Commonwealth of

Immigrant Wimberley

From England to Virginia
     The history of America is closely tied to that of Virginia, particularly in the Colonial period. Jamestown, founded in 1607, was the first permanent English settlement in North America and slavery was introduced there in 1619. The state is called the "Mother of Presidents" because eight chief executives of the United States were born there. Virginia was the 10th state to be admitted to the Union, on June 25, 1788.
     Nansemond County (outlined in yellow) is the only county in Virginia that has records showing a Wimberley from England receiving a land grant for the transportation of colonists from England to the Virginia Colony. Nansemond County eventually became the independent city of Nansemond in July 1972 and on 1 January 1974, merged with the city of Suffolk. Suffolk was incorporated as a town in 1808, and as a city in 1910. Most of the land in the southeastern part of the former Nansemond County consists of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and is not suitable for habitat by humans. It is possible the county extended southward to the Chowan River in what is now North Carolina, and included what is now Bertie Co., NC.

      In 1653 the Virginia Assembly made a grant of 10,000 acres, in response to a petition from the Rev. Roger Green, "unto one hundred such persons who shall first seate on Moratuck or Roanoke river and the land lying upon the south side of Choan river and the branches thereof" and "to the said Roger Green, the rights of one thousand acres of land, and choice to take the same where it shall seem most convenient to him, next to those persons who have had a former grant".

      In a pamphlet entitled Virginia's Cure, printed in London in 1662, the Rev. Green cited the colony of Virginia as being bound "on the North by the great River Patomak (Potomac), on the South by the River Chawan (Chowan)".

     A manuscript map, drawn in 1657 by Nicholas Comberford, is in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich in London. On the neck of land between the mouth of the Roanoke River and Salmon Creek (now in Bertie County, NC) this shows a neatly drawn house with the label "Batts House" identifying it. In his journal for 1672, George Fox, the Quaker missionary who visited the area, mentioned "Nathaniel Batts who had been Governor of Roan-oak".  (Reprinted by permission of John Collins)

     There are three possible candidates for the honor of bringing the Wimberly surname to America. The candidates are:

1. John Wimberley of South Witham, born 1635, the son of William Wimberley, Ironmonger of London, and his second wife, Susanna Kay and his older half-brother,

2. William Wimberley of South Witham, born 1613, the son of William Wimberley, Ironmonger of London, and his first wife, Frances Percival, and

3. John Wimberley of Pinchbeck, born 1634, the son of John Wimberley and Frances Welby of Pinchbeck.

Known Land Grants in Virginia
In the minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia 1622-1632, 1670-1676 with notes and excerpts from original Council and General Court Records, into 1683, now lost. Edited by H. R. McIlwaine, Richmond Virginia MCMXXIV, page 295-297:

"The 25th of March 1672: Governor Sr. Hen: Chicheley Mr. Secretary Eds: Digges Major genll Smyth, Liet Coll Beale Liet Coll Park Coll..Tho Ballard Jno Pate, Esqr. WIMBERLY LAND: Order is graunted to John Wimberly to pattent 300 acres of Land in Nansomd County formerly granted to Israell Johnson, who did not seat it, unless some former grant be made thereof, entring rights according to law."

LAND GRANT: 400 acres 16 Dec 1673, Patents 6, 1666-1679 (Reel 6, page 505) JOHN WIMBERLY, 400 acres, Dec 17, 1673:

"To all ye whereas you now know you that I the said Sr. Wm. Parkeley, agent, Govnor do give and grant unto Jno Wimberly four hundred acres of land situate lying and being in the County of Nanzamond beginning at a marked hickory by the w side branch ____ _____ running West by South 320 poles to a marked oak south, North by West 200 poles to marked oak butting on the land of Robt Gooks for E by N Joyning the Gook's land to and by East 200 poles to the first Station. The Land is Due by transportation of eight persons into this Colony. To have and to hold and to be held judging and paying ____ provided you. Dated 16 Day of December 1673. Richard Arms, Hecter Jones, Wm. Elsey, and himself twice, and Peter Field 3 times.

LAND GRANT: Cavaliers and Pioneers. Vol II 1666-1695, Page 118:

"Mr. Thomas Milner, 350 acs., Nansimond Co., against Dumplin Island; 9 Oct 1672 p. 429. Beg. at Troublesome poynt upon Nansimond Riv., to land of Richard Hyne; adj. Mr. Christopher Achelley; land of John White, dec'd, now in possession of Wm. Gatlyn. 200 acs. part of a greater devdt. granted to Francis Malden 16 May 1638, and by Francis his sonne and heyre, assigned to sd. Milner; 150 acs. for trans. of 3 pers: Wm. Wimberley, Peter Wimberley, Catherine Barstable."

Survey Report No. 10934: Chancery Patent Rolls, 12 Charles I, Part 23: Dates: 1636/1637: Page 4:
"1p No. 52 William Wimberley [Merchant] - £10 - City of London" (William Wimberley obtained a license for £10 to sell Tobacco in the City of London on February 27, 1636/37).

Supporting Evidence
John Wimberley of South Witham:(Most probable)
1. In his mother's (Susanna [Kay] Wimberley) will, she mentioned her son John, had gone "a voyaging at sea" in 1658 and left him considerable property if and when he returned.

2. If John had been a follower of Oliver Cromwell, then he may have left the country. Oliver Cromwell died in 1658 and the Crown was restored in 1660.

3. If John had gone to America, or "at sea", and returned following the Great Plague in 1665 which killed about 1/3 of the 500,000 inhabitants of London and the Great Fire in 1666 which swept through London burning about 2/5ths of the city, he would not have found much to return to.

4. John may have fled to America like so many in that time period so that he could have religious freedom. In 1660, Charles II was proclaimed King. He forbade anyone to preach unless he was a clergyman of the Church of England.

5. No record of John's death has been discovered in England.

6. The names of the men who John received a land grant for transporting to Virginia (Richard Armes, Wm. Elsey, Hector Jones, and Peter Field) proved to be London residents. All were located in the general vicinity of where John resided, indicating they were friends and/or neighbors and possible supporters of Oliver Cromwell.

7. John would have been 37 years old in 1672.

William Wimberley of South Witham: (Probable)
1. Thomas Milner paid for a William Wimberley's transportation to Virginia along with Peter Wimberley and Catherine Barstable. 

2. William was the father of two males; one of them died 27th May 1648. The other child could have been named Peter (not proved). What happened to William's wife? Did she die in London? Is that the reason why William left for America? Did the Great Plague or the Great Fire of London in 1665 and 1666 claim her? 

3. No other record of William being in Virginia after 1672 has been found. (records destroyed by the British in the War of 1812) William could have been the beginning of a different line of Wimberley's in America. 

4. There are many men named William in several lines in the southern emigration of Wimberly's in America. 

5. William was the older half-brother to John of South Witham (b. 1635). 

6. William would have been 59 years old in 1672.

John Wimberley of Pinchbeck: (Least probable)
1. John was the warden of the Pinchbeck Church and we have evidence he signed the church records in 1683. Could John be in Virginia and Pinchbeck at the same time?

2. John's wife (Susanna Cannon) had died in 1671. He had four children under the age of eight years of age. Would he have left these children in the care of someone else while he emigrated to Virginia?

3. Two of John's children died: Gilbert in 1673 and Thomas in 1668/1669. Gilbert's death would have been six months before the land grant of Dec. 1673 and more than a year after the purchase of land in 1672. Thomas' death would have occurred more than six years after the land purchase. Both children are buried at Pinchbeck. Did he leave England because he had lost his second wife and all of his children?

4. What happened to his son, John, born in 1655?John would have been 38 years old in 1672.

5. A misleading addendum surfaced many years ago that stated the John Wimberley who received the land grant of 400 acres in Virginia in 1673 was "A gentleman of Penchbeck & Buchfield, England." The original land grant made no mention of "Penchbeck" or "gentleman" or Buchfield." This addendum was added to a personal research document by a researcher of the Wimberly surname to enhance the connection between this John Wimberley and the John Wimberley of Virginia and is simply not true.

6. John was appointed the "Commissioner of Supply" for Lincolnshire Co. by King Charles II in 1660 and again in 1666. Why would anyone want to give up such a good position and leave for America?

7. This John Wimberley was well-established in Pinchbeck. He had too many ties to the Crown in England and to Pinchbeck to pull-up his roots and re-plant them again in America unless he was ordered to by King Charles II.

8. Many Wimberly researchers feel this "John" is the one who immigrated to Virginia. I don't believe it. I believe from the evidence available it was "John from London" who immigrated to Virginia and this "John from Pinchbeck" died of old age in Pinchbeck with his family.

     The evidence above is presented so researchers may decided for themselves which Wimberley was the immigrant to America. I want to thank Vera Meek Wimberly for valuable material she provided me from her book "Wimberly Family History". Vera originally researched the material presented on this page and has made an important contribution to the Wimberly Family Surname research effort.

Last Update: July 1, 2005