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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.