Early Underwoods

Alexander Spotswood (1676 1740) was the Lieutenant Governor of
colonial Virginia from 1710 to 1722, when he was removed. He
tried to accomplish three things while he was in this office. (1)
(regulate the fur trade with the Indians (2) encourage the
(production and export of high quality tobacco (3).encourage
settlements along the colony’s western frontier to serve as a
buffer to the older settlements against Indian raids. He
acquired over 85,000 acres of land through grants in Spotsylvania
County and in Orange County Virginia. Spotsylvania County was
established in 1720 and Orange County was established in 1734 out
of lands which were previously a part of Spotsylvania County.

From Orange County Virginia Deed Book 5, 6, 7, and 8 (1741-
1743) pages 149-153 abstracted by _________ is recorded:

April 7, 1740 Alexander Spotswood Esq. to
John Underwood lease of 200 acres in St.
Marks Parish on south side of River Rap-
pidanne part of a 40.000 acres called the
Spotslyvania Tract.;
For lived of John Underwood and Sarah
Underwood his wife. Yearly rent 1000
pounds of tobacco to be delivered in one
hogshead at some convenient landing on
Rappahannock River in Spotsylvania County
commence 25, December 1740.

There were other Underwoods recorded as being in Orange
County about this time, but John was the only Christian name used
for the following generations of the family subject. For
instance a David Underwood and wife Katherine was given the
same type of lease as John and Sarah Underwood on the same date.
Nathan (T) Underwood was a witness in a case titled Foy vs Smith,
November 5 1734. (Deed Book 1 & 2). Further, Christophyer
Underwood is mentioned in Orange County Book 2 dated March 26,

From Underwood Families of America, page 563 are names of
Underwoods in Orange County Virginia in 1782: Joshua Mar-
garet and Reuben. Also a Joseph Underwood born ca 1745 in
Yorkshire, England, settled in Orange County, Virginia, then
moved to Culpepper County, Virginia, and then later to Elbert
County, Georgia.
There is evidence that John Underwood (1A) migrated from Orange
County, Virginia, to western Surry County, North Carolina. It is
known that he married a Margaret Jackman of Fauquier County,
Virginia, which is near by Orange County. Also the families of
Kirbys and Franklins and possibly others were from Orange County
and settled in Surry County in the Fisher and Mitchell Rivers
section of Surry.
The biographer of Jesse Franklin (1760 1823) states that young
Franklin and others came in 1770 to western Surry County North
Carolina and built accommodations for their families and
returned to Orange County, Virginia to guide the families to the
new home site. He states further that Jesse Franklin married a
Miss Meeky Perkins. Some genealogists claim that he married
Nancy Underwood daughter of John Underwood (1A) which could have
been his first marriage. Young Franklin was a volunteer in the
Continental Service under George Washington and held a lieu-
tenant’s commission at the age of 17. It is believed that
William Underwood, the older son of John Underwood (1A), was with
Franklin when he came to western Surry County to prepare for the
families’ settlement. It is also known that William Underwood
(2B) married Sussannah Kirby in Surry County but she as born
in Virginia. Another brother, John Underwood, (2F) married a

The land grants to John Underwood in Surry County dated 1778
1779 and 1780 had boundary lines adjoining Franklins and Kirbys
and Wootens, which is evidence that these families migrated
together in what some writers called a cluster.

It is this writer’s opinion that John Underwood (1A) was the son
of John and Sarah Underwood who leased land from Alexander
Spotswood in Virginia in 1740.

A letter from J. F. Graves, Esq., a young lawyer of Mount Airy,
North Carolina and a grandson of Governor Jesse Franklin
written to Rev. Eli Washington Caruthers contains:

The principal Whig families in the western
and north-western part of Surry County were
the Franklins, Cunninghams, McCraws, Toli-
aferos, Thompsons, Underwoods, and Williams.
Much of the greater part of the population
was at that time of the Tory party but
these families were Whigs.
Bernard and Mary Franklin the parents of
Jesse were residing in Orange County
Virginia at the commencement of the Rev-
olutionary War…..1

Jesse Franklin’s mother was a sister to Colonel Steve Cleveland
under whom he served as a lieutenant before he came to North

1 Revolutionary War Incidents or “Old North State” by Rev. Eli
Washington Caruthers, 1856, pages 198-199

Additional direction signs were provided in a letter from Miss
Delphine Miller of Dallas, Texas, dated July 5, 1975, which
pointed to the origins of the Underwoods on their way to Roaring
Gap, North Carolina in 1790. This letter includes quotes from a
far older letter written on June 24, 1824, by John F. Hammett of
Pleasant Grove, Greenville District, South Carolina, to his
brother, George Hammett, in Nova Scotia. In this letter John
made some comments concerning the family of John Underwood.
John F. Hammett wrote:

“Mother’s Uncle John (Underwood) married a woman by the name of
Jackman whose daughter I married. The most of their children
live in Tennessee. There is one at Fisher Gap 30 miles from
where we live on the Yadkin, North Carolina. Uncle George
(Underwood) married my wife’s sister who lives here.”

Miss Miller continued:

“George Hammett (b. 1759) and John Ferguson Hammett (b. 1761 in
Culpepper County, Virginia) were the oldest sons of John and
Sarah Underwood Hammett who left Culpepper County, Virginia,
after 1763 and by 1782 were living in Spartenburg County, South

George Hammett joined the British Army at the age of fifteen in
South Carolina and fought for the British in most of the im-
portant battles of the Revolution in South Carolina. As happened
in the case of many of those similarly situated loyal subjects
he was evacuated to Nova Scotia. He settled there married and
reared a large family. Some forty years later he was finally
able to make contact with his family in South Carolina and in the
above letter, John is bringing his bother up to date on the
relatives he left behind.

John F. Hammett and wife, Emilia “Milly” Underwood and George
Underwood and his wife, Sally, were among the first settlers of
Greenville District after that part of South Carolina was opened
for settlement after 1784. Presumably George Underwood was the
brother of Sarah Underwood who married John Hammett Sr. (the
parents of John F.)

“The children of John F. and Emilia “Milly” Underwood Hammett
were Joel, Jesse, Jonathan, Sarah, Elizabeth, Nancy, Ellender,
and Martha.”

“In Fauquier County, Virginia, the will of Thomas Jackman (proved
in 1782) names a daughter Margaret Underwood. She was the wife of
John Underwood above.”

With the above in mind the notes on Orange Count, Virginia, was
searched and the following was found in Deed Book 1-8 in
abstracts copied from books found in the McClung Collection in the Knox-
ville Knox County Library:

Nov. 5, 1734 Nathan (T) Underwood was a witness in a case Foy vs
Smith (Deed Book 1 and 2).

In Deed Book 3 and 4 page 54 the record shows Daniel Underwood was
a witness on 23 Oct. 1740. Daniel Underwood and wife Katherine
leased land from Alexander Spotswood, Esq. on 7 April, 1740.

Orange County, Virginia Deed Book 5, 6, 7, and 8 (1741 1743)
shows that Alexander Spotswood, Esq. leased to John Underwood 200
acres in St. Mark’s Parish on the south side of River Rappidanne
part of 40,000 acres called the Spotsylvania Tract.

For lives of John Underwood and Sarah Underwood, his wife, yearly
rent, 1,000 pounds of tobacco, to be delivered in one hogshead at
some convenient landing on Rappahannock River in Spotsylvania
County to commence 25 December, 1740

In the same book Daniel Underwood, yeoman, shue (sic) maker,
leased and released. This record appears at page 52. He was
also a witness on the 26th of August, 1742 according to the
record at page 76.

Transcribed from
The Underwoods
From Roaring Gap (NC)
to Dumplin Valley (TN)
and Onward

by Burl Underwood

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