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Was Elizabeth Gilliam's mother
the daughter of Thomas Henshaw?

In 1685 Francis Maybury married Elizabeth Gilliam, daughter of John and Margery Gilliam, in Henrico County, Virginia. Many years ago a Mabry researcher came to the conclusion that Margery Gilliam was probably a daughter of Thomas Henshaw:
  • John and Margery named one of their sons Henshaw Gilliam.
  • Thereafter, Henshaw was frequently used as a given name by the Gilliams, the Mayburys and several other closely related families. Indeed, Henshaw (Hinshaw, Hinchia, Hinchey, etc.) continued to be a popular name in the Mabry family for at least five generations.
  • A land patent to Capt. William Brocas on 12 April 1638 mentions the "howse (sic) of Thomas Henshawe" near the Otterdam.
The early researcher mistakenly concluded Thomas Henshawe lived "on Otterdam" creek and that he lived in Surry County. It wasn't until 2003 that John Pritchett pointed out that the Otterdam area of Surry County was not inhabited by the English until somewhat later than 1638. Thus Thomas Henshawe could not have lived in Surry County.

But there were other Otterdam creeks in areas along the James River. A careful reading of the patent to Capt. William Brocas reveals that the land he received in 1638 was near Otterdam in what was then known as Warwick River County. The land was near "the Mills" on the headwaters of the Warwick River, a few miles southwest of Yorktown.

This general location is confirmed by another patent to Joseph Croshawe on 20 Jun 1646 for 700 acres "Beg. at the Mill Sw., near lands of Richard Major & John Davis" in Charles River County. Charles River County, which adjoined Warwick River County on the east, was another of the eight original shires. Its name was later changed to York. One of the 14 persons named as headrights in Croshawe's patent was "Tho. Hinshaw". According to a Lancaster County court order dated 6 Oct 1652, Henshaw was originally a headright for William Brocas. It is likely that Brocas then sold or otherwise transferred Henshaw's headright to Croshawe, who used it to obtain his own land in Charles River County.

Thus, at least by 1638, Thomas Henshaw was living north of the James River in Warwick River County, near the line of adjoining Charles River County. The Gilliam family was probably not far away because John Gilliam, Sr. died a few years later in Lower Norfolk County, just across the James River.

Conclusion: The case for Margery Gilliam being a daughter of Thomas Henshaw still rests on the frequent use of Henshaw as a given name by the Gilliam, Maybury and other related families. But the above land records add credibility to the theory by showing that the Henshaw and Gilliam families probably did live in proximity to each other. If Margery Gilliam was a daughter of Thomas Henshaw, she would have grown up in Warwick River County (later Warick County) or in Charles River County (later York County). Thus she would have been in the right place to meet and marry John Gilliam, Jr. who lived nearby.

But there is yet another possibility. It has also been suggested that Margery was a daughter of William Henshaw, who according to one record, came to Virginia in 1635 aboard the same ship as John and Thomas Gilliam. Another source has William Henshaw coming to Virginia in 1635 but on a different ship. We have not found additional records of this William Henshaw.

August 2014