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Saint Boltoph's Northfleet Parish Church in County Kent, England

Norfleet Family Genealogy

Merton College, Oxford, the college of Master John de Northflete

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Biographical Sketch of Henry the Tory

by Phil Norfleet

We know, from the Bible record of Henry's son, John Norfleet (1786-1873) of Pulaski County, Kentucky that Henry Norfleet was born in the year 1762. Henry's wife was Elizabeth Everett of Gates County, North Carolina. Their Gates County marriage bond was dated 16 September 1785; Israel Beeman was the bondsman, with James Rise and Law Baker as the witnesses.

By conjecture, I have concluded that Henry was the older brother of both James Norfleet (1767-1849) and David Norfleet (c. 1770-1824) based on the following rationale:

1. Naming Conventions: It was the custom of most Virginia families to name their first born son after the paternal grandfather. Henry's firstborn son was named John, which would imply that the Grandfather was also named John. Also, Henry's son, John, settled very close to David Norfleet when he arrived in Kentucky in about the year 1820, on White Oak Creek. It is therefore probable that John was a close relative of David, i. e., his nephew.

2. State Census Data: Further evidence supporting the conjecture that Henry was a son of John Norfleet (d. 1812) is provided by the Virginia State Census enumerations for 1783 and 1784. We know that Henry Norfleet had acquired land by 1782, as he is carried on the Nansemond County land tax lists as owning 200 acres in both 1782 and 1783. He does not appear in the VA State Census for 1783 as a separate householder; however, he is listed in the 1784 census. Probably he was omitted from the 1783 census because he was still serving in the Continental Army (see the section on Henry's Revolutionary War Service below) and was away from home. It should be noted that the only other Norfleet in his census district for the year 1784 was John Norfleet (d. 1812). Also, in his census district were many Holland households, including Brittain (Albridgton?) Holland, John Holland, Jesse Holland and William (Willis?) Holland. These are the same names, as the young men who enlisted with Henry in the Royal North Carolina Regiment in June-July 1781 (see below).

3. The Holland Connection: Mr. Bobbie Jones of Suffolk, a descendent of Job Holland, in a letter published in the newsletter of the Thomas Norfleet: 1666 Society (pages 145-147), provides the following information:

" … In his will, probated in 1829, my ancestor Job Holland made the following bequest:

' … 2nd I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Barnes the tract of land which I purchased of Henry Norfleet          containing two hundred and fifty-two acres, more or less, together with the mill situated thereon, … '

"This tract of land lies immediately to the northwest of the village of Holland, separated from the Holland land by a branch of the Kingsale Swamp formerly known as Captain John's Swamp. The old mill dam, referred to in the will, still extends out from either side of the main branch of the swamp - possibly dating back as far as Henry Norfleet's time. Henry Norfleet appears as a land owner on the land tax lists in 1782 and continues up to 1803/04 when a portion of his land appears to have been acquired by Job Holland whose holdings increased by 252 acres at that time - at the same time Henry Norfleet's name disappears….. In 1821 James Barnes acquired 108 acres from John Norfleet of Henry which was adjacent to Job Holland's land.

"I think Job Holland and Henry Norfleet probably married sisters as Job Holland's wife was also an Everett (Mary I think). Job Holland had two daughters - Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth first married John Holland (the Tory?) who owned the farm on which the village of Holland later developed - just across the swamp from Henry Norfleet. After John Holland's death (c. 1817) Elizabeth married James Barnes … The Henry Norfleet land was located at the extreme eastern end of Processioning Precinct 17 … "

I believe the above information from Mr. Jones is accurate. It clearly establishes that Henry sold 252 acres of land to Job Holland in the 1803/04 time frame. Presumably, Henry died soon thereafter as he last appears in the Nansemond County tax lists for the year 1803. The Gates County, North Carolina marriage records indicate that Henry married Elizabeth Everett on 16 September 1785. Job Holland was a grandson of Henry Holland and, thus, was probably a second cousin of Henry Norfleet. The Vestry Minutes for the Upper Parish of Nansemond County state that Henry's farm was in Land Processioning District 17.

REVOLUTIONARY WAR SERVICE AS A LOYALIST

Henry is commonly known among Norfleet family historians as the "Henry the Tory"! Although a loyalist, Henry was one of only three Norfleets known to have fought in the American Revolution. From the Virginia State Court records, the Papers of the Virginia Legislature, notices contained in the principal Virginia newspaper of the time, The Virginia Gazette and from British Army Muster Rolls, the story of "Henry the Tory" can be reconstructed.

In late May, 1781, Lieutenant-General, Earl Cornwallis and his Army crossed the border from North Carolina into Virginia. From a review of his correspondence, it is evident that Cornwallis and most of his forces were encamped near Suffolk, Virginia from 12 through 21 July. Henry enlisted as a Private in Cornwallis's Army (with the Royal North Carolina Regiment, Captain William Chandler's Company) at Suffolk on 14 July 1781. Several other young men of the area, probably all friends/acquaintances of Henry, also enlisted at the same time; their names included: John Holland, Jesse Holland, John Harrison, Levy Moore and William Hamblin. Several other Hollands had previously enlisted, on 14 June 1781, namely, Brittain (Albridgton?) Holland, Isaac Holland and Willis Holland. Henry's mother, Judath, was probably a Holland, thus the Holland men were probably all relatives of Henry Norfleet.

Henry's career as a British soldier was short lived; he was taken prisoner at Yorktown, Virginia on 19 October 1781. As a loyalist in the British Army, he was not automatically subject to treatment as a prisoner of war (POW) as were the regular British troops. When the surrender terms were being negotiated, Cornwallis tried to include a provision guaranteeing the safety of the loyalist forces. However, Washington would not agree, saying that the disposition of the loyalist troops was a matter for the civil authorities, not the Continental Army.

After the surrender, Earl Cornwallis and most of his officers were immediately paroled and were permitted, a few days later, to embarque by sea for New York, where the main British force under Sir Henry Clinton was located. Some of the British Officers and almost all the enlisted men were sent off to POW camps in Virginia, Maryland or Pennsylvania. Henry Norfleet's regiment was marched off to an internment camp near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. On the way, at Fredericksburgh, Virginia, Henry was taken ill and left in that city. Subsequently, he and several other young men from Nansemond County (Levy Moore, Albridgton Holland, John Holland and Demsey Butler) were tried in the General Court at Richmond, Virginia for treason, found guilty and, on 26 October 1782, sentenced to be hanged!

Fortunately for Henry, the extremely hostile public feeling against the Virginia loyalists had significantly abated by the Autumn of 1782. On 11 November 1782, a petition for clemency was presented to the Virginia House of Delegates (Number B3813 on file at the Virginia State Library in Richmond):

"To the honorable Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Delegates

"The petition of John Holland, Albritton Holland, Dempsey Butler, Henry Norfleet, and Levi Moore, humbly shew that they are under sentence of death on a charge of Treason against the State from the County of Nansemond; that they do not complain of this sentence from a consciousness of their guilty misconduct, which they were fully sensible of long before they were apprehended on this charge, as evidently appears by their after conduct, prior to their being apprehended, to wit, their returning from the enemy, some of them almost immediately, and others long before there was an apparent probability of the capture of the British Army, at York, and their engaging again in the services of their country by taking up Armes against the enemy in defence thereof; these circumstances, added to those of the enemy being in possession of all the country below them on the south side of the James River and a general despondency prevailed in the minds of the people in these parts, especially among the weak and ignorant part of them, among whom the petitioners' situations and circumstances in life unfortunately placed them. Your petitioners also are all very young men and flatter themselves, could their lives be spared, would yet be good and useful members of society, and in such case, it is their determined resolution to atone for their past misconduct, by their future good behavior, in every instance of their lives, a specimen of which they hope they have given, by their voluntary return from the enemy and taking up arms against them; Your Petitioners therefore, humbly beg leave to lay their cases before you, and pray that Your honorable House will be graciously pleased to take them under consideration, and also beg leave to hope, that, after considering them all under all the various circumstances that attend them, that these are the first offenses with which they were ever charged, that their characters are unexceptionable in every other instance of their lives; the proofs that they have given their early and timely repentance; their subsequent friendly disposition to their Country, which are proofs that nothing cou'd tempt them to attempt another injury to it, together with their youth and inexperience, and the frailty of human nature, you will graciously be pleased to pardon their offenses and Your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray &c."

The Virginia Assembly subsequently passed an act pardoning Henry (and his Nansemond County colleagues Albridgton (Albritton) Holland, John Holland and Levi Moore), but stipulated that he was required to serve in the American Army for the duration of the War. On 3 September 1783, the Treaty of Versailles went into effect and the Revolutionary War was officially at an end. Sometime in late 1782 or early 1783, Henry was discharged and was able to return to civilian life.

As previously mentioned, Henry is believed to be a son of Judith Holland. It is interesting to note that many members of the Holland family supported the Loyalist cause during the revolution.

HOLLAND LOYALISTS IN THE REVOLUTION

The following table identifies several Holland men who enlisted in the Royal North Carolina Regiment (Captain William Chandler's Company) in the summer of 1781, when British forces under Lord Cornwallis were encamped in the Suffolk area. It should be noted that this is the same company and regiment that Henry Norfleet joined, as a Private, on 14 July 1781.

Name Rank Date of Enlistment
Britain Holland Private 14 June 1781
Isaac Holland Private 14 June 1781
Wills Holland Private 14 June 1781
Abraham Holland Private 14 July 1781
Joseph Holland Private 14 July 1781
Jesse Holland Corporal 14 July 1781
John Holland Corporal 14 July 1781


The Company muster roll indicates that Joseph Holland was killed on 20 September 1781, presumably at the siege of Yorktown. Like Henry Norfleet, all of the other above named Holland men were taken prisoner by the Continental Army on 19 October 1781. John Holland and Britain (Albritton) Holland, along with Henry Norfleet, were sentenced to death by the General Court at Richmond on 26 October 1782. However, both John and Albritton Holland (and Henry Norfleet) were subsequently pardoned by the Virginia House of Delegates.

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