Updates to the book “The History of the Fitzhugh Family”

The Ever-Expanding Volumes of The History of the Fitzhugh Family

The earliest edition of this work appeared in January 1999, and was supplied to numerous family members who kindly bought copies of the book privately published by Henry A. Fitzhugh. As with all labours of love, and especially family histories that are subject to ongoing research, the book has expanded regularly, so that a wide variety of copies, with ever increasing content, have come into the field as the years rolled on. Then, in January 2007, the then current version was published as a web print-on-demand book by AuthorHouse, details of which are elsewhere on this website. The purpose of this page is to describe the changes that have taken place over the years, so that readers of earlier versions can see what changes have been made.  Some of them are available directly below, and all the rest of them are available by contacting the author on henryfitzhugh@talktalk.net.

The first edition of 1999 had 153 pages to Volume I and 201 pages to Volume II.

The AuthorHouse edition of 2007 has 163 pages to Volume I and 320 pages to Volume II with 18 more photographs and 4 more illustrations.

The latest  version  of April 2009 has 163 pages to Volume I and 342 pages to Volume II, with 21 more photographs and 4 more illustrations.

Additions between 1999 and the AuthorHouse edition of 2007.

Volume I

New Appendix One      The  Ancient  Manor  Of Beggary – 5 pages longer.

Two maps, six photographs and text.

New Appendix Two     Horae B.V.M. Secundum Usum Sarum – 3 pages longer.

A description and pictures of the Book of Hours in the British Library dating from the early 15th century and once owned by Robert Fitzhugh (1527-1609).

Volume II

Chapter One – Henry Fitzhugh  1614-1666– 5 pages longer.

Information regarding the picture of Henry; John Bunyan; William Verney; Discussion of the Bedford Navigation; Robert Fitzhugh’s dispute with Cromwell’s   Roundheads; much improved pictures of the signatures of Henry, Mary, and Robert Fitzhugh; much information and picture of Elizabeth Fort, Cork.

New possibilities for what Henry borrowed all the money for…

[Existing text page 13, Volume II] … In any event, he failed to get the necessary legislation, and the Navigation had to wait until the latter years of the century for completion.

A second possibility may have arisen from events far from the bounds of Bedford. The Irish Rebellion of 1641, which developed into the Irish Confederate Wars, or the Eleven Years War of 1641-53, necessitated Charles I to raise huge sums to support his armies. He did so by promoting various Adventurers Acts of 1641-3 and 1647.[i] These Acts sold 2½ million acres of land in Ireland to “Adventurers” (i.e. investors) who would gain possession when the “Rebels” were defeated. Prices varied between £200 and £600 for 1000 acres with “free and common socage” of 1d to 2½d per annum to be paid to the King.[1] Victory was not declared until May 1653, when Parliament established a Committee to validate claims of adventurers since 1642.[ii] It is clear from ensuing documentation that by this time the titles to these lands were in a state of utter chaos,[iii] and it was at this precise moment that Henry borrowed the £900, promising to pay back within a year. By the spring of 1652, the Rebellion was “all but extinguished”[iv] and Henry would have had a full year to plan his scheme before any adventurers actually got their land. The original county-by-county scale of prices was by this time found to be totally inappropriate, by a factor of ten in some cases.[v] To buy on an open frontier market just when peace was declared, with an intention to profit in a property boom and sell out quickly, is just the sort of speculation that has tempted many throughout the ages. All of the incentives were there – propaganda of the time stated that “He that hath many children may raise his younger sons to as great a fortune by £200 purchase in this way as £2,000 in trade…”[vi] The Adventurers’ shares had languished for ten years with no return, and by the 1650s speculation in devalued shares was rife. It was an obvious strategy for Henry to hold off till the last moment hoping to make a quick killing. What is more, Parliament had made it obligatory for soldiers to be paid in Irish land, and at the original 1642 values too, even though by 1647 the yet-to-be-reclaimed land had fallen in value. Many of those soldiers would have wanted to sell up at a discount and come home. To Henry, it would have seemed irresistible. Unfortunately, of the 2576 names throughout the references,[vii] mostly of persons of higher social standing than Henry, his name has not been found. Perhaps he bought unwisely? Perhaps he was swindled? The fact that he later went to Ireland to work and die may itself be an important clue –  the result of his using connections or contacts there which he had made from his attempts and activities in the Irish Adventure.

A third possibility  was nearer to home – the Draining of the Fens, a project in all of the Counties north and east of Bedford which attracted a great number of adventurers. An Act of Parliament[viii] enabled investors to buy boggy land yet to be drained at 50s/acre with a minimum purchase of 500 acres for £1250. It is very tempting to wonder if Henry was in on that scheme, but on the face of it, it seems not, or at least not at the beginning. The Act was required payment within three months of its passage, and extremely well documented histories[ix] of the Drainage name all adventurers in the “Lot Book”, but no Fitzhugh is there.

Had Henry pulled off the first of these coups, he would have made such a fortune that the Fitzhughs would  never have needed to leave Bedford.  The second or third would have turned a tidy profit. As we shall see, whatever it was had the opposite effect of putting the family in considerably reduced circumstances, from which neither he nor his poor widow ever recovered.

While all this was unfolding…



[1]           The Cromwellian Occupation of Ireland was the second largest English investment project of the time. Virginia had only been £200,000 thirty years before, and only the East India Company was larger at £2,887,000. English Money and Irish Land, the ‘Adventurers’ in the Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland, Karl S. Bottigheimer, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1971, British Library 74/17650, pp.54-55.


[i]              British Library Shelfmark B.K.5/5.

[ii]              British Library Shelfmark 21.b.13.69, 75, 77,  78); E.1062(1.).

[iii]             British Library Shelfmark 115.i.21., G.5799(1.), 816.m.17.(74).

[iv]            Bottigheimer, Karl S., English Money and Irish Land, the ‘Adventurers’ in the Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1971, British Library 74/17650, p.54.

[v]             Bottigheimer, op. cit., p.42.

[vi]            Bottigheimer, op. cit., p.57 & 119.

[vii]           Bottigheimer, op. cit., p.181 & 203.

[viii]          An Act for the Draining of the Great Level of the Fens, 29 May, 1649.

[ix]            The History of the Drainage of the Great Level of the Fens, called Bedford Level, with the Constitution and Laws of the Bedford Level Corporation, [Vol 1] Samuel Wells, 1830, 832pp., British Library 725.h.21; A Collection of the Laws which form the Constitution of the Bedford Level Corporation &c…, [Vol 2]  Samuel Wells, 1828, British Library 725.h.22; Cambridgeshire Archives Registers of Bargains, Sales, and Mortgage Indentures R/59/31/1A*, Proceedings of Adventurers R59/39/1/4.

Chapter One – William Fitzhugh the Immigrant  1651-1701 – 8 pages longer.

More information on the picture of William; Extensive discussion on when William first went to Virginia, with reference to the new Appendix Ten “What did William do with Elizabeth?”; Evidence showing that William had a first wife Elizabeth; Sarah Tucker’s inheritance; How William got his first start in Virginia; William’s power and prowess as a Magistrate and lawyer; much more information on William’s use of the wrong Coat of Arms; a discussion of 20th century revisionist theories of slavery and early Virginia socio-economics, with reference to William himself; more information on Ravensworth.

In reply to a query as to how William got his legal training, the following has been added:

It has long been a mystery as to how William acquired his legal education. It is certain that he was not educated at an Inn of Court in England – there is no evidence and he could not have afforded it anyway. Many lawyers in Virginia were taught by clerking in a law office; indeed this was possible in Virginia until 1905, and law examinations were not introduced until 1745. George Brent, William’s law partner, as well as two of William’s sons, Henry and John, became lawyers by this route.

Chapter Two – John Fitzhugh  1692-1733 – 1 page longer.

Additional dates; Information on the McCarthy Family; Much information on John’s Will.

Chapter Two – Colonel William Fitzhugh 1725-1791 – 1 page longer.

New colour picture of the Marmion Room, Metropolitan Museum; grandfather Daniel McCarty’s Will; William’s Will and concerns for and bequests to his children.

Chapter Two – John Fitzhugh – 1 page longer.

More information that John was the  first born; slaves left to him by his father; more detail on Revolutionary War service; congenital eye disease suffered by this branch of the family and descendants; unsettled claim 110 years later for Revolutionary War expenses.

Chapter Two – Philip Fitzhugh  1792-1836 – 7 pages longer.

A bizarre story of how Philip’s father-in-law duelled with Colonel Sam Houston, which led much later to John Henry Fitzhugh going to Texas; very much information on Shooter’s Hill; much information on the life of brother Dennis Fitzhugh.

Chapter  Three – John Henry Fitzhugh  1821-1894 – 33 pages longer.

Information on life near Urbanna, Virginia; the decline of the financial state of the family; the courtship and romantic lives of the males of the generation; The Mexican War; The Battle of Buena Vista; portrait and exploits of brother Patrick Henry; Joh’s promotion and demotion as an Officer; John’s escape from a gunshot wound; life on the railroad; courtship of Harriett Bullitt; brother Edwin’s adventures and death in Nicaragua; life and death of the filibuster George Walker; the Battle of Rivas; Joh’s hardware business; settlement in Texas; extensive history of the swashbuckling exploits in the Civil War of brother Thaddeus; John’s hardship during the Civil  War; John’s later life settled in Austin, Texas.

Chapter  Three –  George Fitzhugh  1806-1881

Short quotation from the New York Times, 1856.

Notes On The Family Tree  –22 pages longer.

Substantial changes to the following Notes: 30, 33, 44, 50, 52, 60, 70 (Will of John Tucker; a long discussion proving that William the Immigrant was indeed the William Fitzhugh who left Bedford); 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 80, 81, 82 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 100, 101, 103, 104, 105, 111, 12, 113, 115, 135, 137.

Appendix  One    The Relationship of our Family to the Barons FitzHugh and the Arms of Each Family  – 8 pages longer.

Results of a long debate as to whether there is any relationship between our Fitzhugh Family and the Barons FitzHugh, as well as to the question of which Arms are correct for our family.  It is conclusively proved that there is no relationship, and that William The Immigrant used the wrong Arms.

Appendix  Three      Other Fitzhugh Families

Up to date results on the Fitzhugh DNA project explaining how many different families we currently identify.

Appendix  Six      The Origin of the Fitzhugh China Pattern – 1 page longer.

Since 1999, pictures of the Fitzhugh China Pattern have been added. Since the AuthorHouse edition, better pictures have replaced the first ones.

Appendix  Eight      The Town of Bedford, the Fitzhugh Property, and Bedford Bridge  – 2 pages longer.

Additions are a map of Bedford in 1611 showing where the Fitzhugh property was located, and a contemporary picture of Bedford Bridge.

Appendix Nine    My Granny Was a Whore…, Or A Love Story…, Or Our Descent from Henry VIII?    – 43 pages, with 10 pictures and two family trees.

 New Appendix not in 1999 Edition  This Appendix applies to anyone descended from Mary Macon Aylett and Philip Fitzhugh, or anyone descended collaterally from John West and Unity Crowshaw.

Additions between the AuthorHouse edition of 2007 and Now.

Appendix Ten       What Did William Do with Elizabeth?   – 10 pages, 2 pictures. New Appendix not in 1999 Edition nor AuthorHouse Edition.  Explains the evidence for the existence of William the Immigrant’s first wife Elizabeth, and deduces what happened to her. Also a convincing argument as to when William first went to Virginia.

 There has been a major rewrite of the chapter William the Immigrant taking account of analysis of The Black Book to explain the theory of what happened to his first wife Elizabeth and the conclusion that he went to Virginia, returned to Bedford, and then returned to Virginia. This is Appendix Ten above.

DNA results in Appendix Three reflect the conclusion that there are five Fitzhugh families, not four.

Major additions have been made to Appendix Nine in light of an article by Sally Varlow, including new picture of Catherine Carey Knollys.

Incorporation into Appendix Two the fact that we lose Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt as ancestors because Henry Carey was not the father of Mary Boleyn’s children, as shown in Appendix Nine.

Appendix Eleven – 5 pages

A new appendix titled “How Did William Become a Lawyer?” has been added. No firm answer can be reached owing to a lack of records, but it is argued plausibly that he worked in Bedford as a clerk in the courts for a few years before setting out for Virginia. Once there in what was a very unregulated legal environment, he used his knowledge and experience to work his way up in the colonial legal profession.