In 2015 I started the process to join the James Billingsley Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution. I have several Revolutionary War ancestors but I had never really considered joining Daughters of the American Revolution until I found this chapter, as James Billingsley is my 7th great-grandfather. https://www.texasdar.org/chapters/JamesBillingsley/
James Billingsley was born in April 1726 in Maryland to William Billingsley (1691-1745) and Mary Sumner (1691-1740). James married Elizabeth Crabtree, who was born on 12 December 1726 in Maryland. She was the daughter of William Crabtree (1692-1756) and Jane Halstead (1687-1759).
Most of the information I am using to write this blog came from the book The Billingsley Family in America by Harry Alexander Davis. This book is available online in several places. It is available on ancestry, and an updated version is online here: http://billingsley.us/
James and Elizabeth had nine children:
- Samuel 1747-1816
- James 1749-1810
- Elizabeth 1751-1781
- John 1754-1844
- Clearanna 1756-1781
- William Henry 1758-1820
- Martha 1760-1786
- Walter 1761-1850
- Brazil 1764-1831
In The Billingsley Family in America, it says “He [James] married prior to 1747 [to] Elizabeth Crabtree, born in 1726 in Maryland. They moved to Baltimore County, Maryland about 1758 where they resided to about 1768. They then moved to Guilford County, North Carolina. He appears to have owned considerable land there but there does not appear any deeds to account for it. In 1771 he appears as a signed to a petition asking for clemency for John Pugh and Thomas Welborn who have been associated with the Insurrectionist.” I did a quick search to see if I could learn more about the petition he signed but did not locate anything.
Continued from The Billingsley Family in America “When the Revolution began he [James] became quite active in aiding the American cause, sent his sons into the service and incurred the enmity of the Tories (I searched for the meaning of a Tories Wikipedia that a Torie was American Colonist who were loyal to the British. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalist_(American_Revolution)#:~:text=Loyalists%20were%20American%20colonists%20who,to%20the%20liberties%20of%20America%22.) He was continually harassed by them until the year 1776 when they invaded his home and asked for money, on being told he had none they took him to a nearby tree and hung him. This statement comes from his wife who made note of his death in the family bible, and as she lived to know many of her great-grandchildren she often repeated the tragic death of her husband to them. One of these, the son of John Billingsley, Junior, heard the story, and it was often repeated to him by his grandfather and as he was a lad of some 15 years of age at the time of the death of his grandfather he wrote it all down at the time. Before his death, he wrote out all that he had made note of into a complete record of his family for his children.”
In James’s will in The Billingsley Family in America, “James Billingsley was killed in April 1776. He dated his will 25 January 1776 and it was probated at the May term of court 1776, an abstract follows Item: In consideration of my children that already portioned, that is to say, James, Elizabeth, Claranna, Samuel, and John, to each 2 shillings and 6 pence. Item: To son, William H., one bed & furniture to be recorded in with his equal part with the following children, to wit: Martha & Walter & Bazil. Item: To Martha, my daughter, one bed & furniture, one chist & one Cow to be in part her equal share in the list above mentioned. Item: My two youngest sons, Walter and Bazel, plantation when they come of age, & that they share an equal part of the movable estate with others of my so last-mentioned fore children. Item: To my well-beloved wife during her widowhood, one bed & furniture, one horse, one mare, two Cows & calves & Plantation, and if a widow when my sons come of age for her to have her right in the land so long as a widow, this exclusive of her one third in the movable estate, said wife to be executrix. Item: To my daughter Claranna, value 3 pounds of estate exclusive of the above 2 shillings 6 pence. This will was witnessed by Teldeau Lane and William Hamer.”
In the Billingsley Family to America it says “Elizabeth survived him many years, moved to Tennessee with her sons and resided many years with her son, John, in Warren County, Kentucky, about 1838 she made the trip to McMinn County, Tennessee to spend a while with her son Walter, she did not long survive this trip and died early in 1839 aged 113 years. Walter was given the family Bible as part of the record he filed with his claim for a pension.”
I searched for Elizabeth on the 1830 Census and did not locate her. I also searched for each of her sons (John, Walter, Bazil) that may have still have been alive on the 1830 Census to see if I could locate her living with one of them and I did not locate any women in her age range living with them.
I have seen it recorded that Elizabeth died in 1832 and 1839. I do not know if either one of these is correct but Elizabeth seems to have lived a very long life.
According to the James Billingsley Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, four of James and Elizabeth’s sons served in the Revolutionary War, Samuel, James, John, and Walter. I joined DAR through James and his wife Ann Rea but I also descend from James and Elizabeth Billingsley’s daughter Martha.
The Billingsley family has been in America for many generations and according to the Billingsley Family in America, they came from Salop, England. While there are not many documents that have been located, this family is known to many researchers.
I love that I have deep roots in America. Several of my family lines go back many generations in America. I have many Revolutionary War ancestors and I am always amazed by the courage they had to fight for a cause they believed in.