David Dortch & his wife Lucy

David Dortch’s wife was named Lucy. Everything I’ve seen written about the Dortch family and posted online states that her name is Lucy Russell. There is a Lucy Russell who was born in Richmond County, Virginia. Some people think this the same Lucy, and I can understand why, because I’m finding some of my Mecklenburg families previously lived in Essex and across the Rappahannock River in Richmond County. I do not think it could be her though, because Lucy Russel would have been too old to have been the mother of Newman Dortch. There were two Russell families living near the Dortch family on Miles Creek, a Jeffrey Russell and Richard Russell. Burnall Russell’s children are listed in the guardian records in 1777, although I haven’t found a Lucy with the Russell families in any records.

David Dortch’s will states that his wife is Lucy. I have several chancery cases about David and Lucy’s children and who their children married. Each case refers to their mother as Lucy and their father as David Dortch. Unfortunately none of these cases state Lucy’s maiden name. I’ve been a bit puzzled by my ancestor Newman Dortch’s name, because I do have ancestors with the surname Newman. Most of the time that I see a surname used for a male first name, it is a surname from the mother’s family line. For example: Burton Jones, Jones Taylor, Wilson Walker. I’ve wondered if and how Lucy could be related to the Newmans, even though they are different branches of my family tree. I have not yet seen a Lucy Newman in colonial Virginia, in the areas my family lived. My Jones, Newman and Dortch families were at least neighbors, but I am keeping a look out for other possible relationships.

There is a wide range of birth years reported online for David Dortch’s children. That is probably because in this time period (before 1850) ages were not recorded on the census, wills, or marriage records. The majority age, (the age to get married without needing written consent of the parent) was 21. None of David Dortch’s children had a consent note on the marriage bond (marriage record). This means that all of David’s children were at least age 21 when they married. There is another record that gives us a time frame to better estimate birth dates, and that is the guardian record. Guardian records (also known as orphan records) were created when one parent died, and that parent willed things to their children who were under the age of 21, which necessitated the appointment of a “guardian”. So, although Lucy was still living, (she was notated in the inventory of David’s estate as the widow), there were guardian(orphan) records created for their younger children at the time.

I made this chart below to show how I better estimated the birth dates of David and Lucy’s children. Newman Dortch was the youngest, born in 1775. His oldest brother David was born about 1751, meaning Lucy and David probably married about 1750. That is 25 years of child bearing. Rebecca Dortch, one of the older children, was born about 1755, and Lucy is notated in a chancery case as both Rebecca and Newman Dortch’s mother. To have been having children this long, I believe Lucy would have had to have married underage, probably about age 16, which would have been about 1733. Then she would have had David at about age 17 and Newman at age 42. I believe this rules out the Lucy Russell born in Richmond County, Virginia, because that Lucy was born in 1723. I’ve checked all the wills of people with the surname Russell in Richmond, Essex, Orange, and Mecklenburg, and none of them mention a Lucy with maiden name of Russell, except the one born in 1723, who would have been 52 when Newman Dortch was born.

I continue to search for Lucy’s maiden name and if there could be a connection to the Newman family.

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