Northumberland County was officially created in 1648. Prior to this time it was known as Chickacoan, the Indian district, a settlement of Native Americans. This Northern Neck county is on the western edge of Chesapeake Bay and today lies between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers. Some of the first residents were settlers from Maryland in search of greater religious tolerance. Lancaster County was formed in 1652 from the southern part and Westmoreland County formed in 1653 from the western part.

Although no Combs appear in early Northumberland records, many of the associated and allied families of the Combs &c. appear first in this county per patents for land lying in what later became Westmoreland. One large group came from St. Mary’s Co, MD and were later styled in records as being of “Appomattox”. A number were merchants who engaged in trading Between England and the colonies.

Families of interest are BROOKE, BALDRIDGE, BRIDGES, WICKLIFFE, POPE, WASHINGTON, COLE, BUTLER, and BROWN to name a few. The earliest extant Northumberland Co records begin in 1652; however, Virginia land patents and records from other counties document settlers who were there prior to 1652.

The BALDRIDGES may have been one of the first groups to leave St. Mary’s. The brothers James BALDRIDGE and Capt. Thomas BALDRIDGE drop out of St. Mary’s records in 1644. Henry BROOKE was in Appomattox by early 1649. Edward Thompson, who married Joan, widow of Thomas BUTLER, deposed on 18 Jan 1646/7 that he was at his house in Chickacoan on Wednsday last. By 1648/9 there had been a substantial exodus to Virginia.

In general, these families have been heavily researched, but confusion and some unanswered questions remain. One characteristic of these early families was that the women often remarried several times. Furthermore, there was a broad use of kinship terms such as nephew, cousin, sister, brother, etc. in wills and records that did not necessarily mean “blood” relatives and these references have caused erroneous conclusions in family research.

An interesting letter from Thomas BALDREADGE of Barbadoes, dated 16 Sept. 1649, documents that Capt. Thomas and James BALDRIDGE were in the Appomattox area by that date:

“To my ever loveing Cosen Mr Tho: Baldreage liveing in Potomack river over against Maryland or for Mr James Baldreage.

Thomas writes that he is well and hopes to be home Christmas next. He states he is sending goods with a bill of lading and a “gentlewoman” who was a neighbor of his in Virginia, who had come to Barbadoes to look for her husband’s estate but not liking the place, is returning to Virginia, and he asks Thomas to show this woman “all the respect that lyeth in yor power…” and directs him to show this letter to his brother [his cousin’s brother?]. He says he has written to John Rabley to send all to his cousin as quickly as possible once the ship arrives in Virginia. With reference to the goods, he says he is sending a man to help and that if Thomas should die, then the man’s passage is paid for and he is to be his own man. He states he has formed a 5 year partnership with a merchant in Virginia and that if he performs, he is bound to transport 12 men by next Christmas. They are to be sent to John Rableys house and Thomas asks his cousin to look after them and “demand them of John Rabley for Mr Wescombe & my use…” Next he asks his cousin to try to find about 4 or 5 hundred acres of land, to take it out for him, but not to “lye it out fully” but to hold it from any other and then to send a letter with full descriptions of conditions, etc. He adds there are many families in Barbadoes who wish to come to Virginia. He ends the letter with…“I rest your ever lovening cousen till death Thomas Baldreadge Sept. 9, 1649. ffor Elexandr & his child they are well but he sent me word this day that his wife is sicke you shall receave a Lre by ye bearer of this.” This letter was recorded 21 Octo 1654. (W&M Qtrly, Series I, v15#3, Jan. 1907, pp 35-37, Transcribed by Kathy Merrill for the USGenWeb Archives Special Collections Project).

It is generally believed this letter was written by Capt. Thomas BALDRIDGE, the same, who with his brother James BALDRIDGE, obtained a grant in Northumberland for 840 acres. The identity of the cousin “Thomas” is not established but may be the same as Thomas Baldridge, “kinsman”, referred to in a 1657 deed.

The Elexander [Alexander] and his child mentioned in his letter is likely Capt. Alexander Bainam [BAYNHAM], whose children Elizabeth, Ann, and Mary, are named as legatees and grandchildren in the Westmoreland will of Dorothy BALDRIDGE (widow of James BADLRIDGE) written 2 Nov. 1662 and probated 11 Mar. 1662/3. Alex: banum is listed as a servant of Tho: baldridge in a 1 Nov. 1642 St. Mary’s Co, MD., court record for demands of pay or other charges for him in an expedition (MSA, Proc of Council of MD, v3:119). On 20 Dec. 1643, Alexander Baynham witnessed a deed from John Smith to Thomas Yewell in St. Mary’s Co. Capt. Thomas BALDRIDGE drops out of Maryland records after 1644. Alexander and his wife Ann must have gone to Barbadoes with Thomas for they witessed the will of Andrew SANDERS on 10 August 1648 (Barbadoes Records, Wills, and Administrations, Joane McRee Sanders, v1:316). A 15 June 1657 deed of feoffment from “Rich” HEABEARDS of Westmoreland to Capt. BAINHAM and Tho WILSFORD of the same places into trust for his intended wife Mary, the d/o of Major Thomas BALDRIDGE, late of Westmoreland, deceased, the plantation where he is now seated adjoining the plantation of Mr. John ROSIER Clerke in Westmoreland containing 300 acres and buildings…this for the use of said Mary HEABERD to have for life with provision concerning future children. Witnessed by John CAYNE and Tho MULLY and recorded 30 Aug. 1657. The instrument states HEABEARD has just received considerable property and estate from Mr. James Baldridge, the administrator of Major Thomas Baldridge. (WC Deeds, Will, Patents 1653-1659, op:82).

Mr. John RABLEY in the above letter is mentioned in St. Mary’s Co court records including those relative to the estate accounting for Henry BROOKE [Junr] Merchant of Virginia, deceased, but not to be confused with Henry BROOKE, planter and shipwright.

Maryland records first tell us that Henry BROOKE(S), Boatwright and Planter, of Appomattox, had settled in Northumberland by 1648/9, and that his wife was Jane was previously married to David WICKLIFF of St. Mary’s Co.

1648 [9] 8 Jan. An acct uppon Henry BROOKES of Appamatucks 70 l Tob. & 1bb Corne, or a Boate of 15 foote by the Keele.

(Md State Archives, Judicial Court and Testamentary Business, p. 468).

1650 April 26 Henry BROOKES of Apomattocks planter is again in St Mary’s court records where he appoints George MANNERS his attorney and brings suit against Nicholas CAWSEENE aka COSSIN for a gun that belonged to Henry but had been taken by Governor Calvert and was now in the hands of the defendant

(Orig Liber A:346, MSA, Court and Testamentary Business, 1649 50, v10:24).

A second entry (1650) relative to this suit shows that Nichas CAWSEENE brought the gun in question to court and both Richard COLE and Willm LEWIS testified that the gun was taken by Governor Calvert “4 or 5 yeares since” and had promised to deliver the gun to plaintiff at his return from Kent. The court ordered the gun to be returned to the plaintiff. The fact that it took so long to file suit (4 or 5 years) may be an indication that Henry had moved since we do know he had been in Northumberland for over a year.

(S=MSA, Court and Testamentary Business, 1649 50, v10:40).

1650 31 May. Henry BROOKE first patented 658 acres of land in then-Northumberland (later Westmoreland) on 31 May 1650, on land adjacent to Nathaniel POPE I and Hercules BRIDGES, with headrights including himself, David WHITLIFF, Eman. BROOKE, Jane BROOKE, Jane BROOKE [sic], Robt. WHITLIFFE, Lydia BROOKE, Ailce WHITLIFFE.

(Virginia Land Patent Book 2:225, Cavaliers & Pioneers, Vol. I, p. 194).

NOTES: Nathaniel POPE I, whose daughter Anne married Major John WASHINGTON (ancestor of George WASHINGTON), was a St. Mary’s Co associate having received his first land grant in 1639. Hercules BRIDGES is previously found in York Co, VA records. Henry’s headrights list for this grant included his wife Jane, daughters Jane and Lydia, possible son/relative Eman BROOKE, one documented step-son David WHITLIFFE and possibly 2 additional step-children, Robert and Ailce WHITLIFFE.

1650. 11 Oct. Maryland. Jane wife of Henry BROOKES at the request of Willm LEWIS saith upon oath that in a bargain with her former husband david WICKLIFFE made with Cpt. Cornwallis there was due to her said husband 200 acres of land within the said Capt.’s divident the right of which said 200 acres this depont saith was given by her said former husband the Lt. Willm LEWIS And further she saith not. Jane Brooke. 11 Oct. 1650. Richard COLE stated the above agreement with Willm LEWIS was 12 years since and the land was in St. Inegoes Creek…

(MD Historical Magazine, 1913, “Land Notes 1634-1655“, p. 265).

David WICKLIFFE aka WHITCLIFF is documented as being a Protestant in Maryland records. David, in his 1640 demand for land, stated he had transported himself to Maryland in 1636.

NOTES: This important record documents Henry’s wife Jane as formerly married to David WICKLIFFE. She appears as the Widow WHITCLIFF in 1643 (David last seen in St. Mary’s records in Sept. 1642). It further suggests that Jane and David may have been married by 1638 (or earlier) and it establishes a close relationship between Richard COLE and the WICKLIFFES (David and Jane) that began as early as 1638 in Maryland and that continued in Virginia until Richard died and he named the widow Jane BROOKES executrix of his 1663 Westmoreland Co, VA, will that also identified his wife Alice; another interesting coincidence given Henry’s headrights list. Richard Cole came to Maryland in 1633/4 on the Ark and the Dove.

1650/1 30 Jan. Northumberland Co grant to John HOLLOWES Gent: 1600 acres for 32 persons including: Mary GRAY, Ailce GRAY, Tho BUTLER, Xtopher BUTLER, Wm BUTLER, John BUTLER, Nathaniel BUTLER, John HOLLOWES, John Tero [? possibly TEW], Restitute HOLLOWES [wife of John], Res HOLLOWES Jr [daughter], John KNOTT…

(C&P v1:207, O=LPB2:282).

NOTES: John HOLLOWES, styled as Mariner in St. Mary’s Co records, married Restitusa TUE [aka TEW] on 5 June 1639. Westmoreland records show that by 1654, Grace BALDRIDGE, the widow of Major Thomas BALDRIDGE, had remarried to John TEW whose 2 June 1655 Westmoreland will names wife Grace and John HALLOWES Jr and Restitute HALLOWES. The BALDRIGE family was closely allied with the BUTLERS, a surname that continues to pop up with respect to Combs &c. associated families (UNDERWOOD, WICKLIFFE, BROOKE, etc). Mary and Alice GRAY may be related to St. Mary’s settler (and later Westmoreland) Francis GREY aka GRAY.

1651 April 3. Northumberland Co. grant to David Phillips: 400 acres, 300 acres thereof abutting N. E. on the land of Henry Brooke, S. Et. upon a creek commonly called Fishing Creek. 100 acres the residue on the eastward side of said creek.

(VSLA: Land Office Patents No. 2, 1643-1651, p. 305).

1651 3 April. Northumberland Co. 840 acres grant to James BALDRIDGE and Capt. Thomas BALDRIDGE..on south side of Potomock RIver..line of Hercules BRIDGES and John COOK…for transportation of 17 persons and grouped in brackets as follows:

  2. Lorida BALDRIDGE, Mary BALDRIDGE, Edwd RYALL, Robert HUTSON, Grace BOMAN;

(LOVA, original image, LPB2:307)

NOTES: Of BALDRIDGES’ list: Lorida (not been identified), Mary (probably Thomas’ daughter who later married Richard HEABEARD), William (s/o of James, the nephew of Dorothy BALDRIDGE). Some believe the Grace BOMAN (or perhaps Beman) was the same who married Capt. Thomas BALDRIDGE and then married John TEW. Could she have been the “gentlewoman” of Thomas’ letter. John COOKE had obtained a grant for 450 acres on 30 Janl 1650/1 adjoining that of James BALDRIDGE and Capt Thomas BALDRIDGE and his list of transportees included one Elizb BRIDGES

(VSLA orig. image, LP Bk2, 1643-1651, p. 280).

1651/2. March. An incomplete list of the Northumberland Assembly included the following: John TRUSSELL, Thomas BALDRIDGE, Mr. [William] PRESLEY, Mr. LEE, Mr. SPEKE, Thomas WILFORD

(Hening’s Statues I:363-368).

1652. 20 Sept. - - - BROADHURST Tho GOSSARD agst John ESSEX “Whereas it does appear unto the Court that Jo ESSEX doe own unto Mr Tho GOSSARD Admr of Henry BROOKE deceased the sum of 265 lb of tobo…”

(Northumberland County Records 1652-1655, Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Beverly Fleet, 1988, v1:339, O=NC-COB2:8).

NOTES: This Henry BROOKE deceased was Henry Junr, merchant of Virginia and the s/o of Henry BROOKE Senior, citizen and grocer of London. There are records relative to his estate in both York Co, VA, and St. Mary’s Co, MD and the latter records clearly identify him. Henry BROOKE the Younger first purchased land in York County in 1643 from Capt. Richard POPELY and then sold said land to Nicholas BROOKE the Younger, marchant in 1645. Nicholas BROOKE Senior purchased said land from his son in 1649; however, his brother Henry BROOKE Senior, Citizen and Grocer, of London purchased the trading interests and property of Nicholas BROOKE Senior in 1640/1. This family appears to be related to one Edw BROOKE of York Co, VA, John BROOKE of Boxted, County Essex, England and his brother Barnaby BROOKE who died at sea on his way to Virginia.

1652/3. 20 Jan. Henry BROOKS agst Magr BILLINGSBY extr of Mr. Robert ATKINSON ordered too pay 200 lbs tobo for coming to court to appear as witness in the proving of ATKINSON’S will. Also on the same day, Edw THOMPSON & Rich. HAWKINS their assgnm’t to Mr SPEKE. THOMPSON & HAWKINS assign above to Mr. Tho SPEKE Gent, dated 18 Jan. 1652/3. Signed Edward THOMPSON, Richard HAWKINS his marke, marke of Henry BROOKE, Wm HARDICH. Acknowledged by Wm HARDICK, attorney for Thompson & Hawkins. Letter of Power of Attorney to HARDICH witnessed by Hen BROOKES.

(Northumberland County Records 1652-1655, Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Beverly Fleet, 1988, v1:379 & 379, O=NC-COB2:19,). Hen BROOKE also served on a jury this day.

NOTES: Wm HARDICH, a tailor, married Margaret POPE, d/o of Nathaniel POPE. Both. Tho SPEKE and HARDICH are found in St. Mary’s Co records. Edward THOMPSON is possibly the same who married Joane, the widow of Thomas BUTLER of the Isle of Kent, Maryland. St. After Joane’s decease (by 1650), Edward was guardian of the children and continued the suit against Mrs. Margaret BRENT, executrix of Leonard CALVERT for the delivery of 2 cowes and calves previously committed to by Calvert in 1646. Edward deposes in Northumberland in 1652 as age 36 (b c1616)

1652/3. See Westmoreland Co, VA to follow these families.