The Shirley Association has been a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies since 1988

Walter Shirley
born about 1700.  Lived in Virginia. 


Walter Research by Jack V. Williams
Walter descendants genealogy by Denise Fox
DNA Haplogroup R1b1

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Much of the bones of this presentation is sourced from the hard work of Jack V. Williams. Please refer to the link at the top of this page to view additional generations.

Walter Shirley was born about 1700. (Ed note: The birthdate May 27, 1690 often cited in published lineages is for a different Walter Shirley, and wrong). He died 1755 in Frederick County, Virginia. 

"In 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 Virginia."

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 Church.

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, Ohio

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 Virginia.

married Patience ________ She renounced her dower rights in a deed dated 9 November 1814



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