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Further Observations on the Ancestry of Colonel Thomas Ligon of Henrico County

27 April 2009 Leave a comment

Source: Neil D. Thompson, “Further Observations on the Ancestry of Colonel Thomas Ligon of Henrico County,” Virginia Genealogist 38[1994].

[page 48]

Fifteen years ago there was published in this journal a useful correction to what had previously been published concerning the descent of the immigrant Thomas LIGON from the family of LYGON of Madresfield, co. Gloucester,1 and thus from the Lords BERKELEY and other notable medieval English families.  The authors apparently did not notice that John SMYTH of Nibley had covered the ground before them2 and omitted a number of important documents in their account.  Having been requested to review the proposed line by a descendant,3 and since the promised further account which had been planned never appeared, it seemed appropriate to review the line of descent from William LYGON of Madresfield to the immigrant with the additional information.

William LYGON of Madresfield, born in or about 1512,4 died at Madresfield 8 Sept. 1567 and was buried at Great Malvern “in the high chancel” 2 Oct. 1567.5 His will, dated 22 Aug. 1567 and proved 12 Aug. 1568,6 named his eldest son Richard as executor and entailed upon him the lion’s share of the family lands.  His second son Thomas was named in the remainder after Richard’s heirs male.  He did not mention his three younger sons, his three elder daughters (all married by then) or his wife, though she


1 Michael J. Wood and Gary Boyd Roberts, “Four Thomas LYGONs (LIGONs): An Abstract of New Findings,” The Virginia Genealogist, v. 22 (1978), pp. 353-55.  These notes do not concern themselves with the career and family of (Col.) Thomas LIGON in Virginia.

2 John Smyth, of Nibley, The Lives of the BERKELEYs … (3 v.; Gloucester, 1883-85), v. 2, p. 178, 183-84.

3 Brice M. Clagett, Esq., of Washington, D.C., who has kindly granted permission to publish the findings separately in advance of the appearance of his book on the ancestry of his children, to be published next year.

4 Inquisition post mortem of (Sir) Richard LYGON, Public Record Office, Chancery Ser. 2, 109:74 (Gloucester), 110:172 (Worcester), which shows William LYGON age 44 in 1556.

5 Great Malvern, Worcestershire, Parish register, unpaged.

6 Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 15 Babington (1568).

[page 49]

did survive him.

As early as 1529 he contracted to marry Eleanor DENNIS,7 daughter of (Sir) William DENNIS of Dirham, co. Gloucester, by his wife Anne, daughter of Maurice, Lord BERKELEY.8 She was dead by 2 March 1585/6 when the administration of her intestate estate was granted to her three younger sons, Thomas, Hugh and Francis LYGON; the probate documents are lost but the act book preserves the date.9 She was probably residing on the LYGON dower lands in co. Gloucester.

As Richard LYGON, eldest son and heir, was age thirty years and more when his father’s inquisition post mortem was taken,10 thus born in or before 1537, and if three of Richard’s four sisters were married by 1567, so born by 1547, we pay [sic] place the birth of Thomas LYGON, second son, in about 1545.  He was buried at Elkstone, co. Gloucester, as “Thomas LIGON, Gent.,” on 14 Aug. 1603.11 No probate record appears to exist for him but there seems to be no reason to doubt the list of his seven children given by Smyth, who would have known his eldest son Thomas, receiver for his cousin Henry, Lord BERKELEY, personally.12

Thomas LYGON married his cousin Frances DENNIS, daughter of Hugh and Katharine (TRYE) DENNIS of Puchlechurch, co. Gloucester.13 She survived her husband and died at Caludon, co. Warwick, and was buried 30 Jan. 1634/5 at Walsgrave-on-Sowe in the same county;14 her will, dated 17 Oct. 622 [sic] and proved 1 June 1625,15 mentions only two children, her sons Thomas, named executor, and Richard.


7 William D. LIGON, The LIGON Family and Connections (2 v.; Hartford, Conn., 1947-57), v. 1, p. 45, dates the marriage contract to Autumn 1529, probably from the original in the Madresfield archives.

8 Smyth, op. cit., v. 2, p. 178.  For a family pedigree see also (Sir) John Maclean and W.C. Heane, ed., The Visitation of the County of Gloucester … (Harleian Society, Publications, Visitation ser., v. 21; London, 1885), pp. 50-51.

9 Consistory Court of Gloucester, Act Book, 1585.

10 Inquisition post mortem of William LYGON, Public Record Office, Chancery ser. 2, 148:1 (Worcester), 149:128 (Gloucester).

11 Elkstone, Gloucestershire, Parish register.

12 Smyth, op. cit., v. 2, p. 184.

13 Maclean and Heane, op. cit., p. 51.

14 Walsgrave-on-Sowe, Warwickshire, Parish register, unpaged.

15 Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 70 Clarke (1625), in which it is said that she is residing at Merson, co. Wilts.

[page 50]

The son Thomas LYGON, born in or about 1577 (aged 44 “or thereabouts” in 1621),16 was buried at Walsgrave-on-Sowe as “Mr. Thomas LIGON from Stoke” on 20 Dec. 1626.17 He married there 18 Aug. 162318 Elizabeth PRATT (“Mr. Thomas LIGGINS and Elizabeth PRATT from Caludon”), baptized at Stoke-Biggin, co. Warwick, 10 Oct. 1602,19 buried at Walsgrave-on-Sowe as “Elizabeth LIGON” 19 Aug. 1631,20 daughter of Dennis or Dionis PRATT and his wife.  The nuncupative will of Denis PRATT, undated but proved 21 July 1614,21 left everything to his wife Ann “to bring up the children”; the estate was a small one and it appears that Elizabeth PRATT was well below the social level of her husband, for she is not called “Mrs.” at marriage, at burial or in her estate proceedings.  John Smyth does not mention any prior wife for Thomas LYGON and, given the short period of time between marriage and the birth of the son Thomas (less than five months) it is likely that Elizabeth PRATT had been a housekeeper or maidservant for Thomas LYGON and was impregnated by him.

Administration of the estate of Thomas LYGON “of Stoke in the County [sic] of the City of Coventry” was granted to his widow Elizabeth 16 Feb. 1626/7.22 Stoke and Walsgrave-on-Sowe are suburban parishes to the City of Coventry while Caludon was part of the ancient parish of St. Michael’s, Coventry; since the early registers of St. Michael’s are destroyed, it is good that the LYGONs seem to have had their baptisms, marriages and burials at Walsgrave-on-Sowe (sometimes “Sowe,” a short form, is found).

Administration of the estate of Elizabeth PRATT alias LIGGON of Aldridge, co. Warwick [Aldridge is in fact in co. Stafford] was granted 30 Aug. 1631 to Richard LIGGON, paternal uncle of Thomas and Joan LIGGON, children of the said Elizabeth.23 Thomas had been baptized 11 Jan. 1623/4 and Joan 3 April 1625 at Walsgrave-on-Sowe as “of Caludon.”24 While John Smyth


16 Chancery Depositions, Elizabeth I-Charles I, Group 3, Bundle E 20, Suit 23, one of several valuable discoveries made by Mr. Michael Wood for the previous summary.

17 Walsgrave-on-Sowe Parish register.

18 Ibid.

19 Stoke Parish register, unpaged.

20 Walsgrave-on-Sowe Parish register, unpaged.

21 Consistory Court of Lichfield, Original wills, 1614.  The register entries for 1614 in the Stoke Parish register are virtually illegible.

22 Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Admon. Act. Book 1625-27, p. 133.

23 Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Admon. Act Book 1631-33, p. 48.

24 Walsgrave-on-Sowe Parish register, unpaged.

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satisfies himself with saying that Thomas and Elizabeth “hath issue” and does not name or pursue the two orphans,25 the fact that the young Thomas LIGON was a cousin both to the Lord BERKELEY and to Governor (Sir) William BERKELEY [Margery (LYGON) BERKELEY, the Governor’s paternal grandmother, was the eldest daughter of William and Eleanor (DENNIS) LYGON]26 would go far to explain the patronage which brought him to Virginia, and, given the lack of any other qualifying Thomas LIGON/LYGON of the proper age in England, and the names that the immigrant (Col.) Thomas LIGON gave to his children and the positions of responsibility and authority held by the latter at an early age in Virginia,27 gives no reason to doubt the identification made by Messrs. Wood and Roberts as the correct parentage for the immigrant.


25 Smyth, op. cit., v. 2, p. 184.

26 Ibid., v. 1, p. 261; v. 2, p. 184.

27 The best summary of the life and career of (Col.) Thomas LIGON in Virginia is in John Frederick Dorman, ed., Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5 (3rd ed.; Richmond, 1987), pp. 356-57.


Four Thomas Lygons (Ligons)

27 April 2009 Leave a comment

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


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


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.