The Worland Family in America and Beyond

I began my life in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, on an island filled with forests and wild rhododendrons. I was separated from my Worland family there at an early age. Recently, I was reunited with my family and learned of my heritage. And so, this journey to know my ancestors began. The Worlands, Gideons, Newtons, Conards... they were the colonists, the settlers, the pioneers. They fought in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War. This is their story, and the story of a nation. -Deci Worland MacKinnon

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Catesby Cocke, Land Speculation and George Washington

1725-1742: Prominent Tidewater Virginia politicians and businessmen buy huge tracts in this era of land speculation. William Fairfax, uncle of Thomas, sixth Lord Fairfax, amasses more than 35,000 acres; Francis Awbrey, 29,000 acres; Catesby Cocke, 23,000; John Colvill, 22,000; Robert Carter, Lord Fairfax's real estate agent, 21,000. These five own 40 percent of future Loudoun's 330,800 acres. The land is often leased in 100- to 200-acre tracts or after a few years is sold; many double their money.

William Cocke and son, Catesby
Dr. William Cocke, of Suffolk, England, came over to Virginia in June, 1710 and settled at Williamsburg. He came over in the Deptford with Alexander Spotswood, and lived there prior to about 1720.
It is known that Dr. Cocke came as private physician to Lt. Governor Spotswood. Then, in June, 1712, Dr. Cocke was sworn in as Secretary of the Colony of Virginia. He had been recommended to this office by Spotswood and Edmund Jenings, former Secretary of State and former acting Governor. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Cocke had sent for his wife, Elizabeth Catesby Cocke, sister of Mark Catesby, the naturalist; and his two children who were in England. They arrived in the Hanover in April, 1712. Apparently, Catesby was with them for a few days after they had been met and taken to Williamsburg in the Governor's coach. Soon Dr. Cocke, his family and Catesby were visiting at "Westover." Cocke had been a classmate of William Byrd in England.
By 1713 Dr. Cocke had been appointed to the Council. From 1716-1718 he was in England on business for the Colony. On October 22, 1720 he "was struck with a fit of apoplexy in the Capitol and died immediately and fell on me," so reported Byrd. Dr. Cocke left a widow and six children: Mrs. Elizabeth Cocke Pratt (widow), Catesby (born 1702), William, Anne, Susanna and Lucy.
He was a member of the Council, Secretary of the Province and a Judge of the General Court.

Catesby Cocke, his son, lived at Belmont, Fairfax County. Catesby Cocke lived next door to George Mason's Gunston Hall and across the Potomac River from Nathaniel Chapman. He was the first Clerk of the Court for both Prince William County and Fairfax County. Like many wealthy men of the day, Catesby was a land speculator. In 1731, 292 acres of land on both sides of Broad Run in Thoroughfare Gap were patented to him by permission of Lord Fairfax. Since he never made any improvements of the land, he had to relinquish it to Lord Fairfax in 1737. Subsequently, Godfrey Ridge bought the land and flipped it to Jonathan Chapman for 10 pounds in 1741. In 1742 Jonathan Chapman bought a sliver of land that would enable the Chapman Mill head race to reach Broad Run above the 87 feet it descends. This information suggests the mill could have been built any time after 1737 and before 1742.

Catesby Cocke and George Washington, Tax Evaders

In making a schedule of his property, an owner took an oath that the list recorded everything subject to taxation. If a man omitted one carriage or slave, he perjured himself.
As inscribed in the hand-written, leather-bound book of the court, the following is the report of the Grand Jury of Fairfax County, Colony of Virginia, rendered to the court on May 21, 1760. The names of the 15  defendants add some color and character, humor and historical interest, to the proceedings.
"We present George William Fairfax, George Washington, John Carlyle, Daniel French, Robert Bogges, Catesby Cocke, Townshend Dade, Sylbill West, Garrard Alexander, J. Emima Minor, William Ramsay, Benjamin Grayson, George Mason, John Plummer, Daniel McCarty and Abraham Barnes for (not) entering their wheeled carriages agreeable to law, as appears to us by the list delivered to the clerk of the county."

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