Col Peter and Winifred (Griffin) Presley
I can’t find much information about Col. Peter Presley. We know he was the executor of his father’s will in 1684 as a minor. At the time Colonial law would allow a male minor to be an executor at age 14 as long as there was another (“under supervision”). (Note: Another source said 17.) So it is calculated that he was born by at least 1670.
Peter married Winifred Griffin, daughter of Colonel Leroy Griffin.
The only known child was Winifred Presley who married Anthony Thornton.
Peter Presley was a Burgess 1684, 1711, 1715, 1718, and 1719. To vote in the House of Burgess you needed to be a landowner and 17 years old at the minimum, so that would put Peter being born before 1667.
Peter had indentured servants (see Virginia Gazette article where he had run away servants. He doesn’t call them slaves or Negroes and they have last names, something not normally seen in articles of runaway slaves.). How many I never could find.
A vestryman (A vestryman is a member of his local church's vestry, or leading body. He is not a member of the clergy.) in 1716 in St. Stephen’s Parish in Northumberland County.
We know that in 1750, he was murdered by two of his indentured servants. (Details below) It appears there was a graveyard upon the property, so it is most likely he would have been buried there. Since there was only the one daughter, his will left the “large estates of the Presley family, under the will of his grandfather, Col. Peter Presley of Northumberland House” was left to Presley Thornton, his grandson.
Note: In reseaching this Peter Presley, I found numerous genealogy pages suggesting that Col. Peter Presley was married twice (Elizabeth Thompson daughter of Richard and Ursula (Bysshe) Thompson and Winifred Griffin). This Peter and Elizabeth Presley had at least two daughters. Ursula (who married a Ransdale) and Mary (who married a Cox). Also perhaps Millie Presley. I do not believe this is the same Peter Presley. Why?
1. Number references talk of this Peter Presley being the last male in this Presley line.
2. In his will he gave his entire estate do Presley Thornton (whose mother was Winifred Presley Thornton) his grandson.
3. Virginia Colonial Abstracts states "Captain Peter Presly. On motion of Danl McCarty Esq in behalf
of Mr. Wharton Ransdale and Charnock Cox, Col. Peter Presley came into Court and made oath that he wrote Capt. Peter Presley’s will and that the dec’d intended to give his negroes not
bequeathed to his two sisters Ursula Ransdale and Mary Cox. 21
Jan 1719/1720 6.353 Presly, Peter Junr. Deceased. Will
presented by Ursula Ransdell and Mary Cochs his exors and
proved by oaths of witnesses: Rd Haynie Jr, Jno Bridgman and
Jas Magoon 19 Nov 1718 6.296" This indicates to me that two Peter Presleys' Captain Peter Presley who was the father of Ursula and Mary. Col. Peter Presley the father of Winifred.
The Bulletin of the Northumberland County Historical Society', "Northumberland House - Ancient Seat of the Preslys and Thorntons," Rev. George W. Beale, D. D. states:
"Colonel Peter Presly's end came suddenly in the summer of 1750, when he was brutally murdered by one of his slaves. The harrowing story of the popular fury visited upon the murderer, who was said to have been hung and quartered and exposed to view by the roadside, has lingered to this day in the traditions of the community, but is without foundation in fact, the murderer William McGuire and his accomplice James Simmons having been duly tried by the General Court in Williamsburg and condemned, and were executed January 18, 1751."
"Colonel Presly, in his will, dated August 12, 1740, bequeathed his estate to ... grandson, Hon. Presly Thornton It is reported that the instant Peter left no male descendants.
Diary of John Blair: William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Vol. 4, pp. 93-163.
Colonel Presley thus mentioned was Colonel Peter Presley, of "Northumberland House," who was murdered by his own servants. He was the last of his name in Northumberland. His daughter and heiress, Winifred, married Anthony Thornton, of Stafford county, and was mother of Hon. Presley Thornton, of the colonial Council, who died December 8, 1769.
Early Settlers of Alabama, Part 1 – Saunders states: (in footnotes about Edward Saunders) Mr. Peter Presley, Justice, 300 acres (formerly belonging to Geo. Colclougb.), patented 1664 and 500 acres on Chickascone river, 1670 – (Land Grants, and Virginia Historical Magazine, Vol 1, 156).
William and Peter Presley (1666) patented 2700 acres in Northumberland county (Land Grants). They were civil officers after 1680 for Northumberland county with Mr. Wm. Downing, John Mottrom and Capt. Thos. Mathews, the “T.M.” of history (Virginia Historical Magazine, Vol 1, 251.
Col. Peter Presley, of “Northumberland House” (will, p. 1750), seems not to have been old enough for the Justice of 1683, and must have been his son, and grandson, of William Presley of the patent of 1649 (which is the second patent in the Northumberland Book at Land Office in Richmon
d, Va.,) He married Winifred, daughter of Col. Leroy Griffin (will, 1701), and his wife Winifred Corbin. Their only daughter and heiress, Winifred, married Anthony Thornton, and was the mother of Col. Presley Thornton (born 1710) of Northumberland House, Councillor 1760. John Edwards patented Northumberland House in 1652, and it passed from him to the Presleys – (DeBow’s Review, XXVI, 128). William and the first Peter Presley, doubles had other descendants.
The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 5 : William Presley represented Westmoreland in the House of Burgesses from 1661 to 1674. In 1684 Peter Presley was a Burgess and in 1711, 1715, 1718, 1719 Col. Peter Presley. It was from the Presleys that the Thorntons of Westmoreland got their property. Col. Peter Presley of “Northumberland House,” married Winifred Griffin. He died 1750. His only daughter and heiress married Anthony Thornton, and was mother of Col. Presley Thornton, of “Northumberland House,” and member of Council, 1760-69.
Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, Volume 2 – William Meade:
Page 468: Vestrymen Of St. Stephen’s Parish (Upper and Lower) Northumberland County 1716 Col. Peter Presley
Page 143-144: On the Potomac, and within sight of the bay, are the remains of an old graveyard, belonging to what has always gone by the name of the “Northumberland House.” The place was originally settled and a house built on it by a Mr. Presley, one of the earliest settlers, who was murdered in it by his own servants. It was afterward owned by Mr. Presley Thornton, who lies buried there. The following extract from the letter of a friend is worthy of insertion: - “I have also, according to promise, visited the graveyard of old Northumberland House, and found the remains of but one tombstone. This although erected of the heaviest materials, has been so much mutilated by lightning and the waste of time, that nothing more can be deciphered than that it was erected to the memory of Presley Thornton, who was elected in early life to the House of Burgesses from the county of Northumberland, which office he held until 1760, when he was appointed one of the Council of State for this Colony; and that he filled both offices with great credit to himself and to the public emolument. He departed this life on the 8th of December, 1769, in the forty-eighth year of his age, having enjoyed all the chief honours of his country.”
Virginia Gazette – January 24, 1751 – see highlighted area on following pages.
Peter Presley in the Virginia Gazette