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  • Writer's pictureHistory Revealed

Paging Mrs. Elizabeth Connell

In our quest to learn more about the communities of Colchester and Alexandria, we want to learn more about the individual account holders. In this week's #TranscriptionTuesday, we are hoping for help from you with who a particular woman might be: Mrs. Elizabeth Connell.

Mrs. Elizabeth Connell's store account (folio 23) shows her purchases and payments to the Colchester store and includes references to her children, the county sheriff, the Truro parish collector, and Sampson Turley.
Account of Mrs Elizabeth Connell from the Colchester 1760-1761 store ledger (folio 23).

Here is what we know from the ledgers: Elizabeth Connell/Connel had an account with the Glassford Colchester store from 1759 - 1766. She was a widow based on having her own account and the title of 'Mrs.' She had at least two children - a son, Giles, and an unnamed daughter. Elizabeth Connell also had dealings with Sampson Turley, John Smith, James Tillet, and John Ford.

Other Connells in the ledger include: Giles (most likely Elizabeth's son), Thomas, William (son of Thomas), James (a joiner in Alexandria working at the ship yard), and Arthur (a merchant in Glasgow). Giles and Thomas also have dealings with John Ford - who paid off Giles's account in full in 1766. Elizabeth, Giles, Thomas, and William no longer appear in the ledgers after 1766 making us believe all were connected in some way.

Giles Connell and John Ford were listed as wagoners (movers in the 18th century) who paid part of their accounts in moving goods for others.


When we start to look outside the ledgers is when it gets confusing. At the Fairfax County Historic Records Center at the courthouse, we identified two possible Elizabeth Connell's who may (or may) not be the same person. Both references come from wills.

1. Elizabeth, the widow of Simon Connell. In the will of Simon Connell (FXCO WB A-1 (Pt 1): 87-88), recorded 15 November 1744, Elizabeth Connell acted as the executrix and inherited the land and plantation of Simon for the duration of her life. At Elizabeth's death, son Thomas Connell (and his wife Catherine) inherited the land and plantation (containing 88 acres) 'where Simon presently lives.' Son William inherited 100 acres adjoining Simon/Elizabeth/Thomas's lands, pluse a feather bed and furniture. Son John (and his wife Hester) inherited all remaining acres of adjoining land. Daughter Priscilla Nicholls inherited one feather bed and furniture. The remainder of the estate was to be equally divided between the four previously described children plus daughter Elizabeth Yeo.

In 1767, Thomas Connell of Edgecomb County, North Carolina, sold 88 acres to James Doyall (FXCO DB G1: 308) 'being where on Simon Connell lived.'

In 1987, Beth Mitchell, on behalf of the Fairfax County Office of Comprehensive Planning, created a snapshot of Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1760.  Thomas Connell was listed as not being a resident of the county, but owning property within it.
Thomas Connell's lands as found on the 'Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1760: An Interpretive Historical Map' prepared by Beth Mitchell, 1987.

With Thomas selling the land in 1767, it lines up with both his disappearance from the ledger through a move to North Carolina and the possible death of his mother - and thus her disappearance from the ledger too.

2. Elizabeth Connell, daughter of William Champneys. In the will of William Champneys (FXCO WB A-1 (Pt. 2): 443-444), recorded 26 March 1751, Elizabeth Connell was described as mother of Ann Tillet and was to be provided personal property and the management of Champneys's leased land at the death of her mother, Ann Champneys. In addition, while her mother still lived, Elizabeth was to reside on the property with her mother, to have a separate house built for her, to maintain the orchards to pay the rent, and to be provided £10 twelve months after the decease of her mother. James Tillet received clothing as part of the terms of the will. The executors of the estate were Ann Champneys, Samuel Tillet, James Tillet, and Ann Tillet - not Elizabeth Connell.

In a deed from 1787 (FXCO DB Q-1: 458), the description of of Champneys's property was described as 136 1/2 acres on the lower side of Giles Run, the lower part of a tract of 416 acres granted to Giles Tillet by the Northern Neck Proprietorship in 1717 (NN5: 148). The 136 1/2 acres were sold to William Champneys in 1742 and through a series of inheritances was eventually sold by John Ford in 1765 to William Bayley.

In 1987, Beth Mitchell, on behalf of the Fairfax County Office of Comprehensive Planning, created a snapshot of Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1760.  John Ford was listed as a resident land owner in Fairfax County with one enslaved person and two tenants: James Tillet and George Nicholls.
John Ford's lands with Giles Run running through it as found on the 'Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1760: An Interpretive Historical Map' prepared by Beth Mitchell, 1987.

In 1755, Champneys's estate was settled in the courts (FXCO COB 1754: 360) and included as executors Samuel Tillet, John Ford and Ann, his wife. From this information, we inferred that Ann Champneys must be deceased and Ann Tillet either married or became remarried to John Ford; although not mentioned in the court records, Ann Champneys's death may have been the trigger for the estate to be resolved.


Which leads us to too many questions:

Were these two aforementioned Elizabeth's the same woman or different Elizabeth Connells? If they were different Elizabeths, who was Elizabeth (2)'s husband? Who was the father of Ann Tillet and Giles Connell?

To whom was Ann Tillet married when her grandfather's will was written and/or was she Elizabeth's daughter from an earlier marriage? With James Tillet inheriting clothing and both he and Samuel Tillet acting as executors, was she married to one or the other?

A 'Mrs. Connell' purchased against Samuel Tillet's Colchester account (1758/1760, folio 101); he was connected to Mrs Jean Turley (widow of John, mother of Sampson), another primary female store account holder, who left an Elizabeth Connell 20 shillings in her will (in 1769). How was Elizabeth Connell connected to Mrs. Jean Turley? If she left money in her updated will, Elizabeth Connell must have still been living?

Was the Giles listed in Elizabeth Connell's account, Giles Connell or Giles Tillet? Did the name Giles evolve into other names - like George or James? The only person named Giles in the ledgers was Giles Connell.

Most importantly, who was Mrs Elizabeth Connell as found in the Colchester store ledgers?

If you have additional information and can help, please do!

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