Dodson and Dotson History

Early Dodson and Dotson Families in America

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History of the Early Dodson and Dotson Families in America

There were Dodson/Dotson families in England, Wales and Ireland before arriving in America in the 1600's.  Most Dodson/Dotson families of today can trace their colonial roots to Pennsylvania, Maryland or Virginia. There were families using both spellings of the name in the British Isles before we find any record of the lines in America.  By the 1800's, most families had settled on the spelling of the surname.  And DNA results has helped to sort out the distinctive American family lines.

Read more about an early Pennsylvania Dodson line.

Read more about early Virginia Dodsons from 1650 to 1750 

Read more about the early Shenandoah Valley Virginia Dodsons and also the Dodsons and Families who lived on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

Read more about the early Maryland Dodsons  the Frederick County Maryland Dodsons and the Talbot County Maryland Dodsons.

Read more about  Yorkshire England Dodsons and how they are erroneously reported to be progenitors of the Talbot Maryland line.

Read about Dodsons and Dotsons in Family Histories 

Read about DNA testing of Dodson and Dotson Lines 

A few Dodsons were in America in the 1600's, but there is no known connection among these men.

Theophilus Dodson was a witness to the Will of Edward Brent 1 Feb 1624. The will was proved "upon the oaths of Maurice Thomson and Theophilus Dodson before Sir Francis Wyatt, governor and Capt general of Virginia, the 20th of April 1625."  From: The New England historical and genealogical register, Volume 49 

Gervase Dodson arrived in Northumberland County, Virginia in 1650. In 1653 he became the county surveyor, which allowed him to acquire "thousands of acres in Lancaster, Northumberland, and Westmoreland Counties. During Dodson's residence in Wicomico Parish, a small group of Quaker dissenters met for worship, 'contrary to law.' In June of 1660, Dodson and several other dissenters were publicly whipped, each receiving twenty lashes. Later that year Dodson entered a document into the records that asked for a pardon from King Charles II. . . . From the record requesting pardon, we learn that Gervase Dodson had "beene a soldier several yeares in Ireland & England for the King & Parliament, till the death of the late King Charles the First, when I left all & came into this Country..."  From the Northumberland County, Record Book, 1658-66, p. 49 in Bulletin of the Northumberland County Historical Society, v. 22, 1985, p. 45. "One cannot determine from this...document whether he actually became and remained a Quaker after the whipping. He died a few months later, leaving his Wicomico land to his wife, Isabel." From the Bulletin of the Northumberland County Historical Society, v. 32, 1995, p. 101.  From 1650 to 1658 there are several land warrants granting thousands of acres to Gervase/Gervace/Jarvis Dodson in Northumberland County Virginia.  Some record a wife Isabell and  a daughter, Alice, who married a Henry Corbin/Corbyn, but there is no indication that he had any sons to carry on his name. Others say "The notion that Alice was a daughter of Gervase Dodson seems to be derived from construing this assignment as being from Henry Corbyn to his wife, Alice (Dodson) Corbyn, daughter of Gervase; however, it is more reasonable that the transfer was between generations." More information about Gervase 

Anthony Dodson was in Scituate, Massachusetts by the mid 1600's.  He married a Mary Williams 12 Nov 1651.  

From: "History of Scituate, Massachusetts: from its first settlement to 1831" by Samuel Deane" published in 1831.
Anthony Dodson was in Scituate 1650. He married Mary, the daughter of John Williams, sen. 1651. His land was on the east of John Cowen's, and his house near where the house of late Rowland Litchfield stands. He had Conihassett lands in the right of John Williams, and was much employed as a surveyor, by the partners. His children were Sarah born 1652, Gershom 1653, Mary 1656, Jonathan 1659, Patience, Bethia and Eunice.  Sarah married Thomas Stetson 1671, Margaret married Nathaniel Tilden 1693, Mary married John Booth, Jr., Patience married John Pierce, Bethia and Eunice living single 1695, when their mother deceased, and named them in her will. Gershom was one of the unfortunate men who fell with Capt. Pierce in the Rehoboth battle, 1676. Jonathan married Abigail, daughter of Matthew Gannett, and left a family, viz. Jonathan, Anthony, Deborah, Mary, Sarah, Hannah and Gershom, born from 1695 to 1704. This family name has long since been extinct in this Town.

A Francis Dodson was born around 1660 and married first Elizabeth Harrelson 5 February 1678/79 in Middlesex County Virginia  and second to a Mabel, last name unknown, possibly a Hackney.   Records of Francis and his family are found in the Parish Register of Christ Church in Middlesex County, Virginia.  It is said that the children of Francis and Elizabeth were Francis Dodson born July 16, 1684, John Hackney Dodson baptized March 4, 1689/90 in Middlesex County, Virginia (listed as son of Francis Dodson) and Rachel who married William Baker.  Children of Francis and Mabel were:  Mabel baptized  September 1, 1703 who married Richard Stevens, Rebekah Dodson baptized May 2, 1708 and Jane Dodson baptized 13 April 1706 in Middlesex County.  Francis Dodson died 8 January 1715 and was buried 11 Jan 1715.  Mabel Dodson died 8 February and was buried 12 Feb 1717.  The will of John Dodson (alias John Hackney Dodson) was proved 4 October 1726 and names his sisters Rachel, Rebeckah and Mabell, and friends John Rhoads and William Hackney.

A Thomas Dodson wrote a will dated 17 October 1668 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in which he names his wife Frances and a son Thomas who was under age 21 in 1668.  This Thomas has not been connected to later generations.

A William Dodson received a patent of 300 acres of land in Henrico County, VA, on the south side of the James River on 29 September 1668.  A William Dodson and James Franklin received a grant of 360 acres in Bristol Parish, Henrico County "on the north side of a great branch of Swift Creek for transporting eight negroes into the colony", 23 April 1688 - Virginia Patents, Book 8, page 655.

Read more about Early Dodson/Dotson Immigrants to America

Three books have been published that outline early Dodson/Dotson history:

Dodson Genealogy 1600 - 1907 by Rev. Thompson P. Ege, Deemer & Jaisohn, Philadelphia, PA, 1908 Note:  For over 100 years, people have been citing information contained in this book about 3 Dodson siblings - John, Thomas and Mary -  born in Yorkshire England to Daniel and Susannah Dodgson/Dodson.  There was a family in Yorkshire, with these names, along with other Dodgsons/Dodsons, but there is no record that any of these people came to America.  

This book also does not show sources for most of the data recorded, so it is not a valuable research tool.  A free digitalized Google copy of the book can be downloaded free in PDF format.  Click on the book title to download.

In the introduction, Rev Ege outlines some history of a few early Dodson Families.  He states that the Colonial Annals of Virginia mention Dodson's Plantation in 1632.  Dean's History of Scitutate, Massachusetts records the name of Anthony Dodson and descendants from 1650 to 1705 (page 263).  Maryland Colonial Records in the old State House at Annapolis, mention the arrival there of a John Dodson in 1656, followed later by a son John and a daughter Katharine.  These Johns settled in Calvert and Charles Counties.  Their wills are also of record there in 1733 and later. Ege says another family of Dodsons arrived in 1677 at the New Quaker settlement of Burlington, New Jersey from Knaresborough, York England.  There were two brothers, John and Thomas, and a sister Mary Dodson.  Others arriving at the same time were the Stacys, Buntings and Boyes families.  There is a record of a John Dodson, son of William Dotson, who was christened 11 June 1654, in York, Yorkshire, England, but it is not known if there is any connection.   Ege states that John, Thomas and Mary were children of Daniel and Susanne Dodson.   He goes on to say that John left Burlington to go to Bucks County, PA and Thomas settled in Talbot County Maryland.  He mentions that descendants went into Kentucky and Tennessee in latter part of 1700 and then into Ohio, Indiana and Missouri "and further south, all evidently from the same early Virginia ancestors".    Ege states that Mary Dodson married Richard Boyes in 1683, and Thomas married Katharine Savill on July 16, 1698.  There is no documentation of these marriages in the book.  There is a record of the marriage of Thomas Dodson to Mary Prigg 14 Apr 1718 in Philadelphia, PA.  Thomas is said to be a son of John Dodson who came to Burlington, NJ, mentioned above.  "Dodson Genealogy 1600 - 1907" has been reprinted and is currently available for purchase, but you can download a free digitalized copy of the entire book by clicking the title of the book above.

Richard Dotson (1752 - 1847) and his Descendants, by James M. Dotson and Barr Wilson, Published by James M. Dotson, Danville, CA, 1992.  This book is an excellent tool for research by the descendants of Richard Dotson born October 23, 1752.  The book is out of print, but thanks to the generosity of James Dotson and the technical skills of Roger Dotson, the book can be downloaded free in PDF format.  Click on the book title to download.

Richard Dotson's father is still undocumented, but a book was found recently, printed in 1889, where Richard's grandson outlined his heritage and named Richard's father as Solomon Dotson.  You can download a copy of this write-up HERE. In this sketch the grandson Solomon L Dotson describes his ancestry.  He says his great grandfather was named Solomon and his great great grandfather was named Hobbs.  There was  reason to believe his great grandfather could have been Solomon Dodson born 1727, a grand nephew of John Dodson, who would have been in Shenandoah County VA where Richard was born in 1752.  If so, then the lineage of Richard could  have been traced back to Charles Dodson born about 1650 in England or Virginia.  The Charles Dodson line and his descendants are outlined in The Dodson (Dotson) Family of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia:  A History and Genealogy of Their Descendants.  However recent DNA testing of three descendants of Richard Dotson shows they do not match with the Richmond County Dodson lineage. 

The Dodson (Dotson) Family of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia:  A History and Genealogy of Their Descendants, Volumes One and Two, by Mrs. Sherman Williams, Compiler and Editor and The Rev. Silas Emmett Lucas, Jr., Publisher, Southern Historical Press, Inc., Easley S C, 1988.  This is an excellent, well-researched set filled with lots of documentation, but unfortunately Volume II is no longer in print.  Since Volume II has the index to both volumes, that presents a problem for a person doing research.  Volume One is available for purchase.  There is no known digitalized copy of either volume.

These volumes begin with Charles Dodson who is believed to have been born in England around 1649/1650 and died with a will in the North Farnham Parish in Richmond County, Virginia.  His will was probated 6 February 1704/1705.  Because many of the church records and from the will, most of his children have been identified.  It is believed they were Charles Jr born about 1679; Thomas born 15 May 1681; Bartholomew Richard born about 1683; William born about 1685; John born about 1687; Lambeth born about 1689; Anne born about 1691; and Elizabeth born about 1693..

In 1959 the Reverend Silas Emmett Lucas, Jr. began compiling information on his Dodson heritage and published “Genealogy of the Dodson (Dotson), Lucas, Pyles, Rochester, and Allied Families” and a Supplement to The “History of the Dodson-Dotson Family of Southwest Virginia”. In 1988 he published the 2-volume set “The Dodson (Dotson) Family of the North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia” referenced above. 

The portion below is from the 1959 publication: 

"The name of Dodson (sometimes spelled “Dotson”) is said to have been derived from the ancient Anglo-Saxon baptismal name of Dod combined with the primogenital suffix son and it was probably originally taken by the son or sons of a man named Dod, although some authorities say it was taken from the name of Daud, Daud being an ancient nickname for David. It was found on the ancient records in the various forms of Daudson, Dawdson, Dodshon, Dodsun, Dodsshun, Doddson, Dodeson, Dodsone, Dotsone, Dotsun, Dodsonne, Dotsonne, Dotson, Dodson, and others of which the last two are the forms most generally accepted in America today.

Families of this name were to be found at earlier dates in the English counties of Somerset, Cornwall, Northampton, York, Oxford, Cambridge, Salop, Durham, Sussex, and London, and were for the most part of the landed gentry and yeomanry of Great Britain.

Among the earliest records of the name in England were those of Magota and Johnnes Dodson of Yorkshire before 1379, and those of William, Elias and Johnnes Daudson of Yorkshire about the same time. However, no connected link of those early Yorkshire lines has been found. There are also numerous earlier records of the name of Dod, from which many of the Dodsons and Dotsons of later periods were undoubtedly descended. Among these were those of one Dodd of the time of the Norman Conquest, about 1066, Doda or Dod of the middle of the thirteenth century. Benedict Dodd of Northhamptonshire before 1273, and Peter Dod of Oxfordshire as well as Richard Dod of Cambridge and of William Dod of Shropshire at slightly later dates.

In the middle part of the thirteenth century one Dotson or Dodson is said to have resided in County of Cornwall, and by his wife, a Miss Hay, he is believed to have been the father by his wife, Margaret Enys, of Thomas who married Elizabeth Pipe and had issue by her of Robert who was the father, in the early thirteenth century, by his first wife, Thomasine Buller, of Thomas and Elizabeth, and probably issue by a second wife, Mary Pollard.

Of the Sussex County line of the family in England, the Reverend Jeremiah Dodson was living about the middle of the seventeenth century and his cousin, Sir William Dodson was councilman and alderman of London in the latter half of that century. Of these the Reverend Jerimiah Dodson left a son by the same name.

About the end of the seventh century record was found in the County Durham of John Dodshon or Dodson who was the father by his wife, Frances, of a son named Nicholas who married Frances Foster and had issue by her of a son named John and several daughters.

It is not definitely known from which of the many illustrious lines of the family in England the first emigrants of the name to America were descended, but it is believed that all of the Dodsons and Dotsons were of ancient ancestry, and in many cases of common origin at a remote period.

Probably the first of the family in America was Benjamin Dodson of Virginia as early as 1635. No definite record has been found, however, concerning his immediate family descendants. It is possible that he was related to the Thomas Dodson who resided in Charles River County, Virginia in 1643, and to the Anne Dodson who was living in Virginia in 1652, but this is not certain.

About 1650, if not before, one Anthony Dodson is said to have emigrated from England to Scituate, Massachusetts where he was married in 1651 to Mary Williams. His children were probably Sarah, Gershon, Mary, Jonathan, Patience, Pethia, and Eunice, and there may have been others.

Of the sons of the emigrant Anthony, Jonathan is said to have married Abigail Gannett and to have been the father by her of Jonathan, Anthony, Deborah, Mary, Sarah, Hannah and Gershon.

About the middle of the eighteenth century two brothers of this family, James (whom some authorities call Richard and William Dodson are said to have come from England to Virginia and settled near Richmond. The first of these brothers is believed to have been the father of, possibly others, a son named William who married Mary Franks and was the father by her of Emanuel, William, John, Squire, Henry, Saul and seven daughters.

The descendants of these and probably other branches of the family in America have spread to practically every state in the Union and have aided as much in the growth of the country as their ancestors aided in the founding of the nation. They have been noted for their energy, industry, integrity, piety, perseverance, fortitude, patience, loyalty and courage.

Among those of the name who fought in the War of the Revolution were Richard Dotson of Virginia, Charles, George, Robert, John, Richard Dodson of Virginia, and numerous others from various New England Colonies. John, Richard, Thomas, Anthony, Jonathan, William, Robert, James and Henry are some of the Christian names most highly favored by the family for its male members. One of the members of the family who has distinguished himself in America in more recent times is John E Dodson, noted actor, who was born in England in 1857 and came to the United States in 1889.

Probably the most ancient and frequently recurrent of the numerous coats-of-arms of the English family of Dodsons or Dotsons is described as follows:
Arms –“Argent, a bend engrailed azure between two Cornish Coughs proper.”
Crest – “A dexter arm in armour proper, garnished or holding a scourge with four lashes, sable, handle garnished, and the lashes ended with spur-rowels gold.” Arms taken from Burke’s General Armory” 1884 "