Monday, August 29, 2016

The Rice Family: Lost at Sea

A couple of my DNA matches confirmed that Rev. David Rice (1733-1816) was my six times great grandfather. He was a prominent man in the Virginia colony, the nascent state of Kentucky, and the Presbyterian Church. He was also an early, strident abolitionist and he was often called the "Apostle of Kentucky." He was written about often and I have collected digital copies of several books which include biographical sketches, his involvement in education and religion or his family's history in the colonies. Those books indicated a Thomas Rice, Rev. Rice's grandfather, was born in England but was an "early adventurer into Virginia." But I had never researched the generations which preceded Rev. Rice.

Interestingly enough, my brothers did not share any DNA matches with Rev. Rice as the common shared ancestor. When my 89-year-old uncle's test results were available, that changed. My uncle currently has 11,800 DNA match results. As a comparison, I have 6,600. Nearly 150 of my uncle's matches include the surname Rice in their family tree. Not only did he share most of the matches I had, he also had several where the common shared ancestor was Rev. Rice's grandfather, Thomas Rice.

So it was time to see what information I had already collected about the early Rice line and develop a research plan for Thomas. I am still working on that plan, but I wanted to share with you a brief sketch of his family history, which I discovered in A History of St. Mark's Parish, Culpeper County, Virginia, by Rev. Philip Slaughter, which was published in 1877. That book contained a direct quote from memoirs written by Rev. David Rice.[1]

Title page of A History of St. Mark's Parish, Culpeper County, Virginia by Rev. Philip
Slaughter, and published in 1877; courtesy of Internet Archive

"Thomas Rice was an Englishman by birth, of Welsh extraction. He was an early adventurer into Virginia; where he spent the first part of his life is not certainly known. In the latter part of his life he owned a small plantation in the lower part of what is now (1824) called Hanover county. Here he left his wife, with nine sons and three daughters, and went to England to receive a considerable estate which had been left him, but returned no more. The sailors reported that he died at sea. It is supposed that he was assassinated. No return was ever made of the property after which he had gone, and his family were left destitute in a strange land.

The family being left without an earthly father, were distressed, but they were, in the good providence of God, provided for. The greater part moved about thirty miles farther up the country, where they procured a small plantation, on which they raised numerous families; four or five of them became professors of religion, and were succeeded in their religious profession by a considerable number of their children."

[1] I have purchased but not yet received A History of the Church in Kentucky for Forty Years, Containing the Memoirs of Rev. David Rice by Robert H. Bishop, published in 1824.

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