Role in Ravensworth: owner parcels 1.1.3, 1.1.5. 1.1.7

Giles Fitzhugh was the youngest of Henry (Colonel) and Sarah (Battaile) Fitzhugh’s 14 children to survive infancy. He was a lifelong bachelor. What’s known of Giles’ life comes primarily from official census, court and land records.

In 1804, Giles was living in a “small white House” in today’s Annandale area and likely farmed portions his Ravensworth land with slave labor for several years. The 1810 federal census records Giles’ Fairfax County household as including himself, one free black and 34 slaves.1

By 1814, Giles had sold all of his Ravensworth land. The largest sale (70% of his holdings – 1626 acres) was to Andrew and Jonathan Scholfield, who financed their purchase with three promissory bonds. Apparently, they were not reliable in paying and by 1821 Giles had assigned others to sell the land to satisfy the debt.

In September 1815, Giles was one of several men named in a National Intelligencer newspaper announcement to appear at a court of inquiry for the 60th Regiment of the Virginia Militia “for the assessment of fines….for refusing to obey the call under orders of Dec 1813.”2 The 60th Regiment participated in defense of Washington and Northern Virginia during the War of 1812. Giles’ cousin William Henry Fitzhugh was an officer in the regiment.

Life After Ravensworth

The 1820 federal census listed Giles’ residence as King George County, his birthplace;3 and 1830 found him in Westmoreland.4 By 1840, he was living in Culpeper County.5 There he entered into a joint venture with a relative, George J. Fitzhugh, to operate his brother Thomas Fitzhugh’s 1100-acre farm for the year 1843. Claiming that he received no income from the partnership, Giles filed an action against George in Fauquier County Court seeking a settlement. George’s written answers allege the partnership’s debts exceeded income, and that Giles was in “feeble health…and… either could not or would not give the least attention to the management of the business.” The court did not rule and later dismissed the action in 1860, seven years after Giles death.6

Weston Farmstead

The Warrenton Antiquarian Society has preserved Weston’s historic buildings along with ten acres of the farm that Giles inherited from Thomas Fitzhugh. Historic Weston Farmstead is located at 4447 Weston Road, Casanova, VA 20139.

Thomas Fitzhugh died in November 1843, leaving Giles 484 acres near Warrenton in Fauquier County. He lived out his remaining years farming this land. Today, a portion of the farm is maintained as a farm museum.

In March 1845, citing “her fidelity and good conduct and other good causes,” Giles emancipated his 30 year old slave “Suckey (Susan) Gordon alias Stewart” and her daughters Mary (5) and Elizabeth (2) Stewart.7

More Insights From a Lawsuit

Giles Fitzhugh died on January 14, 1853. His brief will stated: “I will that my slaves shall be free at my death. All the rest of my real and personal estate after the payment of my debts I bequeath to my niece Harriet Ward daughter of my deceased brother Richard.” Another of Giles’ brothers, Mordecai Cooke Fitzhugh, joined with several other family members in challenging the will. They asserted that feeble health and mental deterioration made Giles incompetent to make a will.

  • Transcribed excerpts from depositions – The depositions give insight into Giles’ last years of life as well as glimpses of him when younger. Included are comments on his appearance, personality, health, business affairs, slave ownership, and a rumor of having fathered a daughter.

A jury found the will valid. The challenge documents listed his estate as including:

The suit is fully documented in two Chancery Court case files, accessible online, in the Library of Virginia’s Circuit Court Records Preservation Program.8


 

  1. 1810 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Fairfax, Virginia, Page 195, Giles Fitzhugh household, jpeg image, (Online: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010) (Digital scan of original records in the National Archives, Washington, DC), subscription database, http://www.ancestry.com/, accessed 6 July 2010.
  2. Maddy McCoy, “Genealogical Research for Fairfax County, Virginia Slavery Inventory Database” (Unpublished manuscript, 2009); Joan Dixon, National Intelligencer Newspaper Abstracts, 1814-1817 (Bowie Md.: Heritage Books, 1997), 136.
  3. 1820 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Hanover Parish, King George, Virginia, Page 121, Giles Fitzhugh household, jpeg image, (Online: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010) (Digital scan of original records in the National Archives, Washington, DC), subscription database, http://www.ancestry.com/, accessed 6 July 2010.
  4. 1830 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Westmoreland, Virginia, Page 116, Giles Fitzhugh household, jpeg image, (Online: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010) (Digital scan of original records in the National Archives, Washington, DC), subscription database, http://www.ancestry.com/, accessed 6 July 2010.
  5. 1840 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Culpeper, Virginia, Page 554, Giles Fitzhugh household, jpeg image, (Online: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010) (Digital scan of original records in the National Archives, Washington, DC), subscription database, http://www.ancestry.com/, accessed 6 July 2010.
  6. “Giles Fitzhugh v. George T. Fitzhugh, Fauquier Co., Index Number 1860-033,” Virginia Memory: Chancery Records Index, n.d.
  7. See “Deed of Emancipation from Giles Fitzhugh,” Select Records from Fauquier County, Virginia and Surrounding Areas
  8. Mordecai C Fitzhugh, Etc. V. Berkeley Ward And Wife, Etc., Index Number 1854-045, case file – copies of original court documents, including will, challenge documents and complete depositions; and Mordecai C Fitzhugh, Etc. V. Admr Of Giles Fitzhugh, Index Number 1854-071, case file – copies of original court documents relating to jury hearing and decision.