Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library Research Report Series—1493
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library
|From Frenchman's Map 1782 (?)||#1|
|Williamsburg Land Tax Accounts||#2|
|Extract from Humphrey Harwood||#4|
|Notes on "Up" and "Down" Street, and Notes on James Blair of Charles City, Prince George and Williamsburg||#5|
|Biographical Sketch John Blair, Jr. and Robert Andrews||#6|
|Genealogy of Blair Family||#7|
It is highly probable that John Blair Sr. was living upon Lot 36 prior to his death in November, 1771—the existing evidence is not strong enough to establish without doubt that he was.
A notice in the Virginia Gazette of January 7, 1773 established John Blair Jr. as living on Lot 36. Upon the death of Blair Sr. in 1771, John Blair Jr. was bequeathed "all those Lots and houses where I now live..."
Notices for sale of other property in 1779 noted in the Virginia Gazettes, a deed and a mortgage indicate that Blair Jr. was owner of Lot 36 in 1779.
The Frenchman's Map of Williamsburg (1782) shows a house of rectangular shape in the center of the Block. The Unknown Draftsman's Map of Williamsburg (1796) indicates "Andrews" on the property. By this date, John Blair Jr. had sold or given this property to Robert Andrews and Mary Blair Andrews. Insurance policies from 1796 to 1846 indicate that Andrews or his heirs were owners. In 1846 John T. James became owner. James held until 1867 when he conveyed to George W. Garrett and James E. Small "lot and houses known as 'the Andrews property', and situated on the north side of the main street..."
From 1884 to 1928 there were several changes in ownership. For details consult the body to the report.
Mary A. Stephenson
The house known as the "John Blair House" is situated on the north side of Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg about the center of the block bounded by Henry, Nassau, Prince George and Duke of Gloucester Streets. See Tyler's adaptation of the College Map (1796?) on opposite page.
Records now extant reveal that John Blair Jr. was owner in 1773. (See: history of the lots which follows.)
Whether John Blair Sr.,1 father of John Blair Jr., ever used this property as his dwelling is still a mooted question open to interpretation. It is entirely possible that John Blair Jr. accepted as his residence the houses and lots which his father was occupying at the time of his death and devised to him by his father's will. In the will of the father (to be quoted in entirety later in this report) John Blair Jr. was bequeathed "all those lots and houses where I now live, and also the four lots whereon my store-house stands with all Their appurtenances to him and his heirs forever." The phrase, "where I now live", is open to two interpretations: (1) it may mean that the senior Blair had lived elsewhere in Williamsburg but was living on this property [Lot 36] at the time of making his will in October 1771; or, (2) it may mean that the elder Blair was living 2 on other lots held by him in Williamsburg. (Blair owned property on the Market Square.)
"The garden of John Blair" on the Market Square is cited in deeds as a boundary until 1762. 1. In 1767 the phrase changed from "garden of John Blair" to "the lots of the Hon. John Blair, Esq." And, in 1771 bounds were cited as "adjoining the Lots of the Honourable John Blair."2 Mention of a garden would imply, naturally, a residence at the site. Yet, when the younger Blair advertised as executor of his father's estate (1771) that the personal property would be sold at the dwelling house of Blair senior, nothing was mentioned about the sale of the house nor was the garden noted.3 This fact would seem to indicate that the dwelling house was not for sale. It might indicate that Blair Sr. was living at Lot 36 (which he bequeathed to Blair Jr.) as he bequeathed to his son, James, a dwelling on Nicholson Street (house now known as Archibald Blair House).4
Thought it looks highly probable that John Blair Sr. was living upon Lot 36 prior to his death in November, 1771-, the existing 3 evidence is not strong enough to establish without doubt that he was. However, we record indirect data which seems pertinent.1
The will of John Blair Sr. was written in October, 1771 and recorded November 15, 1771 in York County court records. A full copy follows:
I, John Blair of the City of Williamsburg... Imprimis.
I Give and Devise to my son John Blair all those Lots and houses where I now live, Also the four lots whereon my storehouse stands with all their Appurtenances to him and his Heirs forever. I likewise give to my said son John all my Lands below the City of Williamsburg and my lands at Taskaness forever.
Item. I give and devise to my Son James Blair all my Lands at Chicahominy and my land in Hanover County except Seventeen hundred & fifty acres where Brewer lived thereinafter mentioned with all their Appurtances to him & his heirs 4 forever. I likewise give to my son James those two Lotts which I hold in the City of Williamsburg Opposite to Coll Byrds forever.
Item. I give and bequeath to my Daughter Anne Blair one thousand Pounds Current Money part of my stock in trade with John Prentis and Company with the profits thereof from the Division made in August one Thousand Seven hundred and Sixty Nine and to my Son James Blair the like Sum of One thousand Pounds part of the said with the profits thereof as to my daughter.
Item. I give to my Daughter Mary Braxton my Negro Gurl called Sall Cooper to my daughter Sarah my negro Wench called Great Hannah and her child Kate to my son James my Negro Barbary and her Child Johnny to my daughter Anne my negro Girl Fanny to each of them and their Heirs forever.
Item. I Give and bequeath to my Son John my Coach and Coach Horses.
Item. I give devise and Bequeath to my Son James Blair the houses and Lotts I have purchased of Doctor George Gilmer where Mrs. May now lives to him and his Heirs forever.
Item. I devise to my Executors hereafter named all those other lotts and Tenements which I hold in the City of Williamsburg not before disposed of and also my Share in a Grant or order of Council for lands beyond the Mountains also seventeen hundred and Fifty acres in the County of Hanover or thereabouts where Brewer lived to them their Heirs forever In trust to be by them sold for the best prices that may be had for the same and it is my will that the money arising from such sale should be accounted and Deemed as a part of my personal Estate.
Item. It is my will and Desire that all my Slaves and Stocks of all kinds (including my Horses) not before Disposed of be divided into five equal parcels three of which parcels I give and devise to my Son John Blair and his Heirs forever and the other two parcels to my Son James Blair and his Heirs forever. I have given the Greater proportion of my Slaves and Stocks to my Son John he being my Eldest Son and having already a family and several Children.
Item. It is my will and Desire that all the rest and residue of my Estate of what nature or kind soever should be equally divided amongst my dear beloved Children Christian Burwell, John Blair, Mary Braxton, Sarah Cary, James Blair, Anne Blair and Elizabeth Thompson and I would have it understood to be my will and Desire that the Bequests hereby made to such of my children as are entitled to Legacies under the Will of my late Uncle are intended to Discharge those Legacies.5
Item. It is my Will and desire that the family be kept together and supported out of my Estate for one Year after my decease. Lastly I do hereby Constitute and Appoint my Sons John Blair and James Blair Executors of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all former Wills by me at any time made and I do desire that my Said Sons be not held to give Security for the performance of the Trust hereby reposed in them.
In Wittness whereof I hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty fifth day of October in the Year of our Lord One thousand Seven hundred and seventy one.
John Blair (L. S.)
Signed sealed published and declared by John Blair Esquire as and for his last Will and Testament in presence of us who have subscribed our names as Witnesses in his presence and by his desire—
[Recorded November 15, 1771 York County Court]1
John and James Blair, sons, qualified as executors of the will. The Court ordered an appraisal of the personal estate (which included according to Blair's will "all those other lotts and Tenements which I hold in the City of Williamsburg not before disposed of" and [stocks and land beyond the Mountains and lands in Hanover County.]2
At the time of the death of John Blair Sr. his wife was dead and all of his children were married except Anne. According to the customs of the time—which carried on into the nineteenth and twentieth century—unmarried sisters lived with their married kin. In this case, Anne, it would seem, would make her home with her brother, John, who was married with a family.6
A notice in the Virginia Gazette of January 7, 1773 established John Blair Jr. as owner of the property now known as Lot 36:
To be SOLD by publick Auction ... THE HOUSES and LOT, on the main Street in the City of Williamsburg, where the late Mrs. Catherine Blaikley deceased, lived, adjoining the Lots of Mr. Charles Taliaferro, and opposite those of John Blair, Esquire ...1
WILLIAMSBURG, AUGUST 21, 1779.
The subscriber, at his store in the upper end of this city, opposite the Hon. John Blair's Esq.; purposes taking in goods on commission to sell ...
[July 3, 1779]To be sold to the highest bidder, on Wednesday the 7th instant, for ready money, the houses and lot on which the subscriber now lived, in the back street near the church adjoining the Hon. John Blair ...
[July 31, 1779]To be sold ... the tenement opposite to the house where the Treasurer's4 Office was lately kept & situate between houses of Mrs. Ann Blair5 and Thomas Orrell. [John Blair]6
By September, 1779 John Blair Jr. and wife, Jean, had sold parts of what is now known as Lot 36 to Thomas Orrell:
[18th September 1779]
[John Blair and Jean, his wife
Consideration: £120 current money]
"This Indenture made the eighteenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand, seven hundred and seventy nine Between the Honble John Blair Esquire and Jean his wife of the city of Williamsburg of the one part and Thomas Orrell of the aforesaid city of the other part Witnesseth that for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred and twenty pounds current money to him the said John Blair Esquire in hand paid by the said Thomas Orrell the receipt whereof he the said John Blair Esquire doth hereby acknowledge and thereof acquit and Discharge the said Thomas Orrell his Heirs, Executors and Administrators they the said John Blair Esquire and Jean his wife Have granted bargained, aliened, sold and confirmed and by these presents Do grant, bargain and sell, alien confirm unto the said Thomas Orrell his Heirs and Assigns forever All that piece parcel and lott of land lying and being in the parish of Burton and County of York, bounded as follows, on the West by the lot of John P. Custis, on the South by the Duke of Gloucester street and on the East and North by the lots of the aforesaid John Blair Esqr which said piece, parcel or lot of land hereby conveyed runs one hundred and forty seven feet in breadth from East to West And all Houses, tenures, Gardens, profits, commodities, hereditaments and Appurtenances whatsoever to them belonging or in any wise appertaining and the Reversion and Reversions, Remainder and Remainders, and all the Estate, right, title, Interest, claim and Demand whatsoever of them the said John Blair Esquire and Jean his wife of in and to the same or any part thereof To have and to hold the said piece, parcel or lot of land & premisses with the Appurtenances unto the said Thomas Orrell his heirs and Assigns forever to the only proper use and behoof of him the said Thomas Orrell his heirs and Assigns against the title, claim or Demand of them the said John Blair Esquire and Jean his wife and their Heirs and of all and every other person or persons whatsoever shall and will Warrant and forever defend by these presents In Witness whereof the parties afor esaid have hereunto interchangeably set their 8 hands and affixed their seals the Day and year first above written
John Blair LS
Jean Blair LS
Sealed and Delivered in
At a Court held for York County the 20th day of September 1779 This Indenture was proved by the Oaths of Bartlett Williams, George Hughes and Thomas Reeves the Witnesses thereto and Ordered to be Recorded—1
Thos Everard Cl: Cur"
On September 20th, 1779 Blair let Orrell have an additional piece towards the east:
[20th September 1779]
[John Blair and Jean, his wife to Thomas Orrell
Consideration: £1300 current money]
"This Indenture made the twentieth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine Between the Honourable John Blair Esqr of the City of Williamsburg and Jean his wife of the one part and Thomas Orrell of the said City of the other part Witnesseth that for and in consideration of the sum of One thousand three hundred pounds current money by the said Thomas Orrell to the said John Blair in hand paid at or before the sealing and Delivery of the presents the receipt whereof he doth hereby acknowledge and thereof acquit and discharge the said Thomas Orrell his Executors and Administrators They the said John Blair and Jean his wife have granted, bargained sold aliened and confirmed and by these presents Do grant, bargain, sell, alien and confirm unto the said Thomas Orrell his heirs and Assigns forever all that lott of land lying and being in the City of Williamsburg denoted in the plan of the said City by the numbers or figures the length 147 feet, Breadth 70 And all Houses, Buildings, pailings, Yards, Gardens, Waters Profits, Commodities, Herditaments and Appurtenances whatsoever to the same belonging or in any wise appertaining to the Reversion and Reversions, Remainder and Remainders, Rents and Issues thereof and all the Estate Right, title and Interest of them the said John Blair 9 and Jean his wife of in and to the same and every part thereof To have and to hold the said piece, parcel or lot of land & premisses with the appurtenances unto the said Thomas Orrell his Heirs and Assigns to the only proper use and is behoof of him the said Thomas Orrell his Heirs and Assigns forever And the said John Blair for himself and his Heirs Doth covenant and grant to and with the said Thomas Orrell his Heirs and Assigns that he the said John Blair and his heirs the said Lott of land and Premisses with the Appurtenances unto the said Thomas Orrell his heirs and Assigns against himself and his Heirs and all and every other person and persons claiming or to claim by from or under him or them shall and will Warrant and forever defend by these presents In Witness whereof the parties to this presents have hereunto set their seals the Day and year first above written
John Blair LS
Jean Blair LS
Sealed and Delivered In presence of
At a Court held for York County the 20th day of September 1779 This Indenture was proved by the Oaths of Bartlett Williams, George Hughes and Thomas Reeves the Witnesses thereto and Ordered to be recorded. Teste1
Thos Everard Cl:Cur."
We judge from the large amount or consideration named that Blair had mortgaged to Orrell. Orrell disappears from the records of the property— no further data except in 1786 he signed under oath the inquisition relating to Lord Dunmore's property in York County.2
At this date John Blair was a member of the Council and when the judicial department was established in 1777 he had been appointed judge of the General Court of which he became Chief Justice. In 1780 he was made a judge of the High Court of Chancery and later became a 10 justice of the Court of Appeals. Living with him at his home in Williamsburg were his wife, Jean (who did not die until 1792) and his two daughters, Jane and Mary, both unmarried. His sister, Ann Blair, most probably had lived with him from 1771—when her father died—until 1779 when she married Colonel John Banister of Battesea near Petersburg.1
It is probable that Blair upon his appointment to the High Court of Chancery in 1779 found it necessary to remove to Richmond with his family. This could explain the reason for mortgaging to Orrell. 1780 found Blair as Judge of the High Court of Appeals. However, Blair held ownership of the property until 1796. See: report to follow.
Personal property taxes for Williamsburg in 1782 show John Blair as paying tax on "5 whites and 18 blacks."
The Frenchman's Map of Williamsburg (1782) indicates a house of rectangular shape in the corner of the block. To the west of the house and near it is a small square house. East of the main house near the extreme eastern part of the block on Duke of Gloucester street is a long narrow rectangular building.211
The Brown-Jeffrey Map of Williamsburg reputed to be drawn by Brown (1780) and copy made by Jeffrey of Richmond, notes the lots thus: (At the time this map was designated "Annie Galt Map" in the Research Department files.)
In 1795 the Reverend Robert Andrews married Mary Blair, one of the daughters of John Blair Jr.112
In the period between 1789 and 1792 certain repair work was done to the property of John Blair by Humphrey Harwood, local carpenter and brick mason. Among the items listed are "mending plaistering in 7 Rooms and 4 Passages, building up the Jambs of the library Chimney, mending underpinning of the outhouses, brick work the hall, taking down the marble mantlepiece, laying hearths..."1
By 1796 the property was owned by Robert Andrews, son-in-law of John Blair Jr. An insurance policy of the Mutual Assurance Society #185 described the buildings as "on the main street at Williamsburg now 13 occupied by myself situated between the lott of Mrs Cocke and the Church Square in the county of York." The dwelling house was 64 feet by 29 feet with an office 24 feet by 16 feet—both of wood.1
From 1789 to 1796 Blair was Justice of the United States Supreme Court which sat in Washington.
In 1797 Andrews is listed in the Williamsburg Land Tax as having "6 lots with a tax valuation of $40.80"2
John Blair Jr. died in 1800.3 As stated before, Andrews had come into the property four years prior to Blair's death.
Andrews made this property his residence until 1804. Upon his death Mrs. Mary Blair Andrews, and the five children of Andrews by a former marriage continued to live thereon.4 Disposition of Andrews' estate is noted by George W. Southall, Williamsburg lawyer:
...By the will of Robert Andrews, the property in Williamsburg left by him was devised to six persons; his wife, and five children by a former marriage. His wife's part and that of one of his children has passed out of the Family, that is one 3d of the whole; the other two thirds are still in the family, & are now represented by John Andrews, in his own right as one of the heirs of his brother Robert; he John having sold his former interest & by power of Attorney from Jos B. Wilkinson, husband of Catherine formerly Catherine Andrews & Geo. Taylor & Ro Randolph, the 14 former in behalf of his wife, heir of Anne Randolph, & the latter son & heir of the said Anne Randolph, decd who was daughter of the said Ro. Andrews, decd from whom all the property decended [sic]; & who are the said Catherine wife of Jos Wilkinson, Geo Taylor & Ro Randolph, co-heirs with John Andrews their Attorney, & father of the parties, said Catherine, Anne, John to their late Brother Rob: decd which places one third of the property at their command.1Southall continues:
Robert Andrews, Testator, died, and by his will gave Houses and lots in Wmsburg to his wife Mary B for life and, at her death to be equally divided amongst his son in law William Randolph who married Ann Andrews, and his children Elizabeth Robert Catherine and John and the person or persons to whom his Wife sd Mary B, may think fit to leave her share. The will of Mary B. Andrews, gives Estate in Albemarle to J B Peachy, but shd he not succeed thereto, then certain negroes & her share in houses & lots in Wmsburg, to be for JSP. to be held by Exors for him, till he gets sd Estate, & suit brot for it be decided in his favor. ...And if JBP succeeds to the Estate of Blair Parke in Albemarle, a proportion to which she is Entitled, then her share in houses & lots in Wmsburg, & negroes to be divided at her death, to be equally divided between Fanny Eggleston, M Blairs 3d son, Archibald Blair, & Margaret Blair, eldest daughter of John H Blair of Hanover— [Written in pencil above "Margaret Blair" is] all live in Richmond. [Written at the end of the sentence in pencil is] Decree in June 1821.2
A glance at the Blair family chart may give an explanation as to why Mary Blair Andrews left her part of the John Blair property (previously owned by Andrews, her husband) to heirs of Archibald Blair (1753-1809).3 All of her uncles and aunts were dead and all of her sisters and brother had died without living issue.15
In 1809 the company insured the property under policy #989 a revaluation of #185 stating that the houses were "now owned by Robert Andrews' widow and children and are now occupied by Mary Andrews ... situated on the main street—having on the north a street which divides Prentis lots—on the west Cockes lot—on the south the main street and on the east are open space which divides the church." A dwelling of wood 64 by 28 feet and an office of wood 24 by 16 feet are insured, and a kitchen and a laundry are listed but not insured. Cocke's house on the west was 42 feet distant.1.
In 1815 Mary Andrews representing the estate of Robert Andrews, continued to insure the property under policy #2090 thus: "my building on the main street in Williamsburg situated between Cocke's lot on the west and streets otherwise ..." dwelling of wood 64 by 28 feet with office 24 by 16 feet-both contiguous to three wooden buildings.2.
In 1820 a change was made in the method of keeping the Land Tax Accounts for Williamsburg. Heretofore, apparently, each lot was listed separately. This year one or more contiguous lots appear to be enumerated as one, and the value of the buildings on the lots and also, total value of lots and buildings, was estimated. The property of Robert Andrews' estate from 1820 through 1842 was listed thus: "1 lot...value of buildings $1200; value of buildings and lot—$1500."316
Following the death of Mrs. Andrews ca. 1820, the property was insured by the heirs under policy #5011 (1823) and policy #7576 (1830). These policies were revaluations of previous policies. George W. Banks occupied the property in 1823; and in 1830 it was owned partly by the children of Robert Andrews and partly by John B. Peachy and John Page.1 In 1830 the property was occupied by Mrs. Saunders and E. Adams.2 During Mrs. Saunders occupation (1827-1832) Galt is supposed to have paid $10 per month to heirs (suit about this); and a Mrs. Moore occupied part of house.
The property continued to be under the Mutual Assurance Society by heirs of the Andrews estate. In April, 1839 #10993 revaluation of #7576 noted the property as "occupied by Mrs. Matilda Cabaness ... with the lot of the late Mrs. Cocke on the west ... A-dwelling of wood one and a half stories 30 feet by 62 feet with B-office of wood 16 feet by 14 feet and a kitchen to the east..."3 While Mrs. Cabaness rented the house, students of William and Mary College boarded with her.4
From the insurance policies cited, it is apparent that the house remained practically the same in dimensions from 1796 (64' by 29'); and the office (24' by 16') seems to have lost a few feet in size by 17 1839 (16' by 14'). The buildings were of wood entire and the dwelling house was a story and a half although it was erroneously noted as "one story high" in one policy and "two stories" in a subsequent policy.1
The property remained in the name of the heirs of Robert Andrews until 1843 when George Taylor, husband of Andrews' granddaughter, Catherine Randolph, became owner. Williamsburg Land Tax records note that Taylor had come into "1 lot via John Cock Cownr formerly to the Estate of Robert Andrews."2
By 1846 John T. James residing in Williamsburg was owner, for he insured the property "now occupied by myself situated between the lot Cocke's estate on the west and streets otherwise ..." A dwelling, "A", a dwelling "B" and a kitchen were noted. B was the office as noted in other policies.3
In 1847 James is listed in the Land Tax Records as "1 lot-value buildings $1200; buildings and lots—$1500 transfer in 1846 from Geo. Taylor formerly charged to Ro: Andrews' estate.4"
In 1853 policy #17,641 indicated "Dwelling of wood 1½ stories and not within thirty feet of any other building—valuation $2000." A new wood Dwelling is east of the house with R. H. Armistead's lot East.5
In 1854 the property was reassessed and the value arrived at was listed thus: "1 lot—buildings $2600; lot and buildings $3000.""618
According to Mr. John S. Charles in "Recollections of Williamsburg" about the time of the Civil War, James had built a house east of the old Blair house prior to the War:
"The next house to the east of the Blair house was built not many years previous to the War (but within the memory of the writer), by Mrs. John James, a highly respected old Christian gentleman, who also built had owned the house now used as the Bruton Parish Rectory. This house along with the two brick buildings to the east was purchased by Mr. M. Wall, the father of Mrs. John S. Charles. These two brick houses were badly damaged in the War; but were put in repair by the owner, and rented out. There has been some change in appearance of the front of these three houses. The large frame structure now called the Wolfe house, looks very much as it did in 1860, except that up to the War it had a single porch. The front of the house next east has been somewhat changed. The small brick house on the N. W. corner of Nassau and Duke of Gloucester Streets looks nothing as it did in 1861."1This statement of Mr. Charles' seems to be in agreement with a notice which appeared in the Virginia Gazette, Richmond, Norfolk and Williamsburg Advertiser, January 3, 1856 (Harvey Swing, editor), in which John T. James offered "for sale a Two-Story House in which he resided situated on Main Street between the Episcopal Church & William and Mary—8 rooms." Another advertisement of the property above appeared in the August 14th issue of the Williamsburg Weekly Gazette: "Robert Saunders, agent, offers for sale two dwelling houses owned by John T. James. One is new and both are large with all the appurtenances necessary for the comfort of a large family."
In 1860 James insured his dwelling under policy #21,332 revaluation of #17,641.2 The dwelling marked "A is wood 36½ feet front." This appears to be half of the building as a similar wing to the west and 19 attached is "28½ feet front" and called "Moses R. Harrell's Tenement." Adding the dimensions of the lots together, we have 65 feet. Note that these dimensions are about the same dimensions given for the building from 1796 to 1839. (See: insurance policies, Illustration #3). The 1860 policy notes that the dwelling insured is "contiguous to 6 wooden buildings." This would indicate that some new buildings of wood had been built nearby after 1846 and before 1860, and would bear out the statement of Mr. Charles as being correct as to a new house near the James main dwelling.
Mr. Charles recalls:
"... the old Blair house ... in 1861 it presented very much its present appearance. For many years before, during, and after the war, it was used by various persons, and for various purposes. just preceding the War it was used as a dwelling; a two family house, as they are now called. The uptown end was occupied by a man whose family lived there and he conducted a bake shop in the basement, which had steps leading up to the street. In 1860 it was occupied by a man who conducted a harness shop in the uptown end.
"During the War the Federals finding that there was a brick bake oven on this property, took charge of it and greatly enlarged the capacity of the oven, which extended from the basement out into the back yard. Its oval top, covered with earth, was enjoyed by the children (not kids) of the neighborhood who romped up and down on it, much to their amusement. This shop, was operated by Federal soldiers, bakers, who daily made up and baked wagon loads of bread, which was hauled in army wagons each morning and evening down to Fort Magruder for the troops camped there. In the yard of the old Blair house stood an old wooden kitchen of ample proportions which was not removed until after the war."1
Mrs. Victoria M. Lee stated in 1933:
"...I am quite unable to recall now who lived in this house [near Douglas bakery] in 1861. I am, also, unable to recall who lived in the house across the street, that is the Blair house, the appearance of which has not been changed, although I do remember that it was inhabited by two families.
"West of the Blair house, i.e., between the Blair house and the Casey house, was a frame house. This was a small house in which a woman named Mullen, a widow, kept a store. From time to time, this house was added to and changed, and when it was wrecked it looked nothing like the building which stood there at the time of which I write. The Casey house, standing just west of this house was a very old house with a rather interesting interior. ... Like the Mullen house, the house was often added to and changed, ..."1
According to the chain to title in Accounting Department, Colonial Williamsburg, Inc., this property fronted about 36 feet on Duke of Gloucester Street. Records prior to 186 were destroyed by war. It seems that John H. Mullen had been owner ca. 1865.
In 1867 John T. James and wife conveyed to George W. Garrett and James E. Small "lot and houses known as 'the Andrews property', and situated on the north side of the Main Street... 2 "
In 1884 Garrett and wife conveyed the property to C. P. Bailey. Bounds were given: "on the north by the lot of C. B. Wolfe, and on the west by lot of M. R. Harrell, and on the south by Main or Duke of Gloucester Street, said property being the same conveyed to George W. Garrett by a set-up deed and duly recorded in the Clerk's Office of James County [sic] and the City of Williamsburg ... July 24, 1867 ..." 321
The property remained in the Bailey ownership until November, 1897 when heirs of Bailey living in Wake County, North Carolina, conveyed to Benjamin E. Brooks:
All that certain lot or parcel of land known as the "Andrews House", located on Duke of Gloucester Street in the City of Williamsburg, Virginia, and bounded as follows:
On the north and east by the lot lately owned by Mrs. C. M. Wolfe, on the south by Duke of Gloucester Street and on the west by the lot now owned and occupied by Cornelia Mullen and others. And being the same lot of which the late Rev. C. T. Bailey, of Raleigh, North Carolina died seized and which had been conveyed to him by two certain deeds the one executed by George W. Garrett May 1st 1884 and duly recorded in the Clerk's Office of the City of Williamsburg in D. B. #2, p. 75. And the other executed by M. R. Harrell dated July 22, 1885, and recorded in said Clerk's office in D. B. #2, p. 163."1
Several deeds of trust followed from 1897 to 1922 when the property was conveyed by the heirs through Spl Commissioner, V. N. Geddy, to John Garland Pollard.2 This property was conveyed by Pollard and wife the same year to the Society for the Preservation of the Blair Homestead, Incorporated.3 This property was conveyed in April 1928 to W. A. R. Goodwin.4
"[Mrs. Dawson had been visiting her and the chariot was at the door to take her home near Tazewell Hall] ...it was proposed to set at ye Step's and Sing a few Song's wch was no sooner said than done; while thus we were employ'd, a Candle & Lanthorn was observed to be coming up Street... no one took any notice of it—till we saw, who it was, stopt to listen to our enchanting Notes... whereupon, the invader to our Melody, call'd out in a most rapturous Voice, Charming! Charming! proceed for God Sake, or I go Home directly... pray, Walk in my Lord [Botetourt] No—indeed, he would not, he would set on the Step's too;..."(Blair, Braxton, Horner, Whiting Papers, William & Mary College.)In the 18th century in Williamsburg "up town" was that area near the College; and "down town" was that area nearer the Capitol. Examples: Virginia Gazette, Aug. 21, 1779; Serverimus Durfey "at his store in the upper end of this city, opposite the Hon. John Blair's..."; Blair, Braxton... Papers: Ann Blair to Mrs. Braxton, her sister, October 14, 1769 Williamsburg—: "My sister Burwell was a going down Town to call and pay it [money] to Mr. Greenhow." [Greenhow's store half way to Capitol]; and Ibid.— "In a ramble down Street met Mr. Price who I fancy is getting Wedding geer for his Betsy."See: Illustration #5 for further details.
|1782-to 1797||John Blair||10 lots||value £24|
|1797||John Blair||1 lot||value £24|
|1798||Robert Andrews||6 lots||value £50|
|1800||Robert Andrews||6 lots||value £50|
|1803||Robert Andrews||7 lots||value £50|
|1806||Robert Andrews Est||7 lots||value £70|
|1814||Robert Andrews Est||7 lots||value £100|
|1818||Robert Andrews Est||7 lots||value £200|
|1820||Robert Andrews Est||1 lot||value buildings $1200; bldgs & lots $1500|
|1820-1843||Robert Andrews Est||1 lot||value buildings $1200; bldgs & lots $1500|
|1843||George Taylor||1 lot||value buildings $1200; bldgs & lots $1500 via John Coke commr—Formerly to the estate of Robert Andrews.|
|1847||John T. James||1 lot||value buildings $1200; bldgs & lots $1500 transfer in 1846 from Geo. Taylor formerly charged to Ro: Andrews' estate|
|1851||John T. James||1 lot||value buildings $1000; bldgs & lots $1400|
|*1854||John T. James||1 lot||value buildings $2600; bldgs & lots $3000|
|1858||John T. James||1 lot||value buildings $2000; bldgs & lots $2500|
|1860||John T. James||1 lot||value buildings $2000; bldgs & lots $2500|
NOTE: A complete tax record by years is available in photostat in the Department of Research. Only changes in lots or valuations are copied above.
Mutual Assurance Society Policy #185
Robert Andrews residing at Williamsburg in the county of York...
1796 April 21st.
"...My wooden buildings on the main street at Williamsburg now occupied by myself situated between the lott of Mrs Eliza Cocke and the Church Square in the county of York...
|The Dwelling House. . . .||marked A at||$1000|
|The Office . . . . . . .||marked B at||150|
Mutual Assurance Society Policy #989 Revaluation of buildings declared for assurance by Robert Andrews as per declaration #185
1809 September 5th
"Robert Andrews ... residing at Williamsburg in the county of York do hereby declare ... We also certify that the said buildings are now owned by Robert Andrews' widow and children and are now occupied by Mary Andrews that they are situated on the main street- having on the north a street which divides Prentis lots- on the West Cockes lots- on the south the main street and on the east are open space which divides the church-...
|The Dwelling house. . . . .||marked A at||$3000|
|The Office. . . . . . . . .||marked B at||$ 400|
Mutual Assurance Society Policy 2090
Mary Andrews representing the estate of Robert Andrews decd residing in Williamsburg in the country of York...
1815, June 15th.
"...do hereby declare for assurance... my building on the main street in Williamsburg situated between Cockes lot on the west and streets otherwise in the county of York...
|The Dwelling. . . . .||marked A at||$1500|
|The Office. . . . . .||marked B at||300|
1823, March 28th.
Mutual Assurance Society Policy #5011 revaluation of buildings declared by Mary Andrews for the representatives of Robert Andrews decd as per declaration #2090
"That the said buildings at present owned by the representatives of the said Robert Andrews decd residing at various places and are occupied by George Banks That they are situated on the main street in Williamsburg south— a cross street north and another east, and by Cockes lot and a street west in the county of York...
|The Dwelling House. . . . . . .marked A at $1333|
|The Office. . . . . . . . . . .marked B at 300|
Mutual Assurance Society Insurance Policy #7576 revaluation of buildings declared by the heirs of Robert Andrews as per declaration #5011
1830, May 20th
"...That the buildings at present owned by John B. Peachy-John Page, and other the heirs distributors and assignees of Robert Andrews decd and are occupied by Saunders, and by E. Adams &c That they are situated on the main street in Williamsburg, and between the lot of Cocke in part on the west and by streets on the South, East, and North in the county of York...
|The Dwelling. . . . .||marked A at||$1000|
|The Office. . . . . .||marked B at||200|
Mutual Assurance Society Policy #10993 revaluation #7576 Robert Andrews, heirs of 1839, April 24th
"That the said buildings are at present owned by the heirs of said Robert Andrews and the assignees and transfers of some of them residing at Williamsburg and elsewhere and are occupied by Mrs. Matilda Cabaness That they are situated on the main street in Williamsburg & other streets on the north, east and south, and with the lot of the late Mrs. Cocke on the west...
|The Dwelling. . . . . . . . .||marked A at||$1200|
|The Office. . . . . . . . . .||marked B at||250|
Mutual Assurance Society Policy #14,396 revaluation of buildings formerly declared for assurance by the Heirs of Robert Andrews per declaration #10993
1846, October 3rd.
"I the underwritten John T. James residing at Williamsburg in the county of York do hereby declare for Assurance... my Buildings on my own land on Main street in Williamsburg now occupied by myself situated between the lot Cocke's estate on the west and streets otherwise in the county of York...
|The Dwelling. . . .||marked A at||$1200|
|The Office. . . .||marked B at||250|
Mutual Assurance Society Insurance Policy #17641 Revaluation of Building formerly declared for Assurance by John T. James per Declaration #14396 1853, November 14, "I the underwritten John T. James residing at Williamsburg in the county of York do hereby declare for Assurance... my building on the main street now occupied by William Lindsey situated between the lot of Edwin H. Hurt on the west and R.H. Armistead on the East in the county of York...
|The Dwelling. . . . .||marked A at||$2000|
Mutual Assurance Society Policy #21332 Revaluation of Building declared for Assurance by John T. James as per Declaration #17641 1860, December 31st.
"We the underwritten Walker W. Vest and Parkes Slater Appraisers, do hereby certify that we have viewed and revalued the Building heretofore declared for Assurance,. . .as per his [James'] Declaration for Assurance #17641
That part of the said Building is at present owned by George W. Garrett and is occupied by residing at That it is situated on the North side of Main Street, between a lot of R.H.Armistead on the East and the adjoining tenement of Moses R. Harrell on the West in the City of Williamsburg and in the County of York...
|The Dwelling. . . . . .||marked A at||$1150|
|June||23||To 2 busl amount of Dr in Ledger A — folo 162 brt over||£ 8 5 2|
|To 2 bushels of whitewash 3/. mending plaistering in 7 Rooms & 4 passages 8/.||11|
|To plaistering 3 fireplaces 2/.||2|
|To whitewashing 7 Rooms and 4 passages at 3/9||2 1 3|
|To Do 2 closets 2/6 — and mending a stove do 2/||4 6|
|July||22||To 34 bushels of lime at 9d||1 5 6|
|To taking down and mending 85 yds of plaistering at 3d||1 1 3|
|To labr 5/. & hair 3/9||- 8 9|
|March||16||To building up the Jambs of the library Chimney, setting up the Copper, mending) the backs of the chimnies — mending) the underpinning of the outhouses) and the Brick work of the well||2 - -|
|Augt||12||To underpinning a Porch 5/||5|
|£ 16 4 5|
(See postea 44.)
|1790||nd||To amt brought from folo 13 ante||£16 4 5|
|Septr||22||To 25 bushels of lime at 9||18 9|
|To setting up 2 grates — (one very large)—taking down the marble mantlepiece — and taking up the Hearth — & relaying them 18/S||18|
|To laying 4 Hearths & mending 2 do, 11/3||11 3|
|To plaistering 32½ Yards at 2d||5 4|
|To whitewashing 7 Rooms at 3/||1 1|
|To do. . . 4 passages at 2/||8|
|To do. . . 2 closets & porch 3/||3|
|To 4 ½ bushels of whitewash at 1/3||5 7½|
|To mending the Tops of the Chimnies 2/||2|
|By the Rent of the Brickyard — for the years 1786-87-88-89-90 at 40/ Bal. due £10.5 .5||£10|
|Jan.||27||By cash in part by Mr Dawson||£6 10 8|
|April||3||To Peck of whitewash 3d 3/4 whitewashg Room 3/||3 3-¾|
|June||6||To 1 ½ bush: Whitewash at 1/3||1 10-½|
|To whitewashing 3 Rooms & 2 passages at 3/6||17 6|
|To do the Porch 1/3||1 3|
|Augt||16||To lime and altering the grate 2/6||2 6|
|March||25||To whitewash & whitewashing Room & passage||8 1-½|
|April||2-||To do & do a passage||3 9|
|June||28||By Cash in full||£6 5 0¼|
|£22 15 8-¼||£22 15 8 ¼|
|1767||Dr. Arthur Lee who was practicing medicine in Williamsburg challenged James Mercer to a duel. The Virginia Gazette of April 27, 1767, May 28, 1767, July 23, 1767 and July 30, 1767 carried the details and affidavits for people of both sides:|
|"Down to Nicholson's"||Deposition of Dr. Wm. Pasteur [lived at James Semple house] "... I walked down to Mr. Mercer's lodgings [Mercer was at Robt. Nicholson's house which is now Jim Cogar's.]"|
|"down the street"|
"down the road"
"down the street" "up the street"
|Deposition of Robert Nicholson: [After executing his signature to papers for Mercer, which he and his son were asked to do] "immediately went over the street to the shop. [Shop opposite his house.] In less than five minutes, Mr. Mercer came out of the street door, and clapping it pretty hard after him, I looked over, and saw him come down the steps, and walk down the street, with a stick in his hand. I looked after him to see if he was going to Mr. Waller's grove; but passing that place, he walked straight down the street, leading to the race field... I then told [Mercer's servant] 'to walk down the road, and look if he could see his master; but take care not to let his master see him.'... As soon as I saw Mr. Mercer walk down the street, I told my young man in the shop, that I suspected Mr. Mercer gone to meet Doctor Lee somewhere below the town,...Between 6 and 7 o'clock Mr. Mercer returned; and I saw him walk past my shop, and go up the street...."|
|1769 August 21st||Letter of Anne Blair to Mrs. Braxton, her sister, from Williamsburg:|
|"up the street"||[Mrs. Dawson had been visiting her sister and the chariot was at the door to take her home near Tazewell Hall.] "...it was proposed to set at ye Step's and Sing a few song's wch was no sooner said than done; while thus we were employ'd, a Candle & Lanthorn was observed to be coming up the Street ... no one took any notice of it—till we saw, who it was, stopt to listen to our enchanting Notes ... whereupon, the invader to our melody, call'd out in a most rapturous Voice, Charming! Charming! proceed for God Sake, or I go Home directly ... pray Walk in my Lord [Botetourt] No-indeed, he would not, he would set on the Step's too;..."1|
|1769 October 14th||Letter of Anne Blair to Mrs. Braxton, her sister, from Williamsburg:|
|"down town"||"...my sister Burwell was a going down Town to call and pay it [money] to Mr. Greenhow2 ..."|
|1769 [no month]||Letter Anne Blair to Mrs. Braxton:|
|"down Street"||"... In a ramble down Street met Mr. Price who I fancy is getting Wedding geer for his Betsy...he was Buying a World of things of Messrs. Hunter & Pitt..."3|
|1779 August "Upper end of city"||Severinus Durfey "at his store in the upper end of this city, opposite the Hon. John Blair's..."1|
|1747-1751||James Blair1, Charles City County, was being sued and suing for debts.2|
|1751 January 21||James Blair, Defendant, sued by William Roscow for £600 current money for debt owed.3 (Plaintiff won — Blair taken to jail until judgment satisfied.)|
|1751||John Blair's Diary4|
|Jany 22||"Col Roscow wth me abt J. Blair..."|
|23||"Spoke wth Mr. Crosby abt J. Bs note."|
|February 6||"Cole Bolling here & Jas Blair from York"|
|9||"Took Mr. Crosbie's oblign for £40."|
|11||"J. Blair offerd a further mortgge and powr of atty"|
|March 22||"Recd letter fr. Jas. Blair.. gave some copys to Mr. With."|
|30||"Writt again to Jas. Blair and abt Mrs. Cole's corn."|
|April 1||"Writt to Col. Bolling abt do and Mrs. Blair."|
|14||"Charming day but warm. Mr Jas Blair came to Town."|
|October 29||"Black, &c., agt Mr. Jams Blair and me, went off without contest, as the depositions of the party before my ld mayr, were adjudgd insufficient evidence wth out othr proof..."|
|November 2||"...James Blair is, I hear, arrested for £200. In wch I cannot assist him."|
|December 3||"Dun'd Mr Crosby for J. Blair"|
|9||"Was security for Mr. Blair in Jas City in Twenty odd Thousd pounds."|
|11||"The Counsellrs mett at my house, & agreed on a Complimt to ye Govr"|
|1969 Feb.||James Blair, Prince George County, had daughter burned to death. She was 11 years old.1|
|1770 Aug.||Hugh Hill "who now resides at the late dwelling-house of Mr. James Blair, deceased, on James river, Prince George County, near Westover, repairs watches."2|
|Oct.||Hugh Hill advertised that he was "next door to Mr. Cocke's store, Williamsburg..."3|
|Nov. 22||"John Blair, Williamsburg, executor of the estate of James Blair, late of Prince George County, deceased.."4|
|1772 Feb.||John Blair, excr. of James Blair, decd, PLTF vs Anne Blair, widow, DEFT: She to hold slaves and property left her by Frances Greenhill5 and all other estate of James Blair, decd. to be delivered to John Blair.6|
|Dec.||Anne Blair advertised plantation in Prince George County to be rented. "Apply to the subscriber in Williamsburg who will dispose of her Thirds or Dower in lands in Bedford county, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania...which lands did belong to the late James Blair, deceased; also her Dower in five hundred acres in Chesterfield county, now the Estate of Brett Randolph, deceased."1|
|1773 Oct. 18||Archibald Blair, infant of James Blair, decd, chose John Blair as his guardian.3|
|1776 Dec. 16||Ann Blair's tithes added to list.3|
|1779 July 31||Tenement to be sold by John Blair "opposite to the house where the Treasurer's Office was lately kept & situate between houses of Mrs. Ann Blair and Thomas Orrell."4|
|1780 June 8||"Mrs. Ann Blair (or Mrs. James Blair)" repair work done by Harwood.5|
|1783||Ann Blair, proprietor of a lot in Williamsburg.6|
|1786||Will of Ann Blair, Richmond — Son, Archibald left whole estate & exor. Had a daughter, Ann — Mrs. Blair had dwelling in Richmond at time of her death.7|
|1809||Archibald Blair died Richmond (will). He served as clerk to Council prior to removal of Capitol to Richmond; and at Richmond until his death.|
|1821||Archibald Blair Jr and Fanny Eggleston & Margaret Blair, granddaughters of Archibald Blair Sr. and great granddaughters of James Blair (d. 1770) to inherit part of John Blair property in Williamsburg.|
Uncatalogued Mss St. George Tucker
Folder 19, Colonial Williamsburg Archives
Letter from Mary Andrews, Williamsburg to St. George Tucker
March 17th 1804
[concerning recent death of husband & division of estate]
Wmsburg March 17th
...Robert & Mr Randolph proposed immediately after our Loss that the Family shd continue together this Year, & that what ever I was left by the Will, shd go to the general Support, the making subscribe a large proportion I willingly agreed to as I wish'd to continue together & it seem'd the meaning of the Will we shd on those terms— but I do not think I ought to subject the profits of the mountain plains to this Purpose, as my Husband had no power over that, but during his Life; but even to this, I shd not object in the present Exiegence, were it not for a particular Circumstance owing to Mr Andrews laying out all the Money he could spare first in building the addition to Mr Travis' House & afterwards in building at & improving the Quarter, he cd not repair our dwelling House, wc now without it will not be habitable, for except the parlour, there is not a Floor in the House, but what our Feet often goes thro' as we walk, we have plank for the purpose, but the laying it is very expensive & these are [illegible] at several other necessary Repairs to wc I meant to apply my separate property, for I do not think the Family in general are interested in these Improvements, tho' absolutely necessary for my Accommodation yet it wd not make the property bring more at my Death, when it must be sold to make the division— as I wish to take no advantage, ought the plank tho' bought for the purpose, be used without a Compensation to the Family? & there is a Carpenter too at the Quarter, that I do not think by the Will I can have for my Life, but he is employed in finishing some Houses & fencing at the Quarter & will be necessary there & here for most of the year—ought I not to hire him I do not know whether I have a proper [illegible] of these Matters, & have continued to propose them to your Consideration. I know you are interested in the Welfare & every part of the Family, & that every one in it pays great Defference to your Opinion; let me not however encroach too much on your Leisure; today when you were so good as call I was Just about this & wish'd to have finish'd & given it to your perusal as I had not an Operty of speaking to you on the subject— with the most grateful Sense of your Kindness— I shall ever remain my dear Sir your obliged M: Andrews
[endorsed on back]
John Blair was born at Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1732. Graduating from William and Mary College, he repaired to London, where he pursued his legal studies at the Temple, and was soon engaged in full practice at the bar of the General Court. Returning to Virginia, he engaged in the practice of his profession and was elected to the House of Burgesses. In 1765 he opposed the resolutions of Patrick Henry, but in 1769, when the House was dissolved, he was one of the patriotic band, consisting of Washington, Bland, Nicholas, and others, who held a meeting in the Raleigh Tavern and drafted the non-importation agreement. When the House of Burgesses was again dissolved, in 1770, and the members again assembled at the Raleigh to revise and amend the articles of agreement, associating themselves with the merchants of the colony, he was among them and recorded his name in the roll. In the latter year he was a delegate from William and Mary, the last of a long line of eminent men who represented the college in the public councils of the commonwealth, and was a member of the committee which reported the declaration of rights and the constitution. he was elected by the convention a member of the council, and when the judicial department was established, in 1777, he was elected a judge of the General Court, of which he became chief justice, and on the death of Robert Carter Nicholas, in 1780, he was elected a judge of the High Court of Chancery. By virtue of both stations he became a justice of the high Court of Appeals. The assembly appointed him a delegate to the Federal Convention to revise the articles of Confederation, in which, with Edmund Randolph and James Madison, he supported the so-called "Virginia plan" in opposition to the New Jersey scheme, which sustained the separate sovereignty of the States; and, with Washington and Madison alone of all the delegates from Virginia, voted for the adoption of the Constitution. When the Federal Constitution was submitted for the ratification of Virginia, he was returned from the county of York to the convention and voted in its favor. On the organization of the Federal judiciary, he was appointed by Washington in 1789, a judge of the Supreme Court, discharging his duties with ability to his resignation in 1796. He died at Williamsburg, August 31, 1800. In appearance John Blair was about five feet ten inches in height, of an erect and imposing stature, with a full forehead, blue eyes, and a well-formed nose; hair inclining to be red, and an expression of sweetness and gravity which adhered to him through life. His manners were marked by high-bred courtesy and gentleness, and he preserved to the last that strict attention to his dress which was the characteristic of the colonial regime.
Rev. Robert Andrews was a native of Pennsylvania. Educated in the Colleges of Philadelphia. Coming to Virginia, Andrews lived as a tutor in the family of John Page of "Rosewell." In 1772 Andrews was a candidate for Holy Orders, in England. (See: Tucker-Coleman Collection - letter from John Page Jr., Rosewell to John Norton, London, dated September 18, 1772)
Returning to Virginia Andrews accepted the chair of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy at William and Mary College. Andrews held that position from 1777 to his death in 1804.
Robert Andrews married Mary Blair, daughter of John Blair Jr. of Williamsburg. There were five children: Ann who married William Randolph, Robert, Betsy, Catherine wife of J. B. Wilkinson, and John. Robert Andrews died in 1804 and his wife in 1820. The above children were by his first marriage.
Source: Fairfax Harrison, The Virginia Carys. New York, The DeVinne Press, 1919.
[Note: appended to John Blair House report by J. R. Fishburne 30 July 1965.]