Samuel Grimshaw of Henrico Co, Virginia
Early Immigrant Who May Have Been a Slaveholder
Samuel Grimshaw apparently immigrated to Virginia in about 1795 and was therefore one of the earliest Grimshaw immigrants to the U.S. He was recorded living in Henrico County in the 1810 U.S. Census, and in September 1812 he was registered as a 30-year-old British alien who entered the U.S. in 1795 and was working as a farmer in Henrico County. He was therefore born in about 1882 somewhere in England, possibly in Yorkshire where the name “Samuel” was very common among the Quaker Grimshaws. He married Elizabeth Perkins in about 1814 and the couple had a son, James, born between 1814 and 1818. Samuel apparently operated a tavern in the “Old Ordinary” section of Henrico County in 1816, when he took out a fire insurance policy on the building. He met with an untimely death in or just before 1818, when his will was made at the time of his death. It is not known if Samuel immigrated alone (he would have been age 13 when he arrived in the U.S. in 1795) or with his parents.
Although the connection is not at all clear, Samuel Grimshaw — or his parents — may have owned slaves, thereby giving the Grimshaw surname to a slave family. A Grimshaw slave family was subsequently owned by the Tayloe family on a plantation, Mount Airy, which is in Richmond County about 50 miles east of Henrico County. Slaves William Grimshaw and Esther Jackson were married in the 1820s. Both were owned by the Tayloe family, and they lived on some portion of the Mount Airy plantation. William and Esther Grimshaw had among their children Winney and Juliet Grimshaw, born in 1824 and 1826. After an incident in which he was whipped, William successfully ran away in 1845 and later settled in New Brunswick, Canada. He was never reunited with his family in Virginia. William and Esther Grimshaw’s daughter, Juliet, was sold to Dr. Tyler on nearby plantation and gave birth to William Grimshaw. This William later lived in Washington, D.C. He wrote extensively on black freemasonry and is the subject of a companion webpage.
Thanks go to Doris Hightower for providing information on Samuel Grimshaw and the individuals subjected to slavery who had his surname. Thanks are also extended to Richard S. Dunn, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, for his paper1, “Winney Grimshaw, a Virginia Slave, and Her Family”, which was published in the Fall, 2011. A visit to the Library of Virginia in Richmond resulted in the addition of a number of records in September 2011.
The earliest record of Samuel Grimshaw is apparently in the 1810 U.S. Census, which is shown in a companion webpage and is reproduced in part as follows:
Before the automated search capabilities became available on Ancestry.com, a manual search of printed census indexes was performed, as described on a companion webpage. The results of this search for the 1810 index (and a prior census) are summarized below.
Grishaw, Isaac S.; William
Before the automated search capabilities became available on Ancestry.com, a manual search of printed census indexes was performed, as described on a companion webpage. The results of this search for the 1820 index (and a prior census) are summarized below.
The 1820 U.S. Census includes a record for Samuel Grimshaw’s widow, Eliza. Grimshaw (see companion webpage), which is partially reproduced below:
Samuel Grimshaw was included in the records2 of British aliens who were living in the U.S. during the War of 1812 and were required to register as resident aliens. The following information is reproduced from a companion webpage (Scott, 1979, p. 324):
Grimshaw, Samuel, age 30, in U.S. since Sept. 1795, Henrico Co., farmer, (5-12 Sept. 1812)
Samuel apparently registered in September 1812 while living in Henrico County, Virginia at age 30 as a farmer. No family is indicated, but it seems unlikely he was a descendant of earlier Virginian immigrants; he would have probably been born in the U.S. and therefore not an alien. On the other hand, if he was age 30 in 1812, he would have been born in about 1882 and would therefore have been only 13 years old when he arrived in the U.S. in 1795.
The following background information is provided in the reference (Scott, 1979, p. v-vi):
The recording of ships passenger lists was not required by law until 1819, and prior to that date only scattered lists of immigrants exist. It is, therefore, of the greatest importance that another source can supply information concerning thousands of British subjects – Canadian, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and West Indian, most of them immigrants- who were residing in the United States during the War of 1812. On June 1, 1812, President Madison sent his war message to Congress, which on June 18 declared war. Subjects of Great Britain were henceforth enemy aliens and were to be dealt with in accordance with an act of July 6, 1798, and a supplementary Act of July 6, 1812.
Accordingly, notice was promptly given that all British subjects in the United States were to report to the marshall of the state or territory of their residence “the persons composing their families, the places of their residence and their occupations or pursuits; and whether, and at what time, they have made the application to the courts required by law, as preparation to their naturalization.” It was ordered that notice was to be published in the newspapers and that reports by the aliens were to be sent by the several marshals to the Department of State.
The returns, long in the custody of that department, were many years ago deposited in the National Archives.
Normally a return gave the name of the alien, aged fourteen or more, years of residence in the United States, number of persons in the family, place of residence and status. Happily many returns supply further data of no little genealogical value – country of origin, for example.
The Library of Virginia has a microfilm with a copy of the marriage bond record for Samuel Grimshaw and Elizabeth Perkins. The front and back of the record are shown below. That Samuel and Elizabeth were indeed married is shown on the will record further down on this webpage.
Samuel apparently operated a tavern (evidently called the “Old Ordinary”) in 1816 and obtained a fire insurance policy on the building from the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia. A copy of the policy document from the Library of Virginia is shown below:
A description of the image of the policy is described as follows on the Library of Virginia website:
Full View of Record: LVA Catalogs
URL (Click on link) http://image.lva.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/GetMU.pl?dir=0526/G0039&card=33 Document Image
Title Grimshaw, Samuel.
Publication March 28, 1816.
Gen. note 1956.
Note Location of property: Henrico County (The Old Ordinary).
Note Owner and occupant.
Other Format Available on microfilm. Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia. Declarations. Vol. 44, Reel no. 5.
Biog./Hist. Note This collection contains policies issued for Richmond and Henrico County between 1796 and 1867. The individual policies (declarations) and reevaluations include the name of the insured, the location of the property, the name of the occupant, a description and estimated value of each structure, and, in most instances, a sketch of the property.
The “Mutual Assurance Society, against Fire on Buildings, of the State of Virginia” was incorporated by the General Assembly on December 22, 1794, and held its organizational meeting on December 24, 1795. William Foushee (Richmonds first mayor elected in 1782) was named the first president and directors were chosen for Richmond and vicinity, Petersburg, Fredericksburg, Staunton, Alexandria, Winchester, and Norfolk. Property was insured in Virginia, West Virginia (until 1868), and the District of Columbia. Insurance offered by the company was against “all losses and damages occasioned accidentally by fire.” Reevaluations of insured property were required every seven (7) years or whenever additions were made to a policy. While the society suffered financially with the fall of the Confederacy, its reserve fund, required by law, enabled it to recover rapidly from the effects of the war.
Related Work Part of an index to the Richmond and Henrico County fire insurance policies issued between 1796 and 1867 by the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia that are housed in the Archives of the Library of Virginia.
Samuel lived only a few years after his marriage to Elizabeth Perkins, having passed away before March 31, 1818 according to his will. However, the will (shown below in two parts) indicates that he had a young son James Grimshaw by the time of his death.
After his death in March, Samuel Grimshaw’s estate was appraised. A copy of the appraisement from the Library of Virginia is shown below. It is noteworthy that no slaves are shown among his possessions at the time of his death.
Samuel Grimshaw designated Samuel Garthright as executor of his estate as shown in the will. On June 13, Garthright completed an account of the disposition of the estate, which is shown below (from the Library of Virginia). The account was recorded on August 3, 1818.
An advertisement related to Samuel Grimshaw appeared in the Richmond Enquirer some 11 years after his death and was found in “Heritage Quest”. A copy is shown below:
Paper: Richmond Enquirer; Date: 03-27-1829; Volume: XXV; Issue: 106; Page: ; Location: Richmond, Virginia
Although the connection is not at all clear, Samuel Grimshaw — or his parents — may have owned slaves, thereby giving the Grimshaw surname to a slave family. A Grimshaw slave family was subsequently owned by the Tayloe family in the 1820s on a plantation, Mount Airy, which is in Richmond County about 50 miles east of Henrico County. A number of Grimshaws entered Virginia in the Jamestown area southeast of Henrico County in the late 1600s and early 1700s about 80 miles south of Mount Airy, and one of their descendants could have been candidates as the Grimshaw slaveholders. However, at the time of the 1810 U.S. Census, Samuel was the only Grimshaw recorded living in the region around Mount Airy and would therefore seem the best candidate. Samuel immigrated in 1795 and was therefore not one of the Jamestown Grimshaw descendants. However, the appraisement for Samuel made at the time of his death in 1818 does not include slaves.
Slaves William Grimshaw and Esther Jackson were married in the 1820s. Both were owned by the Tayloe family, and they lived on parts of the Mount Airy plantation. William was the son of a “Letty” (Letitia?) Grimshaw. William and Esther Grimshaw had among their children Winney and Juliet Grimshaw, born in 1824 and 1826, while they were owned by the Tayloe family. After an incident in which he was whipped, William successfully ran away in 1845 and later settled in New Brunswick, Canada. He was never reunited with his family in Virginia.
It is also possible that William was descended from slaves owned by Thomas Grimshaw, first of nearby Alexandria, Virginia and later of Winchester, Virginia. There is no evidence in the records obtained so far on Thomas that he was a slaveholder, and he lived a good deal further away, to the north in Alexandria.
Richard S. Dunn published a paper in 2011 that details the life of Winney Grimshaw and her family1, including her sister Juliet Grimshaw. Juliet was sold to Dr. Tyler on a plantation in the next county to the west and gave birth to William Grimshaw. This William later lived in Washington, D.C. He wrote extensively on black freemasonry and is the subject of a companion webpage. Click here for the Richard Dunn Article, “Winney Grimshaw, a Virginia Slave, and Her Family”. Dunn also published an earlier paper3 on Winney in which he compared her life to that of a slave in Jamaica.
1Dunn, Richard, 2011, “Winney Grimshaw, a Virginia Slave, and Her Family: Early American Studies, Fall 2011, p. 493-521.
2Scott, Kenneth, compiler, 1979, British Aliens in the United States During the War of 1812: Baltimore, MD, Genealogical Publishing Co., 420 p.
3Dunn, Richard, 1977, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life at Mesopotamia in Jamaica and Mount Airy in Virginia, 1799 to 1828: The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, vol 34, no 1 (January 1977), p. 32-65.
Skeletal webpage posted December 2006. Updated February 2007 with addition of 1810 and 1820 U.S. Census records. Updated September 2011 with addition of information from article on Winney Grimshaw by Richard Dunn. Updated October 2011 with addition of marriage bond, will, appraisment and accounts from Virginia State Library.