||John Lewis resided in the Southern Colonies in North America before 1776.|
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NOTE: His parents are disputed. See Research Notes
John Lewis was born circa 1594 in Monmouthshire, Wales. The birth date of 22 Feb 1592 has been removed. There was a John Lewis of Llantillio Pertholey that was baptised on that date, but he has been proven to be a different man. See research notes below.
John died on 21 August 1657, aged 63 years, and was buried in the Lewis family cemetery, on 250 acres at the head of a branch belonging to Poroptanke Creek, called Lewis Creek, but formerly Totopotomoys Creek in Gloucester County, Virginia, which Mr. Jon Lewis held by patent dated July 1(?), 1653, for the importation of the five persons listed below into the colony (Virginia Land Patents, Book No 3, page 4):
The discovery of John Lewis' tombstone by R Tyler Bland was written about by his friend, Malcolm H Harris in an article published in April 1948. The tombstone is missing 1/3 of the upper part and approximately 1/3 of the lower part, and on the remaining section of the stone was inscribed a fragment of a coat of arms and the following:
Here lieth interred the body
of Iohn Lewis (borne in
Munmoth Shire) died the 21th of
August 1657 aged 63 years
the anagram of his name
I shew no ill
John Lewis' grave was in New Kent County from which King and Queen County was created on 16 April 1691.
In 1949, Malcolm Hart Harris and George Carrington Mason found several additional Lewis family tombstones in the cemetery near Plain View in what is now King and Queen county. One of these was the tombstone of John's grandson, Captain Edward Lewis (1667-1713), carved with a coat of arms of which Harris indentified the arms of Lewis of Brecon (Wales) in the first quarter and Howell in the second quarter but was unable to identify the other arms in the other two quarters, the arms in the third quarter has one chevron (compared to his grandfather's which has three chevronells in that quarter).
A number of reputable genealogies have been published on the Lewis family, the most comprehensive being that which was compiled by Merrow Edgerton Sorley in 1935, “Lewis of Warner Hall, The History of a Family”, often quoted in other genealogies covered by this compiler (vvz). Nonetheless, there were several errors in this work, pointed out by Grace McLean Moses in her work "The Welsh Lineage of John Lewis (1592-1657) Emigrant to Gloucester, Virginia”, 1984, reprinted 1992 Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, pp. 1-60, with Supplement, pp. 61-68. The most notable error in Sorley’s work proposed that Robert Lewis was the immigrating ancestor of the Lewis family of Warner Hall.
Notes: Lida (Lydia) Lewis has never been positively identified, she was most likely the wife of William but could have been John Lewis (Sr)'s [3rd] wife.
Wm Lewis is found soon after the 1653 patent as Major William Lewis: "Judging from his title one would expect him to be a man of 'middle age' and could well have earned it in England or Wales in the Civil War ... he was also a man with considerable means for he proceeded to purchase over 10,000 acres in the next five years... He appears to have died between 1658-1667." No doubt there was a family relationship between William Lewis and John Lewis, Jr. for the latter was the heir to “Port Holly” (possibly named for Pertholey in Wales) which William had purchased from Col. John West in 1658. The “Port Holly” estate, also known as "Chemokins", went to a son of John Lewis, Jr. - namely Councilor John Lewis of Warner Hall, thus cementing the line from John Lewis the Emigrant to those of Warner Hall. Mrs. Moses strongly suggests that William Lewis was a brother to Johane Lewis, wife of John.
The first mention of an Edward Lewis is when he, with Thomas Robinson, received a grant of 1140 acres in Rappahannock County on 20 Feb 1662; presuming he reached his majority about 1662 would indicate he was born about 1641 in Wales. St. Tielo's Register becomes incomplete after 1640 which may account for why his baptism is not found. In Nov 1663 Humphrey Booth of Rappahannock County mentions a bequest to 'Edward, the son of Edward Lewis' of 'two cows'. The deduction being that Edward Lewis married a daughter of Humphrey Booth and had a son, Edward. Mrs. Moses never states that Edward was the son of John the Emigrant, but seems to suggest that possibility.
Note: from the date now known of his baptism that age given should probably have been 65.
The tombstone had been engraved with a Coat of Arms (as was that of his grandson, Capt. Edward Lewis, found nearby) which proved that the family was Welch. The Coat was divided into four quarters. The first was recognized as the arms of Rhys Goch, an ancient ruler of Wales; this would link this family to the Lewises of Brecon. The next quarter was also recognized as that of the Prince of Caerlleon, the Howell family. What was not in doubt was that the other three quarters represented heiresses of such prominence that their Coat of Arms warranted being included on the shield of John Lewis, the Virginia emigrate.
Mrs. Moses presents what appears to be a very carefully researched paper, going into great detail about how certain clues were found and followed up on. While she presents a great deal of circumstantial evidence that John Lewis who died in 1657 Gloucester Co., VA is the same as the one who is found in 1592 at St. Teilo, there is no silver bullet that identifies this positively. Here the reader will basically find the results of her dedicated search, rather than all the why and how various clues were followed.
A search of the Register of St. Teilo Church, located at Llantilio Pertholey, revealed [Moses, pp. 11-12]:
Note: often in these early records the last name is found as Prichard, Rychard and Pricket, all are colloquialisms for "ap Richard", which translates to "son on Richard". By 1633 it appears that the patronymic system sees to have been abandoned, when John Lewis Pricket becomes simply John Lewis.
Before continuing with the research itself, it is essential for the reader to understand that Heraldic Arms - in Welsh history and genealogy - are of the upper most importance. As throughout England, strict rules applied to their use not only anciently, but also during the colonial period in Virginia. No man could claim arms that he was not legally entitled to bear. It is also interesting to note that the arms where not actually borne by the illustrious ancestor himself but devised after his death and borne by succeeding generations. Another point about the Welsh: "Major Francis Jones, former Herald Extraordinary of Wales, wrote: 'The structure of Welsh society from very early times was essentially aristocratic, and it remained so until the destruction of Henry VIII of the legal concept that buttressed it. The Welsh theory was that no one could be a freeman, inherit property, enjoy privileges, or be received into the community, unless he could prove an agnatic ancestry for a certain number of generations" (Heraldry and the Herald, p. 64). [Moses, p. 16]
The quarters of the Coat of Arms found on the gravestone of John Lewis the emigrant have been identified as follows - 1st quarter "a dragon's head erased vert, holding in its mouth a sinister hand gules": was quickly identified as belonging to Rhys Goch ("the red-haired"), Lord of Ystad-Yw and Ewyas. The antecedents of Rhys Goch were the Lords of Brecknock, established in the parish of Llanelly, Breconshire, for centuries. When going to the English style of surnames they finally settled on Lewis; and thus identified John Lewis, the Emigrant as a member of the Lewis family of Brecon.
A search of the records of the Lordship of Abergavenny was made, since the Lords of Abergavenny held a great deal of land in the area, in “tenements” (property held for another). It is interesting to note that the town of Abergavenny was less than two miles from Llantilio Pertholey. John Lewis was indeed found among these records. He was sometimes referred to as “Merchant”, sometimes as “Mercer”, and sometimes as “Burgess”. (It was determined that he was the John Lewis named Senior Burgess to the town of Abergavenny on 9 Nov 1638 (History of Monmouthshire, by Bradney, p. 153). Even more revealing he was sometimes called, “Gentleman”, denoting “arms-bearing”. John occupied 1½ tenements on High Street, which consisted of two houses, with a yard and garden that stretched back to the ancient wall of the Town. John acquired them from Stephen Hughes, a Vintner and his wife Maria (who had obtained them from David Nicholas), the payment for the first transaction in September 1616 (probably coinciding with the death of John’s father, Lewis, on 4 May 1616) for £203. Regarding a 1627 rental, a list of Burgesses in the town detailed their tenements. This provided the fact that there was only one John Lewis among the Burgesses, and he was said to live in his “burgage tenement”.
“Within the borough, the standard unit of land was the burgage, the tenure of which gave the hold the privileges and status of a burgess. He was expected to perform a number of duties and obligations to the community as a whole, the fundamental being centered on the defense of the borough. The burgage plots, which would have fronted that first street, assumed a characteristic shape - long and narrow with a tenement at the front and the remainder used either as a garden or workshop and yards connected with the particular trade of the tenant. They were almost all let at a fixed, almost standard, rental of one shilling a year. The plots were not uniform in size, varying considerably from town to town and even within towns” (Medieval Abergavenny, by Gwyn Jones). A search for more information on the burgage tenements was conducted, but their precise nature could not be determined. There were two transactions - the one previously mentioned in September 1616 and another in May 1618, the amount of money involved would lead one to believe they were for a purchase. It appeared two adjacent tenements were involved, though this was unclear as the descriptions were not precise. [Moses, pp. 18-20]
Research to determine his parents is required. Some online trees show:
Interested descendants may want to view this book published in 1992: The Welsh Lineage of John Lewis (1592-1657), Emigrant to Gloucester, Virginia, By Grace McLean Moses . See below in Research Notes for comments regarding this book.
After Lewis ap Richard’s early death, his son John Lewis Prichard (our emigrant ancestor, later called John Lewis after the end of the Patronymic naming system) was raised by his Uncle Edward.
Richard Lewis, of Llangatock Crickhowell, Breconshire, Gent. d. 1628 = Nest, daughter of Thomas ap Gwlym ap Llewelyn of Llanelli, Breconshire. Lewis Prichard (ap Richard) aka as Rycketts (Richard) of Llantilio Pertholey, Monmouthshire (d. 1616) = Catherine (d. 1615) Bur. Llantilio Pertholey. Son John Lewis Rycketts (Later just John Lewis) bapt. 22 Feb 1591/2, St. Telios, Llantilio Pertholey - d. 21 Aug 1657 Poropotank Creek. VA. 
I've located the below information from this website:
Arthur Price commented: "Grace Moses is probably right in saying that John Lewis the emigrant comes from the ancestral line she puts forward in her booklet. But in the detail she is totally wrong, and this is easily proved. I have looked at the Llantilio Pertholey Church register in the Gwent Archives several times and sure enough there is the baptism of (and I quote)- “John ye son of Lewis Ryketts baptised Feb 22 1591″. However Moses did not go on to find in the same register (and I quote again), ” John Lewis Rickett buried Jan 3rd 1668″. So John Lewis Rickett was emphatically not the John Lewis who went to America and as a consequence Moses further arguments fail at the first hurdle."
He further commented, " I am glad you have incorporated the information I gave you, but perhaps I didn’t go far enough in my comment of 23 October 2016. John Lewis the emigrant had nothing at all to do with the parish of Llantillio Pertholey (in Welsh Llandeilo Bertholau). He was not born there, did not live there, did not get married there, did not have children there. Also his parents had no connection with the parish. John Lewis Rickett was from an entirely different unconnected family; a poor labourer, who never left the parish.
Therefore all the family connections Grace Moses makes in her book regarding the Lewis family in the parish and wider locality are wrong; as I have been able to prove. Moses confused dates, times, places and people. She combined at least three different John Lewis’ into the same person,non of whom are the correct one. I have been researching this for the last ten years and have documentary evidence to prove it. You could say that this leaves the search for John Lewis at exactly the same place as when his gravestone was discovered in America. ….. John Lewis born in Monmothshire c.1594….. Parish unknown! But not quite. Interestingly the first articles about him after the grave stone was discovered suggest that the family consisted of John, his wife Lydia and two sons, they being born in the order they are given. I have found a John Lewis from a minor but well off family, who featured in local wills etc. He has a wife and two children (names unknown). The Lewis family of Llangattock, Breconshire, had land connections with the parish they came from in Monmouthshire. This John Lewis is in a Parliamentry government c.1650 list of those not to be pardoned for their Royalist activity during the civil war. Near where he lived and in the same parish is a large wood called…… wait for it…… Bertholey. Can I prove this is the correct John Lewis. No, not yet."
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John is 16 degrees from Marie Curie, 29 degrees from Svante Arrhenius, 17 degrees from George Beadle, 23 degrees from Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, 19 degrees from Lawrence Bragg, 15 degrees from Pearl S. Buck, 17 degrees from Sinclair Lewis, 16 degrees from Guglielmo Marconi, 17 degrees from Albert Michelson, 17 degrees from Gerty Cori, 14 degrees from Roger Sperry and 20 degrees from Chris Ferraiolo on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.