Steven Butler's Family History Website



The Rountree Family
William Rountree | Richardson Rountree

The Rountree Family

By Steven R. Butler, Ph.D.

We are related to the Rountree Family by virtue of the fact that my grandmother, Alice May Tate, was a daughter of Isaac Henry Tate, who was a son of Mariah Elizabeth Hill Tate, who was a daughter of Isabella Hill Cox, who was a daughter of Mildred Mariah Rountree Cox, who was a daughter of Richardson Rountree, who was a son of William Rountree.

According to Bardsley's A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, Rountree, also spelled Roundtree, Rowntree, Rowantree or Roantree, means "at the rowan-tree (the mountain ash), from residence beside such a tree." It is a "well-known North-English surname."

William Rountree
(B. Abt. 1700-D. 1765)

Our earliest certain progenitor in this line is a colonial planter named William Rountree, who, according to some researchers, was born in England (year unknown) and immigrated to the British colony of Virginia about 1720, where he settled in New Kent County, got married, started a family, and resided for nearly thirty years. There's evidence that he also lived for a time in Hanover County before finally settling in Goochland County (west of Richmond), where he died sometime in 1766 at the age of about sixty-six.

Other researchers state that he was born in America and that his (and our) ancestors can be traced back to the sixteenth century, to one Moses Rountree of Yorkshire, England, which is possible, but unproven to a certainty.

William Rountree's wife's name, according to all accounts, was Dorcas, reportedly the daughter of Ambrose Dudley. Together, William and his wife, whatever her maiden name, had the following nine children, not necessarily shown here in birth order:

  1. Richardson Rountree
  2. Thomas Rountree
  3. Turner Rountree
  4. Randall Rountree
  5. Dudley Rountree, born January 4. 1728 (old style)/1729 (new style)
  6. William Rountree, Jr.
  7. Molly Rountree
  8. Drusilla Rountree
  9. Isabell Rountree

Although the earliest land records of New Kent County, Virginia no longer exist, the vestry records of St. Peter's Parish show that Dudley Rountree, son of Wiliam and Dorcas, was baptized in New Kent County on March 2, 1728 (old style)/1729 (new style). No baptismal or christening record of any of the other children can be located.

Virginia planters at church
Eighteenth Century Virginia Planters at Church courtesy Library of Congress.

The land records of neighboring Goochland County, Virginia likewise confirm that the family of William Rountree resided in New Kent County, by recording that on March 25, 1749, William Rountree "of Blisland Parish in new Kent County" paid £145 for 700 acres of land on the "broad Branch" in St. James' Parish, Goochland County, which he bought from a man named Philip Webber. It should not be presumed, however, that William Rountree immediately moved to and resided upon this property thereafter because eight years later, on November 15, 1757, William Rountree "of St. Paul's Parish in the County of Hanover and Colony of Virginia" for "Diverse causes me hereunto Moving but more especially for the Father like Love which I Bear to my Son William Rowntree" gave his namesake a 350-acre plantation, complete with "dwelling house, orchards, and fences" in Goochland County, located "on the Mannekin town Ferry Road," which was the "upper part of a tract" that he (William Sr.) had purchased from "Mr. Webber." On the very same day, William Rountree gifted the remaining lower 350 acres of this 700-acre tract to his son, Randal Richardson.

The previous day, November 14, 1757, William Rountree "of St. Paul's Parish in the County of Hanover and Colony of Virginia," in consideration of 157 Pounds and ten shillings, sold a different 700-acre tract in Goochland County, located on the Beaverdam Creek, to John Woodson and John Wright and his wife, Ann. There does not seem to be any record, however, of how and when he acquired this property.

It should be noted that Hanover County was formed from a portion of New Kent County in 1719. It may be that William Rountree became a Hanover County resident simply because county boundary lines changed, and not because he physically moved. Unfortunately, without knowing precisely where his property was located, it is difficult to know which scenario applies.

Virginia Tobacco Planters
Eighteenth Century Virginia Tobacco Planters' courtesy Library of Congress.

In 1766, "Mr. William Rowntree of Virginia" was listed as one of the subscribers to a little pamphlet, published in London, England, entitled Sermons on the Most Useful and Important Subjects, Adapted to the Family and Closet, Vol. 1.

We also know that sometime between 1757 and 1765, William Rountree moved to Goochland County, where he was a man of wealth and property. His will, which was written and signed on October 1, 1765, reveals that at the time of his demise and despite the generous gifts of land he had already given to two of his sons, he still owned in excess of 450 acres. He also owned eleven enslaved African-Americans, who were named in the will, as follows: Rip, James, George, Phillis, Nan, Luca, Nell, Charles, Sam, Ben, and Jane. Their ages were not given.

Here is William Rountree's will in full, which names not only his children and his slaves but also some of his grandchildren:

IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. I William Rountree of the Parish of St. James Northam in the County of Goochland being very sick and weak, but of sound and perfect mind and memory (Praise be to God for it). Doth make and Appoint This my last will and Testament in manner and form Following: First I Commend my Soul to Almighty God who gave it and my body to the Earth to be buried in a decent and Christian like manner at the discretion of my Executors-hereinafter named and for the worldly goods it hath pleased Almighty God to bestow upon me I give and bequeath and dispose of as followeth. That is to say-

Item. I give and bequeath unto my son Richardson Rountree all my land lies on the other side of the creek commonly called the Middle Creek and also on this side [of] the Creek from [the] mouth of a branch that comes into said Creek a little below the bridge and so up the said branch to a marked White Oak standing near the head of the said Branch and from the said White Oak on a straight line to the head of haw Branch and down the said Branch to Mr. Josia [sic] Paynes' [sic] line to him and heirs forever it being my Estimation Two hundred acres be the same more or less-also one Negro Boy named George to him and his heirs forever with Five head of Cattle some grown and some small.

Item. I give unto my son Thos. Rountree a peace [sic] or parcel of land commonly called and known by the name of Brook's Beginning at the mouth of the Branch that runs into the Middle Creek a little below the bridge with my son Richardsons' [sic] line and so along the said line to Mr. Josias Paynes' [sic] line and so along the said Payne line to the Creek that I live on and so up the said Creek to the mouth of the branch at my Cart path that goes to the middle trees and so up the said branch about one hundred yards to my line and so along that said line to a corner Pine neare [sic] the Old Ordinary and so to the middle Creek and down the said creek to the mouth of the branch where it first began being by my Estimation two hundred and fifty Acres to him and his heirs forever to the same more or less also one Negro boy named Charles [and] one feather bed and furniture to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Turner Rowntree my Manor Plantation with all the residue of the said Traik [sic] thereunto belonging to him and his heirs forever-also one Negro Girl named Lucy and her Increase to him and his and his heirs forever also one feather bed and furniture, one coper [sic] still and one coper [sic] kettle-to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Randall Rowntree one negro Wench named Nan with her increase to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Dudley one Negro Fellow named Jamie to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son William Rowntree one Negro Girl named Nell and her Increase also the sum of Ten Pounds Currt [sic] money as a recompense for his trouble in Tending me in my sickness in the County of Hanover also Five head of Cattle some small and some grown.

Item. I give and bequeath to my Grand Daughter Molly Bailey one Negro Girl named Salley and her increase The Negro Girl to be delivered to Molley Bailey at the Age of eighteen or Married to her and her heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my Daughter Drusilla Haden one Negro Boy named Ben to her and her heirs forever and Thirty Geese.

Item: I give and bequeath to my Daughter Molley one Negro Wench named Phillip also one Sorrell mair [sic] and colt a horse one Best Feather Bedd [sic] and Firniture [sic] and the sum of Thirty Rex Dollars-Currt [sic] Money and Thirty Geese and double Loan for hur [sic] kindness to me in my Sickness to hur [sic] and hur [sic] Heirs forever.

Item. My Will & Desire is that my Negro Fellow named Ripp may be hired out from time to time during the Life by my Executors and the profits of his hire to go to the use of my Daughter Isabell and hur [sic] Children to be laid [paid?] out at discression [sic] of my Executors once Every yeare [sic] ion Clothing &c.

My Will and Desire [is] that all the Residue of my Estate may be sold & the money arising to be equally divided between the following children (viz) Turner, Molley, Darcas, Drusilla and my Grandson John Bailey-The money that is Jno Baileyes [sic] part to be paid to him by my Executors at the age of Twenty one yeares [sic].

Item. I give and bequeath to my Grand Daughter Martha Goldsmith fifteen shilling to be made into a Ring & Delivered hur [sic] at the age of Fifteen years by my Exect.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my Grand Daughter Massie Goldsmith the Fifteen shillings to be made in a Ring & to be delivered hur [sic] at the age of Fifteen yeares [sic] by my Executors.

Item. I Give & Bequeath unto my Grand Daughter Leway Goldsmith Fifteen shillings to be made in a Ring & to be delivered hur [sic] at the Age of fifteen yeares [sic] by my Executors.

Item. I give & bequeath unto my Grand Daughter Eliza Goldsmith fifteen shilling to be made in a Ring & delivered hur [sic] at the age of Fifteen yeares [sic] by my Executors.

Item. I Give & bequeath unto my Grand Daughter Lewsender [sic] Goldsmith Fifteen Shillings to be in a Ring & to be delivered hur [sic] at Age Fifteen yeares [sic] by my Executors.

Item. I give & bequeath unto my Grand Daughter Milley Goldsmith Fifteen Shillings to be made in a Ring and to be delivered hur [sic] at the age of Fifteen yeares [sic] by my Executors.

Item. I do hereby Constitute and Appoint my son William Rowntree, Turner Rowntree, Randall Rowntree & my Loving Friend Stoakes McCaul my whole & sole Executors of this my Last Will & Testament and as a Reward I give and bequeath to Each one of my Executors William Rowntree, Turner Rowntree, Randall Rowntree & Stoakes McCaul the Sum of Forty Pounds to be equally divided between my Four Executors which forty pound I am now at law for in the County of Fairfax-

Given under my hand and seal this 1st day of October one thousand and seven hundred and sixty five.


Teste-Josias Payne jp
James Coalman

At a Court held for Goochland County September 16th 1766 this writing was proved by the oaths of Witnesses to be the last Will & Testament of William Rowntree. Decd Will was thereupon ordered to be Recorded-

Teste-Val. Wood Cl. Curt [Clerk of the Court]

William Rountree was almost certainly buried somewhere in Goochland County, Virginia but the precise location of his grave, and that of his wife, is unknown.

Richardson Rountree
(Abt. 1735-1819)

Richardson Rountree signature

Richardson Rountree, one of the six sons of William Rountree and his wife, Dorcas, was born about 1735, almost certainly in New Kent County, Virginia. He was a planter like his father before him, except that following his father's death in 1765, he sold his inherited land in Virginia and removed to South Carolina, where he took up residence in what would eventually become Edgefield County, the western border of which is the Savannah River, separating South Carolina from Georgia.

On June 14, 1756, when Richardson Rountree was approximately twenty-one years of age, he received a royal land grant of 150 acres in Craven County, one of the original three counties of South Carolina, which encompassed all of the present-day state that lay between the boundary with North Carolina and a long line formed by the Saluda, Congaree, and Santee rivers. (South Carolina Royal Land Grant Book 1 Index, p.410.)

According to one source, thirty-year-old Richardson Rountree married nineteen-year-old Mary Hart (born 1746) in 1765 in Halifax County, North Carolina. Another source claims that he had two wives and that he married the first, named Matilda Anderson, in Goochland County, Virginia, and that she died about 1774. No matter how many wives, we know that Richardson Rountree fathered the following named children::

  1. Elizabeth Mildred, allegedly born Halifax County, North Carolina, married William Goldsmith
  2. Rebecca, allegedly born about 1764 in Halifax County, North Carolina, married Samuel Stalmaker
  3. Mildred, born Union County, South Carolina, married Wiley Berry
  4. Mary Nellie, born about 1772 in Union County, South Carolina, married Elijah Welburn
  5. Mildred Mariah, born about 1776 in Union County, South Carolina, married Asa Coz (our ancestor)
  6. Thomas Hart, born about 1778 in Union County, South Carolina, married 1.) Mary Price and 2.) S. E. Gilbreath
  7. Daniel, born Edgefield County, South Carolina between 1791 and 1793, married Fannie Nelson
  8. Martha, born about 1783 in Edgefield County, South Carolina, married Cary Cox, Jr.
  9. Sarah Clara, born about 1784 in Edgefield County, South Carolina, married James Smith
  10. Isabel, born Edgefield County, South Carolina, married William Stevens
  11. William, born Edgefield County, South Carolina, wife's name unknown

Although a source exists which claims that Richardson Rountree and his family lived in Halifax County, North Carolina for several years following their move from Virginia, there appear to be no land records for him in that county during any period of time nor anything else that might confirm his residence there.

There is, however, a record of a royal land grant in South Carolina, dated February 15, 1768, in which Richardson Rountree was granted 150 acres on the "S. side of the Catawba River on a branch thereof called Fishing Creek, it being eight feet wide and six inches deep," which ran diagonally through the property. (South Carolina Royal Land Grant Plat Book 9, p.288.)

1768 SC Land Grant for Richardson Rountree

On March 30, 1771, Richardson Rountree received a third royal land grant, this time for 100 acres on the "S. side of the Pacolet River," which formed the property's northern boundary. It was surveyed and certified in 1773. (South Carolina Royal Land Grant Plat Book 20, p.216


1771 Land Grant for Richardson Rountree

During the latter part of the American War for Independence, Richardson Rountree served as a Captain of Commissaries in Colonel Thomas Brandon's Regiment, Anderson's Return, South Carolina Militia, both before and after the fall of Charleston in 1780. Unfortunately, the personal details of his service have been lost to history, but there is an interesting story about him that was related in The Memoirs of Georgia (1895).

[Richardson Rountree] was a very wealthy planter. He joined the patriot army, serving as a captain, and on one occasion while at home an incident occurred which showed his great nerve and courage. He was known as a man of wealth, and believed to be possessed of no small amount of money. This was a tempting bait to the Tories, who, learning of his presence at home, surprised and captured him, and attempted to force him to divulge its hiding place. With determined courage he held out against them, although they went to the desperate extreme of tying and leaving him in the swamp. After the Tories left, a faithful negro released him after he had been in the swamp two days and saved his life, and he lived to raise a large family.

A similar version of the story, with a different ending, was printed in Historical Collections of the Joseph Habersham Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Vol. II:

During the war, and while on a furlough at home, [Richardson] Rountree's premises were raided by a roving band of Tories, many of whom were his neighbors and acquaintances. They were after plunder, and in their search for valuables and money ripped open the bedding and scattered the feathers over the floor, besides destroying the household goods. Captain Rountree refused to tell them where his valuables were hidden, whereupon they tied him and threatened to hang him in the presence of his family. My grandmother was a witness to this and related it to my father. Finding they could not gain their object, they tied his hands behind his back, and, disregarding the entreaties of his wife and daughters, they marched him away from his home asserting that they would kill any member of his family who dared to follow. Some distance from his home, in a deep forest, he was made to embrace a small tree (you see he was around tree then), while his hands were made fast with hickory withes, and he was left to perish. After a painful struggle of many hours he at last succeeded in liberating himself by biting away the withes with his teeth.

He returned to his command at Charleston, S. C., and was in the service until mustered out at the close of the war.

Although any further details of Richardson Rountree's military service have unfortunately been lost to history, we know that Colonel Brandon's Regiment, which consisted largely on Union County men, was known as the Second Spartan Regiment, South Carolina Militia. We also know that on either June 10 or July 12, 1780, at a place called "Brandon's Camp," located near Fair Forest Creek in present-day Union County, South Carolina, where he was recruiting patriots to fight the British and Tories, the regiment was attacked and dispersed by Tories. We also know that Brandon's Regiment took part in the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780 and Cowpens in 1781. In all likelihood, Captain Rountree and his men took part in both those engagements and others.

Richardson Rountree's Revolutionary War service is also verified by records in the South Carolina state archives showing that he was paid for his militia service, as well as for providing his troops with provisions in 1782 (South Carolina Revolutionary War Stub Entries to Indents, #6634.)

Following the war, Richardson Rountree received at least two land grants from the State of South Carolina. The first, for which he paid seven Pounds, seven Shillings and six Pence, was dated April 3, 1786. It entitled him to a "plantation or tract of land" measuring 316 acres "in the District of Ninety-Six, on both sides of Buffalow Creek, a branch of Fair Forest including his plantation." The second, for which he paid seven Pounds, fourteen Shillings, and eleven Pence, was dated March 3, 1788. It entitled him to 332 acres of land adjacent to his earlier grant.

Richardson Rountree was still living in Union County, South Carolina when the 1790 federal census was taken. At that time, he and his wife had two sons and six daughters. He also had six slaves.

Here is a list of land transactions involving Richardson Rountree in Union County, South Carolina:

  • December 21, 1790. Sold to Ephraim Wilburn "part of a certain tract of land containing three-hundred-and-sixteen acres…in Ninety-Six District lying on Buffalow Creek, a branch of Fairforest…the same being granted to the aforesaid Richardson Rountree the third day of April Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and eighty six…except a small part laying between Richard Powell's line and Roger Crook['s] line…[and] all the small grain that is now sowed only a small piece joining the Rye." for thirty Pounds Sterling. (Union County, South Carolina Deed Book C, p. 33.)
  • March 15, 1793. Richardson Rountree and wife, Mildred, to Thomas Wilborn. 110 Pounds Sterling for 300 acres "on Buffalow Creek." Union County, South Carolina Deed Book C, pp.355-6.)
  • January 1, 1794. Richardson Rountree and wife, Mildred, to James Ezell. £30 for 316 acres of land "on Buffalow Creek." (Union County, South Carolina Deed Book C, p.350-2.

In 1800, the Richardson Rountree family was living in Edgefield District, South Carolina with two sons between the ages of 10 and 15, one daughter under ten, two daughters 10 to 15, and five slaves. In 1810, the family was still resident in Edgefield District, with one son under ten and two from 16 to 25, and 15 slaves. By this time, all of Richardson and Mildred's daughters were presumably married and living in their own homes with their husbands and children. The oldest sons too.

Here is a list of land transactions involving Richardson Rountree in Edgefield District, South Carolina:

  • July 13, 1804. Davis Williams to Richardson Rountree, who paid $300 for 278 acres "lying on branches of Mountain & Rocky Creek waters of Savannah River." (Edgefield District, South Carolina Deed Book 29, pp.87-88.)
  • March 15, 1805. Richardson Rountree to James Maulden, who paid $500 for 400 acres. (Edgefield County, South Carolina Deed Book 26, pp.470-1.
  • March 29, 1808. Jedidiah Cook to Richardson Rountree, who paid. $200 for 100 acres in the "district of Rocky Creek of Turkey Creek of Savannah River." (Edgefield District, South Carolina Deed Book 29, pp.86-87.)
  • February 3, 1814. Richardson Rountree, deed of gift to son, Daniel Rountree. "That track [sic] of land where I now live I bought of Davis Williams containing three hundred and odd acres the said Daniel Rountree is not to have untill [sic] the death of myself and wife Mildred." (Edgefield District, South Carolina Deed Book 32, pp.83-84.

Sometime in early 1819, Richardson Rountree died at the advanced age of about eighty-four, which was quite remarkable for that period in history. From all appearances, his wife, Mildred, predeceased him. Unfortunately, he died intestate, that is without leaving a will. Consequently, on April 20, 1819, the Edgefield District court appointed his sons James and Daniel administrators of his estate, which was inventoried shortly afterward. In addition to some furniture, household goods, tools, farm implements, and livestock, the estate also included ten slaves, whose names and appraised values were given as: "one negro boy named Jesse," valued at $600, one negro woman named Clary, valued at $200.50, another negro woman named Nan, valued at $450, a third negro woman named Milly, valued at $200, a fourth named Sook, valued at $500, one negro girl named Neley, valued at $500, another girl, named Leah, valued at $450, a boy named Harper, valued at $550, another boy, named Hall, also valued at $550, and a boy named Jack, valued at $800; total appraised value of enslaved persons, $4,800.50.

Interestingly, when the aforementioned slaves were actually sold, in almost every case the amount paid was higher than the appraised value. There were also three (Lewis, Tempy, and Chany, who were not mentioned in the inventory taken earlier. A list of the buyers, slaves, and amounts paid for each is as follows:

  1. James Smith, 1 Negro Boy named Lewis, $890.00
  2. Wm. Sevens, 1 Negro Woman named Tempy and her child named Chany $750.00
  3. Col. John Key, 1 Negro Boy named Jesse, $780.00
  4. W. Berry, 1 Negro Woman named Clary, $108.00
  5. W. Berry, 1 Do named Nan, $525.00
  6. Asa Cox, 1 Do named Mill, $304.00
  7. Col. John Key, 1 Do named Sook, $633.00
  8. D. Rountree, 1 Negro Girl named Nelly, $591.00
  9. Asa Cox, 1 Do named Leah, $726.00
  10. Fleming B. Nance, 1 Negro Boy [named] Harper, $660.00
  11. Col. John Key, 1 Do [named] Hal, $701.00
  12. James Rountree, 1 Do [named] Jack, $1,005.00

TOTAL: $7,673.00

Equally interesting is the fact that of all the property of Richardson Rountree that was sold, collectively, his slaves were by far the most valuable. The amount raised by the sale of everything else came to $1.415.48. Apart from the plantation that he had already gifted to his son, Daniel, the land that he still owned, a tract of 139 acres, was sold by his heirs for only $300. (Edgefield District, South Carolina Deed Book 37, pp.246-7.)

Court documents identify the legatees of the deceased, which included, as was the custom of the day, his sons-in-law, in place of their wives, who received a cash payment from the sale of the estate (in most cases, $725), except, for some unknown reason, Asa Cox, husband of Mildred Mariah Rountree, who is not listed, nor Mildred Rountree, which suggests that she had predeceased her husband:

  • James Rountree
  • Daniel Rountree
  • Thomas Rountree
  • William Rountree
  • William Goldsmith (in place of wife, Elizabeth Mildred)
  • Wiley Berry (in place of wife, Mildred)
  • William Stephens (in place of wife, Isabel)
  • Mary & William Wilbourn
  • Cary Cox, Jr. (in place of wife, Martha)
  • Samuel Stalmaker (in place of wife, Rebecca)

According to one researcher, Richardson Rountree was buried at Edgefield Village Cemetery. Edgefield, Edgefield County, South Carolina.

The Rountree Family
William Rountree | Richardson Rountree

This website copyright © 1996-2022 by Steven R. Butler, Ph.D. All rights reserved.