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Things I have learned about slavery by studying my American ancestry; part 3

William Womack Sr.

William Womack Sr. was born in 1691 in Goochland Co., VA. William died in St. James Northern Parish, Goochland Co, VA before 16 Mar 1762; he was 71.i

In 1709 when William was 18, he married Mary C. Woodson, daughter of Joseph Woodson, in Goochland Co., VA. Born about 1690 in Goochland Co., VA. Mary C. died in Goochland Co., VA about 1758; she was 68.

They had the following children:

William   (1710-1791); Agness; Priscilla; Martha; Sarah; Mary; Judith

My grandmother Dorothy’s 5x paternal grandfather William Womack purchased a patent for 400 acres of land for 40 schillings in 1733 in Goochland County.

William Womack Jr.

Born in 1710 in Henrico Co., VA. William died in Cumberland, Co., VA before 20 Sep 1791; he was 81.ii

Map of Virginia Counties

In 1735 when William was 25, he married Martha. Martha died before Jan 1786; she was 68. Born about 1718.

They had the following children:

William   (1735-1819); Judith   (1738-1791); Agnes   (1742-); Charles   (1743-1811); Mary  (ca1744-); Nathan   (1746-1799); Jesse  (1749-1782); Massenello   (1751-1837)

Tithable accounts for Dorothy Womacks 4x great grandfather referred to as William Womack Sr. are as follows:

1782 tax list: 1 white - 10 black;

1784 tax list: 1 dwelling, 3 other buildings.

Tithable accounts for Massinello Womack, the brother of Dorothy Womacks 3x great grandfather William Womack Jr. are as follows:

1782 tax list: 6 white - 8 black

Tithable accounts for Nathan Womack, the brother of Dorothy Womacks 3x great grandfather William Womack Jr. are as follows:

1782 tax list: 7 white, 8 black.

1784 tax list: 1 dwelling, 5 other buildings.

Dorothy’s 4x great grandfather listed in the card file of Public Service Claims in the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia as William Womack, Sr. (the Jr. in our nomenclature) furnished supplies and performed other services for the troops during the Revolutionary War and later presented claims to the state government for pay for these supplies and services.

“Tithable” Laws

Marrying, maintaining a family, and fulfilling the responsibilities of land-ownership were difficult and costly propositions for all people in colonial Virginia. For African Virginians, it was a monumental achievement. Maintaining financial solvency was one of their greatest obstacles. Tithable Laws threatened peoples’ ability to stay out of debt, influenced decisions about entering into marriage and selection of marriage partners.

Enactment of Law: Negro Women Pay Tithes

March 1642/3—ACT I

This Virginia statute was the first to legally distinguish between African and English women.

Be it also enacted and confirmed That there be tenn pounds of tob'o. per poll ; a bushell of corne per poll paid to the ministers within the severall parishes of the collony for all tithable persons, that is to say, as well for all youths of sixteen years of age as upwards, as also for all negro women at the age of sixteen years (Emphasis added).

(Hening, Statutes Vol. I:242)

February 1644/5—ACT VIII

This statute distinguishes all “Negroes” as “tithables.”

And because there shall be no scruple or evasion who are and who are not tithable, It is resolved by this Grand Assembly, That all negro men and women, and all other men from the age of 16 to 60 shall be adjudged tithable, (Emphasis added)

(Hening Statutes Vol I:292)

What were Tithes?

Colonists who owned land and those who “worked the ground” paid tithes to the government, an early form of income tax. Tithes were paid in tobacco and corn.

Who Paid Tithes?

While slavery was not fully codified until 1705, as early as 1629, Virginians first defined “tithables” to include masters of families, all free men and people “working the ground.” A 1642 law decreed payment of tithes by “all youths of sixteen years of age upwards” and “for all negro women at age sixteen years.” This law must have needed clarification since two years later a second law was passed declaring all negro men and women from age 16 to 60 years were responsible for paying tithes.

What were the effects of the “Tithable laws?”

Tithable law helped erode African people’s access to freedom by increasing the cost of being free. Requiring a certain amount of production by “all negro men and women…” increased English controls over African labor.

The “Tithable” law presumed that African women worked the land, as in fact they did. However, the law excluded English women, although some of them worked the land as well. This had the effect of the laws promoting, and hastening social class differentiation among Virginians based upon nationality or ethnicity. Race was well on it's way to a defining distinction in people’s view of the world.

Declaration of African women as tithables also affected their marriage possibilities and choices. Masters of enslaved African women paid the tithes for the women. A free African woman had to pay her own tithes. If she was married, the expense fell on her husband making marriage between free Africans an expensive proposition.

Forced to pay extra taxes for an African wife a free man might have found it more advantageous to marry an English or American Indian wife although the nearly equal sex ratio among Chesapeake Africans would have allowed them to find an African wife. In fact, one scholar suggests five of the 13 free African men in Northampton may have been married to English or Indian wives based on the Northampton tithable lists identification of their children as “mulattos (Deal 1993).

In spite of the burden of labor imposed by tithe laws, the high value African men and women placed on family and kinship led them to enter into long term contracts to raise and share additional tobacco crops in order to pay for their family members’ freedom.

Will of William Womack Jr. iii

The 4 provisions of William Womacks will called out below give us some insight into how the Womacks of Virginia viewed slave ownership.

  1. There actions of slave owners are righteous. William expects to go to a blissful heaven in a sanctified state.

  2. William was able to convey ownership of a slave he owned but also convey all descendants of the slave not only to his heir, but to further specify the distribution of the slaves progeny amongst future generations for perpetuity

  3. Chattel slaves were divided up as a group in the same sense as money or land would be divided.

  4. Not all slaves were treated the same. Bess got to choose which son would be her master.

1786, Cumberland Co., VA:

"In the name of God Amen. I William Womack … say first and principally I commend my soul into the hands of God who gave it, hoping through his mercy to have a joyful resurrection… and as for such worldly goods as I am blessed with I give and dispose of in the following manner:

… I lend unto my daughter Judith Hendrick one negroe wench named Dinah, now in her possession with what increase she now has and may ever have hereafter for during natural life of my said Daughter, and after her death I give the said negroe with all her increase to be equally divided among her children to them and their heirs forever.

… My will and desire is that my Estate goods; chattles Slaves, Effects, credits of whatever kind or quality, with the money for the land above mentioned, be equally divided among my seven children …

My will and desire is that notwithstanding the above division, my negro woman Bess shall have free liberty to choose which of my children she will live with, and he shall take her at the appraisement for so much of his part of the division….”

William Womack III.

Born on 26 Jan 1735 in Halifax Co., VA. William died in Prince Edward Co., VA on 17 Jan 1819; he was 83.iv

William moved to Prince Edward Co at an early date. He is said to have been a steward of John Randolph's affairs, and in 1795 was the ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church.

File:John Randolph of Roanoke at National Portrait Gallery IMG 4460.JPG 

John Randolph (June 2, 1773 – May 24, 1833), known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter, and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and also as Minister to Russia. After serving as President Thomas Jefferson's spokesman in the House, he broke with Jefferson in 1803 and became the leader of the "Old Republican" or "Quids", an extreme states' rights vanguard of the Democratic-Republican Party who wanted to restrict the role of the federal government.

On 17 Oct 1762 when William was 27, he married Mary Mollie Allen, daughter of James Allen Jr. (1724-1793) ; Elizabeth Sims (1725-1788), in Halifax Co., VA. Born on 15 Jun 1746 in Hanover Co., VA. Mary Mollie died in Prince Edward Co., VA on 8 Jun 1816; she was 69.

They had the following children:

Elizabeth "Betsy" (-ca1817) ; Lillius Dillon (-1863) ; Ann "Nancy" (ca1764-ca1809) ; Mary "Polly"; Allen (1766-1849) ; William (1769-1828) ; my ancestor James Tignal (1770-1827) ; Archerbald "Archer" (1777-1816); Martha "Patsey" Allen (1780-1818); James Watson (1797-1844)

1782 tax list for Dorothy Womacks 3x great grandfather referred to as William Womack Jr. shows 0 white tithables and 5 black tithables.

Dorothy’s 3x great grandfather referred to as William Womack, Jr. in the Public Service Claims in the Virginia State Library (the William III in our nomenclature); and this William’s brothers Massinello Womack, Nathan Womack
 of Cumberland County, Virginia furnished supplies or performed other services for the troops during the Revolutionary War and later presented claims to the state government for pay for these supplies and services. 

Cumberland Will Book Z, 1769-1792, pages 518, 519

NOTES:  in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Virginia, the term “tithable” referred to a person who paid (or for whom someone else paid) one of the taxes imposed by the General Assembly for the support of civil government in the colony.  In colonial Virginia, a poll tax or capitation tax was assessed on free white males, African American slaves, and Native American servants (both male and female), all age sixteen or older. Owners and masters paid the taxes levied on their slaves and servants. Few tithable lists are extant. The Library of Virginia holds full or partial lists for about three dozen counties. A detailed guide to manuscript, microfilmed, and printed tithables is available in the Archives Research Room. See also the VA-NOTES entries on Colonial Taxes and on Tithables for a list of documents in the archival records in the Library of Virginia containing the names of people who paid the tax on tithables.

Tithable lists do not enumerate anyone under the age of sixteen or any adult white woman (unless she was the head of household). Laws published in Hening’s Statutes at Large may assist the researcher in understanding who was considered tithable and how tithable lists were taken. In an attempt to stop fraud concerning the “yearly importation of people into the collonie,” an act was passed in the House of Burgesses in 1649 requiring that all male servants imported into Virginia (“of what age soever”) be placed on the tithable lists. Natives of the colony and those imported free who were under the age of sixteen were exempt. (William W. Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619…[1809–1823], 1:361–362.)

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