As many of us know there is a lot of misinformation and previously unknown accounts regarding the life of William Longmire b. 1704 London. In a series of posts I will make available my personal findings, all of which I have verified on my own, or in conjunction with other researchers. Credit will be given where due and/or remarked upon depending on the item being addressed.
It is fairly certain that our William was the same baptized in London at St Andrews Holborn Feb 4, 1704/5 and that his parents were named George and Anne Longmire, both probably of Leather Lane. As of this date NO other verifiable evidence has been found as to the parents of George or Anne nor is Anne's last name known.
It is very likely that the George Longmire who died in London in 1708 was William's father and that the Anne Longmire who died in 1718 in London, though at a different address, was William's mother. It is likely that William's older sister, Anne, died at a young age and that his brother, George, may or may NOT be the same who died ca 1737 in London. In either case William remarked in a letter written in Oct 1725 from Newgate Prison's Condmen'd Hold that he had no friends or relatives to stir about thus confirming that his parents were deceased. This may also account for William's ability to write as it is likely that he was placed in a local parish where at that time orphans and the like were sometimes taught various schooling and trades.
As can be verified by the Olde Bailey Transcripts in London, William's sentence of death was reprieved, perhaps due to the efforts of the woman, Mrs Cottum, who he addressed his letter to, and he was then taken aboard the Rappahannock Merchant on Nov 22, 1725 and received by Capt Charles Whale. There, in the ships "goal", he likely rode out the winter on the Thames River, though he may have been harbored on the docks until the Rappahannock finally embarked towards the colonies some time in the early spring as the ship did not arrive in Virginia until April 1726.
As shown by a Landing Certificate signed by Adam Cockeburn, Esq - Keeper of the Customs at Queenstown, Lancaster Co, Va William arrived to the colonies April 25, 1726. Queenstown was still a thriving port city at that time, located at the southern most area of Lancaster County adjacent to Millenbeck - a plantation owned by the Ball family and within several miles of Robert "King" Carter's plantation. It is very likely that one of these concerns or another merchant located nearby purchased William straight off the ship he arrived in. Because he knew how to write as well as has been demonstrated by the Newgate letter it is not likely that he was put to work in the fields but rather assigned some type of clerical duties for one of the merchants located nearby. It is also possible that he was given an overseer position at a nearby plantation where he would invariably keep records but this possibility is only that given his age at the time. It is worth noting however that in the records for Robert Carter, just previous to his death in 1732, are several references to "Will a man" working on one or two plantations as a foreman. Because William technically was a "convict slave" he can easily be considered a suspect in trying to determine the identity of "Will".
Other than William's arrival date in Queenstown in April 1726 nothing has been found by this researcher, nor by others who I have corresponded with over the years, to indicate exactly where William passed his time until later being found in King George County in the 1730's.
As has been documented by Roger Barnes, myself, and others, William was called to court in King George County, Va to serve as "evidence" in a case (Elkins vs Adie) whereby said court on July 2, 1737 ordered Joseph Ellkins (sp) to pay William for 5 days attendance. Much can be gleaned from this court appearance. First, it is likely that for William to have material evidence in the case he would have been present for some time in that same county prior to the court date. Second, and more importantly, it provides a solid clue as to when William was at least able to be considered "free" from his 14 year convict status - at least 2-3 years before his mandated sentence would have expired in 1739/40.
Whereas proof of William having attained "freedom" from his sentence can be inferred from the above court case of 1737 this researcher wishes to point out that William had been in King George County as early as 1734 and was possibly "free" from his mandated sentence at that time. Evidence of this can be found by examining the estate inventory of Col Nicholas Smith where under year dated 1734 is the handwriting of William Longmire. Col Smith was a merchant and large landowner who was also the first Clerk of the Court for King George County. When he died Col Thomas Turner became guardian of his daughter and administrator of his estate. Thomas Turner was then Clerk of the Court and this so far confirms that William was ostensibly working for Col Turner by 1734 and partially explains how he was able to get in league with him in so many other respects. This I will go into more detail in the next post.