THE RANDOLPHS

Henry Randolph (1623-1673) is sometimes referred to as "Uncle Henry" because he was the uncle of Turkey Island’s William Randolph, progenitor of Virginia’s most prominent Randolph family. For a number of years, conventional research seemed to show that we were descendants of Uncle Henry’s branch. However, DNA tests have proven that this is not the case. Nevertheless, I have done considerable research on Uncle Henry’s branch and didn’t want to throw it away so it is included here. For the genealogy of Uncle Henry’s branch, go to Uncle Henry.

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Henry Randolph (1623-1673) came to America in 1642. I'm not sure why he came. He was only about 20 years old and single when he arrived and for some reason he by-passed the more populated, developed, and secure settlements along the eastern shore to settle in Henrico County, about 50 miles up the James River where the city of Richmond now lies.

Henry Randolph was the son of William (1572-1660) and Dorothy Lane Randolph of Little Haughton, Northamptonshire, England. In the generation before William, the family name had been Randoll, but for some reason the name had changed to Randolph.1 William's father was Richard Randoll, gent., and his mother's name was Rose Roberts, daughter of Thomas Roberts of Hawkshurst, Kent.2 (In the 16th century, the suffix "gent." identified men born into a family of high social standing.)

William Randolph's first wife was Elizabeth Smith with whom he had 5 children including Thomas (1605-1639) who, although he died at age 34, became a renowned English poet and dramatist. Thomas Randolph was a Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge and was a close friend and disciple of Ben Jonson who called him one of his sons. One of his poems, which indicates a characteristic mindful of the humor of Ogden Nash, was "Apologie for My False Prediction That Aunt Lane Would Be Delivered of a Sonne." The title also gives evidence that Thomas remained in contact with his family and the family of his stepmother, Dorothy Lane.3

Dorothy Lane was William's second wife. She was the daughter of Richard Lane and Elizabeth Vincent of Courtenhall, Northamptonshire.4 Dorothy's brother was Sir Richard Lane (1584-1650), Attorney General to the Prince of Wales. In 1641, just before the outbreak of civil war, Sir Richard defended Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, in impeachment proceedings before a rebellious Parliment. His legal arguements were so compelling that Parliment withdrew the impeachment. But Wentworth, having won the battle, lost the war, for the next day Parliment passed a Bill of Attainder against him.5 Charles I, fearing mob violence, signed the bill and two days later the unfortunate Earl was executed in the Tower of London.

With this atmosphere of terror arising in the land, Henry Randolph set out for the New World in 1642. He was the first of the illustrious family of Randolphs to come to Virginia.6 Although a very young man, Henry was from a family of means and had outstanding connections in literature, through his half brother, Thomas, and in the law, through his uncle, Sir Richard Lane. Undoubtedly because of this background, Henry very soon had a position of importance in Henrico County, that of Clerk of the County. He served in that position from 1644 until 1669.7

Henry had been living in Virginia for 10 years before he married. In 1652 he married a girl named Elizabeth (last name unknown). In 1660 he became Clerk of the House of Burgesses and in that same year Elizabeth died. Then in December 1661 he married Judith Soane, daughter of Henry Soane, speaker of the House of Burgesses. Henry and Judith had three children: Henry II (1665-1693), Judith, and Martha.

In 1669, after 27 years away from his homeland, Henry I returned to England for a visit. While there he no doubt told his brother Richard and his 18 year old nephew, William, about life in the colonies. William was so impressed that in 1673 he followed his Uncle Henry back to Virginia and became the father of the distinguished "Turkey Island" branch of the Randolph family of Virginia. William became one of the wealthiest and important men in the colony. He succeeded his uncle as Clerk of Henrico County, served as Virginia Attorney General from 1694-1698 and was one of the founders of the College of William and Mary. His descendants include Sir John Randolph (his son) (1693-1737), Edmund Randolph (1753-1813), Senator John Randolph (1773-1833), and George Wythe Randolph (1818-1867). Henry Randolph I also had many descendants in Virginia, but William's were so illustrious that, as one historian put it, "most Randolphs prefer descent from William, even when Uncle Henry was manifestly the progenitor."8 However, as one of Henry's descendants, I think he will do just fine.

In the same year that young William arrived from England (1673), Henry Randolph died, leaving his wife, Judith, Henry II, age 8, and a young daughter with considerable property in Henrico County and elsewhere. In 1681, Judith married Peter Field who quickly filed to become the guardian of Henry II, by then age 16. Peter had two daughters of an earlier marriage--Mary and Martha. When Mary was grown, she married a young man named Thomas Jefferson. Two generations later their grandson wrote the Declaration of Independence and became the 3rd President of the United States

Just before his death in 1673, Henry I became indebted to Col. Thomas Swann for 10,000 lbs. of tobacco. (In those days, tobacco apparently was almost the same as money.) Three years later, in 1676, Col. Swann became deeply involved in Bacon's Rebellion. I have found no record of how the Randolphs may have sided in the rebellion, but since Henrico County was one of the western counties being threatened by Indian raids, it is likely they supported Bacon. It is clear that the Randolphs and the Swanns were closely tied, however, because after Henry I died and Judith married Peter Field in 1678, Col. Swann forgave Henry's debt as a wedding present. Then nine years later, on December 17, 1687, Henry Randolph II married Sarah Swann, age 21, Col. Swann's daughter by his 5th wife.

In 1683, when Henry II was only 18, he succeeded his cousin William as Clerk of Henrico County, the same position his father had held for so many years. He also became a practicing attorney. He and Sarah had two children: Henry III (1689-1726) and Thomas who died as an infant. Thus Henry III became the only progenitor of the Henry Randolph family line. Tragically, Henry II died at age 28 in 1693. He was buried beside his father in Bristol Parish Churchyard.

In 1699, six years after Henry II's death, his widowed wife, Sarah Swann Randolph, married Capt. Giles Webb who, like Peter Field a generation before, became guardian to young Henry Randolph III. At some point in time the family moved from Henrico County, across the James River into Chesterfield County.

In 1713, when Henry III was 24 years old, his stepfather, Giles Webb, died. The next year Sarah Swann Randolph, Henry's mother, also died. Evidently her death came at about the time of Henry's wedding for on March 29, 1714, he married Elizabeth Eppes, daughter of Francis Eppes III and Anne Isham.

For the next 12 years, Henry III and Elizabeth lived happily in Chesterfield County and had 4 children: Sarah (b. 1715), Anne (1717), Henry IV (1721), and Francis (1724). Then, during Elizabeth's fifth pregnancy in 1726, Henry III died at age 37. A few weeks later, Elizabeth gave birth to twins-a boy and a girl. She expressed her feelings about her loss of her husband by naming her infant son Grief(1726-1778) and her daughter Mourning.

Elizabeth was the beneficiary of Henry's considerable property, including land and slaves. Although she had a family of six children still to raise and was still a young woman, she violated all precedant in the family and did not remarry. Perhaps this indicates that her marriage to Henry was not just a marriage of convienence, as was so common in those days, but actually had a more romantic foundation. But on the other hand, maybe not. In any case, Elizabeth stayed single, raised her family on her plantation, and died of old age in 1777.

Grief Randolph grew up in Chesterfield County and there he married Mary Eppes, daughter of Maj. Edmund Eppes and Henrietta Maria Hardaman. There was a family connection between Maj. Eppes and Grief's mother, Elizabeth Eppes Randolph. Major Edmund Eppes was son of Littlebury Eppes whose brother Francis Eppes III was father of Elizabeth Eppes. Both Littlebury and Francis III were sons of Col. Francis Eppes II by differant mothers. Grief and Mary Randoph had 7 children: Henry V, William (1754-c.1848), John, Isham, Elizabeth Wormley, Anne, and Maria.

To my knowledge, there is no clear picture of what happened to the descendants of Grief and Mary Eppes Randolph.

 

FOOTNOTES

1 Randolph, Wassel, "Pedigree of the Descendants of Henry Randolph I (1623-1673) of Henrico Co., Virginia", 1957
2
Stanard, W. G.,Virginia Historical Magazine, Vol. 3., p.261.
3 Randolph, Wassel, ""Henry Randolph I (1623-1673) of Henrico Co., Virginia and His Descendants", Distributed by Cossitt Library, Memphis, 1952., p.15.
4 Cap Kendrick Hill's research into Randolph family history shows that, through Elizabeth Vincent, this family tree can be traced to Henry I, king of England; William the Conqueror; Charlemagne; and half the royalty of Europe. I don't want to minimize Cap Hill's valuable efforts, particularly with regard to our American roots, but, as one genealogist put it, "One bane of genealogical research is the desire to jump across the water and make noble connections."
5 Virginia Historical Magazine, Vol. 28, p. 363.
6 Dowdey, , Clifford, "The Virginia Dynasties", Little, Brown & Co., 1969, p. 135.
7 Randolph, Wassel, ""Henry Randolph I (1623-1673) of Henrico Co., Virginia and His Descendants", Distributed by Cossitt Library, Memphis, 1952., (Much of the information in this and subsequent paragraphs on the Randolph family was taken from this excellent source.)
8 Dowdey p. 138.

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