Descendants of John Langhorne, 1640


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1. Capt. John Langhorne [10389] was born in 1640 in England and died in 1687 at age 47.

General Notes: John came to Warwick County, Virginia in 1666 with wife, the former Rebecca Carter of Bristol, England.
The family home was known as "Gambell" and overlooked the James River from a plantation of 2,000 acres. The house burnt down in 1818 (approx).

John Langhorne was a member of the Virginia colonial legislature and bought 1,990 acres on the James River in what is now the City of Newport News, partly paid by bounty from the government for transporting 14 people to Virginia, upon which land he built a house he called Gambell, which burnt down in 1818. He married a Rebecca. A London genealogist, F.A. Winder, very reasonably concluded in 1890 that this John was the son of Francis Laugharne of Pontfaen, Pembrookshire, who was the brother of Major General Rowland Laugharne of St. Brides. He observed that John of Pontfaen was known to have been a Captain of Horse in 1672 in the army in Ireland, and John was in Virginia in 1674, where he was also a Captain of Horse. I have since learned that they cannot be the same person. My ancestor John is now known to have been in Virginia as early as 1670, and the Irish John retired to Pontfaen where he left a will, dying unmarried and without children.

In attempting to learn who my ancestors were, I learned that quite a number of other Langhornes came to Virginia but they did not seem to have any descendants. Several of them could have been family members whose passage was paid by John, (William 1668, Daniel 1672, Charles 1683, Patrick 1692, Thomas 1694). The death rate in early colonial days claimed many at an early age. Thomas Langhorne of Pembroke was mentioned in the will of William Wheeler, London, March 21, 1703, formerly M.P. for Pembroke. They both had been in Barbados where Wheeler died and his will was proved. I have properly linked one emigrant to Pembrokeshire: Arthur Laugharne who married Ann Phillips in New York on July 22, 1773, left a will dated June 16, 1790 and proved June 21, 1794 leaving all his property "this side of the Atlantic" to Ann as well as making her his executor, and property on the other side of the Atlantic to his sister Theadocia, who was the sister of the Vice Admiral of Laugharne, Carmarthenshire. Arthur identifies himself as a druggist, leaving half his shop furniture to his beloved friend Thomas Phillips in case he should faithfully discharge his trust unto wife Ann, with one half of his estate in America, if Ann should predecease him.

Although I have knowledge of various branches of the Langhorne family in Pembrokeshire in the 1600's, I have found only one plausible candidate for the emigrant who I turned up while researching the St. Brides branch, but there are some surprising gaps. There is no monograph on the Laugharnes of St. Brides or on Major General Rowland Laugharne, who was the most interesting military character in the Civil War in South Wales. I have found no will or death date for Joh Laugharne of St. Brides, Major General Rowlands father, although I conjecture he died around 1647. John's oldest son was Arthur, was probably born in 1609 or 1610, and was probably named after Sir Arthur Chichester, Lord Deputy of Ireland, who became the third husband of John's mother, Lettice in 1605. Arthur is also mentioned in several documents in the Francis Green collection in the Haverfordwest Public Library, and mentioned specifically as John's son in a pedigree given in evidence in a lawsuit in 1631-32.

Captain Arthur's brother John would be just the right age for the emigrant and he would have the kind of social antecedents to qualify him for the role he played in Virginia.


The Langhornes - A First Family of Virginia
By Thomas Litten

In the year 1666, Captain John Langhorne (1640-1687) the founder of one of Virginia's best-known families came to Warwick County Virginia with his young wife, the former Rebecca Carter of Bristol, England. John Langhorne, a younger son of the wealthy and prominent Laugharne (later to be known as Langhorne) family of St. Brides House, Pembrokeshire, was a nephew of Gen. Rowland Laugharne, who was the commander of King Charles II's forces in South Wales. On December 3, 1665 John Langhorne married Rebecca Carter at Salisbury Cathedral, and soon decided to stake his claim in the New World.

Due to the destruction of a large number of Warwick County records during the Civil War, all that is known of Captain John Langhorne, is that he was a powerful and influential man. Upon his arrival in Virginia, John Langhorne purchased 1,300 acres from William Whitby, Jr. who was a Burgess for Warwick County. To this he later added 700 acres, which was acquired by a royal grant through the importation of indentured servants. As the most densely populated, and hence the most civilized and desirable county in Virginia, Warwick was an excellent location for John Langhorne to build his fortune. His 2,000-acre plantation was one of the largest in the lower Tidewater region. Among the larger planters of his day, John Langhorne traded his tobacco directly with the mother country for a hefty profit. He also handled shipments for the smaller planters who could not afford direct trade with England.

By the mid 1670's John Langhorne had been appointed with Col. William Byrd I and Maj. Robert Beverley to fortify the three main rivers of Virginia. The coveted assignment proved to be very lucrative, and over the next several years, the House of Burgesses recorded many payments to John Langhorne, the largest of which amounted to 90,000 pounds of tobacco. At a time when most of the modest Virginia farmers made their living off of little more than 1,000 pounds of tobacco annually, this was an incredible sum. John Langhorne, William Byrd, and Robert Beverley were not soldiers themselves, rather they were assigned to oversee the construction and operation of the essential forts. On the heels of his success with the York River Fort, John Langhorne was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1680, thus establishing a tradition of political service that would characterize his prominent descendents.

The ancestral home of the Langhorne family St. Brides House was once described as the most impressive private home in all of Wales. Accordingly, John Langhorne of Virginia built his family an elegant family seat. This famed colonial home (which burned circa 1818) was overlooking James River along with the primary plantation tract of 2,000 acres and became known as "Gambell".

Capt. John Langhorne died around 1687, leaving his large estate in the capable care of his wife and his good friend Col. Miles Cary II of neighboring Richneck plantation, until his eldest son John Langhorne, Jr. (1666-1688) came of age. John Jr. along with the youngest son William Langhorne died early, leaving Maurice Langhorne to inherit the entire estate.

As the sole heir of John Langhorne, Maurice Langhorne (1670-1698) inherited a huge estate. Around 1690 he married Anne Cary of "The Forest". Anne Cary was the daughter of Capt. Henry Cary, a planter who was well known as the master builder of Williamsburg. The marriage of Maurice Langhorne to Anne Cary was a good one, for the Carys were one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the Virginia Colony. In 1695, Maurice and Anne Langhorne had their only child, whom they named John Langhorne. Within three short years Maurice Langhorne died, and young John was sent to "The Forest" to be raised by his maternal grandparents Henry and Judith Cary. Anne Cary Langhorne soon remarried, a member of another prominent Tidewater family, Benjamin Harrison III of Charles City County. Until John Langhorne III (1695-1767) reached his majority, the Harrison family operated Gambell plantation. For the next twenty years, John Langhorne would spend his days in the polite atmosphere of the Cary plantation.

When in his early twenties however, John Langhorne III had become anxious for his own personal success. Thus in 1719, he took over Gambell and married Mary Beverley of Middlesex County. Mary Beverley was a granddaughter of Capt. John Langhorne's old friend and contemporary Maj. Robert Beverley. Throughout his long career, Hon. John Langhorne served as a Justice of the Peace, a member of the House of Burgesses, Sheriff of Warwick County, and Presiding Justice of Warwick County from 1749-1762. In addition to his numerous political duties, John Langhorne III continued to expand his land holdings by purchasing new plantations in Chesterfield County, and was also a highly successful merchant, continuing the tradition laid out by his fortune-founding grandfather some fifty years before. John Langhorne and Mary Beverley had three children who left issue. Their only daughter Lockey (named after Judith Lockey, the wife of Capt. Henry Cary and mother of Anne Cary) was successfully courted by Thomas Tabb. Lockey's considerable dowry helped to establish the Tabb family as members of the Tidewater elite. The elder son, Maj. Maurice Langhorne II (1719-1790) removed to Cumberland County to live near his cousin Col. Archibald Cary of "Ampthill" and his lovely wife, the former Mary Randolph of "Curles". This Maurice Langhorne bought thousands of acres in Cumberland and established himself as a great success in his own right.

The younger son, Maj. William Langhorne (1721-1797) held possession of the Warwick County estates and became the most prominent of the three. He married Elizabeth Cary Scarsbrook, a cousin of George Washington and Thomas Nelson, and daughter of the wealthy Yorktown merchant Col. Henry Scarsbrook. Henry Scarsbrook was the great-grandson of Capt. Nicholas Martiau, the man whose plantation was later turned into Yorktown. Like his father, William Langhorne served as a Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, and as a Burgess. He was also a magistrate for forty years. During the Revolutionary War, William Langhorne served as aide-de-camp to the Marquis de Lafayette, was a member of the Committee of Safety, and was the only representative of Warwick County for the first four out of five Revolutionary Conventions. His service has been commemorated on a memorial in Williamsburg. Of his nine children, two sons were the most prominent. Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne (1760-1797) married the daughter of his Uncle Maj. Maurice Langhorne of Cumberland, thus reuniting two lines of family inheritance. Marrying of cousins, a common practice among the wealthy families of Virginia and other colonies likewise, helped to keep money in the family. John Scarsbrook Langhorne's younger brother, another Maurice Langhorne (1769-1818) married Martha Holladay of "Indian Fields", and their grandson Maurice Finney Langhorne married Lillian Isabelle Blair Polk, a close relative of President James K. Polk.

Due to the untimely drowning of their father in the James River in 1797, the three sons of Maj. John Scarsbrook Langhorne received equal portions of both their father and their grandfather's estates. An interesting event occured at this time. Peter Carr, a favorite nephew of Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to George Washington under the name of his kinsman John Langhorne. The letter was intended to "elicit political sentiments useful to the republican cause in Virginia." However, when it was discovered that John Langhorne had recently died and that the true author of the letter was Peter Carr, George Washington became very suspicious of Thomas Jefferson, as he had assumed that Peter Carr had written the letter under the instructions of Thomas Jefferson. The infamous "Langhorne Letter" was published in 1803.

The eldest of the three brothers and heirs of John Scarsbrook Langhorne's estate was William Langhorne (1783-1858) who moved to Bedford County, where he wed Catherine Callaway, the daughter of the extremely rich planter and iron manufacturer Col. James Callaway of "Royal Forest", whose third wife was Mary Langhorne of Cumberland. William Langhorne was, like his father-in-law, a planter and iron manufacturer, who was said to be the most courtly gentleman of his day.

The second brother Maurice Langhorne (1787-1865) moved to Lynchburg, where his inherited wealth was fantastically increased by his successful forays in the Lynchburg tobacco market. Before he died, Maurice Langhorne built for his children the famous "Langhorne's Row," a set of four extravagant Greek Revival Lynchburg townhouses, whose architectural sophistication was unmatched anywhere in Virginia with the sole exception of Richmond.

The youngest brother Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne (1790-1854) would surpass them all. Although he was first seated on some of the Cumberland County lands that he had inherited through his mother, he quickly resolved to move to Lynchburg with his brother Maurice. In 1816 Henry S. Langhorne married Frances Callaway Steptoe, the highly sought after daughter of Hon. James Steptoe and Frances Callaway of "Federal Hill". Here begins a series of interesting family connections that beautifully illustrate the "web of kinship" that existed between Virginia's ruling families. Frances Callaway was an older sister of Catherine Callaway, wife of Henry Langhorne's brother William. Hon. James Steptoe was the eldest son of Westmoreland County planter Col. James Steptoe of "Nominy Hall" and his second wife Elizabeth Eskridge of "Sandy Point" (a daughter of Col. George Eskridge, the guardian of Mary Ball Washington). Hon. James Steptoe had two sisters, Elizabeth Steptoe who married Col. Philip Ludwell Lee of "Stratford", and Anne Steptoe who married Samuel Washington and became the mother of George Steptoe Washington who in turn married Lucy Payne, the sister of First Lady Dolly Payne Madison. Hon. James Steptoe also had two half sisters who were his mother's daughters by her first husband William Aylett. The first sister, Mary Aylett, married ThomasLudwell Lee, and the second, Anne Aylett, became the first wife of Richard Henry Lee of "Chantilly".

The powerful connections of the Steptoe and Callaway families ensured that the Langhornes, although newcomers from the Tidewater, were met with constant success in the Virginia Piedmont. As the planting of tobacco was no longer as profitable as it had once been, Henry S. Langhorne erected in Lynchburg, the second largest milling firm in Virginia. He never abandoned planting though, and continued to buy numerous plantations in Bedford, Campbell and Amherst Counties. In 1845, he retired and relocated to "Cloverdale", the 3,500-acre Botetourt County plantation he had just purchased from his niece's husband George Plater Tayloe of "Buena Vista". His eldest son John Scarsbrook Langhorne (born 1819) married Sarah Elizabeth Dabney of "Edgemont", a great-granddaughter of William Randolph II of "Chatesworth". He inherited Langhorne Mills, along with the bulk of his father's estate. The second son James Steptoe Langhorne (1822-1905) was given an ample number of slaves and the 13,000-acre "Langdale" plantation located near the border of North Carolina.

John Scarsbrook Langhorne and his wife Sarah Dabney enjoyed their wealth comfortably in Lynchburg. For some time they resided at "Point of Honor", where they became famous for their generous hospitality. The War between the States in 1861 brought great tragedy to the Langhorne family, not the least of which was the death of their young cousin Flora Stuart. The Langhorne's cousin Confederate General Jeb Stuart was a refugee at "Edgemont" when his beloved daughter died.

In 1864, while John and Sarah Langhorne were at "Edgemont", their eldest son and favorite child, Chiswell Dabney Langhorne (1843-1919) married a girl "of good family" : sixteen year old Anne Witcher Keene, daughter of Confederate statesman Elisha Ford Keene of "Cottage Hill". Although the war was looming all around them, wedding festivities for Chiswell Dabney Langhorne and Anne Witcher Keene were held an entire week at Cottage Hill
Although his wealth had been temporarily lost during the Civil War, John Scarsbrook Langhorne's well established connections, combined with his experience allowed him to restore his businesses in Lynchburg. In the meantime, his son Chiswell Dabney Langhorne recovered renewed his fortune by becoming one of Virginia's foremost railroad tycoons. C.D. Langhorne bought the fabulous country estate "Mirador" in 1892 and returned to the genteel lifestyle of mint juleps and horseback riding that his ancestors had enjoyed for generations. At his death in 1919, Chiswell Dabney Langhorne, in addition to his numerous estates including Mirador and Greenfields, left a trust for his heirs of over 1,000,000 dollars. The daughters that were born to Chiswell Dabney and Anne Keene Langhorne were among the most famous in the world of the wealthy. Irene Langhorne (1873-1956) married Charles Dana Gibson and became his first "Gibson Girl", while Nancy Witcher Langhorne (1879-1964) first married Robert Gould Shaw of the proper Boston Shaws and then William Waldorf Astor jr, a heir to one of Americas largest fortunes.

Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor became the first woman in the English Parliament and was famous for her "Southern Hospitality" at Cliveden Castle. Along with her father and sisters, she reached a level of fame seldom matched at the time. Everytime the Langhorne family attended a New York Debutante Ball, or vacationed at White Sulphur Spring's, it was reported in the New York Times. Nancy's husband William Waldorf Astor jr was one of the richest men in the world when he married Nancy Langhorne, and although the Astor's were far wealthier than the Langhornes in the 20th Century, Nancy's aristocratic background made her very comfortable indeed in her mansion on the Thames. The Langhorne family of Virginia represent the continuity of wealth that was established in the 17th Century, and guided the future of the ruling families of the Old Dominion for three hundred years.

John married Rebecca Carter [10390] [MRIN: 3480] on 3 Dec 1665 in Salisbury Cathedral.

Children from this marriage were:

   2 M    i. William Langhorne [10392] .

   3 M    ii. John Langhorne [10391] was born in 1666 and died in 1688 at age 22.

+ 4 M    iii. Maurice Langhorne [10387] was born in 1670 and died in 1698 at age 28.

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