Bef 1600 - 1676 (76 years)
||Capt. William Claiborne  |
||Bef 10 Aug 1600
||Crayford, Kent, England 
|Also Known As
||10 Aug 1600
||Crayford, Kent, England
||31 May 1617
|admitted to Pembroke College |
||Jamestown, James, Virginia, USA
||Secretary of Virginia |
||Between 10 Nov 1676 and 25 Aug 1679 
- William was baptized on 10 Aug 1600 and was admitted to Pembroke College, Cambridge, 31 May 1617 at the age of 16. This would make his date of birth between 1 Jun 1600 and 10 Aug 1600. On 13 Jun 1621 he was chosen by the Virginia Company to be the official Surveyor of the Colony. Part of his compensation was 20 acres of "olde adventure." He was a member of the party of Sir Francis Wyatt, who was the newly appointed Governor. They arrived in Jamestown in Oct. 1621 aboard the ship "George." One of his early tasks was laying out the area on Jamestown Island known as New Towne. On 30 Mar 1623 he was appointed to the Council and was re-appointed by the King, 26 Aug 1624. From 1625-1635 he served as the Secretary of the Colony, and again from 1652-1660. During 1642-1660 he also was the Colony's Treasurer. In 1640 he was given charge of the Colony's seal.
His land holdings in 1626 included 250 acres in Archer's Hope (James City), 500 acres in Blount Point (Warwick), and 150 acres in Elizabeth City. On 5 Jan 1651 he patented 5,000 acres between the Great Wicomoco and the Little Wicomoco in Northumberland Co. On 1 Sep 1653 he patented 5,000 acres at Pamunkey bordering the York River. On 24 Dec 1657 he patented 1,600 acres of marsh on the north side of the York River adjacent to his plantation "Romancoke", and 5,000 acres between the Mattapony and Rappahannock rivers.
On 3 Apr 1627 William was granted a commision to take a boat and a large company of men and scour the Chesapeake bay area for rivers and creeks. It was during this expedition that he found what is now called Kent Island and began developing plans to establish a trading post there. On 24 Mar 1629 he arrived back in England to raise backing for his project. On 16 Mar 1631 William and associates were granted license from King Charles I to trade with the Indians from the island. During his trading he bought the land from the local Indians and names it "Crayford." He built a large fort there complete with cannon, orchards, farms, and houses and housed about 150 men (nearly half the population of the Colony at the time). On 20 Jun 1632 Leonard Calvert, aka Lord Baltimore, received a large grant of land which included "land not cultivated nor planted". William's island was within the boundaries of the land, but his fortress even had orchards and farms and was therefore cultivated so it did not fall within the confines of the grant given to Lord Baltimore. Baltimore disagreed. The first "naval battle" in American history was fought just off the island. William's ship "Cockatrice" went up against Baltimore's ships "St. Helen" and "St. Margaret". William's ship was forced to retreat but a few days later the same ships fought again and the battle ended in William's favor. They fought back and forth for several years over the island. The King had even issued a decree to Calvert that the island was not his territory, but Calvert persisted. Virginia's Governor Harvey failed to support William and Virginia's prior rights to the island. The Virginians were very unhappy about Lord Baltimore's grant and eventually expelled Governor Harvey. In 1635 William returned to England to ask the King for assistance in controlling Calvert but the King refused. It was on this trip that William married Jane Butler. While he was away Calvert launched an assault on the island and took it. Shortly after William returned to Virginia. He built up an army and took the whole of Baltimore in 1638. A long-time enemy of the colony returned at the same time and basically assisted William. Once all of Calvert's forces were driven from Maryland, William returned to Kent Island and his new associate ransacked the mainland plandering anything he wanted. Calvert eventually returned in 1644 and drove them both from Maryland. In 1652 William was made a Parliamentary Commisioner along with Richard Bennett and was sent to remove all public officials from office in Maryland by order of Parliament (there was trouble with a religious faction in Maryland that, left unchecked, would result in small scale war). After the crisis was averted, William and Richard returned the local officials to their proper office. William did not try to re-take Kent Island during this time, although he could have. He sent one last petition to King Charles II in March 1676 begging the king to let the "poor old servant of your majesty's father and grandfather" have restitution for the land and properties of the Isle. His case was dismissed and he died before 25 Aug 1679 when a civil suit by his executor was dismissed.
There was an excellent two-part article by Clayton Torrence appearing in THE VIRGINIA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY entitled "The English Ancestry of William Claiborne of Virginia." The articles are extensively documented and contain conclusion proof of William Claiborne's ancestry. They were reprinted and re-published by the Genealogical Publishing Co. in 1981 under the title GENEALOGIES OF VIRGINIA FAMILIES. These Claiborne articles are in Volume 2, pp. 23-70. Careful, though. The Claiborne articles were reprinted in chronological order as they first appeared in the magazine. The first one, "Claiborne Genealogy," pp. 1-7, contains a lot of incorrect (i.e., undocumented and unproven) information that has since been disproven.
In 1981, the Genealogical Publishing Company, under the title GENEALOGIES OF VIRGINIA FAMILIES, reprinted in five volumes all of the genealogy articles which had previously appeared in the VIRGINIA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY, a copy of which I found at a local genealogy library. The first 75 or so pages of Volume II are reprints of several articles pertaining to the Claiborne family including Clayton Torrence's two-part article entitled "The English Ancestry of William Claiborne of Virginia." Two things make this article must reading for any Claiborne researcher -- (1) the extent to which Torrence researches William Claiborne's immediate family and English ancestry; and (2) his complete documentation of source material including citings from that material. This information is presented with such clarity as to be, in my opinion, irrefutable.
Without going into great detail, Torrence proves William Claiborne of Virginia was the son of Thomas Cleyborne and his wife Sara (Smith) James, widow of Roger James, of the Parish of Crayford, county Kent, England. Baptised August 10, 1600, William Claiborne m. c1635 Elizabeth Butler/Boteler, daughter of John and Jane (Elliott) Boteler of Roxwell, county Essex, England.
Regarding the children of William and Elizabeth (Butler) Claiborne, Torrence identifies five children -- William, Thomas, Leonard, John and Jane -- and provides the evidence for each. Regarding other, unnamed, children, Torrence writes:
"That the aforesaid William, Thomas, Leonard, John and Jane (Mrs. Thomas Brereton) were children of the Honorable William Claiborne (1600-circa 1677/8) is established fact, the evidence for each child being stated above. That the mother of these five children was Elizabeth Butler is established by the fact that we have in note 45 established the fact that the Honorable William Claiborne (1600-circa 1677/8) had only one wife, whom we have proved to have been Elizabeth Butler.
"There is no evidence that the Honorable William Claiborne (1600-circa 1677/8) and his wife Elizabeth Butler had other children (at least who survived infancy or childhood) than William, Thomas, Leonard, John and Jane, named above."
Nowhere does Torrence mention "Mary" as a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Butler) Claiborne. In fact, nowhere within the listed ancestries of either William Claiborne or Elizabeth Butler/Boteler is the name "Mary" used. While none of this either proves or disproves the existence of a daughter Mary that married Richard Harris, it suggests, however, that if such evidence (i.e., proof) exists, Torrence could not find it. Personally, I would find it extremely difficult to include a "Mary" among the children of William and Elizabeth (Butler) Claiborne without the inclusion of credible evidence. I would be interested in learning the nature and content of the "circumstantial evidence" that "lends support" to the pro-Mary argument as suggested, apparently, in the VIRGINIA GENEALOGIST's article "Major Robert Harris (ca. 1630- ca.1701) of New Kent Co., Virginia: Was He Real or A Myth?" by Malcom Hart Harris. Hopefully, another researcher with either a copy of or access to this article will share with us its contents.
Virginia Families--From the William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Vol I, 1982, p. 841--
It has long been taken for granted, both in America and England, that Wm. Claiborne, who died in 1676, was identical with William, the second son of Edmund Cleburne, of Cleburne, now spelt Cliburn, near Appleby, County Westmorland, who had married Grace, daughter of Alan Bellingham, Esq. of Levens. However, the College records of Cambridge University not only entirely disprove this assumption, but demonstrate that William, the second son of Edmund Cleburne and Grace Bellingham, was a priest in Holy Orders...He was admitted as a scholar at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in Jan 1600/1...received his B. A. degree in 1604/5, M. A. in 1608, and in 1611 was incorporated at Oxford. He had entered Holy Orders by 1615...He died in 1660 as Vicar of Nidd and Prebendary of Ripon. ... It is thus clear that the Virginian William Claiborne was not identical with the second son of Edmund Cleburne.
The article goes on to state that the coat of arms found on the immigrant William's son's tomb was the same, so that undoubtedly there was a close family connection--probably cousins.
The article by Clayton Torrence from the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1981, p. 24, states that there had been a thorough investigation of the files of Claiborne family correspondence in the collections of the VA. Historical Society, and they were found to contain not one authoritative reference which backed up the claim that Wm. was the son of Edmund and Grace. Dr. W. S. Stannard had written articles earlier for these magazine giving them as William's parents, but according to the Torrence article, he too had realized that this claim must be abandoned. Torrence goes on to state that English testamentary records, marriage licenses, parish registers, records of the Drapers Co. in London, all show William to be the son of Thomas of Crayford, Kent, and that these articles have been published in the Archives of Maryland and the Maryland Historical Magazine (I have not read these.)
Torrence goes on to state that while William Claiborne spelled his name Claiborne in America, in England the name was Cleyborne, Clayborne, Claybourne, Claborne, Cleborne, Cleburne, etc.
||2 Jun 2016 |
||Thomas Claiborne, Jr, b. 1557, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, England , d. Sep 1607 (Age 50 years) |
||Sara Smyth, b. 1569, St Dunstan's Church, Stepney, London, England , d. Bef 12 Jun 1626, Crayford, Kent, England (Age < 57 years) |
||21 Nov 1598
||St Dunstan's Church, Stepney, London, England 
||Elizabeth Butler, b. 1609, Roxwell, Essex, England , d. Aft 01 Mar 1688 (Age > 79 years) |
||Abt 1635 [3, 5]
|+||1. Mary Claiborne|
|+||2. William Claiborne, II, b. Bef 24 Mar 1636, d. Bef 21 Mar 1677 (Age < 40 years)|
|+||3. Jane Claiborne, b. 1638, d. Bef 20 May 1671 (Age < 33 years)|
|+||4. John Claiborne, b. Abt 1641|
|+||5. Thomas Claiborne, b. 17 Aug 1647, d. 07 Oct 1683 (Age 36 years)|
|+||6. Leonard Claiborne, b. Abt 1649, d. 19 Jun 1694, Carlisle Bay, Clarendon, Jamaica (Age ~ 45 years)|
||2 Jun 2016 |
- [S146] Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.
Author - Clayton Torrence
- [S38] Claiborne of Virginia: The First Eight Generations, John Frederick Dorman, (Name: Baltimore, 1995;), p1.
- [S38] Claiborne of Virginia: The First Eight Generations, John Frederick Dorman, (Name: Baltimore, 1995;), p5.
- [S38] Claiborne of Virginia: The First Eight Generations, John Frederick Dorman, (Name: Baltimore, 1995;), p721.
- [S74] Internet, http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/a/v/e/Steven-Foster-Avent/GENE1-0012.html.