• Born before 1676 - Cloucester Co, Virginia, USA
  • Deceased in 1720 - Essex Co, Virginia, USA



 Spouses, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren


Individual Note

Various information and misinformation has been disseminated regarding the possible origins of William Upshaw of Gloucester and Essex Counties, Virginia. These legendary accounts have been published and republished since at least 1896, which account was first printed in the "Kentucky Historical Society Register" in 1906 (Vol 4 #10), until as recently as 1996 in the "Kentucky Explorer", March 1996 issue. The legend seems to have originated within the research of Thomas Teackle Upshur II, who printed "A Sketch of the Upshur Family" in 1887 (Quinby Papers, Alderman Library, University of Virginia).
William Upshaw is the proven progenitor of all the Upshaw family in the United States and descent from him can usually be reasonably well documented. The first record of this William is on 28 October 1697, when Gawin Corbin received a land patent for 61 acres in Petso(sic) Parish, adjoining Wm. Upshaw, Mr. John Grimes, crossing Noxes (Knox?) Swamp, to Dragon Rode(sic) (Virginia Land Patent Book 9, page 90). This proves that William Upshaw was a resident of Gloucester County as early as 1697.
The last record of William Upshaw is in 1720 Essex County, Virginia, when his will was proven (Essex County, Virginia, Will Book 3, page 143). In the interim from 1697 to 1720, there is much documentary evidence that he moved from Gloucester to Essex County.
The legendary ancestry of William Upshaw is based on two supposed brothers, Abel and Arthur Upshur, coming from Essex County, England to the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1640 and William Upshaw is supposedly descended from the brother Abel. The Upshur family in America descends from Arthur, whose name first appears as "Upshott" and he is well documented in early Virginia records. However, contrary to the legendary story, the name of Abel Upshott/Upshur/Upshaw does NOT appear in any record yet examined. There is no factual record of there being any such person as Abel Upshaw.
There is, however, jurisdictional factual evidence to support the fact that Jeremiah Upshaw was the father of William Upshaw. On 10 April 1667, Jno. Benson and Jno. Waller received a patent for 423 acres in Ware Parish, Gloucester County, Virginia, for the transport of 9 persons, which included "Jeremiah Upshaw" (Patent Book 6 page 74). On 7 October 1672, Col. Jno. Blake received 200 acres in Nansemond County, Virginia, for the transport of 4 persons, including "Jeremy Upshaw" (Patent Book 6 page 435).
Furthermore, William Upshaw, in his will proven in 1720 in Essex County, Virginia, names his first (supposedly eldest) son as "Jeremiah", which is further circumstantial evidence that William's father was Jeremiah. The custom was, in that time, for the first born son to be named for the father's father.
The "Upshur Family in Virginia", second edition, by Robert Irving Upshur and Thomas Teackle Upshur IV, 1993, pages 3-5, Chapter I "The Immigrants" gives a balanced comparison of the legendary Abel Upcher and the documented Jeremiah Upshaw.
The salient points are these:
1. There is no documentation of any person named Abel Upshott/Upcher/Upshaw.
2. The is factual documentation of Jeremiah Upshaw.
3. The is documentation of Jeremiah Upshaw in the Gloucester County, Virginia area in 1667 and 1672, where William was first documented in 1697.
4. Jeremiah was the first named and supposedly eldest son of William as given in William's will. It was a custom in that time to name the first born son after the husband's father.
The preponderance of the evidence indicates that the documented Jeremiah Upshaw is the father of William and not the undocumented Abel of tradition. Gloucester County, Virginia, records were destroyed in 1820 and those records are not extant, so scant evidence must be gleaned from other sources.
Additional research includes searching for any mention of Jeremiah and Cordelia Upshaw in English records. Cordelia, William's mother, was named as "Cordelia Martin" in William's will in 1716. A "Cordelia Martin, Widd." is listed in the 1704 Quit Rent Rolls of King and Queen County, which shows she had evidently been widowed by Jeremiah Upshaw and had then married a "Martin" and been widowed by him, all prior to 1704. This would indicate that Jeremiah had died prior to 1700. Research is needed among early Virginia records to locate any mention of "Cordelia".

1. 1697, 28 Oct: Virginia Land Patent Book 9, page 90: Gawin Corbin received a land patent for 61 acres in Petso(sic) Parish, adjoining Wm. Upshaw, Mr. John Grimes, crossing Noxes (Knox?) Swamp to Dragon Rode(sic).
2. 1699, 4 Oct: "Mr. Wm. Upshaw" mentioned in the lower precincts of this parish (Vestry book of Petsworth Parish, page 55).
3. 1700, 2 Oct: "Mr. Wm. Upshaw" mentioned (Vestry book of Petsworth Parish, page 65).
4. 1703, 26 Oct: "Mr. William Upshaw" listed as a Churchwarden (Vestry book of Petsworth Parish, page 76).
5. 1703, 26 Oct: 100 pounds of tobacco paid to "William Upshaw" (Vestry book of Petsworth Parish, page 77).
6. 1703, 26 Oct: "Mr. William Upshaw" listed as Churchwarden (Vestry book of Petsworth Parish, page 77).
7. 1704, 10 Apr: Wm. Upshaw, mentioned (Vestry book of Petsworth Parish, page 46).
8. 1720, 20 May: will of William Upshaw, proven, Essex Co., Va., Will Book 3, page 143, 144.
9. C.G. Chamberlayne, "The Vestry Book of Petsworth Parish, Gloucester Co, Virginia, 1677-1793" (Richmond, VA, The Library Board, 1933), pages 46, 55, 65, 76, 77(2), 78, 80, 81, 86(2), 88, 90, 91, 92, 93(2), 94, 95(2), 96, 103, 105, 106, 107, 110, 111(2), 112, 116(2), 123, 132. (need exact citations)
10. Essex Co, VA, deeds and estate records (need exact citations).
1. William and Mary College Quarterly; 2nd series, Vol 18, no. 1; January 1938, page 66, 68.
2. Mrs. Grace E. Jared, "They Met Challenges ... With Memoirs", 1968; page 8, 9.
3. Sophie W. Upshaw, "Captain William Upshaw, Gent., Planter of Virginia" (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1975), pages 3-7.
1. William Upshaw was living in Petsworth Parish, Gloucester Co, VA, in 1697 and first bought land in Essex Co, VA, in 1699 although he still owned land in Gloucester Co. in 1704/5. He was active in the Church in Petsworth Parish, Gloucester Co, until 1714, when he apparently moved to Essex Co.


  • Individual: Larry WHITSELL

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|2_Jeremiah UPSHAW /1660-/1700
|--1_William UPSHAW, Captain /1676-1720
|3_Cordelia WARING /1660-1716/