The Will of Woodman Stockley 1654-1713 and Woodman Jr. his son 1690-1748

“The Mill” acrylic painting by Wendy Harty 2005

The Stockley’s were an early Virginian family, emigrated from Stoke-on-Trent, England and were given land at Accomack, Virginia in exchange for transporting people to the new colony. By the time this 7th great grandfather of mine was born in 1654-1713, treaties had been signed with Powhatan natives in 1646 but his mother Elizabeth Watkins Stockley must have been terrified upon hearing of the Jamestown uprisings in 1622 and 1646, especially if her husband John Stockley was away on ships bringing people from England. When his father John Stockley was issued the land the family settled with 7 boys and 4 girls at Accomack and began a plantation harvesting tobacco and raising livestock. When Woodman was 23 years old, Jamestown saw more struggles with Bacon’s Rebellion. The settlers were unhappy as the Navigation Acts only allowed their tobacco to be sold to English merchants, with high taxes, and once again the outlying frontiers were under native attack. Nathaniel Bacon with 1000 settlers decided to take care of this last problem. He got the governor to give him a commission to attack the natives. However, he and his followers did not differentiate between those tribes responsible and those friendly to the English. The governor declared Bacon a rebel and civil war was fought on the colony. When Bacon set fire to Jamestown, they destroyed 16 of 18 houses, the church and the statehouse. The Rebellion ended in October, 1676, when Bacon died. The rebels were captured and 23 were hanged. Another treaty was signed between more tribes, reservation lands were set up and yearly fish and game had to be paid by the natives to the English.

Woodman Stockley, my 7th great grandfather, son of John and Elizabeth Watkins Stockley, married Jane Rogers, in 1673 when he was 20 and she was 17. His father John died this same year. The father’s will states in a codicil that with his brothers, William and John, Woodman had already received their share of cattle. I think Woodman moved near his Uncle Woodman and Aunt America where they are found in 1652 arriving on land patents in the Land Office of Maryland. Woodman was a member of the Provincial Assembly and surveyor or overseer of highways for the county on the south side of Indian River. Along the Atlantic Coast they lived in Delaware’s island bays, the Indian River Bay connected to the Little Assawoman Bay and the Rehoboth Bay.

The children of Woodman Stockley and Jane Rogers were born Elizabeth in 1689, Woodman 1690-1748, Temperance 1691-1784 Benjamin 1698-1762 and Oliver 1699-1745, all born in Sussex County, Records say they removed to Sussex County but probably didn’t move an inch. At the time the boundary of Maryland and Pennsylvania on the Delaware River was in flux. Maryland claimed up to the Rehoeboth Bay and the people were residents of what would be called Somerset County. The only move was the boundary lines that were fought over. The area was in contention until the famous Mason-Dixon line surveyed the border of Maryland in 1763. Woodman and Jane would know of the survey. They would have dined on fabulous seafood, oysters, crabs, clams, and fin fish. Although the Puritans were some of the first in Maryland it became a predominantly Catholic region. It was also a key destination of tens of thousands of English convicts punished by sentences of transportation. Tidewater evolved as a society descended from second and third sons of the English gentry who inherited land grants. They formed part of what became the southern elite of America. They had common ties with England and maintained their connections with each other, became interrelated as they increasingly married. Pre-revolution, with an economy dependent on the production of tobacco, the ownership of the land was controlled, passing between the families of social rank. Based on slave labor the colony became a slave society. While at first white indentured servants were common early in the settlement, who signed a control of indenture requiring them to work for their masters for five to seven years, in return for the cost of their crossing the Atlantic they were gradually replaced by slave labor by the mid 1700’s.

Tobacco was the main export crop grown in this colonial era involving a great deal of hand labor.

In 1698, Jamestown was burnt again; this time it was started by a prisoner knocking over a lamp while awaiting execution. The government and capitol were moved from Jamestown to what is now Williamsburg, Virginia. Jane Rogers Stockley and Woodman Stockley both died, ancestry lists as September 12, 1713 in Somerset County, Maryland, beside the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Woodman Stockley dated his will May 20, 1710. Woodman gives a 150 acre dwelling plantation called Bradford Hall in Sussex County and in Angola, and 2 pewter plates to his eldest son Woodman. He also asked that if Woodman has no issue the plantation is to go to his brothers Joseph, Benjamin and Oliver, at his death.

He gives 300 acres out of 500 on sea-side of Cedar Neck to be divided between Joseph 1 st choice, Benjamin 2nd choice and Oliver 3rd. He left these sons, guns and horses He leaves livestock to his daughters, Elizabeth (my 6th gg) and Temperance. He gives 200 acres called Fenwick’s Choyce to his friend Jacob Morris, bought of Mr. Fenwick. His wife Jane gets the balance of the estate and is named Exectrix. Son Woodman and cousin Thomas are trustees. Adding the inheritances Woodman had amassed nearly 1000 acres.

Will was witnessed by Comfort Morris, Rhoda Stockley, Woodman Stockley Jr., John Stockley and Mary Evans. Location Sumersett Co. Maryland. On the 12th Day of September these people presented the will to court.

Woodman Jr. Stockley my 6th great uncle, 1690-1748 married the above witness Mary Evans. His will of August 19, 1748 lists Mary and children: John, Joseph, Cornelius, Joseph and Elizabeth and Mary. This Woodman requested a Christian funeral and burial leaving his home plantation to son Cornelius which his loving wife Mary would have access to. Daughter Mary was to inherit the mill at age 21. If Mary were to die then Elizabeth inherited the mill. Uncle Benjamin their school teacher was to divide money between the sons. Elizabeth also to inherit a tract of land in the forest formerly owned by William Clarke. Loving wife to get the horse and saddle commonly called hers and his desk. And to daughter Mary a nice hand cloth cover for her saddle. Some of the slaves were also named and gifted. Cedar Creek, Sussex, Delaware.

Cedar Cree,k Delaware

Interesting will where I glean the children were young when their father died, yet being educated and the girls were given a business opportunity. Agriculture was the main income of Delaware. Beef cattle were raised in the marshes and woods, that took four years to reach the age for slaughter as compared to ten months today. Delaware has a mild climate and would become known as the breadbasket colony. The colony grew lots of wheat and after being ground into flour it was exported to England. Mary was only 12 when she inherited the mill. (1736-1795)

The Church of England was the main church in Delaware. It could not depend on taxation for support in Delaware. By 1701 the London based Society for the Propagation of the Gospel led to the Society’s first English clergy for the colonies. The society had a hard time reconciling freedom in Christ and the enslavement of an African workforce. Then the largest sugar plantation in Barbados cemented the Society’s support for slavery. Codrington Plantation, with its large slave population, was a principal source of funding for the Society. Most farm owners before Mary died were C of E members and typically owned slaves.

Mary Stockley married John Wiltbank who during the American Revolution was commissioned Major, Sept, 1775 by the Delaware Council of Safety. By January 1776, he was appointed Major for Sussex County. In 1777, John was Chief Justice of the Court for Sussex County and served until his death.

Rev. James Wiltbank 1764-1842 my second cousin 6x removed

One more generation later, a son James Wiltbank was born at Lewes, Sussex Co. Delaware in 1764. At age 24 he was enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania graduating in 1791 and then studied theology. He went home and was called to the rectorship of his native church, St. Peter’s at Lewes until 1809. Then for four years he was principal at Lewes Academy. Removed to Philadelphia for 16 years was headmaster of the University of Grammar School. James was commissioned Chaplain in the United States Navy. He accompanied the Minister of the US to Russia to St. Petersburg.

Just when I think I should make these shorter I find the obit of the wife of Cornelius Wiltbank. Her name was Lettie. I wish I would have known her 1827-1922; she lived to be 95 and “never took any stock in eggs and up to time of her death was able to say, on the Delmarva Peninsula she never ate an egg in her life. She never had much sickness, had a good appetite but she positively refused to eat an egg. During her childhood, there were few corsets worn. In those days they were considered luxuries for the elite and too expensive. Lettie claimed they were uncomfortable, changed her shape and caused untold agonies. Mrs. Wiltbank attributed her long life to plenty of fresh air, wholesome food, exercise and refraining from exposure and the fashions and frills of the her days, such as wearing low necked dresses and corsets, and being thinly clad. I agree about the eggs and “bras”!

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