Genealogy Adventures

The mystery of Henry West (1608-1647)

Genealogy requires rather a substantial amount of critical thinking and deductive reasoning. This is especially true the further back in time you go…when the paper trail becomes sparse. I’m going through this right now with one ancestral cousin, the English immigrant Henry West who settled in the Virginia Colony. He would found an outpost settlement in what is the Richmond, Virginia area (The Origins of Richmondhttp://www.envisionthejames.org/detail/the-origins-of-richmond/evj79769abf7da845298)

He’s a double cousin. He an ancestor that is shared in my father’s Roane family line and my mother’s Matthews family line.

I have two distinct lines of Wests in my family tree. Henry “The Immigrant”‘s is one. The Barons de la Warr are another (the State of Delaware was named for this line). Contemporary records say that Henry was related to the Baronial line of Wests.  He is cited as being a nephew of Thomas West, 2nd Baron de la Warr and the 2nd Governor of the Virginia Colony:

contemporary account of the death of Henry West
Account gathered from contemporary records. Taken from Plantation Homes of the James River by Bruce Roberts, Elizabeth Kedash https://books.google.com/books?id=6S515rAAEpgC&pg=PA6&dq=henry+west+killed+by+indians&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiC4P7G_7bMAhULHD4KHY1BC9gQ6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&q&f=false Click for larger image

Nephew is a pretty cut and dried familial term. So you’d think that Henry’s relationship to either Thomas should be all done and dusted. Far from it.

Thomas West, 2nd Baron de la Warr, 2nd Governor of Virginia.
Thomas West, 2nd Baron de la Warr, 2nd Governor of Virginia.

Thomas West does have one known brother. However, records for that brother are extremely scare. So far, I have only found one son for this brother. His name isn’t Henry. So no nephew Henry’s to be found here. My hunch is that untangling his descendants will require a visit to the British National Archives in London.

On numerous online family trees, I’m finding stories that my Henry’s proper name was William. So it was back to the drawing board to search. It turns out that Thomas West did indeed have nephew named William West:

A few months short of a year after he arrived, [Thomas West, 2nd Baron] De La Warr left Virginia because of illness. A third of the colony’s population was dead, mostly from disease. Miners, brought to Virginia to search for gold, silver, and copper, had planned a mutiny and seen their ringleader hanged. The governor’s nephew, Captain William West, had been killed in battle [with the Powhatan tribe]. From http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/jamestown_settlement_early

This William West, however, was born earlier than Henry “The Immigrant” West – and died much earlier.

So this William isn’t a match either.

It’s the usual genealogy blunder.  Just because two men from the same family died in battles with Native Americans does not make them one in the same person.

So it was back to the drawing board yet again. I’ve had to go back to the first West who was created Baron de la Warr and sketch out his descendants. There are Henry Wests to be sure…none are even close to being a match for my cousin, Henry “The Immigrant” West. They are either born too soon, too late or never travelled from England to the American colonies.

At the moment, I’ve ruled out all of the possibilities for identifying who Henry “The Immigrant” West actually is. That’s not a bad thing. While I know who he isn’t…I know enough about to him to eventually identify who he is in terms of his relationship to the overall West family. If he’s a relation at all. It just requires more research and hunting.

What is interesting is that Henry “The Immigrant” West had land along the James River, near to properties owned by Thomas and Francis West. Henry is also associated with Jamestown, Thomas and Francis West’s base of operations in the Virginia Colony, upon his arrival in the Virginia Colony. Which leads to me to believe that the strongest possibility is that Henry was a cousin to Thomas, rather than a nephew.

Critical thinking and deductive reasoning suggests:

  1. The original account for Henry “The Immigrant” is incorrect. This would mean that somehow, somewhere back in time, Henry “The Immigrant” West was confused with Henry West, son of Thomas West.
  2. My Henry may not be a relation to the Baronial line of Wests at all. He may simply be from an unrelated West family.
  3. My Henry may share a much older common ancestry with the Baronial line of Wests in England; making him a cousin.
  4. A contemporary may have heard the name West and simply assumed he was a relation to Thomas West.
  5. Henry may be his middle name, which he preferred using. Meaning his first name is unknown.
  6. Whatever colonial records that could shed light on Henry’s relationship to Thomas West have either been lost or destroyed in the course of time, skirmishes (e.g. Bacon’s Rebellion) or various wars.

The search for Henry continues…

7 thoughts on “The mystery of Henry West (1608-1647)

  1. Did you ever solve your Henry West mystery? I may have a lead. I have a ancestor, William West, who was active in Bacon’s Rebellion and sentenced to death. His brother, Henry West, lead a petition (1677) to spare his life, partly because he had taken up arms against the indians who had “murdered his father.” So, my Williams & Henry’s father (killed by indians) might be your Henry. My William married Rebecca Bracewell, abt 1667, dau. of Rev. Robert Bracewell Isle of Wright. I don’t know his birth date or parents, but his will is dated 20 Oct 1708. If you have any info, please let me know!

    1. Thank you, Stephanie. That’s a very helpful lead. I have your Henry in another part of my tree. I’m trying to slowly unlock four Henry Wests, all born around the same time, to be certain I’m picking up the trail for the Henry I’m searching for. The one you mention is the strongest candidate. I’m just not 100% certain

    2. That is my ancestor as well. His daughter, Rebecca, mentioned in his will: 1708: The will of William West was written Oct. 2, 1708, and probated Feb. 9, 1708/9 lists sons: William, Richard, and Robert, all to receive land; to daughter Mary Green an Indian girl; to daughter Rebecca an Indian woman and all the rest of the estate.
      William was sentenced to death for his part in Bacon’s Rebellion (1677), but he managed to escape from the jail located on the land of Col John West (part of which is now know as “West Point.”)
      John West was in a relationship with the “Queen of the Pamunkey, Cockacoeske, who left the estate about the same time as William West escaped. SO,
      I guess that William West was somehow related to John West, maybe through an illegitimate child, and that he arranged the escape.
      2. That the Pamukey took William with them to the Carolinas.
      3) That William took up with a woman while there and had a children, Rebecca and Mary, the aforesaid mentioned “Indians.”
      This is especially rich as William’s reprieve and pardon (before April 1708) was “because Henry West, the family patriarch, had been murdered by Indians.”

      Strange fact: almost no Rebeccas in my family tree, both Rebeccas are of mixed ancestry. (& I am Rebecca)

  2. In olden times, relationship terms often vary from their modern meanings. Eg, a cousin could be a nephew or vice versa, daughter could also be the daughter in law, etc…

  3. Hello, my name is Sonja and I found this back in summer of July 2011 regarding William West and father Henry, but I also have two lines as you will notice. A lot of my information came from The Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints and what I found is pretty interesting.

    I am pasting my information here for ones that might can help. It is as follows:

    WILLIAM WEST, SR., born circa 1643 in Isle of Wight County, Virginia USA, died 1702 in Newport Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia USA, military 1677 Bacon’s Rebellion.

    William West petition 1677 Bacon’s Rebellion was born in 1643. William West petition 1677 Bacon’s Rebellion’s father was Henry immigrant West and his mother is Joan Hickman. He was an only child.

    He was adopted by John West #1802 & Sarah #1803. He died at the age of 59 in 1702. Henry immigrant West was born about 1608. He died in 1647.

    son of Henry who was killed by the Indians
    William participated in Bacon’s Rebellion but was later pardoned.

    a. Rebecca West

    WILLIAM WEST, OF BACONS REBELLION:

    West, William
    Date: Oct 20, 1708
    Location: Newport Parish
    Record ID: 21293
    Description: Testator
    Prove Date: Feb 9, 1708
    Book Page: 2-490

    Remarks: William West of Newport Parish. Leg.-son William; son Richard all my land between William Green and Robert Bagnall; son Robert; daughter Mary Green; daughter Rebeckah. Extx., my wife.

    This probate record was extracted from microfilmed copies of the original Will Book.

    More About WILLIAM WEST, OF BACONS REBELLION:

    Burial: February 09, 1708/09, Will was Probated, of Newport Parish, Isle of Wight, VA

    Source: Boddie & Southwest Va families Vol 1

    Generation No. 1 – Information of the Father of William West, Sr., since he was adopted by John West and Rebecca Bracewell, his lineage continues through them. HENRY1 WEST and JOAN HICKMAN parents of William West, Sr parents have not yet been established at present. I hope that the in direct route through John West and Rebecca Bracewell adds a little color of there history, that is very interesting going back through there lineage.

    He married 1st Rebecca Bracewell:

    Rebecca BRACEWELL was born in 1647 in the Isle of Wight County, Virginia, and died 1700 in Isle Wight, Virginia, USA (daughter of Robert Bracewell, Reverend and Rebecca (Izzard) Izard). Rebecca married William West in 1668 and they had only one daughter, Rebecca West. William was involved in Bacon’s Rebellion (see page 154) along with his brother-in-law, Robert Stokes. Both William and Robert were captured by the Brittish January 16, 1677 (SEVENTEENTH CENTURY ISLE OF WIGHT, by John Boddie) during the conflict, but William escaped and was later pardoned by the King. (Greater detail on the role played by William West and Robert Stokes in Bacon’s Rebellion may be found in Hildon Braswell’s book see end of this report for title.)

    REBECCA BRASWELL:

    West, Rebecca
    Date: Feb 15, 1667
    Location: Isle Of Wight
    Record ID: 20771
    Description: Daughter
    Prove Date: May 1, 1668
    Book Page: 2-52

    Remarks: Robert Braswell. Leg.-daughter Jane Stoikes and her children; daughter Rebecca West; son Robert; son Richard; servant Elizabeth Hall; daughter Ann Bagnall. Mr. Richard Izard and George Guillen to be guardian to my children; daughter Ann Bagnall.

    This probate record was extracted from microfilmed copies of the original Will Book.

    Children of WILLIAM WEST and REBECCA BRASWELL are:

    5. i. RICHARD3 WEST.
    6. ii. ROBERT WEST, d. June 07, 1712, Isle of Wright, VA.
    7. iii. MARY WEST, b. Isle of Wright, VA; d. November 19, 1737, Isle of Wright, VA.
    8. iv. REBECCA WEST, b. Abt. 1652.
    v. WILLIAM WEST, JR., m. MARTHA WILLS.

    MORE ABOUT Rebecca BRASWELL:

    Rebecca married William WEST, who was very active in Bacon’s Rebellion. He led a rebel force to attack a loyal fort, but was captured on 16 Jan. 1677. Like his brother-in-law, Robert STOKES, he was sentenced to death. He escaped from prison and a petition for his reprieve was circulated by his brother, Henry WEST, in Oct. of 1677. It was signed by 88 people (almost half the inhabitants of Isle of Wight Co.). Among the signers were his brothers-in-law, James BAGNALL and Richard BRASWELL.

    Henry WEST, in the petition, stated:

    “Petition of His Majesties most loyal and obedient subjects of Isle of Wight to his Majesties Commissioners, in behalf of William WEST, a rebel absconding, who took up arms against the Indians by whom his father had been most barbarously murdered, was taken prisoner and carried aboard a ship, from hence to prison and was condemned to death, but has made his escape and as yet has not been found. We pray for his life and the restitution of his estate to his wife and children.” (Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County Virginia by John Bennett Boddie.) The petition apparently was granted.

    Children:

    i. Joseph P14 West #1045, born 1662 in Prince Georges, Maryland, USA, died Aug 1731 in Bladensburg, Prince Georges, Maryland, USA.

    22. ii. Robert West, Sr #1038 born 1673.

    iii. Marjorie Rebecca West #1046, born circa 1665 in Isle Wight, Virginia, USA, died in Virginia or North Carolina USA.

    iv. Rebecka West #1047, born circa 1680 in Isle of Wight, VA, USA.

    v. Thomas West #1048, born circa 1681 in Isle Of Wight, Norfolk, Virginia USA.

    vi. Sarah West #1049, born circa 1684 in Isle Wight, Isle Of Wight, Virginia, USA.

    vii. Elizabeth West #1050, born circa 1686 in Isle Wight, Isle Of Wight, Virginia, USA.

    viii. Ann West #1051, born circa 1690 in Isle Wight, Isle Of Wight, Virginia USA.

    ix. William West, Jr #1052, born 1680 in Isle Wight, Isle Of Wight, Virginia USA, died 4 Dec 1744 in Isle Wight, Virginia USA.

    He married Martha Wills #1910.

    Martha:
    MARTHA WILLS: (This is only a guess)
    West, Ann Oct 31, 1765
    Location: Isle Of Wight., VA
    Record ID: 23886
    Description: Witness
    Prove Date: May 7, 1772
    Book Page: 8-142

    Remarks: John Wills. Of Newport Parish. Leg.-wife Martha; son John Scarsbrook Wills; son James Wills; son Thomas; son Emanuel; son Benjamin; son Mills; son Micajah; son William. Captain Brewer Godwin to have the care of my sons, Emanuel, Benjamin and Mills

    Notes: This probate record was extracted from microfilmed copies of the original Will Book.

    x. Richard West #1053, born 1695 in Isle Wight, Isle Of Wight, Virginia USA, died 13 Jul 1747 in Isle of Wight, Virginia, USA.

    xi. Mary West #1054, born circa 1688 in Isle Wight, Isle Of Wight, Virginia USA, died 19 Nov 1737 in Isle Wight, Isle Of Wight, Virginia USA.

    She married John Dickinson #1816, 1720 in Chowan, North Carolina, United States, born 1695 in Chowan, North Carolina, United States, died 1749 in Northampton, North Carolina, United States.

    He married 2nd Martha:

    William West married 2nd Martha some say Martha is the mother of the rest of his children

    b. Mary West married William Green
    c. Richard West
    d. William West Jr.
    e. Robert West.

    WILLIAM WEST – BACON’S REBELLION

    BRASWELL BRANCHES – Nona Williams – Volume I, Issue 1 – Winter 1991/92

    Rebecca married William WEST, who was very active in Bacon’s Rebellion. He led a rebel force to attack a loyal fort, but was captured on 16 Jan. 1677. Like his brother-in-law, Robert STOKES, he was sentenced to death. He escaped from prison and a petition for his reprieve was circulated by his brother, Henry WEST, in Oct. of1677. It was signed by 88 people (almost half the inhabitants of Isle of Wight Co.). Among the signers were his brothers-in-law, James BAGNALL and Richard BRASWELL. Henry WEST, in the petition, stated:

    “Petition of His Majesties most loyal and obedient subjects of Isle of Wight to his Majesties Commissioners, in behalf of William WEST, a rebel absconding, who took up arms against the Indians by whom his father had been most barbarously murdered, was taken prisoner and carried aboard a ship, from hence to prison and was condemned to death, but has made his escape and as yet has not been found. We pray for his life and the restitution of his estate to his wife and children.” (Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County Virginia by John Bennett Boddie.)

    The petition apparently was granted. William WEST made his will 2 Oct. 1708, pr. 9 Feb. 1708/09. He gave to sons William and Richard “all land between William GREEN and Robert BAGNALL’s”; to William, land purchased from Capt. William OLDIS and William WESTRY; to son Robert, land “where he now lives”; to daughter, Mary GREEN, an Indian girl; to daughter Rebecca, an Indian woman; his second wife, Martha, and daughter Rebecca, were bequeathed the rest of the estate.

    NOTE: Rebecca Bracewell was the daughter of the Reverend Robert Bracewell.

    WILLIAM WEST IN BACON’S REBELLION

    William West’s participation in Bacon’s Rebellion was evidently quite extensive. The following is the petition sent to the Commissioners of Isle of
    Wight County for the pardon of William West, who was captured January 16, 1677, and subsequently escaped. William was the husband of Rebecca BRACEWELL, daughter of the Reverend Robert BRACEWELL (see page 10).

    “Petition of His Majesties most loyal and obedient subjects of Isle of Wight to his Majesties Commissioners, in behalf of William West, a rebel
    absconding, who took up arms against the Indians by whom his father had been most barbarously murdered, was taken prisoner and carried aboard a ship, from hence to prison and was condemned to death, but has made his escape and as yet has not been found. We pray for his life and the restitution of his estate to his wife and children.

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