Our first known Thomas Jefferson was born on or around 1653 and died in Henrico County, Virginia in 1697. I have been searching for information on this Jefferson through online sources. This week I have been reading through the Monticello website and they have placed doubt on the Snowden, Wales birthplace ancestry. In their information they state that there is no evidence of a Jefferson living in the Snowdonia area. But this doesn't mean that they didn't come from there, but rather that they were from the mercantile or yeoman class. When an individual was from the farm or merchant class the records were not as accurate as a individual from the gentry.
Also, some historians and genealogist have found a Samuel Jeffreson from Pettistree, Suffolk. There is a link for the area below. Pettistree is a wonderful village which is named after the church which was built in the mid thirteenth century. The legend is that before Christianity came to the area they worshiped Odin and they worshiped the tree that was sacred to Odin. The Christians built the church near the tree and named it Pettistree for St. Peter and for the sacrd tree. This Samuel Jeffreson born in Pettistree 1607 left and moved to St. Kitts and Antigua. He is said to have had three sons and one of them went by the name of Thomas. This could be our Thomas Jefferson I.
Whether he was from Snowden or Suffolk we may never know. We do know that part of the Peter Jefferson estate was named Snowden. So he had would not have picked that name out of the air. In all likelihood, he heard from his father that their family had lived there at one time as Jefferson mentions in his autobiography.
Below is an excerpt from his autobiography.
The tradition in my father's family was that their ancestor came to this country from Wales, and from near the mountain of Snowdon, the highest in Gr. Br. I noted once a case from Wales in the law reports where a person of our name was either pl. or def. and one of the same name was Secretary to the Virginia company. These are the only instances in which I have met with the name in that country.
By all accounts Thomas Jefferson I was a middle class planter that settled in the Kingsland area near Farrars Island in Henrico County. Sometime before 1678 he married Mary Branch granddaughter of Christopher Branch which places him in Henrico County in the 1670s. They had three children Thomas Jefferson II, Mary and Martha.
In the book Branch of Abingdon being a partial account of the ancestry of Christopher Branch of Arrowhattock and Kingsland in Henrico County on page 123 the Will of Christopher Branch conveys to Thomas Jefferson one hogshead of tobacco of 400 pounds weight. He also names his granddaughter Mary Branch wife of Thomas Jefferson. The Will was dated June 20, 1678.
Below is a map of Virginia. Please note the location of Richmond, Chesterfield and Henrico County. Our first Jefferson ancestor lived in Henrico County which is now Chesterfield County. Henricus was formed in 1611 and decimated by the Indian Massacre of 1622. Henrico County was formed in 1636-one of the eight original shires of the Virginia Colony. In 1749 Chesterfield County was cut out of Henrico.
Map Courtesy of Digital-Topo-Maps.com
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