The Mayo family is one in which all Virginians delight to revert to, and particularly the citizens of Richmond. Who of the old residents do not enjoy and still rmember the many stories told of â€œold Joe Mayo,â€ who was so long Mayor of Richmond, and for whose father, Colonel John Mayo, the first bridge across the James to Manchester was built and named. The floods continually washed it away, but so persistent was Colonel Mayo in replacing it that he spent nearly all his funds upon it, and was cast into jail for debt, but Patrick Henry, by his eloquence, had him released.
But let us go back, for the family has a long English record of honor and fame.
Bardsley, in his English surnames, says that the name â€œMayoâ€ was a sobriquet for the word â€œMayorâ€ and â€œMurâ€ Scotch for Mayor, and was attached to the names of all city officers during the fifteenth century. Sir Bernard Burke gives, in his English Peerage, the family of Mayo as descended from David Bourke, Earl of Mayo county, Ireland, and from him his descendants at the beginning of the eighteenth century dropped the Bourke and retained the Mayo.
Now let us turn to the first Mayo emigrant and see the connection.
Much is to be found of the first Mayo family in the colony in â€œOld St. Johnâ€™s Parishâ€ records, as well as in Bishop Meadeâ€™s â€œOld Churches of Virginiaâ€, which say that Joseph Mayo emigrated from the Island of Barbadoes about the year 1727. He first settled in Powhatan county, just below Richmond, and became at once identified with the growth of the little town which ahd just been planted on the hills, and his descendants have held office in it ever since. What make his first home more interesting is the fact, established, that is was situated nearly on the same spot where â€œKyngs Powatanâ€™sâ€ palace stood and where he was buried.
Now let us trace back to the Arms, as given by Burke, and compare them to the arms as engraved on the Mayo tombstone, which we here give, and are described as:
â€œAsure, vair gules, angent, between three coronets, or; Crest- a unicornâ€™s heart erased, bearing a chevron vair gules and argent. Here the arms appear with a crescent for difference, with an esquireâ€™s helmet, the shield surrounded with much scroll work.
In the Burk arms for Mayo, we have the coronet, or, as a crest, and for supporters two chevalies with battle axes, showing the rank of Mayor, who were called Esquires. Thus we trace the Virginia family to the first creation under Bourke in Ireland.
The first Joseph Mayo had a brother, Major William Mayo, who settled about the same time in Powhatan, and was one of the surveyors of the line between Virginia and North Carolina in 1728-â€˜9; he also helped Colonel William Byrd to lay off the town of Richmond into lots.
His son, Colonel William Mayo Jr., of Powhatan, served in the Revolutionary War. These two were the ancestors of the extensive and honorable family of Mayo in Virginia. In the old Mayo cemetery near the river, and not far from where the present Chesapeake and Ohio and Newport News line now runs, are to be seen the tombs of the emigrant and his children. George Mayo, his eldest, was born in the Island of Barbadoes, 1717 and died 1789. Joseph Mayo, his second, born 1729; died 1732; Marianna, born 1731, died 1736.
â€œJoseph Mayo, Gent,â€ the emigrant, was bor at Sumnshire, march 25, 1693; died in Virginia March 23, 1740. One of his children, Steph, diedyoung, being born 1735, died 1736.
One of his grandchildren, John Mayo, died in 1786. He married Mary ---, who died in 1792.
William Mayo, son of colonel William, born 1757, died in 1877, married Elizabeth Pottlerees (or Poythress) who was born in King george county, 1737, and died in 1806. Colonel John Mayo, son of John Jr., son of William, born in Powhatan, 1769/ and died 1818, was the builder of the first bridge over the James river connecting Richmond with Manchester, and which has always since gone by his name. The first bridge was a rude affair, built of pine logs, which would be frequently carried away by every freshet in the river. The history of this colonel John is recorded with that of the establishment and growth of Richmond. He married Miss De Hart, a native of Elizabethtown, N.J. Now, if we turn to English records, we will find in â€œMiscellania: Genealogical Heraldicaâ€ of London, England, as published 1869, that this Miss Hart was descended from the â€œHarts of Witney, Oxfordshire.â€ When William Penn contemplated founding the Colony of Penn under grant of Charles II, John Hart, of Witney, son of Christopher and Mary Hart, accompanied him to America. He was then thirty-two years of age, being born in 1651. He; with others, who emigrated with him, made an agreement with Penn, on the 11â€™th of July, 1681 to purchase one thousand acres of lands lying in Pennsylvania. John Hart brought with him his sister, Mary, born in England, 1658, but she died unmarried. From this John Hart descended Abigail, the wife of Colonel John Mayo. The name was originally De Hart, but the prefix de was dropped afterward. This Abigail Mayo died in 1843. (See New Jersey Records.)
General Winfield Scott, of the United States army, intermarried with the Mayoâ€™s through this Abigail Mayo, and his children, John Mayo Scott, born 1819, died 1820; and Edw. Winfield Scott, bvorn 1823, died 1827, who were the children of Marla (Mayo) Scott, are buried at Montpelier, the home of President Madison. As Colonel John Mayo lived on the hill at Richmond, which still goes by the name of â€œCouncil Chamberâ€™s Hill,â€ it was there that General Scott won and carried off his bride. It is said also that old Colonel Mayo, would frequently, from his lofty hill, use his spy-glass to see that the men were diligently at work upon his new bridges. Mordical, in his â€œRichmond in By-Gone Days,â€ gives some humerous and interesting accounts of colonel Mayo and his celebrated bridges, and it is hoped the present Council will retain the name of â€œMayoâ€ to the new structure as a memorial to that honored family.
The Hon. Joseph Mayo (known as â€œOld Joeâ€) so long the Mayor of Richmond, was grandson of colonel William Mayo, of the Revolution. He served so acceptably for so many years that the old residents of Richmond would not give him up, and he died beloved and respected by both blackand white for his kind benevolent disposition.
Many of our notes on the Mayo family have been taken from Dr. R.A.Brock, the historian; Henrico Parish records, and Sam Mordicaiâ€™s â€œOld Richmond Times,â€ but if any of the descendants have their appetites whetted for more, we can only refer them to these works and also to Appletonâ€™s Cyclopedia of American Biography, where a very clear sketch of the Mayoâ€™s of Richmond are given. The Mayos from the first were connected with old St. Johnâ€™s Church. It was the first church in the city to start the work on missions, and the lot on which the Weddell Memorial Chapel was built in 1887 was fiven by that open-handed, liberal-hearted P.H. Mayo, Esq., and then there was George Pickett Mayo, an old Sunday school scholar of St. Johnâ€™s who was ordained deacon in 1892, and in looking back on the records of old St. Johnâ€™s, we find the names of William J. Mayo, Miss Eliza B. Mayo, rs. Sallie P. Mayo, miss Virginia L. Mayo, George P. Mayo, Miss Emma C. Mayo, virgie Edmonica Mayo, and Dr. M. L. Mayo, all descendants of this illustrious family and worthy citizens of Richmond. Thedre were also many Mayoâ€™s in the North and West, particularly the Rev. Dr. Amory Dwight Mayo, of Massachusetts, and the author, William S. Mayo, of New York, alol descendants of the Virginia Mayos; but of these we must reserve to another time.
This text was originally printed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 1905.
I received it by mail from the newspaper in response to a request I sent them asking for information about the contents of the article.