Thomas Branscomb, son of Richard and Sarah Branscomb
Tabitha Branscomb, wife of Thomas Branscomb
The children of Thomas and Tabitha Branscomb
Thomas was almost surely the firstborn son of Richard Branscomb the immigrant and Sarah Proctor. By the time that Richard wrote his will on 20 March 1775, Thomas had been married for at least eleven years—his eldest known child was approximately ten years old—whereas his three known siblings were still unmarried and presumably were living at home. Richard named Thomas first in his will. His DOB is unknown, but a date circa 1746 or (probably) earlier is likely if his son Isaac was born in 1765. A statement in the Brunswick County, Va., court order book for his father Richard (Book 6, p. 46; see under Richard Branscomb) implies that Richard arrived in Brunswick County circa 1838 or so and served part of his indenture there (to pay for his passage from England). The date of Richard’s marriage to Sarah Proctor must have come after Richard completed his servitude. The estimate of the DOB for Thomas rests upon these items of evidence. It is possible that Richard and Sarah had other children for whom no records exist, maybe even one or two older than Thomas, but we know only of the four who are named in Richard’s will.
Thomas’s wife Tabitha is known through being mentioned in his will and because her name appears on the tax rolls for Greensville County after Thomas died. The date of marriage can only be postulated from the birth of their son Isaac in 1765. Tabitha’s surname is unknown.
The first known record for Thomas comes from Richard’s will (Will Book 4, part 2, pp. 439-441):
IMPRIMIS I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Branscom one hundred acres of land more or less from the narrow branch to the haw branch not Touching the low grounds of Douglass Run it being the place whereon he now lives to him and his heirs forever.
(Note: Although Peter Pelham, county clerk for Brunswick County, transcribed the surname as “Branscom,” and although other variants appear in the records, a majority of those records, including Thomas’s will, show the surname as “Branscomb.”)
The will does not mention Thomas further; the two other sons received 200 acres of land, and Richard II, the second known son, served as executor of the will jointly with his mother Sarah. Further, all of the residue of the estate not bequeathed directly to the four children was to be divided among the other three children at Sarah’s death. No evidence exists to account for what appears to be an unequal division of the estate and a slight to the firstborn in bypassing him as executor, and as a result speculation is unwarranted. It was customary, however, to provide adequate resources to a child, especially a son, when the child married, and Richard may have felt that his son Thomas had already received his full share.
The land on which Thomas and his family lived and to which he received title when his father’s will was proven was on the eastern border of the 845 acres which Richard had received by patent; see the map in Branscomb Land in Brunswick and Greensville Counties, Virginia. The southern border of the tract was along the Old Fort Road and then crossing the road at the southeastern corner. The land was initially within Brunswick County, but in October 1780, when Greensville County was formed from Brunswick County, the county line bisected Thomas’s 100 acres. Tax rolls are available for Brunswick County beginning in 1782 and for Greensville County in 1783. Thomas was not taxed in Brunswick County in 1782 although his mother and his two brothers were. In 1783 Thomas and his brother John were taxed in the new county, whereas Richard and their mother continued to be taxed in Brunswick County until l788. In October 1787 the dividing line between the counties was redrawn, and thereafter these four Branscombs were taxed in Greensville County. Following is the record for Thomas as transcribed from the tax rolls. The rolls do not mention taxes for land; a tithe designated a white male age 21 or older:
1783: 2 tithes, 2 horses, 9 cattle (The other tithe was almost certainly Thomas’ son Isaac.)
1784: 1 tithe, 3 horses, 8 cattle
1785: 1 tithe, 2 horses, 8 cattle
1786: 1 tithe, 2 horses, 10 cattle
1787: 1 titheable white male >21 years, 2 white males 16-21, 2 horses, 13 cattle (One of the white males age 16-21 was Edmund; the other is unidentified and probably was not Thomas’s son
1788: 1 white male >21, 3 horses. (beginning in 1788, cattle were no longer taxed–except in 1815.)
1789: 1 white male >21, 1 white male 16-21, 3 horses
1790: 1 white male >21, 1 white male 16-21, 2 horses
1791: Thomas and Edmund Branscomb named as white males > 21; one horse.
1792: 1 white male >21; 1 horse.
1793: 1 white male >21; 1 horse.
1794: 1 white male >21; 1 white male 16-21; 1 horse.
1795: 1 white male >21; 1 white male 16-21; 2 horses.
1796: 1 white male >21; 1 white male 16-21; 2 horses.
1797: 2 white males >21; 3 horses; Robert Branscomb was named as the other tithe.
1798: 2 white males >21; 3 horses; Robert Branscomb was named as the other tithe. Tax: 27¢.
1799: 2 white males >21; 3 horses; Robert Branscomb was named as the other tithe.
1800: 1 white male >21; 2 horses.
1801: 1 white male >21; 1 white male age 16-21; 3 horses.
1802: 2 white males >21; 2 horses. Robert Branscomb was named as the other tithe.
1803: 2 white males >21; 2 horses. Robert Branscomb was named as the other tithe
1804: 2 white males >21; 2 horses. Robert Branscomb was named as the other tithe.
1805: 1 white male > 21; 1 horse.
1806: 1 white male >21; 1 white male age 16-21; 1 horse.
1807: 1 white male >21; 1 Black >16; 2 horses.
1808: No tax list is available.
1809: 1 white male >21; 1 Black age 10-16 ; 2 horses.
1810: 2 white males >21; 1 white male 16-21; 1 Black age 10-16; 1 horse. C.Pompey was named as the other tithe.
1811: 2 white males >21; 1 white male 16-21; 1 Black age 10-16; 1 horse. C.Pompey was named as the other tithe.
1812: 2 white males >21; 1 horse. Claborn Pompey was named as the other tithe.
1813: 2 white males >16, 1 horse. Claiborne Pompey, mulatto, was the other named male.
1814: 2 white males >16, 1 horse. William Porch is named as the other male.
Thomas’s name does not appear after 1814, and thereafter Tabitha Branscomb is assessed for taxes:
The tax records provide strong clues concerning the sons of Thomas. It is unfortunate that the daughters were not identified so easily.
On 26 October 1779 Thomas received his own patent for 200 acres, for which he paid 20 shillings. Evidently Thomas received the warrant for the patent from Isaac Jones, who in turn had received it from his father Jacob Jones. The land was due east of and adjacent to the 100 acres which Thomas inherited from his father. (Commonwealth Grant Book A, pp. 7-8, as cited by Ray Sasser on p. 38 of Royal Land Patents and Commonwealth Land Grants of Greensville County, Virginia. Emporia, Va.: published by the author, 1998.)
In 1783 Thomas Branscomb deeded land on the Old Fort Road for a Methodist church (Deed Book 1, p. 39, states that the indenture was from Thomas Branscomb to John Westley). A notation about the deed appears in the Greensville County Court Order Book 1, p. 71. The church was named Independence Church. The original building has been replaced, and the new building is known by the same name. (Douglas Summers Brown, Ed., Sketches of Greensville County, Virginia 1650-1967. Richmond: Whittell & Shepperson 1968, p. 235.)
On 5 November 1784 Thomas Branscomb was one of three persons appointed as appraisers of the estate of Nathaniel Mitchell, deceased. The appraisers returned their report to the Greensville County court on 23 April 1789. (Will Book 1, p, 130, as cited by Sasser, Greensville County, Virginia, Abstracts of Wills: Will Book 1, 1787-1806, p. 23).
In 1794 Thomas Branscomb deeded land to Isaac Branscomb (Deed Book 1, p. 148). This deed has not yet been explored.
The 1810 census for the county, p. 445, shows Thomas as the head of a household consisting of one male and one female aged 45 or more; he owned one slave. As shown above, the tax rolls for that year and for the next three years show Claiborne Pompey, who in 1813 was identified as a mulatto, as a titheable male. However, the 1810 census does not show Pompey as residing in Thomas’s household. Apparently, during his later years after all of the children were gone from home, Thomas employed first Claiborne Pompey and later William Porch as farmhands; they were not slaves. As discussed below under Tabitha, it is probable that either Thomas or Tabitha freed any slaves they may have owned.
Thomas wrote his will on 1 March 1794, and it was transcribed in Will Book 2 for Greensville County, p. 370.
I Thomas Branscomb of the County of Greensville being of sound mind and memory but low in health do constitute make and ordain this to be my last will and testament revoking and annulling all others heretofore made. Imprimis I give to my beloved wife Tabitha Branscomb the land and plantation whereon I now live during her natural life and after her death it is my will and desire that it should go to my son Robert Branscomb to him and his heirs forever. Item I give sons Isaac and Edmund Branscomb the tract of land whereon they both live containing one hundred and fifty two acres to be equally divided to them and their heirs forever. Item I give to my beloved wife Tabitha Branscomb all my personal estate to her use during her life and after her death it is my will and desire that it shall go to my son Robert Branscomb to him and his heirs forever. Item I give to my daughter Frances Branscomb six shillings. Item I do hereby nominate and appoint my sons Isaac and Edmund Branscomb executors to this my last will and testament given under my hand and seal ths first day of March seventeen hundred and ninety four.
(Note: the Benjamin Branscom who witnessed this will and who later proved it in court was not the son of Edmond and grandson of Thomas; that Benjamin was born in 1792. This Benjamin currently is unidentified. Information for this unidentified Benjamin appears on the page, Benjamin Branscom of Henry County, Indiana)
Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Tommas Branscomb (seal)
in the presence of
J. Wilkins Robert Harris
Js Spann Benjamin (X) Branscomb
At a court held for Greensville County the 9th day of January 1815 this will was proved according to law by the oaths of Joseph Wilkins and Benjamin Branscomb witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded.
Teste Ellison C. G. C. [=Clerk of Greensville County]
I did not review the records fully for Greensville County after 1800, because my ancestors John and Olive moved westward in late 1798 or early 1799. It is likely that the court order books and other records had additional entries for Thomas and Tabitha Branscomb and for some of their children.
Tabitha Branscomb, wife of Thomas Branscomb
The children of Thomas and Tabitha Branscomb