James (1745-ca1815) -- Detailed History

Early American Dalzells and Delzells

James Delzell Sr. (1745-ca1815) and Lilly or Libby, Dundonal, County Down, N. Ireland>Augusta Co., VA> Botetourt Co., VA

Detailed History:    

     (I am including the following article about Martha Delzell, the last survivor of the Botetourt Virginia Delzells. It opens a delightful window into this Delzell clan. Newspaper clipping from the Fincastle Harold. No date visible).

         Mrs. Martha DELZELL, whose husband, James Delzell, came from Scotland with his family about fifty years ago, and settled about three miles south of Fincastle, very near where Mr. O. P. Gray now lives, but on the opposite side of the main road. Mrs. Delzell was a woman of domestic habits, and a very simple and unobtrusive manner, so that the circle of acquaintances was quite limited—so much so, that there are no doubt many of the present generation who have never heard of her, the very name having become extinct, as she outlived her husband: and her whole family (except Mrs. Sands, who has moved away) were carried off by Consumption, some of them just as they arrived at manhood and woman hood. I do not remember to have met with Mrs. Delzell more than once or twice, and that was at “Rustic Lodge,” where she sometimes visited, and was always a welcome guest, being a kindred spirit with that Christian family. It was from members of that family that I derived my knowledge Mrs. Delzell’s character; and also from Mrs. James T. Logan, who knew her well. as she was often at his father’s father’s house., and he had the highest admiration of her, which was so strikingly expressed in an obituary notice written by him at the time of her death, that her pastor, Rev. Henry H. Paine, read it from the pulpit as part of his funeral sermon; not only a fitting tribute to departed worth and excellence, but because it combined some statements of her noble parentage that were not generally known. She was descended from the Campbells of Scotland, and was nearly related to the Duke of Argyle, who was himself a Campbell. No one who met her casually would be apt to suspect that such gentle blood flowed in her veins; nor would it be supposed that beneath so unpretending and plain an exterior, there dwelt so much of intelligence and wisdom. She spoke in, a broad Scotch dialect. and her modes of expression were thoroughly Scotch, even to the point of plainness and bluntness of speech which characterizes that people. I have met with the remark that even the wit of a Scotchman is unlike that of other people. The Irishman’s wit has something genial and droll about it—that of the Scotchman, on the contrary, is generally seasoned with a spice of severity and sarcasm; which perhaps is well illustrqated by an anecdote that is told of an old Scotch Elder who was once consulted as to to best place to put a stove, which was for the first time introduced into one of the s?scotch churches (or kirks as they are called). “By all means put it in the pulpit, for I’m sure its the coldest place in the kirk,” said the old
Elder, whose reply was generally considered for a sly hit at the rather dull old parson.
Mrs. Delzell, however, had such a real kindness of heart, and so much good sense that, while not at all indulgent toward worldly conformity, and the follies of the fashionable world, she could reprove without giving offense, or even hurting the feelings of other people.
Her religious character was of a piece with everything else about her—simple and unaffected, but substantial and well informed. Her knowledge of the Scriptures was little less than wonderful, and she could discuss knotty points of theology with the ablest divines. John Knox himself was not a stauncher Presbyterian but she did not intrude her opinions on others where she found there was disagreement, only asking that the same charity be extended to them might be extended to her.
She died at an advanced age, perhaps about four score, though I cannot state it accurately. The last years of her life were embittered by the loss of her husband and children, but she bore these and other trials with truly christian resignation; and having “served her generation by the will of God,” she fell asleep in the calmness of Christian Faith and Hope.

I have not had time to write up a good history of this family. It would be great to have a complete family history. Here is part of his will for a start.Will was dated 22 June 1915, and signed by James Delzell and witnessed by D. Shanks and Robert Delzell. In it he left his entire estate to his wife, Martha and son James, for “raising and schooling y infant children until my youngest Hugh is age 21. After his wife’s death, his sone, James and Hugh, were to receive all dwellings and plantation (160 acres) 3 miles from Fincastle. Daughters, Nancy, Sally and Betsy were names and each was to receive a horse (worth $80.00, saddle and bridle, and bed and bedding. Son James was to receive all the remainder of his personal estate. James had died by 27 September 1815 when aninventory was submitted to the court.

James Dalzell of Botetourt County, Virginia. (A Quote from Delzell Ties.)

        "Because of the continuity of the land transfers and of his being mentioned so often in the court records, we believe this James Sr. was the same James who in 1772 bought land in Augusta Co., VA and sold it in 1775 after moving on to Botetourt County.It might appear likely that John Delzell of Blount Co.,TN was also a son of James Sr. and that another son was Thomas Dalzell, later of of Nicholas Co., KY. But we have learned there was yet another Delzell family in Botetourt Co. VA. There are two records dated in 1824 and 1825 concerning the estate of a Peter Delzell, Jr. Neither record gives any further information. Since this man had an estate to be settled, he must have been at least 18or 21  at his death. The use of "Jr." after his name in court records makes me believe that his father was known as Peter Delzell Sr.

The Preston and Virginia Papers of the Drapwer Collection:

         "Mrs. Martha Delzell(sic), whose husband, James Delzell, came from Scotland with his family about fifty years ago, and settled about three miles south of Fincastle, . . ., the very same name hving become extinct, as she outlived her husband; and her whole family (except Mrs. Sands, who has moved away) were carried off by consumption, some of them just as they arrived at manhood and womanhood, . . . She was descended from the Campbells of Scotland.

Thoughts by Robert O. Delzell

I have always wondered if this family was related to the family of John Delzell of East Tennessee, but the fact that they came from Scotland and our ancestors from Ulster suggests they were not closely related.


BROOKS, Mary Jean, Family Group Sheets and other materials. A descendant of this family.

DELZELL, Hugh Wayland, “Delzell Ties” several pages of information on this family.
DELZELL, Robert Oster, "Remember Me" some research, but mostly derived from Hugh above.

DRAPER COLLECTION, The Preston and Virginia Papers. Wisconsin Hist. Soc.

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