Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Beeks line: Nicholas Lehew 1656-1719 Immigrant to Virginia

Nicholas Lehew's origins are a mystery.  Some say he was from France and a Huguenot, some say he was English in origin.  So far as I'm aware, no one has found a document that proves his origins, or his family.  The first we know of him is in 1670, when he is in Northumberland County, Virginia, and is an indentured servant to Mr. Leonard Howson, and adjudged by the courts to be fourteen years of age.  Leonard Howson was only 7 years older than Nicholas, so it's a matter for speculation as to how Mr. Howson acquired the means to support a servant, and what the relationship between the two men was.  Were they friends, or were they merely master and servant?  It is to be hoped that the two men got along, because Nicholas's indenture was likely for seven years, until he turned 21.

It seems that Nicholas must have spent his post -indenture time wisely, because in 1699 and 1701 he was a bondsman and a witness, respectively, to wills written by neighbors.  He must have earned the respect of his neighbors, somehow.  In 1707, Lehew was sued by George Durkin, because Nicholas was short on cash, apparently and George's time of indentureship was up.  So Lehew had gone from being an indentured servant, to hiring or buying and indentured servant.  When he died in 1718 or 1719, his estate included three slaves, plus the infant of one of the slaves.  There is no mention of whom the father might be.  So in a way, we can say that Nicholas worked himself up in the world.

He is believed to have married Mary, possibly Mary Owens, in Virginia, but again, I don't find documents supporting this.  When he died in 1718/1719, the widow Mary and son Peter were declared the administrators.  There is no mention of other children.  The main part of the estate consisted of 80 acres of land, and some personal property, plus the slaves already mentioned.  From this limited information, it seems likely that Mary was either quite old when she married, or else was young and married a much older man.  It is also possible that the Peter who is fairly well known has had some records mixed with another Peter Lehew, and that we are in fact missing a generation somewhere.

We are fortunate that Nicholas lived as long as he did (approximately 62 or 63 years of age when he died) because many indentured servants died during their first year in Virginia.  Between overwork, diseases, insects, wild animals, native American's and the climate, many people succumbed to illness or other causes of death soon after arrival here.  Nicholas didn't accumulate a fortune, but 80 acres of land plus the other items was nothing to complain about, compared to the life he probably lead in England or just possibly France.  He must have been a hard worker, and we can be proud of him for that reason.

The line of descent is

Nicholas Lehew-Mary possibly Owens
Peter Lehew-Frances Allen
William Lehew-Hannah
Mary Lehew-William Featheringill 
Elizabeth Featheringill-George Botkin
Charity Bodkin-Jackson Wise
Mary Wise-William Beeks
John W Beeks-Elizabeth Wise
Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants

Note:  There is a possibility that Mary Wise may have been adopted.  The source is reported to be a relative of Mary's.  I have found no information that would support this, nor have I found information to disprove this.  If anyone in the family knows anything about this supposed adoption, I'd love to hear about it!  Meanwhile, I will probably do more posts in this line of the Beeks's, because these are the stories that Mary would have heard.