WALTER OF VIRGINIA
by Robert L. Stallard
Published in: HEREFORDSHIRE Family History Society Journal, Vol. V, No. 3, Oct. 1992, pp. 91-94.
I am in the fortunate circumstance that my patrilineage was well researched in the 1940’s and 1960’s, and compiled in book form in recent years (1). The lineage goes back to an assumed English immigrant in 17th century Virginia. Since none of the previous researchers were available for consultation, I started to investigate the origins of this “immigrant” ancestor named WALTER STALLARD.
Walter of Virginia
The first two English colonies established in North America were Roanoke 1585 and Jamestown 1607. The latter colony on the James River of Virginia survived and became Virginia’s capitol until 1699. Throughout much of the 17th century, settlements expanding from Jamestown remained limited to waterways such as the James, York, Rappahannock, Potomac Rivers and Chesapeake Bay.
The Rappahannock River valley was opened for settlement in 1649 (2) and it was here, at or near the present town of Tappahannock, Virginia that my earliest known American ancestor was already established in 1671. In this year he made his mark next to his name (spelled STALLION) as one of two witnesses to a “deed of gift” for the transfer of ownership of two cows from MARTIN JOHNSON to JOHN EVANS with Major THOMAS HAWKINS given “power of attorney” (3). Precious little is known about Walter Stallard. Since parish records were not kept, basically only deeds and court orders record the early transactions. Many of these documents have not survived the ravages of time and thus our ability to trace a common man in the 17th century is greatly hampered.
The fact that Walter appeared as a witness on the above “deed of gift” would indicate that he was a well established citizen of the community possibly having served out his indenture and was probably an independent farmer.
Indenture was an important institution in the 17th century. It has been estimated that 75 percent or more of Virginia’s settlers in the 17th century started out as indentured servants (4). Throughout the colonial period indentured servants tended to be in their late teens and early twenties (4). Many young indentured servants not only received their passage but also learned how to make a living in Virginia’s harsh environment. Royal Governor Wm. Berkeley of Virginia wrote that in the early years, not even one out of five free men who took up land directly upon arrival survived the first year (2).
Indenture usually carried the provision that the servant should be taught to read and write. Berkeley, and his follower in office Lord Culpeper, looked upon the education of the people as a crime against the state (2). Thus education was essentially nonexistent in Virginia. Because Walter Stallard apparently couldn’t even sign his name, this could be an indication that he was not an immigrant but was born in Virginia. This is of course pure speculation since some English emigrants were illiterate, but it has been said that the second generation of educated English immigrants were commonly illiterate.
The 1671 “deed of gift” lists people that Walter must have known. Although Walter seems to have escaped historical notice, some of his friends and neighbors did not. JOHN EVANS, who was to receive the two cows had been an indentured servant to EDWARD WHITE. Evans was the sole survivor of the White family massacre by Indians in 1661. He became a large land owner in Old Rappahannock Co. and served on the Grand Jury in 1684 but left his young son John an orphan in 1686. Major THOMAS HAWKINS already owned land in Virginia in 1655. He was a vestryman in Sittingbourne Parish of Old Rappahannock Co. in 1665, Justice of the Peace in 1669/70 and was commissioned by Berkeley to fight Indians. Hawkins remained loyal to the oppressive governor during the bloody uprising lead by Nathaniel Bacon against Berkeley. Hawkins was taken captive by Bacon in 1676 and died shortly there after (2).
Between 1671 and his death in 1683 or 1684, WALTER STALLIARD or STALLARD appeared in the records a number of times, usually in land transactions in which tobacco was the currency of payment (5). Probably Walter raised tobacco on his farm. Already by 1663 the supply of tobacco far exceeded its demand which made its value very volatile. When King Charles II declared war on Holland in 1672, the price of tobacco dropped drastically and stayed low for many years. In 1674 Virginia had to buy corn from New England to prevent starvation (2).
The ever present threat of Indian attack became reality many times. In upper Rappahannock Co. where Walter lived, 36 people were killed by Indians on Jan. 25, 1675/76 and hundreds driven from their homes, which must have included the Stallards. The county lay desolate in the Spring of 1676. The area around present day Tappahannock, Virginia became a center of opposition to Gov. Berkeley due to his unwillingness to provide adequate protection from the Indians. In 1676 an armed uprising, known as Bacon’s Rebellion was finally put down and many were executed for their part in the rebellion (2).
Having survived the above hardships, Walter wrote his will late in 1683 which was probated the following year (6). In it we learn that Walter was married, had two children both under the age of 21, land, orchards, horses and cows etc. It appears that Walter had done quite well for himself when he died apparently in the prime of life.
Search for the Origin of Walter
I have researched the origins of Walter Stallard for some eight years, having investigated over 250 American and English sources. The opinion of Dr. J. N. Hillman that Walter settled in Virginia in 1640 (7) could not be substantiated, nor could the identification of Walter as the son of ROGER STALLARD of Tarrington and Woolhope parishes in Herefordshire, England (1) be proven. This Roger did have a son named Walter born in 1604 who disappeared from the parish records of Tarrington and the surrounding area including the city of Hereford. Interestingly the uncommon first name Walter recurs in the Tarrington family as it does in the descendants of the Virginian Walter. Some have used this as an argument that the Virginian Walter was the same man who was born in England in 1604. It seems to me that the picture I have portrayed of my American ancestor in the rugged frontier with a young family would not fit a man of 67 to 80 years of age. A more likely hypothesis is that they were father and son but unfortunately no proof has yet been found.
It should not be assumed that my Walter was necessarily an immigrant, since his unknown father could have immigrated. If my Walter was an immigrant, I might find some record of his name in England. (The name is not known to occur in Wales, Ireland or Scotland in the 17th century, nor is it likely to be a German or French name in spite of modern Staller and Allard occurrences respectively.) In the process of this research, an index containing almost 900, 16th and 17th century Stallard individuals was compiled.
Indeed two possibilities exist for the occurrence of my Walter in English records. Was my Walter the one who was mentioned in the will of his grandfather LEONARD STOLLARD of St. Helen, Worcester in 1662/3 (8)? Or was my Walter the one who was married to FRANCES BERTRAM in 1667, both of London (9)? No other Walter’s of this generation have yet been found on the British Isles, the West Indies or the eastern seaboard of America.
If Walter’s father’s name was also Walter, then two possibilities besides the Tarrington Walter were found. Was the father of my Walter the WALTER STAILER born in 1611 in Grantham, Lincolnshire (10)? Or was the father of my Walter, the WALTER STALLERD (also STELLARD and STOLLARD) who married ISABELL SAUNDERS at St. Peter’s, Worcester in 1630 and had five children listed at St. Helens, Worcester (11)? No child by the name of Walter was registered but there is a nine year gap from 1635 to 1644 with births in this family registered before and after. Could a Walter have been born during this gap and not recorded?
If the Walter of Rappahannock was a native Virginian, then his father could bear any first name. The search in England would be pointless in this case but there are some new world possibilities. I believe I can eliminate the EDWARD STALLION of New London, Connecticut, 1650 (12), since the family is relatively well documented and contains no Walters. This leaves me with four other possibilities. Was the father of my Walter the JOHN STALLING of Bermuda who baptised a son named ROWLAND in 1624 (13)? Could he have also had a son named Walter? Was the father of my Walter the WILLIAM STALLENGE listed as a gentlemen of the Virginia Company in 1609 and 1623 (14)? Or the NICK STALLING who was transported to Virginia in 1638 as an indentured servant (15)? Or the EDWARD STALLIARD, resident of Lancaster Co., Virginia in 1658 (16)? Lancaster Co. is just down stream from Rappahannock Co. Other Stallards appear in the records but at later dates and are thus a little to late to be the father.
Any one of these four men could have been Walter’s father, but it is just as likely that the Walter of Tarrington, Herefordshire, England was his father, especially with the repeated occurrences of this first name over two or more generations in England and Virginia. Since my Rappahannock ancestor had orchards, and Herefordshire was known for its apples, it is a provocative idea to suppose that the Tarrington Walter was the father and might have emigrated to Virginia.
Where my ancestor really came from, one can only guess. In the opinion of three American genealogists, I have had all available pertinent American records searched. The material that could be searched in England is endless in comparison, but as time progresses, more and more material will be indexed and eventually computerized. Since I am young, I will be able to wait until my retirement in 30 years and maybe then be able to search all pertinent documents easily and rapidly.
In the mean time does anyone out there by chance have additional information?
- Baker, N. et al., The Stallard Connection: A Family History, 1981.
- Warner, T. H., Old Rappahannock County Virginia 1656-1692, 1965.
- Rappahannock County Deed Book, No. 4, p. 432.
- Galenson, D., White Servitude in Colonial America, Cambridge University Press, 1981.
- Rappahannock County Deed Book, No. 5, p. 194; No. 6, pp. 139, 144; No. 7, p. 36.
- Rappahannock County Order Book, No. 1, p. 55.
- Hamilton, A. ed., Stallard Genealogy, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1951.
- Probate records for the diocese of Worcester
- Marriage allegations, Archbishop of Canterbury; Lambeth Palace Library, London.
- International Genealogy Index, 1988.
- St. Peter’s and St. Helen’s Parish Registers, Worcester Record Office.
- Savage, J., A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, Little Brown & Co. 1860.
- Mercer, J. E., Bermuda Settlers of the 17th Century, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982.
- Biographical Dictionary of Early Virginia 1607-1660, Virginia State Library.
- Greer, G. C., Early Virginia Immigrants 1623-1666.
- Fleet, B., Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Vol., 1.
Last page revision Oct. 28, 2001 by RLS
(Copied from Robert L. Stallard’s web page at http://homepage.hispeed.ch/rstallard/stal5.htm)