James Gunn, Sr. 1731-1807 son of Thomas and Sarah Boatwright Gunn
The story of James Gunn, Sr. begins with his father's will of 1777. He was the sixth child of eleven, with three older sisters, and two older brothers and five younger siblings, all mentioned in in the will of Thomas Gunn, Sr.
From census records, and Personal Property taxes his likely birth year was between 1729 and 1731 with 1731 the more likely date. James Gunn, Sr. was raised in Amelia County, Virginia though he may have been born in either Hanover or New Kent County. By 1744 his father, Thomas had purchased 198 acres from Edward and Katy Thweat and moved the family to Amelia County, Va.
We know James Gunn and his siblings were educated, and were able to read and write well enough to witness deeds, and conduct county business. They were likely tutored first in the home by their mother or other family member. Because education was expensive, usually only males received further education in the homes of privately hired professors or private boarding school. There were no public schools in Virginia.
Because James Gunn was appointed guardian to children of family members, and was asked to witness deeds and documents of neighbors and family, signed bonds for the same, we know he was a man of means, and respect. He was a rather large land owner, holding property in New Kent, Amelia, Lunenburg, and Nottoway counties, and was the owner of a number of slaves during his lifetime. He was the father of 13 children who survived infancy and lived to adulthood. This was a remarkable thing for the times. It isn't known for certain if he was a patriot or supported the crown during the Revolutionary War, but suspect because his brothers were patriots, James Gunn was as well. His children and their families were his greatest legacy.
James Gunn's life is documented in deeds and documents as follows:
May 16, 1759 in Amelia County, Virginia, James Gunn purchased property from the estate of John Ornsby. Other purchasers were John Ellis and Thomas Claiborne. James was about 28 years old.
April 13, 1761 in Amelia County, the estate of Samuel Jordan mentioned Thomas Gunn, Sr. and James Gunn.
September 26, 1765 - James Gunn, Thomas Gunn, and Thomas Jeffress purchased property from the estate of Samuel Jordan.
April 28, 1768 - James Gunn sold 89 acres of land in Lunenburg County to William Landrum. It is part of a tract of land containing 323 acres granted to Trace Brown by patent dated 1748. This deed did not show a wife relinquishing her dower, but it does state that it was "clear of all right of Dower or any other encumbrance whatsoever. This indicates that in 1768 James's wife was likely deceased.
1769 - List of Tithables taken by Charles Hamlin, Gent'l show James Gunn with 350 acres
August 29, 1770 - John Cocke of Amelia County sells to James Gunn of the same county 200 acres on the Nottoway River, opposite fork of said river, adjacent to the lines of Alex. Bolling and the little Nottoway River.
May 20, 1771 - William May, Jr of Amelia County, Virginia sells to James Gunn 241 acres in two tracts on the North side of the Great Nottoway River, land adjacent to John Cocke, James Gunn, Arthur May, and John May. This property abutts the 200 acres parcel purchased in August of 1770.
October 1, 1772 - William May sells to John May 50 acres on the North side of James Gunn's spring branch.
December 27, 1773 - James Gunn witness to a deed from Samuel Morgan to William Fitzgerrald.
December 31, 1774 - James Gunn bought 146 acres in Amelia County, adjacent to Cockes Corner on the little Nottoway River, below the stone house and lines of James Gunn, William Muse and the river.
April 27, 1773 - James Gunn bought property from Stith Bolling of Prince George County. Published in Unrecorded Deeds and other Documents of Amelia County, Virginia 1750-1902 by Givson Jefferson McConnaughey. Page 1.
September 22, 1779 - John May purchased land in Amelia County adjacent to James Gunn, Repps John, and John Leith.
1782 - Continental Census of Virginia. James Gunn claims 13 white souls, 1 dwelling, and 12 other buildings. James lives next to Elisha Gunn
Feb 20, 1782- William Muse sells to Thomas Cocke, both of Amelia County, 130 acres of land in the fork of the Nottoway River, adjacent to the line of James Gunn as is meanders the river.
1782 - Amelia County, Virginia Property Tax. James Gunn
March 22, 1786 John Leith of Amelia to John Mills of same, 350 acres adjacent to the lines of James Gunn, Repps Jones, and others.
March 22, 1786 - Virginia Gazette - James Gunn advertizes a cow and calf taken in Amelia County at the Fork of the Nottoway County.
Oct 12, 1786 - Francis Landrum sells 108 acres of land in Lunenburg County, Virginia to James Gunn. along the line of James Gunn.
1787 - Personal Property Tax Census of Amelia County 2 - Number of White Males 16 to 21 11 Number of Blacks under age 16 19 Number of Black above the age 16 7 Number of horses 34 Number of Cattle
1790 - Amelia County Census James Gunn Number of whites 11. Number of Black 27
1791 Personal Tax for Nottoway County, Virginia James Gunn 2 males over 16; 12 Black Males over 16; 1 Black Male under 16 but over; 9 Number of Horses, mares, Colts and Mules
December 15, 1791 - James Gunn purchased from his son Elisha Gunn 41 1/2 acres, which Elisha had bought from Matthew Mays, located in Nottoway County, Virginia. The land adjoins that of the said James Gunn, John Mills, and Freeman Jordan.
December 6, 1792 - James Gunn is a witness to the sale of land from William Hood to Elisha Gunn
April 7, 1792 - James Gunn of Nottoway County, sells to Copeland Davis 398 acres as it meanders from a branch of Flatrock Creek and the Landrum line in Lunenburge County. The court mentioned that Joice, the wife of James Gunn was not able to come to the Lunenburg Court to sign her Dower rights and a commission was sent to obtain her signature at her residence. It is assumed Joice died shortly after this 1792 sale. In 1795, she did not relinquish dower rights, in the Deed of gift to Elisha Gunn, - James Gunn, Sr. did not mention a wife in his 1807 last will and testament.
July 4, 1793 On the petition of James Gunn, setting forth that he is seized of land on the south side of the Little Nottoway River in this county, opposite to the land of John Cocke, where he wishes to erect a water grist mill, and praying that a writ be issued to ascertain the value of one acre of ground the property of the said John Cocke, where he wishes to erect the said mill for the purpose of abutting his dam.
July 4, 1793 - On the petition of John Cocke (same as above) seized of and on the west side of Little Nottoway River...........same as the above petition, except the two men, John Cocke and James Gunn both wanted to do the same thing.
July 31, 1793 - James Gunn purchases from his son in law, James Williams, four slaves, plus other items including house, cattle, bed, etc.
Dec 12, 1794 - James Gunn purchases 92 1/2 acres from Thomas Cocke. Land is situated in Nottoway County on the Great Nottoway River bounded by Cockes Mill Road, a branch in the river as it meanders to Gulleys Branch just below Thomas Cocke's barn, up to the point of the beginning. Spencer Gunn, Crawford Zachary are two of the several witnesses. Spencer is the son of James Gunn, Crawford Zachary is a son in law.
Oct 1, 1795 - James Gunn sells to son Elisha Gunn 41 1/2 acres in Nottoway County bounded by lands of James Gunn, John Mills, and Freeman Jordan. Witnessed by Crawford Zachary, Spencer Gunn, Sally Gunn. Freeman Jordan is the father of two daughters who married the sons of James Gunn. Crawford Zachary is a son in law, Spencer is a son. Sally is a daughter.
Nov 13, 1800 - James Gunn guardian of Nancy Gunn, settled accounts. James Gunn was the uncle of Nancy. Her father Daniel Gunn was James' brother. Daniel Gunn died in 1798. Nancy married Macon S. Hurt in Lunenburg County, Virginia on June 14, 1800.
September 13, 1804 - Macon Hurt gives receipt to James Gunn, gdn of Nancy Gunn for her legacy in full.
May 7, 1807 - James Gunn, in a deed of trust makes a gift of a slave to his son James Gunn, Jr. Witnessed by Freeman Jordan, Sr., Griffin Gunn (son) Ephriam Thweatt (son-in-law) Two of James Gunn's sons, Griffin and James Gunn, Jr., married daughters of Freeman Jordan. They were Jane Jordan who married Griffin and Elizabeth Irby Jordan who married James Gunn, Jr.
May 28, 1807 - Account and Inventory of the estate of James Gunn, Senior was entered into September 1808 court. Inventory was conducted by Griffin Gunn, Ephriam Thweat, and Gabriel Gunn. James Gunn, Sr. died between May 7 and May 28, 1807.
Nay 31, 1808 Petersburg Intelligencer - person with claims against the estate of James Gunn, Sr are desired to bring them forward. Ephriam Thweat, executor.
In his will, James Gunn gave his son Spencer Gunn, 500 acres of land, lying on Whiteoack Creek in the County of Dinwiddie. Because Dinwiddie records were destroyed by fire, it was impossible to learn when, and from whom the property was purchased.
James Gunn was a large property owner in Amelia, Lunenburg, and Nottoway Counties being mentioned with frequency. His first wife was Elizabeth, her surname is undocumented, but some researchers have indicated she was Elizabeth Garner, daughter of James Garner and Elizabeth Freeman of Orange County, Virginia and they married in 1748. I have not been able to document this. James and Elizabeth had five children as follows:
Elisha Gunn born 1757 who married Henrietta Wilkes in 1784 Edith Gunn bc 1762 who married Willis Vaughan in 1778 Jemima Jane Gunn born 1764 who married James Williams in 1785 James Gunn, Jr born 1765 who married Elizabeth Irby Jordan about 1794 William Gunn born 1767 who married Sally Clack Cross in 1788
Elizabeth gave birth to their last son, William Gunn on 15 March 1768, but was deceased when James Gunn sold property in April 1768. She likely died from complications due to childbirth.
James married second to Joice, who was mentioned in a deed dated 1792. Because of the age of their children, he likely married Joice in 1768 or early 1769. James Gunn and Joice had eight children as follows:
Spencer Gunn born 1770 who married Susannah Pritchett in 1798 Catherine "Caty" Gunn born 1771 who married Davis Crawford Zachary in 1787 Sarah "Sally" Gunn born 1772 who married Thomas Burwell "Burl" Wilkes in 1794 Elizabeth "Betsy" Gunn born 1776 who married Burwell Bassett Wilkes in 1787. Griffin Gunn born 1778 who married Jane Jordan in 1801 Mary "Polly" Gunn born in 1783 who married John C. Bradshaw in 1801 Henrietta Gunn born in 1784 who married Ephriam Thweat in 1802 Gabriel Gunn born in 1785 who married Martha Lambert in 1803
My history continues with James Gunn, Jr, who was born in 1765 and married Elizabeth Irby Jordan. James Gunn, Jr. is my gggg grandfather but also my ggggg grandfather. My Gunn Family Tree has convoluted and twisted branches, and I will unravel them, as you continue to explore the descendants.