Meador, Thomas

Birth Name Meador, Thomas
Gender male
Age at Death 43 years, 5 months, 5 days


Thomas Meades has also been shown as Thomas Meads and Thomas Meador. Thomas was born between 1612 and 1618 in England. He entered the United States as a single man, and came to Jamestown about 1634. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in America, and had been founded 27 years earlier in 1607.

Thomas married his wife sometime before 1635-1638, the time his first son was born in Virginia.

The first record of Thomas Meades is found in a headright grant made by the Governor of the Jamestown Colony. He later surrendered his grant of 50 acres in 1636 to John Gator of Elizabeth City. Each immigrant to the Virginia Colony in the 17th century was granted 50 acres of land as a "headright" to get them started in the new world. Sometimes these grants were assigned to a benefactor who paid for their passage by ship from England to the Colony.

Thomas was possibly a member of the group of Puritans who settled Isle of Wright County in the early 1600's. He then settled on the upper Rappahannock, where most of the early settlers were fellow Puritans from Isle of Wright. The Puritan church passed severe ordinances against such moral offenses as card playing, swearing and drinking, with fines of 100 pounds of tobacco for the mere observance of such conduct without reporting it to church authorities. In subsequent years, the younger generation of people in this area (and possibly Thomas' own children) began searching for a faith that was less restrictive and demanding. Also, because of Puritan successes in England, fewer dissidents felt the call to emigrate, and the Puritan exodus tapered off and ceased altogether in 1650.

In 1653, the records of Lancaster County, Virginia show that Thomas Meades purchased 700 acres from William Underwood, of Underwood's 1400 acre grant on the northeast shore of the Rappahannock River between Milleck Creek and Bushwood Creek. The 1400 acres were divided roughly in half by the lower section and first branch of what is today called Juggs Creek. The portion purchased by Thomas was the lower half of this grant, next of Milleck Creek. This 700 acre purchase included more than a mile of choice river front property, including an excellent landing. The purchase of this land by Thomas was of such a magnitude that it would indicate a man of moderate wealth.

He built his home on high ground behind the river landing, between Juggs Creek and Balls Creek. At that time, it was a general practice to give an estate a name. Neighbors of Thomas gave such names to their plantations as "Bushwood", "Cobham Park", and "Accokeek". No name for the plantation of Thomas Meades appear in the early records, but a hundred years later the name "Islington" was attached to the grounds. Today, this land lies at the river end of Route 632 in Richmond County, Virginia, and the river landing is known as "Islington Landing."

The Meadors (Meades) were on the frontiers of settlement here on the upper Rappahannock, with the population in scattered plantations rather than in concentrated villages. Because of this very scattered population, the authority of the Puritan church was diluted and attendance was less the obligatory. There are no records of Puritan churches in the Lancaster/Rappahannock area.

For a time, white settlement had been forbidden above the Pamunkey River. Many settlers filed claim on choice river front property. By 1646-1650, grants were being given along the Rappahannock River. The river valley was occupied principally by the Rappahannock Indians. Also, there were Mattaponi, Moratticoe, Totuskey and Portobagoe Indians. These tribes were forced into forested land behind the mile deep grants. Thus, Thomas' property was on the other side of these forests.

One of Thomas' neighbors was Ambrose Meador. They were about the same age and lived less than two miles apart. There is no proof that Thomas and Ambrose were related, but there was considerable participation by Ambrose in the affairs of Thomas. No statement was found in records of their relationship, though many opportunities for such a simple expression as "brother" or "cousin" were passed by, leaving the question unanswered. Geologists assume that the relationship is brother to brother.

An entry in the 1653 records of Lancaster County concerns an indentured servant of Thomas Meades, named Bour Harrison. Harrison ran away, but was returned and was sentenced by the court to serve an additional 9 months at the expiration of his indenture. Many times children, particularly orphaned children, were bound out to earn their support or learn a trade. When the age of 17 was reached, they were discharged with a suit of new chothes and provisions, or they could keep the results of their labors if they choose to stay. Perhaps Harrison was one of these working for and learning a trade from Thomas.

Also in 1653, Thomas sold two cows to Minor Doeders. This is significant because all cattle had originally been imported from England. They were quite valuable and often mentioned in wills.

By the year 1654, tension with the Indians ran high. In February of that year, a small army was raised. It consisted of 100 men from Lancaster County, 40 men from Northumberland County and 30 men from Westmoreland County. As a reflection of Thomas' standing in the community, his plantation was chosen as a rallying point for this army. The excellent landing at the plantation and the proximity of the Indian village also had bearing on the choice of Thomas' land, which was near the present town of Warsaw. The army marched from Thomas' grounds, overland to the village of the Rappahannock Indians. The purpose of their visit was to ensure peace, without provoking hostilities. The Indians seemingly caused no trouble, but great hardships wer caused by raids from the Doeg, Susquhannock and Seneca Indians during the 1660's and 1670's.

On April 6, 1654, Thomas was appointed constable, and the oath was administered by James Williamson. In the fall of that year, Thomas tithed for three male adults. The levy (tax) was 60 pounds of tobacco per poll.

Near the time of his death, Thomas bought from John Cooke a 450 acre tract on Hoskins Creek, south of the Rappahanock River. However, the grant had not yet been finalized at the time of his death, and was not mentioned in his will.

On March 5, 1655, Thomas wrote his will. He died sometime during the next three months, as his will was entered for probate on June 6, 1655. His wife was the executrix.

The probate of the will was granted to a neighbor, George Bryer. The court ordered customary appraisal of the estate. This was done by four men, including Thomas' neighbor (brother) Ambrose, and Francis Gower; and was returned to the court of December 10, 1655. The value was estimated at 17,502 pounds of tobacco, which was equivalent to about 109 pounds of sterling. This was a respectable, though not huge, sum. At this time, "hard" money was scarce and things were valued in terms of their worth in tobacco.

As Thomas had lived in the United States for only 19 years at the time of his death, all of his children were probably minors. He left a widow, two sons and four daughters. His son, Thomas, Jr. seems to have been the oldest, but was still under legal age; as in a court session on August 6, 1655, Thomas Meades, orphan, petitioned the court that William Underwood be appointed his guardian. Another child of Thomas, Joyce, also ended up on the custody of William Underwood.

The land mentioned in Thomas' will appears to have been the 700 acres that he had purchased from William Underwood. The creek mentioned in the will is not identified, but a plot of this tract reveals that it would have been divided roughly in half by the lower section and first branch of what is called "Juggs Creek" today. This would imply that approximately 350 acres west of Juggs Creek would have been intended for sons Thomas, Jr. and John; while the remaining 350 acres east of the creek was to go to daughter Mary after the death of her mother. However, it seems that only son Thomas and daughter Mary were the surviving heirs to the estate.

Will of Thomas Meades:

The last will and testament of Tho. Meads made the 5th day of March (54*), Inpnt. I do bequeath my body to the Earth and my soul to God that gave it. I do make my wife my sole and absolute Excr. I do give to my wife and my Daughter Mary this plantation that I now live upon and all the Land on this side of the Creek and the sd. plantaion not to be my Daughter's 'till after my wife's decease. I do give to my two sons Tho. and John Meads all the Land that is on the west side of the Creek provided that they pay unto my two Daughters Margaret and Joyce out of the s. Land two thousand pounds of tob. and cash at their day of marriage, and in case either of them die that the sd. tob. to belong to the survivor. I do give unto my wife and my sons and Daughters above mentioned all my goods and chattels after my debts are paid and that they shall be equally divided amongst them. I do give to my Daughter Anne all the cattle that belongeth to her which is about five head of cattle, and likewise I do give unto her one shilling of money. This is my last will and testament as witness my hand the day and year above written.

Thomas Mead
12 day June 1655

Rawleigh Travers
John Richardson
Edward Bradshaw
his mark
probated 6 day June 1655

Note: The will was written March 5, 1654; but it should be noted that under the Julian calendar then in effect the year was not changed until March 25th, so that in modern terms, the year would actually be 1655.


Event Date Place Description Sources
Birth 1612 Suffolk, England    
Death 1655-06-06 Lancaster, VA    


Relation to main person Name Birth date Death date Relation within this family (if not by birth)
Father Meador, Ambroseabout 15801670
         Meador, Thomas 1612 1655-06-06


Family of Meador, Thomas and Wellstead, Sarah

Married Wife Wellstead, Sarah ( * about 1600 + 1655 )
Name Birth Date Death Date
Meador, Thomas16381662-04-00