Grandma Frances Armistead
This is a story about my 7X Grandmother. Thatís a grandmother with 7 "Greats" in front of her name. Her dadís name was William ARMISTEAD and her motherís maiden name was Anne ELLIS.
Anyway, Francesí family emigrated to Virginia about 1635 from Kirk Deighton, Yorkshire, England. Golly, the Pilgrims had come only 15 years earlier, in 1620, wasnít it? Her dad had "obtained large grants of land in Elizabeth City county, and subsequently in Gloucester county." Virginia.
We believe Frances was the last of five children of William and Anne ARMISTEAD. Hereís where she fits among her siblings, all of whom were born in Virginia, American Colonies:
John Ė b 1635 [an ancestor of both President William Henry Harrison
(1773-1795) and President Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901)]
William Ė b 1638 (died childless)
Catherine Ė b 1643
Anthony Ė b 1645 (reported to be an ancestor of President Tyler)
Frances Ė b about 1647 (my 7X Grandmother)
If the dates are accurate, Frances married her first husband, Reverend Justinian ALYMER, when she was only 13 years old! Rev ALYMER was about 25 at the time. Apparently he didnít live very long into the marriage because he died before 1660. I wonder if preachers were as poor as usual in those days? Anyway from what Iíve seen of Jamestown, the part thatís not under the James River, it was a very unhealthy place to live. The capitol was moved to Williamsburg in 1698, so I guess he could well be said to be from Jamestown. Anyway, we donít know exactly where they did live. And we donít know of any children from that union.
Next Frances married Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony ELLIOTT of Elizabeth City county and Middlesex county, my 7X Grandfather. He was probably born in, and emigrated from, Kent, England. Since this was well before the Revolutionary War, grandpa had to be a colonel in the British Army, I would think. Frances is now 14 and Anthony was an "old man" of 41.
Frances had three children by Grandpa Anthony:
William ELLIOTT born in 1662
Thomas Richard ELLIOTT born in 1663 (my 6X Grandfather)
Robert ELLIOTT born in 1665
In January 1666, Grandpa Anthony ELLIOTTís will was admitted to record. He died sometime before November 1666. We suspect he may have been ill in January when he had his will recorded.
So here was Grandma Frances, about age 19, widowed again, this time with three young children. What to do? What else? Marry again.
Husband number three was Colonel Christopher WORMELEY. Seems like Grandma Frances was showing a preference for military men. I donít know WORMELEYís birth date or age at marriage but Iíll bet he was pretty old relative to Frances. In fact, since he was a full Colonel and Grandpa Anthony was only a Lt. Colonel, I wonder if WORMELEY might have been Grandpa Anthonyís commanding officer? Anyway, as stepfather to the three ELLIOTT boys, he would have had more influence on them than their birth father. I wish we knew a bit more about him.
In November 1666, probate was granted Mr. Christopher WORMELEY, in place of William ELLIOTT (Grandpa Anthony ELLIOTTís oldest son Ė just 4 years old at the time) and John ARMISTEAD (the married brother of Frances), as "having married the relict." "Relict" is an old word for "widow". I looked it up. After all, only men could own property in those days.
Well, Frances did not outlive her third husband. She died 25 May 1685 in Middlesex, VA, American Colonies. She was probably around 38 years old. By then her youngest boy was 20 years old. So she did get to raise them. But wow! What a plucky gal. I would surely like to meet her and learn more about her life.
Why did she marry so young? Well, maybe because lives were shorter in those days, she figured she had better get started early in order to get it all in.
Anyway, when you consider that I have 127 other 7X grandmothers back there that probably also have a lot of interesting stories, you kind of wish they had left more of a trail.
Robert D. Elliott
June 1999 (Revised 15 Oct 2001)