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Aaron Brughill

    Aaron Brughill was ordered arrested for not appearing "at ye suit of Samuel Clayton in Debt" in Essex County, Virginia on May 18, 1720. This is the earliest record of the Broughill name so far found in America. Who was Aaron Broughill and where did he come from? One fact is certain: in 1720, he was living in Virginia.

Aaron Brughill of England

     An Aaron Brughill was christened on May 6, 1666 in Stalmine, Lancashire by his father James. This is the only mention of the name Aaron in the English Parish Records. They contain no record of his marriage, nor the christening of his children. Compounding the information blackout, Stalmine Parish lists no other Broughill, etc. marriage or christening. In fact, other than the 1657 marriage of Elnor Brughell to Robert Baate in Warrington, there are no other parish records entries for any Broughall, etc. in Lancashire between 1637 and 1701. However the solitary entry does provide two important bits of information: the year of Aaron's birth and the name of his father.
     English Parish Records show that a James Broghall/Broughall christened John (1660), Margareta (1667), James (1669 & 1670), Henry (1670), and Charles (1673), at Newcastle Under Lyme in Stafford County, England. Other than Aaron's christening, these are the only references to a James Broughill to appear in English parish records during the entire seventeenth century. Aaron's 1666 christening fits neatly between the first two christenings. This suggests this James of Stalmine and James of Newcastle Under Lyme were one and the same person. Apparently after the christening of John, he moved to Stalmine, most likely for work. James returned to Stafford County sometime between Arron's christening in 1666 and Margareta's christening the following year. James probably descended from Radulphus Broughall who christened sons in Newcastle Under Lyme in 1566 and 1569.

Aaron's Immigration

No immigrations records were maintained during the Colonial period so the genealogist must resort to other records, ones that imply immigration. The most important of these is Virginia Land Patents and Grants. They resulted from the Headright system whereby "adventurers" who paid their own passage to Virginia received 50 acres of free land. Often a planter or sea captain (the "headright") would pay a person's passage in exchange for their agreeing to work as an indentured servant for a given period of time. The patents name headrights and many (but not all) indentured servants. They provide a fairly comprehensive account of 17th century immigration, but contain little information on that of the next century, because by 1700, the headright system had been largely replaced by slavery. These records were abstracted and published by former Virginia State Librarian Nell Marion in three volumes under the title, Cavaliers and Pioneers. No Broughills appears in the index to these records, which suggests that Aaron came to Virginia after 1700.
     There are many thousands of other documents which can also imply immigration, such as ship passenger lists and English Court Records proving indentures and "banishment to the Virginia Plantations." Although these are scattered over hundreds of different locations, during the past decade William Filby and Virginia Myers have been compiling a master index to all names in all sources. Their monumental Index to Passenger and Immigration Records presently consists of twelve volumes, each two inches thick, listing names in telephone directory format - one line per entry, three columns per page. Instead of a phone number, the year, source and page number are given. Each volume contains over a million names, but none contains any reference to the Broughall name during the colonial period.
     The location of a person's home often provides a clue as to the approximate time they came to Virginia. Virginia has four major rivers which flow in a northwest to southeast direction. From north to south they are the Potomac, the Rappahannock, the York and the James. The first permanent English settlement in the New World was at Jamestown on the James River in 1607. During the next few decades most immigrants settled along the shores of this majestic river. As its land was consumed, settlement shifted northward to the other rivers. Because of this, early 17th century immigrants generally settled along the James and York Rivers, but later arrivals settled along the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers. Essex County is on the south bank of the Rappahannock. The date and the location both suggest that Aaron came to Virginia within a few years of the 1720 court appearance.

Coming to America

 During the first half of the seventeenth century ships followed the "southern route" blazed by Columbus. They followed the trade winds and currents which circulate clockwise around the Atlantic Ocean. Ships leaving England sailed to the Azores, then south to the Equator, then west to the Barbados. After taking on water and supplies, they sailed toward what is now Florida, where they picked up the Gulf Stream which helped propel them to the Virginia Capes. After 1650, the shorter, more direct northern route was used almost exclusively. It was essentially a straight line across the Atlantic. The normal passage required seven to eight weeks in good weather, but bad weather could prolong it considerably. The Bristol took five months, the delay resulting from adverse winds off the Virginia coast. On the other hand, in 1688 William Byrd I crossed from Land's End to Cape Henry in only 28 days.
     Shipboard conditions were appalling. During the seventeenth century dozens and even hundreds of passengers were crowded into small, dark, ill-ventilated cabins for weeks at a time. They had to endure the discomfort of rough seas, poor food and minimum sanitary facilities. Many ships were filthy and rat-infested; disease was rampant and mortality frightful. Bradford in his Plymouth Plantation told of a vessel bound for Virginia that lost one hundred and thirty of its hundred and eighty passengers. An early voyager to Virginia wrote home describing his experience on shipboard: "betwixt decks," he said, "there can hardly a man fetch his breath by reason there arisith such a funke in the night that it cause putrification of blood and breedeth disease much like the plague." By 1700 conditions had improved, but were still poor.
     Virginia's colonial economy was based on tobacco which was shipped from the colonies to London; in fact, the city held a virtual monopoly on the crop throughout the colonial period. During the first few decades of the seventeenth century, most Virginia settlers sailed from London, but beginning about 1654, Bristol, located at the mouth of the Severn River in south west England, became the premier supplier of new settlers.
     Slavery was established in Virginia in 1663, but depressed tobacco prices suppressed the trade until they rebounded in 1680. Over the next 18 years, Virginia's slave population rose from 2,000 to 6,000. Then, in 1698, the trade was fully opened. The slave population quickly rose to 12,000 in 1708 and to 30,000 in 1730.  James Slaughter, in his History of Essex County, Virginia, wrote that the impact of slavery was substantial. In 1699, Essex extended past present-day Fredericksburg; its population was 2,602, of which 390 were black. By 1726, even though Essex's size had been substantially reduced, its population had more than doubled to 7,416. Whites still formed a majority, but importation of slaves had multiplied the county's black population several times. Slave ownership as shown by estate inventories, jumped fifty percent between 1710 and 1719. In 1736, William Byrd II, appalled at the large number of slaves being imported into Virginia, wrote that he feared the colony "will come time or other be confirm'd by the Name of New Guinea."

Slaves in Colonial Virginia

    Between 1699 and 1708, 39 vessels brought slaves to Virginia, 34 of them were of London Registry and five were from Bristol. During the next decade, Liverpool began its phenomenal rise in the slave trade, which was one of the most spectacular commercial developments of the century. Of the 66 British vessels that imported Negroes into Virginia in 1710-18, 11 were from Liverpool. By 1751-63, Liverpool was furnishing 25 slavers while the rest of England only provided 18.  The significance of this is that Aaron Broughill was probably living in Stafford County, not far from Liverpool, so it is doubtful that he would have traveled half-way across England to sail from London or Bristol.  Most likely, he sailed from Liverpool. If so, then he may very well have sailed to America on one of the infamous "slavers."

Life in the Colony

      The Englishmen who established their country's first permanent colonial settlement in the New World at Jamestown in 1607 were confronted with difficulties beyond their wildest imagination. They were precariously perched on the edge of a great unknown continent, surrounded by thick, seemingly impenetrable forests and often hostile Indians. They lived in mud and wattle huts and had no depend-able source of food. Disease, Indian Attack, Starvation, and hot, humid Summers were the four horsemen of the Apocalypse that devastated their ranks. It is estimated that over 6,000 brave men and women immigrated to Virginia between 1607 and 1623, but the census of that year, showed less than a quarter of them were still living.
      During the next century that all changed. By 1723, the Indians had all but been annihilated. Lowland marshes around Jamestown had long been abandoned in favor of higher, healthier ground and the colonists had become acclimated to the hot, humid summers. They raised crops and livestock, insuring a steady supply of food. Tobacco, which had been the colony's staple crop since the 1620's, was king. Most of the colonists planted what King James called the "vile weed," resulting in their being called "planters." Over half of them owned their own land, generally between 100 and 300 acres, which were known as their "plantations."
     Slavery drastically changed their life style. During most of the 1600's, planters worked their own fields, often with the help of one or two indentured servants. By 1723, virtually every planter owned at least a couple of slaves, and large planters owned several dozen. An indentured servant usually served a term of four years, but a slave, even though he cost more, belonged to the planter forever. The slave's children were a bonus. Tobacco production increased and its sale brought wealth and permanence to Virginia. During the winters, when there was little work to do in the fields, slaves constructed frame and even brick homes for their masters. The mud and wattle huts had long disappeared. Virginia's plantations were developing the gracious lifestyles for which they would later become famous.
     Virginia colonists had strong ties with England. Most were but a generation or two removed from English birth. They did not establish any home industries, but relied on the mother country for most of their manufactured goods - fabrics, clothes, tools, books, furniture, house wares and the hundreds of other things required for day to day living.
The great forests and lack of usable roads made it difficult to travel overland, but Virginia was blessed with dozens of rivers which flowed into the great Chesapeake Bay. Life revolved around the bay and rivers, which were the highways of the colony. Larger plantations had their own wharves but smaller ones shared the use of community warehouses, where English ships would take on hogsheads of tobacco and deliver needed goods. Many were manufactured in England, but others came from around the world: sugar, molasses and rum from the Caribbean; wines from France and Germany; and even silk from the Orient. Many planters had an agent or "factor" in England who would sell their tobacco and apply the sale proceeds toward the purchase of such items. England also provided her colony with culture: a body of law, representational government, and her church.
Life in Colonial Virginia revolved around the sea.

Southfarnham Parish

    By law, all Virginia colonists were members of the Anglican Church and required to attend its services. On Nov. 19, 1723, an Essex County Grand Jury presented Aaron Broughel of Southfarnham Parish for not frequenting his Parish Church. He failed to answer the presentment and on Feb.18th, the Sheriff was ordered to take him into custody. He failed to do so, and on March 19th, 1723 the Sheriff was once again ordered to take him into custody. This time, he was successful because Aaron appeared in court on April 21, 1724, (on the old calendar, the year ended on the last day of March), only to have the Grand Jury dismiss the charge.
     There were two parishes of the Anglican church in Essex County: St. Anne's was at the north end of the county. To the south was South Farnham Parish; its Lower Piscattaway Church stood near latter day Ozena at Marigold plantation. By the early 1700s, it had replaced its old building with four new brick churches. St. Farnham acquired a "new brick church" in 1728. It was just east of Desha near the grounds of present day St. John's Baptist in Tappahannock. Aaron had attended - or more properly not attended - the Lower Piscattaway Church. Unfortunately, all colonial parish records from North Farnham Parish have been lost.

On the banks of the Piscattaway

    On November 21, 1727, Ann Brohill signed an Essex County Deed between Henry Adcocke and John Adcocke, both of the Parish of Southfarnham. (Interestingly she is not identified in it as a witness) The 250 acre plantation was bounded "on the river," and by several properties including those of Lewis Latane and Leonard Hill. Lewis Latane purchased 300 acres from John How on Nov. 12/13, 1725. It began at the main fork of Piscattaway pocoson and ran up the main branch until it met the headline of James Fullerton. Fullerton had received the land from his father who had received a patent for it on Sept. 29, 1667, which describes it as 700 acres on the south side of the Rappahannock River upon the maine pocoson of Puscattwa Creek. Leonard Hill had purchased his land from Reuben Welch on Dec. 23/24, 1723. It is described as 150 acres near the head of a small gut issuing out of Piscattaway Creek. The Samuel Clayton, who brought suit against Aaron Broughill in 1720, had died by Aug. 19, 1735, the date his will was proven in Essex County. In it, he devised his plantation on the south side of Piscattaway Creek to his son George. On July 16, 1717 Frances Adcocke together with Isaac Webb and Samuel Clayton, their securities, acknowledge their bond for said Frances and John's Executorship of the Last
     Virginia was covered with thick underbrush and there were few roads.  People tended to stay very close to their homes. The people named in the above deed all seem to have lived near another and Aaron.  This suggests he lived ont he Piscattaway River.
Essex County. The Piscattaway River is near the center of the map.
     The fifth and last reference to Aaron in Essex Court Orders appears on Feb. 17, 1724, when he, along with Andrew Baker, John Gore, Jno. Borin, and Captain William Johnson were ordered to attach the Estate of John Froman. Aaron then disappears from the records, but may have still lived in Essex for a few more years as Anne witnessed a will in 1727. Essex County Wills and Court Orders are intact and give no clue as to his fate. If he had died in Essex, then the county would have a copy of his will, or, if he died intestate, the Court Orders would reflect the appointment of an Administrator and an appraisal of his estate. The absence of such records proves that he did not die in Essex County.
     Spotsylvania County was carved out of the northern part of Essex County in 1721, as was Caroline County in 1728. Records for both counties have been checked and they contain no reference to Aaron or Ann.
    Aaron was never a land owner, nor a planter. He was at least 54 years old when he first appears in Essex's Court Orders in 1720. When he disappears from them four years later, he was at least 59. At that age it is unlikely that he would have wandered into the westward frontier. The most plausible explanation for his disappearance is that he simply returned to England. If so, then it raises a host of questions. Did he simply come to Virginia for a few years for the work? He certainly would not have been a field hand as were indentured servants of the seventeenth century, because such work was then being performed almost exclusively by slaves. Did he work at the tobacco warehouse on the Piscattaway River? Was he an agent for a English merchant, or an overseer at one of the plantations?

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