John Bryan, Sr., (often John Andrew Bryan in written genealogies) was born about 1712 in Northern Ireland, likely in County Down near Banbridge. His parents weren William and Margaret (maiden name unknown) Bryan, who lived in County Down, Ireland and attended the Ballyroney Presbyterian Church in Banbridge.
Family tradition has it that William sent his son John to get a stick of wood to be made in to a handle for a weaving hook. While searching for an appropriate stick, John was arrested for poaching. After much trouble and expense, his father was able to clear the charge; but the incident caused him to decide to immigrate to the American colonies where he said timber was free and there were no constables.
The Bryan family sailed to American 1718 likely landing in Philadelphia. They were said to have lived in Pennsylvania and New Jersey before migrating to southwestern Virginia where William Bryan became one of the first settlers of the Roanoke Community of Virginia. He acquired 400 acres and established Great Spring plantation. His land was on the Roanoke River a few miles from present-day Salem.
John Bryan, Sr., married Mary Morrison on 10 March 1742 and moved to the Bordon Colony near present-day Fairfield in Rockbridge County. The community had been established in 1737 and at the time was the furthest outpost in the Shenandoah Valley. Some genealogies indicate the colony was harassed by Native Americans too often for John's liking. So he moved his family, likely before 1753, to the Roanoke Community and secured a grant of 242 acres of land along the Great Road a few miles east of his father's planation near present-day Salem in 1756.
|Map of original land grants in southwest Virginia; courtesy of Kegley's|
Virginia Frontier 1740-1783, page 562
John Bryan is said to have served in Capt. Peter Hogg's company under George Washington during the French and Indian War and fought at the Battle of Great Meadows and at the siege and surrender of Fort Necessity on 4 July 1754. Many published sources also indicated he served during the Revolutionary War in Capt. Thomas Merriwether's company, First State Troops; however, Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) genealogists credit that service to John Briant of Caroline County, Virginia. John is a DAR Patriot, having been proved to have provided supplies to the cause of independence. Two of his sons, Andrew and John Jr., served with Capt. Leftwich's company under Col. Christie and saw action at the Battle of Brandywine.
About 1779 John Bryan, Sr. sold his holdings in the Roanoke Community and moved to Campbell County by 1783-84. He purchased 329 acres from Richard Stith and 639 acres from Benjamin Arnold. The smaller tract was near Molly's Creek and the larger tract was two miles southeast of Rustburg.
Last Will and Testament
"In the name of God Amen, this is the 19th day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety, I John Bryan of Campbell County, on Mary's Creek, being in perfect health of body and sound of mind and memory but calling to mind the mortality of my body and that it is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form as followeth, viz:
First, I recommend my soul into the hands of Almighty God nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same by the might power of an Almighty God and my body I recommend to be buried in a decent and christian manner at the discretion of my executors. And as touching such worldly goods which it hath pleased God to bless me with, I give and devise and dispose of them in the following manner and form.
Imprimis, I give and bequeath unto by beloved wife Mary one whole third part of all my estate in goods and money that is if she survives me to be at her disposal and to my son William I give and bequeath one silver dollar as a legacy and to my beloved daughters, Mary, Jean, Margaret, Agnes and Katherine, I give and bequeat the other two thirds of all my money, goods and chattels, the other third part if my wife dies before me excepting my daughter Jean Davis forty shillings more than her sisters and to my sons, Andrew Morrison and John Bryan, I give and bequeath to each of them one silver dollar.
Lastly, I appoint Patrick Gibson and John Akers my sons-in-law to be executors of this my last will and testament and I hereby revoke and disannul all and every other will and testament by me made, confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this day and year above written.
John Bryan (seal)
Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said John Bryan to be his last will and testament in the presence of us.
On 9 October 1799 John Bryan wrote a codicil to his will that has caused me much confusion.
"This ninth day of October 1799 I john Bryan Sr. of Campbell County being in a very low state of health and weak of body though sound of mind and judgment do appoint Daniel Evans as an executor in place of Patrick Gibson, he being at present at too great a distance from this place as witness my hand and seal the day and year above mentioned.
John Bryan (his mark)
John Bryan, Jr.
John's will was proved on 9 December 1799 so we know he died sometime between 9 October when he wrote the codicil to his will and 9 December.
The confusion caused by the codicil revolves around Patrick Gibson, who is one elusive fellow. I have only found three references to him to date:
- He received 2,356 pounds of tobacco for building the court house in Campbell County.
- The references above in John Bryan's will and codicil
- And in two books of Bryan family genealogy which indicated he married Margaret (Bryan) Mitchell, my four times great grandmother, after the death of her first husband, Daniel Mitchell, Sr. in about 1820-21. Margaret and Daniel Mitchell were said to have married in 1772 and their youngest child was born about 1797. So Patrick Gibson could not have been married to Margaret when her father wrote his will in 1790. He had to have been married to another daughter of John Bryan's. But which one? That is a mystery on which I am currently working.
This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Independence," which I did not follow.
Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, John Bryan, is Ancestor number 154 on my family tree:
154 John Bryan, Sr., born about 1712 in Northern Ireland, likely County Down, to William Bryan, Sr. and Margaret (maiden name unknown); died between 9 October and 9 December 1799 in Campbell County, Virginia; married Mary Morrison on 10 Mar 1742. Several years ago, their bible was in the possession of the Dinwiddie family of Charlottesville, Virginia and included the following information:
154.1 Margaret Bryan, born on 3 March 1743; likely died before 3 March 1752.
154.2 William Bryan, born on 20 April 1744.
154.3 Jane "Jean" Bryan, born on 6 August 1746; likely died before 16 May 1761.
154.4 Andrew Morrison Bryan, born 14 April 1748; buried in Greene County, Ohio; married Mary Akers.
154.5 Mary Bryan, born 16 May 1750.
77 Margaret Bryan, born 3 March 1752; died on an unknown date; married 1) Daniel Mitchell, Sr., son of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell and Mary Enos, and 2) married Patrick Gibson some time after 1820-21.
154.6 John Bryan, born 2 Jun 1754; likely died before 19 December 1756.
154.7 John Bryan, born 19 December 1756; married Catherine Evans.
154.8 Jane "Jean" Bryan, born 16 May 1761; married John Davidson.
154.9 Agnes Bryan, born 9 August 1763; married 1) John Akers and 2) Reuben Bagby.
154.10 Catherine Bryan, born 21 October 1765; married Samuel Cole.
I have done no research yet into the lives of John Bryan, Sr. and Mary Morrison's children.
Brien, Lindsay M. Bryan Wills and Deeds with Genealogical Notes, pages 24-35.
Chalkley, Lyman. Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, (Rosslyn, VA: The Commonwealth Printing Co., 1912), page 223 (accessed 5 Jun 2018).
Daniel Mitchell, Sr. (c1750-c1821): Tavern Keeper, Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 6 Jun 2018).
Genealogical Research System (database and images), DAR, John Bryan, Sr., born circa 1712, died 9 Dec 1799; citing Ancestor No. A016254 (accessed 2 Jun 2018).
Kegley, F. B. Kegley's Virginia Frontier 1740-1783: The Beginning of the Southwest The Roanoke of Colonial Days, (Roanoke, VA: Southwest Virginia Historical Society, 1938), pages 103, 109, 256, 562, 609.
McKenzie, George Norbury and Roades, Nelson Osgood (editors). Colonial Families of the United States of America, etc., (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1966), Volume VI, The Bryan Family (accessed 2 Apr 2018).
Shearer, James William. The Shearer-Akers Family "Combined with The Bryan Line" through the Seventh Generation, (Somerville, NJ: The Press of the Somerville Messenger, 1915), pages pages 11-14 (accessed 1 Apr 2018).
William Bryan (c1685-1789): From Ireland to Virginia, Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 4 Jul 2018)
Y-DNA Classic Chart, Bryan DNA Project (accessed 2 Jun 2018).
William Bryan (c1685-1789): From Ireland to Virginia
Daniel Mitchell, Sr. (c1750-c1821): Tavern Keeper