Outline image of Parcel 1.0, Ravensworth landgrant

Parcel 1.0 (Ravensworth landgrant)

Chain of Ownership and Division

William Fitzhugh (the Immigrant) cited as his initial claim to this land a deed of sale “dated 22 August 1685 and acknowledged in Stafford Court the 19th September next following.”1

Apparently, the Proprietors of the Northern Neck Grant had earlier granted the land to John Matthews and others, and Fitzhugh acquired it from them in that deed. Fitzhugh served for a time as the proprietors’ representative in Virginia and so likely had good access to information about available land and arrangements to purchase.

A century later, in 1791, the Governor of Virginia regranted Ravensworth to six of Fitzhugh’s descendants and specified its size as 24,112 acres based on a contemporary survey.2

Deed NN2:14, issued to William Fitzhugh in 1694, is the earliest surviving document that confirmed his ownership. The cost was specified as 21.9 pounds to be paid yearly to the Proprietors. The deed, apparently lost, cited an earlier patent made to him in 1690. Fitzhugh may have been referring to this patent in a letter to his London business agent, Nicholas Hayward, dated July 10, 1690, in writing of “the absolute securing my great tract of 21996 Acres which I have now got Deeds for…”3

Ravensworth Name Likely Came Later

William Fitzhugh may not have called this land Ravensworth. His will identified several of his land holdings by name but referred to this tract as “another tract above Ocquaquan in Stafford county patented by myself containing 21996 acres.”4 “The name Ravensworth was used as early as 22 January 1714/15 when a description was given in the Richard Watts and William Harrison grant, deed NN5:46, ‘to a white oak where Ravensworth and West, Harrison and Pearson join near the back lick.”5


In a 1686 letter to Nicholas Hayward referring to this tract, Fitzhugh stated his interest in “either selling or tenementing my Land, which till so done, is rather a charge than profit…” He specified that the nature of the land made it especially appropriate for settlement by French Huguenots.6 Again, in the July 10, 1690 letter cited above he writes:

“And now do intend to settle it with Tennants for three lives, allowing to each Tennant 200 acres, paying twenty shillings a year or a hhd Tob [hogshead of tobacco] without any manner of fine and to renew a life or lives at any time paying one years rent for each life so renewed to perpetuity, which is almost as good as giving them the land in fee simple, and should be ready to supply each Tennant with corn, provisions and nails for the first year, they repaying me again at the crop according to the market rate.”

The existing record does not directly indicate whether William Fitzhugh was successful in obtaining tenants for Ravensworth during his lifetime. However, Fairfax Harrison sees evidence that he did in two sources. One, he considers that Ravensworth is likely the plantation referred to in an April 1686 letter where Fitzhugh “…excuses delay in shipping some tobacco by the fact that ‘my Plantation its made upon is so far above me and consequently out of my Kenn that they have not got it ready.’” Two, he cites as evidence that French Huguenots may have settled for a time at Ravensworth: “…testimony by the second George Mason. In a letter to Governor Nicholson, dated October 28, 1701 [he reported that] ‘the ffrench Refugees is most of them gone to Maryland.’”7 The authors of Fairfax County, Virginia: A History agree with Harrison’s second conclusion.8

Ravensworth divided into two equal parcels

Second generation changes

Division of Parcel 1.0

At his death in 1701, William Fitzhugh (the Immigrant)’s will provided that Ravensworth be divided equally between his two oldest sons, William, Jr. and Henry (Captain).

Parcel 1.0 Chain of Ownership Documents

 1649King Charles IIProprietors, Northern Neck Grant 5.2 million-acre Northern Neck Grant
  Proprietors, Northern Neck GrantJohn Matthews and others Grant of 21,996 acres
 1685John Matthews and othersWilliam Fitzhugh (the Immigrant)1.0Sale of 21,996-acre grant
NN2:141694Proprietors, Northern Neck GrantWilliam Fitzhugh (the Immigrant)
1.0Grant of same 21,996 acres. Price: 21.9 pounds, annual rent
NNV:2801791Governor of VirginiaNicholas, Richard, Mordecai, Battaile, Giles and William (of Chatham) Fitzhugh1.0Regrant; new survey increased size to 24,112 acres
(will)1701William Fitzhugh (the Immigrant)William Fitzhugh, Jr., Henry Fitzhugh (Captain)1.1, 1.2divided parcel 1.0 equally between these two oldest sons


  1. Beth Mitchell, Beginning at a White Oak: Patents and Northern Neck Grants of
    Fairfax County, Virginia
    (Fairfax County Office of Comprehensive Planning),
  2. Deed NNV:280 accessible online at Library of Virginia onlinecatalog, Images and Indexes, Virginia Land Office Patents and Grants, System number 000853002.
  3. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol 3 (1896) (Virginia
    Historical Society), 8 (Google Books).
  4. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol 2 (1894) (Virginia Historical Society), 276 (Google Books).
  5. Mitchell, Beginning at a White Oak, 173.
  6. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol 1 (1893) (Virginia Historical Society),” 409, (Google Books).
  7. Fairfax Harrison, Landmarks of Old Prince William: A Study of Origins in
    Virginia: Volumes I & II
    (Gateway Pr, 1987), 188-189.
  8. Fairfax County, Virginia: A History (Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, 1978), 14.