an old Bible dated 1816: "Walter Shirley landed in America
from England about 1726" He is said
to have landed in the colony of New Jersey. He and his wife migrated
to Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia prior to 1745. They settled
on a tract of land consisting of 800 acres lying on "the
great waggon road" near Keyes Ferry in Frederick County
The first documented evidence of Walter Shirley's presence
in America is his appearance on a 1733 list of taxables in St.
Leonards Creek Hundred, Calvert County, Maryland. This
list is reproduced on pages 377-8 of "A History of Calvert
County Maryland" by Charles Francis Stein, published 1976
in cooperation with the Calvert County Historical Society.
Walter is found at page 378 (his name does not appear in the
index). Also in the St. Leonard's Creek Hundred list of
taxables (at page 377, and not listed in the index) are "at
Robert Avis' -Jarvis Avis, Robert Avis, Jun," the
father and brothers of Dorcus Avis who married Walter Shirley.
Walter Shirley first appears in the records of Virginia thus
far located by this writer in "Court Orders of Frederick
County, 1743-1745," Vol. I, page 294. There he is found
to have sued William Jay for the sum of "One pound Sixteen
Shillings" at a court held for Frederick County "...on
Saturday the 9th day of March, 1744" (Walter won as
Wm. Jay failed to appear). Walter appears in the records
of the Frederick County Court on two other occasions where suits
he brought were discontinued because agreement with the defendants
were reached (Aug., 8, 1746 and Jun., 8, 1748). In "Court
Orders and Petitions of Frederick County, 1748-1751," Vol.
III, page 46, it is noted that on March 7, 1748, "Walter
Shirley is hereby Appointed Constable in the room of Samuel Walker,
and it is Ordered that the Sheriff Summon him to appear at the
next Court to be sworn into the said Office accordingly."
In the Northern Neck records of the Virginia Land Office, held
by the Virginia State Library, there are three grants of land
by Thomas Lord Fairfax to Walter Shirley. They are: 1)
404 acres granted 13 Oct 1750 (Book G, p. 438), 2) 311
acres granted 20 Jun 1751 (Bk. H, p. 3--this grant surveyed by
George Washington), and 3) 472 acres granted 18 Nov 1752 (Bk.
H, p. 226). The total of these acreages is 1,187, a fact
that has caused some confusion among Shirley researchers, since
Walter bequeathed only 783 acres of land in his July 10, 1755
Will (Frederick Co. Will Book, Vol 2, page 175). According
to his Will the 783 acres he bequeathed constituted "the
full quantity contained in two separate deeds obtained from the
Right Honorable Lord Thomas Fairfax." Any question
concerning how much land Walter Shirley actually obtained from
Lord Fairfax can be easily resolved by comparing the land description
contained in the 1750 with that of 1752 grant. That is,
it can be seen that they are both one and the same property,
the 1752 deed being a re-survey of the 1750 grant. In Walter
Shirley's Will (source cited above) he divides his land between
sons Walter, Jarvis, James, and Robert, and his "moveable
estate" between them and his daughters Sarah and Dorcas.
In a Codicil to his Will Walter gave 60 acres of land out of
the 183 originally given to son Robert, to his "..well beloved
friend and brother Francess Avis" for "..the good will
I bare to him, and more especially that he may live near my said
wife [Dorcus] to be their friend and councilor seeing that my
said son [Robert] have a good schooling and learning." A
very interesting and sadly humorous Accounting to the Court of
charges to Walter's estate may be found in the Frederick County,
Virginia, Will Book 3, page 125.
married Dorcas Avis, daughter of Robert Avis and Ann
Jarvis. She was born November 21, 1708 in Port Republic,
Calvert County, Maryland1, and died in Frederick County, Virginia. A record of the birth of Dorcus and her sister
Jane and brother Jarvis may be found in the International Genealogy
Index (IGI) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
(Mormons). They are in the IGI of Port Republic, Calvert
County, Maryland, and are taken from the records of the Christ
Children of Walter Shirley and Dorcas Avis are:
1(i). Walter Shirley,
Jr., born about 1728, in (likely) Maryland; He died 1805,
Jefferson County, West Virginia.
married 1) Hester Vance daughter of James Vance and
Mary Hogue. She was born Abt. 1738, and died Abt. 1784.
married 2) Margaret ________ Abt. 1798. She was
born Abt. 1757, and died February 19, 1829 in Belmont County,
1(ii). Jarvis Shirley,
born about 1730 in (likely) Maryland; He died 1818, Jefferson
County, West Virginia.
married Sarah __________.
1(iii). James Shirley,
born about 1732, in (likely) Maryland; He died about 1785, Berkeley
County, (West) Virginia.
married Mary ________.
1(iv). Sarah Shirley, born about 1734, in (likely)
Maryland; She married _______Miller.
1(v). Dorcas Shirley, born about 1736, in (likely)
Maryland. Nothing more known.
1(vi). Robert Shirley,
b. Abt. 1738, Virginia; d. Abt. 1813, Jefferson County, West
married Patience ________ She renounced her dower rights
in a deed dated 9 November 1814