Monday, February 13, 2012

Fort Boykin Virginia

My Father at Fort Boykin
While Chasing the Family Ghosts in Virginia, my father and I had the opportunity to visit Fort Boykin, located near Smithfield, Virginia.  Fort Boykin was established around 1623 in order to protect the entrance of the James River from raiding Spaniards.  Fort Boykin provided early warning and protection for the early colonists who had settled along the James River,.  We found the Fort Boykin to be very well preserved and maintained … it was easy to make out the layout of the Fort which was a wooden and dirt structure.  Fort Boykin fronts the James River on the highest point of land in the area, at a point where the navigable channel is close to the shoreline, which would have forced all vessels traveling the river within firing range.   The fort is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Virginia Landmarks Register, Virginia Civil War Trails, Captain John Smith’s Trail and the Star-Spangled Banner Geotrail. Fort Boykin was named after Francis Marshall Boykin who was a Virginia state senator, general in the state militia and owner of the property on which the fort was built.  The fort is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.  A link to the parks website:

The Fort's Cistern
We chose to visit this historic site due to the fact that it was active when the first Askew colonists came to the area.  While standing at Fort Boykin … it is easy to imagine the passenger and supply ships that passed by on their way to these Virginia colonist settlements.  Fort Boykin was absolutely essential to their survival and existence. 
The Entrance to the Fort ... it goes over the original ramparts

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My British Isle Heritage

Several of my earlier posts referenced my heritage from the British Isles …   
I thought I would write about some of my possible ancestors in England ….
The earliest geographic location of the Askew family is Northern England, the name appears in both Cumberland and Lancanshire County England.   The earliest Askew’s can be dated back through property records.  Thurston de Bosco received from the Lord of Kirksanton, Aikskeugh (Askew) or Oakwood in 1202-3. It is certain that William, son of Guy Boyville granted lands in Kirksanton and Silecroft, near the two standing stones, to John, son of John of Aykescowgh (Askew). Sir Robert Mulcaster and Joan his wife and Margaret de Bampton granted 1403 to Richard de Ayscough their lands in Lacra and Scales. These estates descended to Matthew Ayscough* (Askew) who gave them to his son Richard in 1478. They descended to Hugh Askew (1558-1625) who married Elizabeth (1560-1649).   
Sir William Askew, possibly the son of Richard Askew, was knighted by Henry the VIII in 1513 at the age of 24 of Stallingsborpugh, Lincolnshire, England.  Sir William Askew was a commissioner in Lincolnshire county during the Louth Rising against King Henry VIII .  Sir William Askew is the father of Anne Askew, discussed in a previous Blog article. 
Sir Hugh Askew is believed to be the son of Sir William Askew and brother to Anne Askew.  Sir Hugh Askew was granted two estates by Henry the VIII, Marsh Grange and Seaton Priory in the year 1542. Marsh Grange was granted to the Askew Family or (Ascough, Asketh, or Askey) by Henry the VIII in the year 1542.  In 1547 he was created knight-banneret at Musselburgh, in Scotland, after the battle of Pinkey.  A brass plate on the wall of a church in Bootle, England bears the effigy of Sir Hugh Askew, who, as the inscription says, was knighted at the battle of Musselburgh, in 1547, and died in 1562. He married into a noble family, his wife being a cousin to Queen Jane Seymour, mother of Edward the Sixth.  He died leaving no children.    His estates in Lancashire then became the property of his nephew, William Askew (possible son to Anne Askew the martyr) and a niece named Bridget Askew.  Marsh Grange fell to William Askew and Seaton Priory to Bridgett Askew who later married a Pennington. 
According to the Lancashire County, Dalton in Furness - Parish Register, 1565-1620, John Askew married  Margaret Pyper on 08 Feb 1612.  John was possible son of William Askew (Son of Anne the martyr) and was buried in Lancashire County, Dalton in Furness on 25 May 1691.
One possible reason for the Askew migration from England was the English Civil War which occurred in England in the mid-17th century, between the royalist and parliamentarians.  The areas of Royalist support tended to be the North, West and Wales. Royalist support would include Lancashire County and Cumberland County where the Askew family was prominent.  Parliament was supported by the richer South and East, including London.
But much more research must be conducted in order to positively identify my English Ancestors and why they decided to begin a new life in the American Colonies.  
Historic Map of Britain

Map of the Counties of Britain

Saturday, February 4, 2012

More Askews in Colonial Virginia

While in Virginia, with my Father, we stopped by the St Peter’s Church in New Kent County Virginia … the third oldest Church in Virginia.  As we looked through the Parish Register (1680-1787) we discovered several other Askews that were present in Colonial Virginia.  These entries were as follows:

Page 53
Sarah Askew departed this Life Jany. ye 16, 1709-10.
Jno Askew Departed this Life ye 25th February, 1719.
Page 54
Alexr. son of Jno Askew Dyed Decemr ye 20th, 1726.
Page 75
Anne ye Dar. of Jno & Anne Askew born Octr 29, baptizd Decr 3d, 1727.
Page 76
Eliz. ye Daur of Jno & Anne Askew born Jany. 13, 1729-30.
We also discovered that the above John Askew had received headrights in New Kent County of 900 acres on June 16, 1671 and 1900 acres on December 15, 1673. (Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, Compiled by Marion Nell Nugent)  This record places his arrival in the Virginia Colony in the early 1670’s.
A headright is a legal grant of land to settlers. Headrights are most notable for their role in the expansion of the thirteen British colonies in North America; the Virginia Company of London gave headrights to settlers and the Plymouth Company followed suit. The headright system was used in several colonies, including Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Most headrights were for 1 to 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land, and were given to anyone willing to cross the Atlantic Ocean and help populate the colonies. (Wikipedia)
A little history on St Peter’s Church, “St. Peter's Church was established in New Kent County, Virginia, on April 29, 1679. Construction began in 1701 and was complete by 1703.  One of St. Peter's vestrymen, Colonel Daniel Parke Custis, married Martha Dandridge in June 1749. She became a widow after only eight years of marriage. On January 6, 1759, the Rector of St. Peter's, Rev. David Mossom, united Martha Custis and Colonel George Washington in marriage. Debate ensues over the exact location of the marriage; some believe it occurred within the church while others believe it took place a few miles away at the White House Plantation on the Pamunkey River.  Following the American Revolution, the church was abandoned and fell into disrepair. Sometime around 1820, Presbyterians started worshiping at the church. Episcopalian services began again in 1843. Both denominations shared the church, alternating weeks, until 1865.  Being centrally located in New Kent County, the church suffered greatly during the Civil War. Union soldiers stabled their horses in the pews and carved their names in the brick exterior. On October 23, 1869 General Robert E. Lee wrote “St. Peters is the church where General Washington was married and attended in early life. It would be a shame to America if allowed to go to destruction.” His son, General William Henry Fitzhugh Lee oversaw the partial restoration in 1872. After being designated as “The First Church of the First First-Lady” by the Virginia General Assembly in 1960, restoration again began on the church with the assistance of architectural and ecclesiological experts. The renovation required making structural improvements to the church and completely gutting the interior.” (Wikipedia)
We also discovered that the St Peter’s Church registry mentions a Thomas Askew and Joseph Askew. Little else is known of these New Kent County Askews or if they are related to the Isle of Wight Askews or what has become of their decendents.   What we do know is that we have another mystery to solve and more Ghosts to Chase.

St Peter's Church, New Kent County, Virginia during our visit