Agnes Beville Vaughan Tedcastle.

The Beville family of Virginia, Georgia, and Florida, and several allied families, north and south online

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Online LibraryAgnes Beville Vaughan TedcastleThe Beville family of Virginia, Georgia, and Florida, and several allied families, north and south → online text (page 1 of 9)
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Given By


Ellery Sedgwick

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" So dear to heav'n is saintly chastity.
That when a soul is found sincerely so,
A thousand liveried angels lackey her,
Driving afar off each thing of sin and guilt,
And in clear dream and solemn vision
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear
Till oft converse with heav'nly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on th' outward shape."







Member of the Georgia Society of Colonial Dames of America, Neiv

England Historic Genealogical Society, Huguenot Society

of South Carolina, Virginia Historical Society,

Georgia Historical Society





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Agnes Beville Vaughan Tedcastle



The Memory of my Grandmother



My other Best Friend
My Husband



I. Glimpses of Southern Plantation* Life
II. The Bevill or Beville Family

III. The Vaughan Family

IV. The Harrison Family
V. The Pelot Family

VI. The Pearce Family
VII. The Chisholm Family
VIII. The Atherton Family
IX. The Humphrey Family
X. The Gignilliat Family
XI. The Cooke Family
XII. The Weekes Family

XIII. The Leeds Family

XIV. The Scruggs Family






Mary Lavisy Beville Vaughan . . . Frontispiece

Ellen 14

104 years on the Harrison Plantation.

Beville Coat of Arms . 22

Gwarnock 24

Keduced to a Farm House in the 17th Century.

Beville Altar-Tomb, Talland Church, Cornwall . 28

Agnes Beville Willetts 38

Agnes Obedience Beville Tedcastle .... 66
And her " grand child," Agnes Beville Willetts.

Tedcastle Coat of Arms 68

Granted in 1590.

Lieutenant Commander Horace Nephew Harrison . 80
United States Navy.

" Hill Crest," Home of the Author .... 136

Pillars at " Hill Crest " 144

View from Rose Arbor, "Hill Crest" . . . 168


Among the English settlers in Virginia, under Lord Del-
aware and Sir Thomas Dale, in the very early part of the
seventeenth century, and at later periods in the same cen-
tury, were representatives of many of the greatest families
of the Mother Land. The same also is true of the settlers
of South Carolina, which colony was granted by Charles the
Second to eight noblemen in 1665, and under the patronage
of these " Lords Proprietors " began to be settled in 1670.
To one or the other of these famous southern colonies came
early, but in precisely what years we cannot now tell, the
various families of which limited sketches will be given or to
which allusions will be made in the following pages. Of any
of these families far too little has yet been written. Living
as they did on great plantations and owning large numbers
of negro slaves, rejoicing in aristocratic traditions and able
not only to indulge luxurious tastes but to exercise unstint-
edly the high-bred hospitalities becoming true gentlefolk,
there is no section of the American people in Colonial times
whose community life stimulates the imagination and lends
itself to dramatic historical description and dramatic fiction
half so insistently and richly as theirs.

That old Virginia and South Carolina and Georgia plan-
tation life, with its luxury and ease, its courtliness and grace,
its strong sense of honour among men and chivalrous regard
for women, — in short with all its high lights of romance, and


its dark shades of prosaic defect as well, is long gone now.
"Already, as we regard it," says Charles Dudley Warner,
" it assumes an air of unreality, and vanishes in its strong
lights and heavy shades like a dream of the chivalric age."
But in many quarters, in spite of the glare of modern
changed conditions, unfaded memories of it remain, and in
some at least of the descendants of those who figured in it,
as in the writer of the present volume of family sketches,
there is strong sense of the duty of preserving the names
and the personalities of these early people from entire obliv-
ion in the generations to come.

The greater number of families, which because of their
interrelationships are grouped together in this volume are
Southern families, but as in the activities and general inter-
ests of America in modern days the various sections of the
country are becoming more and more entangled, so to the
group of Southern families mentioned in this book will be
found linked a number of the prominent Puritan families of
the North. It was a somewhat far cry from Massachusetts to
the extreme South in the days of the Revolution, but shortly
after the close of that great struggle one of the writer's ances-
tors, who had served through the whole of the war, found his
way, unmarried, to Georgia, and became in the adjoining
Spanish Colony of the Floridas, a Southern Planter too.
Marrying, about 1798, a southern wife, he founded a family,
which thus had the good fortune to inherit some of the richest
traditions of both North and South.

Of these combined northern and southern families from
which she is descended, and their histories, the writer of the
present volume has undertaken to give brief outline sketches


The writer realizes that the field wherein she has done
her work of love is by no means exhausted. If, however,
her efforts should lead to a deeper sense of the debt we owe
to the memory of the strong men and women of the Ameri-
can Colonies who labored and endured that this wonderful
land we call The United States of America should become our
heritage, her work will not have been in vain. Her reward
has come in large measure from the acquaintance and cor-
respondence with men and women of to-day who have con-
tributed no little to the data herewith presented.

A. B. V. T.

Hillcrest, Milton,

June, 1917.


" I love thee next to Heaven above,
Land of my fathers ! — Thee I love."

" Joys too exquisite to last,

And yet more exquisite when past."


" Far down the winding river named in honor of King James by
the navigators Newport and Smith, who wrested from the dusky
dwellers on its banks an earlier right to call it for their sovereign
King Powhatan, stands an old brick house. With spreading wings
and airy colonades it is a type of the stately by-gones of Virginia's
ancient aristocracy now crumbling to sure decay. Surrounding its
lawns and rose gardens are marshes full of game, wheat fields and
tobacco fields still ready to answer to a fructifying touch, tall forests
of unbroken shade." Mrs. Burton Harrison, in Flower De Hundred.

" I am helped to bear all that is so very painful to me here by my
constant enjoyment of the strange wild scenery in the midst of which

I live I rode today to some new cleared and ploughed ground

that was being prepared for the precious cotton crop. I crossed a
salt marsh upon a raised causeway that was perfectly alive with land-
crabs, whose desperately active endeavors to avoid my horse's hoofs
were so ludicrous that I literally laughed alone and aloud at them.
The sides of this road across the swamp were covered with a thick
close embroidery of creeping moss or rather lichens of the most vivid
green and red : the latter made my horse's path look as if it was
edged with an exquisite pattern of coral ; it was like a thing in a
fairy tale, and delighted me extremely ....

" After my crab and coral causeway I came to the most exquisite
thickets of evergreen shrubbery you can imagine. If I wanted to
paint paradise I would copy this undergrowth, passing through which
I went on to the settlement of St. Annie's, traversing another swamp
on another raised causeway. The thickets through which I next
rode were perfectly draped with the beautiful wild jasmine of these
woods. Of all the parasitical plants I ever saw, I do think it is the
most exquisite in form and colour, and its perfume is like the most
delicate heliotrope." Frances Anne Kemble, in Journal of a Resi-
dence on a Georgia Plantation.



' I 'HE writer of the following family sketches was reared on
A the plantations of her maternal grandparents in Georgia
and Florida, while others of her immediate ancestors owned
conspicuous plantations in East Florida not far from the
Georgia line. Life on all these plantations was much the
same, and it seems desirable before the sketches themselves
begin, to give some glimpses of this life as the writer actually
knew it.

Besides our grandparents' large plantation, which con-
sisted of about four thousand acres, there was the town
house, with twenty acres about it, the eastern boundary of
this property being a beautiful stream loved by the Indians
in earlier days, the name of which was (and is) " Sweet Water
Branch," because of the transparent clearness and purity of
the water which flows in it. This crystal stream flowed for
miles through a forest of primeval pines. On the town prop-
erty our little grandmother put into practice her advanced
ideas on horticulture, growing here most of the ornamental
and fruit trees and shrubs peculiar to the West Indies, as
well as those already commonly known in Florida. She had
a theory that to get the sweetest oranges one must raise the
trees from seed without grafting, and from somewhere she


2 The Beville Family

once procured a barrel of so-called China oranges, which
were medium in size, very fine skinned, and of a peculiar
aromatic sweetness, and from these she raised trees, some of
which stood close to the house and grew to be quite thirty
feet tall. From the thud story windows of the great house
we used freely to gather oranges which hung in wonderful
clusters of gold against a background of dark glossy green
leaves. The little grandmother began growing bananas also,
but her sense of beauty was so great that she soon discarded
these trees because they were ragged, untidy, and ugly in

Within the gate of her wonderful garden 1 of roses, jasmines
of all kinds, oleanders twenty feet high, heavily laden with
rosy pink blossoms, and century plants with their delicate
yellow orchid-like blooms that came only once, we used to
play till our dear old black mammy would warn us that our
day was ended and we must go to bed. One of the most
sacred memories of the dear grandmother was her injunction,
which we never disobeyed, that having spoken with the
Heavenly Father in our evening prayer we must speak to no
human being afterward that night. Thus came to us a
spirit of reverence for God which has never been and can
never be lost.

Our grandfather was reared by his grandfather, a gentle-
man of General Washington's time and type, and our grand-
father's memories were historic and picturesque. As we
walked and talked together, the man of six feet two inches,
and the little girl, his first grandchild, whom he always
called his " baby," it was the writer's good fortune to learn
much of the noble past of the South, both as regards men
and measures. He always styled his grandfather our grand-

Glimpses of Southern Plantation Life 3

father, and they two and the little grandchild " our threefold
cord." To his grandchild he entrusted the responsibility of
transmitting to later generations the traditions he loved so

One of the chiefest of these traditions was how the old
Joshua Pearce homestead, on the original grant from King
George the Third, in St. George's Parish, now Screven County,
Georgia, had been made historic and doubly dear by the
visit of President Washington in the course of his memora-
ble ride from Savannah to Augusta in 1791. Later, in 1825,
Stephen Pearce, son of Joshua, entertained General Lafay-
ette on his return visit to the South he had served so well
in the closing years of the Revolution.

Pleasant it was in 1916 to find that only the day before,
the country schoolmaster had brought his pupils from the
church near by to show them the much respected spot where
the great house had stood. It may interest our readers to
know that the mahogany table at which our first President
sat for his tea on that fifth of May, 1791, is still in the
family of his host. Washington chose for his refreshment
on that occasion, southern waffles, crisp and thin, honey and
pound cake, in which he knew his hostess excelled. The
table has another association of historic interest : when it
was being removed from the burning house a soldier dis-
figured it with a slash of his sword. Just here let us say
that the kindred and friends of the owners of this table
bear little malice towards General Sherman, although their
eyes grow dim with tears as memories of the dark period
of the civil war persistently crowd upon them.

Our table has carried us along the years with too great
swiftness, we must go back to Georgia and have a closer

4 The Beville Family

look at those gentlemen who came with their families and
slaves from Virginia and the Carolinas somewhere between
1758 and '68, and settled in the newer province of Georgia.

By this change they secured by royal grant a larger acre-
age for their plantations, but found serious border troubles
by reason of the hostile attitude of Indians and Spaniards.
As one studies the colonization of our country one realizes,
however, the comfort and delight that must have come to
these planters by moving in groups the members of which
were bound to each other by the closest ties of blood and
friendship. Whether we find these men, brave and true, in
Virginia, the Carolinas, or Georgia, we see in the main the
same family groups clinging together, as for example the
Arundells, Bevills, Edwardses, Everetts, Granvilles, Hales,
Laniers, Mclntoshes, McCalls, Millses, and Pearces.

The sources of the wealth of these planters were the pro-
ducts of the soil, rice, indigo and cotton, and especially the giant
pine trees of Georgia's primeval forest. These huge pines
were sent down the Savannah and other rivers, and thus on
to England to be made into masts for the British nav}^ and
to enter into the construction of manor houses. These land-
ed proprietors of the South thus became men of large incomes
and wide influence. Colonel Charles Spalding Wylly, in
his enlightening and charming book "The Seed that was sown
in the Colony of Georgia," describing life on the Georgia Sea
Island plantations on which the writer's ancestors lived, says:
"In manner, mind, and bearing the planter and gentleman
of that day exhibited a constant courtesy to equal and in-
ferior. Many were men of wide education and often of
travel and experience. The fatal "environment" had not
yet poisoned spirit, heart, or action. They were distinguished

Glimpses of Southern Plantation Life 5

by a universal desire for the upbuilding of the country and
for love of the Union. To a certain extent they were over-
bearing in opinion, for the habit of command asserted itself
in their mental as well as their daily life, and with it a dog-
matism not open to argument."

"The home life of these owners of generally large planta-
tions was delightful; hospitality was universal, and to be the
guest of one family insured constant invitations to others.
Courtesy, one to the other, was greatly in evidence in speech
and demeanor. Indeed, the " code duello " had long issued
its decree that the slighest deviation from a studied etiquette
demanded quick reparation, and that to women was due
double caution in speech and approach. The mode of en-
tertainment was lavish, and though in somewhat of a cas-
tle-racket " order, had yet to every visitor the subtle charm
of being made to feel that in his stay he was conferring a
favor and not in receipt of one. To this was added a con-
stant change in the company, for in some houses the pro-
cession of incoming and outgoing guests was continuous."

" An aunt of mine has said to me that when a young
lady in her father's house, she scarcely remembered sitting
down to the dinner table with less than twenty-four. And
I have often been told of the gentleman and his wife who
being asked to dine at a residence on St. Simon, found that
during a meal a boat had been sent to Darien, fifteen miles
distant for their luggage, and that so much pleased were host,
hostess, and guests with one another that the stay was pro-
longed until two children had been born to the visiting

"The most common mode of entertaining," says this
writer, " was the giving of formal dinners. . . . The men ar-

6 The Beville Family

ranged hunting, fishing, and shooting parties for the morn-
ings and forenoons. The ladies rode much on horseback,
but never as is now common joined the men in their field
sports; conversation and needlework were their chief re-
sources ... In each of the homes the library was the room
most frequented. The paucity of social life forced a book
companionship, and when chance or purpose threw the
residents together, the conversation turned into channels as
unlike the talk, chat, and repartee of the present day as is
possible to be imagined. . . . The sons of ' well-to-do ' fam-
ilies were sent abroad and received fair educations with col-
legiate training. But that of the daughters was in general
entrusted exclusively to governesses. The colleges and fin-
ishing schools that now offer to the feminine sex advantages
not inferior to what Princeton, Harvard, and Yale give to
their brothers, were unknown. One or at most two years in
Charleston or Savannah gave the finishing touch to an ed-
ucation that was often followed quickly by an early mar-

" The mistress of one of these plantation houses, and host-
ess to this never ending house party," continues the writer,
" led an arduous life. Servants she had in numbers ....
but they needed her constant oversight and care."

This last bit of description applies with peculiar aptness to
our little grandmother. Her responsibilities and duties were
manifold, by reason of the care of her own children, the man-
agement of her numerous slaves, and the superintendence of
the rearing of their children, who were dear to her not so
much because they were her possessions, as because they were
her fellow human beings. The little grandmother was pos-
sessed of all the qualities and attributes sketched by King

Glimpses of Southern Plantation Life 7

Solomon as essentials of the perfect woman. Not content
with rearing her own ten children, she did as much for two
orphans and her first grandchild, as well as two coloured boys.

It is often charged that the Southern planters ruthlessly
separated the families of their slaves when it suited their
convenience to do so, but there was at least one instance of
a mother who so trusted her " ole miss " that she chose to
leave her two small boys with her when her owners removed
to Florida. Nancy was a famous cook and was always al-
lowed to go to neighboring plantations to assist their mistresses
when weddings were about to take place. She was the chief
of three cooks at the great house, while her husband belonged
to a neighboring planter. When it was decided by our
grandfather to remove to Florida, he offered to purchase
Nancy's husband, but his owner saw too good an opportun-
ity to procure an excellent cook, and so refused to sell his
man, also declining to buy Nancy's small sons, aged two and
three. In this exigency Nancy was allowed to choose
whether she would remain or not, and she thought it best
to cling to her husband. Our grandparents, however, com-
pelled her new owner to allow her to continue the care of her
six months old baby. This was in 1851, but when a visit
was finally made by the little grandmother to her sister at
her Georgia plantation, twenty years later, Nancy left her
husband and accompanied her former mistress to Florida,
scarcely ever again while she lived leaving her side. The
writer well remembers Nancy's " shouting " around the young-
coloured son of twenty-two, who had been taken to Georgia
to see his mother while she was still there.

Has it ever been given to the reader to see a church full
of people smile a welcome to an adorable and adored woman

8 The Beville Family

when she appeared ? The writer looked forward to this
benediction every Sabbath long ago, for when the little
grandmother walked into the village church on grandfather's
arm, the members of the small congregation knew that their
patron saint was there and in this way acknowledged her
presence. And a picture, too, she was, dressed in her pretty
brown silk, with real lace collar, and quaint poke bonnet
which framed her beautiful face. Her eyes were large and
blue as Heaven's own sky, her hair soft and curly, lightly
touched with gray, her features regular and true, shining
with the light that never was on land or sea.

What did Monday bring this mistress of a large plantation
of the early nineteenth century ? There were the spinning
wheels and looms to be set in motion, while the many clothes
had to be cut and made for the men, women, and children
at the " quarters. " All the workers were carefully trained
and supervised by the little grandmother, and there was not
one among them who could make the big cotton spinning-
wheels sing so sweetly as could she. Truly, the music of the
pines at her door was not sweeter to the writer than the
whir of her wheel as she moved back and forth while teach-
ing those who were less skilled than herself how to make
the threads finer and truer. All her movements gave us joy,
and wherever she passed her very presence threw the high
lights on the picture. After all, is not life one complete
picture ; and all pictures must have high light, middle tint,
and shadow, without which there would be no form. The
high light of life is what we make it by our own determined
touch and skill, the middle tint is the daily routine, and is
as beautiful and useful as we choose to make it, while the
shadow is sorrow and death ! Then there were the weddings,

Glimpses of Southern Plantation Life 9

christenings, sugar-cane boilings, plantings, etc., all of which
functions " ole miss " must attend. When sickness came she
was untiring, and these dear dependents were always satisfied
and cheered by her ministrations, whatever the result.

It is worth not being young any more to be able to re-
member somewhat of the old regime of a Southern planta-
tion. Even in our Southern home of the late nineties after
our marriage it was blessed to have our dear old black
mammy Harriet with us. We did not own her, she owned
us, and in a measure controlled our destiny. One day
Mammy Harriet met a young man of feeble health near the
entrance to the estate, and thus accosted him: "Little bit,
is you gwine up to de big house to see my chile ?" Upon
being answered in the affirmative she took him by the
shoulder, and turning him around with his face towards the
town said: " You des go back to dat town wid dat guitar
in yo' haid ! ,: And he took her decision of his love affair
as final. Mammy's outlook was far oftener true than other-

Once Mammy asked for money to send her grandchild to
a Northern city, where an older sister of the girl was at
work, and where there were excellent schools. A few weeks
later the dear old soul announced: " May is comin' home,
she on de train now. Dey put her in a room wid a whole
passel o' white chillun, and May cyant stan' it !" Mammy
Harriet's description of Heaven, in the hymn which she fre-
quently crooned, was unique:

" When I go to Heaven
An' live at my ease
Me an' my Jesus
Gwine do as we please."

10 The Beville Family


" Aint I happy now
Settin down by de side ob de Lam'."

" Two white hosse»
Side an' side,
Me an' God-a'mighty
Gwine tek a ride."


•' Aint I happy now
Settin down by de side ob de Lam'."

One evening we told Mammy she need not come to us for
the usual reading of the Scriptures, because some friends had
unexpectedly come to us for a game of whist. "Ay Lord ! "
said mammy with a deep sigh. ' What is the trouble
Mammy?" we asked. u O Miss Aggie, Honey," answered
the dear old soul, " I don' on'erstan' you young Christuns.
You pray to God-a'mighty one night, an' you play cyards

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Online LibraryAgnes Beville Vaughan TedcastleThe Beville family of Virginia, Georgia, and Florida, and several allied families, north and south → online text (page 1 of 9)