I write to defend this Nancy Hatcher from the Hatcher Family Association allegation that she “was an unmarried women who had several illegitimate sons.” Their statement says much more about their poor understanding of the workings of the Church of England Vestrymen and county Justices of the Peace than it does about Nancy Hatcher.
During the Colonial Era, each county was required to select a Grand Jury of Inquest each May and November to present to the Justices persons suspected of violations such as “not properly maintaining a road or bridge, assault or battery, failing to attend The Church of England at least once a month, profane swearing in public, gambling, the illegal retailing of liquor, having a bastard child, living in adultery, etc.” Since Nancy’s family is believed to have lived in Chesterfield County, VA, I have read / scanned more than 2500 pages of Chesterfield and adjacent Brunswick Counties court records and I’ve shared a few dozen Hatcher entries with the Association. More recently I specifically read the Grand Jury records from the early 1770s through 1786 - the years when it is estimated that Nancy Hatcher’s sons were born. There was NEVER a Grand Jury presentment of any Hatcher for having a bastard child or for living in adultery.
In addition be being the author of the www.milaminvirginia.com
history website, I am an administrator for the Family Tree DNA Milam Surname Project. Recently a descendant of Nancy Hatcher ordered the Big Y chromosome sequencing analysis and his results demonstrate that he is a descendant of the John Milam Sr’s branch of the Milam tree. Chesterfield County records show that John Sr purchased 100 acres of land on 30 OCT 1760 and sold the same land in JUN 1764. He then purchased 200 acres of land in Halifax County on 18 OCT 1764 when Nancy Hatcher was ~14 years of age. His young sons Bartlett (~16 years), John Jr (~11 years), Benjamin (~14 years) and Thomas (~7 years) accompanied him to Halifax County. His older sons Samuel with his wife Sarah and James followed later. Therefore, I also read the Halifax County Grand Jury records during the same time interval. Again, there was NEVER an entry for any Hatcher for having a bastard child or for living in adultery. For Nancy Hatcher's descendants, my history of the early Milam families of Chesterfield County may be of interest here:http://www.milaminvirginia.com/Links/J_Milam_Sr_History.html
During the strict Colonial Era with a single religion and governing institutions aligned under the King of England, it was simply impossible for an unmarried women to bear three illegitimate sons without this coming to the attention of the Vestrymen and Justices, and being brought to a Grand Jury. Since she wasn't brought before a Grand Jury, Nancy Hatcher must have been married to one of John Milam Sr sons! By researching the county court order books, sale deed records and marriage bonds, I found written proof of the names of the wives for Samuel (Sarah), Bartlett (Betty ), John Jr (Nancy), Benjamin (Judith), Thomas (Elizabeth Tolbert ) but not for James. In fact, the only Halifax record for him thus far is the 1785 Halifax County Census which lists a James Milam who was living alone without a wife or child. http://files.usgwarchives.net/va/halifax/census/1785/1785000...
Interestingly, the court orders of Chesterfield County contain these James Milam records among others:
18 AUG 1763, page 446: “James Milam, plaintiff, vs Ann Hatcher. Petition. Judgment for plaintiff of three pounds current money & costs.”
16 FEB 1764, page 477: “Ann Hatcher vs James Milam. Petition. Dismissed.”
4 APR 1764, page 519: “Ordered that the Attachment brought by James Milam against Ann Hatcher be dismissed as to Gerald Walthall, one of the garnishees.”
6 JUN 1766, page 738: "James Milam against Ann Hatcher. Attachment. Dismissed."
These records indicate that James Milam was well acquainted with the Hatchers. By a process of elimination, I conclude that James Milam is the only son of John Milam Sr who could possibly be Nancy Hatcher's husband. Something terrible must have gone wrong for James - perhaps related to the long Revolutionary War (1776 - 1781) which caused many dislocations. I believe that Nancy Hatcher found good cause to leave him, take their children, and give her children her maiden name. You may read my discussion of the Nancy Hatcher mystery here: http://www.milaminvirginia.com/Links/James_Milam_History.htm...
I can provide images of all the court records which I mentioned including dozens of Grand Jury records. Just ask me for what you need. Below are examples of Grand Jury presentments from Brunswick, Chesterfield and Halifax Counties. The entries of significance to our discussion are marked with a red dash.
William Milam, MD