Showing posts with label Mosely. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mosely. Show all posts

December 18, 2010

Edward and Ann Powell Coffey

William Moseley [sic] was a resident of Essex, Colony of Virginia and gained many land grants by importing indentured servants. For each indenture signed, a quantity of land, typically 50 acres, was given and the servant bound to him for a specific number of years. 

Indentured servitude in the colonies generally meant that the servant coming from abroad signed a contract prior to leaving to work in colonial America.  These servants could be from anywhere (England, Ireland, The Netherlands, etc.) but typically left from English ports.  Their contract generally specified they work as a laborer for 4-7 years; the actual number of years depending on the laws of each colony.  In Virginia it could have been as few as 4 years or as many as 9 years.

At the end of his servitude, the servant would receive "freedom dues" in the form of land, money or other considerations. Some of the plantation owners were required to give their ex-servants a couple of hoes, a spade or two, an ax, a bushel of corn, a new suit of clothes and, other tools to help them get started as freedmen.  Along with any of this he might have received, William Mosely also willed his "servant Ed. Coffe one heifer of 2 years old."

The indenture of Edward Coffey to William Mosely apparently did not end amicable as I previously believed.  R. Stanley Harsh, through John Chenault and published in Issue 118 of the Coffey Cousins' newsletter dated Sept. 10, 2010, wrote that Edward achieved his "freedom, corn and clothes..." in a lawsuit in Essex Co., VA on Sept. 10, 1700.  Mosely was already deceased as his will was proved in Essex Co. on Apr. 10, 1699.  The lawsuit may have been a formality, but we may never know without discovery of further documentation.

Some sources used for this blog point out that indentured servants were neither allowed to marry nor, to participate in politics during their servitude. We know from this that Edward and Ann's marriage date of 1700, as given on page 58 of The Index to Marriages of Old Rappahannock and Essex Counties, Virginia, is accurate.  The source cites  record of marriage as contained in Essex Book D&W 10, page 75. 

There is a mention of Edward's wife Ann Powell Coffey in the March 10, 1700 will of Thomas Powell of Sittingbourne Parish, Essex Co. in which he willed one shilling to his daughter Ann Coffey.  A witness to the will was Edward Coffey.  From this we can deduce that Edward and Ann married between Jan. 1, and March 10, 1700.

Apparently little or nothing is known of their life together between marriage and Feb. 7, 1706 when "Edward Coffey of St. Ann's Parish, Essex Co., bought 118 acres on branches of Occupation Swamp from Mr. Augustine Smith and wife Susanna for 4720 lbs. of tobacco with apparently half down." Edward and Ann took possession on Mar. 6, 1706/7 as witnessed by Robert King and Thomas Warren.  Edward Coffey's name does not appear on the 1704 Quit Rent Roll of Essex Co. indicating that he owned no land on that date.

"This land was part of 2,359 acres granted Smith by patent on 2 May 1705."  The property "adjoined Thomas Warren on east side of Chickahominy Path, corner to Mr. Francis Gouldman hill near head of branch, corner to Beverly's great tract."

Edward and Ann apparently lived on that 118 acres until Nov., 1714 when they sold it to John Barbee for 5000 lbs. tobacco. On July 16, 1716 they purchased from John Mosely, the son and executor of Edward Mosely, "a plantation of 200 acres in St. Ann's Parish." Edward Mosely appears to be the brother of William.

The plantation purchase included "houses, buildings, barns, tobacco sheds, gardens, etc." It was described as being on the "east side of Occupation Creek, a small ranch [sic] [branch] of Gibsons Creek," and "part of a parcel commonly called Mosely's Quarter. They paid 8,000 lbs. of tobacco for the property.

This is the land that Edward left in his will to his sons John and Edward. He died sometime between making his will on Feb. 14, 1716 and July of that year because title to the land was finally recorded in the name Edward Coffey on July 16 of that year.

Edward likely made the deal with the Mosely family well prior to his death but the deed went unrecorded until his death.  I am uncertain what the age of majority was in the colony at the time, but it seems unusual that a pair of teenagers would be permitted by laws at the time to own property.  There may have been other considerations in the law which allowed it in the case of an inheritance.

This is also an indication - as some researchers have maintained - that John and Edward Coffey were twins.  In his work, Marvin Coffey wrote that the boys "were not 16 on February 14, 1716 but were on July 16."

It is also interesting to consider that William Mosely himself may have been an indentured servant at one time.  There is a record of one Major George Colclough receiving 1050 acres on Sep. 5, 1660 for "transportation of 21 persons into this Collony."  In addition to the other 20, the list includes a William Moseley.

Thoughts, additions or corrections welcomed!

December 9, 2004

The John Coffey-Mary Jolliffee-Rebecca Ireland Myth

In 1960 George C. Greer published his reference, Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666. In that work, Greer wrote that John Coffee came to Virginia in 1637 as the indentured servant of one Nicholas Hill.

In 1969, Nell M. Nugent, in her work, Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, Vols. I-III, transcribed the same information, but recorded the name as John Coffin or John Scoffin.

Marvin Coffey, in his work of 1984, James Bluford Coffey, His Ancestors and Descendants in America, wrote that he went to the original records, and found that Nugent had copied the name correctly; e.g., Coffin in one place, and what appears to be Scoffin in another. Marvin observed that whatever the name, it is not Coffee or Coffey!

Many Coffee/Coffey genealogists have accepted that John found in Greer's work was the earliest Coffee in America. Some researchers have given him a wife, often two wives; either Mary Jolliffe or Rebecca Ireland.

Records found, in York Co., VA, mention a William Ireland, in that county from 1633-1648. And, there is a John Jolliffee in Nansemone and Isle of Wight counties in 1653 (see Nugent). But, after all of the research, by literally hundreds of Coffee/Coffey researchers over several decades, no one has related any credible evidence that 1) there was a John Coffee/Coffey in that time frame, and 2) that a Mary Jolliffee or Rebecca Ireland ever existed.

Edward is first found mentioned in the 1699 will of William Mosely. The will was proved in Essex Co., VA on April 16, 1700, and in September, 1700 Edward received his "freedom, corn, and clothes" from the Mosely estate. Mosley transported many indentured persons to Virginia from about 1660 until the 1690's. Edward was likely one of his servants.

Edward Coffee/Coffey remains as our earliest known ancestor in America.

Anyone with evidence to the contrary will certainly be hailed by the large and growing family of Coffee/Coffey researchers!

Sometime after I wrote the above, and following questions posted on a well known genealogy forum, I asked Marvin Coffey to revisit this question. He submitted the following:

"Peter Rigllesworth had a will in which he mentions a daughter Mary. It has been said that this Mary married John Jolliffe but I have seen no record to substantiate it. John Jolliffe appears in the deed records of Nansemond and Isle of Wight cos., VA in 1653 and in Lower Norfolk co. in 1661, the latter being just a renewal of the patent of 1653. I have not yet seen a list of John's children or that he had a dau. named Mary, but I think it likely he did."

"The record of a John Coffee(y) arriving in Elizabeth City co. VA in 1637 with a patentee being Nicholas Hill was misread as the original record clearly says "Coffin". I have found no Coffee(y), John or otherwise in early or middle 1600s in Elizabeth City co., Norfolk co. or any closely surrounding ones, except for a John Coffe(?) on an inquisition or jury in Surry co. in 1669. There was also in the same county an Anthony Koffey(?) on a jury in 1654 and a John Coffer in 1665. The ? after the first two names is not mine, it is of the person recording it from some original. It indicates that this person couldn't read it and was guessing at the spelling. There is also a John Coffin in Isle of Wight co. in 1697 and several Coffers, inclcuding a John about this time."

"Going further north in Virginia the records of Northumberland and Lancaster cos. have several Coffins, Coffers and Coffee(y)s in the mid to late 1600s and early 1700s. None of these seems to be a John except a John Coffin or Coffins in 1669-70. In the early 1700s we find Edward Coffee(y) in Essex co. and later his sons John & Edward, Jr. in Spotsylvania and other counties."

"In sum I have seen nothing to demonstrate that there was a John Coffee(y) in the area where this Jolliffe family lived or a Mary who married a John Coffee(y). If anyone should have any further records on this matter I would appreciate them corresponding with me as I would like to solve this problem. Finally, it should be noted that even if there were a Mary Jolliffe-John Coffey marriage there seems to be no connection with Edward in Essex co. who was most likely an immigrant and indentured servant, and not a son of some Coffey already in Virginia."

More information about various Coffee/y families can be found at:

Contact Form


Email *

Message *