Our Francis Wilks (ca1700-1783)

In 1735, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Baron, inherited and became Proprietor of the vast Northern Neck of Virginia, the land between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers, some five million acres, including Loudoun County.

His Northern Neck Grant to Francis Wilks was also a leasehold. Such grants were actually given by Lease, with a small annual rent or Quit Rent to be paid the Proprietor (or Lord in England). The leasehold could be passed to heirs, but the land itself could not. When the leaseholder gave up the property, it was by a document called Release.

The earliest mention we find of our Francis Wilks in the Loudoun Co. area of Virginia was a deed in which his marker was mentioned as adjoining a 340 ac. tract on NW fork of Goose Creek, adjoining Mr. George Atwood and Francis Wilks, surveyed by Amos Janney between 30 Jul 1740 - 15 Sep 1740 at Prince William Co., VA.

His marker was mentioned again on a survey for Capt. John Minor on Goose Creek, by Amos Janney, which mentions John MEAD on 30 Oct 1740 at Prince William Co., VA. His "Marker" (boundary of his land) was mentioned in a survey for William Dodd of Prince William, by Amos Janney on 18 Jun 1741 at Fairfax Co., VA. Francis was mentioned on several surveys, for that was a skill expected of gentlemen farmers.

In 1749 Francis Wilks was granted a bounty of 500 lbs. tobacco for one old wolf and 8 young ones.

 Today, lovely historic Downtown Leesburg is a designated a National Register Historic District and is one of the best preserved and most picturesque historic downtowns in Virginia. In 1980, I spent an enjoyable day at its colonial Court House studying original records. 



Francis and his son John were literate and signed their names to documents, but the younger son Samuel was not, so clearly there was need for a school in their Cameron Parish neighborhood.

In late 1763, SAMUEL MEAD (father of Elizabeth Mead) deeded several neighbors, including Francis Wilks, one acre of land bordering theirs for a school:

 Loudoun County, Virginia, Deed Book D, pp. 95, 96
 Mead to Wilks et al: This Indenture made the 5th day of November 1763 between SAMUEL MEAD of the County of Loudoun and Colony of Virginia, Tanner and FRANCIS WILKS, Jacob Janney, Thomas Clows, Thomas Gore, Solomon Hoge, William Morlan, Samuel Coombes, Richard White, William Holmes, and Jeremiah Fairhurst, all of the County and Colony afsd. Witnesseth that he the said SAMUEL MEAD for and in consideration of the Esteem he bears for a School and Good will to his Neighbours the afsd. FRANCIS WILKS ... hath Given and Granted and by these presents doth freely Give and absolutely Grant ... one acre of land beginning at a poplar in Edmond Philips line and corner to said MEAD and Samuel Coombs land bought of BRYAN FAIRFAX Gent. being taken up for WILLIAM HENRY FAIRFAX Decd.
In witness whereof I have set my hand and seal this 13th day of December in the fourth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the third King of Great Britain France and Ireland Defender of the Faith ~

He and his son Samuel Wilks traded parcels of land of 60 and 69 acres with two deeds, one was part of a larger tract conveyed by Bryan Fairfax to Samuel which lay "about the Kittoctain Mountain on the drains of Goose Creek"; the other was part of a larger tract conveyed in 1741 by the Proprietor's Office to Francis Wilks; conveyed by deeds of lease and release between Samuel Wilks and his wife Rebecca and Francis Wilks on 19 Aug 1766 at Loudoun Co., VA.

Francis and Martha his wife gave Samuel Wilks a gift deed for 180 acres, "in consideration of the natural love and affection we do bear him," providing that every year Samuel should pay Francis 100 bushels of good, merchantable wheat, and that Francis retain the use of 3 acres of meadow during his natural life in 1769, Loudoun County.

Francis's older son John was apparently by a 1st wife who died young -- probably the Mrs. Francis Wilks who died in childbed 1732 in Philadelphia. The gift deed Francis gave son John in 1755 did not mention a wife or bear her signature. Later, the gift deed to son Samuel in 1769 was signed by Francis and Martha Wilks, suggesting they were not married in 1755.

Francis died intestate by 10 Jun 1783 when the "Inventory and appraisement of the Estate of Francis Wilks decd. was returned and ordered recorded" on 10 May 1784 in Loudoun County. There was no list of heirs.

Generation 2 - Sons

of Francis Wilks

First, we will first discuss son No. 2, Samuel Wilks (ca1740-aft1795), Francis's younger son:

In 1761, Francis Wilks and wife Martha deeded land to their son Samuel Wilks. I'm told there is a record of Francis adopting Samuel and his sister Elizabeth, but have no documentation. Samuel (and probably Francis) was a Loyalist in the Revolution. On 10 Feb 1783 Samuel was noted as, "having taken the oath of fidelity to the State which is ordered to be Certified" at end of Revolutionary War (Loudoun Co. Order Book G, p. 483).

On 8 Sep 1783, Samuel petitioned the Court to appoint twelve jurors to appraise whether a water mill he proposed to build on Painter Skin Run would damage adjoining property, and to determine the value of one acre at the site (Order Book H, p. 141). "Painter" meant panther. From 1784-1787 Samuel was the only Wilks tax payer in Loudoun Co. In 1790 he and wife Rebecca sold their land and moved to Culpeper Co., VA, where they bought land 1791-1794.

After 1795 they moved to Montgomery Co., VA. It appears they had sons William, Benjamin, and Joseph Wilks:

William lived in Culpeper County, married Ann Adams, and was killed in a shipyard accident, leaving five children, before his son Robert's birth in 1813.

Benjamin married Matilda Duffel in Lynchburg, VA, was in Montgomery County 1810 and 1820 censuses, moved to Campbell County by 1830. In 1878, residing in Bedford County, he set up a trust fund for his grandchildren.

Joseph Wilks, born 1760 VA, died probably 1810 in Kentucky, was a Revolutionary soldier of Virginia. He married Amelia Mills. He must've crossed into Queen Anne Co., MD, to join the Patriot cause in the Revolution, because of his father's loyalty to the Crown (Maryland Calendar of State Papers, Nos. 3 p. 27, and 4(3) p. 27). Joseph's son, Mills Wilkes (1786-1866) was in Bracken Co., KY, by 1810, and settled by 1820 in Boone Co., KY. Mills served as a corporal in the War of 1812, from 15 Aug 1812 - 4 Mar 1813. In a vastly outnumbered force, he survived but was greviously wounded in the Battle of Frenchtown, "The Massacre of the River Raisin," captured by Indians, and taken to the British in Canada:

   Cpl. in Capt. Uriel Sebree's Co. of Infantry, 1st Regt., Scott's Bn., KY Volunteer Militia, was captured by Indians at the Battle of Frenchtown, MI, and managed to escape, "Mills WILKES was among the very few who escaped from one of the most disastrous battles Americans ever fought. The Battle of Frenchtown became known as the 'Massacre of the River Raisin' and was fought between a force of Americans (mostly Kentuckians) numbering about 950 and British and Indians numbering about 5000. Practically half of the Americans were killed; the others, with the exception of less than 50 who got away, were captured by Indians, and were either tortured to death or held as slaves.

"After the battle of Frenchtown, Mills and other wounded were together when the Indians raided the camp and were killing the wounded soldiers. The soldiers killed the two next to WILKES but he slipped away. Seeing an Indian by the fire who was not taking part in the massacre, he approached and asked him to take him to Malden. [The headquarters of the British and Indians was at Malden, Canada.] The Indian placed his hand on Mills' shoulder and said, 'Me take you to Malden.' The Indian had violent arguments with some of the other Indians but got him safely to Malden where he traded him for a jug of whiskey . . . Mills was greviously wounded and it seriously affected his health in later life. Upon his release, he was taken in a carriage from Malden to Kentucky.

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