Broyhill Family History

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The Bray Connection

    James Broyhill often went by the name James Bray. He was carried on the Virginia Militia Muster Rolls under the name, he used it when he married Rebecca Bailey, and appears under it on the 1810 Wilkes County, N.C. Census.  This certainly raises the question, "Why?" and we will probably never know the answer.  But there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence to suggest that it was also used by other members of  his family.  It was sometimes used by Nathan Broyhill, as discussed in the Broyhill Indians.          

James' Siblings

     The Broughall name is so rare that James was almost certainly the son of William Broughill Jr. and his wife Sara, and it is highly unlikely that he was the only child. Who were his siblings?   It would be another century before local government began issuing birth certificates, so we must turn elsewhere for answers.   
     The 1790 Virginia Census has been destroyed, but somewhat replaced by compilations of county tax lists. The 1790 Virginia Census published by the Federal Government reconstructs about half of the state's counties from such lists, and Virginia Tax Payers 1782-1787 by Fothergill and Naugle provides lists for the remaining counties.
    The 1782 Halifax County Tax List names James Broughill as head of a household, which contains five whites and no blacks.  James was then, 21, out of the army a little more than a year and did not marry until three years later, so it is highly doubtful that he then had a wife and three children.  Interestingly, his father, William, does not appear on the Tax List.
    Three years later, in 1785,  William Broy is listed as the head of a household that contains seven whites and no blacks.  There is no entry for James. 
     It seems likely that both entries are for the same household.  In 1782, William was not present when the tax list was compiled, so his son James was listed as head of household. William was home in 1787 and the 7th member of the household is probably James' bride Rebecca. Assuming this is correct, then the 1785 household probably consisted of William, his wife Sarah, James, his wife Rebecca and three siblings. Who were the siblings?
     Pittsylvania County records the marriage of Pattsey Bray to Aaron Worley in 1786; the marriage bond states that she is the daughter of William Bray.  Surely she is James's sister.
       Halifax marriage records show that Nancy Bray married James Clark on Sept. 21, 1790.  The records of the Church of Latter Day Saints lists her last name as Bray or Braghill, her father as William Braghill, her mother as Sarah Norman, and lists six children that she and James Clark had, all born in Halifax County.  Surely this is a second sister.  For more information on this line, go to, search for Nancy Bray, then follow the links.
     With two of the siblings identified, that leaves a third who is still unknown?

 The Search for Brays

    The reconstructed 1790 Virginia census was searched for Bray families.  Its list three in King and Queen County and one in Essex County, both of which are next to Caroline County; a James Bray is in Fayette County and a John Bray is in Fauquier County.  All are far from Halifax and Pittsylvania counties, which border North Carolina.  Other than James and William, no Bray family appears on the 1782 and 1785 Tax Lists of either Halifax or Pittsylvania County, or for that matter anywhere in the south west area of Virginia.
    The 1790 North Carolina Census (which is intact) contains many Bray families. Eleven Bray heads of household live in the coastal counties of Camden, Currituck and Tyrrel; Sixteen more Bray households are located in the central part of the state, primarily in Chatham, Sampson and Duplin Counties; but there are also four Bray households in the northwestern corner of the State - three in Surry County and Patrick Bray in adjacent Wilkes County.
     In 1760, Rowan County contained the entire northwest sixth of North Carolina. Surry County was formed from it 1770 and Wilkes County was formed from Surry in 1777. Littleberry, Hannon and Stogner Bray are listed as Head of Household on both the 1790 and 1800 Surry County Census. The uniqueness of their names suggests that they may have been related. Littleberry first appears on a neighboring Rowan County list of people who had failed to take an Oath of Allegiance to North Carolina in 1778. No exhaustive search has been made of Surry records for members of this family, but a list of all marriages in which Brays were listed as bride, groom, bondsman or witness was compiled. No marriage record was found for Littleberry and Stogner, but Hannon married Polly Snow in 1836. The absence of their appearing as bondsman or witness suggests that they were a very closely knit clan, who never married, or if they did, they had very small families.
    On the other hand, David Bray appears to have been quite active. He first appears in Rowan Court Minutes in 1780. Like Littleberry, he was apparently in Rowan a very short period of time, because the county has no record of any Bray marriages 1753-1868. David provided a marriage bond for Edmund Pace and Sarah Walker in Surry County on December 25, 1782. In 1784, he received a grant for 200 acres of land on Cody's Creek in Surry County, which he sold William Terrell in 1787. His son, David Bray Jr. purchased the same land from William T. Lewis in 1792. David Bray continually appears in the published Surry County Court Minutes of 1785-1788.
    Surry marriages included Nathan Bray to Judith Horn in 1799, Henry Bray to Sarah Sparks and David Bray Jr. to Nelly Whealoss in 1803 and Richard Bray to Polly McGuire in 1808. The more conventional names suggest that all three men were from the same family, probably the sons of David Bray Sr. 

Patrick Bray

    As noted above, Patrick Bray appears on the 1790 Wilkes County Census. Patrick attracts special interest because he is listed only seven entries prior to the one for William McGill, suggesting the two farms were very close together. James Broyhill continually used the name Bray and purchased the McGill homestead in 1810. Was there a connection?
     The 1790 Census show that his household consists of one male over age 16, one male under age 16 and two females, apparently a young family - husband, wife and two kids. 
     Patrick is continually listed on the Wilkes County tax rolls from 1791 through 1797; he witnessed four deeds between 1793 and 1795; and he appears in the Court Minutes eight times between 1791 and 1797.  The 1800 Wilkes County Census lists him and his wife as being between ages 26 and 45, thus born between 1755 and 1774.  They have six kids.   and a young man going west to seek his fortune almost surely would have passed through it.  It would seem that this is the same Patrick Bray who later shows up in Wilkes County..
     Wilkes County Court of Pleas and Quarter Session (County Court Minutes) show that on May 3, 1802, in the case State vs.Patrick Bray, Patrick was found guilty of taking and having Richard Owen's corn. Patrick was sentenced to receive five lashes on the bare back and the sheriff was ordered to keep him in custody until the fines were paid. Patrick then disappears from Wilkes County records.  He does not appear in later census of Virginia or North Carolina.
         The records of Orange County, Virginia show that a Patrick Bray married Mary  Stocks on Aug. 24, 1786.  If Patrick was then 21 years old, he was born about 1865, just a few years after our James.  Since Tax Lists do not list any Bray families living in the Orange County area in the early 1780's, Patrick was most likely not from there.  This author has been unable to account for his origin.