenth century.
It is not necessary to mention all the references from the records which show certain connections and associations between Combses and Masons. There are enough of them to make a convincing argument for the contention that the first wife of John Combs was a Mason. Nor is the case weakened by the fact that two of John's sons were Joseph and Mason, and that Mason had a Josiah. In the case of Murdock vs. Ralls, in Prince William County [Co, VA] (formerly a part of Stafford), in 1756, some of the witnesses were: Joseph Combs, who lived in Stafford, nine miles from Dumfries, the old county seat of Prince William; Joseph's son-in-law, Capt. John Ashby; George Mason and Jemima Mason; William Kendall, John Combs' son-in-law(?). As late as 1837 Enoch Mason was administrator of the estate of old Joseph Combs' grandson, another Joseph, of Stafford.
Here it may be significant to point to the fact that George Mason, great-grandfather of the celebrated George Mason of Revolutionary fame, left England after the defeat of Charles I in the Civil War, and came to Virginia with one or two of his brothers around 1651; that he came up the Potomac [River] and patented land between the mouth of Potomac Creek and Passapatanzy Creek, in the present King George County, before 1664. This is no great distance from the Combs locality in the southeastern part of the same county. This George Mason may have been a son of the George that owned shares in the Virginia Company in 1620. He was born in 1629. There is no docu-
mentary evidence that the family of the famous George Mason was related to the Masons who were neighbors of the Combses around Jett's Creek, although relationship there may have been. There is a vague possibility that the King George Masons came up from Isle of Wight and York Counties [VA], but the records do not indicate it.
John Combs' second wife, Hannah, was apparently a sister of Richard Tutt, of King George and Caroline; yet there is a bare possibility that she was a daughter of William Underwood, Jr. Underwood's daughter, Mary, married Richard Tutt. It will be remembered that Underwood leased to John and Richard together a tract over on Peuman's End Run, in Caroline, in 1712; that same year he deeded to them outright, "for love and affection, the land they now live on", on Peuman's End Run. In a short time both John and Rich were back in King George, where Underwood had previously given a tract to John, on Jett's Creek. In 1718 Richard Tutt was one of the appraisers of the estate of William Combs, deceased, brother of John. Gifts of land by William Underwood, Jr., to John Combs in King George and Caroline, and possibly in Westmoreland, might point to Hannah as Underwood's daughter, although Underwood's will does not name her. (5)