Identifying the Mother of Ann Hudson Owsley

"A Tale of 160 Acres" 


by Ronny O. Bodine 

This article was first published in the April 2021 issue 

of the Owsley Family Historical Society Newsletter


It was in June 2009 that the mother of John Owsley I (d. 1764) of Loudoun Co., Virginia, adopted son of Thomas Owsley II (d. 1750) of Fairfax Co., Virginia was revealed to have been Ann Hudson, daughter of Sarah, widow first of William Hudson, who died 1730 in King George Co., Virginia and secondly of Benjamin Settle, who died there in 1752. By her yet unknown first husband, Ann was the mother of John Owsley I and by her subsequent marriage to Thomas Owsley II she was the mother of eight more children including Newdigate, Weldon and Ann. See “The Two Wives of Thomas Owsley—the Full Story” in the September 2009 OFHS Newsletter. It was the September 2010 issue’s “The Ancestry of Ann Hudson, Wife of Thomas Owsley II” that identified several generations of her ancestry, but the family to which her mother, Sarah, was born remained an elusive mystery. 


The will of Sarah Settle, widow of William Hudson (d. 1730) and Benjamin Settle (d. 1752) in her will of 9 Dec 1750 and proved 2 Jan 1755 stated, “I give and Bequeath to my Son William Hudson and William Allan my grandson and the Heirs of their Bodies Lawfully Begotten one Hundred and sixty acres of Land to be equally divided between them being the one hundred and sixty acres my Father gave to me . . . (King George Co. Will Book A-1, p. 39-41.) What a wonderful clue. It was just necessary to find a man who left 160 acres to a daughter named Sarah. How hard could that be? Well, it was and remained so for ten years. Various men were put forth as candidates, but none would stand up under scrutiny. Until Floyd Owsley received an email in early November 2020 from Mike Marshall who proposed that Sarah may be the daughter of one Adam Woffendall of Richmond County, Virginia. 


Why this man I thought and looked over the record abstracts he had collected. Adam Woffendall died in 1703 in Richmond County, Virginia leaving a will of 25 April 1703, proved 7 June 1704, in which he made bequests to his children, one of whom was a daughter, Sarah, leaving her 160 acres. It was time now to put on my Sherlock Holmes cap and get busy. My goal was to prove that Sarah Woffendall of Richmond County was the same person as Sarah, widow of William Hudson and Benjamin Settle of King George County. I needed hard proof, not wishful thinking. 


Who was Adam Woffendall? It was a name I had never encountered and one that had never before factored in any record relating to the Owsley family. The earliest record I was able to locate was in the will of Thomas Langford of Appomattox in Westmoreland County dated 11 March 1669 wherein Langford bequeaths “. . . sarvant Adam Woffendall one cowe using about Tho. Mourtons plantation and my sute of apparel.” (Westmoreland Deeds, Patents, Etc. 1665-1677, pp. 37-37a) Was Adam actually a servant of Langford or does it imply he was a tenant? Not clear, but it does place him in this location. Then on 26 May 1673 a survey of land was taken in Sittenburne Parish, Rappahannock County for John Phillips and Adam Woffendall, both of the same parish and county. This survey was referenced in a deed of 12 Feb 1674. (Old Rappa. Co. Deed Book 8, pp. 113-114.) In another deed of 2 Feb 1674, Adam “Wofendale” sold 100 acres to “my loving Friend James Philips” to which deed “Honor Wofendale Wife of Adam Wofendale” acknowledged her one-third [dower] and which is the first indication that Adam was now a married man. (Old Rappa. Co. Deed Book 5, pp. 271-272.) 


Over the course of the next thirty years, Adam and Honoria (aka Honor) are frequently named as husband and wife in legal documents and she was named as executor of his 1703 will. This confirms that Adam was married only once and establishes his birth in the period of say 1648 to 1653. Over the course of his life Adam was very active in the purchase and sale of land. On 8 May 1679, Adam Woffendall was granted 783 acres in Westmoreland County for the transportation of 16 persons to Virginia (Cavaliers and Pioneers, Patent Book 6, p. 197). On 22 March 1698, a 440-acre grant was made to Adam Woffendale of Richmond County adjoining land he was already in possession of. (Northern Neck Land Grants, Book 2, p. 286) Since he owned land in both Westmoreland and Old Rappahannock Counties, he appears in the record books of both counties concurrently.


Rappahannock County was created in 1656 and because this county was of such immense size presenting difficulty for the people to travel to the courthouse to transact their legal business, an Act of the Virginia General Assembly on 26 April 1692 divided Rappahannock County into Richmond and Essex counties and thus became extinct. A new county with this same name was created in 1833 and to distinguish between the two, the original is now referred to as Old Rappahannock County. Within the boundaries of new Richmond County, on 29 Dec 1692 Adam Woffendall of Richmond County sold to William Powell of the same place 50 acres for the price of 2000 pounds of tobacco. (Richmond Co. Deeds, Book 2, p. 12) In a Richmond County deed of 28 Sept 1702, Adam identifies himself as “Adam Woffendall of Richmond County in Virginia, Planter,” the term “planter” placing oneself within the Southern aristocracy of that time period and a long way distant from when he was another man’s servant. (Deed Book 3, pp. 187-189) 


A Richmond County Court Order entry of 3 June 1703 records “The action brought by James Phillips against Adam Woffendall is dismist, the Deft. Being dead.” (Order Book 1702-1704, p. 253) Adam must have sensed the approaching end of his life as on 25 April 1703 he wrote his will, but it took a year before the will was probated on 7 June 1704, the court order reading “This day the Last Will and Testament of Adam Woffendall being presented to this Court by the Exrx. Therein named for proofe, the same was proved by the oaths of Thomas Arnold and Andrew Harrison, and order for probate granted thereon.” (Order Book 1702-1704, p. 333) 


In his will, Adam wrote “…if I die before I lay out 350 ac. sons Harrison and Strother to lay it out and each to receive 150 ac., Harrison to have first choice; daus. Sarah to have 160 ac. and Mary a parcel of land between Dr. Spence and the school house; son Francis tract of land; executor wife; if my son Francis will not be ruled by his mother…he should live with my son Harrison and his mother to have the benefit of his labor until he comes to age 21; witness John Grimesley, Thomas Arnold, Andrew Harrison.” His reference to sons Harrison and Strother were actually to his sons-in-law Robert Harrison, husband of his daughter Elizabeth and Benjamin Strother, husband of daughter Mary. Son Francis was yet under the age of 21 and daughter Sarah was a child. 


Honoria Woffendall survived her husband by many years. She did not remarry and is named in a number of court actions attesting that she remained a widow. In 1721, King George County was created out of Richmond County and Honoria found herself now living within the bounds of this new county. The first instance is on 2 Feb 1722, when “The suit brought by Honoria Woffendall agt. Samuel Skinker is ordered dismist…” (Order Book 1721-1724, p. 96) and another on 6 July 1722 when “Upon the petition of John McNemara agt. Honoria Woffendall widow for his freedom ordered that he be freed accordingly.” (Order Book 1721-1724, p. 52.) This most certainly referred to an indentured servant petitioning for his freedom rather than a slave. On 7 Oct 1726, Honoria Woffendale made an oath in support of a deposition (Order Book 1724-1728, p. 329) and may still have been alive on 3 July 1730 when “The suit brought by Jeremiah Murdock, gent., agst. Honour Woffendale is dismist.” (Order Book 1728-1731, p. 513) It is unclear if the suit was dismissed because she had died. This was the last mention of her in the court records of King George County. 


And so, we again come to daughter Sarah, who would later become the wife of William Hudson. It seems likely that Sarah Woffendall and William Hudson were married in the county in which they lived—Richmond County. On 3 July 1717 in a court case in Richmond County, “The Presentment of the Grand jury against William Hudson of Hanover Parish for not going to Church for one month is dismist, no prosecution.” (Richmond Co. Order Book, 1716-1717, p. 177.) In a King George County deed of 1 & 2 April 1723 from Edward Taylor to Archibald Allen, mention is made of the land bordering that of William Hudson. (King George Co. Deed Book 1, pp. 127-132.) William Hudson died shortly before 6 March 1730 when administration of his estate was granted to his widow, Sarah Hudson. (King George Co. Order Book 1, p. 489.) Sarah Hudson subsequently married Benjamin Settle who died in 1752 as has already been noted.  

In her will of 9 Dec 1750, proved 2 Jan 1755, Sarah Settle named as her heirs, son William Hudson, daughter Lucy Hudson and grandson William Allan. It was herein that Sarah devised the 160 acres she had inherited from her own father to her son William and grandson William Allan. (King George Co. Will Book A-1, p. 141.) William Allan was the son of her daughter Elizabeth Hudson who married, as his 3rd wife, Archibald Allan, who died in 1762. 


So, now in December 1754, Sarah Settle has passed on and her 160-acre bequest came into the hands of her son William Hudson and grandson William Allan who divided that land into two equitable parts. And there it remained until 15 Sept 1770 when William and Abagail Hudson of Hanover Parish sold Samuel Kendall of the same place, 160 acres in Hanover Parish, lying between Samuel Kendall Senr. And William Green, which land had been willed him by his mother Sarah Settle. Witnesses included Woffendall Kendall. (King George Co. Deed Book 5, p. 855.) 


How did William Hudson come into possession of the entire 160 acres when one-half was held by William Allan? That William Allan still possessed his half is evident in a deed of 22 Oct 1779 wherein William and Mary Allan of Culpepper County sold to Thomas Smith of King George County, a 98½ acre tract of plantation land in Hanover Parish, King George County which lay between lands of Samuel Kendall and Colonel Green, which land was “given to William Allan intailed by the Last Will and testament of Sarah Settle, deceased, dated the nineteenth day of December one thousand seven hundred and fifty four. . . .” (King George Co. Deed Book 5, p. 1195.) 


Did Samuel Kendall Junior resolve the confusion of ownership? We can only guess at the motivation behind Kendall’s desire to own these 160 acres. What was the significance of doing so? Samuel Kendall Junior was one of eleven children of Samuel Kendall and his wife Elizabeth Woffendall. Elizabeth was the daughter of Francis Woffendall who had died in 1733, he being the youngest son of Adam and Honoria Woffendall. It appears Samuel Kendall Junior had a desire to possess his ancestral lands and achieved that goal on 22 Oct 1779, seventy-five years after the death of his great-grandfather. 


Adam Woffendall = Honoria 

d. 1703 | fl. 1730 


         Francis Woffendall                             Sarah Woffendall = William Hudson 

                d. 1733 d. 1754 d. 1730

                    |                                   _____________________|______________ 

         Elizabeth Woffendall              William Hudson           Elizabeth Hudson      Ann Hudson 

         = Samuel Kendall                  = Abigail                      = Archibald Allan        = 1) Unknown 

                    |                                                                                  |                       |      = 2) Thomas Owsley II 

                    |                                                                                  |                          | |__________ 

                    |___________________                                            |                          |                     | 

         Samuel Kendall, Jr.   Woffendall Kendall                   William Allan    John Owsley I Newdigate Owsley 

                                                                                        = Mary                   d. 1764      Weldon Owsley 

                                                                                                                                         6 other children




Highlighted names are the principals in the land sales of 1774 and 1779 reuniting the original 160-tract of Adam Woffendall. 


The name Woffendall is unusual enough so that in 1891 there were only two families recorded in England with the name. The name is not evident in English records of the 17th century and before, and so there is speculation that the name may have been a deriviation of Woffenden which is found in church records of that time in Lancashire. At this time, making a connection between Woffendall of Virginia and Woffenden of Lancashire, is nothing more than speculation. Furthermore, if one searches on-line, there are family trees naming Adam’s wife as Honoria Kendall Powell, among others. Again, there is no original documentation alluding to this. It is a matter of one undocumented family tree copying another, then another, ad nauseum. Soon one might conjecture that, “wow, there are a dozen family trees that name her Honoria Kendall Powell. They can’t all be wrong.” Yes, they can. It only takes one to start the ball rolling. If the only cited evidence is an Ancestry family tree, be wary. The following account of the earliest generations of the family are based on original cited sources.


The WOFFENDALL Family of Virginia 


ADAM WOFFENDALL. Born abt. 1648/53, died 25 April-3 June 1703 in Richmond Co., VA. 

m. by 2 Feb 1674, Honoria, alive 7 Oct 1726. 


1. JAMES WOFFENDALL. He first appears as a witness to a deed of                 gift from Adam Woffendall to his daughter Elizabeth Harrison of 70                   acres on 2 Oct 1696. (Richmond Co. Deed Book 1692-1704, p. 200). He             is named in a court order of 7 July 1698 with wife Mary and on 6 Oct                 1703 there is mention of a suit between Edward Jeffreys and Mary                       Woffendall, executrix of James Woffendall, which was dismissed.                       (Richmond Co. Orders, 1702-1704, p. 282). His son: 


WILLIAM WOFFENDALL. In his will of 26 Oct 1746, he makes bequests to his uncle, Francis Woffendall, to his wife Tabitha and son Jemmy. The will was proved 6 Feb 1747. (King George Wills, A-1 (1721-1752), p. 189-190) His widow, Tabitha, married 2ndly Meredith Payne (d. 1751) and 3rdly George Strother. 


2. JOHN WOFFENDALL. He, with James Woffendall, is a witness to the 1696 deed of gift from Adam Woffendall to his daughter Elizabeth. This is the only known record of him and he must have died before April 1703 as he is not named in his father’s will. 


3. FRANCIS WOFFENDALL. Born after 1682, as was under age 21 when his father wrote his will on 25 April 1703. He served as a Constable in Richmond County in 1714. In a deed of 6 April 1757 from Francis Woffendall and Sarah, his wife, of King George County to Baldwin Berry and his wife Jenny, son-in-law and daughter, they distribute property, including four slaves, to several of their other children, naming daughter Ann Thornley, wife of John Thornley, daughter Mary Woffendall, spinster, and daughter Frances Humston, wife of John Humston, and noting their other children had received other property. (King George Deed Book 4 (1754-1765), p. 360-363.) Among his children is a daughter: 


ELIZABETH WOFFENDALL. Born about 1717, died 1789. Married Samuel Kendall (d. 1790). Parents of Samuel Kendall Jr. who rejoined the original 160-acre Woofendall tract. Another son was Woffendall Kendall (1735-1795). 


4. MARY WOFFENDALL. Married by 25 April 1703 to Benjamin Strother. Sheriff of Richmond County in 1717, also Justice and Vestryman. His will of 10 Feb 1752 was proved 5 March 1752 and therein names his wife and 5 sons. (King George Co. Will Book A, p. 11-12) 


5. ELIZABETH WOFFENDALL. Married by 25 April 1703 to Robert Harrison. She died and he married 2ndly, Mary, who survived him and is named in his will of 6 April 1720. 


6. SARAH WOFFENDALL. Died 1754. Married to William Hudson (died 1730). See “The Ancestry of Ann Hudson, Wife of Thomas Owsley II” in the September 2010 OFHS Newsletter.