Alexander Newman

Born about 1688 in Richmond County. Died about 1765 in Orange County.

There is so much confusion about Alexander Newman! Partly because of two books with errors written over 110 years ago, and partly because there were multiple men with the same name living at the same time and place. The few records available, did not list ages. It remains challenging to differentiate which Alexander is which. The first huge error is that Alexander was not the father of Elias Newman, but rather the brother of Elias Newman.

William Boogher wrote the book “Gleanings of Virginia History” in 1908. He referenced a Chancery Case in Richmond County, Virginia. He reported this case showed: 1) That Alexander and Penelope separated, and apparently divorced.  2) Penelope filed suit and won. 3) The case was about 10 years long, from 1740 to 1750, with Penelope winning in 1750. 4) Elias Wilson was the surety, and probably related 5) Elias, Thomas and James were the children of Alexander and Penelope. 6. Penelope’s maiden name was unknown.

Divorce was extremely rare then and would have gone through the House of Burgess. The Church of England would also probably have made record of this divorce. I found House of Burgess records for this time period, but no mention of Alexander, Penelope or any Newman divorce. Unfortunately, the Library of Virginia does not have this Chancery case. The year 1750 is earlier than their collection begins. Possibly the case can be found in England, since this was British Courts. Boogher had so much specific information I wanted to review what he saw. Go straight to the source. Finally, a read through the Richmond County Order Books helped me sort through which pieces of information I had were true. I found 24 references to Elias Willson, Alexander Newman and Penelope between 1740 and 1750.

I noticed the surname Eidson repeatedly grouped with Alexander and Penelope. So, I looked through the Richmond County will index book. I searched for anyone with the surname Eidson before 1745. Edward Eidson, wrote a will 5 Feb 1732/33, proved 24 Oct 1732. Edward lists his 7 children as: Joseph, Boyse, John, Edward, Sarah, Hannah and Bette. Edward’s wife Penelope gets half of his estate including the plantation home for as long as she lives. There was no stipulation about if she remarried. Edward’s will also mentioned some estate in England. Joseph was the first child mentioned in the will, but Edward got the other half of the estate (after the siblings were given their inheritance).  No children were notated as under age. The will only gave Edward’s daughters’ first names, not their married names. The order books clarify and explain who Edward’s daughter’s married. Sarah married Elias Willson. Hannah married John Marks. Bette married George Willson.

I do not know if Penelope was Eidson’s only wife, or if she was a second wife. There isn’t anything in Edward’s will or the order books that specify whether or not Penelope is the mother of Edward’s children. Divorce is not stated, only separation. Various estate cases with Edward’s children she is noted as “Alexander Newman and his wife Penelope”. Newman vs Newman was filed in 1745, ended in 1746. Neither Alexander Newman nor Penelope wrote a will in Richmond County, Virginia, or anywhere else that I can find. Edward’s will explained how Penelope’s portion was to be divided between his heirs after her death. So, I doubt she would have written a will. Alexander was ordered to pay Penelope 1,000 pounds of tobacco (currency) annually for the rest of her life. This was for her support during their separation, with payments due May 1st each year. Elias Willson, her son-in-law, was the surety. Penelope had two son-in-law’s with the surname Willson, which I think led to incorrect assumptions about Willson being her maiden name. In conclusion, Alexander Newman and Penelope (unknown maiden name) could not be the parents of Elias (born 1695), Thomas or James. These men were born about 40 years before Alexander and Penelope married.

Richmond County, Virginia Order Book 12, pg. 21; 17 Sep 1746  

Alexander Newman signed a lease for 100 acres in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, on 15 July 1735. This area later became Orange, County, Virginia. Orange County, Virginia: Deed Book 1, page 103. I estimate that Thomas was born about 1714 and James about 1716. This lease was for Alexander and his two sons, James and Thomas, whoever lived the longest. The land was south of the Rapidan River in St. Mark’s Parish, and was part of the 40,000 acres Spotswood Tract. The lease required Alexander and sons to farm the land within four years of signing the lease and plant 300 good fruit trees, with at least 1/3 of them to be “good apple trees”. This is the only record I have for Alexander’s son James. For more information about Thomas and his wife Elizabeth Morton see their page. They had a son named Alexander Newman, who is another Alexander confused with his grandfather.

Other Alexander Newmans related to this Alexander, living at the same time and place:



Alexander married an unknown lady about 1713, probably in Richmond County, Virginia. After she died, he married Penelope, about 1740 in Richmond County, Virginia. Alexander and Penelope legally separated in 1746.

Children of Alexander & unknown wife:

Pages with more information:

not linked
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