Rawleigh Alexander Family

Rawleigh Alexander

Rawleigh Alexander, parents unknown, was born about 1736 at Northumberland County, Virginia; died 1804 at Northumberland County, Virginia. He was married (1) before 1766, to Mary Hughlett, daughter of Thomas Hughlett and of Judith (Unknown); and was married (2) September 11, 1789, at Northumberland County to Elizabeth "Betty" (Way? Hurst?). Rawleigh Alexander lived in St. Stephens Parish, Northumberland County, which is located south of the Potomac River and along the Chesapeake Bay.

The earliest record we find of Rawleigh Alexander is in Northumberland County Order Book 1749-1753, page 101. Dated November 13, 1750, it says: "Rawleigh Alexander is by the court bound to Thomas Hughlett till he arrives to the age of twenty one years and the said Hughlett is to Learn him the trade of a shoemaker and to read and write and pay his Freedom dues according to Law. Whereupon Edwin Fielding and John Mash became his Securities in the Penalty of L100 Current Money for the due Performance of the same". It is a possibility that Rawleigh may have been orphaned or illegitimate, since no parents were named in his apprenticeship. Generally, if a child was orphaned it would be noted in the apprenticeship records. Apprenticeships usually began at about the age of 14, so we believe Rawleigh was probably born about 1736. An apprentice was usually treated as a member of the family by the master. Skilled craftsmen, such as shoemakers, earned very good wages for their products. Usually when the father did not have enough land to divide among all of his boys, the older sons would get the land and the younger ones would be apprenticed out to learn a trade. This information provided by personal letter dated November 3, 1991 from W. Preston Haynie, author of "Northumberland County Virginia Apprenticeships 1650-1750".

The marriage date of Rawleigh Alexander and his first wife, Mary Hughlett, is unknown. It was sometime before Thomas Hughlett's death in 1766 when the following court order was recorded in Record Book 7, page 2: "In obedience to an order of court held for Northumberland County dated the 8th day of September 1766, we the appointed persons did meet at Thomas Hughlett's and possessed Rawleigh Alexander with his wife's part of her deceased father's estate according to the order. Signed: Eben Nelms, Richard Walker and James Daugherty".

Rawleigh's parentage is guesswork at this time. His father may have been Ewell Alexander, who was born ca 1720 and died before April 9, 1770. If our birth year for Rawleigh is correct, Ewell would have only been 16 at the time of Rawleigh's birth, making it very possible that Rawleigh was illegitimate. Ewell's parents were probably John and Ann Alexander. When Ann Alexander, John's widow, died in 1757, she made specific reference in her will to a grandson's "heir, lawfully begotten of his body". The word lawfully may be a clue to Rawleigh's status, or perhaps non-status in the family. During the years 1774 and 1775, Rawleigh bought the plantation which originally belonged to Ann and John Alexander by purchasing parcels of the land from the remaining heirs named in Ann's will. It is a guess on the author's part, but it would seem he felt the land was rightfully his, perhaps because he descended from Ann and John and was Ewell's oldest child.

"Roughlie" Alexander was named guardian of minor children, Ellis and Elizabeth Alexander, in the Northumberland County will of James Alexander dated May 7, 1778. James referred to Roughlie as his "trusty friend" and named him the executor of his estate. Rawleigh's name appears in many court records as administrator for several estates and for security of bonds.

We have found no record of Rawleigh serving as a soldier in the American Revolution. However, records indicate he provided 12 pounds of bacon and drove "cattle to the army" to be used as provisions by the Continental Army in 1781. Tax records for 1782 of St. Stephens Parish show him with 10 whites and four blacks. In 1784, he is shown with nine whites and one black. It was probably during this period that his first wife, Mary Hughlett, died. The 1787 tax list of Northumberland County shows Rawleigh with six slaves, two horses and 12 head of cattle.

Rawleigh's second wife, Elizabeth Smoot, was the widow of Charles Smoot, a grandson of John and Ann Alexander. Charles died in 1787, leaving Elizabeth with five children: Thomas, William, Charles, Winifred and Elizabeth. The 1789 Northumberland County tax records show "Betty Smoot" with one horse and two cows. Rawleigh's will, written July 23, 1803, probated October 8, 1804, and recorded in Northumberland County Fiduciary Book 17, page 229, made the following provisions: "My land to my wife, and Lucy Alexander, and Sarah Alexander, during their single lives, and afterwards to be sold and the money to be equally divided between Ewel, Thomas, Rawleigh, John, Polly, Lucy and Sally Alexander. To my daughter Betty Alexander - negro girl Peggy. To my son Vincent Alexander - negro boy Peter. To my son Jesse D. Alexander - negro boy Joe. Negro woman Siller, to be free and to live with any of my children she chooses. The rest of my estate to my seven children Ewel, Thomas, Rawleigh, John, Polly, Lucy and Sally. If any of my children should try to pick any hole or take advantage as to the legality of this will shall be cut off with ten shillings, and their part to be divided among the rest of my children". Northumberland County Fiduciary Book 17, page 449, dated 14 Jul 1806, records the estate division. It leaves to Rawleigh's widow, Elizabeth, and the children from his first marriage, one Negro slave and 66.10 pounds, each. Included in the inventory of Rawleigh's property were 12 slaves - Will, Jack, Siller, Betty of child, Nancy of child in dispute, Hannah, Spencer, Sam, Peter, Peggy, Joe and David. He also owned five beds, assorted furniture, a coffee pot and coffee mill, a parcel of old books, four spinning wheels, 15 hogs, two yoke of oxen, cattle, and much more, although nothing that appears to be the tools of a shoemaker.

According to W. Preston Haynie's "A Northumberland County Bookshelf," John Alexander's inventory in 1749 included a parcel of books, Ann Alexander's inventory in 1757 included a parcel of books, and Ewell Alexander's inventory in 1770 included a parcel of books. Might they have been the same parcel of books that Rawleigh's inventory listed? Maybe not, but it's food for thought. It does indicate that the family was literate. The inventory of Rawleigh's youngest son, Vincent, also contained a set of books.

It should also be noted that many people have misread Rawleigh's name as Rody in the death record of his son, Vincent, recorded in Lewis County, (W)Virginia. It appears to have been spelled Rolly but the handwriting is misleading.

Children of Rawleigh and Mary (Hughlett) Alexander were as follows:

1. Ewel Alexander was named administrator of Rawleigh's estate, along with his brother Thomas. A probate record for Ewel Alexander is dated May 10, 1815. Two marriage records exist for the name Ewel Alexander after Rawleigh's death: to Sally Dollins February 13, 1808, and to Alice Dodson May 28, 1817. It is unknown if either of these Ewel Alexanders is the son of Rawleigh.

2. John Alexander was named in the wills of his younger brother, Rawleigh, and sister Sally.

3. Lucy Alexander married John Bailey June 27, 1809, in Northumberland County. She was named an heir in the wills of her sister Sally, and younger brother, Rawleigh.

4. Thomas Alexander was named administrator to Rawleigh's estate, along with his brother, Ewel. Marriage records in Northumberland County show a Thomas Alexander married February 2, 1802, to Mary E. Christopher. He was widowed soon after, then married September 4, 1802, to Winifred Hornsby. It is unknown if this Thomas Alexander is the son of Rawleigh.

5. Rawleigh Alexander died in 1805, Northumberland County. The will of this Rawleigh, dated August 20, 1805 and probated January 13, 1806, left his estate to his sisters, Lucy and Sally, and his brother, John.

6. Mary Alexander was born January 25, 1770. She died before 1773, Northumberland County.

7. Mary "Polly" Alexander, born in 1773, Northumberland County, married Isaac Edwards in 1799.

8. Sarah "Sally" Alexander was born February 26, 1778 and died in 1805, Northumberland County. She remained single. Her will, probated January 13, 1806, leaves her estate to her brother, John Alexander, and her sister, Lucy Alexander.

Children of Rawleigh and Elizabeth [Way?/Hurst?] Smoot Alexander were as follows:

1. Elizabeth Alexander, born 1792 Northumberland County. Her father's will called her Betty. A Betsy Alexander married John D. Henry May 4, 1817, Lewis County, (W)Virginia. We find no further information on them.

2. Jesse Alexander, born 1795 Northumberland County. He probably died 1816-1820 Lewis Co., (W)Va., or joined Betsy and John Henry wherever they went, as we find no further record of him.

3. Vincent Alexander, born 1798.

Nothing further is known about Rawleigh's first 10 children.

This information was researched by Connie Street, Hazel Johns Sade, Donald Boyd, and Kent Linscott with the help of many other family members.

(The author believes Winifred Smoot, the daughter of Charles Smoot and his wife Elizabeth [Way? Hurst?] Smoot (later Alexander), is the "Winny Smute" who married John Hurst in Harrison County, (W)Virginia in 1810. John and Winny lived in Freemans Creek District, Lewis County, (W)Virginia, as did Vincent and Mary Alexander. John Hurst and Vincent Alexander are seen together throughout the Lewis County court records. If this assumption is correct they would have been brothers-in-law.)

Additional sources: "Northumberland County, Virginia Wills 1792-1816 and Administrations 1790-1816" by James F. Lewis and J. Motley Booker; Bulletin of Northumberland Co. (VA) Historical Society, Vol XII, 1975.

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