Thomas Chew, born in 1702 in Essex, Virginia was a Colonel in the Royal Army, a lawyer, a justice of the peace and sheriff of the County of Orange in Virginia. He was the son of Larkin Chew and Hannah Roy of Port Royal (formerly called Port Roy after the Roy family). His father, Larkin had been a member of Virginia Assembly Burgess from 1723-1726 and Sheriff of Spotsylvania County, Virginia from 1727-1728.
Thomas Chew allied himself to the Taylor and Madison families when he married Martha Taylor in 1724. Born in 1702, Martha was the daughter of James Taylor II (1675-1729) and Martha Thompson Taylor of “Bloomsbury”. Martha's sister Frances married Ambrose Madison, grandfather of President James Madison, Jr. in 1721.
Taylor II was one of the first settlers of Orange County, Virginia and one of the first Surveyor Generals of Virginia. He was also one of the members of Governor Spotswood's "Golden Horseshoe Expedition". Throughout his career, he acquired over 13,000 acres of land in Spotsylvania and Orange Counties. Historic downtown Orange, Virginia is built on land previous acquired by Taylor nearly 300 years ago.
James Taylor was also the great grandfather of two U.S. Presidents: Fourth president James Madison Jr. (1751-1836) and twelfth president Zachary Taylor (1784-1850). Thomas and Martha Chew's daughter Alice, (1739-1796) further bonded the Taylor and Chew families by marrying her first cousin, Zachary Taylor Jr., (1735-1815).
The Chew's settled in the county of Orange, Virginia in the 1730s, where Thomas was named one of “His Majesty’s Gentleman Justices of the Peace” in the original commission establishing Orange County’s courts on January 21, 1735. In his life a vestryman of St. George’s Parish, St. Mark’s Parish and St. Thomas’s Parish, Thomas also served at Captain of the Militia (1729), Magistrate (1734-45) and Sheriff (1745) of Orange.
When Thomas became sheriff of the County of Orange, Virginia in 1745 he oversaw the execution of a slave named Eve, convicted on January 23, 1745 of poisoning her master Peter Montague. The court's sentence was that the said Eve be drawn upon a hurdle to the place of execution and there to be burnt at the stake, a sentence carried out the following week.
Thomas Chew's great grandfather was John Chew (1587-1668), a Quaker and successful merchant, who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1622 aboard the ship Charitie. He built a home for his family on Hogg Island, and a warehouse for his business in James City and immediately became involved in politics by representing Hogg Island in the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1623-1624 and again in 1627-1629. John's legacy was carried forth by his sons, grandsons and great grandsons for nearly 250 years. The Chew family name can be found in the annals of history among high ranking military offers, physicians, religious leaders, wealthy landowners, statesmen and lawyers.
Thomas Chew and Martha Taylor had at least eleven children: Joseph, m. Grace Deshon of New London, CT; Larkin, d. 1796 in Virginia (unmarried); Frances, m. Henry Downs of Virginia; Hannah, died unmarried; Thomas, died young; Coleby, d. 1758 at Fort Du Quesne (unmarried); Elizabeth "Betty," died unmarried; Alice, m. her cousin Zachary Taylor, d. 1796; Mildred "Milly," m. Mr. Coleman; Samuel, m. Lucy Miller, d. 1779 on active service in American Navy; James, m. 1765 to Mary Caldwell of Virginia.
Martha Taylor Chew died in 1762 at the age of 60 in Orange, Virginia. Thomas died 20 years later on 28 Feb 1782, also in Orange, Virginia. Place of burial is unknown.
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