Doctoris William Christmas


(About 1600-1654)

Doctoris Christmas


In the early 1600's we find Doctoris Christmas.  There are several different spellings of Doctoris and I hope not to confuse you with these spellings as I will record it as it is on the various records.  I also do not want to confuse him with a younger person named Victoris Christmas.  Doctoris was born in England perhaps near Essex.


The Runwell, Essex, England records show Doctoris Christmas arrested for sheep stealing, the stealing of three sheep from Simon Ryme, in 1618. Some say he was imprisoned and others say hew was released as not guilty.  In the 1620's he is seen in the Virginia records.  This would establish that Doctoris was probably born in the Essex area.  He moved from there to the Colony by 1623.


The 1623-1666 `List of Living & Dead, Ships Passenger Lists, Elizabeth City, Virginia at the Eastern Shore' shows on page 31 Doctoris Chrismus and  Elizabeth Chrismus.  Elizabeth City, Virginia became a county in 1634 from the original shire. In the 1630's, this area extended from the eastern boundary of the York river to the southeastern point of the state and westerly to Greenville, Sussex and Surry counties.


Doctoris is again mentioned in the records in 1624.  In the Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia 1622-1632 and 1670-1676 by H.R. McIllwaine on page 68.  This record shows that he was a witness for the court held on 10 October 1624.  Then on page 69 he is involved in the sale of Southampton hundred flower barrels of corn by appointment of Mr. John Powntis in this document we find "is ordered John Haffarde and Doctoris Christmas having discharged their bond to Mr. Powntis shall have their freedoms according to agreement as other tenants have had."  This puts Doctoris Christmas bonded to Mr. Powntis when he arrived in the Americas, indicating that he was unable to pay his own passage to the Colony.


Three years later Doctoris is again mentioned in the 'Minutes of Council and General Court.  On 24 August 1627 Doctoris Christmas and Elizabeth, his wife, were in Elizabeth City as a Planter.  The Virginia Historical Magazine Vol 19 p 385 notes Doctoris William Christmas who leased land.1 .  The following year Doctoris was mentioned in a Land Patent on 28 September 1628 to William Cox of Elizabeth City2.  Then again that year on 29 September he is granted 50 acres on the Strawberry banks where he now lived.3   On the first 10 year lease Doctoris made he was to pay 50 pounds of Tobacco for each year to keep the land.  In 1635 Isaboll Christmas, immigrant into Elizabeth City County, Virginia, sponsored by Victoris Christmas.4 Then on 3 July Doctoris is mentioned as a land owner living next to Thomas Garmett5 and again on 21 November of that year he is granted 300 acres in Elizabeth City for transporting four people to the colony those people were William Gun, Richard Combell, Israel Atwell and Zachariah Foster.  This Patent also mentions Doctoris and the following: "100 acres for himself and his wife Isobell Christmas."6 There is some confusion at this time as there are two people one is Doctoris Christmas and the other Victoris Christmas.  Doctoris married an Elizabeth and there is no record of a marriage to Isabell.  Victoris was referred to as having a wife named Isabell.


Next we see Doctoris mentioned on a Land Grant to Peter Stafferton 13 May 1638.7 The following year on 24 October 1639 Doctoris Christmas is granted 300 acres in Elizabeth City, Virginia.  The first 100 acres for himself and Isaboll his wife and the remainder 200 acres for transport of four other people.8 In 1642 another Isaboll Christmas, immigrant wife of Victoris Christmas and sponsored by Francis Finch arrived in Virginia from England.9  Then on 10 October Doctoris Christmas and Francis Finch are granted 300 acres this is again for four other people and his wife Isobell.10


On 8 May 1648 Doctoris Christmas is mentioned in a division of land to the orphans of Jenkin Osborne and on 29 May 1649 Doctoris is mentioned as owning land adj. to Richard Kemp.11  Next we find that Doctoris William Christmas has a will dated 20 October 1654 and in his will he mentions his Maid Robecca and man Robert and grants all he owns to Peter Starkey and makes Peter Starkey and Henry Freeman as overseer of his estate.  There was nothing left to Isabell on his will and this would indicate that Isabell was the wife of Victoris not Doctoris.  To regress a little we will find that the children born in England and registered in the Charles River Parish, Virginia have some similarities.  One is that there were both a Robert Christmas and a Rebecca Christmas.  Second the Rebecca Christmas married a Henry Freeman and Bridget Christmas married a Peter Starkey.  This would indicate that Doctoris Christmas was related to these children.  Bridget Christmas was a daughter of John Christmas, the younger and Bridget White from Essex, England.  It was a common practice that a relative would send to England for his nieces and nephews to work in his home to gain experience while young to better prepare them for adulthood.  It is my opinion that these people are related and that the Richard Christmas who was mentioned in a land grant on 14 July 163712 was also related to these people.


Next we see Peter Starkey in a land agreement on 20 March 1655 bounded upon land of Doctoris Christmas.13  The will of Doctoris Christmas was proven  20 October 1654




In the name of God Amen 20 October 1654.  I Doctoris Christmas of the New Poquoson being weak of body but of perfect mind and memory Praise be given to God do ordain and make this my last Will and Testament in form following:


First principally I do commit my soul with the hands of the Lord and my body to the earth from whence it came lasting and steadfastly believing the happy salvation of both the same my soul with the hands of the Lord and my body to the earth from whence it came lasting and steadfastly believing the happy salvation of both the same my soul and body in the latter day by the free gift of God through merits of the death and passing of that immaculate Lamb Christ Jesus my only Lord, Redeemer, Laudifier, and Savior and by no otherwise or means whatsoever.


ITEM: I give and bequeath unto my Maid Rebecca one cow calf to be delivered within 3 months after my decease and to my man Robert one cow calf to be delivered as aforesaid and also give unto Nicholas servant to Peter Starkey cow calf to be delivered aforesaid.  And also I give unto Rebecca one goose of her favor or a cow to be delivered at the appropriation of her time which pleaseth them.


ITEM: I give to my loving friend Peter Starkey all my land, housing, chattel and chattels movable and immovable after my wife's decease.  Peter Starkey employing my servants as formally he hath done and also I make my wife whole executor of all of my estate also I do make Peter Starkey and Henry Freeman overseer of this my last will and testament.  In witness I have hereunto set my hand and seal the said day and year above written.



Alexander Shipworth

Robert Ffoukes


This will was written in York County, Virginia in 1654 during that time period we also find during 1646 in York County, Virginia a Goodman Christmas as having received payment, this is probably the same Goodman Christmas who was registered with his brothers and sisters in the Charles River Parish records having been born in England in 1616 thirty years earlier14. Then in 1648 John Christmas was found in York County, Virginia as the subject of a Headright15 and in 1659 a Francis Christmas as the subject of a Headright in Northumberland County, Virginia16.


The above will of Doctoris Christmas shows that Isabell Christmas, the wife of Doctoris W. Christmas, was still alive when the will was proved in 1654.  Next we see the will of Isabell Christmas written on 24 March 1669.


IN 1637 there was a Richard Christmas as an immigrant to James City County, Virginia as the subject of a Headright to Henry Brown17.  This is the best I could fine in the early years before 1700 on the Christmas family in Virginia and I feel that these were the ancestors of my family in America.  There is no proof of this and therefore I must just state it as an opinion.  My family begins or rather is connected as far back as Thomas Christmas who died in 1769 his will was proved in Bute County, North Carolina although he did not live there.



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