A Witcher Family Genealogy
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witcher family genealogy
Our Witcher connection
John Beauchamp -b- 1500s
Those who descend from Benjamin M. Witcher (born 1861), Ben’s youngest sister Juliana, or Leonard Witcher (son of Ben’s older brother Noble Witcher), may be interested to know that they are probably descended from a celebrated forefather, a certain John Beauchamp. The Beauchamp name is of Norman/French origins and in England was pronounced "Bee-chum."
The Witcher connection to John Beauchamp is very well documented, and the lineage has been studied and approved by societies such as The Daughters of The American Revolution (DAR) and The Colonial Dames.
John Beauchamp was born and raised in England during the 1600s and was an influential member and financier within the Plymouth Virginia Company. Since this company was given its royal charter by King James 1 of England, it’s possible that around 1606 John Beauchamp was hosted by the Court of King James, perhaps even being granted audience.
The investments made by those businessmen within the Plymouth Company funded the Mayflower’s expedition to the Virginia Colony of America.
If we recall history, the Mayflower departed from Plymouth, England, in September of 1620 and brought 102 pilgrims to the shores of America, just as winter was beginning to gridlock the east coast with snow and ice. Every Thanksgiving we remember the sacrifices of early European immigrants, specifically the early pioneers of the Mayflower who first settled in the area of Plymouth, Massachusetts.
We know that John Beauchamp was an investor in the Mayflower expedition.
Around 1628, after the floundering Plymouth Company was bought out by a group of distinguished Puritan businessmen, John Beauchamp was one of four original investors invited to remain as stockholders, because (as the Puritans put it) those four men had been friendly and helpful to the Mayflower colony since its inception.
As a result of John Beauchamp’s participation in the charter, on March 23, 1630, he was one of two individuals who were granted a patent for a thirty square mile area of land located between the Penobscot and Muscongus Rivers. This tract of land is located in the modern state of Maine. In the 1700s, this land grant became famously known as the Waldo Patent.
John Beauchamp’s son Edmund was apparently baptized in 1625 in West Chiltington, Sussex, England, and some forty years later, around 1665, he immigrated to Maryland, America. Edmund married Sarah Dixon, who was born in Somerset County, Maryland, around 1650.
Publications indicate Edmund Beauchamp became the first clerk and keeper of records in Somerset County, Maryland. He held that position until his death and is renowned for his handwritten records being some of the neatest and most organized of all early American records.
On June 30th, 1668, just after Edmund's marriage to Sarah Dixon, he purchased 300 acres of land called "Contention" lying at the head of the Great Annemessex River, in Somerset County, Maryland. The plantation named Contention became the home of the Beauchamp clan for more than a century.
Edmund was a member of The Church of England, and his wife Sarah and three of their children were among the first to be baptized into their church, which was located in Somerset County.
Just before Edmund Beauchamp died, he wrote his last will and wishes. In this preserved document, Edmund left his possessions to his wife and children, and left us valuable clues by naming each of them.
Here is a transcript Edmund’s will. Please keep in mind that this is a transcript which I, as yet, have not compared against the actual document. However, I have no reason to believe it misrepresents the original.
I, Edmund Beauchamp, weaver of London, and at present writing clerk of the county court of Somerset County. To wife Sarah, the land where she now dwells during natural life or widowhood, land lying between land of son Thomas, bounds of land of son John. Also household furniture, etc. To son Thomas Beauchamp, personality. To son Edmund, part of my land called "Contention," [50 acres] beginning at the corner tree of son Thomas' land by conveyance made over to him by myself and wife, etc. To son Edmund, personality. To Patience Beauchamp, twelve pounds sterling to be paid her at age or day of marriage. Balance of estate to be equally divided between my son Thomas Beauchamp, my son Edmund Beauchamp, my daughter Alice Beauchamp, my son John Beauchamp, my son Doggett Beauchamp, my son Edward Beauchamp, and my son Robert Beauchamp. Dated 10 April, 1691
Edmund Beauchamp died on November 12, 1691, presumably at the family plantation in Somerset County, Maryland.
Edmund and Sarah’s son Edward Beauchamp was born in 1683. As a young boy he watched his father pass away. He was around nine years of age when Edmund died. Edward was named in his father’s will as a beneficiary who, upon coming of age, was to receive a portion of the estate.
Edward Beauchamp later married Naomey Fountaine. Edward died October 2, 1750, in Somerset County, Maryland. His will was written August 29, 1750. In this will, Neomey was to receive the use of the plantation, and the slaves, and the stock belonging to the same. At the decease of Naomey, the estate was to fall to his five sons, one of whom was named Fountain Beauchamp.
Edward’s son Fountain was no doubt named in his honor of his mother’s maiden name Fountaine.
Fountain Beauchamp was born in 1727, in Somerset County, Maryland. He married Rhoda Adams, who was born in Somerset County, Maryland in 1728.
Fountain, his wife Rhoda, and their son William Beauchamp were Patriots in the Revolutionary War.
The DAR ancestor number for Fountain Beauchamp is A008205. This patriot served as a private for Captain George Waters and Lieutenant William Stevens of Somerset Company, Maryland. In August of 1782, Fountain died. The war was still being fought that summer, and Fountain’s wife Rhoda was then in charge of the affairs of her husband’s estate.
Men are not the only individuals which DAR recognizes for their contributions to the Continental Army. Rhoda Beauchamp is assigned the patriot ancestor number A210610. She is honored for her role in willingly contributing to the 1783 Supply Tax in Somerset County on land she inherited from her husband. Not all states or counties used or levied supply tax to support the Continental Line, but Somerset County did.
Rhoda and Fountain Beauchamp had several children. One of them, William Beauchamp, also participated in the Revolutionary War effort.
William Beauchamp was born in 1760 in Worcester County, Maryland.
As the war with Britain raged on, as Fountain (his father) did, William Beauchamp enlisted and served as a private. In honor of his service in the Continental Army, DAR has assigned William patriot number A008208.
After the loss of his first wife Nancy Parker, William Beauchamp married a much younger Susan Williams, who was thirty-nine years his junior. Susan was born in the state of North Carolina in 1799.
William eventually migrated to the state of Georgia, apparently around 1790. He eventually settled in the Meriwether County, Georgia, region, where he died March 12, 1836.
William Beauchamp left a will in Meriwether County, in which he gives his wife Sarah and five children the property in his estate. These children are referred to as his young set of children, thus indicating a distinction between them and other children, presumably from a previous marriage to Nancy Parker. I have provided a transcript of this will, which I caution, I have not proved against the original.
I William Beachamp (sic) of the county and state aforesaid being of sound mind and disposing memory and knowing life is uncertain do make this my last will and Testament, in doing which first of all I ----- my soul to God who gave it hoping at his hands to receive eternal life through the merits of his Son Jesus Christ my Redemer.
In disposing of my estate, I give and bequeath to my Wife Sarah Beachamp (sic) the lot of land I now live on, also a negro Man by the name of Moses, a negro Woman by the name of Judy, and a negro Woman by the name of Mary, also my household and Kichen furniture, my plantation tools, also my Horse Mace & mule Colt, also my Stock of Cattle & ho?es with any other property I may have not here named, during her natural life or widowhood, And if she marries then my Will is that all my estate be equally divided amongst my young set of children which was born by my wife Sarah, to wit William, Malissa, Daniel, David & Elijah allowing my Wife an equal share with my children as named or such of them that may be living & if my Wife die then my Will is my property be divided amongst my young set of children as named above equally share and share alike & if any of my children should die before arriving at age then, my Will is that his or their portion of property be divided amongst those living of my young set of children as named in this my Will. And I do lastly constitute and appoint my Wife Sarah Beachamp (sic) my Executrix to execute this my last Will and Testament. In testimony of which I have hereto set my hand and seal this the twelth day of November in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty five.
One of these sons listed was William Beauchamp. Later records would distinguish this William as the William W. Beauchamp who married and had children with a certain Sarah E. Davis. After the death of Sarah Davis, William W. Beauchamp then married Sarah Jane Fleming.
William W. Beauchamp was born on March 8, 1824 in Meriwether County, Georgia. He died in 1906 in Haralson County, Georgia.
From the union of William W. Beauchamp and Sarah Jane Fleming were born at least six children, three of which married into the Witcher clan of Georgia.
Sarah Francis Beauchamp married Benjamin Madison Witcher, the son of Ben and Candis.
Thomas Beauchamp married Juliana Witcher, who was the younger sister of Benjamin Madison Witcher.
Melissa Beauchamp married Leonard Witcher, who was the son of Benjamin Madison’s brother Noble, who was the son of Ben and Candis.
Ancestral memory is a powerful force behind the retelling of old stories. It’s what gives relevance to the past and reminds us of who we descend from.
A little booklet called The Clan was written in 1953 by Cleo Ella Dunham. This book is a compilation of recollections about the Witcher and Beauchamp family as they homesteaded the newly formed state of Oklahoma. Cleo was a daughter of Ben and Sarah Witcher.
In her book, with great fondness she recollects those in the Beauchamp branch of her family. She penned that she never met any of her mother’s half brothers and sisters, but the Beauchamp’s she knew and loved were her mother’s brothers and sisters. This included her aunt Melissa Tabitha Beauchamp. Melissa (who had married Leonard Witcher) was simply known as Aunt Bitha to Cleo.
I owe special thanks to one descendant of Melissa Beauchamp. Without the effort, hard work, and research of Judy Gwartney, this family history would not been known to me.
Amazingly, our record of this family does not end with John Beauchamp and his participation in funding the Mayflower expedition. Careful research will uncover previous English Beauchamps, who were powerful landowners and political appointees as far back as the mid-1400s. However, that research will just have to wait for another day.
Wayne Witcher 2-25-17