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Response to Query Re Ragland/Pettus Connection in Ragland Family Forum
Posted by: William Pettus (ID *****9435) Date: May 01, 2009 at 10:33:12
  of 941

Thanks for your reply to my query re the Pettus/Ragland connection. Your message reinforces my opinion that the presumed connection is conjectural in nature and not supported by direct evidence. As you point out, the presence of the name Pettus in early generations of Raglands in Virginia may be coincidental.

The date you gave for Stephen’s death, 1686, is found in the Ragland Family book by Charles Ragland. I know of no other source for that information. The last record I know of in which he was living was made in 1677. I suspect he died soon afterwards. I don’t know whether he died testate or not, as the court records for New Kent County were destroyed long ago. For the same reason, I can cite no records to prove that he had two daughters or what happened to his land. The surviving records of Blisland Parish and St. Peter’s Parish provide no information on Stephen and his family.

The only things that connect Thomas Pettus (Col. Thomas Pettus) and Stephen are the same surname and the fact that Stephen lived on land adjacent to one of Col. Pettus’s plantations. Also, the estimated year of Stephen’s birth, 1642, fits in with the time of Thomas’s marriage and the fact that he was ruled “unqualified” (underage?) to pursue a suit in the General Court of Virginia in 1662. Thomas patented land in early 1643. Part of his land was due him by virtue of his marriage to Elizabeth Durrent, a widow. As land patents usually took several years to process, I estimate that Thomas may have married in the late 1630s. Although these facts do not prove that Thomas and Stephen were father and son, they do suffice to distinguish between the Stephen Pettus under discussion and the later Stephen Pettus who was a grantor in the sale of the Pettus plantations in 1700.

I have also explored another possibility--that Stephen was the orphan son of John Pettus of London. John was the second son of William Pettus of Norwich and London. William was the third son of Thomas Pettus, mayor of Norwich in 1590 and his wife Christian Dethick. Thomas and Christian had four sons, Sir John Pettus, mayor of Norwich in 1608; Thomas, mayor in 1614, William, and Alexander. William married Elizabeth Rolfe and had sons, Rolfe, John, and William, Jr. The William Pettuses previously mentioned in this paragraph should not be confused with William, son of Thomas Pettus, mayor in 1614. John Pettus, mentioned above, did have a son Stephen born in 1629, and the possibility remains that Stephen came to Virginia; however, proof of Stephen's emigration is lacking. That is why I am more comfortable with the conclusion that Stephen Pettus of Virginia was the son of Col. Thomas Pettus.

The identity of Col. Thomas’s father has been a subject of controversy for well over a century. Early genealogists were not sure whether Thomas’s father was Thomas Pettus, mayor of Norwich in 1614, or the son of William Pettus, eldest son of the mayor. Both the mayor and his son William had sons named Thomas. One finds both versions in various publications. Early in my research, I found the answer in an English court record that actually mentions “Capt. Thomas Pettus of Virginia.” The record also mentions relatives in England and their relationships in a way that resolves the ambiguity. The conclusion is that Thomas was the son of the mayor. P. H. Stacy came to the same conclusion many years ago, but her conclusion was based upon a faulty argument relating to a fugitive from justice. Apparently, she never saw the actual court records, which disprove her argument. My forthcoming book will provide the background and proof argument based upon the documentary evidence.

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