| || Notes for John Wooldridge, Jr.:|
John Wooldridge (1705-1783), the eldest son of John Wooldridge, Sr., identified as "heir at Law" on his father's death, married about 1731 a daughter of James and Mary Ward Branch, probably Elizabeth Branch since a granddaugther was named Elizabeth Branch Wooldridge at a time before middle names were common.His first wife died by 1750, and John married another Branch connection, perhaps the Margaret named in his will, though Margaret may be a third wife by whom he had no children.The reason for identifying the second wife as a Branch or Branch connection is her naming a daughter Verlinche: that was a uniquely Branch name, probably a Virginia variation of "Valentia" going back to the Valentia Sparke who married Lionel Branch by 1602.
John lived a long but apparently uneventful life on his farm, and left few records except in connection with his land, seven farm-size tracts totaling 1983 acres.These impressive holdings set John above many of his neighbors economically.His taxable slaves numbered 1 in 1736, 2 in 1756, (Moll and Lucy), 6 in 1777, (Robin, Mingo, Nan, Moll, Luce, Jerey), and 6 in 1783.The apparent continuity of Moll's and Lucy's service, and John's efforts to keep another slave, Cesar, in his family, suggest a stable household.John's will refers to a total of 20 slaves owned at one time or another, a moderately large number for the eighteenth century, when slaves were less numerous.
In brief, John Wooldridge, Jr. acquired his 400 acre "plantation" through his father about the time he came of age around 1725 and lived in the immediate vicinity all his life, although he was licensed to keep ordinary (operate a tavern) in Goochland in 1748, "at his dwelling house in this county," with Henry Wood security.In 1750 he assisted in a survey of the road from Tomahawk Bridge to the County Line.Between 1750 and 1780 as his children married and set up on their own, he partitioned off or acquired and allocated a moderate farm to each of his sons except Robert.Some of them, (John, Edmund, Thomas) were still living on their portions in 1780 when John wrote his will, but others (Richard, William), preferring money, seem to have had their parcels sold for them by their father, who apparently sometimes had title even after relinquishing the land.This was his sons' patrimony:John's will merely confirmed his earlier gifts.The new tracts were scattered through what became the southside Piedmont counties of Powhatan, Cumberland, Buckingham, Prince Edward and Campbell.
Along with land, most sons seem, from John's will, to have received a slave.Daughters also received a slave, perhaps at the time of their marriage, as John's will speaks of them as already in the daughter's possession.One such gift may had led to a row.Mary Wooldridge married John Martin and received "a Negro man named Ceser" whom John Martin gave to his brother in 1755.Perhaps displeased, John Wooldridge bought Cesar back, and still owned him in 1780, when he again gave the man to Mary Martin's daughter Elizabeth Viers.On January 27, 1775, John deeded over three Negro children, Peter, Rose and Cesar (perhaps a son or nephew of the elder Cesar) to his son-in-law Daniel Elam.
Although 70 years old at the coming of the Revolution, John still took enough interest in affairs to sign a petition dated August 20, 1775, to the Third Virginia Convention.It prayed that Chesterfield's Committee of Association be dissolved and reelected, because it had been established without the petitioners' knowing what it was to do.However, "we now conceiving that the Committee are to do business of much Greater Importance, thant we could possibly then conceive," it seemed best to start over that "we may have no divisions amongst us, but all unite and be as one man in this Critical Time in the great and Common Cause."Events had moved so fast that what at first seemed to be one more protest committee by late summer 1775 was taking on the status of a governmental body, and Wooldridge and his neighbors wanted a say in its composition.The Revolution did not come full scale to Virginia for several more years, but when it did, Wooldridge furnished 300 pounds of beef for American troops, to John Robertson, "Commander."
In the last weeks of his life, John deeded one Negro, Bowser, to his son-in-law, William Walthall, and two Negroes, Sue (or Luce) and Juror, to his daughter Hannah Wooldridge.He died between May 20 (date of deed to Hannah) and July 4, 1783 (when his will was probated), rich in years, children (13 lived to maturity) and acres.His son Edward (i.e. Edmund) Wooldridge and son-in-law, Richard Elam, were his executors, and his estate included 6 Negroes, 8 horses, 14 cattle, 14 hogs, 10 sheep, 1 large Bible, a hymnbook, 3 small books, and assorted other household items.
John Wooldridge, Jr., died at the close of the colonial era, and it was the end of an era for his branch of the family in Virginia as well.His descendants who remained in the state became either small farmers, or, after another two generations, farm laborers.Those who emigrated seemed to do better than those who stayed in Virginia, where opportunity was narrowing.His children and grandchildren who remained in Virginia would have had good reason to feel, with many of their comtemporaries, that times were hard and the old days, the eighteenth century, had been better.