Role in Ravensworth: leaseholder in Parcel 1.2 – 135 acres

(Thanks to Smothermon descendant and retired Fairfax County librarian Karen Moore for sharing her research in developing this profile of her favorite ancestor. Smothermon is also spelled Smytheman and Smitherman as well as other variations in some records .)

“Samuel Smothermon was born in London in 1722, the son of Samuel Smitherman and Phoebe Johnson, who were married in December 1718 at St. Clements Dane Church in London. By 1744, he was working as a chimney sweep and living with Elizabeth Eaton in Petty France, Westminster.

Convict Labor

Samuel Smothermon was one of more than 20,000 convicts British courts sent to the Virginia colony between 1700 and 1775. Under the Transportation Act of 1718, “…the British government subsidized the shipment of convicts through a network of merchants, giving a contract for the service to one individual at a time.” “Convict laborers could be purchased for a lower price than indentured white or enslaved African laborers, and because they already existed outside society’s rules, they could be more easily exploited.”1

Like Samuel, when freed, many former convicts became contributing citizens in building the community and their family’s future.

“On the night of April 5 – 6, 1744 Samuel and his chimney sweeping partner, James Haycraft broke into a London shop and stole 30 shillings worth of hardware, consisting of razors, pen-knives, buckles, buttons. Tried and convicted, on May 10, 1744, Samuel, Elizabeth and James were sentenced to transportation for seven years to Virginia.”2 3

“The three were transported aboard the Justicia. Samuel was sold to a farmer who lived near Middleburg, Virginia, served seven years, and was freed in 1751.

“Samuel married a woman named Sarah. Her maiden name is unknown at this time. Their children were Thomas, Samuel, Jr., William, Hugh, John and Sarah. The Smothermons lived in Loudoun County for many years. In 1771, Samuel Smithiman was mentioned in the Loudoun County Order Book E, p. 160, when he was one of a group of men ordered to ‘work on and clear the Road from Charles Chinn’s spring branch to the Wonkapin, and from Chinn’s old field to the Fauquier County line.'”2 5

Ravensworth Leaseholder

In a deed dated July 10, 1784, Samuel Smothermon leased 135 acres in Parcel 1.2 from William Fitzhugh (of Chatham), paying an annual rent of 750 pounds of tobacco. The lease was a typical three lives lease for the longest lived of himself, his wife Sarah and son Hugh.6 A written lease carried with it property rights, including the right to vote.

“The Smothermon’s daughter Sarah married Charles Gardner Holden, the son of John and Constant Holden… They probably lived on the Ravensworth property, or nearby. They later migrated to Rutherford and Henry Counties, Tennessee.7

“Samuel Jr. married Mary Barker. The Barker family lived on or adjacent to the Ravensworth Grant.8

Smothermons in Public Records

Tax rolls give some further insight into family members and property owned. The Fairfax County 1782 tax records list Samuel Smitherman’s household as taxable for one white tithable (male 16 or older), one horse and four cattle. William Smitherman, likely Samuel’s son, is listed as one tithable, one horse and three cattle. Neither is listed as owning slaves.9 The 1790 tax rolls list Samuel’s household taxable for two white tithables and three horses or mules, and owing six shillings. Samuel, Jr. is listed separately as one tithable with one horse or mule, and owing two shillings. William is not listed in that year’s tax rolls. Just one Smitherman household is listed in the 1800 county tax rolls, Samuel’s, as one tithable with one horse or mule and owing $0.12 taxes. Likely this is Samuel, Jr.10

The Fairfax County Court Order Books record orders in 1789, 1791 and 1797 assigning Samuel Smothermon to work crews for roads near his home. The order for September 22, 1789 reads:

The road from Hallace’s [Hollis’] old field to where it intersects the Pohick road by John Fowler’s Plantation – The tithables that now are, &c. of Thos. Halley, Moses Barker, Wm. Barker’s Plantation, Grafton Kirk, Daniel Kent, Zebedee Compton, John Powell, Gilbert Deavers, James Grimsley, Wm. Rogers Junr., Josiah Clark, Samuel Smitherman, John Ward, Benjamin Riley, Charles Holden, Wm. Hall, Widow Rigg’s place, Henry Wingate, John Wiggs, Sanford Potter, as last. Josiah Clarke

Hollis’ lease was on the Turnpike Road (today’s Braddock Road). The Pohick road (today’s Rolling Road) connected Braddock Road to the tobacco warehouse on the Potomac River at Pohick Bay. Samuel Smothermon’s lease bordered the Pohick road. Charles Holden, his son-in-law, is also listed as a crew member, so lived on or close to the Smothermon lease. Other listed crew members and Smothermon neighbors who also held leases in Parcel 1.2 from William Fitzhugh (of Chatham) were William Rogers, Josias Clark, John Ward and William Hall.

Later orders for July 18, 1791 and October 16, 1797 list “Samuel Smitherman, & Son’s.” This may indicate that Samuel lived until as late as 1797. However, the reference may have been to the members of his lease rather than specifically to Samuel.11

“Samuel died sometime after 1790, probably in Fairfax County. His burial site is not known at this time. His descendants migrated to Rutherford County, Tennessee, Bibb County, Alabama and Wood County, West Virginia.”2


 

  1. Encyclopedia Virginia (https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/), Convict Labor during the Colonial Period, https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Convict_Labor_During_the_Colonial_Period (accessed June 6, 2017).
  2. Karen Moore, email, September 20, 2017.
  3. Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 06 June 2017), May 1744, trial of James Haycraft Ann Henley , otherwise Haycraft Samuel Smytheman Elizabeth Eaton (t17440510-9), https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t17440510-9&div=t17440510-9&terms=smytheman#highlight (accessed June 4, 2017).
  4. Karen Moore, email, September 20, 2017.
  5. Duncan, Patricia B. Loudoun County Road Orders, 1757 – 1783. Charlottesville, Va. : Virginia Transportation Research Council, online at virginiadot.org.
  6. Fairfax County Deed Book O1:411.
  7. Karen Moore, email, September 19, 2017. Sarah and Charles Gardner Holden are Karen Moore’s 3ggrandparents.
  8. Ibid. Karen Moore: “Some of their property is now in Hidden Pond Nature Center. The house site has been excavated and (it is my understanding) that artifacts are displayed in the park office. There are two Barker cemeteries on or near Ravensworth property. I have wondered if Samuel and Sarah could be in one of them.”
  9. Binns Genealogy (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com), Fairfax County, Virginia 1782 Personal Property (accessed June 5,2017).
  10. Binns Genealogy (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com), 1790 / 1800 Virginia Tax List Census,Fairfax County, Virginia (accessed June 5,2017).
  11. Beth Mitchell, Fairfax County Road Orders, 1749-1800 (Virginia Transportation Research Council, 2003), 152, 161, 181.
  12. Karen Moore, email, September 20, 2017.