Rowlett Family Tree / Generation 1

Notes by Russell J. Rowlett, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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The Rowlett name is believed to be of Norman French origin (as Raoulet, "little Ralph"), but Rowletts have lived in England since shortly after the Norman conquest of 1066. For centuries the family has been based primarily in Northamptonshire and neighboring shires in the central part of England, especially Leicestershire. English shire and parish records of the early seventeenth century are fragmentary, and there does not seem to be any hope of tracing the earliest Rowletts back to their English origins.

John1 Rowlett: Born in England, probably between 1590 and 1610 in Northamptonshire or Leicestershire; emigrated to Virginia as an indentured servant between 1625 and 1635; no further record.

John1 is known from a single reference, a land patent dated 21 Oct 1635. The patent granted 350 acres in Warrasquioake County (now Isle of Wight County) to Capt. John Moone in recognition of 17 headrights including one "Jno. Rowlett." This means that Moone, a ship captain who made several voyages to Virginia before settling down in the colony, brought John to Virginia at some time prior to 1635, probably selling his indenture on arrival. John's arrival must be later than 1625, since no Rowletts appear on the Muster of Inhabitants, a census of the struggling colony made in 1624-25.

Clearly John1 was not born in France, as some family trees claim, nor did he marry Mary Bray in Leicestershire before emigrating to America, as others claim. (Presumably a John Rowlett did marry Mary Bray in England, but there were many John Rowletts in the Leicestershire area.)

Peter1 Rowlett: Born in England, probably between 1600 and 1620 in Northamptonshire or Leicestershire; emigrated to Virginia, probably between 1630 and 1650; settled in southern Chesterfield County (then part of Henrico County) near the mouth of Old Town Creek, apparently acquiring 160 acres there; died there in June 1679. Nothing is known of his wife or wives.

Peter1 is also known from a single reference, a clerk's notation on the Henrico County tithable list (a list of adult male heads of household) for 1679. The list was recorded in Henrico County Court on 2 Jun 1679. The notation, dated December 1679, reads "Peter Rowlett, Senr. dec'd before the 10th of June 1679, deducted." This means there was a Peter Rowlett in Henrico older than the Peter2 Rowlett born in 1639. It certainly seems likely he was the father of the younger Peter. Since Peter2 was active in neighboring Charles City County in 1661 and was not indentured at that time, his family was probably in Virginia at least by 1650 and very possibly much earlier than that.

Although the tithable list has been known for many years, the notation has not been known to everyone researching the family. On the other hand, all Virginia genealogists know the land patent books, which provide the only extensive listing of early emigrants to the colony. John1 is the only male Rowlett mentioned in any seventeenth-century land patent, so it was natural for many researchers to assume that he was the ancestor of all the Rowletts in the historical record. The notation on the tithable list makes it much more likely that Peter1 is the common ancestor. Given the small size of the Rowlett family, even in England, it is possible that John1 and Peter1 were related in some way, as cousins or even as brothers, but we have no way of determining their relationship.

Probable child of Peter1 Rowlett:

Peter2 Rowlett, born about 1639


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Latest revision April 3, 2003