The Towles of Towle Point, Virginia

The King’s Charter to Jamestown lists the name of John Stockley (also spelled Stokely or Stoakley) and says by the grace of God, our loving subjects intend to deduce a colonie and to make habitacion in that parte of America comonlie called Virginia and devide then collonies one consisting of divers Knights, gentlemen and merchants… give grant and confirme to oure tru subjects, … Peter Jacobson, William Miles and, cutler Peter Highley, grocer Higgons, John Stoakley, merchant tailor.

My 8th great grandparents, John Stokeley (Stokley) Stockley and Elizabeth Watkins, Jamestown pioneers had a daughter Hannah Ann 1654-1712. Hannah Anna was a sibling to my 7th great grandfather, Woodman Stockley and I have DNA matches down to the 9th cousin. Hannah Anna married another immigrant son Henry Towles Jr. (1652-1721), whose father came at age 12 to America from England. Hannah Ann and Henry Jr. had issue Henry III 1670-1734 and Stockley, Job and Thomas. Henry and Hannah Ann moved across the bay and settled in Lancaster county, where Henry Towles Jr. built the old Towles homestead at Towles Point. He was a planter by occupation, first renting 1000 acres from Lt. William Kendall then buying it. Young Henry Jr. was a wild one! He was hauled away into custody by his Grandmother’s (Elizabeth Watkins Stockley Stratton) second husband, Francis Stratton, sheriff. The court record of 1687 was a complaint that “a forcible entry and riot” had been perpetrated upon Gingoteagu Island by 12-14 persons with force of armes, with strong hand and multitude and threatening and terrorfying words”. It was to these two, Henry and Stokeley Towle, her grandsons, that my 8th great mother Elizabeth Watkins left the bulk of her estate, after outliving both husbands, John Stockley and John Stratton. The will of Henry Towles, her son-in-law, written in 1679 desired that there be, “no drinking immoderately nor shooting” at his funeral. Henry left the two oldest 1 shilling each, and his son Kendall Towles the plantation at Accomac, with two other sons Job and Thomas other lands.

There were two houses built at Towles Point. The homestead as pictured below

Towles House, Rappahannock River, Lancaster County, Virginia (Library of Congress)

and one called, “The Grove”, which housed the slaves. Here the cattle were kept. A “corduroy road” ran through the woods connecting the two houses. A corduroy road is made of logs placing them perpendicular to the road direction over a low or swampy area. In a slave revolt The Grove burned down. The Towles kept the land in the family for generations. Two cousins, Francis Towles and Porteus Towles bought it. This Frances Towles was the mistress during the War of 1812, when a British frigate raided the plantation, and in defiance of the marauders she threw the desk keys into the river! The British soldiers took the family silver with the exception of a teapot and sugar tongs. Then during the Civil War the plantation was raided again and the Union soldiers took everything of use from the farm. She pled with them she was a widow and desolate without the men. She persuaded a young Union soldier to return a pair of oxen. After the Civil War in 1686 the plantation was divided between the children of William Henry Towles. In 1949 the property was again divided amongst grandchildren of James Towles. A tree falling during a nor’easter ruined the six room house in 1937.

Henry Jr’s son named Stockley Towles 1711-1765 was a planter, clerk of the Lancaster county court and vestryman in Old Christ Church parish. His son Major Stockley Towles, moved from Lancaster to Goochland and then to Spottsylvania. He was an attorney-at-law, a revolutionary soldier and served on the staff of General Washington with rank of Captain. He named one of his son’s Stockley. Colonol Oliver Towles was made captain in the Continental army on January 29, 1776 and served unbrokenly until January 1, 1783. Also listed in Gwathmey’s Register of Revolutionary service lists were: Major Henry Towles , Lancaster Militia, April 18, 1782 and Henry Towles, Madison Militia, 1779.

Ancestry.com provided some of the above information The Towles story: from Henry, the emigrant, of Accomac County, Virginia to Hester Towles and Jean Bryan Johnson, original data by Purcell, Hester Towles, Kansas City, Mo. 1957.

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