"The Wootens of Edgecombe"
(Edgecombe County, NC)


(revised and updated, 1/16/98)

A.R. Tyndall

The earliest of the Wootens, according to Richard C. Wooten, writing in the WOOTEN & RELATED FAMILIES JOURNAL, was Thomas and Jane Watton.

The story (of the Wootens) begins in the dim past, when before the year 1100, there was already a village of Wutton (spelled many different ways) in Northamptonshire, England, about 4 miles east of Northampton, the county seat. I (Richard C. Wooten) have found Wuttons (various spellings) there as early as 1200, taking their names from the village, today spelled "Wootton". By 1600, there were families named Wotton (many spellings) scattered all over the county. One of these families, which spelled the name Watton, lived in the northeast part of the county, in the section to the west of the cathedral city of Petersborough, around the village of Castor.

In 1538, Henry VIII, through his archbishop, had ordered all parishes to begin keeping records of baptisms, burials, and marriages. In the Castor Parish Register, I found a record of the burial of a John Watton in 1588. Looking further, I found a whole series of baptisms and burials of Wattons, most of whom were listed as children of

1. THOMAS AND JANE WATTON.

There was no record of their marriage in the Castor Register, so it would appear that they were married in some neighboring parish. Their Castor Register entries begin May, 1608, with the baptism of a son THOMAS son of Thomas Watton, followed in December, 1609, with the burial of THOMAS son of Thomas Watton. Jane must have been very pregnant at the time of the death of little Thomas, for the next entry comes in January, 1610 (1609 old style) with the baptism of JOHN THE SONNE of Thomas Watton. In May, 1611, comes the baptism of Agnes the daughter of Thomas Watton. And then comes 27 September, 1612, the baptisms of THOMAS THE SONNE OF THOMAS WATTON. The parents were evidently determined to have a son names Thomas; after the first one's death, they simply used the name again. More children followed: Richard (1613), Henry (1617), Dove (dau©1618), Jane (1620), Maria (1622). Then came burials: John (1624), Richard the Sonne of Thomas and Jane Watton (1639), and Jane the wife of Thomas Watton, buried the third of March, 1641. Since Jane was described as "wife" rather than "widow" or "relict", it seems probable that Thomas the father was still living in 1641.

2. THOMAS WATTON (WOTTON), THE EMIGRANT

The evidence seems to me overwhelming that the child Thomas, born 1612, in Castor was the same man who in 1670 made his will and died in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. In his will, that Thomas Wotton left his property to his "only begotten son" Richard, with the provision that if Richard died without issue, the property was to go to Thomas' next of kin of name (Wotton) in the village of Castor near Petersborough in Northamptonshire. This seems to leave no doubt that IOW Thomas I (as we may call him) was born and raised in Castor, and that he believed members of his family still seemed to be living there in 1670 when he made his will. It was this provision of Thomas' will which has led several Wooten decedents to look to Castor for the English origins of the Isle of Wight family.

In June, 1979, I (Richard C. Wooten) went to Northamptonshire and went through all entries in the Castor Parish Register from 1538 well past 1660, copying all Wotton/Watton entries. I found them in abundance, except that the name was always spelled Wa, never Wo. This suggested that those Wootton decedents searching for records of Thomas' arrival in Virginia should try Watton instead of Wotton. The search for the latter name had proved fruitless, except for those wishful thinkers who fastened on Thomas the Jamestown Surgeon of 1607 as their family patriarch! A search for a Thomas WATTON yielded immediate results. Virginia Patent records show that in June 1639, an early Virginia planter named John Pawley had paid the passage of 12 immigrants from England. For doing this, Pawley was entitled to have these people work for him for a period of years (depending on their ages), and to boot he was awarded a patent (land grant) for 50 acres a head, a total of 600 acres. One of these 12 was Thomas Watton. Pawley took out his patent near the head of the Lawnes Creek on the south side of the James River, where James City County and Isle of Wight County then met. It appears likely that Pawley sooner or later assigned Thomas Watton to work on the clearing and seating of this land. In 1645, we find Pawley's neighbor Robert Eley deeding to William Troloder 150 acres of a patent which Eley had received in 1639. About a year later, Troloder transferred this 150 acres to Thomas Watton. The assignment is simply added to the bottom of the original deed from Eley to Troloder. It is dated 11 January 1645 (our 1646), and may be seen on Isle of Wight County Records Microfilm 1, p. 99, in the Virginia State Library in Richmond. One of the witnesses to this assignment was Arthur Wood, evidently a friend and neighbor of Thomas Watton. Arthur died some time after 1646, and Thomas Watton married his widow Sara. Thomas and Sara had one son, Richard, who is our next in the IOW line.

3. RICHARD WOTTON I, (WATTON, WOOTTON, etc.)

It is clear from Thomas' 1670 will that Richard had no children as yet, and also likely that he was quite young, probably still a minor. But within two or three years, Richard had married Joyce (or possibly Jayne), maiden name not yet known. Reports that his wife was an Albrighton or Albiidgton are incorrect. Richard acquired another sizeable piece of land in 1681 from Nicholas Cobb. In this deed, the name reverts to the original WATTON. In 1686, Richard I made his will and died before March of 1687, when his will was probated. He divided his lands apparently evenly between his two sons Richard and Thomas, mentioning but not naming a third child, probably a girl. He made his wife executrix of the will, but tantalizingly gave no hint as to her name. Only in the probate papers was his first name given as Joyce (or possible Jayne). The two sons Richard II and Thomas II were obviously minors, probably in the 9©13 age range, since Richard I felt it necessary to appoint a friend as overseer of the will.

In spite of careful searching, we have not yet been able to trace the descendants of Thomas II.

4. RICHARD WOOTTEN II (many spellings)

Although he was named in the will, Richard II may have been the younger of the two sons, since his brother Thomas later turned out to have much more land. There are no records of either of them for about 12 years after the death of their father, suggesting that they were living under the care of their mother or some other older person.

In 1698, Richard II turns up as witness to a deed. Five years later, he co-signs a deed with his wife Lucy Council. Lucy was the daughter of Hodges Council and Lucy Hardy. On Hodges death in 1699, he left to his daughter Lucy Council or the heirs of her body, 200 acres of land, so it appears that Lucy and Richard were married after her father's death, and certainly before 1703 when she signed her name as Lucy Wootton. Richard II and Lucy has two known sons, Richard III and William. We know that William was born no earlier than 1710, since a 1730 deed describes him as still a minor. Upon the death of Richard II and Lucy around 1735, both Richard III and William received considerable tracts of land. That of William came from the Council side of the family through the deed of 1730. By tracing William's career from this point, we shall come upon evidence that he had a younger brother who was the man we later know as John Wooten SR of Pitt, Hatter.

5. WILLIAM THE ELDER OF EDGECOMBE, HATTER.

William sold out his Isle of Wight lands in 1743©44, and received a 300 acre land grant in Northhampton County, NC in 1743. (See Quarterly I pp 54-55 for full discussion of this grant). William then moved to Johnston County NC around 1750 and on to Edgecombe County in 1756, where he bought land practically on the border of what was to become Pitt County. Years later, in 1779, William got word from Virginia that his older brother Richard III had died, and that Richard's only son Hardy Wootten had also died without heirs. Consequently, the Isle of Wight Court had found William to be the heir in-law of Richard II and his son Hardy. William by now was well established in NC with fine lands and four sons. He journeyed back to Virginia in late December 1779 and quickly sold the land he had inherited. In the resulting deed of 30 December 1779, William have the history of how this land came to him, concluding: "the said Plantation and Land descended to the aforesaid William Wotton as "eldest" Brother and heir at law to the aforesaid Richard Wotton, the younger..."

Note that William is not described as "the" brother of Richard III, nor is he described as the "only" brother, nor as the "surviving" brother, or in any other way to suggest that Richard II had only two sons. The language used clearly implies that there was at least one additional brother, possibly even more. Deeds of 1743-44 prove that at that time, William's wife was Ann. One of these deeds suggests that she may have been daughter of a James Bryant. This is supported by the fact that three of William's four sons named their sons Bryant. Further evidence suggests that this wife Ann died after bearing at least three of William's four sons. However, after 1770 , William again refers to a living wife Ann, notably in his will of 1792. However, whether William had one or two wives Ann remains to be determined.

William's only proven children were Amos, Joel, Joshua, and James, the latter frequently confused with three other James Woottens living in NC at the same time. Amos, Joel, and Joshua are all identified by William as his sons in deeds. James is so identified in William's will. Descendants of each of these sons are already members of our Association. Amos and his descendants generally remained in Edgecombe County, and include the President and Secretary-Treasurer of our Association. Joel moved to Georgia (Burke/Telfair counties), whence his descendants have scattered all over the US and even to Saudi-Arabia. Joshua moved to the parts of New Hanover County which became Onslow and Pender, where some descendants live today. James and his son Henry stayed on the Edgecombe/Pitt area, with descendants now widely dispersed, including an Associate now living in Irving, Texas.

1. THOMAS WATTON, b. Castor, England __________, d. >1641. His wife JANE, d. 3 March, 1641.
2. THOMAS WATTON, b. Castor, England, 1612; d. 1670, Isle of Wight County, Virginia.
3. RICHARD WOTTON I, b. Isle of Wight County, Virginia, >1670; d. 4. RICHARD WOOTTEN II, b. <1687, Isle of Wight County, Virginia; d. 1735 (Isle of Wight County, Virginia).
5. WILLIAM WOTTON, b. 1710, Isle of Wight County, Virginia; d. 1792, Edgecombe County, NC.
6. AMOS WOOTEN, b. _____________, d. April 11, 1811; wife Priscilla. He was the father of 13 children which are identified in his estate papers (Edgecombe DB 15, p. 37) as follows: William, Hardy, Eli, Absalom, Jesse, Stephen, Ephraim, Amos II, David, Nannie (Anne) md Siley Edwards, Winney md John Cobb, Eliza md. Bryant Edwards, and Milley md Dempsey Corbitt.

ABSTRACTS OF EDGECOMBE COUNTY, NC 1780 - 83:

WILLIAM (W) WOOTTEN of Edgecombe Co., hatter, deed of gift to his son, AMOS WOOTTEN, of same, hatter, Jan. 13, 1783, for love and affection a tract of 513 acres on the north bank of Autry's Creek and on the Cow Branch adjoining Van Swearingen. Wit: Joel Wootten, James Wootten.

STATE of NC grant No. 47 to AMOS WOOTTEN by Gov. Rd. Caswell, July 1, 1779, a tract of 640 acres lying on both sides of Autry's Creek adjoining Robert Williams, Benjamin Barnes, James Taylor, John Stokes, and his own lines.

His will states the following: Apr. 11, 1911. May Ct., 1812. Bk. E. p 31. Wife: PRISCILLA, for life or widowhood, land at mouth of Long Point Creek at the head of the Marsh, on HARDY NORVELL'S line, including Dwelling house, and improvements, 2 negroes, 6 chairs, chest, flax wheel, woolen wheel, man's saddle, woman's saddle, 2 horses, 3 cows and calves, 2 sows and pigs, cart, gun; her choice of Pewter dishes, 6 plates, 4 basons, 12 spoons, 2 pots, frying pan and skillet, Dutch oven, 6 knives and forks, 2 Bee Hives, 30 bbls corn, 1500 lbs. pork, 2 staks of Blade Fodder, 200 lbs. seed cotton, box iron and heater, 2 tubs, 2 water pails, all cider barrels, 2 ewes and lambs, 3 weeding hoes, grubbing hoe, 2 axes, 2 plow teams with gear. At wife's decease or marriage, to my chil (unnamed). Exr: STEPHEN and AMOS WOOTTEN. Wit: HENRY B. DAVIS, WILLIAM WOOTTEN, BRYANT EDWARDS.

7. AMOS WOOTEN II, b. _____________, d. 1848 intestate in Edgecombe County, NC.

Since he died intestate, the Edgecombe Court had to determine his heirs-at--law and divide his lands amongst them, after allotting his widow Fanny her dower share. The Division of Amos' lands is entered in Edgecombe Deed Book 24, p. 636, dated 28 Dec. 1848, with lots apportioned to the four heirs. These heirs are Spencer W. Wooten, b. 1815, Delpha Ann Wooten, b. 1820 (married to her 1st cousin Stephen Wooten), Mansel Wooten, b. 1818, d. 1867, and Worrell W. Wooten, b. 1823. An earlier son Amos Jr. had already died without issue before the death of his father Amos II.

Note!!!!! Amos II's widow Fanny was NOT the mother of any of his children. Fanny was the widow of Absalom Wooten, Amos' brother, who made his will and died by August, 1836, naming his brother Amos II as executor. Amos' first wife, (given name Tabitha (?), maiden name not yet identified) died before 1845. On 28 Jan 1845, Amos II was bonded to marry his brother's widow Fanny Wooten, his bondsman being his own son Spencer W. Wooten.

8. WORRELL W. WOOTEN, b. 1823, d. 1891.

Worrell W. Wooten, according to the Federal Census of 1850, was a farmer worth $600. He married Tamsey Corbett (b. 18-3) according to the Marriage Bonds of Edgecombe County. They were bonded on December 28, 1858, married on December 30, 1858 by R. J. Johnson, Justice of the Peace. Their bondsman was Mansel Wooten, brother of the Groom, and the witness was J. H. Dozier. Tamsey (Ashley) Corbett was the daughter of Redding Corbett and Viney (Leviny) Wooten. Leviny Wooten was the daughter of Amos Wooten's older brother, William. (Therefore, Worrell and Tamsey were first cousins.) Worrell and Tamsey had four children, William Jackson Wooten (b. 1863) , Ann Eliza Wooten ( b. 1867) , Louisa Wooten ( b. 1868), and Nina Wooten ( b. 1870). Anneliza married John Dildy and had one son Wiley Dildy who died without issue. Worrell served in the Confederate Army,having enlisted as a Private in Wake County on October 12, 1864 for the war. He was present or accounted for through December, 1864. (Co. A, 5th Regiment, NC State Infantry.) He is later recorded as being "married" to Arkansas Hathaway (according to Death Certificate of William Jackson Wooten, Greene County NC courthouse). According to information gathered on December 23, 1984 from grandchildren Reddin Wooten and Repsy Wooten Tyndall, Worley Wooten went to the Primitive Baptist Church at Otter's Creek (Autry's). All of his people were supposed to have gone there. Also, according to Reddin Wooten, Worley was a music teacher (private tutoring) and he had a beautiful handwriting. Worley owned land around Autrey's Creek in Edgecombe County.

9. WILLIAM JACKSON WOOTEN, b. May 1, 1863, d. June 18, 1935 in Greene County, NC.

William Jackson Wooten's first marriage was to Rebecca Elison Craft on January 8, 1885. She was born on January 26, 1857 and died in 1900. Her parents were John T. Craft and Chassie Chester. From this union there came five children: Ella, John, Lillie, Annie, and Pattie. His second marriage (March 5, 1902) was to Florence Walston, daughter of Levi Walston (b. Aug. 5, 1845, d. Oct. 7, 1887) and Sarah Priscilla Caroline Dildy (b. 1852, d. Jan. 15, 1931). She was born on December 31, 1883 and died on March 10, 1931 in Wilson, NC of complete prolapse of uterus, multiple abscesses of the abdomen and respiratory embolism, according to P.P. Lane, MD. She is buried in the Wooten family cemetery near Walstonburg, NC. This marriage produced ten children: Bettie Elizabeth, Mittie Rebecca, William Alonza, Reddin Franklin, Jesse, Bettie Florence, Bob (Robert), Repsie Priscilla, Mary Virginia, and an unnamed boy.

Information received from Reddin Wooten and Repsy Wooten Tyndall on December 23, 1984 (children of William Jackson Wooten and Florence Walston):

"Parents would sit on porch singing hymns. One favorite was "Lord, I'm Coming Home". William Jackson was timid in public, short 5'6" -7", weighed about 125 lbs. "soaking wet". Pa had a stroke at 65. Bald when he died. Farmed all his life. Owned a small farm in Greene Co. (18 acres cleared, 30 in all together. 12 acres was 1st wife's . Always had a moustache. Taciturn, Tenderhearted, Seldom punished. He kept a switch up over the door where he kept gun. Used switch on William once for lying about smoking. All of the 2nd set of children were born and raised in the house which is behind Reddin's present home. It had a Living Room, 2 bedrooms, a dining room and kitchen, outhouse (2 holes). William built the 2nd hole (used Repsy for measurement). One bed was in the Living Room for parents; at one time there were two beds in that room. There were several big Oak trees, 3 Pecan trees, a Fig tree, Hickory tree, Persimmon Tree, Black Walnut tree, 2 grape vines, peach, apple and pear trees on the property.

Reddin reports that Pa had a nice high tenor voice. Pa had cat holes in the door; he had cats for mouse control. Dogs were "Dandy" and Robert had a puppy named "Hunter" which had fits, so Pa hit him with the axe. There was a ritual for Pa to go to bed. Bedtime was 9 PM all the time. Mittie loved to sit in front of the fire coals. Repsy loved to play in fire with a fire stick (punch the logs and watch sparks). Had an old organ, Pattie, Mittie played. All of the children would stand around the organ and sing mostly religious songs. Mittie had a book of love songs which she loaned to Cecil Mann. Robert remembers when Pa took him fishing when he was about 8 years old at the little run near Grandmother Walston's. Pa made a hook out of a straight pin and used a spool of cotton thread. They cut little reed poles. Robert caught his 1st fish. He was so excited. Earthworms were used for bait and Robert had to dig worms behind the barn.

When Florence died, Pa and Repsy told the Doctor that he killed her. Pa never got over her death. He lost interest in everything. Florence was a big worrier, who cried easily. She made big biscuits She had mannish hands; she peeled apples, peaches, fast and thin. She didn't like to wash dishes. The children did not have special chores. Robert had a poor appetite and was a puny child; since he was sickly, he was not expected to do as much as others. Pa bought a cow and Robert got better. He had a "fit" about age 15 or 16. Repsy tried to be a prankster.

Pa always observed Old Christmas. He put toboggans around the hearth where Santa could find them. He looked on Christmas morning for marks on the chimney. The children got raisins, stick candy, 2 apples and oranges, and brazil nuts ("nigger toes").

William Jackson Wooten died on June 18, 1935 in Greene County, NC of Nephritis, Myocarditis, and Chronic Bronchitis, according to W. A. Marlowe, MD. He is buried in the Wooten family cemetery near Walstonburg, NC

This info submitted by:
A.R. Tyndall

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