Early Va./Ky. Meachams - First Va. Resident

The first free Meacham resident of Virginia

[June 13, 2001]

The earliest evidence of a Meacham/Machen/etc. residing in Virginia comes from a 1631 English document, which mentions "Richard Macham, soldier aged 30, resident of Virginia." This is all that is known about him; nothing has been found so far in Virginia to confirm his presence there.

From land grant claims between 1635 and 1653, there are a number of Meacham-variant names listed as importees: John Macham, Eliza Machin, Henry Meshen, John Macom, Thomas Machin, John Michem, Wm. Matham, John Maccome, and Thomas Mackin. Most of these were likely indentured servants; they may not have survived their indenture, or they may not have remained in Virginia. Some may have been fictitious claims. With the possible exception of John Macom, there is no other evidence concerning any of them.

The first hard Virginian evidence of a Meacham resident was the 1662 grant of land in New Kent Co. to Edmund Machen. Recently I found the following entry in an index of the record books of Lancaster Co.:

"Will of Thomas Saxe: bequests to Richard Dudley, to Mary Tomson, to Richard Hugh, servant of Wm. Masham ... Exors Wm. Masham and John Pine. Undated; probated Jan. 11, 1654/55."

This William Masham was clearly a free man (ie not an indentured servant), probably a landowner, who had a servant and was entrusted to be executor of the will of another free man. He is thus the first Meacham resident of Virginia attested by local evidence other than the headright claims. It is possible that he was a son of Richard Macham. There are several other possible connections -- Could the Richard Dudley above be the wealthy landowner of that name in Gloucester Co. who imported John Mechan? Could there be a connection between this William Masham and William Macham who died in nearby Westmoreland Co. in 1727? Or could there be a connection with the burgeoning Meacham clan of the late 17th century in Middlesex Co., which was formed from part of Lancaster Co. in 1673?

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