How to Research the Scots-Irish of Augusta County, Virginia: The Importance of the Beverly Manor
Updated: Jan 2, 2020
When trying to locate your Scots-Irish ancestors in early Augusta County, Virginia, there are several paths to consider. From studying court documents to the wills of your colonial forefathers, it can be fairly easy to find documents related to this county, however, there is more documentation not widely known to genealogists: the Beverly Manor land grants. Considered one of the most important and helpful resources for eighteenth-century Augusta County, they still remain intact and are easily accessible. But what exactly what was Beverly Manor and who owned this vast amount of land? To answer these questions, we must first explore origins of one pioneer in particular, William Beverly.
Born in 1696 to Robert Beverly and Ursula Byrd, 1 he would eventually become the Clerk of Essex County, Virginia from 1717-1745, and later served in the House of Burgesses in Orange County, Virginia from 1734-1740.2 On the death of his father, after inheriting “more than 19,000 acres of land” his prestige and wealth continued to grow. But it wasn’t until September 6, 1736 when he, Richard Randolph, and John Robinson were granted 118,491 acres of land in Orange County.4 Known as Beverly Manor, this tract of land under the direction of William had a significant impact on the colonization of Orange County and later Augusta County.
In 1738 he began selling these tracts of land to the nearly-constant flow of Scots-Irish and German immigrants entering Augusta County. With the assistance of James Patton, he first sold 2,071 acres of land to John Lewis and would continue to offer land to incoming settlers until his death in 1746.5 The consequences of this decision offered pioneers a new life while also expanding the frontier, for better or for worse. From a genealogical perspective, however, this history can be helpful to those researching for their Scots-Irish ancestors in central Virginia. But where can one find this information?
In our modern world, plenty of genealogical resources can be found, but to find land grants from colonial Virginia, the online catalog from the Library of Virginia is extremely handy. In addition, werelate.org has a listing of all the pioneers who purchased land from William Beverly: https://www.werelate.org/wiki/Early_Settlers_of_Augusta_County%2C_Virginia#Borden.27s_Grant. It is in such circumstances that we are now able to fully understand and appreciate the Scots-Irish and German settlers from Augusta County, especially if you are documenting their history.
Documentation and Suggested Readings:
1. Emory G. Evans, Encyclopedia Virginia (https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org : accessed 27 July 2019), “William Beverley (ca. 1696–1756).”
2. H. R. Mcilwaine, Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia: 1727-1734, 1736-1740 (Richmond, Virginia : Virginia General Assembly, 1912), 18; digital images, Internet Archive (https://archive.org : accessed 27 July 2019).
3. Evans, Encyclopedia Virginia, “William Beverly (ca. 1696-1756).”
4. Online Catalog: Images & indexes,” database with images, The Library of Virginia (http://lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com : accessed 27 July 2019), William Beverly, 6 September 1736, 188,491 acres, Orange County Virginia, Colonial Land Office, Patents, 1623-1774; Library of Virginia.
5. John Lewis Peyton, History of Augusta County, Virginia, 328.