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Thomas Willoughby (abt. 1592 - 1657)

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Capt Thomas Willoughby
Born about in Rochester, Kent, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in All Hallows, Barking, Middlesexmap
Willoughby-102 created 30 Dec 2010 | Last modified
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Categories: Ancient Planter of Virginia.


Thomas was born about 1592. Thomas Willoughby was a prominent magistrate in Norfolk VA. He died April 15, 1657 (age 57 or 59) in Al Hallows, Barking, England. (3) (7).

Born in 1600 (1), probably in Wallaton, Kent, England, although second sources (2) (7) indicates his birth date was 1601. a third source (3) states that he signed a deposition in November 1650 and gave his age as 52 years, making his birth date as 1598. The 1600 date is the most often used. (Note that these years would have caused him to have married and started having children before the age of 16.)

Nephew of Sir Percival Willoughby of Wallaton, Kent. (2) came to America in 1610 on Prosperous (7) and settled in Hampton (a trading post established by Lord Delaware) on the site of the Indian village of Kecoughtan. The area was later called Elizabeth City county. He was granted a patent of 100 acres. (3)(4)

In 1625, he was given permission to take 200 acres near the York River, but hostile Indians prevented its use. (3)

He made a trip to England in 1627 and upon returning, Lieutenant Pippet and Ensign Thomas Willoughby were ordered to attack the Chesapeake Indians. As a result, Thomas Willoughby became known as an Indian fighter and this battle may have resulted in the extinction of the Chesapeake tribe. (1) He patented and additional 300 acres adjoining his original 100 acres in Hampton. (3)

In 1628-29 and again in 1630-32, Lieutenant Thomas Willoughby was appointed Commissioner (justice) for Elizabeth City County (Hampton). (2) He represented Elizabeth City county in the House of Burgesses from 1629 to 1632, and in the latter year became a member of the governor's council. (2)(4)

In 1636, he secured a patent for 200 acres of land which included the site of the ancient Indian village of SKI-CO-AK (Norfolk) and extended north from the Elizabeth River to the current Bute Street. He also took 100 acres across the river which included the present Navel Hospital.

Thomas Willoughby, in a sense, was the first citizen of Norfolk though his home may not have been in the grant. He allowed the grant to eventually escheat (revert) to the colony. (5) See map (courtesy of Kirn Memorial Library).

On March 11, 1639, Captain Thomas Willoughby was presiding justice of Lower Norfolk County. (2) This indicates that he moved from Hampton to Norfolk between 1632 and 1639 although the exact date is not known. It possible occurred when he obtained the 200 acres in 1636.

Upon the death of Adam Thorowgood in 1641, Thomas Willoughby sent two agents to the widow's plantation in the Lynnhaven area to make necessary appraisals of the estate. Captain Willoughby and Henry Sewell were overseers of the Thorowgood estate, and it was years before the feisty widow allowed the estate to be settled. (1)

Willoughby, like Adam Thorowgood, was a leading man on the James River. He was the son of an important English and West Indian merchant. (1)

In 1646, he was 'High Lieutenant' of Norfolk County. (2) In the period 1644-47, he made another trip to England and upon his return, he located in Lower Norfolk County with a patent for 2900 acres in Lynnhaven Parish. (3) Another source states that he acquired 3600 acres west of Little Creek on the south shore of Hampton Roads .(6) This estate on Willoughby Point was known as 'Manor Plantation' (2) and his home was called 'Willoughby Hope'. Located on high ground overlooking the bay, his descendants lived there for over 125 years. (4)

His wife was named Alice (last name unknown) and his son, Thomas, was born in 1632 and his daughter, Elizabeth, in 1635. (3) His wife may have been Alice Layton, daughter of John Layton and Ann Burras who were the first English marriage on American soil in 1608 in Virginia. Elizabeth married before her brother, thus she may have been the eldest. This could mean that her father, Thomas married about 1628-1630. Out of an 18 year period, he spent 12 years old of colony. Much time was spent in England and probably Barbados. (7) on a deposition dated 26 November 1650, he signed it Captain Thomas Willoughby, gentleman, aged 52. He died April 15, 1657 (age 57 or 59) in Al Halowes, Barking, England. (3) (7) He left an estate in Barbados. (7)

The Willoughbys were staunch Royalists. Head of the family, John W., in 1775 was unable to side with the rebels and was shunned as a Tory. He finally joined Lord Dunmore fleeing with the British fleet to England. Yet other Willoughbys fought with the Virginia Army. The fleeing of John W. ended the Willoughby claim to Willoughby Spit. (6)

References 1. Norfolk: First Four Centuries, T.C. Parramore 2. Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography: Vol 1, L.G. Tyler 3. Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia 1607-1625, Meyer and Dorman 4. Senior's Advocate, March/April 1990 5. Through the Years in Norfolk, Anniversary Edition 6. Gateway to the New World, F.K. Turner 7. Captain Thomas Willoughby 1601-1657, A.G. Walter" ghby/thomas_willoughby_1600.htm (accessed 3/27/10). "Jamestown Colonist Bibliography Last Name: Willoughby First Name: Thomas Birthplace: Kent, England Birthdate: 1601 Death Place: All Saints, Barking, London, England Death Date: By 1657 Married to: Alice and Juliana Children: Thomas and Elizabeth Father: Thomas of Wateringbury, Kent, England Siblings: Peter of Adlington, Kent, England Virginia Settlement Place: Corporation of Elizabeth City Occupation: Ensign and Captain and Commissioner for Elizabeth City and Member of House of Burgesses and Gentleman Occupation Notes: Also a merchant and planter Arrival Date: 1610 Arrival Ship: Prosperous

Notes: Immigrated to VA in 1610 at age of 9. He was a merchant and a planter and made several trips to England

Thomas Willouby was born in Kent, England in 1601 the son of Thomas Willoughby of Wateringbury, Kent. He arrived in Virignia in the ship Prosperous in1610 at the age of nine and became an important merchant and planter in the colony. He settled in the corporation of Elizabeth City where he was granted a patent of 100 acres before 1626. Willoughby is listed as an Ensign in the Musters of 1624/5 and by 1627 was assigned the title of Captain when he was appointed the commander for an attack against the Chesapeake Indians. By 1628 he served as commissioner for Elizabeth City and a member of the House of Burgesses, a Burgess for the Upper part of Elizabeth City in 1630, Waters Creek and the Upper Part of Elizabeth city in 1632 and a member of the Virgnia Council in 1642-52. In November of 1635, Willoughby patented another tract in Elizabeth City adjoining the tract of land where his dwelling stood. He apparently made several trips to England for in 1644-47 he was described as a merchant of Red Lyon Alley, St. Botolph, London. He married twice, first to Alice and second to Juliana. Willouby had two children, Thomas and Elizabeth. His son Thomas, was admitted to the Merchant Taylor’s School in London between 1644 and 1647.

Willoughby returned to Virginia and patented 2900 acres in Lynnhaven Parish in October of 1654. He named among his headrights Alice Willoughby, Thomas Willoughby and Elizabeth Willoughby. In a 1652 deposition Captain Willoughby’s home was referred to as “Willoughby’s Hope”

Thomas Willoughby died by April of 1657 when administration of his estate was granted to Thomas Middleton, Esquire, nephew of Thomas Willoughby “late of Virginia but deceased in All Hallows, Barking, Ostham.

He had one surviving brother, Peter Willoughby of Adlington, Kent.

Bibliographic References: Hotten, p. 275 Withington, Va Gleanings, [1980] 461 Jester, [1987]pp. 55, 688-9" Association for Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (accessed 3/27/10).

"Norfolk Highlights 1584 - 1881 By George Holbert Tucker Chapter 5 The History of Norfolk's Site The narrow strip of land fronting the Elizabeth River on which Norfolk was originally established was owned by six early Virginia settlers and one mercantile group before it was laid out as a townsite in 1680-81 by John Ferebee, the surveyor for Lower Norfolk County. For many years it was believed that the Indian town of Skicoak, one of the three settlements of the Chesepian Indian tribe, supposedly occupied the site of Norfolk. But later historians, after a careful sifting of the evidence, have come to the conclusion that Skicoak was on the Elizabeth River closer to Hampton Roads, while the site that eventually became the nucleus of the present Norfolk was either Indian corn land or primeval forest until the English took over. In any event, the first white man to own the site on which Norfolk was established was Captain Thomas Willoughby, who patented two hundred acres "upon the first eastern branch of the Elizabeth River" on February 13, 1636/37. * Born in England around 1601, Willoughby came to Virginia as a boy on the ship Prosperous in 1610. He became one of the most important merchants in Seventeenth Century Virginia, and his "manor plantation" was on the present site of Ocean View. Willoughby was successively a justice of the peace, a member of the Virginia Assembly at Jamestown, and a member of the Governor's Council. He was also a dangerous man to trifle with. For instance, in 1646, a little over a decade before his death in England in 1658, an indiscreet Lower Norfolk County citizen who slandered him was sentenced by the court to receive fifteen lashes on his bare back, after which he had to appear in all public places for a time wearing a piece of paper bound to his forehead on which a brief account of his peccadillo was inscribed.Willoughby owned the original site of Norfolk for only seven years, however, for he sold it on April 1, 1644 to John Watkins, another prominent Lower Norfolk County citizen, who again sold it on April 30, 1644, to a man named John Norwood. " From Virginia County Records, Vol. VI Elizabeth City County Book No. 1. Original Source Page Name: 61 Ensign Thomas Willoughby 1624 Comment: 50 acres Original Source Page Name: 312 Capt. Thomas Willoughby 1635 Comment: 300 acres "From The Original Lists of Persons of Quality, 1600-1700 by John Camden Hotten

1624/1625 (exact date not listed)

Elizabeth City

Ensigne Thomas Willoby his Muster Thomas Willoby aged 23 in the "Prosporouse" 1610 Servants: John Chaundler aged 24 in the "Hercules" 1609 Thomas aged 20 in the "greate hopewell" 1623 Robert Bennett aged 24 in the "Jacob" 1624 Niccolas Davis aged 13 in the "Mariegould" 1615

In the previous 'census' there are the following listed in order (in the same household?)

A List of the Names of the Living in Virginia february the 16 1623

more at Elizabeth Cittie Thomas Willowbey Oliuer Jenkinson John Chandeler Nicholas Davies Jone Jenkins Mary Jenkins

Patents Granted &c

The Corporacon of Elizabeth Cittie Tho: Willowsaby about 2 miles within the mouth of Pemonkey River -- 200 Acres, by order of Court

On ye South Side of the maine River against Elizabeth Cittie

Thomas Willoughbye -- 100 Acres -- by pattent

From The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1660 by Peter Wilson Coldham

6 July 1626 Petition of Captain John Preen of London, merchant, for a warrant to enable him to proceed in the "Peter and John" to Virginia with his people. Examinations of John Preen, a passenger Thomas Willoughby and John Pollington who declare that the only intention of the voyage is to carry passengers and goods to Virginia.

26 May 1634 To the Governor of Virginia. William and Thomas Willoby, Symon Turgus, Humphrey and Thomas Farley, William and Stephen Barker, Thomas Browne, William Ewins and Richard Ware, planters, have represented to us that, having maintained families in Virginia for several years, they fear to lose from the appointment of Morris Thompson as sole shipper.

1649 -- Various dates Administrations granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury:

Thomas Willoughby of Southwark, Surrey, who died at Barbados.

23 Jan 1651 [last date] Depositions by Captain Thomas Willoughby of Willoughby's Hope, Norfolk Co., Virginia, aged 52, Richard Jennings of Bermuda, merchant aged 51, and others re the voyage in 1649 of the "Jonathan and Abigail", Mr. Adam Groves, to Barbados and Virginia. The ship's poor condition and lack of provisions caused the death of 36 passengers who might have fetched 5 hundredweight of sugar had they reached Barbados alive.

April 1657 Administration of Thomas Willoughby of Virginia who died at All Hallows, Barking, London

From Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635: A Biographical Dictionary by Martha W. McCartney

"In 1617-18, deputy-governor Sir Samuel Argall gave [Thomas] Willoughby some land in Elizabeth City on the east side of the Hampton River, acreage on which he built a home. When Governor George Yeardley arrived in April 1619 and commenced implementing the Virginia Company's instructions, the territory in which Thomas Willoughby and his neighbors had become established was designated Company Land. On June 19, 1622, Willoughby claimed that Yeardley had evicted him from his homestead and that he had received no compensation."

"In December 1625 Willoughby received a court order confirming his 200 acres on the Pamunkey River, which he had seven years to seat."

"He went to England in 1626 and made plans to bring goods and passengers to Virginia on the "Peter and John". When Willoughby returned in 1627, he led an expedition against the Chesapeake Indians. In mid-November 1628 he claimed 50 acres on the north side of the James River and west of the Hampton River, bordering Salford's Creek -- land that Captain William Tucker previously had owned."

"In March 1629, Lieutenant Thomas Willoughby was made commander of the area from Marie's Mount or Newporte News to Captain William Tucker's and he was named a commissioner of Elizabeth City's monthly court. In that capacity he ordered the auctioning of the late George Shorton's goods. Willoughby also appeared before the General Court so that he could settle a dispute with one of his own servants."

"In April 1629 he was among those who asked that their parish, which had been subdivided, be restored to its former size. He became a burgess for the upper part of Elizabeth City and in that capacity inspected the fort built at Old Point Comfort. Two years later he served as burgess for the area from Water's Creek (now Lake Maury) to the limits of the upper parish of Elizabeth City."

"By November 1635 Willoughby had built a home on his property on the south side of the James River and had acquired some adjacent acreage."

"He went to England around 1644-47, and when his son, Thomas II, was admitted to the Merchant Taylor's School, the elder Thomas identified himself as a merchant of Red Lyon Alley, St. Botolph, London. However, he made Lower Norfolk County, Virginia, his permanent home, calling his plantation, "Willoughby's Hope." "

"When Thomas Willoughby was deposed in November 1650, he indicated that he was age 52 and had lived in Virginia for 39 years. A patent he secured in 1654 used the headrights of his son, Thomas; daughter, Elizabeth; and Alice Willoughby, probably Thomas's wife."

"Willoughby died while visiting All Hallows, Barking, in London, and in April 1657 his nephew, Thomas Middleton, was named administrator."


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On 22 Oct 2015 at 08:44 GMT Travis. (Pollard) Pless. wrote:

Please confirm a correction needed..Under Biography...Line (02) two last sentence should be... " He died April 15, 1657 (age 57 or 59) in Al Hallows, Barking, England. (3) (7)."

Age 57 or 59 depends upon which record is correct.

On 8 Mar 2013 at 08:01 GMT David Moore wrote:

I was stationed at the Norfolk Naval Base where his land used to be. How neat is that.

Thomas is 17 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 14 degrees from Joseph Broussard, 23 degrees from Helmut Jungschaffer and 15 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II Windsor on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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