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Thomas of Virginia, 1663
Source/AuthorBillie Capell / ed. Fritz Capell
DateJune 2005
SummaryInformation about Billie's Husband's ancestor Thomas Capell, and her efforts to trace his ancestry. Edited from emails.
My husband Clifton is descended from Thomas Capell who married the Widow Justice in Charles City County, Virginia, in 1663. Unfortunately, Charles City County records were burned during the Civil War and there is little left. Our line is clear from this Thomas ownward. Thomas had a son Edward and was dead by 1673 in CCC, Va. Edward married and had a son Thomas who was awarded a land grant in Sussex County, Virginia, in 1725. This Thomas died in 1769 and left a will naming his children. I have traced most all of them downward.

This Thomas (d. 1769) had a son Edward who died in 1795 in North Carolina. Edward had several children including Charles, my husband's ancestor. Charles and his family migrated from North Carolina to Alabama in 1818 or 1819. He received a land grant in 1819 before Alabama became a state. Charles also left a will.

So many people try to hook up to the Duke of Essex but I have found no possible connection as yet. I spent three weeks in London in 1999 (and three prior visits) trying to find a connection from Thomas (m. 1663) to anyone in England. No luck. I copied all the Capel/Capell wills in England for the 16th and 17th centuries. I didn't find a possible father for our Thomas yet, but a possibility exists that a Robert Capell, brother of Lord Capell (d. 1648), could be. I didn't find a will or any other information about him.

I have spent 25 years working on the Capells. I have been to London four times working on the family. I spent three weeks in the Public Record Office in London in 1999 copying all the Capel/Capell/Caple wills I could find. I have a biography of the Duke of Essex that I copied at the Society of Genealogists. I have ruled out all the members of the family in the 1500s and 1600s except two Roberts (one in each generation).

I have recently found a Thomas Capell born at Abbess Roding, Essex, on June 27, 1634, son of Gamaliel Capell. There were five generations of Gamaliel Capells and I am not looking at a chart at the moment. The third or fourth Gamaliel (son of William Capell, a brother of the Duke, I think) had a son named Thomas (among other children). My problem now is I can't (and hope I don't) find a marriage or death for this Thomas. He COULD be the Thomas who was married in Charles City County, Virginia, to the Widow Justice in 1663. This Thomas (1663) had a son named Edward (abt 1666 or later). The Widow Justice/Capell married again to Nicholas Mozier who was named guardian of Edward in 1673 and later dismissed from the duty. In 1689 Edward petitioned the court for his two-thirds of Thomas' estate, indicating he was the only child. Edward was married to Sarah ? and the last I found on Edward was in 1694 when he was paid for delivering wolf skins to the county council. Sarah lived until the 1760s and died at 102 in Charles City County. The Albemarle, Virginia, parish records list several of the Capells at christenings, etc. and the Parish Overseer records list the death of Sarah Capell and named Thomas as her son. The parish overseers had paid for her care in the last years, and someone reported Thomas as her son, said he had money, and suggested the overseers collect from him.

This second Thomas was born sometime around 1700, received a land grant in Surry County (later split into Sussex County) in 1725 and had 11 children. He died in 1769 and left a will. One of those children was Edward (my husband's ancestor) who married Judith Pritchard, had children, and died in 1795 (leaving a will). This Edward and Judy had (among others) a son named Charles Capell who was married twice (1802 and 1817) and came to Alabama in 1817 (left will). My husband's Capell family has remained in Alabama from 1817 to the present.

There were three branches of Capel/Capell/Caples in England in the time frame in which I am interested. One group (shown in tax records soon after Edward the Conqueror) spelled it Capel/Caple and were located in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The main person here (my leaky brain) was mayor of Gloucester at one time. Others ran Capel & Hanbury, a company that served as factors for the Virginia trade. They were a highly respected family. I suspect they are the family from which Clifton comes. We have had Clifton's DNA done and one Steve Capel in Reading, Berkshire, and theirs are a perfect match. Unfortunately, Steve knows almost nothing about his ancestry. I am working on it, but haven't gotten back before 1700 yet. But that tells us one important fact -- Clifton's ancestor definitely came from England. It had been suggested many times that the line might go back to France or Germany where the name is also found.

There are family stories that lead back to the Little Hadham group, but we found no way to prove it until I found Thomas, son of Gamaliel, born in 1634 in Abbess Roding, Essex. Gamaliel is definitely of the Little Hadham group.

There is a group of Capells found in Northamptonshire (and there is a Thomas Capell of the right age) but a man in Australia has posted a descendancy chart showing all of that family. The North. Thomas married and died in Northamptonshire, thus eliminating him.

I have recently found another Capel in Gloucester who will be tested. I called the company Friday and had the kit shipped out. If we can just find an arrow pointing to one of these Capel lines, it would simplify research and I can hire a genealogist there to do research.

The Essex line (Little Hadham) ancestors came into Suffolk with William the C. They are found in the first tax records (called the Red Book) that was put together after the Domesday Book. They moved westward to Rayne and stayed there until they moved to Little Hadham, and later to Cassiobury Park near Watford. Cassiobury Park was demolished in 1922. It had contained the grand staircase by Gibbons, now located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

This Arthur Capell, Duke of Essex, was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He was later arrested for participation in the Rye Plot and confined to the Tower of London, where he was murdered in 1683.

We have visited Little Hadham and have pictures of it. It was a boys' school for many years and has now been made into condominiums. We had tea with a lovely Swiss lady whose apartment is in what used to be the coal cellar in 1996.


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