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Chapter 1
The first Norton or Norden

This is the story of the Norton family that came out of Fluvanna, Virginia and emigrated into the counties of Bourbon, Pendleton and Greenup Kentucky about 1784. There were five brothers who fought in the Revolutionary War. Thomas, John, James, David and William. One brother died as a result of being captured by the British at Charleston Harbor. The remaining four brothers emigrated to Kentucky.

The search for the first Norton of this line to emigrate to Colonial America has been actively going on for 150 years. It was thought that his name was John Norton and that he might have lived near Alexandria, Virginia as well as Fluvanna, Virginia. In the course of researching, we have from time to time identified our first Norton as Capt William Norton, brother of Fletcher Norton in England. This was wrong. Then because the only Norton in Fluvanna was Christopher Norton we tried to tie into a sailor named Christopher Norton who was was tied up at Norfolk, Virginia in 1760. This was very promising, but he died at sea and was buried in Halifax. Along the way we found references to John Norton in Orange county Virginia and while we haven't definititively identified these, they appear to belong to the John Hatley Norton family of York county.

Let's salute the hundreds of relatives and researchers who have peered at musty old records and passed down family storys to give us clues to our heritage. While I am writing this history, many, many people have contributed. That is a story by itself that you can read here. Norton research
I started in 1998 to aggregate all of these storys and research. Over the years we lost some relatives we thought we had and gained others.

In the end our Norton DNA research gave us the clue to the identity of our first Norton. Or perhaps Norden. It seems that the only family in the world that matches our Norton family DNA are the decendants of Robert Norden. (explaination ofDNA research)

In 1714, a small group of early Baptists in Virignia petitioned the Baptist Convention in England for a minister. Robert Norden was chosen as the first Baptist minister in Virginia or any other colony for that matter with the exception of a small group in Massachusetts. He traveled to Virginia in 1714 with the Matthew Marks family and lived on the Marks plantation in the county of Ille of Wight, Virginia roughly near Richmond and there established a small congregation at a place called Burliegh which was probably near the Marks plantation.

The Church of England was the official church of Virginia. This meant that all Virginians were taxed to support the ministers and everyone was expected to attend.

"The first nine Acts of 1661 provided for the support of the State Church; in each parish a church edifice was to be built out of the public treasury, together with a parsonage house and the purchase of a globe for the minister's use. He was to receive a salary of ,80 sterling, a provision subsequently changed to 16,000 pounds of tobacco, to be levied on the parish and collected like other taxes. Each minister must be ordained by a Bishop in England, all other preachers were to be banished; every person who wilfully avoided attendance on the parish Church for one Sunday was to be fined fifty pounds of tobacco; every Non-conformist was to be fined ,20 for a month's absence, and if he failed to attend for a year he must be apprehended and give security for his good behavior, or remain in prison till he was willing to attend Church." source

In 1691 this little group of Baptists were called before a magistrate to expain why they wern't at church.

"At a court held at Westopher, 22nd June 1691. Jno Moore, Mathew Markes, Tho Potts, Sam Easly, and Rich'd Was then presented by the grand jury upon information of Capt. Nicho Wyat for not coming to church. Sheriff to summon said delinquents to next court to answer."

Source: Benjamin B Weisiger III, compiler, Charles City County, Virginia, Court Orders 1687-1695: With a Fragment of a Court Order Book for the Year 1680 (Richmond, Virginia: Weisiger, 1980).

Official permission was required to follow a different religion and eventually they got permission to have a preacher. But Robert Norden was required to appear in court and swear allegience to the King of England.

"I , Robert Norden do sincerely promise and Solemnly Declare before God and the World that I will be true and faithful to his Majesty King George, and I do Solemnly promise and Declare, that I do from my heart abhor,detest and renounce as Impious and Hereticall that Damnable Doctrine and Position that Princes Excommunicated or Deprived by the Pope or any Authority of the See of Rome may be deposed or Murthered by their subjects or any other whatsoever, and I do Declare that no foreign Prince, Person, Prelate, State or Potentate hath or ought to have any power, Jurisdiction Superiority, Preheminence or Authority , Ecclesiasticall or Spiritual withen his Realm. .

"I Robert Norden Profess faith in God the Father and in Jesus Christ his Eternal Son, the true God and in the Holy Spirit, one God Blessed for ever more, and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration."
....Robert Norden

Source :Att a Court held for the County of Prince George on Tuesday the fourteenth of June Anno Dom. 1715

The church was established at Burleigh, Ille of Wight county, Virginia. Map The location is on the Mill Swamp road and closest town was Smithfild There is still a Baptist church on this sight.

Robert Norden was born about 1662 in England and married 10 December, 1687 at Waldron, Sussex, England. At the time he was called to Virginia he was residing at Warbleton, Sussex England. As has been said, he went to Virginia in 1714 and stayed on the plantation of Matthew Marks. When Marks died in 1719, he willed the use of his plantation to Norden until his death. Robert Norden lead his congregation from 1714 to 1725 when he died in Virginia. The congregation continued until about 1750 under different leadership.

We haven't been able to research Robert Norden in England, but evidently he brought at least one son with him to Virginia. These decendants emigrated to the area of present day Harnett county, North Carolina, south of Raleigh. Over the years, Norden became Nordan, Nordin and in our case Norton. All of this is recent research as of July 2006 so we haven't had time to fill in all the blanks. We are missing the generation of Robert Noden's sons which we will probably find in England.

It was probably one of Robert Norden's sons that gave us Christopher Norden who appears to be the first of line in America.

Chapter 2
The sources

We have collected four historys that have been passed down about our Norton family.

The first we call the Texas history and it comes from Nimrod Norton born 1831, a great grandson of Christopher Norden through his son John. Nimrod also indirectly produced a second history. Nimrod's history is retold in a book called, "Elias B. Poston and his Ancestors" by Elias Olan James & Glenna James copyright 1942. nimrod had a colorful career and ended up in Texas. We'll have to look at Nimrod's career in detail later, but before he died in 1903 he dictated what he knew of our family's history to his nephew Dr. Charles Norton. This history sat in Charles desk until he died in 1941 just at the Poston history was being researched. Here's what he said as retold by the Poston researchers.

"...a Commodore Norton resigned from the British Navy and settled either in Virginia or on the shore of Albemarle Sound, N. Carolina, "shortly before" the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

"...that he had five sons, all of whom served in Virginia units under George Washington; that one son, David, was taken prisoner and died on a British prison ship in Charleston harbor; that after the Revolution, the two older sons, William and Thomas (or--one account says--Solomon, not Thomas settled in South Carolina; and the two younger sons, John and James, came to Kentucky with their father, and settled near Lexington." source" Poston History

Our second source we call the Illinois history and is from a decendant of Margaret Norton who was Christopher's granddaughter also through his son John. She married John Darneille in 1814 and moved to Sangamon County, Illinois. The decendant who wrote the history leved in Springfield, Illinois. This history also came to the Poston researchers within weeks of finding the Texas history. Although the families had been separated since 1814, the storys matched with few exceptions.

The third source we call the "Pirate Story". It was written by Eliza Trimble living at Ballard, Washington in 1906. source Eliza is a great granddaughter of Christopher Norden through his daughter Elizabeth Norton who married John Benefiel. It's significant to note that Christphers wife, Mary lived with Elizabeth until her death about 1819. Elizabeth was born in 1816 and had direct access to family storys.

"My grandmother, Elizabeth (Norton) Benefiel, as the daughter of John Norton and was born May 1, 1769. Her father, John Norton, was born in England in the time of trouble with sea pirates. He went to sea at the age of twelve and was 40 years on the sea. There was one noted pirate that did such havoc to the merchant vessels that England fitted out a vessel expressly to capture him. My grandfather Norton was on the English vessel that followed the pirate five years and finally came on it in a heavy fog in speaking distance. When spoken to they hoisted a black flag. The pirates had two vessels - one very small and tams - the idea was with the English that they would cripple the small vessel first. They shot into it and it sank like a lump of lead. They then attacked the other vessel and had a hard fight with them - finally overpowered them and took them to England. But most all the treasure was on the little vessel. Grandfather said that the money that was on the big vessel was divided among the men and there was a hatful to each man. All treasure was on the little vessel. I did know the names of the two captives and of both the English and pirate vessels which I have often heard my grandfather relate. I don’t doubt it is in the libraries as England fitted out the vessel expressly for the capture of the noted pirate, the event would no doubt be on record.

Grandfather Norton lived to be old and died in Virginia. I think Grandmother Norton died in Kentucky at the age of 104 years." source:

note: Eliza Trimble identifies John Norton as the father of Elizabeth. We think she confused John Norton the older brother of Elizabeth because he was so prominent in the family in Bourbon, KY. The father of Elizabeth died abt 1787, 32 years after Mary Norton, the mother died.

Our fourth source is the Sellers History of Marion County, South Carolina. This history has also been the source of a great deal of confusion. We knew that two brothers had gone to South Carolina after the Revolution and one of their names was William. The Sellers history hooked up William Norton with five brothers who had fought int he Revolution with one brother dieing on a prison hulk in Charleston Harbor. I'll print the history and then expalin it.

"The first of this family came from England to New England, at a very remote period in the past, about the first of the seventeenth century; that his name was John; that he or one of his descendants, named John, afterwards came down to Virginia and settled near what is now Alexandria, Va. This Virginia John had five sons, all of whom were soldiers in the Revolutionary War; one of them, James, served in Washington's guard as a Sergeant; another one of then was taken prisoner and died in a prison ship, in Charleston harbor, in 1780 or 1781.

Their names were William, James, John, David and Solomon. After the Revolution, the old man and two of his Sons James and John went to Kentucky; two others of then came to South Carolina. William went to Georgetown, and the other went to Beaufort." source

This is obviously our family history. The author of this work was William Sellers. As it turns out, his daughter was the wife of the promient Congressman from Marion, James Norton. His source for the Norton history was the father of James, John W. Norton who was a celebrated vetran of the Civil War.

DNA research determined that this Norton line from Horry and Marion counties in South Carolina is not related to our family. source

So how did John W. Norton of Marion get his family history mixed up with ours? This is where Nimrod Norton comes in. Nimrod's father, Hiram Norton was one of the wealthiest men in Kentucky. Nimrod was sent to two military schools and when the Civil War broke out he was living in Missouri. There he raised the first regiment for the Confederacy. Later he was elected to the Confederate Congress in 1864 at Richmond, Virginia.

John W. Norton and his three sons were among the first to join the Confederacy and were sent to Virginia to serve with Robert E. Lee and the Army of Virgina until the war ended. In 1864 they were engaged in defending Richmond and were in close proximity with Nimrod Norton for several months. They must have met and compared family history. Both came from Virginia. both had five brothers that fought in the Revolution and both had a brother captured by the British at Charleston. The names of the brothers were even similar. William, James, John, David and Solomon. Except that in Nimrod's family the name was Thomas, not Solomon.

John W. Norton knew that William was his ancestor in South Carolina, but didn't know what happened to the other brothers. Nimrod filled in the blanks. John thought his earliest ancestor was named John, but Nimrod only knew him as the "Commodore". The result is another confirmation of our history, but a dead end when it came to the brother named William.

We glean from our historys that our first Norton might have been named John and was referred to as the "Commodore". He seems to have had a career in the Royal Navy and settled in Norfolk, Virginia before the Revolution. He had five sons named David, William, Thomas, James and John. Two sons named John and James went to Bourbon, Kentucky after the Revolution. Two sons went to South Carolina and one died on a prison hulk in South Carolina.

DNA confirms the relationship of the sons and links us with the decendants of Robert Norden.


Chapter 3
Lets tell the Story

We conjecture that Christopher Norden is father of this family. He would be a grandson of Robert Norden the Baptist minister and was born in England. He probably had a career at sea including some time in the Royal Navy. He was in Norfolk area by 1747, married Mary Emmerson near Richmond in 1754 and soon after they began using Norton rather than Norden.

The first evidence of Christopher Norden is a lawsuit filed in 1747 at James Cittie that names Charles Friend, mariner v. Christopher Norden, mariner. source This establishes him as a mariner, possibly a Captain of a merchant ship because Friend was a master of a ship.. If the "Historys" are correct, he began his career in the Royal Navy as a midshipman at the age of 12. The area of Warbleton, England where Robert Norden lived before he came to Virginia is the principal foundry for English naval cannons and is very near the major naval ports suggesting a connection with the Royal Navy. source A mystery that needs to be solved is, how does a family associated with the Baptist religion get a commission in the Royal Navy? England was still imprisoning and executing Baptists in the first half of the 1600's. It was only under the reign of William and Mary that "non-conformists" to the Church of England were given the right to exist. Perhaps a son of Robert Norden who stayed in England was not a Baptist and had connections to get his son a commission. Robert Norden died 1725 in Virginia. We think Christopher went to sea in 1737, twelve years after Robert died.

The "Pirate Story" says Christopher spent 40 years at sea. source Not all of these were necesarily with the Royal Navy. We think he was born about 1725 source and went to sea in 1737. After ten years in the Royal Navy his career had not advanced and he resigned his commission to settle near Norden relatives in Virginia. He seems to have continued as a mariner until the Revolution made commerce too dangerous in 1777. This is when we have records of him associated with land deeds in Fluvanna. There is also a reference to Richard and Robert Norden in a lawsuit filed at Richmond in 1753. These people are un-identified but are probably related to Robert Norden the Baptist minister and suggest that the Christopher Norden still had relatives near by.

Christopher Norden and Mary Emmerson married about 1753 in the county of Goochland in Virginia. source Mary Emmerson was born in 1735 and was 18 when she married. Her father, Thomas Emmerson had land just on the borders of Goochland, Fluvanna and Louisa counties along the Three Notched Road. Her father's will names Mary Norton in 1790 and leaves her 5 shillings. source Mary Norton is well established as the mother our Norton line and the wife of Christopher Norton. It appears that they began using Norton over Norden soon after their marriage. Mary Norton witnesses a deed in Albemarle near Nortonsville in 1762 source and in 1782 is recorded as the wife of Christopher Norton on a rather special land grant from Virginia giving ownership to the Nortons for the land they had been farming in Fluvanna since at least 1777. source Mary also gives permission for her daughter Milly Norton to marry in 1792. source

Chapter 4
The Norton Family

Christopher Norton b.1725 England (calc) (28 when he marries 1792) (doc)
Mary Emmerson b.1735 Goochland, VA (doc) (18 when she marries 1752) (doc)

Thomas Norton b.1753, Goochland, VA (calc) (21 when he marries in 1776) (doc)
William Norton b.13 Jun 1754 Goochland, VA (doc) (40 when he marries 1794) (doc)
Martha Norton b.28 Oct 1756 Goochland, VA (doc) (calc)
Sarah Norton b.1757, Virginia (calc) (18 when she marries 1775) (doc)
John Norton b.1759, Virginia (calc) (25 when he marries 1784) (doc)
James Norton b.1761, Virginia (doc) (27 when he marries 1788) (doc)
David Norton b.May 1763 Fluvanna, VA (doc) (24 when he marries 1787) (calc)
Elizabeth Norton b.1 May 1769 Virginia (doc) (18 when she marries 1787) (doc)
Milly Norton b.7 Apr 1774 Fluvanna, VA (doc) (18 when she marries 1792) (doc)


Chapter 5
Nortonsville, Boonesville and the Shenandoah

Nortonsville is a hamlet located on the border of present day Albemarle and Green counties Virginia. There are several records and events that tie our Norton family to this little hamlet and it's possible this is the area that our Norton family came to settle after Christopher and Mary married in 1753.

The buildings of Nortonsville are very old. An expert who examined them said some of the buildings were made of recycled earlier materials including ship timbers. The main house consists of three sections built at different times. In fact one (the oldest) was supposed to have been moved there from another spot nearby. The land contains the old general store, a cottage, a farmhouse, “a smithy, grist mill, dairy, barn, cemetery and two schools - one for white children and the other for black children,” Some of the wood beams in the farmhouse appear to be recycled from a circa-1600s building and, before that, a ship.
link to a picture of Nortonsville.


In 1761 Mary Norton witnessed a deed for a property just 7 miles from Nortonsville. (see map below) source Why is Mary Norton witnessing this deed? As it turns out, three of Mary's brothers own about 1,000 acres bordering or very close to this deed. Further evidence that the Mary's brothers were active in this area is a record of her brother Henry Emmerson being baptized by Benjamin Burger, the same minister who married one of Mary's children. The other witnesses on the deed are David and Caty Thompson. The Thompsons are a significant family in Albemarle and Fluvanna owning many thousands of acres. George Thompson posted marriage bonds for James Norton in 1788. The owner of the property under Nortonsville was originally Roger Thompson who's actual plantation is thought to be at Boonesville. (note on this map it's called Boonesboro, but on recent maps it is Boonesville.) There is a significant connection between the Nortons and Thompsons, but we have not been able to identify the source. (It may be through the Emmerson family who owned land next to David Thomson in Lousia county.)

An important note is that Mary Norton witnessed the deed and not Christopher Norton. We consistantly find that Christopher Norton is missing from important documents suggesting that he is away from the family and perhpas at sea.

An additional link to Nortonsville is the 1775 marriage of Sarah Norton, Christopher and Mary's oldest daughter to William Farney of Orange county Virginia. John Farney is really Fearneyhough and the Fearneyhough land is located just 2 miles from Nortonsville over the border in present day Green county. (Orange county included Green county in 1774).

While we haven't been able to determine when Nortonsville got it's name it is included on the earliest maps we can find. Nortonsville is missing from "The Roads of Albmarle County" which records the building of the roads through Nortonsville in 1743. (source)

Chapter 1
The first Norton or Norden

Chapter 2
The sources

Chapter 3
Let's tell the story

Chapter 4
The Norton Family

Chapter 5
Nortonsville, Boonesville and the Shenandoah

Chapter 6
The Revolution of 1776

Map by Jed Hotchkiss, cartographer for Stonewall Jackson circa 1862
Click on highlighted areas to enlarge

The history of Boonesville is lost. We have only echos, but Daniel Boone often came through these parts. He was captured in Charlottesville, Albemarle county by the British in 1781 as he was attending the Continental Congress. After he was released he was joined by James Norton, a son of Christopher and Mary, on his return trip to Lexington, Kentucky. James Norton and Daniel Boone were side by side at the 'Battle of Blue Licks" fought in Kentucky 1782. It's from James that we get an eye witness account of Daniel's son Israels death during the battle.

The Nortons were land-hungry and cheap land was available just over the Blue Ridge in the Shenadoah Valley. Beginning 1778 the Norton sons began buying land in Rockingham, Virginia. The route from Nortonsville to Rockingham was through Brown's Cove. Thomas Norton purchased 300 acres on a branch of the North Mill Creek commonly known as "Wolfs Place" in south-east Rockingham, VA in 1778. Thomas brother John also purchased land in the area. When Sarah Norton married William Farney they also purchased land in Rockingham. We think that Nortonsville was sold off to purchase the land in Rockingham because from this point we find references to Norton land in Fluvanna and Rockingham and not in Albemarle. We know that the land in Fluvanna was not purchased.


Chapter 6
The Revolution of 1776
In March of 1775 Patrick Henry made his famous speech uttering "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!" In April 1775 Paul Revere made his midnight ride before the Minute Men battled the British at Lexington and Concord. In June of 1775, George Washington was named Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.

As fever for the Revolution grew, Sarah Norton, the oldest daughter married William Farney in November of 1775. William Farney (Farneyhough) came from a neighboring county of Orange and was a Minute Man with Sarah's older brothers. At about this same time Thomas Norton, the oldest son also married a girl named Elizabeth Hawke(?).

Thomas Norton and William Farney along with William Norton, the 2nd son probably joined with the 7th Virginia Regiment organized in Ablemarle county between February and May of 1776. Thomas Norton would have been 23 and William Norton 22. A third brother John was 17 at this time, but it appears he stayed at home to help manage the plantation.

The 7th Virginia first defended the Chesapeake Bay during 1775.
Lord Dunsmore had evacuated Williamsburg for Norfolk in the fall of 1775 because Norfolk was considered to be a more loyalist area. Great Bridge became the focus of British defensive strategy against local militia. Lord Dunsmore organized the Queen’s Own Loyal Virginians, which consisted of local Tories and a regiment of former slaves, called Lord Dunsmore’s Ethiopians. A hastily built British fort secured the land approaches and main bridge to Norfolk, and patriot positions were set up opposite. On December 9, 1775 the British attacked with 600 British regulars and the Queen’s Own across the "great bridge" but were immediately repulsed in a bloody counter-fire from the redoubt held by local Virginia militia under Colonel William Woodford. In all the British lost between 62-102 in the engagement, depending upon various historical military accounts.

The battle forced Lord Dunsmore to withdraw from Norfolk on January 1, 1776 and the British began a naval artillery barrage of the town. Norfolk was now occupied by Virginia patriot forces. The former colonial governor was compelled to leave North America for Britain all together by the summer of 1776. Many loyalists from Norfolk and the surrounding areas left Virginia with Dunsmore.

The retreat from New York
The next major action for the 7th Virginia Line was the defense of Northern New Jersey. On August 22 1776, the British mounted a massive invasion on Long Island. By August 27, the British overwhelmed the Continental Army. Washington withdrew to Manhattan and then up the Croton River. On November 16, after heavy losses by the British, Fort Washington was surrendered and the British took possession of New York City.

By this time, General Washington had crossed into New Jersey making his headquarters in Hackensack. He received word there of the battle for New York and watched the fight from the cliffs at Fort Lee. General Howe captured 2,818 rebel officers and men and killed 53. The British invaders lost 458 men out of a force of 8000 British and Hessian soldiers.

Now the British turned their sights upon Fort Lee and Northern New Jersey across the Hudson River. Fort Lee had been a hub of activity as nearly 3000 American troops evacuated supplies from New York. The British invaded with 8000 troops using a cleft in the Palisades and were within eight miles of Fort Lee. The American army abandoned the fort in such a hurry that cook fires were still burning. Tents, cannons and other supplies where left behind in the retreat.

Washington's army was now in danger of being trapped between the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers. At dawn, they began the march south.

Thomas Paine, an aide-de-camp to General Greene, began writing "The American Crisis" essays at campfires:

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Washington's troops burned the bridges behind them at the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers. The troops tarried at Newark while supply depots across New Jersey were readied. While the Continental army fled further south to New Brunswick, British General Charles Cornwallis gave close pursuit. Within minutes of the Americans departure from Princeton, the British force entered the city. The Continental army fled to Trenton and then across the Delaware into Pennsylvania. New Jersey had fallen to the British Army.

Howe settled in for the winter and waited for the rebels to accept a pardon he had recently offered.

On Christmas Day, 1776, Washington crossed the Delaware River and attacked a garrison of 1600 Hessian troops under the command of Colonel Johann G. Rall.

In a bold daylight attack 2400 American troops with eighteen cannons subdued the Heesians within an hour. One hundred Hessians lay dead, 900 captured and the rest fled into the New Jersey woodlands. The Americans then returned to Pennsylvania.

On December 30, 1776, with most of the army enlistments ended, Washington led 1600 volunteers, Continentals and New Jersey and Pennsylvania militia back into Trenton.

The defense of Philadelphia
The campaign to seize Philadelphia began in late July. Some 15,000 troops under Howe's command sailed from New York on 23 July and landed at Head of Elk (now Elkton), Maryland, a month later (25 August). Washington, with about 11,000 men, took up a defensive position blocking the way to Philadelphia at Chad's Ford on the eastern side of Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania. Howe attacked on 11 September, sending Cornwallis across the creek in a wide-sweeping flanking movement around the American right, while his Hessian troops demonstrated opposite Chad's Ford. Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene's troops staved off Cornwallis' threatened envelopment of Washington's whole force, and the Americans fell back to Chester in a hard-pressed but orderly retreat. Patriot losses in this engagement totaled about 1,000 killed, wounded, and prisoners. British casualties were less than 600.

After their victory at Brandywine the British forces under Howe maneuvered in the vicinity of Philadelphia for two weeks, virtually annihilating a rear guard force under Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne at Paoli on 21 September 1777, before moving unopposed into the city on 26 September. Howe established his main encampment in nearby Germantown, stationing some 9,000 men there. Washington promptly attempted a coordinated attack against this garrison on the night of 3 - 4 October. Columns were to move into Germantown from four different directions and begin the assault at dawn Two of the columns, both made up of militia, never appeared to take part in the attack, but in the early phases of the fighting the columns under Greene and Divan achieved considerable success. However, a dense early morning fog which resulted in some American troops firing on each other while it permitted the better disciplined British to re-form for a counterattack and a shortage of, ammunition contributed to the still not fully explained retreat of the Americans, beginning about 0900. Howe pursued the Colonials a few miles as they fell back in disorder, but he did not exploit his victory. American losses were 673 killed and wounded and about 400 taken prisoner. British losses were approximately 533 killed and wounded.

Valley Forge

" . . . you might have tracked the army from White Marsh to Valley Forge by the blood of their feet."
- George Washington

"An army of skeletons appeared before our eyes naked, starved, sick and discouraged,"
- New York's Gouverneur Morris of the Continental Congress.

"The unfortunate soldiers were in want of everything; they had neither coats nor hats, nor shirts, nor shoes. Their feet and their legs froze until they were black, and it was often necessary to amputate them."
- The Marquis de Lafayette

The 6th Virginia regiment entered Valley Forge in the winter of 1777 with 427 assigned and only 46 fit for duty. When they left the following Spring they had 376 with 226 fit for duty.

Thomas Norton is a Corporal in the Virginia 7th regiment.

There is a strong family tradition that says that James Norton served as an orderly in George Washington's guard. James never mentioned this service in any of his War Pension applications, but I believe the family tradition is correct. James married Jean Bybee whose brother served as an "Aide de Camp" for Washington. The Bybee's had seven sons who served with Washington in important postitions.

The Norton family in 1778-1779 consisted of Christopher and Mary about 53 and 43 years old, Thomas 25, William 24, John 21, Sarah 20 (married to William Farney) James 17, David 15, Elizabeth 11 and Milly 4.

It appears that the Norton brother's enlistment was up in the early in the Spring of 1778. In May of 1778 Thomas Norton purchased 300 acres on a branch of the North Mill Creek commonly known as "Wolf's Place" in southeast Rockingham, Virginia. Close by is William Farney who was married to Thomas' sister Sarah. This land is only 40 miles from the family farm in Fluvanna County but just over the Blue Ridge Mountains and served as a "safe" place when the British moved through Albemarle and Fluvanna in 1780. It is apparent that the Norton family located there for safety from the British from the war record of James Norton.

James Norton the 4th son served two tours of duty in the Virginia Militia during 1779. James pension record states he served his 1st Tour from April to September 1779. He joined under Col. George Thompson, Capt William Smith, Leuftenant Ben Smith in Fluvanna County, Virginia. (James 1st Pension app said he started from Rockingham, but his 2nd says he was wrong and started from Fluvanna) He marched from Fluvanna to Albermarle barracks. Then to Richmond and Petersburg. From there to Portsmouth and Norfolk. From Norfolk he returned to Albermarle County til his tour of 6 months was fulfilled. James 2nd Tour was for 3 months starting in Sept 1779 in Albermarle County under Col. Hamilton and Capt Lamb. He marched to barracks in Winchester and conveyed prisoners there. He then returned to Albemarle county till his 3 month tour was up in December 1779.

James substituted for John Shannon beginning March 12 1780 from Albemarle, Virginia which constituted his 3rd tour. John Shannon furnished him with suitable clothes and everything except a gun which he drew from the Gochland Court House. This was a rifle company. Several of his company were killed during action on Chesapeake Bay and the south branch of the Potomac in Hampshire County. This tour saw considerable sickness in his camp. From the mouth of the James River he marched to Camel Court House through Pittsylvania County VA and here received his discharge about September 1780.

Thomas and William Norton captured
In July of 1780 the Virginia Militia was sent to defend Charlestown with the Continental army and was completely defeated. Of 5,000 men only 250 men escaped capture.

Thomas Norton was a corporal in the Virginia line. Our family history that Thomas Norton was captured and died on a British prison hulk in Charleston Harbor. This comes from the Sellers History which is the least accurate. Records indicate that Thomas was captured, but was part of a prisoner exchange maybe as a result of injuries. Evidently he died soon after as a result of his treatment in Prison.

We have very little evidence for William Norton. However, we find that he picked up his pay after the war about the same time as Thomas' wife gets his pay indicating he may have been with the captured group.

Sarah Norton's husband William Farney is probably also either captured or killed at Charelston because court records show Sarah's family are left fatherless from that time.

The British invade Fluvanna 1781
For Christopher Norton the War for Independance was a personal battle. As a former British naval officer with decades of service, he was trained for command and had already lived a life of action at sea. He knew what to expect from the British.

British forces led by turncoat Benedict Arnold and Lord Cornwallis entered the Virginia interior in January of 1781 and Virginia was powerless to defend itself. Many of their ablest fighters had been sent elsewhere in the service of George Washington. Only a disorganized and inexperienced force remained to fight for the home cause. Thus, the British arrived unchecked at Richmond, and considerable damage was done to the area.

In June 1781 the "British Legion" commanded by Banastre Tarelton called "The Butcher" for his actions at Charleston was at the very door of the Norton plantation in Fluvanna. In a forced march, Tarelton came right through the Norton plantation in Fluvanna to suprise Charlottesville, almost capturing Thomas Jefferson at Montecello. Jefferson was warned of the attack just in time just in time, and was able to disperse family and visitors to various shelters. He himself fled to safety just as the approaching British arrived within sight.

During this time there are indications that the Norton family had moved to Thomas Norton's land in Rockingham county in the Shenendoah Valley safely away from the British. With two of his sons captured, the remaining three Norton sons join the the Virginia Militia for the final battle at Yorktown.

From James Norton's pension record we learn some of the details.

In July or August [James] was marched down within a few miles from Richmond and connected with Maj. Bunting and General Layfette. where the Americans had just left.

The only event in particular he now remembers of was during the siege of York and Glocester. One morning about four October, the British broke out and overtook a little battery where the French troops were posted. And the battery repulsed at length with some loss on both sides but the American side suffered most.

This was after as he now remembers Vandenberg, the fight of Pigeon Hill which also took place during the siege. He states that he was not stationed on the York side where the most of the Virginia troops were until the day preceeding the surrender.

He states that he was on the north of York River on the night the British attempted to escape but was punished by the fury of the water. (a storm came up to foil the English escape) He was at Gloucester upon York where the British gave up having crossed over to the other side. This last service he was commanded mostly by French commanders whose names he has mostly forgotten. Gen. Chois, a frenchman, took the command of the Virginia army. This just before the surrender. (On the 3d of October the Sieur de Choisy marched to block up Gloucester, and take a position at three miles distance from that place.) Gen. Chois commanded one division during the siege that he was in.

He was not out on furlough for one day after the British gave up. He went with the Militia and some prisoners to Winchester, he remained till the last of December 1781 and was discharged & received his discharge from Patrick Shannon on who was in the barracks.

Our Colonel was authorized to call out men whenever necessary. Being what were called "Minute Men" as we had to be always in readiness so that we could go at less than one hours notice. James Norton remains with the army guarding prisoners until December of 1781.

We know from brother-in-law, John Black's war pension records that John Norton was also at Yorktown, but we have no details.

Sadly the end of 1781 brought the business of taking care of the families and estates of Thomas Norton and William Farney who died as a result of injuries on a British prison hulk in Charleston Harbor. Thomas' brother John Norton was appointed executor of William Farneys estate posting a bond for 30,000 pounds. He was also appointed guardian of their only son, John Farney.

The children of Thomas Norton are also bound out to wards of the court.



1 James City County, Mariner, Charles Friend v. Christopher Norden Judgment 1747

Israel Friend had many family members who followed him to the Potomac area, including two siblings. Charles Friend (1699-1751) lived in the area that is now Williamsport, Washington Co., Md.(24) Mary Friend had
been married in1727 in Cecil Co., Maryland to Robert Turner, who is found in Frederick Co., Md. deed records as late as 1769.(25)

Israel's sons had followed their father's example, and had movedto the leading edges of the frontier to find their fortunes. Eldest son Jonas Friend was born circa 1725. He had lived at Friend's Fort, now Elkins, Randolph Co., West Virginia, where he died 15 Nov. 1807.(30) He had married by 1754 to Sarah Skidmore in RockinghamCo., Va., and they had five children. Second son Jacob Friend was born circa 1727. He lived inRockingham, later Pendleton, Co., Va. He died in 1818.(31) He hadmarried in 1756 to Elizabeth Skidmore, sister of Sarah, and they had atleast nine children. It has been said that Jonas and Jacob met their brides inRockingham Co., Va. However Joseph Skidmore (their father) is found inFrederick County, Maryland in 1750.(32) He is also found on the 1766list of debts owing to merchant James Dixon of Frederick, Md. (33) The youngest son Charles Friend was born circa 1730, and died in1816 in Monroe County, (West) Virginia.(34), leaving at least four children.

More records on Friend
Friend, Wm. -- merchant -- 1678, SR 05762c, p. 24
Friend, zzz -- master of ship: Cartwright -- 1744, SR 00900, p. 1 These refer to Capt Friend of the ship Cartwright
Friend, zzz -- master of ship: Cartwright -- 1744, SR 14692, p. 1

The Friend family were Quakers and the reference to Capt Friend of the ship Cartwright is for carrying letters to Virginia of London Friends meetings.


3 Wm. Douglas Register of marriages in Goochland- Fluvanna, VA.
"Christopher Norden & Mary Emmerson a son named William born Jun 13.1754
[Baptized] 1756 June 26. p. 49" [p. 261 in the Douglas Registry book]

THE DOUGLAS REGISTER, by W. Jones (1928). "Being a detailed record of births, marriages and deaths with other interesting notes as kept by the Rev. Douglas, from
1750 1797." A Goochland Co. Will Index is also included. According to the book, The reverend William Douglas came to St. James northam parish in goochland county, VA, Dover church, on the 12th of October 1750. A memorandum in the register shows that he had charge of St. James northam parish for 27 years: Maniken town (king William parish) for 19 years and ministered to a charge in Buckingham County for 4 years.

"This book is known as the Douglas register for the reason that it not only contains a record of births, christenings, marriages and deaths and funerals in St. James Northam parish and the county of Goochland but in many instances in adjacent counties and other more remote. the record also is not only for the period he was in charge of St. James Northam parish but continues after he left that parish on the 5th of Sept 1777 and went to live in the Louisa County. In fact he kept up the entries in the register until 1797 and thus it covers a period of 92 years.

4 Albemarle Deed Book 3, p. 211
20 Dec 1761 HENRY TILLEY JR. & wife JEAN (JANE) to PHILLIP THURMAN (This is the fellow who is said to have changed spelling to THURMOND) for L30, 294 acres adj. Rich Meadow; CAPT. JOS. MARTIN, HENRY BUNCH. Wit: DAVID THOMSON, CATY THOMSON, MARY NORTON.

5 Christopher Norton received a Land Office Treasury Warrant from Patrick Henry, the Gov. of the Commonwealth on September 10, 1782. He and his wife "Mary" sold that land to a man named John Furbush in September 1788. This grant was unusual for not being assiciated with land bountys granted Revolutionary War vetrans. It seems to be a special grant giving the Nortons ownership of land that they had been farming since at least 1777 when Christopher Norton land is mentioned on deeds bordering it. Several other parcels bordering this land in Fluvanna changed hands at the end of the Revolution suggesting that a Loyalist previously owned the land. Most were purchased in pounds sterling. "Real" money was scarce after the Revolution and paying in pounds sterling was unusual.

6 Christopher Nordens birth may be as early at 1710 and as late as 1725. He married Mary Emmerson in 1754 when she was 19. If he was born in 1725 he would be 29. This age difference is not unusual for a man with a career in the Royal Navy. However if he was born in 1715 and was 39, it begs our imagination to allow it. Also his last child was born in 1774. He was 49 if he was born in 1725 and 59 if he was born in 1715.

Another way of measuring his age is from his naval references. The "Pirate Story" says he was 12 when he went to sea and spent 40 years at sea. 12 years old is the common age for a commission as a midshipman in the Royal Navy. If we count back 40 years from 1777 when we have references for Norton land in Fluvanna and add 12 more we get 1725. It could be that Christopher served the Revolution as a mariner and that could add a few more years to his birth date.

7 Cast of characters associated with the deed Mary Norton witnessed.

Albemarle Deed Book 3, p. 211
20 Dec 1761 HENRY TILLEY JR. & wife JEAN (JANE) to PHILLIP THURMAN (This is the fellow who is said to have changed spelling to THURMOND) for L30, 294 acres adj. Rich Meadow; CAPT. JOS. MARTIN, HENRY BUNCH. Wit: DAVID THOMSON, CATY THOMSON, MARY NORTON.

Richard Meadows listed as "rich meadow". -a location
Capt Joseph Martin - location
Henry Bunch -location
vid Caty Thomson - witness
Mary Norton - witness
Phillip Thurmond - purchaser
Henry Tilly - owner

1) First of all I found the location of the deed.

It's just below Free Union, VA. This deed is right on the road south of Free Union at the joining of Moremans and Mechams creeks. You can see it on the map. It's 7.5 miles from Nortonsville south on the main road.

2) (witness) There is a John Thomson one property east (1759). I have 7 other Thomson properties without a locator to plot them. Any of these could be next to the witness property. William Thomson has land on Moremans creek and close to Woods gap.

3) (location) Rich Meadow west of deed.

4) (location) Joseph Martins land adjoins (barely) north. 1745

5) (location) Henry Bunch adjoins southish. William Bunch has land 1/2 mile from Nortonsville 1739.

6) (seller) Henry Tilley has several properties on the survey I am using but none real close to this property. The records are far from complete.

7) I didn't find any Emmersons in Albemarle, but I misspelled it "Jemmerson" and hit the jackpot.

Adjoing the deed or very near by are 1000 acres owned by the 3 oldest brothers of Mary Emmerson Norton.

Samuel Jemmerson and John Jemmerson (several spellings) have 1000 acres going up the north side of Moreman's creek. This is within 1/4 mile of the witnessed property. The deed dates are 1741-1751. I think Jemmerson is a problem transcribing "J. Emmerson" or combining "Je" for a Capital E. At least they were consistant. I find no Jemmersons on other counties.

There is also a Henry Emmerson in the area but more towards Fluvanna border and of course Thomas Emmerson (deed 1773) within 1/4 mile of Christopher Norton. Thomas Emmerson also has land further down the 3 notched road 1763.
Emmerson is also used as "Thomas Eme'son's". Thomas Emmersons land is mentioned

9) Adjoining Thomas Emmersons property in Christopher/Fluvanna is John Thurmond, Glasby, Joseph Walker, Samuel Davis,Francis Baker, Jno Stranges, John Bybe.

10) Thomas Emmersons other Fluvanna Property dates from 1747. 1/4 mile away is David Walker 1739, John Walker Jun. 1739 and Joseph Walker 1750. Thomas Walker also witnessed a deed 1728.

11) Goochland. It turns out that Thomas Emmersons land in Goochland (240 acres) adjoins his land in Fluvanna. The Goochland deed dates from 1763. Next door is John Walkers land (400 acres) dating from 1735. Joseph Walker
is next to John 1735.

8 this land transaction is close to Boonesville and is the location of Gentry church. In 1785, James Gentry, from Louisa County, purchased 400 acres of land in northern Albemarle County near the county line with Orange County. The land was purchased from Thomson and Sarah Walton for 40 pounds of current Virginia money. In 1810, James Gentry purchased 400 acres of land from John Huckstep and his wife, Aggy, just across the Albemarle County line into Orange County. The 400 acres was located on the Lyne (Lynch) River and is now located in Greene County (see map, Figure 2a).

The first nine Acts of 1661 provided for the support of the State Church; in each parish a church edifice was to be built out of the public treasury, together with a parsonage house and the purchase of a globe for the minister's use. He was to receive a salary of ,80 sterling, a provision subsequently changed to 16,000 pounds of tobacco, to be levied on the parish and collected like other taxes. Each minister must be ordained by a Bishop in England, all other preachers were to be banished; every person who wilfully avoided attendance on the parish Church for one Sunday was to be fined fifty pounds of tobacco; every Non-conformist was to be fined ,20 for a month's absence, and if he failed to attend for a year he must be apprehended and give security for his good behavior, or remain in prison till he was willing to attend Church. Much pretense has been made, that because the early settlers of the colony were cavaliers, they were less austere, more polished and of gentler blood than the Puritans of Massachusetts. But the brutal intolerance of the English Court was faithfully copied by them, and no darker or more bloody pages stain English or Massachusetts history than those that defile the early records of Virginia. White tells us of a band of men who were driven from Virginia 'for their religious opinions' in 1634. [Annals of Annapolis, p. 23] Bulk records the revolting barbarities inflicted on Stevenson Reek for the same cause in 1640. He 'stood in the pillory two hours with a label on his back, paid a fine of ,50, and was imprisoned at the pleasure of the Governor,' for simply saying, in a jocular manner, that his majesty was at confession with my lord of Canterbury.' [ Ecc. Hist. of Va., ii, pp. 51-67] Holmes details, at length, that in 1648 four missionaries were sent from Massachusetts to Virginia, Messrs. James, Knollys, Thompson and Harrison. They held a few meetings there in private, but their little congregations were violently broken up and the missionaries banished, while many of their hearers were imprisoned.' [Annals, 289] James Ryland, a member of the House of Burgesses from the Isle of Wight County, prepared a Catechism which was pronounced 'blasphemous' for which he was expelled in 1652; and for some other trivial religious offense a member from Norfolk was expelled in 1663. Virginia had adhered to the king against Cromwell and the Commonwealth, and Dr. Hawks, the eloquent Episcopal historian of Virginia, tells of four of Cromwell's soldiers who were 'rudely hung, as a warning to the remainder' in 1680, for their religions opinions, under the pretense that 'their assemblages' were 'perverted from religious to treasonable purposes', 'these religious assemblages themselves being regarded as a subversion of the government.' [Hist. of Episcopacy in Va., pp. 71-72]

Hening states that the 111th Act of the Grand Assembly of 1661-62 declared that, 'Whereas, Many schismatical persons, out of their averseness to the orthodox established religion, or out of the new-fangled conceits of their own heretical inventions, refuse to have their children baptized; Be it therefore enacted, by the authority aforesaid, that all persons that in contempt of the divine sacrament of baptism, shall refuse when they may carry their child to a lawful minister in that county, to have them baptized, shall be amersed two thousand pounds of tobacco; half to the informer, half to the public.' [Statutes at large, ii, pp. 165-166]

This was a blow dealt at the Quakers, as there seem to have been no Baptists in the colony at that time. Several Acts of the Assembly in 1659, 1662 and 1693 made it a crime for parents to refuse the baptism of their children. Jefferson writes: 'If no execution took place here, as in New England, it was not owing to the moderation of the Church or the spirit of the Legislature, as may be inferred from the law itself, but to historical circumstances which have not been handed down to us.'

When William and Mary came to the throne, in 1689, their accession was signalized by that enactment of Parliament called the ACT OF TOLERATION. Even this, as Dr. Woolsey remarks, 'removed only the harshest restrictions upon Protestant religious worship, and was arbitrary, unequal and unsystematic in its provisions.' Still, it was the entering wedge to religious freedom, and while the Baptists of England gladly availed themselves of it and organized under it in London as a great Association for new work, a hundred and seventeen Churches being represented, the authorities of Virginia thought it inoperative in their colony. It was not until a score of years after the passage of this Act that the colonial Legislature gave to the colonists the meager liberties which it granted to the British subject. When, however, news of this Act reached Virginia, the few individual Baptists then scattered abroad there resolved on their full liberty as British subjects under its provisions. They entreated the London Meeting to send them ministers, an entreaty which was followed by a correspondence running through many years. In 1714 Robert Nordin and Thomas White were sent as ordained ministers to the colony, but White died upon the voyage. Up to this time there seems to have been no organized body of Baptists in Virginia, although there are traces of individuals in North Carolina as early as 1696, who had fled from Virginia to escape her intolerance. Semple finds the first Baptist Church of Virginia organized in association with the labors of Nordin at Burleigh, Isle of Wight County, in 1714, on the south side of the river and opposite Jamestown. Howell thinks that before the coming of Nordin there had been a gathering of citizens there, joined by others from Surry County for consultation, and that they had petitioned the London Baptists to send them help. Be this as it may, Nordin was soon followed by two other ministers, Messrs. Jones and Mintz, and under the labors of these men of God the first Church was formed in that year, and soon after one at Brandon, in the County of Surry. The first is now known as Mill Swamp; it is thought that the Otterdams Church is the second. These were General Baptists, but in a few years they embraced Calvinistic sentiments, and Nordin labored in that region till he died, in 1725. While this movement was in progress in the southern part of Virginia, the influence of the Welsh Baptists, in Pennsylvania and Delaware, began to be felt in Berkeley, London and Rockingham Counties, which were visited by their ministers. Semple thinks that these laborers first readied the colony through Edward Hays and Thomas Yates, members of the Saters Baptist Church, in Maryland, and that Revs. Loveall, Heaton and Gerard soon followed them. Churches were then gathered at Opecon, Mill Creek, Ketocton and other points in rapid succession, which became members of the Philadelphia Association, from which they received the counsel and aid of David Thomas, John Gano and James Miller, which accounts in part for the rapid spread of Baptist principles in North Virginia. They were soon strengthened, also, by the labors of two men of great power, formerly of other denominations, who became Baptists. Shubael Steams, a native of Boston, Mass., was converted under the preaching of George Whitefield, and united himself with the revival party of the Congregationalists, called New Lights, in 1745. He continued with them for six years, when lie became convinced, from an examination of the Scriptures, that infant baptism was a human institution and that it was his duty to confess Christ on his faith.

10 Albemarle County Will Book No. 3 1785-1798, pg. 101 reads, "I will and bequeath to my daughter Mary Morton five shillings...."

However, the Albemarle Wills microfiche (#30212) of the handwritten will clearly reads "Mary Norton": especially when you compare the handwritten "M" in "Mary" to the "N" in "Norton."

11 "Although from this time orders proliferated for roads within present Louisa County, the
next order falling within our area of interest occurs in the fall on 10 October 1743 O.S. This
order called for a road from the road in Orange that extends to the dividing line between this
County and Orange on Linches river to the upper north fork of Buck Mountain creek along the
track that leads to Robert Thomson.? Greene County was separated in 1838 from Orange
County, created in 1734, so that the area in question lies on Lynch?s River along that boundary.
Although it is not known where Robert Thomson lived, the upper north fork of Buck mountain
creek would appear to be those branches of the stream in the Boonesville area, and the road
Route 810 from the hollow north of Browns Cove down through the present Boonesville and
Nortonsville to Lynchs River and ?the road in Orange County that extends to the dividing line."
ALBEMARLE COUNTY ROADS 1725-1816 By Nathaniel Mason Pawlett


The Deeds of Amherst County, Virginia 1761-1807 and Albemarle County, Virginia 1748-1763 by The Rev. Bailey Fulton David, Page 208 13 Aug 1762 DAVID THOMPSON & wife CATY to DAVID MILLS for [pound symbol] 55: 524 acres-250 acres of it pat. 16 Aug 1756; 274 acres pat 10 Aug 1759, Lynch River branches. Wit: NICHL. MERIWETHER, JNO. LEIS JR. (LEWIS) [V Note: Caty is Elizabeth “Caty Ann” Lewis.]


Baptist church in Albemarle near Nortonsville. 1773 Chestnut Grove Baptist church. (formerly Buck Mt. church) George Gentry a member in 1799.