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Questions on the Two Richard Parsons

Questions on the Two Richard Parsons

Jack (View posts)
Posted: 1039744171000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1073058841000
If you are one of us who are tracing the lineage of Richard Parsons, you know we have a problem. There are records of TWO Richard Parsons, both marrying an Elizabeth Feathers! One Richard was born in 1720, and raised his children in Pittsylvania County, VA. The other was born in 1730 in Wilkes County, NC.

For some reason, known only to ourselves, each one of us has chosen one of these Richards to follow. Maybe you have records, maybe it just seems to "fit", maybe it's the easiest one to follow. But we all know that genealogy is not based on assumption. It requires proof.

Here is my challenge. I would like to know why you are tracing the Richard you are tracing. This problem will never get solved if we struggle to solve it in our own individual ways, or if we continue to assume "my Richard is the right one." I would like to get a dialogue started, discussing the reasons we accept the particular Richard that we have. If it is because "it feels right", fine, tell us why it feels right. If you have verifiable, proof, please share it with us. If you accept the challenge, we can solve this problem, and our family histories will be more accurate.

Re: Questions on the Two Richard Parsons

Tim Parsons (View posts)
Posted: 1043081504000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1073058854000
Hello Jack,
I hope that you and others can find the answer to this long questioned part of the Parsons' family lineage. From what information I have on the Richard Parsonses in Virginia, one was married to Elizabeth Feathers, and one was married to Lydia Briggs. These appear to me to be seperate people, not the same Richard at all. I think where a lot of the confusion comes in is in the fact that a lot of the siblings at that time in history shared the same given names among a lot of families, even though they were not relatives. Perpetuation of names was common also, so it would be easy to get the two families mixed up.
The only way to physically differentiate these two families is by genealogical data based on dates of birth, marriage, land deeds, and wills and the like. Unfortunately for some this matter is already settled, for some do not approach anything with an open mind, even when presented with documented proof of historical recorded data. This is sad, but too often true. I am not in a position to have access to records of Virginia, but if you do, or know of someone who does, I would be more than willing to help in anyway I can.

It is good to see that there is someone out there besides me wanting to document the FACTUAL lineage, and not just speculate, and it may also be true that some have this information and are just not willing to share it.

Thanks for your post.........

Re: Questions on the Two Richard Parsons

Jack (View posts)
Posted: 1043086448000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1073058869000
Thanks for your reply, Tim. I agree with you completely. So, in the interest of sharing, and hoping what I post will "trigger" something for someone else to share, here is my researech thus far:

After considerable research of the two Richard Parsons, one born 1720 and the other 1735, I have found the following:

Richard (1720)

1. Born in Wilkes County, NC
2. Died 21 Feb 1785 in Pittsylvania County, VA (Will was signed on 12/22/1783 &
probated on 2/21/1785 in Pittsylvania County VA)
3. Will lists the following children:
-- Hannah Madkiff & husband Joseph Madkiff
-- Agness Madkiff & husband John Madkiff
-- George
-- Joseph
-- John
-- Samuel
-- William
-- Lydia Yates & husband Stephen Yates
-- wife (unnamed in will)

The will states that Richard and his wife are living with Lydia and her husband.

4. Apparently, Richard had two wives:

-- A St. James and Goochland parish deed book names Richard Parsons and his wife, Lydia Briggs. It states that George Briggs was her brother.
-- Another source shows:
Md. (1) Elizabeth Feathers, b. abt. 1725 in Wilkes County NC. Md. Abt. 1744
(2) Lydia Briggs, b. abt. 1720. Md. Abt. 1740 in Goochland County VA
Joseph, b. abt. 1744 in VA
Hannah, b. abt. 1746 in Halifax (Pittsylvania) VA
George, b. abt. 1747 in Halifax (Pittsylvania) VA
Agnes, b. abt. 1748
John, b. abt. 1751 in Halifax (Pittsylvania) VA
Samuel, b. abt. 1752 in Halifax (Pittsylvania) VA
James, b. abt. 1753 in Halifax (Pittsylvania) VA
Lydia, b. abt. 1754 in Halifax (Pittsylvania) VA
Richard Jr., b. abt. 1758 in VA
William, b. abt. 1758 in Halifax (Pittsylvania) VA

-- Another source showing marriage:
Md. Lydia Briggs in Goochland VA
Joseph, b. abt. 1742 in Pittsylvania VA
Mary Agnes, b. abt. 1744 in VA
Hannah, b. abt. 1746 in Pittsylvania VA
George, b. abt. 1748 in Pittsylvania VA
James, b. abt. 1753 in VA
John, b. abt. 1754 in Pittsylvania VA
Lydia, b. abt. 1754 in Pittsylvania VA
Samuel, b. abt. 1756 in Pittsylvania VA
Richard Jr., b. abt. 1758 in VA
William, b. abt. 1758 in Pittsylvania VA

-- A third source:
Md. (1) Lydia Briggs, b. abt. 1717 in Goochland VA. Md. 1736 in Goochland.
(2) Elizabeth Feathers, b. abt 1725 in Wilkes County NC. Md. Abt 1744 in VA.
Agnes, b. 1744 in Pittsylvania VA
Hannah, b. 1746 in Pittsylvania VA
Lydia, b. 1748 in Pittsylvania VA
George, b. abt. 1750 in Pittsylvania VA
Joseph, b. abt. 1752 in Pittsylvania VA
John, b. abt. 1754 in Pittsylvania VA
Samuel, b. abt. 1756 in Pittsylvania VA
William, b. abt. 1758 in Pittsylvania VA
Richard Jr., b. abt. 1758 in Pittsylvania VA
James, b. abt. 1760 in Surry County NC

5. Land records in present-day VA counties of Halifax, Pittsylvania, Henry, Franklin and Patrick show that Joseph, Richard, Samuel, and George owned land here.

6. Records show that Richard was a surveyor in Lunenburg County VA.

7. Richard, Joseph, George, William, and Samuel appear on Pittsylvania County Court Records.

8. Richard, George, John, Joseph, Samuel, and William appear on the 1782 Pittsylvania County VA census.

Richard (1735)

1. Born abt. 1735 in Wilkes County NC
2. Died between 1817-1820 in Surry County NC
3. He was in Surry County NC between 1787 and 1811. He owned land on north side of Yadkin River near Deep Creek.
4. He was named in the estate of John Holcomb (13 Sep 1747) in Anwell, Hunterden County, New Jersey. Laurence Holcomb was a witness in Richard’s will. Laurence may have been a brother of Richard’s first wife.
5. Will, signed in 1817, probated in 1820 names 9 children:

6. It is documented that Richard is the ancestor of the Lee County VA Parsons.
7. Another source shows:
Md. (1) Elizabeth Feathers, b. Wilkes County NC. Md. Abt. 1744 in VA.
(2) Unknown, md. abt 1720

8. It has been recorded that there is an unrecorded will in Surry County NC showing James Parsons was the son of Richard Parsons and Mary Feathers.

My Comments:

First, I believe there are two different Richard Parsons. I doubt that they were both married to an Elizabeth Feathers and had families so similar. Look at it this way – that’s like me, Henry Jackson Martin, being born in Virginia, marrying a Cherokee named Pocahontas, and having nine children. At the same time, across the border in North Carolina, another Henry Martin is born, who also marries a Cherokee named Pocahontas, and also has children named almost the same as mine, some born within a couple of years of my children. The odds of that happening must be astronomical! Now, it IS possible, but I have a hard time accepting it. [A lot of this data has been passed on via the LDS database, and I keep recalling an article I read a few years ago about the validity of that database. The article described how it was discovered that someone had maliciously altered and entered erroneous data into the system. I can’t help but wonder if this is a case of that].

Now, let’s compare the families. As you can see, not only are there two different Richard/Elizabeth families, but seven of the children have the same names. Additionally, both families have a son named John. Both Johns were born in 1755; however, the John of Richard (1720) was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The John of Richard (1735) was born in Surry County, North Carolina.

Also, one record shows that the sons named James in both families were both born in Surry County, North Carolina, within three years of each other (1757 and 1760). Another oddity about the James of Richard (1720) was that he is the only child NOT born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Siblings born before and after James were born in Virginia. It is not impossible for this to occur -- just unusual. Why did the parents have children in Pittsylvania County, go to Surry County, North Carolina, to have James, go back to Virginia to have additional children, and then die in Surry County?

My research uncovered a book titled “Early Settlers of Lee County, Virginia” by Anne Wynn Laningham. Quoting this source: “The Parsons of Lee County, Virginia, came from North Carolina, in the early eighteen hundreds.” The book describes a John Parsons listed in the 1790 census of Surry County, North Carolina, and who probably was living in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1800, and who appears in the records of Lee County, Virginia, in 1803. Again quoting the book: “John is believed to have been the son of Richard and Elizabeth Parsons of Surry County NC (Will 1817, probate 1820)”. The will names sons James, John, Joseph, Richard, George, Jonathan, and girls Mary, Tabitha, and Milly.”

The book continues, “John Parsons was born ca. 1755, married Mary Simmons, who was born in NC. They had children, including the following: Samuel Parsons, born ca. 1781; William S. Parsons, born Nov. 16, 1789 in NC; Nancy Parsons, born ca. 1782; John Parsons, born 1802.”

I consider the will mentioned above significant in unraveling the mystery of which Richard is in our line. The will was dated 1817, and was probated in 1820. This is NOT the will of the Richard born in 1720. That Richard died in 1785, and his will was signed on 22 December 1783 and probated on 21 February 1785.

Also, the will of the Richard born in 1720 does not mention (Rev.) James, my ancestor. The will of the Richard born in 1735 does mention James.

The above will shows that the father of John was the Richard born in 1735. The information given on John matches the information found on my John, the brother of Rev. James. Therefore, there is a high probability that this John is the brother of my James, which makes the Richard born in 1735 the father of my Rev. James.

Look at #3 on Richard (1735). It references a source that states that Richard was in Surry County NC between 1787 and 1811. The other Richard (1720) was dead then!

Richard (1720) died on 21 Feb 1785. I know that my Richard had a son named Jonathan born on 1 Jun 1797 and another son, George, born before 1806. Richard (1720) was dead when Jonathan was born, and stretching George’s birth back 21 years would be a stretch!

To sum it up, based on what I have found thus far and outlined above, I believe that my Richard is the one born in 1735.

i look forward to hearing from anyone with information that can affirm or dispute the above.


Re: Questions on the two Richard Parsons

Tim Parsons (View posts)
Posted: 1043163845000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1043245736000
Jack, your information seems to be on the up and up.

Of course as I said, I haven't been able to obtain actual copies of wills and the like except what is availiable on

A word about the LDS database: Most of the info there is donated, although some is done through research by the ones who run it, as best as I understand it. I have looked for information on my family there and found some of it incorrect.
But not a lot of it........

The notes I have are second hand and I beleive from a reliable source, who has made a trip to Virginia and copied extensive data files concerning the Parsonses and their history there in Goochland and Pittsylvania Counties.

Although I do not have ACTUAL COPIES of the data myself.

It is my understanding that the Richard Parsons that is in my line of lineage was the one born around 1713 VA, and died before 1785.


Given the times would it not be plausible that the Richard born in 1720 could have had a child named Richard who married at the age of 15?

Were these two Richard's cousins?, or perhaps Uncle and nephew? That may explain the similarity in the children's names.

As far as I know, from the information I have, I do not have a Jonathon in my Richard's family. Granted, that doesn't mean there wasn't one. I do show a James, but he is listed as the great grandson of Richard Parsons and his wife Lydia Briggs.
James' parents were John and Mishel (Farthing)Parsons. John's parents were Joseph Parsons, Sr./Margaret (Griffith)Parsons.

My own personal input here for what it's worth;

I think there was family relation here between these two families. The parents of the two Richard's would be helpful in identifying the difference in their identities, where they came from, and kinship, if any.

Is this the only area of genealogical history you have focused on, or have you also done census data compilation.

Where did your line of Parsons migrate to in the U.S.?
The descendants of my Richard Parsons went west into Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas. There are some who I have not been able to find. There is a line of Parsons in South Carolina and Alabama who eventually ended up virtually right next door to my family. I do not know if this was coincidence or not, but to date none of them know of any kinship. I figure it was a split off from the westward movement of earlier migration.

In Genealogical Kindness;

Tim Parsons

Re: Questions on the two Richard Parsons

Jack (View posts)
Posted: 1043282224000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1043410997000
If the parents of the two Richards could be determined, it would be of great assistance. however, the mystery only deepens. Recovered data shows that BOTH Richards have the SAME parents (of course, what else!), Joseph Parsons III (1690) and Sarah Woodson. The data I have on this Joseph is as questionable as the data on Richard. Examples: (1) Joseph was born in Charles City County VA. He married and lived his life in Henrico County VA. All of his children were born in Henrico County EXCEPT Richard, who was born in Wilkes County NC. Why was Richard the exception? (2) There is a record of Joseph being in Henrico County between 1724 (birth of his son, Joseph Jr.) and 1742 (when he was fined by the sheriff of Henrico County). That would put him in Henrico County when Richard was born. (3) In several lists of Joseph’s children, there is no mention of a Richard. Richard is not even mentioned in Joseph’s will.

So, what a mess!!


Re: Questions on the Two Richard Parsons

Posted: 1046279694000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1073058893000
I, too, am looking for factual information on the lineage of my gggrandfather, Harvey Parsons, from Virginia. I have not been able to get any information on his birth or parentage. I only know that sometime he came to Indiana and married Annis Gordon in August 6, 1858, they had five children, and he died in Indiana in May 1880 at the age of 42, so must have been born around 1838. Do you have any information about him?
Thank you.


Re: Questions on the Two Richard Parsons

Posted: 1072990464000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1073058952000
Surnames: Parsons, Woodson, Briggs, Feathers
I too am of the opinion that there are two completely separate Richard Parsons being confused and often merged into one person by way too much copying of info on the net.

As mentioned in an earlier post, dates and locations must be considered carefully. From what I remember Richard (1720) is to be the son of Joseph Parsons and Sarah Woodson, which adds up if you consider his (and the Woodson's) Virginia roots and that also of the Midkiffs so closely associated by to this Parson clan by marriage.

Likewise, Joseph Parson's birthdate of 1695 and his marriage to Sarah Woodson (1717/18) as noted in a deed transfer from her father (Robert Jr) to them, and Sarah's untimely death at age 27 a few years later distinctly leans towards them being the parents of the 1720 Richard who married Lydia Briggs (also a well documented marriage).

There's little chance that I can accept two different Richard Parsons marrying two different Elizabeth Feathers during the same, or even close, time period. Stranger things have happened, but this smacks too much of crossed wires among internet researchers.

The same problem arose over three different Richard Parkers some time back (Surry, Henrico and Nansemond) and is still being put forth by well meaning researchers who continue to merrily blend them all together.


Re: Questions on the two Richard Parsons

Posted: 1072991113000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1073058996000
Surnames: Parsons
It would be interesting to see a transcript of the will of Joseph Parsons. Since you're drawing info from it you undoubtedly have a copy. Could you please post it for the rest of us? That would be great.

In regards to Joseph not mentioning Richard in his will -- first we must be sure that you have the correct Joseph Parsons' will. Secondly, Richard Parsons was 65 at the time of his death (making his birthdate 1720); would be good to know the death date of Joseph Parsons. Also, if Joseph remarried (which he may well have as his wife Sarah passed away at the young age of 27), there may have already been an previous provision for the children of an earlier marriage (which was common at the time, altho you usually see at least a small amount in the will to keep it from being disputed).

Fred Olen Ray

Re: Questions on the two Richard Parsons

Posted: 1074963781000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Parsons, Wooding, Williamson, Griffeth(ith), Adams
To Fred and all who are interested in solving the puzzle of Richard Parsons of Virginia:

This information was donated to me by a fellow researcher, so I do not deserve credit for her hard work on obtaining this;

FILM 0033318, VOLUME 31, page 233

Order to Record Will

In the Name Of God, Amen, I Joseph Parsons Senr of Pittsylvania County being of Sound Mind though infirm of body do make and publish this,my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say, first, I desire to give my soul to God who gave it to me in trust for his use...Secondly I desire that all my just debts shall be paid out of any part of my Estate. Thirdly, I give the use and possesion of my whole estate real and personal to my wife Sarah Parsons for and during her natural life and no longer, and at her death I give the whole of my real estate to my Grand Son Joseph Parsons, Son of my son John Parsons, his heirs and assigns forever and whatever remains of my personal estate at her death, it is my will shall be equally divided among all my children in equal ________. Lastly, I appoint Thomas H. Wooding Executor of this my last will, hereby revoking all others or former Wills by me made. In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal this 3rd day of January 1826.Joseph (x) Parsons
Witnesses: Tho. Williamson, John Wooding, Thomas H. Wooding
At a court _____ for Pittsylvania County the 26 (?) day of January 1834, this last will and testament of Joseph Parsons, decd was proved by Thomas H. Wooding and John Wooding and ordered to be recorded and Thomas H. Wooding the Executor in said will named refusing to take upon himself the burden of the execution of said will on motion of John Parsons who made oath thereto according to law and with Dent G. Lovell his security entered into and acknowledged bound in the penalty of one hundred dollars conditioned as the law directs certificate was granted him for obtaining letters of administration on the said estate with the said will annexed in due form.
Will Tunstall CC

After further research at and elswhere, I found the following information:

Joseph Parsons Sr. was born ABT 1752 in Pittsylvania Co., Virginia, and died ABT 1834 in Pittsylvania Co., Virginia. He married Margaret Griffeth BEF 1773. She died BEF 1791 in Pittsylvania Co., Virginia. He married Sarah Adams 20 JUN 1791. ????????

This would put her death before age 27, but would place her as first marriage, instead of second...

Re: Questions on the two Richard Parsons

Fred Ray (View posts)
Posted: 1075061886000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1075117508000
Surnames: Parsons, Briggs, Woodson
This is very interesting and raises the question as to who is this Joseph Parsons? He is, of course, not the Joseph Parsons who married Sarah Woodson, but he might be a grandson. Could he be the son of Richard Parsons and Lydia Briggs, or perhaps even their grandson?

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