I am researching the Thornton family of Orange County, Virginia. I am trying to make connections for an Apphia Thornton, born circa 1723, and who married a John Foushee and named a son Thornton Foushee.
I have come across what I consider reliable evidence that a John Foushee (imagine the various spellings possible) was born in or somewhat before 1712 to John and Elizabeth (Spoe) Foushee of Lunenburg Parish of Richmond County, Virginia (on the Rappahannock River). By 1740 or so, this John Foushee had married an Apphia Thornton, either in the area of Richmond County (there were several Thornton families there) OR perhaps in Orange County, Virginia (where several families from Richmond County, including Foushee, Thornton, Petty and others) migrated (perhaps even before 1735, when Orange was formed from Spotsylvania County). John and Apphia (Thornton) Foushee had many children, including a son named Thornton Foushee and a daughter (perhaps the eldest of their daughters) named Ann (nickname “Nancy”).
I am working on a theory that this Apphia Thornton was a daughter of the James and Ann (maiden name unknown or “MNU”) Thornton of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia, who migrated to Orange County before 1740. I believe that name clues can lead to a possible identification of Ann (MNU) Thornton.
The evidence is what I call the "Apphia Phenomenon". The female name Apphia appears in the New Testament of the Bible. See the Book of Philemon, chapter 1, verse 2. Due to simpler education and more relaxed spelling conventions of the 17th and 18th centuries, this name can appear in records as Affia, Apphir and other variant spellings (some of which were the choice of the writer, but some of which are likely transcription errors, based on inability to decipher the less-than-clear handwritten script from a quill pen).
Drawing from the Bible for personal names is/was not an unusual practice, but the name Apphia is relatively rare. I doubt if a lot of different parents went skimming through the Bible and, independently of each other, all happened upon the name “Apphia”. This would be too great of a coincidence. Instead, I think that these parents must have been exposed to the name (that is, they knew someone who had the name or at least heard talk of a person with the name). Of course, names can also be used as clues for family connections, and I believe I have found a connected chain of related women named Apphia. This "Apphia Phenomenon" seems to have been geographically limited to the counties on the lower Rappahannock River, in Tidewater Virginia.
I have done a search of all of the family trees submitted to World Connect (www.rootsweb.com) for women with this name in Virginia from about 1650 to 1720, and I have found that several of the women were related, through generations of a single family.
First was Apphia Hughes, born in the British Isles (or possibly Virginia) in the 1600s. She married Richard Bushrod (who was a “captain” at some point in time, probably in the colonial Virginia militia).
Apphia (Hughes) Bushrod had a son, John Bushrod, who married Hannah Keene and named one of his daughters after his mother (the baby girl’s paternal grandmother), thus an Apphia Bushrod. This Apphia married William Fauntleroy and had a daughter that she named for herself, thus Apphia Fauntleroy.
Apphia (Hughes) Bushrod also had a daughter, Elizabeth Bushrod, who married Richard Doggett (son of the Reverend Benjamin Doggett) and named one of her daughters after her mother (the baby girl’s maternal grandmother), thus an Apphia Doggett.
Now Richard and Elizabeth (Bushrod) Doggett also had a daughter named Ann (or Anne), born somewhere between about 1693 and 1700, probably in Lancaster County, Virginia (also on the Rappahannock River, adjacent to Richmond County). On June 20, 1721, Richard Doggett wrote his Last Will, which was recorded with the Lancaster County court on November 8, 1721. In his Will, Richard expressly mentioned his wife Elizabeth, his sons Bushrod and George, his daughter Ann and “other” children. Thus, Ann was still alive in 1721 and possibly still single. I have searched the Latter Day Saints website (www.familysearch.org) and no submitter has reported a spouse for this Ann Doggett. I have also looked at the approximately 17 family trees submitted to World Connect that include this Ann Doggett. Sixteen of them have no spouse for this Ann Doggett (and one mistakenly confuses this Ann with her first cousin, another Ann Doggett, who married George Reeves). Thus, it appears that this Ann Doggett’s spouse (if any) has not yet been identified. While it is possible that she died soon after 1721, while still single, or remained single into later life, the most likely scenario is that she married while in her 20s.
My THEORY is that Ann Doggett, born about 1700, married about 1722 James Thornton of neighboring Richmond County, VA. In approximately 1724, James and Ann had a daughter, who they named Apphia Thornton (possibly after Ann’s sister, Apphia (Doggett) Boatman, or possibly after Ann’s maternal grandmother, Apphia (Hughes) Bushrod).
Does anyone have any other explanation for the name of Apphia (Thornton) Foushee? Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in this Thornton family of Richmond and Orange Counties in Virginia.