(this post was first published in “Worldwide Genealogy – A Genealogical Collaboration, 30 Jan. 2018)
photo of Amphill Plantation in Chesterfield County, Virginia–from Wikipedia Commons
This is the story of two plantations in Virginia, USA, which were both called Ampthill Plantation at one time. More so, it is about the discovery of these two homes both still standing in Virginia today, and realizing that the owners and families involved were all wealthy, influential, aristocratic First Families of Virginia and all related at least distantly to this author. How exciting to.find information like this, facts that breathe life into old homes and broaden our understanding of our ancestors. One of these homes has become a Bed and Breakfast—I can hardly wait to stay in it and experience the very atmosphere of my ancestors!
While working on my family tree on Ancestry, I had come across a picture of the first Ampthill Plantation built about 1730 in Colonial Virginia by our Great Uncle Henry Cary, 1675-1749. When I posted the picture on my family tree on Ancestry, a knowledgeable woman named Margaret wrote me a kind note letting me know there were two Ampthill Estates! I was very surprised to learn that there was another Ampthill Plantation House in Virginia, and even more so, that it had also been owned by more of our own family’s ancestors.
The Cary’s Ampthill Plantation was originally located in part of the Henricus Settlement of Colonial Virginia, which became Chesterfield County in 1749. The house was built by Henry Cary Jr. our eighth great –uncle, whose father, Henry Cary, Sr. our 8th Great -Grandfather, was an architect who designed many famous buildings in Colonial Virginia, including the Capital Building at Colonial Williamsburg. The Cary Ampthill home was inhabited for many years by Henry Jr.’s son, our first cousin and a Revolutionary War hero, Col. Archibald Cary among others of the well-known Cary family. Later the house was physically relocated into the city of Richmond, Virginia near Cary Street named for the family. As a child growing up in Richmond, Virginia, my mother worked as a realtor in an office on Cary Street. We often saw this first Ampthill Estate home on our local travels. Unfortunately, at that time we did not know of our kinship.
This is what Wikipedia says about the Cary Family’s Ampthill Plantation:
“Ampthill Plantation pictured above) was located in the Virginia Colony in Chesterfield County on the south bank of the James River about four miles south of the head of navigation at modern-day Richmond, Virginia. Built by Henry Cary, Jr. about 1730, it was just upstream of Falling Creek. It was later owned by Colonel Archibald Cary, who maintained a flour mill complex and iron forge at the nearby town of Warwick. Mary Randolph was born there in 1762.
In 1929, Ampthill House, the manor house of Ampthill Plantation, was dismantled, moved to a site on Cary Street Road in the West End of Richmond, and reassembled where it sits today. Although it is not open to the public, Ampthill House is a noteworthy local landmark, and is marked by a Virginia Historical Marker.
The former plantation property on the James River near Falling Creek is occupied by the Spruance Plant and related industrial complex of the DuPont Company.”—from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ampthill_(Chesterfield_County,_Virginiahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ampthill_(Chesterfield_County,_Virginia)
Ampthill Estate in Cartersville, Virginia–from Wikimedia Commons
The second Ampthill Plantation is located in the town of Cartersville, in Cumberland County, Virginia. I call it the second Ampthill because it wasn’t named Ampthill until the early 1800’s, almost 100 years after the Cary’s Ampthill Estate. However, the land began to be developed about the same time as the first Ampthill—in the early 1700’s.
According to Wikipedia,“Ampthill is a plantation located in Cartersville, Cumberland County, Virginia, United States, roughly 45 minutes west of Richmond, and just over an hour south of Charlottesville. The property is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
In 1714 Charles Fleming took on a land patent of 670 acres (2.7 km²) with an intent to cultivate it. The land, however, “lapsed,” and was later granted to Thomas Randolph in 1722. This area was later included in a tract made up of 2870 acres (11.6 km²), which later came to be known as “Clifton.” But it was this initial purchase of the 670 acres (2.7 km²) that would form “The Fork,” known for its position on the James and Willis Rivers. It would later become Ampthill. In 1724, Randolph sold the site to Robert “King” Carter, then the wealthiest landowner in Virginia.
In his will dated 22 August 1726, King Carter willed the 2870 acre (11.6 km²) tract to his then unborn grandson, with the stipulation that the child carry the Carter name. Some time later, Anne Carter and Major Benjamin Harrison of Berkeley Plantation, christened a son, Carter Henry, who later become the owner of the property known as “Clifton,” in Cumberland County, Virginia.
Carter Henry Harrison moved to Clifton upon graduation from law school. There he raised his family and wrote the Cumberland Resolutions, which were presented to the community from the steps of the Effingham Tavern. These resolutions were later incorporated into the Virginia Resolutions, which were the basis for the Declaration of Independence, written by Harrison’s nephew, Thomas Jefferson.
Carter Henry Harrison died in 1793. In his will, Carter Henry willed Clifton to his son, Randolph, and The Fork to his son Robert. Robert sold The Fork to Shadrack Vaughan in 1804. Randolph later repurchased the property in 1815. The Fork was a clapboard structure of no more than three bedrooms. In 1815, the decision was made to add an addition to the existing manor. Randolph called upon his cousin, Thomas Jefferson, to design the brick addition that exists today. These plans exist today on file with the University of Virginia. The addition began its first phases of construction in 1835 and was completed in 1837. The two “houses” were separate for a number of years until a one-story passageway was built to connect the two. After the construction of the brick addition was completed the structure was renamed Ampthill.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
In 1998, the property was purchased by George Costen of Charlottesville. Beginning in 1999 and for a number of years that followed, Ampthill went under a major historic restoration.
Ampthill becamea bed and breakfast and enjoys the prestige of being the only privately owned Jeffersonian property in Virginia. Her windows are the original glass. Ampthill exists today on 60 acres (240,000 m2) of the original 2870 acres (11.6 km²), is the home to 40 head of cattle and includes the manor house, four outbuildings and the barn, which dates to 1920, by far the youngest standing structure on the property.” —https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ampthill_(Cumberland_County,_Virginia)
Wow, that is a lot of information, and it looks like the property moved through a lot of different families—however, let’s look a bit more closely through the eyes of a descendant, who is learning through genealogy! Remember also, I have just learned of this estate, although it belonged to my ancestors, I never knew of it until recently.
Charles Fleming originally owned the land that became the second Ampthill Estate in 1714. The Wikipedia author states that Fleming’s grant lapsed and the land was then given to Thomas Randolph in 1722. However, I wonder if he realized that Thomas Randolph’s wife was the daughter of Charles Fleming, Judith Churchill Fleming, 1689-1743! She could not legally own property in Virginia, so I wonder if Charles Fleming willed it to his son-in-law perhaps. Thomas Randolph, 1683-1729 of Virgina, 2nd owner of the 2nd Ampthill, was my family’s ninth cousin.
–all family trees are the personal work and property of Helen Y. Holshouser
In 1726, only four years after receiving the land, Thomas Randolph sold it to the fifth Governor of Virginia, Robert “King” Carter, my family’s 9th Great Uncle! Nothing like keeping it in the family! Thomas Randolph died in 1729, so he may have known he was not able to care for the land.
Robert “King” Carter, 1663-1732, Public Domain
Robert “King” Carter’s father, John Carter, was our 9th Great Grandfather. Robert “King” Carter willed the land to his grandson Carter Henry Harrison (our 2nd cousin), through Robert’s daughter Anne Carter (our 1st cousin) and her husband Benjamin Harrison IV, the grandparents of our 9th President of the US, William Henry Harrison! Carter Henry Harrison willed the land to his sons, Robert and Randolph Harrison. Randolph Harrison (our 3rd cousin 7 times removed) ended up purchasing all of the property by 1815, where two clapboard houses stood, one named the Clifton and the other The Fork. But wait– who was the wife of Carter Henry Harrison and the mother of Randolph Harrison? None other than one Susannah Randolph, 1738-1779, our 10th cousin! Yes, she is related to us and is the niece of the original Thomas Randolph who owned the property on which the second Ampthill Estate was built! Amazingly, she married a second time to Thomas Fleming, the grandson of the original owner of the 2nd Ampthill property, Charles Fleming! Wow! In fact, Susannah Randolph’s father is Isham Randolph, who is the brother of Thomas Randolph, 1683-1729, the 2nd owner of the 2nd Ampthill. Isham and Thomas Randolph’s parents were William Randolph, 1651 of England who immigrated to Virginia, and his wife Mary Royall Isham.
That is not all of the important connections for this amazing family—and we haven’t even talked about their many roles in shaping the new country of the United States—but Isham Randolph b. 1685 and his wife Jane L. Rogers had eleven children including Susannah Randolph of course, and they also had her sister Jane Randolph, 1720, who married Peter Jefferson b.1708 and became the parents of our President, Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826. As you read above in the article from Wikipedia, Thomas Jefferson designed the second Ampthill Estate for his Uncle, Carter Henry Harrison who was also the Uncle of President William Henry Harrison! Wow, simply amazing! As the article stated, the Ampthill Estate in Cartersville is the only privately-owned Thomas Jefferson designed home in Virginia and it is now a bed and breakfast! I can hardly wait to visit this home and walk and sleep where my ancestors slept and worked 200-300 years ago!
Thomas Jefferson in 1791 at 49 by Charles Willson Peale–Public Domain, Wikipedia
William Henry Harrison, Daguerreotype of an oil painting depicting William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States. Public Domain, Wikipedia
Just to add other amazing discoveries (amazing to me) let’s look at the mother of Susannah Randolph b. 1738, for a minute. Married to Isham Randolph, her name was Jane Lilburnie Rogers, 1692-1760, and she was the 2nd great granddaughter of Thomas “The Pilgrim” Rogers, 1586-1621, who came to Plymouth Colony on the Mayflower! Not only is Thomas Rogers my own tenth great grandfather, he is my husband Max Holshouser’s eleventh great grandfather! Yes, it makes us distant cousins!
Other very interesting information about the Randolphs is that my sister Anne is married to Joseph Prince, who is also related to the same Randolph family of Virginia, making them distant cousins like Max and I are. What a small world native Virginians make!
Through my DNA testing on ancestry, I have discovered other cousins also related to the Randolphs, Carters, Carys, Harrisons and Jeffersons. One of the DNA cousins I met is Pam Maudsley Cooper, a dear cousin whom I have come to admire greatly, and who lives in Queensland, Australia! I was born in Virginia, but have lived in the State of North Carolina in America since 1980. Thanks to the internet, Pam and I can work together often on the genealogy we both enjoy and enhance our cousinship! Different continents, but we share13th great grandparents in William Carter, 1475-1521 and his wife Alice Croxton, 1478-1525 of England. Again, I say totally amazing!
Then there is this information tying the families of the two Ampthill Estates together: the 3rd owner of the 2nd Ampthill in Cartersville, Virginia was Robert King Carter, fifth Gov. Of Virginia and our ninth great- Uncle, who received the land in 1726. He willed the land to his daughter Anne Carter Harrison’s son Carter Henry Harrison—although it was not called Ampthill until 1835. Meanwhile, Henry Cary Jr. built the first Ampthill Plantation in Chesterfield County, Virginia about 1730. Henry Cary Jr.’s sister, Anne Cary, my 7th great grandmother, was married to Maurice Langhorne,whose mother, Anne Cary’smother-in-law, was none other than Rebecca Carter, our eighth great grandmother, and a member of the same Carter family of Colonial Virginia. Even closer perhaps, Colonel Archibald Cary of Ampthill in Chesterfield County, married Mary Randolph, 1722-1781. She belongs to this very same famous Randolph family.
If all of these intermarriages make you dizzy, I surely understand. However, as you get to know the individuals and the immense contributions they made to the founding of America, I imagine you will admire them as I do. There is a book written by Robert K. Headley, Jr. titled Married Well and Often, Marriages of the Northern Neck of Virginia, 1649-1800. While it is a book of valuable marriage records, the title always makes me smile especially when I read of the many inter-family marriages that were common in the colonial days of Virginia.
I do love family history! Until next time, I am wishing you the very best, Helen Holshouser