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Biographical Sketch of Abraham Mayfield (d. 1778)

of Virginia and North Carolina

By Phil Norfleet

 

Abraham Mayfield was born about 1690 in Essex County VA; he died in late 1777 or early 1778 in Granville County NC.  In about 1715, he married Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) in Essex County VA.  Abraham and Elizabeth seem to have had about eight (8) children who survived to adulthood.  However, the reader should be warned that, other than Abraham Mayfield, Jr. (d. 1809) and Valentine Mayfield (d. 1791), the children listed below for Abraham Mayfield, Sr. and his wife Elizabeth are are based on conjecture only:

1.  William Mayfield (d. 1761)

2.  Abraham Mayfield (d. 1809)

3.  Valentine Mayfield (d. 1791)

4.  Robert Mayfield (d. 1816)

5.  Stephen Mayfield

6.  Jonathan Mayfield (d. 1818)

7.  Thomas Mayfield (d. 1803)

8.  Joseph Mayfield

A PERPLEXING PROBLEM!
 

The records that appear to be associated with this Abraham Mayfield and his wife, Elizabeth, are very perplexing indeed. He and his wife appear to be incredibly long-lived! Based on the records of Essex County VA, he could not have been born later than about 1690, yet his will, dated in 1769 (in Granville County NC) was not entered into probate until 1778! This would imply a life span of about 88 years! Even if Abraham died right after making out his will (in February 1769), he still would have been about 78 or 79 years old at the time of death. This is a very old age for an era when adult life expectancy was only in the low fifties.

Another genealogical problem I have is the 17 year gap in the records for this couple. The last record I have found for Abraham and Elizabeth in Orange County VA is in 1745, The earliest record I have found for Abraham Mayfield (stated to be from Orange County) in Granville County NC is 1762 - an interval of 17 years. What happened during this interval? Are the Abraham and Elizabeth Mayfields, who are cited in the 1745 Orange County VA indenture, the same people who acquired land in Granville County NC in 1762? Or, is there a missing generation here?

More research is needed to resolve this problem. However, until better data is discovered, for the purposes of this web site, I am assuming that the Abraham Mayfield, cited in the Orange County VA land records in 1745, is the same person cited in the Granville County NC indenture of 1762.


ABRAHAM MAYFIELD IN ESSEX COUNTY VA

The Essex County VA court records strongly indicate that Abraham Mayfield seems to have gotten into serious financial difficulties within a couple of years after his father's death. Abstracts of the records which delineate these financial problems are listed below.

23 May 1717: Action of debt against Abraham Mayfield is brought by Katherine Edwards, et al. Mayfield is ordered to pay one pound plus court costs.

19 November 1718: Action of debt against Abraham Mayfield is brought by Robert Parker, assignee of Christopher Man. Mayfield is ordered to pay 300 pounds of tobacco.

18 March 1718/1719: Action of debt against Abraham and Sarah Mayfield by Robert Jones. The Mayfields are ordered to pay 800 pounds of tobacco plus court costs. An attachment against their estate is ordered. My assumption here is that the Sarah Mayfield so mentioned is Abraham's widowed mother, probably a surety for Abraham.

17 June 1719: An attachment to the estate of Abraham Mayfield for 900 pounds of tobacco plus costs is issued.

19 January 1724/1725: In the attachment obtained by James Garnet against Thomas Hewitt: Abraham Mayfield being the guarantee, not appearing in court, it is ordered that the Sheriff take him into custody.

20 September 1726: Action of debt against Abraham Mayfield is brought by Robert Gibson. Mayfield is ordered to pay 500 pounds of tobacco plus attorney fees and court costs.

21 February 1726/1727: A Return of Execution is issued to the Sheriff of Essex County against Abrahm Mayfield in the lawsuit Gibson vs Mayfield. The sheriff's return is that "the within named Abraham Mayfield is not to be found within my bailiwick" [see Essex County VA Court Order Book, 1725-1729, Part II, pages 294-295].

2 January 1727/28: Abraham's mother, Sarah, and his brothers, Jacob and Robert, Jr., must have died prior to January 1727/28, because Abraham Mayfield, sells his father's land (125 acres) to a certain Robert Brooke by indenture, dated 2 January 1727/28 [see Essex County VA, Deed Book 18, pages 307-308]. Abraham could only have received title to this land under the prevailing laws of primogeniture if both his mother Sarah and older brothers Jacob and Robert Jr. were dead. Only under such circumstances, could the ownership of the real property (125 acres) of Robert Mayfield, Senior, have have passed to son Abraham - who must have been the next oldest living son at the time.



REMOVAL TO SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY VA

Abraham Mayfield seems to have removed (fled?) to Spotsylvania County VA (formed 1721) sometime in the late 1720's. We have the following records for him in that county:

05 June 1727: Abraham Mayfield witnessed a power of attorney from John Blackly to Thomas Smith [see Spotsylvania County VA Court Order Book, 1724-1730, Part II, page 162].

06 May 1729: Abraham Mayfield is a Defendant versus Anthony Foster, Assignee of James Booth, Plaintiff in an action of debt [see Spotsylvania County VA Court Order Book, 1724-1730, Part III, page 307].

01 August 1732: Abraham Mayfield is appointed overseer of Bush's Road [see Spotsylvania County Court Orders, 1730-1732, page 130].

07 May 1734: Abraham Mayfield allowed payment for four days attendance in court as a witness in the case of Francis Kirkley against William Bartlett [see Spotsylvania County VA Court Orders, 1734-1735, page 318].

04 September 1734: Abraham Mayfield is a defendant versus Benjamin Walker, Gentleman, Plaintiff in an action of trespass [see Spotsylvania County VA Court Orders, 1734-1735, page 344].

06 May 1735: Abraham Mayfield is mentioned as a member of a grand jury [see Spotsylvania County VA Court Orders, 1734-1735, page 381].

01 July 1735: Abraham Mayfield of Saint George's Parish, Spotsylvania County acquires 200 acres of land from the Administrators of the estate of Larkin Chew, deceased [see Spotsylvania County VA Deed Book C].

03 May 1737: Abraham Mayfield mentioned as a member of a grand jury [see Spotsylvania County VA Court Orders, 1735-1738, page 492].

04 October 1737: Abraham Mayfield of Spotsylvania County conveys 200 acres of land to Bloomfield Long of Essex County. Elizabeth, wife of Abraham Mayfield, relinquishes her right of dower [see Spotsylvania County VA Deed Book C].

After sale of his land, Abraham Mayfield apparently left Spotsylvania County in late 1737 or early 1738 as the following court entries imply:

04 April 1738: Attachments against the estate of Abraham Mayfield are obtained for Archibald McPherson and William Johnston [see Spotsylvania County VA Court Orders, 1738-1740, page 4].

01 May 1738: Ordered that John Durrett be overseer of Bush's Road in the room of Abraham Mayfield "who is removed out of the County" [see Spotsylvania County VA Court Orders, 1738-1740, page 6].



REMOVAL TO ORANGE COUNTY VA
 

Abraham Mayfield and his family apparently removed to Orange County VA sometime in the1737-1738 time frame. Abraham's name appears in the following Orange County VA records:

1738: Abraham Mayfield is listed with two (2) tithables in the tax list for Orange County VA, Precinct of Henry Rice, Constable.

24 August 1738: The indenture whereby John Cook and Ann, his wife, convey a tract of land to Abraham Mayfield is admitted to record in the Orange County VA Court. [See Orange County VA Order Book A, page 372.]

24-25 May 1738: Abraham Mayfield is a witness to a Lease and Release whereby Daniel Cook of St. Marks Parish, Orange County conveys a 100-acre tract of land "in the fork of Pamunky River" to a certain Edward Smith of St. Stephen's Parish, King and Queen County VA. [See Orange County VA Deed Book 2, pages 350-355.]

23-24 August 1738: Abraham Mayfield is a witness to a Lease and Release whereby John Cook of St. Marks Parish, Orange County conveys a 338-acre tract of land "on the branches of Pamunky River" to a certain Malachi Chiles of St. Margaret's Parish, Caroline County VA. [See Orange County VA Deed Book 3, pages 3-7.]

18 March 1742/1743: Abraham Mayfield is a witness to a Lease and Release whereby Elizabeth Snell of St. Thomas Parish, Orange County conveys a 50-acre tract of land "in the fork of Pamunky River" to a certain Joseph Seayres of St. Thomas Parish, Orange County VA. [See Orange County VA Deed Book 7, pages 335-336.]

25 July 1745: Indenture is recorded between Abraham Mayfield and his wife Elizabeth of Orange County whereby they convey a 162-acre tract of land " ... in the fork of Pamunky River ... " to a certain Peter Montague, also of Orange County. The land is stated to be " ... part of the patent granted to John Cook and sold by the said Cook to the said Mayfield. ... " [See Orange County VA Deed Book 10, pages 171-173.]

The above indenture is the last record that I have been able to find for this Abraham and Elizabeth Mayfield in Orange County. However, several records do occur which seem to pertain to Abraham and Elizabeth's son, Abraham Mayfield, Jr. I have found no evidence in the Orange County will and probate records that Abraham Mayfield, Sr. died in Orange County. He may have lived with one of his children for several years.

Formation of Culpepper County VA

In 1749, Culpepper County was formed out of a portion of Orange County.  It is possible that Abraham's place of residence may have fallen into the boundaries of this new county.  We do know that his sons Robert Mayfield (d. 1818) and Thomas Mayfield (d. 1803) were living in Culpepper County prior to moving to North Carolina (NC).

My current conjecture is that Abraham and Elizabeth removed to Granville County NC with two (at least Stephen and Robert) or more of their sons in about the 1760 time frame.  However, his son Abraham Mayfield, Jr. remained in VA for several more years, before removing to NC in about 1768.



ABRAHAM MAYFIELD, SR.'S REMOVAL TO GRANVILLE COUNTY NC

Although at an advanced age, Abraham Mayfield, Sr. and Elizabeth, his wife, apparently removed to Granville County NC from Orange County VA in about 1760. Several years later, in about 1768, Abraham Sr.'s son, Abraham, Jr. and his wife Ann, also migrated to North Carolina. Abraham Mayfield, Sr.'s name appears in the following Granville County, North Carolina records:

06 December 1762: William Stroud, Sr. conveys to Abraham Mayfield of Orange County, for 100 pounds, 296 acres in Granville County on Little Creek. [See Granville County NC Deed Book F, page 81.]

1764: In this year the eastern portion of Granville County (St Thomas Parish) became the new County of Bute. Apparently, Abraham Mayfield's 296-acre Tract on Little Creek fell within this new county.

May 1769: A deed from Abraham Mayfield and Elizabeth his wife to James Harrison is acknowledged by the said Abraham and Elizabeth and on motion the same is ordered to be registered. [See Bute County NC Court Minutes, page 72.] Comment - I have not yet found this deed in the Bute County Deed Books; however, it is highly probable that the land conveyed is the 296-acre tract that Abraham had purchased from William Stroud in 1762. The date of the sale was probably shortly before 20 February 1769 as Abraham made out his will as of that date and mentioned that he had recently sold his land (see below).
 

Will Of Abraham Mayfield

February 1778: The will of Abraham Mayfield, dated 20 February 1769, was entered into probate in the County Court of Granville County NC during the February 1778 Term of Court. In his will Abraham mentions his wife Elizabeth, his sons Abraham and Valentine, and "the rest of my children." In the will Abraham makes the following bequest: " ... I do give and bequeath to Valentine and Abraham Mayfield, my well beloved sons, two feather beds and furniture and also the money that I sold my land for or the produce of the same if their mother please. ... " [See Granville County NC Will Book 1, pages 168-169.]

A complete transcript of this will follows:


In the name of God Amen. The twentieth day of February in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred sixty and nine. Abraham Mayfield being very sick & weak in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be to Almighty God for the same and calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men to die, do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament. That is to say principally and first of all, I give and Recommend to God [my Soul] that giveth it me and for my body I Recommend to the Earth to be buried in a Christian manner at the discretion of my executors, nothing doubting but at the General Resurrection I shall Receive the same again by the mighty power of God. And as Touching such worldly Estate where with it hath pleased God to bless me with in this life, I give and dispose in the manner and form following. That is to say:

In the first place I give and bequeath [to] Elizabeth my dearly beloved wife, whom I make & ordain my only & sole executor of this my last Will and Testament, all and every singular thing that I am now possessed with during her lifetime to peaceably enjoy without any Molestation or In cumbrance.

And at her death I do give and bequeath to Valentine Mayfield and Abraham Mayfield, my well beloved sons, two feather beds and furniture and also the money that I sold my land for, or the produce of the same if their mother please, to lay it out for them by them freely to possess & enjoy and to be Equally divided between them both.

And I also give and bequeath all the rest of my Estate, household goods & everything that there shall be left after my beloved wife's decease to be equally divided between all my children for them to possess & enjoy.

And I do hereby utterly disallow, revoke & annul all & every former Testaments, Wills & Legacies bequeathed and Executed by me in any way before named wills & bequests. Ratifying & Conforming this & no other to be my Last Will & Testament, In Witness thereof I here unto set my hand the day and year first above written,

/S/ Abraham Mayfield (Seal)

Signed sealed published promised & declared to be the said Abraham Mayfield as his Last Will & Testament in the presence of the subscribers, that is to say:

James Harrison
James House
Milly House (Her Mark)

Granville County, February Court A. D. 1778. This will was duly proved by the oath of James House who swore that he saw James Harrison and Milly House Subscribe as Witnesses to this Will which was ordered to be Recorded. And at the same time Elizabeth Mayfield Qualified as executrix to this Will which was ordered to be probated.

Test Reuben Searey C. C.