M12 Nicholas II(1665-1744)and Elizabeth (Crafford/Crawford)

MeriRep: Society Genealogist

Book Project:The Meriwether Family in America, Volume I: The Colonists

Metrics:One spouse, 39,500+ descendants identified.

Nicholas and his nine children will be covered in detail in Volume I.

Biographical Sketch:

Col. Nicholas Meriwether II amassed a large quantity of land, at one point owning about 33,000 acres. In 1735 he built his plantation, “The Farm”, in Goochland (now Albemarle) County, the site of which is now the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. His will, one of the longest recorded in Virginia, was witnessed by Peter Jefferson, father of Thomas Jefferson.

Descendants of Nicholas Meriwether II & Elizabeth Crawford are eligible for membership in the Magna Charta Dames or to the Barons of Runnymede (NHM p. 174).

“The Farm”

Most histories of Nicholas II mention that he built and died on a plantation known as “The Farm.” As the following will show, Nicholas himself never refered to any of his propert by that name, nor did those who inherited his lands. The first use of that name is therefore lost in the mists of antiquity.

“Nicholas moved to Goochland between 1735 and 1738. He was living on 1,849 1/2 acres when he died. This consisted of 1,020 acres (all but 20 acres on the west bank of the Rivanna) which he cobbled together into a patent from a purchase from Charles Lynch and a previous patent, and 819 1/2 acres that he purchased from Thomas Graves in 1738. In his will he gave his grandson Richard 700 acres of the Graves purchase and the remaining 1,139 (dropping the 1/2 acre) acres to grandson Nicholas Lewis. In neither case did he mention the term “The Farm,” although he did refer to “…my Plantation commonly called and known by the name of Roundabout …” in another bequest. He did use the term “…my Plantation and whereon I now live …” referring to the 1020 acres of the 1139 acres that he gave Nicholas Lewis. Therefore I conclude that NMII did not use the name “The Farm” or, at least, there is no proof that he did. Griffith says that NMII lived and was buried on the east bank of the river which means the 20 acres on that side.

Lewis sold the 140 acres (added 1/2 acre) on the east bank in 1765 to Henry Fry. He did not use the term “The Farm,” but rather referred to the tract given to him by his grandfather. Although he may have lived in the house on the east bank for a time, Lewis supposedly built a house on the west side of the river, now part of what is called “The Farm.” He later sold other parts of this tract without using the term. At this point I don't know when that term was first used. More work is needed but I am sure that NMII never used it.” GMB 2 Jun 2002

Birth of Nicholas Meriwether II

Two sources state that Nicholas was born 26 Oct 1667. The first is an old mutilated Register in the possession of George Wood Meriwether, supposedly written by his great-grandfather, William Meriwether (M121), son of Nicholas. GWM actually cites a date of 1647, but this is obviously in error and can be explained by the stated condition of “mutilated” for the state of the Register. This 1647 date was repeated by later writers, but can be discounted.

The other source is a leaf from, supposedly, the Bible of Nicholas Meriwether II himself. The Bible leaf was in the possesion of family in Louisville, Kentucky and a copy was provided to William R. Griffith. Attempts to locate this Bible leaf today have been unsuccessful.

The date of 1667 conflicts with other sources that strongly indicate that Nicholas was age 21 before Oct 1688 and a year of 1665 seems more likely.

Death Date of Nicholas Meriwether II

The exact date of the death of Nicholas II is not known, although at least one reference specifies 5 Nov 1744 (NHM, p. 29 [3]). No documents have been found to substantiate this claim. The only date we can go by is 24 Nov 1744, the day his will was proved in Goochland, and most early Meriwether genealogies (GWM [6], LHAM [8], WRG [7]) simply state he died in the fall or autumn of 1744. Courts in some counties met every 3 months (not sure what the practice in Goochland was). Assuming this was the case in Goochland, he could have died just before the previous court, namely in August or even late July. It is doubtful that families rushed from the death bed to the courthouse with the will. Further, the witnesses needed to be notified and assembled.

Before Albemarle was formed in 1744, Nicholas was living in Goochland but the farm he was living on fell into Albemarle afterwards. If he died after the formation of Albemarle, his will should have been filed in Albemarle since, as far as is know, he did not own any other property in Goochland (not sure how strong a legal requirement this is). So, the date of the formation of Albemarle might be a clue as to when he died. The assembly approved the formation of Albemarle in September of 1744. However, since the first Albemarle court was held in ____ 1745, the Goochland filing may have been a practical consideration. (gmb, jmo)

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