John Murphey / John Morphew, “I” (ca1680 to 1742)

Richmond and Westmoreland Counties, Virginia 

Warning – A Puzzling History; i.e. Did He Die Twice?  Was He Traced Correctly?

Was He Married More Than Once?  Was wife Mary Wood Too Old to have Children?

Readers Are Invited to Help Resolve the Confusion


Also In This Chapter….

James Murphy (ca1685 to 1745/46) of Richmond/Westmoreland Counties, Va.

Bryan Murphy (~1677 to 1715) of Westmoreland County


The Puzzle - My Findings and Thoughts – James R. Murphy

 2nd Edition,, this revision 1 December 2015


There are 3 sections:


(Part 1). John Murphey “I” who is John Morphew ”I” (ca1680 to 1742) and children

(Part 2). James Murphy (<1689 to 1746) of Richmond & Westmoreland Counties, Va.

(Part 3). Miscellaneous Information about other Murphys in adjacent areas; includes Bryant Murphy (~1677 to 1715).    


Part I – Summary of John Murphey “I” / John Morphew, “I” (ca1680 to 1742)


Note: This family reconstruction has unresolved issues.  There are no family records to help and new findings could change our understanding.  Use of John Murphey “I” “II” or “III” is not found in records, but only used here to separate individuals.    

Spelling – “Murphey/Murfey” to 1726, “Morphew” in 1727-1729, later Murphey/Murphy.

Emigration:  Between ~1697 to 1722 – nothing definite, possibly an indentured servant in 1697.   From England, possibly Suffolk County, England.  

Virginia Counties:  Richmond and Westmoreland

Birth date is not known.  An estimate of ca1680 is used here, but may be wrong.  

Married after July 1721 to Mary Wood, widow of Richard Wood.  Her maiden name is not known.   John Murphey/Morphew “I” possibly has an earlier and/or a later marriage, but additional evidence would be useful.   

Died – reported death in 1729 Richmond County order book appears to be an error.  Final death noted in January 1742 Westmoreland County, Virginia probate.    

John Murphey/Morphew “I” had the following children, if properly understood:

(1) John Murphey “II” (? to 1750 Westmoreland County) + wife Eleanor who have a son John Murphy “III” and daughter Elizabeth Murphy, (2) Samuel Murphey (>1726), (3) Elizabeth Murphey (>1726).   A Deed of Gift in 1744 by their Mother - Mary Murphey Spence names “her three children, John, Samuel, and Elizabeth Murphey.”

Related Morphews: Brother is Morris or Maurice Morphew (Murphey, Murphy) of Westmoreland County.   Nothing exists to link to Cornelius Morphew (died 1694) of Westmoreland County, who is reported in “Morphews - Others” chapter.  

Occupation: John Murphey “I” – farming.  John Murphey “II” and “III,” & Samuel Murphey took apprenticeships to become carpenters and wood joyners. 

Descendants possible?   3 generations found, so far.    


Comments and Interpretations on John Morphew


Several early sources including Arlie Morphew in 1970* stated this John Morphew (died 1742 in Westmoreland County, Virginia) and his wife Mary White were the parents of Joseph Morphew (ca1720 to 1775/83).   Joseph Morphew’s name has since been corrected to James Morphew.    No evidence or creditable sources for the parent-son relationship have surfaced.  Because the timing is excellent, proving or disproving this has been a challenge.   If this John Murphey (Morphew) line is properly understood, Mary Murphey Spence’s 1744 Deed of Gift to her children – to John, Samuel and Elizabeth Murphey - is our best evidence that parent-son assertion was only speculation and not true.   They did not have a son named James or Joseph Morphew (ca1720 to 1775/83).  No Michael Morphew shows up.

History and Genealogy of the Morphew Family, by Arlie C. Morphew, January 1970, page 20. 


One research question keeps popping up that won’t go away.  Are there one or two adult John Murpheys (age 21+ and not someone’s indentured servant) before 1731 making Richmond and Westmoreland County courthouse records?    Between 1722 to about 1731, this writer (10/2015) can’t discount two - one in each county, but evidence is weak.     About 1728, it appears Richmond County’s John Murphey/Morphew moved to Westmoreland and he and his children seem to be the only ones making records thereafter.  There is one useful clue to help us.   Both Richmond and Westmoreland County Court House records never used the terms “John Murphey, Senior” and “John Murphy, Junior,” to indicate two adults with the same name in the same county, not necessarily father & adult son.   More John Murpheys are in nearby Stafford County who are not understood and must be kept separate.   They are found in Part 3 in this chapter.  


John Murphey or Morphew, “I” (ca1680 to 1742) married Mary, widow of Richard Wood whose will was probated 1721.    John Murphey and his wife Mary are found in Richmond and Westmoreland Counties until a 1729 Richmond County court document stated John Murphey/Morphew (“I”) was now “late of this county, dec’ed.”   No will or estate administration was found and his trail continued into Westmoreland County, where his 1742 will was probated.    The key clue indicating John Murphey “I” lived beyond 1729 is when he was appointed administrator to the estate of his deceased brother Morris Murphy, also known as Maurice Murphey (Morphew) in 1741.   Apparently, John Murphey was not aware that his brother Morris had just written a will filed in Middlesex County, England which was probated after the Virginia administration.   


Some early researchers also stated Mary Morphew’s maiden name was Mary White.   The only known Morphew - White association occurs in William Macham’s 1727 will.  This will never names a wife or children, but does bequeath to his three Macham (Meacham) brothers, and to John Morphew, Daniel Jennings, Mary White, and Youel Atwell whose relationships are never mentioned.  One court 1728 record states Mary White’s husband was Thomas White.


There is currently a major problem in estimating Mary Wood’s birth date.   Her 1st husband Richard Wood’s birth appears to be about 1660 based on a 1684 deed, but this could be wrong.   Mary was likely a very young wife to Richard Wood, but questions exist.   Birth date estimations for Mary Wood Murphey (born before 1677) and her children Samuel (~1726+) and Elizabeth (~1726+) raise more questions about her being too old to have these two children.   Samuel and Elizabeth Murphey’s birth date estimations are from their father’s 1742 will which indicates they were not yet age 16.   Therefore: 1742 – 16 = 1726.   In 1693, Richard Wood and wife Mary sold off some land.    Therefore: 1693 – 16 (minimum adult age for Mary) = 1677 or earlier.  Mary is likely born before 1677.     Something is not right here.   Pure Speculation - Did John Murphey “I” marry again to someone named Mary after his marriage to the widow Mary Wood?


John Murphey “II” birth date is a problem.  He was bound to a trade craft before 1729 to learn a trade until age 21.  His father married widow Mary Wood after her 1st husband died in 1721.  If he was their son, his young age presents a problem.  How young is too young to be bound for training in Colonial Virginia?    If he is deemed too young, then John Jr. was born to an earlier marriage of his father.    Whether this is important or not, the sponsor couple died in 1729 and court placed him under the guardianship of John Tarpley, Jr., a lawyer and sheriff who also represented the King in Richmond County.    In 1732, John Murphey “II” agreed to a 4 year contract to learn the carpenter and joiner’s craft in adjacent King George County.   After this, John Morphew “II” surfaces again in Westmoreland County where he dies in 1750 and his will describes him as a “planter” rather than a carpenter/joiner.


These Murpheys are proving to be real puzzle-pieces and readers are invited to offer their interpretations of this family.            


Also, nearby is a James Murphy (born before 1689), who married 1st to Elizabeth __ and 2nd to a widow, Honor Curtis.  He also needs to be ruled in or out as a progenitor of James Morphew (ca1720 to 1775/83).   Only three children have been identified – Winifred Murphy (born 1723), Anne Murphy (1725) and Elizabeth Murphy (>1726+).   So far, no Morphew or Murphew spelling has surfaced and there is nothing to indicate this James Murphy is the father of James Morphew (ca1720 to 1775/83), the latter of which actually signed his name as “Morphew” and not Murphey.   He is reviewed in the last part of this chapter.


Understanding the geography of Richmond and Westmoreland Counties is important.  Basically, they lie along a long narrow peninsula with Westmoreland on the north side of the peninsula ridge and Richmond on the south.   Their proximity to each other could account for individuals moving back and forth.  Before 1720/21, both Richmond and Westmoreland extended further west until several new counties (i.e. King George) were formed.  In 1776, additional western portions of Westmoreland County were annexed by King George County (established 1720/21).    Raising, curing, and selling tobacco was a huge source of income in this area and a number of larger planters became very successful.   The Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers gave them access to the sea and to world trade.


            Details on John Morphew “I” (ca1680 to 1742 Westmoreland County, Virginia)


(consider) 1680 April 26 – Suffolk County, England: Christening record for John Morphew of 26 April 1680 at Saint Mary, Woodbridge, Suffolk County, England.  Father was John Morphew and Mother - Rose.  ( - English Christening records)


1693 May 3 – Richmond County: Deed of Richard Wood of Richmond County to Thomas Reyly for a valuable consideration, a parcel of land “being on the side of the Branch whereon the said Tho. Reyly liveth,” being part of 200 acres bought of Col. William Loyd, adjacent land of said Loyd, Reyly and land of George Heuson.  Signed: Rich’d “x” Wood, Mary “x” Wood.  Witnesses: Jo. Fones, Charles Spee (or Spec), Martha Stockford.  Recorded 16 May 1693.  On 25 April 1693, Mary Wood gave Thomas Bradley acknowledgment of this land which “my husband Rich’d Wood hath sold.”  Signed Mary “x” Wood.  Witnesses: Jo. Fones, Charles Spee (or Spec). 

Richmond County Records 1692-1704, Beverley Fleet, 1961 as posted on, image 25 of 117.


(consider) 1697 July 28 – Westmoreland County Court: John Murfee, servant to Thomas Bowcock, adjudged 16 years of age and ordered to serve according to law.  At the same court date, a Patrick Murfe servant to William Jn’n Scott was adjudged 18 years of age.

-WMLC Order Book 1690-1698, Ibid, by John Frederick Dorman

-Direct review of Westmoreland Order Book 1690 to 1698


(beware) 1699 March 29 – Westmoreland County Court: John Murfee, servant to George Harris is adjudged 9 years of age and ordered to serve according to law.   He is next to Michael Murfee, servant to Thomas Shaw, adjudged 17 years of age and order to serve….  

Westmoreland County, Virginia Order Book 1698-1705, microfilm #34292 Family History Library.


1717 January 9 – Richmond County: Will of Richard Wood of Farnham Parish, Richmond County.  Gives loving wife Mary Wood and her heirs all my land and appurtenances.  Wife Mary to be sole executrix.  No one else is named as heir.  Signed - Richard (“x”) Wood.  Witnesses - John Talbot, Mary R. (x) Talbot, Edward Barrow.  Entered 5 July 1721.  (WB 4/183)


1722 April 5 - Richmond County Court – Phillips versus Murphey:  Robert Phillips, his action of debt against John Murphey for 203 pounds of tobacco due by bill is dismissed (with) the plaintiff not prosecuting.  (Richmond County Order Book 1721-22, 9/47) 


1722 July 1 – Richmond County Court: Last will and testament of Richard Wood, deceased was presented in court by Mary Wood, his Ex’tx, who made oath thereto and being proved by the oaths of John Talbot and Mary Talbot, two of the witnesses…certificated is granted her for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.   No other heirs were named.  (OB 9/01)


1723 April 24 – Westmoreland County Court: Last Will and Testament of James Coleman, Parish not given.   Court ordered appraisement of estate by James Thomas, Samuel Earle, John Murfey and Jeremiah Garland.

Westmoreland County, Virginia Orders 1721-1724 by F. Edward Wright, 2007


1723 November 27 - Westmoreland County Court: Estate of Jane Coleman, deceased to be appraised by James Thomas, Samuel Earle, John Murfey and Jeremiah Garland or any three of them….

Westmoreland County, Virginia Orders 1721-1724 by F. Edward Wright, 2007


1724 January 28 - Westmoreland County Court: John Murphey versus Alexr. Mugwire, debt for 300 pounds tobacco.

Westmoreland County, Virginia Orders 1724-1726, by Holly G. Wright, 2007


1724/25 February 2-3 - Richmond County: Deed from John Murphey and Mary his wife, of North Farnham Parish in R. (which said Mary was of late, widow and executrix of the will of Richard Wood of same, deceased) to Edward Hinkley to same, for 3000 pounds weight of tobacco, ...plantation tract about 150 acres in North Farnham Parish....conveyed to said Richard Wood for 200 acres by deed dated 5 March 1684, and acknowledged in Rappahannock County on May 6, 1685.  Fifty of the 200 acres were, about 6 years since, conveyed to Bartholomew Baker, deceased, and by the will of said Richard Wood dated 8 January 1717 (unclear if this is 1717/1718), bequeathed all his lands to his wife Mary, party to these presents, said Wood leaving no other heir.  The land abuts or runs into Westmoreland County, lying about a half a mile back of the main run of Rappahanock Creek (now probably Cat Point Creek).   ....Signed: John (x) Murphey, Mary (E her mark) Murphey.  Witnesses: Thomas Osborne and John Watson, Recorded Feb. 3, 1724.  (DB 8/267)

Richmond County, Virginia, Deeds and Bonds, 1721-1734 by T.L.C. Genealogy, 1991.


            Notice that the marriage of Richard Wood and wife Mary had no children or other heirs.


1724/25 February 3 – Richmond County:  Murphey’s acknowledgement to Hinkley.   John Murphey and Mary Murphey came into court and acknowledged their deed of lease and release for land unto Edward Hinkley, Mary being first privately examined, which was admitted to record. (O.B. 1724-1725)

Richmond County, Virginia Deed Book 8/ 267-270.   Dated noted was 3 February 1724, and is confusing since it followed after December 1724 Court.  Old calendar year went from about 25 March to 25 March of the modern next year.  This 2 February 1724 should equate the modern year of 1725 but matching the days may not be the same.  

Richmond County sources include (1) Richmond County, Virginia, Deeds and Bonds, 1721-1734 by T.L.C. Genealogy, 1991 and (2) Richmond County, Virginia Order Books 1721-22 and 1729-1731, by Ruth Sparacio, 1999, (3) Richmond County, Virginia Court Orders 1721-1752 – An Every-Name Index by T.L.C. Genealogy, 1996, (4) Richmond County, Virginia Account Book Abstracts 1724-1751 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio, 1989.  


1726/27 January 3 – Westmoreland County: Will of William Macham (William Meacham) – Westmoreland County.


In the name of God, Amen, I, William Macham of the Parish of Cople in the County of Westmoreland being sick and weak of body but of perfect since and memory, praise be to God for it, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in the manner following.  ....I give unto Daniel Jenings and John Morphew the just quantity of 1000 pounds to tobacco to be equally divided between them, also to Mary White ten yards of fine linen....

I give and bequeath to my brothers, Richard, Samuel and Benjamin all my land in Gloucester County containing about 150 acres to be equally divided amongst them....  And my will and desire is that my brother Richard has his first choice of the land when so divided.  I also give unto Daniel Jenings, all other my Estate (in consideration of his paying my just debts and funeral expenses excepting one pair of shoes and one pair new yarn stocking which I give to Youel Attwell.  Lastly I do hereby appoint Daniel Jenings and John Morphew Executors of this my Last Will and Testament....  As Witness my hand and seal this third day of January anno Domini 1726.  Signed and the presence of Joseph (x) Chandler, Walter (x) Ellis, Mary (o) White.

At a Court held for the aid County the 26th day of July 1727, this Last Will and Testment of William Machem, deceased was proved by the Oaths of Joseph Chandler and Mary White, two of the witnesses thereto and ordered to be recorded 3 August 1727.  (Westmoreland County Deeds and Wills, 1723 - 1738) 


(wrong person – another John Murphey) 1727 July 27 – Westmoreland County Court: …that John Murffey, a servant to Daniel Field of the Parish (of Washington) and (Westmoreland) County, aforesaid…that the said John Murphey be committed to the County Gaol and thence conveyed by the County Sheriff to the Publique Gaol at the City of Williamsburg, in order to be tried. (page 269a)

Westmoreland County, Virginia Court Orders 1726-1729, by Amanda Gonzalez


(incorrect surname) King George County, Virginia:  Marriage of “John Murphy” to Mary Todd 12 December 1727.

 St. Paul’s Parish Register, King George County Virginia, Marriages 1715-1787 from King George County, Virginia 1720-1900 by Nancy L. King on


John Murphy and wife Mary Todd do not seem to fit the Morphew-Murphy profile.   Their first child born would be expected in 1728.  The 1742 will of John Murphey indicates his eldest son John Jr. is at least age 16.  Therefore 1742 – 16 = 1726 or earlier.  Further review into version of St. Paul’s Parish Register indicates the surname is not John Murphy, but John Murray.


1728 April 3 – Richmond County: Power of Attorney.  I, Mary White, wife of Thomas White, of North Farnham Parish in R(ichmond County), appoint William Walker of same, to be my lawful attorney….  …dower of a tract of 50 acres which was deeded on 2 March 1727/28.  Signed 30 April 1728.  Witnesses: Caren Branan, Edward Talbert.  Recorded 3 April 1728.  (DB 8/445)


1728 April 30 - Richmond County:  Partial deed abstract - from Moses Hopwood and Elizabeth his wife, of North Farnham Parish to Thomas Astberry (Astbury) of the Parish of Cople in Westmoreland County...tract of 250 acres of land excepting 30 square feet of land where one Edward Hinkley now lies buried, who was formerly owner of the land.  The 250 acres was purchased by said Edward Hinkley of John Morphew and Mary his wife....dated 2-3 February 1724.    Complex previous history, William Moseley surveyed 200 acres for Richard Wood in the year 1663(???)….Also 100 more acres purchased of William Loyd by Griffin Carter and then sold to Richard Wood on 3 February 1696.   This 250 acres is in Pish, North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, about half a mile back of the main run of Rappahannock Creek.  Witnessed by William (x) Jordon, Morris Morphey, Henry Asbury, 5 June 1728.   (DB 8/454-456 Richmond County, Virginia Deed Abstracts 1725-1729, by Ruth and Sam Sparacia, 1995.

Richmond County, Virginia Deeds and Bonds 1721-1734, by T.L.C. Genealogy, 1991.


Morris Morphey is later spelled ‘Morphew” and John Murphey/Morphew later states Morris is his brother.


1729 May 28 – Westmoreland County Court: Estate of John Payne, deceased had no will and appraisers to John Murphey, John Willington, Presley Neale and Thos. Lambert, or any three of them….  (pg 269a)

Westmoreland County, Virginia Court Orders 1726-1729 by Amanda Gonzalez, 2013.


John Payne was the estate administrator for Cornelius Morphew in 1694.  Speculation exists that Payne married a daughter of Cornelius Morphew.  A court order book indicates Cornelius Morphew had a will, but has been lost.    His write-up is in the Morphew-x chapter.


1729 August 6 - Richmond County, Virginia Court Session – Gorum versus Morphew:  Judgement is granted John Gorum against Morris Morphew for 560 pounds of Tobacco. Reason not given.   Jenkins versus Gorum: John Jenkins being summoned gave evidence for John Gorum, Plaintiff against Morris Morphew, defendant, that he attended 5 days on the suit, it is ordered that John Gorum pay him 150 pounds tobacco for the same. Earlier court entries concerned “no show” by Morris Morphew who was later represented once by Moses Hopwood and once by Thomas Oslan.   Surname was spelled Morphew, Morphey, Murphy, Murphey with Morphew predominating.  OB9/435, 449, 457, 478x2.


1729 August 6 - Richmond County Court Session – "Morphew Set Free."  John Morphew referred his Petition to this court and set forth that he was bound by Indenture to Benjamin Talbatt and Hannah his wife until the age of 21 years upon condition that if in case Benjamin and Hannah should depart this life before his indenture time was expired, then he to be free.  (Order Book 1729-1731, 9/476)


1729 October 1 – Richmond County Court Session: Following the August 1729 court action is this related item: Morphew and Guardian.  Upon the motion of John Morphew, son of John Morphew, late of this county, dec’ed, John Tarpley, Junior, Gentleman, is admitted (to become) his guardian.  (O.B. 9/481) 


            Note “John Morphew, late of this county, dec’ed.”  The year is 1729.   “Late of this county” suggests he recently moved out of the county.  However, no will or estate administration has surfaced in Richmond, Westmoreland, King George, or Essex Counties.  The writer – J. Murphy has reviewed the original order book account on this, and “dec’ed” is written.   


1729/30? February 25 – Westmoreland County Court: Susanah Davis, relict of Peter Davis, deceased, states he has no will and the court orders the following to appraise the estate: John Attwell, William Callis, John Moss and John Murphee or any three of them….  (Pg 308a)

Westmoreland County, Virginia Court Orders 1729-1731, by Amanda Gonzalez, 2013.


1729/30 March 5 – Richmond County Court:  Morphew & co versus Neale & co – John Morphew by John Tarpley, Junr., Gent., his Guardian, his Petition against Preslay Neale, Adm. of the Estate of Hannah Talbert, deceased is dismissed, no prosecution.  (O.B. 9/499)  


Hannah Talbert, deceased was the widow of Benjamin Talbert to whom John Murphey, son of John Murphy, had been indentured.   John Tarpley Jr. was both a guardian to John Morphew, Jr. a lawyer, the King’s Legal Presentative, and served as Sherriff of Richmond County.    T.L.C. Genealogy wrote a “Richmond County, Virginia Court Orders 1721-1752: An Every-name Index, 1996.  There are no more Richmond County Morphew or Murphy entries after 1730 through the year 1752.   


1732 November 24 – King George County, Virginia: Indenture between John Murphey and John Edy, (skilled) Joyner.  John Murphey doth hereby covenant, promise and agrees to serve the said John Edy four years now ensuring from the date of these presents faithfully, honestly, and truly in the office of a house carpenter and Joyner.  John Edy…promises to use his best skill and endeavor to instruct and learn the said John Murphey the carpenters and joyner’s trade during the time aforesaid and also sufficient meat, drink, washing and lodging fit for such an apprentice and.…   At the end of the above four years one broad cloth coat and vest, one fine hat, two white linen shirts, two neck clothes and a pair shoes and stockings.  Signed: John Murphey.  Witnesses: John Champe, Peter Daniell.  Recorded 3 December 1732 (DB1A/247).    At 1 December 1732 Court, John Murphey came into court and acknowledged his indenture to John Eidy which is admitted to record. (OB/621)

Land Records of King George County, Virginia 1721-1743 by Sue Ann Damron, 1999.


1740 April 5 – Middlesex County, England: Will of “Morris Morphew or Maurice Murphy,” Merchant and Chapman of St. Andrew Holborn, Middlesex County, England is dated 5 April 1740 and entered in Prerogative Court of Canterbury 14 October 1741.   Wife Elizabeth Morphew is named heir for all of the estate and sole executrix.  Witnessed by Mark Anthony Handuroy.  No one else is named in the will.  Probated 14 October 1741.  (British) National Archives, PROB 11/712/355.


            A “Chapman” is an itinerant dealer, trader or peddler.  Notice that his English will was probated about 5-6 months after his Virginia estate administration which follows:


1741 April 1 – Westmoreland County Court: John Murphy, brother and next to kin to Morris Murphy, deceased came into court and oath…departed this life with us without making any will as so far as known.   Court granted him administrator and ordered Chappelhill, David Wise, Benjamin Weeks, and Robert Tomison or any 3 of them to appraise the estate and report to the next court. (OB - 1 April 1741)   


1741 May 26 – Westmoreland County Court: John Murphy, Administrator of Maurice Murphey, deceased, returned into court upon oath an inventory of the said deceased estate which is admitted to record.  Inventory was very minimal – old clothes, one horse and 3 pounds cash, dated 5 June 1741.   Murphy was spelled both Maurice and Morris Murphy in these records.  (OB – 26 May 1741 and Records-Inventories 1/241)


1741/42 January 18 – Westmoreland County: Will of Thomas Yellop, Tailor.  One negro and a ring to friend Nimrod Hutt of Prince William; friend William Cope mare and clothes; to Winifred and Sarah Gibbs tobacco; John son of John and Mary Murphy; to brother Yellope of county Suffolk in Great Britain and my sisters Mary and Ann.  Entered 25 May 1742.

Westmoreland County, Virginia Wills, 1654-1800, as found on


1742 July 19 – Westmoreland County: Will of John Murphy of Westmoreland County, Virginia.


In the name of God, Amen, I, John Murphy of the Parish of Cople and County of Westmoreland being in perfect since and memory do make this my last Will and Testament.   ...I give to my son, John Murphy all my land whereon I now live to him my said son, John.   ...I give to my son, Samuel, ten pounds current money to be paid him out of my Estate and that he be of age and for himself at the age of sixteen.  But to dwell with and be under the care and jurisdiction of his Mother till he shall arrive at that age.    ...The rest of my Estate to be equally divided between my son, John, and daughter Elizabeth Murphey, and that my daughter Elizabeth shall have only her reasonable part when she arrive at the age of sixteen or day of marriage not to debar or hinder her Mother from her part as may be understood.... 

I give to my loving wife, Mary Murphey, the whole use of this my estate till my son, John, shall be of the age of twenty one, or till my daughter Elizabeth, arrive to her above mentioned age or day of marriage which shall first happen....   Lastly, I nominate and ordain my trusty friends, John Attwell, Thomas Reddall, and William Rice, Executors in Trust of this my Will.  In witness hereof set my hand this 19th day of July 1742.  Witnesses: James (x) Johnston, John Attwell.  Signed: John (his mark x) Murphy.

At a Court held for the said County, the 26th day of October 1742, this last Will and Testament of John Murphey, deceased, was presented into Court by John Attwell and William Rice, two of the Executors in Trust in the said Will...and being proved by the Oath of James Johnston, one of the witnesses thereto.   Recorded 29 October 1742.

Abstracted with spelling corrections, Westmoreland County Deeds and Wills (abstracts), 1738-1744


            John Murphy “I” willed land to son John.   It might be useful to find the deed and see if it offers useful information.   This deed is not listed in the’s Westmoreland County deed/will index.


1742/43 January 25 – Westmoreland County Court:  An inventory of the estate of John Murphy, deceased, was returned into court by John Attwell and William Rice and ordered to be recorded.  Included were 19 hogs and pigs, 13 sheep, 4 horses and 1 colt, 5 cows and yearlings, 1 bull, 3 heifers and 1 steer, 3 slaves named Will, Joan, and Bess, and numerous household and farming equipment including 6 beds. (OB 25Jan1742 and Records of Inventories 1/273)


(possibly) 1743 April 25 -  Westmoreland County: Indenture of John Pownall and his wife Elizabeth Pownall of Overwharton Parish in Stafford County to Christopher Mothershead and John Clayton of Washington Parish, Westmoreland County, land situate in Washington Parish….  Witnessed by Jno: “J”  Murphy 

  Westmoreland County Deeds and Wills 1738-1744 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio.  


1743 May 30 – Westmoreland County Court: Mary Murphy, relict of John Murphey, deceased, came into court and declared she will not accept the legacy to be given or any part thereof.  Court responded (by telling her) the advantages which she might raise by accepting the will.  (OB 30May1743)


1743 May 30 – Westmoreland County Court: Murphey versus Williams.  John Murphy being summoned (for) evidence in the suit deposing between George Love, Jr, plaintiff, and Francis William, defendant.  William to pay him 50 pounds of tobacco for attending. (OB 30May1744).  This should be John Murphey “II.”


1744 October 30 –Westmoreland County Court: Title: Murphy’s Gift to her Children Proved.  A deed of gift from Mary Murphy (who lately intermarried with Thomas Spence) “to her children, Samuel, John, and Elizabeth Murphy” was proved in open court by the oaths of Mary Spence and Elizabeth Jenings - the witnesses and ordered to be recorded.  Details were not mentioned. (OB 30Oct1744). 


Handwriting of “Spence” is difficult to correctly read but the actual deed of gift is clearly “Mary Spence.”   Her deed of gift was found and gave Mary the use of the estate during her life, whereupon her death, the children Samuel, John, and Elizabeth Murphy would share equally.    The Deed of Gift gave no further estate details but also confirmed Mary Murphy had lately married Thomas Spence.  This was witnessed by Mary Spence, Elizabeth Jennings, Thomas Rocker(?), and B. Hariett(?) and entered into court 30 October 1744.    (Records of Inventories, 1/303)


            Wow!  This deed of gift states the names of John Murphey’s children.  There is no, I repeat no James Murphey/Morphew!   Mary Murphy, widow married Thomas Spence between 7 April 1744 and 30 October 1744. *    

* Virginia Marriages of the Northern Neck of Virginia149-1800 by Robt. R. Headley, 2003 as found on


1744/45 January 29 – Westmoreland County Court: Samuel Murphey, son of John Murphey, deceased is by this court bound an apprentice to Thomas Hurset for the term of 6 years from the 16th day of April next…to teach the said Murphey the trade of a carpenter and Joiner and to give him sufficient clothes, etc. and at time of separation to pay him…(can’t read). (OB 29Jan1744)


1749/50 February 5 – Westmoreland County: Will of John Murphy of ye Parish of Washington in Westmoreland County, Planter….  Bequeath to Eleanor - my dearly beloved wife, all (my property), to be my sole executrix…my money, goods, cattle, horses, hogs, and my negro boy Jerry.   Signed: John (his mark) Murphy (seal).  Witnesses: Wall’n(?) Anderson, Arnol Bewin(?), and Francis Williams.  Entered in court 29 May 1850 and recorded 19 June 1750.   (WB 11/216).


1750 May 29 – Westmoreland County Court: The will and testament of John Murphy, deceased was presented into Court by _ Edwards and proved by the Oath of said Arnold Edwards and Francis Williams, witnesses.  Ordered three persons to appraise the estate. (OB 29May1750/pg189).   The deceased is John Murphy “II.” 


1751 May 28 – Westmoreland County Court: John Murphy, son of John Murphy, deceased, is by this court bound an apprentice to Samuel Murphy until age 21, apprenticeship trade of a carpenter and joiner.  (Ob 28May1751/pg55).   The apprentice appears to be John Murphey “III.”


1751 October 12 – Westmoreland County: Daniel Neale, Guardian to John and Elizabeth Murphy, infant orphans of John Murphy, deceased, presented to court his account. (Fiduciary Book 1742-1789, pg. 52)


1752 December 29 – Westmoreland County Court: Elizabeth Murphy, daughter of John Murphy, deceased, petitions to get her part of the deceased estate.  (OB 29Dec1752/pg163).    This Elizabeth Murphy appears to be the daughter of John Murphey “I.”   Also, this may suggest her mother had died and the estate could finally be divided among her two surviving children - Samuel and Elizabeth Murphy. 


Part 2 - A “James Murphy” is identified in Richmond and Westmoreland Counties


James Murphy:

Born before 1689, if at least age 16 when witnessing a 1704 will.

Died:  Estate Administration was 28 January 1745/46

Locations: Richmond and Westmoreland Counties, Virginia

Married 1st before 1723 to Elizabeth __ and 2nd about 1737 or 1738 to Honor Curtis, widow of Thomas Curtis

Known children: Winifred Murphy (1723), Ann Murphy (1725), and Elizabeth Murphy (>1726+).   No other children have surfaced during the research. With Ann Murphy, the county is now using age less than 21 for minors less than legal age. 

Reason for interest: So far, he is the only James Murphy by any spelling in Richmond/Westmoremore during the 1710-1752 era. 

Spelling: Murphy and Murphey

Probable Irish Murphy and nothing to suggest he is an English Morphew.  


1703/04 January 16 – Richmond County, Virginia: Will of John Suggitt is witnessed by James Murphy (f77v)

Wills of Richmond County, Virginia 1699-1800, by Robert Kirk Headley, 1983


1704/05 January 24 – Richmond County:  Will of Avery Nayler, deceased is witnessed by James Murphy.

Virginia County Records, Volume 7, William Armstrong Crozier, 1909 with reprints.


1723 October 7 – Richmond County: Winifred Murphy was Christened this date, North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia.  Father – James Murphy and mother – Elizabeth.  (From North Farnham Parish Register found on


1725 October 2 – Richmond County: Anne Murphy was Christened this date, North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia.  Father – James Murphy and Mother – Elizabeth.  (From North Farnham Parish Register at


During these years, North Farnham Parish covered much of Richmond County, but seems to miss certain Richmond County settlers such as the Morphews.   The Parish Register survived but not the Vestry books.  In 1732, part of it split into Lunenburg Parish, which lost its earliest records from 1732 to 1783.   Westmoreland County was covered by Washington Parish and Cople Parish, both of which lost all their records. 


1730/31 February 24 – Westmoreland County Court: Action of debt between “James Murphe” Pltf., and John Brown Deft., is agreed and dismissed. 

(Court Order Book 1729-1731, pg 362, from Westmoreland Co., Va. Court Orders 1729-1731 by Amanda Gonzalez, 2013)


1732 April 5 – Richmond County Court: Thomas Curtis and Honor Curtis came into Court and acknowledge their deed for land and livery of __ thereon endorsed unto Thomas Glascock, which was admitted to record (OB 9/634).  


Honor Curtis later married James Murphy.  Thomas Curtis appears ten years earlier (April 1722) in Richmond County Order Book 9 and a number of times thereafter.  He was in court for a problem with second cuttings of tobacco.     


1737 October 12 – Westmoreland County: Will of Thomas Curtis.  Wife Honor 128 acres of land, sons John and Robert; daughter Mary Curtis alias Gareing 100 acres in Richmond County.  Entered 30 November 1737.

Westmoreland County, Virginia Wills 1654-1800 as found on


            Widow Honor Curtis became executrix of her husband’s 1737 will.   Soon after, she married James Murphy who assisted in the will administration.   During the administration, Honor and James Murphy sold off part of the land to John Moss in 1739.   The will was now described as “annexed.”  After that, creditors took the pair to court numerous times, in part, to better account and adjust the estate valuation.  In 27 May 1741, the court ordered Murphy to pay a certain amount of money to the estate account.    Later, Murphy took John Curtis to court to collect a debt.  

Court Orders – no pages in microfilm: 1 Aug. 1739, 24 March 1740, 26 March 1740, _ October 1740, 25 Feb. 1740/41, 27 May 1741, 27 January 1741/42, 30 March 1742.    


1737-1738 – Westmoreland County: Marriage of James Murphy and Honor Curtis, a widow, took place between the dates 12 October 1737 and January 1738.  “Bride was the rel. & admx. With the will annexed of Thos. Curtis (d. Westmoreland County 1737); she was probably married before January 1738 and certainly before 27 May 1741.”

WC RI 1/246a, from Virginia Marriages of the Northern Neck of Virginia 1649-1800 as found online


1738/39 January 3 – Westmoreland County:  Deed from James Murphy and Honor his wife of Cople Parish in Westmoreland County deeded to John Moss, Planter of same location, 60 acres for 2000 pounds of tobacco, part of 150 acres of land that Thomas Curtis, deceased bought of Gerrard Davis (not dated)…. 

Westmoreland County, Virginia Deeds and Wills, No. 9, 1738-1744, page 40-42, As found on RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project – Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and Virginia.


1742 March 30 – Westmoreland County Court: John Curtis versus James Murphy and Honor his wife and the will Annexed of Thomas Curtis, deceased.   That Honor Curtis in the said bill (complainant) named was dead, which being the knowledge of the court.   Court ordered the (case to continue).


1745/46 January 28 –Westmoreland County Court: Title – Murphy’s (Estate) Administration.  Spencer Agress, in behalf at his ward, Ann and Betty Murphy came in Court, made oath that James Murphy departed this left without making any will as far as he knows or believes.  A certificate is granted (to settle the estate) and 3 persons appointed appraisers.  On 20 March 1745/46, a supplemental inventory of James Murphy’s estate was returned into court by Spencer Agaes, his administrator, and ordered to be recorded.  Inventory included 3 horses, 6 hogs, 1 sheep, 4 cows, 4 steers, 5 heifers, and 1 bull.  (OB Jan1745/46 and Records of Inventories 1/325-357.)  


1745/46 January 28 – Westmoreland County Court: Spenser? Agris? Of this county is appointed by the court (to be) guardian to Ann Murphy and Betty Murphy infant orphans of James Murphy of the county aforesaid….            


            Okay, we have located a James Murphy in Richmond and Westmoreland Counties.   Spelling is “Murphy.”  When he died in 1745 or 1746, two of his three children were identified as minors at that time.  No James Murphy, Jr. surfaces in Westmoreland Court Orders through the year 1752.   So far, there is nothing to link him to James Morphew (~1720 to 1775/83), and he appears born before 1689, if he was at least age 16 at the time of the 1704 will.   


Part 3 - Miscellaneous Information About Nearby Murphys


St. Paul’s Parish Register, Stafford and King George Counties (Virginia) 1715-1798

As found on website

King George County was established in 1720/1721.


1716 April 24: Born – Grace, daughter of John and Jane Murphy ^

1717/18 January 6: Died - Jane, wife of John Murphy ^     1723 September 4 - Marriage of Helen Murphy to Thomas Williams.  The following sources spell the surname as Morphew:

1 - Register of St. Paul’s Parish 1715-1798 by George H. S. King, 1960.

2 - St. Paul’s Parish Register – Stafford Co. and King George Co.   Original black copy, ACC 27118 at Library of Virginia.

1723/24 January 30: Died - John Murphy

1724 April 8: Married - Alexander Murphy and Anne Darbin.   The other sources spell the surname as Murphew – see the Morphewx chapter

1725/26 February 21: Born - Frances, daughter of Alexander and Anne Murphy

1729/30 February 5: Born – Thomas Murphy, parents not listed

1731 October 24: Born Sarah – daughter of Alexander and Anne Murphy (Murphey per King source).

1749 July 2: Born – John, son of John and Margaret Murphy.

1768 April 5: Married – William Lewis Murphy and Elizabeth Smith.


Richmond County, Virginia


1755 January 18 – Richmond County: Marriage of Uriah Sandy and Ann Murphy, marriage license bond.

Virginia Marriages of the Northern Neck of Virginia 1649-1800, by Robert R. Hendley, 2003 as found on


Westmoreland County, Virginia

Bryan Murphy (~1677 to 1715)


1691 – Westmoreland County: Indenture for Bryan Murfee – “Tobias Parsley presented a man servant named Bryan Murfee and prayed his age might bee adjudged.  The court doe adjudge him to be foureteen yeares of age and order he serve Parsley until he attaine to the age of 24 years.”

Westmoreland County, Virginia Order Book 1675/6-1688/9, John Frederick Dorman 1982 from OB 1690/1-1698/p41.   

1707/08  January 26 – Westmoreland County: Bryant Murphy purchased from Thomas Sturman 108 acres, land on Rappahannock Creek, adjacent to Mr. Thomas Newton’s new mill.

(DB 4/99 and A/217 from John and William Stuart, dated 25 January 1725/26, an explanation of seized Briant Murphey land) **

1708/09 February 24 - Westmoreland County: Marriage of Bryant Murphy to Elizabeth Stewart (widow) was before 24 February 1708/09.  Bride was the daughter of John Sturman and his 2nd wife Eliz Spence and the widow of John Stewart.  She married later Thomas Muse, Sr. (OB 1705/21/117a, 255a; Muse OB 2/137, Sturman OB 2/645 as noted in Headley references) * 

1715 April 27 – Westmoreland County: Inventory of Bryant Murphy, deceased. **

1721 April – Westmoreland County Court: In the suite in Chancery brought by Bryant Murphey the son of Bryant Murphey, deceased by John Steward his guardian against Thomas Mewes (Muse) and Elizabeth his wife, administrix of the said Bryant Murphy dec’d, the respondents returned their answer….   The Court ordered John Chilton, Gentleman, Mr. Lawrence Pope and Mr. Benjamin Waddey to inspect the inventory of the said Murphey’s estate with the accounts…and report back to court.  (OB 1721-1724/4) ^   This case was later settled in a later court.

(wrong person) 1721 July 6 – Westmoreland County: Inventory of Elizabeth Murphy, deceased.  **   This appears to be a different Elizabeth Murphy, since Bryant Murphy’s widow Elizabeth later married Thomas Muse.  This widow appears to be the widow of William Murphy (died 1719 Westmoreland County) who was possibly from Maryland.   Elizabeth Murphy, widow of William Murphy, died 1720/21 in Westmoreland County.


Westmoreland deed books note a “Briant Murphy” - son of Briant Murphy, inherited land from his deceased father and before 1725 had lost the land**, probably due to estate debt or taxes.  


* Marriages of the Northern Neck of Virginia 1649-1800, by Robert K. Headley as found on

** Virginia County Records: Volume 1 - Westmoreland County, Virginia, by William Armstrong Crozier, 1913

*** Nell Marion Nugent, Abstractor, Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, Vol. 3, 1695-1732

^ Westmoreland County, Virginia Orders 1721-1724, F. Edward Wright, 2007.


Overwharton Parish Register – Stafford County, Virginia

Parish registers are useful because Stafford County Court House lost many records.


1740 September 6: Birth date of John Murphy, father is Gabriel Murphy and mother Mary.

1741 October 1: Mary Murphy “died at Edward Malphus.” 

1742 August 17: Birth of Matthew Murphy, father John Murphy, Mother Elizabeth.

1748 November 8: Christening of Peter Murphy, parents not given

1752 October 13:  Married - Peter Murphy and Elizabeth Manzy.

1752 October 29: Birth of Eleanor Murphy, father – Peter Murphy, mother – Elizabeth.

1755 February 14: Birth of Ann Murphy, father – Peter Murphy, Mother - Elizabeth

1756 January 1: Married - Isaac Murphy and Catherine Ashby

1756 November 1 – birth of Lydia Murphy, father Isaac Murphy, mother Catharine


Stafford County, Virginia Taxes


1724 – Stafford County, Overwharton Parish:  Tithables allowed to tend tobacco and quantity of plants in Precincts between Aquia and Quantico. William Murphy, Thomas Murphy, James Leatherland - age 10, 2(?) Tithables, 13,308 plants.   

1758 July 24 – Stafford County Poll for Election of Burgesses:  (includes) Peter Murphy

1768 – Stafford County Quit Rent List, Landholder’s names: Peter Murphy, 258 acres, 5 “arr” (“arr”= arrears - number of years, not understood)

1773 – Stafford County Rent Roll List:  Peter Murphy, 258 acres, 1 arrear, 0.12.10

1776 – Stafford County Quit Rent Roll: Peter Murphy, 258 acres, 2 arrears.

Stafford County, Virginia Tithables 1723-1790, by John Vogt and T. William Kethley, Jr, 1990, pages 32, 62+, 69, 82, 96