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Early Surnames Along The James River, Virginia

The James River is the longest waterway in Virginia. Several portions of the river were the first water route for ships and their cargo. The first settlement, Jamestown, formed 40 miles from the Chesapeake Bay along the James River in 1607. The river travels over 400 miles into the piedmont region of Virginia, known for many years as the Tidewater region. The river moves over the fall line, which includes two miles of whitewater rapids. This specific location, near Richmond, is the prime area for productive mills such as water, grist, and sawmills.

The following contains early surnames from the James River area. These names date from 1739 to 1749.

  • Allison, Robert-1746
  • Arbuckle, James-1744
  • Armstrong, William-1742
  • Borden, Benjamin-1739
  • Boyd, Andrew-1743
  • Boyd, James-1742
  • Burton, Richard-1747
  • Campbell, Gilbert-1742
  • Chamberlain, James-1742
  • Chamberlain, Joseph-1742
  • Cloyd, David-1747
  • Collier, John-1746
  • Craig, Rev. John-1742
  • Crockett, John-1746
  • Crockett, Robert-1745
  • Crosthwaite, William-1742
  • Davidson, John-1746
  • Davis, Benjamin-1745
  • Davis, James-1746
  • Davis, Robert-1746
  • Doak, John-1746
  • Douglas, Roger-1746
  • Givings, George-1742
  • Greenlee, James-1745
  • Hall, William-1743
  • Harger, John-1749
  • Harrison, John-1742
  • Hart, Silas-1746
  • Hays, Patrick-1743
  • Kirkham, Henry-1742
  • Lapsley, Joseph-1742
  • Long, Joseph-1746
  • Long, Samuel-1746
  • Looney, Robert-1742
  • Matthews, George-1740
  • Matthews, John-1739
  • McAfee, James-1749
  • McDonnell, Bryan-1745
  • McDowell, John-1741
  • McDowell, Samuel-1747
  • McMachan, William-1746
  • McNaire, Daniel-1743
  • McPharron, George-1740
  • Milligan, Charles-1747
  • Mills, John-1743
  • Mitchell, David-1742
  • Mitchell, John-1744
  • Montgomery, James-1746
  • Moore, James-1746
  • Moore, William-1744
  • Patterson, Erwin-1746
  • Patton, James-1746
  • Paxton, Joseph-1747
  • Poage, Robert-1743
  • Porter, Samuel-1747
  • Ramsey, John-1746
  • Robinson, John-1745
  • Rowland, Robert-1746
  • Russell, Capt. William-1744
  • Salling, John Peter-1741
  • Shirkey, Patrick-1746
  • Sinckler, Charles-1746
  • Sloan, James-1745
  • Snodgrass, William-1747
  • Stephenson, John-1746
  • Trimble, James-1745
  • Walker, Samuel-1747
  • Whitley, Paul-1746
  • Woods, Richard-1742
  • Woods, Samuel-1742
  • Woods, William-1742
  • Young, James-1742
  • Young, Robert-1747
  • Zimmerman, Christopher-1743

These names are from research conducted with the Virginia land grants, militia records, and other documents listed below. If you would like more data on these individuals, contact Piedmont Trails or comment below. The area along the James River is rich in history and genealogy. This small list containing 18th-century surnames is just the beginning of this historical area.


  1. Land Records of Orange and Augusta Counties, Virginia
  2. Virginia Council Records
  3. Journal of the House of Burgesses
  4. Patent Books in the Virginia Land Office-(available now online courtesy of the Library Of Virginia)

7 replies »

    • Circa 1724, several German families were involved in a dispute with Governor Spotswood over transportation expenses. A trial was held in court and these German families moved west to Robinson River. Christopher Zimmerman was one of these who settled along the river. Others were surnames of Fleshman, Snider, Tanner, Blankenbaker, Yager and Clore.
      A land grant dated June 30, 1743 was issued to Christopher Zimmerman containing 400 acres on the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My records indicate the death for this particular Zimmerman as 1749 with birth date as 1691.


      • Zimmerman was a member of Second Germanna, specifically those who came first in the ship Scott in 1717 and were taken by the captain to Virginia, instead of Pennsylvania as they had planned (and paid for). He there sold them to Governor Spotswood against their will, and they were indentured for 7 years. Being good Germans, they nevertheless served their 7 years (or close to it) before they began to relocate to the Robinson River Valley, (present-day Madison County). That’s when Spotswood sued some of them and they were forced to serve another year before they were free. Members of the Zimmerman family, as well as the Blankenbakers and my ancestors, the Moyers (and others, I believe), immigrated to the area of NC that would become Cabarrus, Stanly, Rowan. (The Blankenbakers would become “Picklers”, by the way.) And that brings me to MY request. The Moyers and Blankenbakers became associated by marriage with a family whose name has been spelled Mahan, Machan, Makin and all variations with Mc or Mac preceding those! There has been speculation that the family originated in Delaware as McMekin, but I don’t think there is any solid proof of that. So I was very interested to see the name William McMachan. Any information you have on this individual would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have the following on William McMachan: Land grant dated 9/2/1746 in the amount of 400 acres on the head of Buffalo Creek adjoining Borden’s line. In 1747, this same 400 acres was sold to Robert Young from William McMachan, “a noted gentleman from Frederick County”. (Bk 1, pg 359) I have among my personal notes that this particular William McMachan died during the year of 1749 in Frederick County. He is noted with several children. His sons’ are known as James and William. A Robert McMachan is living in Augusta County during 1742 in accordance to baptism records of Rev. Craig.
        I’ve conducted a great amount of research to Governor Spotswood over the years. The captain which you referenced is Andrew Tarbett, and I’ve conducted research on him and his ship, Scott. There is a great many more details about the initial trip, the passengers and the actions that took place after landing at Jamestown.


  1. John Collier listed here possibly my 6th g-grandfather. Later ancestors (Goad, Cox, Bond, Mitchell) settled in what is now Floyd & Montgomery Co VA

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Margie,

      Thank you for your request concerning the Boyd Family along the James River. Exactly what information are you searching for? My files are full of Boyd research notes, deeds, and other records. Are you a direct descendant of Alexander, Andrew, James, John, William, or Robert? All of these gentlemen are living in the area during this time period.


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