Information on the Ewell Family of Virginia
Rev. Robert Ewell
Christened in Kent, England, 8 Dec 1566, Robert Ewell later became rector of the parish
church of Barson.
James Ewell, immigrant to Virginia
Edward Ewell, of Isle of Thanet, Kent, England, was a yeoman by trade. Some sources show that he married three times, but the source for this information who researched this family in England, could find record of only one marriage for Edward, to Catherine Boys in Nonington, Kent. That he was the father of immigrant James Ewell is proved by Edward's will in which he states "I give to the heirs of James Ewell, late of Annok Creek in Accomac County on the eastern shore of Virginia 40 lbs to be shared equally".
The first record found of James Ewell in Virginia is dated 26 October 1668 in Accomac County. By 1669 he is recorded as summoned for jury duty, inferring he was a landowner.
He married Anne, the probable widow of one Rowland White who died not long after their
arrival. As a bricklayer and builder, James Ewell's services were in high demand; a 1674 record shows that James was under contract to Capt. John West to deliver "five thousand good and well burnt bricks as also for the Playsteringe the outside of my house." James Ewell's will was probated 13 July 1703, in which he names wife Anne, and their five sons and two daughters, as well as stepson Thomas White.
Charles Ewell and Mary Ann Bertrand
Ewell family legend and lore has been passed down through the generations that Charles Ewell and two brothers were builders of the first capitol building in Williamsburg. While no specific record (if one even exists) has been found, the events surrounding this story, as well as what we know of Charles' activities during this time period, make a most compelling case that this family legend is accurate. In late 1700, the initial construction had begun, and by the fall of 1701, one Robert Snead, who was Clerk of Accomac County was hired to oversee the bricklaying. Again, while we do not have the records of those he hired for this task, he likely would have known of neighbor Charles Ewell's abilities as a bricklayer.
Brickwork for the first capitol building in Williamsburg was completed in the summer of 1704. Almost immediately after, we find Charles Ewell purchased 250 acres in Accomac County and an additional 550 acres the following year, with his purchases made in cash, (about 200 pounds sterling), quite an extraordinary sum for a young man of 23 years. Several months later, he purchased 217 acres in nearby Lancaster County, then in 1708, added 500 acres and again in 1709 added another parcel of land to this earlier tract in Lancaster, again paying for all in sterling. It must also be mentioned here that Charles Ewell, being a younger son of James Ewell, received only a small inheritance-all of which leads us to believe that he made a vast fortune at a very young age, and this fits the Ewell family "legend" that Charles was very likely the builder of Williamsburg's first capitol building. The capitol building which now stands in Williamsburg is actually the third such building as both the first and second were destroyed by fire. Charles Ewell died in 1722, at the relatively young age of thirty-nine.
It is believed that 1710 was the likely year in which Charles Ewell married Mary Ann Bertrand. She was an educated and wealthy young woman, recently widowed, and an ideal match for Charles Ewell. Her parents, Rev. John Bertrand and Charlotte Jolie Bertrand, along with John Bertrand's brother, Paul Bertrand, were French Huguenots who had fled to England from France, before arriving in America; both John and brother Paul were ordained clergymen of the Church of England. Huguenot records identify John and Charlotte as "Jeane de Bertrand and Charlot de Joile". They first settled in Rappahannock County, having married in London 29 Sep 1686. Charlotte Jolie, as she became known in her American home, was said to be the daughter of "the Comte de Jolie", a french nobleman who had escaped from France along with his daughter, Charlotte and her husband. John Bertrand served as pastor at a small chapel in Lancaster, now long gone, but identified on maps today as Bertrand. After Charles Ewell's death, Mary Ann Bertrand Ewell married twice more, first to William Ballendine 16 Feb 1724, and lastly to Maj. James Ball in 1742. Mary Ann's uncle, Paul Bertrand settled in Calvert County, Maryland, where he died shortly after marrying, leaving one child, Paul, who evidently returned to England. In addition to daughter Mary Ann, Rev. John Bertrand and Charlotte Jolie had a son, William Bertrand (d 1760), who is identified as a witness of Charles Ewell's will, shown below.
|Will of Charles Ewell|
Written 13 January 1722, codocil dated 15 January 1722.
Probated 11 April 1722
In the name of God amen. I Charles Ewell of the County of Lancaster being
very sick and weak but in perfect memory thanks be to God do first devise
principally give and bequeath my soul to God that gave it me in certain hopes notwitstanding my (?) to receive pardon for my sins through the blessed (?) and (?) of my Saviour Jesus Christ.
Item I give to my son Charles all that tract of land near the mouth
of Corotoman which I purchased of Mathew Meers to him his heirs forever.
Item I give to my son two hundred and fifty acres of that tract of
land at Toliver's mount to him and his heirs for ever which I purchased of
Item I give to my son Bertrand half of the tract of land I now live
on with half the orchard not including any part of his standing during my
wife's life and after her decease the whole to fall to my son.
Item I give to my son Bertrand two hundred and fifty acres out of
that tract at Tolliver's mount for him and his heirs for ever.
Item I give to my son Solomon three hundred and fiftey acres of land
out of that tract at the mount for him and his heirs for ever and he to have
first choice of the whole tract.
Item I give to my daughter Mary Anne one hundred and fifty acres of
land out of the aforementioned tract to her and her heirs forever.
Item I give to my daughter Sharlotte one hundred and fifty acres of
land out the aforsd. tract to her and her heirs forever.
Item I give to my son Charles two Negroes one called by the name of
Comfort and the other to be his choice of my two Bricklayers to him and his
Item I give to my son Bertrand one Negro girl named Moll to him and
his heirs forever.
Item I give to my son Solomon one Negro girl named Nanney to him and
his heirs forever.
Item I give to my daughter Mary Anne one Negro named Sarah to her and
her heirs for ever.
Item I give to my daughter Sharlott one Negro named Young Betty for
her and her heirs forever.
Item my will is that my other Bricklayer shall assist my three
children (Vizt) Solomon, Mary Anne and Sharlott in building a small brick
house or chimneys as they shall think fit.
Item I give to my loving wife the remainder part of my plantation
whereon I now dwell before not given.
Item I give all the rest of my estate real and personal equally to be
divided between my wife and children.
Item my will is that my wife enjoy the whole of estate during her
Item I nominate and appoint my loving wife Executrix and my loving
friends Mr. William Bertrand and Mr. Bryan Pully Executors of this my last
will and testament.
January the 13, 1721
Signed and Sealed in the presence of
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