Descendants of Robert and Martha Rowland of Botetourt Co. VA
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Robert and Martha Rowland
   of Augusta/Botetourt County, Virginia

"Will the real Lt. Colonel Thomas Rowland --and his brothers-- please stand up?"
There is often conflicting and erroneous information circulated about Robert and Martha Rowland, known parents of four sons: George, William, Thomas and James Rowland of Augusta/Botetourt Counties, Virginia. According to a Rowland family Bible owned by their granddaughter Mildred Rowland Gilmore, and later by their great-granddaughter Eliza Gilmore Humes, Robert Rowland was 66 years of age when he died in Botetourt County on January 19, 1782. His wife and four sons were named in his will, written on 16 January 1777.
Notes made by one early Rowland-Gilmore family historian--Julia Humes Bilyeu-- report that Robert
was born in Dublin in 1716, immigrated to Virginia in 1732  with Jacob Hites  and married in 1740.  See illustration (right) of a copy from a series of Julia's notes,  in which Robert's  son George is omitted --an error that was corrected in later notes.  Notice the date of Robert's death, written  as August of 1782, another error.  He died in January of that year,  and his will was presented to the Botetourt Court in February --but not proven until August.  Julia corrected this  when copies of the family pages from the Bible, including the notation regarding his death, were copied by a cousin for distributution  to family members.

The words scratched out in Julia's note, are Botetourt  and Augusta, and indicate confusion
due to a new county established from part of the old.  No online help for research was available when this note was made and  all information  had to be acquired from family records, snail-mail  or court- house visits.   Some family historians assumed that
Julia made a mistake when she wrote Jacob Hites in her notes, and that she meant to  refer to the Jacobites,  a group supportive of James II of England.  With  access to online records, however, it was discovered that Hans/ Joist/Jacob  Hite led his family and 15-20 Scotch-Irish families from  Pennsylvania in 1732 to Virginia,  the same year Julia reported  for Robert Rowland's arrival.  Could she have been correct?  See
Migration Research. (Under construction.)  

"If defeated everywhere else, I will make
my last stand for liberty among the
Scotch-Irish of my native Virginia"
                             -- George Washington


In all of our early family records, Robert's father is identified as William Rowland of Scotland. 
A few researchers now report Robert's origins are in England and/or Wales, which seems likely,
as a study of surname distribution reveals that in the years prior to 1900,  the surname Rowland
was very common in England and Wales; present, but not common in Scotland; and extremely rare
in Ireland.   The Rowlands most likely were among the group of English and Scotsmen  who were
"planted" in the Ulster Plantation in England's attempt to rid Ireland of Irish people.  
One well known and highly respected Rowland researcher, Mary Rowland, makes a scholarly  case
for Robert being the son of George Rowland of Chester County, Pennsylvania, son of a John Rowland who arrived in America in August of 1682 on the ship Welcome.  Among the other passengers were a Thomas Rowland and Priscilla Shepherd Rowland. All three of these Rowlands are found listed among Pennsylvania land purchasers soon after they arrived. Mary found the Rowlands in the plat of Manor Steyning (New Garden Township), one of William Penn's townships in Chester County, PA., and tracked their possible migration with other "Scotch-Irish" to Virginia. As time allows, Mary's research will be included in our Rowland Archives. 

Robert Rowland  of Augusta County and Robert Rowland of Surry County are often mistakenly identified. They were close in age, their children born about the  same time, and they chose similar names for their children. The Rowlands who settled in the Valley of Virginia were part of the large migration from Pennsylvania. In spite of some researchers' claims, there is no evidence of Robert
and Martha Rowland of Augusta/Botetourt County or any of their four sons ever being residents of Surry County prior to coming to Augusta.

FACT:   DNA test results prove that the Rowlands of Surry County are not related to those of
Augusta/ Botetourt County.  For more information, click the link: and click on Y- Results.

FACT: Robert and MARTHA Rowland of Augusta County did NOT have a son named Augustine.
 Robert and MARY Rowland of Surry County DID. 

FACT: Lt. Col. Thomas Rowland, son of Robert and Martha Rowland and husband of Mary Russell of Bedford  County, was born in Augusta County.  He did not precede his family there.  He was born 15 December, 1741 and the following year, his father Robert is recorded as a member of  the Augusta County Militia under George Robinson. 

       With the Rowlands of Virginia, researchers need to keep in mind the golden  rule of genealogy:

                   "Assume nothing, prove everything . . . then prove it again."

Descendants of Robert & Martha Rowland

Generation No. 1

1,     ROBERT ROWLAND was born ca. 1716 in Britain or PA unverified1, and died 19 Jan 1782 in Botetourt Co. VA2.  He married Martha (?) Looney3 Bet. 1735 - 17394, who according to unproven tradition, was the daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Looney. Martha was born ca. 1718, probably
 in Ireland (?), and died between 1763-1769 in Augusta Co. VA5.  Martha's name  is almost always written with this (?) following her surname, but to the best of my knowledge,  the identity of her parents has  not been verified..   It is known that the Rowlands had close ties to the Looney family and were neighbors in Virginia.  Martha is not mentioned in her husband's will.

The exact year Robert and Martha arrived in  Virginia is unknown.   According to family bible records, their youngest son was born in December of 1741 in Augusta County, and the earliest known mention  of Robert in the area
as a member of the  Augusta County Militia in 1742 under George Robinson.  Many of the other men named in this militia are also in the early records of Lancaster and Chester Counties in Pennsylvania in the early 1700's,

A Seed-bed of the Republic: Early Botetourt County, by Robert Douthat Stoner, (1962).
(pg. 19) Robert Looney owned several tracts of land, amounting to  863 acres, in 1742, on Looney's Mill Creek, which was named for him.  Robert Looney had been granted lands at this River Crossing in 1742. The river crossing was known as Looney's Ferry. . . . (pg. 430) The Rowlands . . . settled
south of the James on the waters of Looney's Creek and the Spreading Spring Branch as early as

The Rowlands became owners of large parcels of land in Virginia and Kentucky, and they seem to
have been busy acquiring and disposing of land on a regular basis.   

25 July 1746  Robert Rowline(sic)- 369acres  Augusta Co,  Luney's Mill Cr. waters of the
 James River,  ( Land Office Patents No. 24, 1745 - 1746, available LVA)

18 June, 1747  .--Cash for John Jennet. Cash for thrashing grain. Cash paid
Jno. Boyd. Cash for Jno. Finley. Edmond Smith's account. Cash paid Robert Looney,
Robert Rowland, Jno. Bramham. Cash paid Andrew Clemons. (Chalkley,
Vol 3-Page 91)

10 September 1755.  Robert Rowland -
rec'd (1)  244 acres inAugusta County, on the waters of James River on the west side of said river.  and (2)  113 acres on the waters of James River.    Patents 31, 32, (Source:  Virginia State Land Office. 1-42, 1751-1756)

17 March, 1756. Margaret Looney's bond as administratrix
of Robert Looney, Jr., with sureties Rob. Rowland, John Looney.

 ___day , 1763, Robert Rowland and Martha to William Rowland, L50, 
113 acres by patent, 10th September, 1755, on waters of James River.
Delivered:  Pat. Lockhart, September, 1772. (Chalkley's Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish, pg 270)

21st June, 1763,  - Robert Rowland and Martha to George Rowland, L50, 244 acres
 by patent to Robert 10th September, 1755, on west side James River.
(Chalkley, pg 274)

22 June 1763. (120 ) Robt. Rowland, security for Margaret Rentfro, late Margaret Looney,
admx. of her deceased husband, asks counter security.

21 March 1764. (399) Margaret Rentfro, late Margaret Looney, required to give
counter security to Robt. Rowland or deliver up the estate to him.

--1765: Processioners on Waters of James and Catawbo, on South side, report, viz: .... 
for Robt. Rowland, for Jas. Rowland; for J----Looney, on Sinking Spring....  for Margt. Rentfro,
on Beaver Dam Run and Looney's Mill Creek; for Wm. Rowland, for Geo. Poage, .... for George Burdwell

15 May, 1766. Robert Looney, Jr's., appraisement by
William Harbison, John Bowen, Robert Rowland, Hugh Caruthers.

25 January 1769. Robert Rowland to Thomas Rowland, �100. 369 acres patented to Robert, 25th July 1746, on head branch of Looney's Creek.  Teste: Benj. Hawkins, Michael Woods, Jr., Thomas Arnott. Andrew Woods. Delivered: Pat. Lockhart by your order, March, 177_
 (Chalkly, pg. 266)

 Martha Rowland, Robert's wife, probably died sometime between 1763

--when she and Robert sold land to their sons William and  George--and 1769
(when only
Robert's name appears on a sale of land to their son Thomas. (above)

01 November 1776,  Robert's son William died intestate., leaving a wife and 8 children under 13.

13 January 1777,  Robert wrote his will naming all of his four sons and one grandson, but makes no mention of his wife, Martha.   It is believed William's children lived under the care of their grandfather until his death in January, 1782.  

Will of Robert Rowland
 16 January 1777
 Botetourt County Circuit Court:     Will Book A, Pages 159, 160

(Transcribed from a certified copy by Mary Rowland)

         In the name of God Amen....this Sixteenth of January 1777,  I Robert Rowland 

of Botetourt County & Parish of Botetourt, being at this time in perfect memory.   Thanks
be to Almighty God for all his Mercies; and calling to Remembrance the uncertain Estate
of this transitory life; that all flesh must yield to Death when it shall please the Almighty God to call; I therefore do make, confess and ask, and declare this my last Will and Testament, in Manner and form following:

            Revoking and annihilating by these presents all and every Testament & Testaments, Will or Wills heretofore by me made or declared either by word or writing; and this is to
be taken for my Last Will and Testament and no other:  And first calling to the remembrance the Mortality of my Body, I being heartily sorry for my many sins past, I most humbly implore the Almighty God for forgiveness of the same, I give and recommend my soul into
the hands of Almighty God who gave it, and I do recommend my body to be decently buried in sure and certain hope of a general Resurrection at the end of the World....

            And Secondly, and in order to settle my temporal Estate, which it hath pleased God
to endow me with, I do order give and dispose the same in manner and form following:  That is to say first, I will that all my Just Debts be Lawfully paid.  Secondly, I will that my two sons James Rowland and Thomas Rowland be my Executors of my whole Estate. Thirdly, I will my whole Estate all bills and bonds and booked Debts and all and every part of Movable part of my Estate be fairly and impartially collected by the above Executors, and fairly and equitably divided between my three sons, James Rowland, George Rowland and Thomas Rowland, and Fourthly, I will that all costs of Suits and all funeral expenses be reduced out of my whole Estate and equally divided between James & George & Thomas Rowland; Fifthly, that one fourth part of my whole Estate with expenses reduced out, be equally divided between William Rowland, deceased's children, his oldest son Robert excepted, upon condition that he make an equal division of his Father's land to his Brothers, then the above condition to be void if not, to remain in full witness. Given under my hand this day as above written.

                                                                                    Robert Rowland  [Seal]

             Witness's Present:

             James Hutchison
             James Mull
             Robert Burdwell
             John Jackson

           February Botetourt Court    1782

This Instrument of Writing was presented in Court & proved by the Oath of Jas. Mull,one of the witnesses and at another Court held for the said County of Botetourt, 8th day of August, 1782.  The same was proved by the oath of James Hutchison another witness & ordered to be recorded, and on the Motion of James & Thomas Rowland, the Executors herein named, who made oath according to Law, Certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form, whereupon they entered into & acknowledged Bond in One Hundred Pounds with Security according to Law

                                                                        Teste:   D. May,   C.B.C.
                    Examined                (Clerk Botetourt Court)

                     Recorded in    Will   Book A  page  159, 160
                     Botetourt County Circuit Court Clerk's Office


        Mary Rowland, transcriber:
        Robert's Will, written in January 1777 shortly after the death of his son William, leaves 1/4 of his estate to William's children--with the exception of the oldest grand-son, Robert -- UNLESS Robert makes an equal division of his father William's land to his brothers.    Apparently this is a precaution only, as at the time Robert's  Will is written, his grand-son Robert is no more than 13-14 years old, and assumed to be in the care of his grandfather.  Only after Robert's death in 1782, does Botetourt County Court records indicate  that  William's children were bound out according to law to several relatives/ friends until they arrived at the age of twenty-one years.

            NAME  Rowland, Robert.
            DATE  1782
            SOURCE  Will Book A, 1770-1801 (Reel 20)
             p. 159-160. Will pro. Feb. 1782.
            NOTE  Part of index to Botetourt County Wills and Administrations (1770 - 1800)
            Library of Virginia Archives
            PLACE  Botetourt County (Va.)
            FORM  Wills. aat.

            COLLECTION  Virginia wills and administrations

     All four sons of Robert and Martha are named in Robert's will.  They are:
          i.    James Rowland
         ii.     George Rowland
        iii.     William Rowland
         iv.    Thomas Rowland

                                                              Note:  All Sources below

Generation No. 2

The Four Sons of Robert and Martha Rowland

        (Click on names below for full reports.  For a more traditional format see Gen. No 2 below.)

        The only verified date of birth for Robert and Martha's sons  is that of Thomas,
        who was born in 1741.    I have listed the sons in the order in which they are listed
        in Robert's will, although there is strong evidence that George may be the oldest.
        Since Robert's   sons all followed the  naming patterns of the Scotch-Irish --all named
        their first-born son Robert--  it seems  most probable that Robert, Sr.   named  his own  
         first-born after his father.   Knowing which son that is, would be  helpful in locating 
         Robert's  ancestors.

James2 (Capt.) Rowland (Robert1)8 , son of Robert & Martha Rowland, was born
        Bet. 1734 -1740 in Orange/Augusta Co. VA, and died 1805 in Botetourt Co. VA9,10.
        He married Margaret Kyle11,12 ca. 1762 in Botetourt Co. VA, daughter of Robert Kyle
        and Elizabeth Campbell.  She was born ca. 1741 in Buckingham Co. VA13, and died 1795
         in Botetourt Co. VA13

William2 Rowland (
Robert1)30 son of Robert & Martha Rowland, was born Bet. 1735-1745

 in Orange/Augusta Co. VA, and died 01 November 1776 in Virginia.  He married               Sarah Potts  ca. 1762 in Augusta/Botetourt Co. VA, daughter of Jonathan Potts and Naomi           Hall.  She was  born 19 January 1744/45 in PA/VA31,32, and died 28 January 1829 in Boone             Co. MO33.

George2 Rowland (Robert1),40 son of Robert & Martha Rowland, was born ca. 1740 in
       Orange/Augusta Co. VA, and died Bef. September 1792 in Rockingham Co. NC41.  He married
       (1)  (?) ca. 1759.  She died Bef. 1772.  He married (2) Jean Wilson October 1772 in Guilford
       Co. NC.  She was born ca. 1750 in Guilford Co. NC.

Thomas (Lt Col)2 Rowland (Robert1),47 son of Robert & Martha Rowland,  born 15 December          1741 in Orange/Augusta County, VA48, and died Bef. 22 May 1814 in Botetourt Co. VA49.  He
         married Mary M. Russell 09 June 1768 in Bedford County, VA50,51,52,53, daughter of Robert
         Russell and Annie Stirling.  She was born 28 June 1750 in Barony, Lanarkshire, Scotland54,
         and died Aft. 22 May 1814 in Botetourt Co. VA.55

Descendents of Robert & Martha Rowland

Generation No. 2 traditional format

Generation 1 Rowland Archives Home Page

 Comments? Questions? Contact me at

                  Joanne Merrill Kartak  September 2003  All Rights Reserved.              Pages may be freely linked to, but may not be redistributed or published without permission.

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  1.  Bilyeu, Julia Humes, Miscellaneous genealogy notes, "Age 66 years" (when he died).  Not verified.
    2. Rowland-Gilmore Family Bible.  "Robert Rowland, the father of Thomas Rowland, died 1/19/1782." Taken from a copy of the penciled  memorandum of the family record given in an old Bible belonging to Eliza Gilmore Humes, daughter of Millie Rowland and Joseph Gilmore, and brother of Thomas. Rowland  Family Bible, Copy made in pencil by Lou Humes.
    3.  Family tradition; not verified,  In family histories, Robert's wife's name  is almost always written "Martha (?) Looney;" to the best of my knowledge,  the identity of her parents has  never been proven.   It is known that the Rowlands had close ties to the Looney family and were neighbors in Virginia. Martha is mentioned in her husband's will.
    4.  Bilyeu, Julia Humes, "[Robert Rowland}...married Martha (Maiden name unknown) in 1740." Year of marriage is unverified.
    5.  Will of Robert Rowland.   Not included in husband's will written in 1777.
    7.  Botetourt County Circuit Court Clerk's Office, Will Book A, Pg 159, 160.
    8.  Will of Robert Rowland.
    9.  Worrell, Anne Lowry, Marriages, Wills, and some Revolutionary war records Botetourt County,
    Virginia;  Hillsville, Va, 1958,  (Hillsville, VA, 1958. Genealogical Pub. Ince Baltimore, MD 21202).
    10.  Botetourt County Circuit Court Clerk's Office, Will written 11 Feb 1805 & presented to  Botetourt
    County June Court 1805, Recorded in  Will  Bk  B pg 96 .     Coipy of original will on file.
    11.  Will of James Rowland  1805, Named in husband's will.
    12.  Marriages, Wills, and some Revolutionary war records Botetourt county, Virginia;  Hillsville, Va, 1958,  (Hillsville, VA, 1958. Genealogical Pub. Ince Baltimore, MD 21202).
    13.  Treadwell, Patricia J..
    30. Will of Robert Rowland.
    31. Wanda -, SARAH POTTS d/o :JONATHAN & NAOMI POTTS Born: 19 JAN 1745 , Died: 28 JAN 1829 - Boone Co., MO Married: JAMES SIMPSON WILLIAM ROWLAND SAMUEL BURKS .
    32. Reichel, Jonathan Potts 1714-1785.
    33. Charles Nethaway, Reston, Virginia, <>.
    40. Will of Robert Rowland, Named in father's will.
    41. Mary Rowland, September 22, 1792 the Rockingham court divided some of his land among his sons John, David, George, James and Benjamin. (Rockingham deed book D, pages 119 & 120) Each son was given 137 acres, this included the land George bought from Robert & Isabell Gwin and Rebeckah Boyd (widow of John Boyd) on August 13, 1771, (Guilford Deed Book 1, pages 3,4,5.) [Copy of original documents on file, courtesy of Mary Rowland.].
    47. Rowland-Gilmore Family Bible,
    48. ibid. Page containing the birth dates for Thomas Rowland and his children and the date of death for Robert Rowland, his father. There are a few comments made by John Wheatley, a son of Eliza Gilmore, who sent copies of the memorandum to family members in June 1899. Courtesy of Peter Binkley, who has the memorandum on file.
    49. Botetourt County Circuit Court Clerk's Office, Will Book B pg 397, At the bottom of Thomas Rowland's Will, is an added notation dated 22nd day of May 1814 in which his wife Mary Rowland accepts the provisions of his Will.
    50. Rowland-Gilmore Family Bible.
    51. Marriage Bonds Bedford County VA, June 6, 1768.
    52. Wm & Mary Quarterly, Vol II #4, 1903.
    53. ibid. p 280-282; 1903.
    54. Robert Russell,, Christening records (in Scotland) show Robert Russell as father and Ann Stirling as mother of the following children: (1) James Russell 8-24-1748 Davistown, Cadder, Lanark, Scotland; (2) Miss Russell * 6-28-1750 Barony,Lanark, Scotland; (3) Robert Russell 1-7-1753 Davistown,Cadder,Lanark, Scotland ..
    55. Will of Thomas Rowland, Will Book B, Pages 397, 398, 399, [Addendum on page 399] This is to certify that I do receive & accept of the provisions made for me in the Within Will in full Estate faction of my claim that I have or may have to the within mentioned property or Estate. Given under my hand & seal this 22d day of May 1814. Mary M. Rowland (Her Mark) (Seal)
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