Four Thomas Lygons (Ligons)

Source: Michael J. Wood and Gary Boyd Roberts, “Four Thomas Lygons (Ligons): An Abstract of New Findings,” Virginia Genealogist 22[1978].

[page 253]

The following abstract of new findings concerning the immigrant Col. Thomas LIGON of Henrico Co., Va., his father, grandfather and son, is a preliminary report on a major re-examination in both England and Virginia of the immigrant’s immediate family, of all traceable contemporary English LYGONs, and of the family’s numerous colonial connections and notable American progeny.  A much longer article is planned, but the following will add much to, and correct various mistakes in, the major treatments of this family in print — William Daniel LIGON, The LIGON Family and Connections (2 v.; Hartford, Conn., 1947-57), and articles by John Bennett Boddie in William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, 2nd series, v. 16 (1936), pp. 289-315, and Virginia Historical Genealogies (Redwood City, Calif., 1954), pp. 343-44.  Mr. LIGON confused his immigrant ancestor with the latter’s almost certain father, and both Mr. LIGON and Mr. Boddie confused Col. Thomas and his son.  Both authors too used the unusually rich muniments at Madresfield, the LYGON ancestral seat in Worcestershire, but apparently did not examine the various parish registers, chancery depositions, or even Prerogative Court of Canterbury administrations, covering the immigrant’s immediate family.  Thus the death in England of the Calouden farmer, his approximate age (badly guessed by Mr. LIGON), the given names of his wife and children, and the very existence, then, of a younger Thomas LYGON, hypothesized by Boddie, who is almost certainly the immigrant — all these facts are now being reported for the first time.  Recently published Virginia materials, the originals of which Mr. LIGON and Mr. Boddie variously misinterpreted, allow us rather easily to unravel the confusion between the immigrant and his son.  Col. Thomas LIGON of Henrico Co., Va., his almost certain father and grandfather, and his son, are thus as follows:

1. Thomas LYGON, second son of William LYGON and Eleanor DENNIS of Madresfield, Worcestershire, lived in Elkstone, Gloucestershire (not Elston, Wiltshire), married Frances DENNIS, a cousin, daughter of Hugh DENNIS and Katherine TRYE of Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire.  As “Francisca LIGON ux’ Thomas LIGON nuper de Elkeston,

[page 254]

gen.” she was fined 20 shillings for recusancy in 1592.1 Frances, then a widow, was of Merson, Wiltshire, when she made her will on 17 Oct. 1622, but later lived with her son Thomas at Calouden and was buried in the adjacent parish of Sowe 30 Jan. 1624/5.  Her will was proved by him 1 June 1625.2 Through a line that Mr. Roberts cannot confirm, and of one link of which he is dubious, John TRYE (1513-1579) of Hardwick, Gloucestershire, an uncle of Frances DENNIS, is charted by Gerald PAGET as an ancestor of H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.3

2. Thomas LYGON, farmer, of Stoke-by-Coventry and Calouden, Warwickshire, born ca.1577,4 married (perhaps a second wife) 18 Aug. 1623 Elizabeth PRATT at Sowe.  She was baptized at nearby Stoke-Biggin 10  Oct. 1602, daughter of Dennis PRATT.  Thomas LYGON was buried at Sowe 20 Dec. 1626.  Administration on his estate was granted his relict Elizabeth 16 Feb. 1626/7.5 Elizabeth was buried at Sowe 19 Aug. 1631.

3. Thomas LYGON, baptized at Sowe, Warwickshire, 11 Jan. 1623/4, is almost certainly the immigrant Col. Thomas LIGON of Virginia, surveyor and burgess of Henrico County.6 He made his will 10 Jan. 1675 and administration was granted his widow and executrix, Mary, 16 March 1675/6.7 He married ca.1650 Mary HARRIS, born ca.1625,8 daughter of Thomas HARRIS (born 1587) and Adria, perhaps

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1  Catholic Record Society, Publications, v. 18 (n.p., 1916), p. 125.

2  William Daniel LIGON, The LIGON Family and Connections, v. 1 (Hartford, Conn., 1947), pp. 103-04.

3  Gerald Paget, The Lineage and Ancestry of H.R.H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (Baltimore Edinburgh & London, 1977), v. 2, pp. 274 et seq.

4  Chancery Depositions, Elizabeth I-Charles I, Group 3, Bundle E 20, Suit 23, which shows him as “aged 44 or thereabouts” in 1621.

5  J.H. Morrison, ed., Prerogative Court of Canterbury Letters of Administration, 1620-1630 … (London, 1935), p. 70.

6  For his career as burgess see H.R. McIlwaine, ed., Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1619-1658/59 (Richmond, 1915), pp. xxii, 95, and for his various land patents see Nell M. Nugent, Cavaliers and Pioneers, v. 1 (Richmond, 1934), pp. 440, 516; v. 2 (Richmond, 1977), pp. 49, 51-52, 92, 116, 124 (he is referred to progressively in these grants as major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, and “Mr., Sr.”).

7  Henrico Co., Va., Deeds & Wills 1677-92, p. 35; Order Book 1678-93, p. 167.

Ibid., Deeds & Wills 1688-97, p. 107.

[page 255]

GURGANEY.9 Col. LIGON surveyed an area called “Mawburne” or Malvern Hills in Henrico County (in England Malvern Hills are very near Madresfield) and at least once acted as an agent for Sir William BERKELEY, governor of Virginia, his almost certain second cousin.10 His children were Thomas Jr., William, Joan, Richard, Mathew, Hugh and Mary, named undoubtedly after himself (Thomas Jr.), his wife (Mary), his sister (Joan), two of his father’s brothers (William and Richard11), and his father’s maternal grandfather, Hugh DENNIS of Pucklechurch.  Nothing can be found to document a later English career for Thomas LYGON, born 1623/4, and no other Thomas is unaccounted for and of the right age to be the immigrant.

4. Thomas LIGON, Jr., born ca.1651,12 who was dead by 20 Aug. 1678.13 The immigrant’s eldest son, he left no issue and probably died unmarried.14 A fifth Thomas LIGON (died 1705) was the eldest son of Thomas, Jr.’s, next brother, William LIGON and the heir-at-law of his immigrant grandfather.15

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9  Martha Woodroof Hiden and Annie Lash Jester, Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1625 (2nd ed.; n.p., 1964), pp. 202-05; Boddie, Virginia Historical Genealogies, pp. 198-200; Boddie, Southside Virginia Families, v. 2 (Redwood City, Calif., 1956), pp. 128-32; Boddie, Historical Southern Families, v. 4 (Redwood City, Calif., 1960), pp. 190-92, v. 8 (Kailua, Hawaii, 1964), pp. 10-11.

10  LIGON, op. cit., v. 1, pp. 307-08, 100.

11  William LYGON of Calouden, gent., buried at Sowe 16 Aug. 1616 (although possibly the immigrant named his second son after Sir William BERKELEY, a likely sponsor or protector, as well) and Richard LYGON, also called “LIGON” in various English depositions, almost certainly the historian of Barbadoes.

12  Nugent, op. cit., v. 2, pp. 116, 124.  His father is called “Sr.” 18 March 1672/3, but “Col.” 28 Sept. 1672.

13  Pauline P. Warner, ed., Orphans Court Book, 1677-1739, of Henrico County, Virginia (Tappahannock, Va., 1963), pp. 11-12, a transliteration of p. 3 of the original.

14  Waverly K. Winfree, comp., The Laws of Virginia, Being a Supplement to Hening’s The Statutes at Large, 1700-1750 (Richmond, 1971), pp. 344-47.

15  LIGON, op. cit., v. 1, pp. 360-63.

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