Colonel David Mason

Soldier and Statesman



Sussex County, Virginia

Col. David Mason, the prospect father of Jane Mason, is a complex individual and has actually taken us much longer to discover and chronicle his life than it did Jane Mason’s. No one, as far as we can tell, has never taken the opportunity or the time to assemble all of the bits and pieces of documented information about this man that are scattered in various libraries from Alexandria, Williamsburg and Richmond back to Sussex County, Virginia to their Plantation home “Shell Bank” in Sussex County (near Kingston (Alberta), Virginia where he and his family lived, into a single biography. We have NOT assembled all there is to learn about this man but we did a pretty fair study of it. We should have written a complete volume about this man’s life such as it was and with the constraints of how many pages a biography could entail, if it is to be posted to the web, we have had to leave out some of the finer details of this man’s history. Instead we will find our solice in being able to point out some of the sources of information that would serve as a direction for anyone else’s study into the life of this fascinating person.
Our sources of information into his life are just as scattered, as there are many of them but the most reliable sources of information about him, that we have researched, for this document, came from The Surry and Sussex County Register written by the Reverend William Willie, The Surry and Sussex County Vestry Book also by the Reverend William Willie and The Biographical Card Index by R. Bolling Batte. The Card Index by Robert Bolling Batte is currently housed in the Library of Virginia along with an index of the properties Col. David Mason and his family owned. This Index can also be downloaded free of charge from the Library of Virginia. It took us a short while to do so. The Letters of his correspondences back and forth with General George Washington during the Revolutionary War years, of which there were at least 8, are being housed at the Library of Congress in The Washington Papers and Diaries Collection as footnoted on page 4 of this document. These letters are currently being transcribed and included in a 40 volume set of books titled “The Washington Papers” by the University of Virginia’s Department of History (someone is getting an excellent tenure). The last I checked they were only on Volume 23, I think; if my memory serves me well and they have been working on this set for the last 15 years. There is also ancillary mention and documentation of Col. David Mason in Godspeeds and through HeritageQuest On-Line, which is an on-line library of sorts that your local library may have access to that the reader (with the help of their library card number) can access to find various other books about parts of his life and the people he knew and the lives of his sons and daughters. There are also quite a few articles placed by Col. David Mason and his brothers in the Virginia Gazette that the reader can find access to by contacting , “On-Line” the historic City of Williamsburg, Virginia website. You will see some of these articles later on in this document.
Now, with all of that said, I have one other very important Author’s Note to include. Readers of this document and researchers of this Mason Family line need to be aware that there were Two (2) Colonel David Masons. General George Washington, during the Revolutionary War years, wrote to both of these men and both of these men wrote to General Washington. It is a fact that George Washington has been, ever since the Revolutionary War, the commonality between the two Colonels and The Library of Congress, as good and as professional as they are, do not seem to readily be able to tell the difference between the two men even though they have different dates of birth, death and different wives. If you go to the Library of Congress in person and ask to see the Letters of George Washington, “to or from” “Our” Colonel David Mason you need to specify Colonel David Mason “of Sussex County, Virginia” because at the library, they house “All” of the Col. David Mason letters to General Washington in a single collection. As I was told, they don’t have anyway to differentiate between the two because their names and Military titles are identical. This, however, is not entirely an accurate statement on their part. The other David Mason who was born in Salem, Massachusetts, whose family is credited with the founding of New Hampshire and has a lot of records in the State Archives in the Great State of Massachusetts, only attained the Military rank of “Lieutenant” Colonel. He was in command of the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts close to Boston before he was court-martialed during his command of the Armory in 1781 by General Knox for his and two of his fellow Junior officers taking food stores from the commissary and using them at home while the soldiers under his command went hungry. He and his two junior officers were court-martialed in 1781 after the Massachusetts Company (who were supplying the stores) wrote a letter to General Washington stating their grievance. If General Washington wasn’t going to do anything about this episode, the Massachusetts Company said that they would be in touch with the Governor of Massachusetts and would write a letter to the new Congress of the United States demanding action be taken. So, the year after the Court martial in 1781, Lt. Col. Mason left his post as the Armory Commandant in 1782 and he passed away in his home in 1793 or 4. If you care to have “Our” (Full Colonel) David Mason’s letters to General George Washington and Washington’s letters back to him, please see the Footnote at the end of page 4 in this document. You can download these letters to your computer from the Library of Congress for free.

Col. David Mason was born in 1731, the 10th child of his father Capt. John Mason (1693 – 1755) of Pasquotank Precinct, North Carolina Province and his wife Elizabeth Macon (1698 – 1763). Hmmm, this would be a good place to put a small Genealogical Chart.

Generation No. 1

1.  SIR JOHN1 MASON was born 1640 in England, and died Bet. Jan 1713/14 in Pasquotank Precinct, North Carolina Province. Little, if anything is known of Sir John’s wife. We did not look in England for her.

Sir John Mason of England, from the Army of King Charles I and two cousins, Sir Grey Skipwith, a Knight of the house of Skipwith and Sir Robert Peyton, a Knight of the House of Peyton, also soldiers in the King's Army, came to Virginia, in disguise, during the exodus of the Royalists (1651-55) after the defeat of the King. They refused to live in England any longer under the rule of Cromwell who was a Great Grandson of Oliver Cromwell, the aid of King Henry VIII's reign.

Historical notes:
1. Queen Elizabeth and her "Golden Age" died in 1598; some 50 years prior to the exodus of the Royalists to The Virginia Colony which was named in her Honor by Sir Walter Raleigh. She was known as the "Virgin Queen".
2. 1666 was the year of the great London Fire which burnt the city of London to the ground.

More about SIR JOHN MASON:
Burial: Albemarle Parish, Surry County, Virginia2
Child of SIR JOHN MASON is:
2.    i.    JOHN (CAPT.)2 MASON, b. 1693, Pasquotank Precinct, North Carolina Province; d. 05 Sep 1755, Albemarle Parish, Surry County, Virginia.

Generation No. 2

2.  CAPT. JOHN (CAPT.)2 MASON (JOHN1) was born 1693 in Pasquotank Precinct, North Carolina Province, and died 05 Sep 1755 in Albemarle Parish, Surry County, Virginia.  He married ELIZABETH MACON 1714 in Sussex County, Virginia, daughter of GIDEON MACON and MARTHA WOODWARD.  She was born 1698 in Williamsburg, New Kent, Virginia, and died 21 Aug 1763 in Surry County, Virginia3.

Captain John Mason, Gentleman of Surry County, Virginia and his wife Elizabeth first appear in Surry County, Virginia in 1714 when he was the plaintiff in a suit and must have been of age.
His Last Will and Testament was registered in Albemarle Parish Records dated Sept. 5, 1755 and his estate was appraised at L830 in September of 1755.
The Surry County, Va. Register of Albemarle Parish records the death of Capt. John Mason, Gentleman, September 5, 1755.
The death of his wife Elizabeth Macon is recorded in the same register; August 21, 1763.
In 1739 John Mason patented 388 acres on both side of Bears Fork of Mason's Creek, Lunenburg, Virginia.
In 1739 also secured a Grant for 545 acres on both sides of Mason Creek, Lunenburg, Virginia.
    i.    THOMAS3 MASON, b. Surry County, Virginia.
3.    ii.    JOHN (MAJOR) MASON, b. 01 Nov 1717, Surry County, Virginia; d. 1785, Sussex County, Virginia.
4.    iii.    JAMES (MAJOR) MASON, b. 1718, Surry County, Virginia; d. 1752, Sussex County, Virginia.
    iv.    JOSEPH MASON, b. 1719, Surry County, Virginia; d. 1749, Sussex County, Virginia; m. PHOEBE SHANDS, 1740, Virginia.
    v.    MARY MASON, b. 1720, Sussex County, Virginia; m. WILLIAM DANCY.
5.    vi.    CHRISTOPHER MASON, b. 1724, Sussex County, Virginia; d. 1778, Brunswick County, Virginia.
    vii.    ANN MASON, b. 1726, Sussex County, Virginia; m. JOHN GILLIAM.
6.    viii.    DANIEL MASON, b. 1727, Surry County, Virginia; d. 1798, Dinwiddie County, Virginia.
    ix.    ISAAC MASON, b. 1730, Sussex County, Virginia; m. ANN PETWAY.
7.    x.    DAVID (COL.) MASON, b. 16 March 1731, Surry County, Virginia; d. 9 Feb 1792, Sussex County, Virginia .
xi.     CHARLES MASON, b. 1734, Sussex County, Virginia; m. MARY BURCH.    

The following are some additional notes found in early Virginia Parish records. Here within these notes the reader actually sees the name of “Ragsdale” for the first time in early Virginia History. This Ragsdale Family, like the James and Jane (Mason) Jeffery Family did in 1816, will also find their way to the Missouri Territory by 1816. The descendants name will be Brittian Ragsdale who was a very close friend to Ol’ Jim Jeffery’s brother, Jeremiah in 1802 Knoxville County in Eastern Tennessee. We have found Brittian Ragsdale and Jeremiah Jeffery in the Knoxville County Court records of 1802. They were both consistent jurors for the court. This man, Brittian Ragsdale, is who we suspect, is the first husband of Ol’ Jim’s and Jane Mason’s daughter, Eda Jeffery in 1816 before she married John Milligan II from Triadelphia, West Virginia in 1818.
This would be a good time to mention that Ol’ James Jeffery had known the man listed in the Will of Col. David Mason as John Spencer. We have recovered a real estate sale document that this John Spencer had between himself and the Thomas Sugg Family of North Carolina (Later moved to Missouri). Both James and his brother John Jeffery signed the document as witnesses to the transaction that took place in Anson County, North Carolina. The suggestion here is that Jane Mason had met James Jeffery through the Spencer family. John Spencer had married Mary, the daughter of Littleberry Mason, the son of Col. David Mason. Littleberry Mason was also one of Jane Mason’s older brothers.

Virginia Deed Books 3 & 4, 1752-1757
3:189. 23 Dec 1752. David Mason of Par. of Albemarle, Co. of Surry, to William Gee of L, for 35 pds, all that certain tract of 243a of land in L on N side of Bears Element Cr which was patented to Mason on 15 Sep 1752 & bounded as per the patent. S/ David Mason.
Wit: James Gee, Baxter Ragsdale, Mary Gee. r 6 Mar 1753

Lunenburg. Co. Land Patents 1746-1916.
1. book, page no. This is the key by which ref. to a land patent are made in each index. Each index entry is ref. to book-page no.
2. acreage.
3. Date presumably that the land was granted.
a. The given name & surname of the patentee. The patentee is the person to who the patent was issued.
b. Location of land.
c. Neighbors. Some patents do not list nbrs. Gees, who were listed as neighbors:

35-235. 400a 7/7/1763
a. David Mason. b. bs. W fk Stony Cr. c. Gee, Williams

Book 10-11 (1764-1771)

11:17. 31 Oct 1765. David Mason & Mary his wife of Sussex Co. to Alexander Rudder of Cumberland Par., Lunenburg…Wit. Included Navil (Neavel) Gee. R 14 May 1767.

11:147. 12 May 1768. Wm. Hardy to Thomas Smith, John Ragsdale & Benjamin Gee a certain tract (30 pds.) on both sides of Crooked Cr. 440a bounded by 1. Benjamin Gee's part-Ragsdale, Winslow, new lines cross Crooked Cr. Containing about 190a 2. Thomas Smith's part Benjamin Gee's new line, Winslow, Ragsdale, the Cr, the old line, the new line, about 190a  3. John Ragsdale's part-the west side of Cr, a new line about 20a.
No Wit. Mary wife of Wm. Hardy relinq. Dower. [no rec. date shown]

11:224. 10 Nov 1768. Wm. Booker & Edith his wife to David Dearden 200a on S side Crooked Cr, bounded by Samuel Haggard at the mouth of the teep br, Van Dyck, Harrad's Mill Path, the line betw. Esler & Booker. Wit: Henry Gee, Nathaniel Wyche & Wm. Blunt, Gent. Of Sussex Co.

Greeting. David Mason, by his deed of 11 Oct 1765 sold to Alexander Rudder 880a of land. Mary the wife of sd David Mason cannot travel. To go to Mary to rec. her ack., Mary relinq. her right of dower. S 23 Jan 1769 Henry Gee, Wm. Blunt. R 13 Jul 1769.

Authors Note: (Col.) David Mason had sold this 880 acre parcel of land to Alexander Rudder but in order to close the deal he had to have his wife, Mary Epps, relinquish her right of Dower. This must mean that this piece of real estate was given to her from her Epps Family.

On Jan. 23, 1769, Henry Gee and Wm. Blunt were sent to receive Mary (Epps) Mason’s Acknowledgement that she agreed to this sale. At the time, Mary could not travel as she was pregnant with her and David’s daughter, Jane Mason who was born in 1769 near Kingston, Virginia and Mason Mills (Campbell County Virginia today). After Henry Gee and Wm. Blunt received her acknowledgement of this sale, they went back to the courthouse in Sussex County and had the sale registered on 13 July 1769. The month of Jane Mason’s birth is still under study but it was definatly “After” 23 Jan. 1769 and no where near Alexandria, Virginia as speculated by some of Jane’s descendants in the 20th century.

39-86. 615a 8/27/1770
a. Richard Claiborne. b. brs Stony Cr. c. Mason, Jarrett, Gee

From DAR descendant Elizabeth McKelvy Peck No. 250576:

June 14, 1776
Warrant issued to; David Mason Esquire, for the use of sundry persons, twenty one pounds - 15 Schillings and four pense, for blankets, rugs and pots, furnished the companies ordered from Sussex County to North Carolina.

Another Warrant for 20 pounds on account to purchase provisions for said companies.

Feb. 7, 1776 to Capt. Mason for 72 Pounds for recruiting services in Sussex County, Virginia.

June 28, 1776 for 51 pounds, 16 schillings and two pense half penny provisions furnished for Minutemen raised in Sussex County. Pages 49 and 50 Sussex County History published in 1946.

VIRGINIA SOLDIERS of 1776: page 1198-1201
Col. David Mason in regard to his son Littleberry Mason's Family.

(Note: Littleberry Mason was the heir of the majority of his father's, Col. David Mason's substantial estate after David’s death. After Littleberry Mason died the distribution of the original estate of Col. David Mason was willed to Littleberry's heirs, children and their families as follows.)

David Mason was a Colonel and Commanded the 15th Virginia Continental Line. His heirs received a land bounty as follows;

Issued 20 June 1851 to William Mason and Louisa Gregg, Warrant #9297.
To Mary Ann Neves, Warrant #9298
To Eliza T. Johnson, Warrant #9299.
To Sarah Mason, Robert H. and L. W. Mason, Warrant #9300;
All heirs of Col. David Mason, Recorded in book 3, P.536, Va. Land Office.
These Warrants were cancelled on 8 July 1857; see Warrants 9305-9306 inclusive.

From a memorandum, Mary, the wife of John Spencer, dec'd daughter of Littleberry Mason, entitled to 172 acres. Her heirs were three children vis Thomas, Rebecca, the wife of Thomas Gibbon, Richard Spencer are entitled to 172 acres jointly.
Nathaniel Mason, son of Littleberry, entitled to 172 acres.

Albert G. Neves, one of the heirs of Col. David Mason an officer in the Revolutionary War, appointed James Johnson, Attorney, 11 June 1851. Acknowledged before Saml Drewy, Justice of the Peace of Southampton County, Virginia.

Martha Mason and L. W. Mason appointed the same atty, acknowledged before James W. Rodgers, Justice of the Peace of Sussex County, Virginia.
Note: The heirs of William Mason were: William Mason, Louisa Griggs and Mary Ann Mason.
The Heirs of Henry Mason were Sarah, Robert N. and L. W. Mason.
Eliza Johnson was formerly Eliza Mason.
William A. Mason, one of the heirs of Col. David Mason appointed James Johnson his atty; 17May 1851.

Acknowledged before William A. Moss, Justice of the Peace of Greenville County, Virginia Certified by Jose. Turner, Clerk.
Warrant #9298 for Mary Ann Neves, one of the heirs of Col. David Mason.
Warrant #9299 for Eliza T. Johnson formerly Eliza T. Mason, one of the heirs of Col. David Mason in the Revolutionary War.
Warrant #9300 for Sarah Mason, Robert H. and L. W. Mason, heirs at Law of David Mason.

Abstract of the Will of Littleberry Mason.
At a Court held for the County of Southampton, Virginia 19 Nov. 1832, a paper purporting to be the Last Will and Testament of Littleberry Mason, bearing the date 16 July 1832 was produced for probate and it appearing to the court the lines 4-11, 24, 25, 32 and 33, in the first page of the Will have been erased. Edward Butts, Thomas I. Harper and James Roschell were sworn (there being no subscribing witness to the Will) and these severally deposed that they are well acquainted with the handwriting of said Littleberry Mason and verily believe the body of the said writing as well as the signature thereto is the proper writing of Littleberry Mason.

Note: the names erased or rather crossed off with pen I leave as they were originally but I enclose them in parenthesis.

(To John M. Gurly if alive when I die, $5,000.00 dollars.)
(I give to Littleberry Mason, son of Nathaniel Mason, $1,000.00 dollars.)
To Stephen M. Jackson, $2,000.00 dollars.
(To George Robinson, son of Peggy, daughter of Liddie, $5,000.00.)
To Robert Goodwin if alive, to Rebecca Allen, Daughter of Amy Allen, five hundred dollars.
Balance of my estate to my son Richard Mason if he arrives at the age of 25.
If he dies before I give to John M. Gurly $5,000.00, (to Thomas Burgess $5,000.00, to Littleberry Mason, son of Nathaniel Mason $5,000.00.)
I give to my sister Frances Bass's children $1,000.00 dollars each except to Thomas Bass, her son, only one cent.
To My sister Mary Jackson's children, Mary, Davy, Richard, Judith, Hartwell and Temperance, $1,000.00 each.
To the lawful children of Frederick Long, $5,000.00 dollars to be equally divided.
(to the children of John Pellim and Eliza, his wife; the first two $1,000.00 dollars each.)
To Rebecca Williamson and Davy Williamson, Daughter and son of Richard, $1,000.00 dollars each.
To John G. Mason $5,000.00 for settling my estate.
To Robert Goodwin $2,000.00.
The balance, if any, to John M. Gurly and John G. Mason to be equally divided. I appoint John G. Mason and John M. Gurly my Extrs. and to act as guardian of my son Richard until he arrives at the age of 21. Signed and Sealed; 16 July 1826.

16 July 1826.
Received of the Register, Warrants 9193-9201 inclusive Issued 7 Mar 1849 to my children as devisees of Richard Mason who was devisee of Littleberry Mason, one of the heirs of Nathaniel Mason, dec'd signed J. G. Mason.

Washington D. C. Feb 27 1849:
to Stafford H. Parker, esq. My children are entitled to the same part of land bounty of Col David Mason and Capt. Nathaniel Mason, for their Revolutionary services. I send you copies of the wills of Littleberry and Richard Mason. Littleberry was brother to Nathaniel, and Richard was his only son. His wife died one year since without children; therefore his whole estate belongs to my children.  they are ten in number:
Lewis C. Mason, John G. Mason, Elizabeth H. Mason, Frances A. Mason, Mary Ann Mason, Sarah O. Mason, Emily Mason, Susan H.  Mason, St. George Mason and Simeon Mason.

Know all men by these presents that I, Ann P. Mason one of the heirs of Col. David Mason, an officer in the Rev. War appoint James Johnson as my atty. 18 June 1851.

Appeared before James Evans, J. of P. Richmond, Virginia---Ann P. Mason and acknowledge the foregoing power of att. 19 June 1851.

Martha E. Mason one of the heirs of Col David Mason appointed the same atty 10 June 1851. Acknowledged before Benjamin E. Pope, J. of P. Southampton Co. Virginia June 10 1851 Attest Littleton R. Edwards, Clerk.

Greensville Co. Virginia John A. Pearson, being duly sworn made oath that he was well acquainted with the late Littleton Mason, dec'd. of the county of Northampton, North Carolina. and formerly of the county of Greenville, Virginia, that he was and is well acquainted with the family of the said Mason; that David W. Mason, Frances J. Harrison (formerly Mason), Martha Mason are lawful children of Littleton Mason and that there were four other children of Littleton Mason, who removed many years since to the Western country, and whether they are living or dead, or whether or not they left children, the deponent knoweth not. Sworn to before Orris A. Browne J. Of  P.
Certified as to Orris Browne and John A. Person, Joseph Turner, Clerk of Greenville, Virginia Court 14 June 1851.

Frances J. Harrison one of the heirs of Col. David Mason appointed James Johnson as her atty. 14 May 1851. Acknowledged before William A. Moss, J. of P. Greenville Co. 12 May 1851

Attest. Jose. Turner, Clerk.
David W. Mason one of the heirs of Col. David Mason appointed the same atty. ackn. before William A. Jones, J. of P., Southampton Co., Virginia, June 9 1851, attest, Littleton R. Edwards, Clerk of Southampton Co. court 16 June 1851 to David W. Mason, Ann P., Martha E. Mason and Frances J. Harrison children of Littleton Mason who was son and heir of Col David Mason.

Both David Mason and Mary Epps were 18 years old when they were Married in Sussex County in 1751. A year later, just before Christmas on the 23 Dec. 1752, David would sell his first piece of land to Wm. Gee. It was a parcel of 243 acres that was patented to him on 15 Sept. 1752.
Mary Epps, the daughter of Thomas Epps and his wife Elizabeth Poythress, married into this Mason Family a fairly wealthy woman. She had considerable land holdings of near 900 acres herself that was her dower. Later, in 1765 she and David would sell this parcel and complete the sale in 1769 as noted above in the notes.
In 1753, Mary would give birth to her and David’s first child who they named Littleberry. He was born in Sussex County in March of that year.
1755 brought the birth of their second child. Thomas Mason was born in March of that year. Also this is the year of Capt. John Mason’s death. His death is reported in the Surrey County Va. Register of Albemarle Parish on Sept. 5, 1755. His wife, Elizabeth Macon, the daughter of Gideon Macon and Martha Woodward, was born in Williamsburg, New Kent, Virginia. Her death is also recorded in the Surry County Register on 21 August 1763.

David Mason's Political and Military Life

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