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Chapter 1

Change is in the Air


There was “change” in the air - - - palpable, unmistakable, historical change.  It permeated the very breath inhaled by the infant born into the Ware household on November 15, 1714.  On that cold winter’s day in Gloucester County, Virginia, there was no way that young James Ware could have possibly imagined how differently his world would look at the end of his life from the way it did then – on his birthday.  In the years to come, James would find his identity changed in many ways.  He would morph from being a colonist in the New World to a “Patriot” in the United States of America.  He would no longer embrace the Episcopal religion of his forefathers but would become an ardent follower of the new Baptist faith that arose out of the break with England.  Perhaps most dramatic of all, James would cease being a Virginian and would ultimately die in the new land he adopted in the latter part of his life.  Many of his descendants would continue to call themselves “sons of Virginia” but James Ware I would be buried in Kentucky – a vast, unsettled wilderness that was virtually unheard of on this day of his birth.

There was also no way that James could know that just one month after his November arrival, a baby girl would be born in the same locale who was destined to become his wife and helpmate during all those years of change.  Agnes Todd was born on the 20th of December 1714.  Although there is not much information concerning her family background, it is likely that her parents had many connections with the Payne and Taylor families that came over from England and settled in the tidewater area of Gloucester, Virginia.  Thomas Todd, possibly one of her relatives, was one of the earliest immigrants to America, and he had built a large home called Toddsbury in the area where both James and Agnes were born.  There were many Todd family members in Gloucester County as well as descendants of Colonel James Taylor, who also emigrated from England to Virginia at that time.  Future generations would see the Paynes, Taylors, Todds, and Wares marry into each other’s families so often that by the mid-1700s their names would be linked in ways that are visible in the following quote from a book titled James Madison by Ralph Ketcham:

“On September 15, 1794, his [James Madison’s] cousin Lucy Taylor’s husband, the Reverend Alexander Balmain of Winchester, pronounced the solemn words that began forty-two years of devotion in marriage for James Madison and Dolley Payne Todd.”  (Ref. 2376)

Notice the connection between the families mentioned above:

Lucy Taylor Balmain was the sister of Elizabeth Taylor - the grandmother of Frances Toy Glassell who married Josiah Ware, great grandson of James Ware and Agnes Todd Ware.  (Ref. 2354, 2377)


Family Bible entry (Ref. 621)

Transcription: “Our Great Grandmother’s Grandfather James Ware Senior born Nov. 15, 1714
Agnes Todd wife of James Ware Senior was born Dec. 20, 1714”

There was speculation at one time that the father of Agnes might be Dr. George Tod, who was educated in Scotland, (Ref. 625) but with subsequent findings giving him a birth date of 1711, it would be fairly miraculous for him to father Agnes in 1714. For now, her parentage may have to remain a mystery.  It is enough for us to know that she was the wife of James.

With the birth of young James that winter in 1714, the branches of the Ware family tree living in Virginia took firmer root.  Some of his ancestors, Peter Ware and his wife, Mary Hickes of England, were among the earliest bold settlers who had come to North America to make a new life.  We know Peter was clearly an educated man based on the fact that he served as an attorney in 1647 for Robert Lewis “in a case involving William Todd,” and was mentioned again as an attorney in another case that dealt with appraising estates in York County, Hampton Parish. (Ref. 379) There are several records on file concerning Peter which allow us to identify the area of Virginia in which he lived and practiced:  King and Queen County, Hampton Parish, York County, and New Kent County. (See below)


Note the following 5 references


Hayden Genealogy


2.   A New Kent County deed shows William sold a portion of this property, "to Peter Ware [Jr.] . . ." Virginia Patent Bk. 7, p. 77 dated Apr. 23, 1681.


3.   On 24 Sep 1647, Appraisal of other property of Robert Jackson was signed by Peter Ware.    (Beverly Fleet, VA. Colonial Abstract 25, York Co. Page 37, 53)


4.   Valentine Ware, Sr. was son of Peter Ware, Jr. according to the following three sources: 1) York Co. Deeds, Orders, Wills, Book 1, 1633-57, 1691-94 - Valentine Ware 23 May 1693 of "King and Queen Co,” by deed of sale, states that he is son and heir to Peter Ware, Jr. and Jane his mother confirming the deed of 1675.   2) Beverly Fleet, Abstracts, King and Queen Co. VA  Valentine Ware of age on 24 May 1693 when his literate mother Jane Ware of King and Queen Co. testified about the estate of Peter Ware deceased in Hampton Parish, York Co. 26 May 1675.  3) VA Colonial Abstracts, Vol. 6 - Valentine Ware testified on behalf of his mother Jane, who wrote, "I Jane Ware of King & Queen Co., empower my son Valentine Ware to acknowledge for me sale by Peter Ware late of York Co., deceased, land in Hampton Parish, York Co. 26 May 1675 to Honorable Nathaniel Bacon,” signed Jane Ware 24 May 1693




Peter and Mary lived near Ware Creek, a geographic section of Virginia which would provide numerous land holdings for his descendants in years to come.  Maps today reflect the impact of the Ware settlement:  Ware Creek, Ware Bridge, Ware Wharf, and Ware Neck, just to name a few.

Map 2009


Ware’s Wharf  by: Gigi Vranian  Artist rendering of Ware’s Wharf from a 1915 black and white photograph belonging to Helen and Joe Ware.  The original photograph is part of the ‘Mariners’ Museum collection in Newport News, Virginia.

Map showing Ware River           Ware River

By 1634, the House of Burgesses had taken the original colony of Jamestown and subdivided the area into eight shires, later to be known as counties.  The ensuing years would find these counties divided and subdivided many times.  For purposes of this history, it is mainly important to know the following:

1634 Henrico County (originally called Charles City)
1634 York County  
1642   Renamed
1648 Northumberland County  
1651 Gloucester County came out of York
1654 New Kent County came from York
1691 King and Queen County formed out of New Kent
1702 King William County from King and Queen
1721 Spotsylvania County from Essex, King & Queen, and King William
1728 Goochland County formed out of Henrico
1728 Caroline County Essex, King and Queen, and King William
1734 Orange County formed out of Spotsylvania
1749 Cumberland County formed out of Goochland

It was into these counties that many of our Ware ancestors moved. (see below)


One of the many descendants of James Ware I was Josiah William Ware, a man who greatly valued family history and often spoke of his roots.  He was the cousin of Lucy Ware Hayes, wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes.  He wrote to Hayes in 1876 that he was “descended from the Todds of lower Virginia, where some are known to be our relatives in Caroline County.” (Ref. 299)     In 1879, during one of Josiah’s many visits to the White House, he provided even more information for President Hayes.  In discussing his great grandfather, James Ware I, Josiah related, “the family came from Gloucester County, Virginia where there is a Ware Church and a Ware River.” (Ref.289)           

#9 Caroline County    #21 Gloucester County   #29 King & Queen Co.

There actually was more than one Ware family that settled in Virginia during these years, and although not all seem to be connected to the same direct genealogical line, it would appear that becoming active in church affairs was a high priority for all of them.  “In 1651, Gloucester County was formed from York County and divided into 4 parishes:  Abington, Kingston, Petsworth, and Ware. The King decreed that all newly settled land be divided into districts headed by a rector. The Wares were Vestrymen in Abington and Ware Parish before the formation of the county.” (Ref. 6, 162,379, 388, 851)

Drawing of the doorway at Ware Church Gloucester County 1693

(Ref. 162)  Parish lines and Colonial Churches – notice “Ware” in red for Ware parish, Ware Standing, and Ware Creek

The years following the birth of James would be defining ones for him personally, and also for the entire world in which he lived.  Map makers would be in high demand as counties, rivers, caves, and mountains were discovered and explored – not to mention a new nation that was evolving.  Change was coming and coming fast.  The first rumblings may have very well started in the hallowed halls of the churches.


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