Biographical Sketch of Robert Mayfield
The First Mayfield Immigrant to
By Phil Norfleet
This Robert Mayfield was probably born in England
in about 1630. He seems to have migrated to Virginia Colony, as an
indentured servant, in about 1652. A few years after his arrival in
Virginia, in about 1654, he married; unfortunately the name of his wife is
unknown. He seems to have had at least two sons who survived into adulthood:
Robert Mayfield (d. 1715)
Edward Mayfield (b. ca. 1660)
Notes For Robert Mayfield (d. 1692)
My notes concerning what little information that
I have been able to glean from the records of Colonial Virginia concerning this
Robert Mayfield, the first Mayfield immigrant, are as follows:
The earliest entry mentioning a person with the Mayfield surname
in Virginia, of which I am aware, is found in a list of headrights supporting a
350-acre land grant in Gloucester County to a certain Richard Longe in the year
I have carefully examined the original of this document from the microfilm at
the Library of VA. The grant is found in Patent Book 3, page 135 and I abstract
it as follows:
06 Dec 1652: Grant to Richard Longe of 350 acres of land on Milford Haven on
westward side of a branch dividing from George Billops. Headrights: Edward
Dymont, Henry King, Robert Maiyffelld, Hannah Cotton, Mary James, Thomas Hale,
Lt. Col. Griffith, his wife Anne.
The "Robert Maiyffelld" so listed is probably a variant spelling of "Robert
Mayfield" as creative spelling is a hallmark of 17th century writing.
It should be noted that while I have transcribed the name as Robert Maiyffelld
other researchers have read the name differently. In the old script, when the
letter "s"appears in the middle of a word, it was written in a manner very
similar to the letter "f." Hence, it frequently is very difficult to determine
whether an "s" or an "f" is intended.
Nell Nugent, who abstracted all the early land patents of VA, read the name as "Mansfelld"
[see "Cavaliers and Pioneers Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants"
(first published 1934), Volume One, page 267]. Furthermore, Polly Cary Mason,
who compiled the "Records of Colonial Gloucester County Virginia" (published
1946), at page 49, read the name as "Maysfield."
The identification of Robert Mayfield as a headright, indicates that he probably
entered the colony as an indentured servant sometime in the year 1652 or shortly
before. Studies of VA headrights indicate that the most common age for male
headrights was the 18-25 age group. Assuming Robert was in this age bracket, his
year of birth would be somewhere around 1630.
The Colonial VA law, in effect in 1652, concerning the terms of indenture was as
Under 12 years of Age - 7 Years
From 12 to 20 Years of Age - 5 Years
Age 20 Years and Over - 4 Years
Accordingly, the most probable period of indenture for Robert Mayfield would
have been four or five years. Thus, it is probable that he would have completed
his indenture in about 1656/57. I have not been able to find any record of a
Mayfield having received a land grant in Colonial VA during the period
1635-1750. In fact the earliest record of any Mayfield land acquisition was a
Rappahannock County deed from Daniel and Robert Gaines to Robert Mayfield for
105 acres of land in the year 1677. My best conjecture is that this Robert is
the son of the Robert Mayfield noted as a headright in 1652. My reasons for this
conjecture are as follows:
1. There is evidence that a certain Robert Mayfield of Henrico
County VA had died about the year 1692 or perhaps a little earlier. Henrico
County Record Book Number 2 (Orders and Wills, 1678-1693), page 429 states the
"Com: Henrici pr:o die [torn] 1692 ... Capt Will Farrar being by ye Last Court
Appointed to see ye delry of Cattle belonging to Robt Jones an Orph late in ye
Wardship of Will Blackman wch were given unto ye said Orph per Rob't Mayfield
decd doth Return Acc't That ye sd Order is performed & that ye said Jones hath
received in full one Cow, one Calf & one Bull."
I interpret the above statement to mean that the orphan, Robert Jones, was
bequeathed or otherwise due some cattle from the estate of Robert Mayfield, now
deceased; the orphan was given one cow, one calf and one bull to satisfy said
court order. Most certainly this Robert Mayfield was dead by the year 1692, the
year of the court order.
No will of this Robert Mayfield is known to exist; however, the extant probate
records of Henrico County are not complete and the records of the adjacent
County of New Kent have been completely destroyed for the relevant time period.
Also, if this Robert Mayfield died intestate, then under the Law of
Primogeniture, Robert's personal property, including cattle, would have been
equally divided among all his children. It is quite possible that the orphan,
Robert Jones, was a grandson of Robert Mayfield by one of his daughters who had
married a member of the Jones family. The later (1720's) Essex County records
show a certain Robert Jones associated with the Mayfields in various lawsuits.
2. There is evidence that a certain Edward Mayfield was living in New
Kent County in in 1695. He almost certainly was at least 21 years of age at the
time as he was a plaintiff in a successful lawsuit tried in the Rappahannock
County Court. I believe Edward is probably a son of the Robert Mayfield who was
an indentured servant in 1652 and a brother of the Robert Mayfield who acquired
land in Rappahannock County in 1677.
3. The Robert Mayfield who acquired land in 1677 is almost
certainly the same Robert whose will, dated 3 December 1714, was probated in
Essex County, Virginia on 16 August 1715. Thus, the year of death for this man
was almost certainly in 1715. The will names a wife Sarah; sons Robert, Abraham,
John, Isaac and Jacob; and daughters Catherine, Jane, and Anne. All indications
are that these children were born in the 1680's and 1690's, i. e. after the
105-acre land acquisition in 1677. If their father was the Robert Mayfield, who
was an indentured servant in 1752, he would have been in his fifties or sixties
when all his children were born; I consider this to be a highly unlikely
4. All demographic studies conducted for 17th century England and
Virginia indicate short lifespans. The typical age of death for women was in
their forties, and for men, it was in their late forties and early fifties. A
recent study done for Colonial Middlesex County VA, a county directly adjacent
to Essex County, indicates an expected age at death for men, who had already
reached the age of 20, to be only 45 years of age! [see "A Place in Time
Explicatus" by Darrett and Anita Rutman, published 1984, page 52] Accordingly, I
consider it highly unlikely that the Robert Mayfield who died in 1715 was the
same Robert Mayfield who entered VA in 1652.
5. The Robert Mayfield who acquired land in 1677 is not designated
as Junior or Senior or some other differentiating label. This indicates to me
that there was no other Robert Mayfield living in Rappahannock County at that
time. Robert's father and namesake was probably still alive at this time, but
was residing in either Henrico or New Kent County.