Thomas Lacy I of New Kent and Hanover Counties, Virginia
1a. Thomas Lacy, immigrant, reputed to have come from Wales to Virginia between 1680 and 1685 and to have settled in that part of New Kent County which years later was cut off into Hanover County, an area which was then on the very frontier of the early and somewhat scattered settlements.
It is this Thomas who is credited with being the progenitor of a long and prolific line of Lacys who resided in various parts of Virginia, principally the counties of Hanover, Louisa, Goochland, Albemarle, Powhatan, Chesterfield, Henrico, Buckingham, Bedford, and Halifax, spreading to the Carolinas and Georgia. With Virginia as the focal point, descendants spread fanlike to all points south, west and northwest. Today descendants of this line live in almost every state in the Union. This branch is by far the largest of any of the pioneer Lacy families of Virginia.
Due to the loss of the old New Kent and Hanover County records--lost in the tragic burning of Richmond toward the very end of the Civil War where, ironically, they had been taken for safe-keeping and also the loss of the Registers of the parishes in which the Lacys lived, very little is known of Thomas and his family. His year of birth is estimated to be about 1660 and his place of residence before coming to America to have been Wales, according to an old document in the family and according to tradition. Thomas Lacy (1800-1879) of St. Clair Co., Ill., a son of Lionel Lacey and a grandson of Elliott Lacy, a descendant, told his niece in 1863 -- Miss Pamelia Lacey -- that the Lacys came from Wales. What Thomas knew came to him from his father and his account of the family, as given to Miss Pamelia, has been corroborated in every instance where official records have been found.
By tradition, subject Thomas was of French Huguenot stock, perhaps a son of a Huguenot who had fled France and settled in Wales. This tradition of French Huguenot ancestry exists among widely separated branches of the family, some of whom have been out of contact with one another for generations. It has come down through the author's own line, the sire who left Virginia shortly after the ending of the Revolutionary War. Rev. William Henry Foote in his "Sketches of Virginia", published in 1850, in writing of Rev. Drury Lacey (1758-1815), states:
"His father, William Lacy, a grandson of the immigrant. . . of English descent and Norman-French extraction. His mother, Elizabeth Rice, was a cousin to Benjamin Rice of Bedford, the father of Rev. Doctors John H. and Benjamin H. Rice."
Prof. Austin W. Smith (b. 1885), then of Cookesville, Tenn., author of the "George-Lacey Genealogy" and himself a Lacy descendant, in his letter of Dec. 8, 1936 wrote:
"Dear Mr. Lacey:
I was delighted to hear from you. I have been engaged in the task for some time in collecting material for a book of the Lacy family. My great-grandmother, Susannah Lacy, daughter of Matthew Lacy of Goochland County, Va., son of Stephen Lacy of same county, married Robert George and came to Warren County, Tenn., after spending a number of years in KY. She lived to be 92 years of age. My father who died in 1929 at the age of 90 knew her well as did my mother who is still living at the age of 90. She was always proud of the fact that she was French, of the Huguenots who came to America. Her name was Susannah de Lacy, French, you will readily see, though she accepted the English 'Lacy' . Her grandson, who is now living in Texas, knew her as she lived with them the last few years of her life. His name is Law Lacy, or de Lacy. He says that there is no question that they were French. She certainly ought to have known as it was her great-grandfather who was the French Huguenot. There are Lacys in Virginia who are not French Huguenots.
I am sure that this bunch of Huguenots were in England for a time but that they were French in origin."
Persecution of the Huguenots in France preceded the edict of Jan. 29, 1535, ordering the "extermination of the heretics", but reached tragic and awful proportions from that date. A great many French Protestants fled the country to save their lives, rather than give up their freedom of conscience and their religious beliefs. Many of these settled in England and Holland. This migration continued until the middle of the 18th century. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 merely accentuated this mass migration, and France lost, to her detriment, over 400,000 of her best artisans and citizens. The family of Thomas de Lacy was already in England by 1680. Many of them settled in Wales and Ireland where they became very prominent.
We find in English Heraldry a seeming variation of the Lacy-Normandy coat-of-arms, which may signify a family of Norman extraction. In "Lacy of Walsham in the Willows, Counties of Norfolk and Suffolk" their coat-of-arms is:
"Quarterly, argent and sable, on a bend gules three martlets or, over all a label of five points the last, each charged with an ermine spot. Crest: Out of a ducal coronet gules a demi-eagle wings espanded or, in the beak an arrow of the first headed and feathered argent."
(Burke's "General Armory")
The Norman coat-of-arms is: "Quarterly or and gu, a bend sa. over all a label three points ar."
("A complete Book of Heraldry", London MDCCCXX. Jos. Edminston, Esq. F.S. A.)
Note the similarity of these coats of armor. However, it is unlikely that the Lacys of Suffolk and Norfolk are the parent family of subject Thomas Lacy, because these two counties are located on the far side east coast of England and thus some distance from Wales. However, they may have been an off-shoot of the same family. The names Thomas and Stephen are found in both.
From "Cavaliers & Pioneers", Abstracts of Virginia Land Grants (1623-1800), Virginia Land Office Patents, by Nell Marion Nugent (1924), Vol. 5, Land Office of Va., we find this item:
It cannot be said that this Thomas is the same man as subject Thomas Lacy. but as the date of arrival corresponds with that of subject the possibility is very strong and should be given credence.
Statements have appeared in print at various times about the date of arrival in America of Thomas and some confusion as to Thomas himself. For instance in the Comp. of American Genealogy (Virkus), V. 1. p. 683, it states "Thomas Lacy from England to Va., 1702. Married Ann Burnley." The date of this edition was 1925 and the article is based on material submitted and not on research by Virkus. Subsequent research has proven this information incorrect, as it is now the conclusion that the Thomas who married Ann Burnley was the son of the immigrant Thomas. This conclusion has been arrived at principally from an old document written by Rev. William Sterling Lacy (1791-1881), relating a narrative told him by "old William Rice" about the year 1828 or 1829. Rev. Lacy put this narrative in writing probably sometime before 1850, probably having made some notes at the time of his interview with Mr. Rice. This treasured document is now in the possession of Mrs. Elizabeth (Lacy) Jones of Roanoke, VA., widow of Alfred Power Jones, M. D. This document definitely states that Thomas Lacy came from Wales, was engaged to Miss Rice in Wales, preceded the Rice family to Virginia, who followed a few years later, and he married Miss Rice, daughter of Thomas Rice, after their arrival in Virginia.
In order to assay the credibility of the family data in this article, it would be well to view the character and veracity of "old William Rice" and Rev. Lacy.
William Rice was born about 1742 or 1743, based on the statement that he was 85 or 86 years of age in 1828 or 1829. His place of birth would have been in Hanover County in the locale of the Rice and Lacey homesteads. He was a son of David Rice and Miss Searcy, and a brother of the noted Rev. David Rice (1733-1816), Presbyterian minister of Kentucky, and an uncle to the Elizabeth Rice who married William Lacy (1713-1775). He was a grandson of the immigrant, Thomas Rice. Surely, living in the same neighborhood and being personally in touch with the older members of the family, he would have known of the proper family relationship. He was, according to Rev. Wm. Lacy, a man whose "mind was unimpaired, his memory remarkable", and an "esteemed and consistent Christian man".
Rev. William Sterling Lacy, son of Rev. Drury Lacy, who was a son of the William Lacy who married Elizabeth Rice, mentioned previously, was a man of the highest integrity and retentive memory. He could recite from beginning to end the New Testament and many of the Psalms and portions of the Old Testament. There can be no question but that he wrote the narrative exactly as it was narrated to him.
This document is the only tangible bit of evidence known of the immigrants Thomas Lacy and Thomas Rice, relation to their old world background and their immigration to Virginia, and of the marriage of Thomas Lacey to the daughter of Thomas Rice. All of the old New Kent and Hanover county records were destroyed by fire in 1865, and the Register of St. Paul's Parish is not in existence. The Vestry Book of this parish gives little data.
We learn from this narrative that Thomas Lacy lived to a very ripe old age and that he was an exceedingly tall man, which would tend to discount any Welsh ancestry since the Welsh are of very short stature. It would appear, from the statement of William Rice, that Thomas Lacy was living about the year 1750 since he states that he saw him "when a small boy". Thus Thomas Lacy must have been 85 or more years of age at his death, if born about 1665. His death would have occurred in Hanover County, the place of his residence.
The first documented evidence of the residence of subject Thomas is that contained in the official 1704 Rent Roll Record, which shows the following Lacys owing land in New Kent County: Thomas Lacy -- 100 acres, William Lacy -- 500 acres, and Emmanuel Lacy -- 180 acres.
Thomas must have purchased his land as no land grant record has been found. If he had paid his own way to America he would have received a headright of 50 acres and that would have been recorded in "Virginia Land Grants". Some information has been secured from the Vestry Book of St. Paul's Parish, which was located in that part of New Kent County cut off in 1720/1 into Hanover. In the Vestry Book covering the period from 1706 to 1766 the following references are found:
"Returns made to the Vestry of St. Paul's Parish, March 4, 1708/9, from the surveyor of the 39 Precincts that the said Parish was divided into for the Processioning of Lands by an order of the said Parish Vestry held Sept. 24, 1708/9, are here according to Law and an order of the said Vestry made on the said 14th of March, Registered Verbatim."
"No. 18. The lands of Haughton House, Thomas Lacy, Jeremiah Dumas , Robert Depriest, William England, Rice Hughes, William Stephens, John Hickman, John McCoy, lying adjacent to each other, being made one precinct, of which the said William England Haughton House were appointed overseers, who made this return on the Back of the Order (viz;) this order is executed, only one line with Rice Hughes did not appear.
Subscribed: William England
"No. 20. Thomas Lacy and Thomas Graham were appointed overseers in the Processioning of lands in St. Paul's Parish, Sept. 17, 1711. Among these lands was that of Emmanuel Richardson."
These two records would certainly apply to Thomas Lacy I, but subsequent ones may refer to the second generation and in the one instance -- that of Thomas Lacy, Jr. -- to the third generation.
"No. 22. Ordered into one Precinct for Processioning ye lands of Jeremiah Dumas, Thomas Prosser, James Wood, Col. Curtis, Mr. Brooks, James Rice, William Crossley, Thomas Lacy, Thomas Lacy, Jr., James Whitlock, Col. Thompson, Olivers, Nathaniel Hodgeskeson, James Hunt, ye Hughs, James Allen, George Straughan, David Tyree, James Anthony, and ye Carr's Lands, James Whitlock and James Allen to see the said processioning performed, who made the following return, viz: In Obedience to the within order, we the Subscribers has seen all the lands within mentioned procession'd except the land of George Straughan and Ellis, which nobody appeared for.
March ye 28th, 1732 James Allen
"No. 38. The Lands of Thomas Lacy, James Whitlock and Thomas Graham lying adjacent to each other, being made on Precinct, of which the said Thomas Lacy and James Whitlock were appointed overseers, who made this return on the Back of the order, viz: the within order complied with ... us.
Subscribed: Thomas Lacy James Whitlock"
Of a later date -- 1743 -- an entry shows for the first time the name of Stephen Lacy.
"At a Vestry held in St. Paul's Parish, Oct 18, 1743. No. 7. Ordered into one precinct for processioning the Lands of Thomas Johnson, Benjamin Johnson, Thomas Grant, John Price, John Williamson, Thomas Harlow, Charles Anderson, and that John Williamson and William Allen see the said processioning performed, who made the following report, -- we whose names are mentioned in ye within Order have met accordingly and none agreed & sent.
Thomas Grant, Stephen Lacy, Benjamin Johnson, Charles Anderson,
Thomas Harlow, Richard Allen John Williamson, William Allen"
[N.B. "Processioning" of lands was necessary in order to re-establish boundary lines between adjoining owners due to the destruction or removal of land marks which consisted in many cases of scrub oak or other trees, stones and creeks -- the latter often changing courses. Disputes would develop between property owners and the authority to adjudicate these matters was granted by the Council to the various parish vestrys of the Established Church.]
There is no evidence that subject Thomas Lacy lived anywhere except New Kent County, in that part which became Hanover County. He was already in Virginia when Oliver de la Muce arrived in 1700 with three ships of Huguenots. There is also no evidence that his son, Thomas, who married Ann Burnley, lived any place other than Hanover County. We know that Thomas Lacy's grandsons moved to Manikintowne and lived among the French Huguenots in Goochland County and the name of Lacy is included among the settlers of Manikintowne. This list appears to be about 1750. The parish serving Manikintowne was old King William and later St. James Northam.
We have record of one son, Thomas Lacy II, born to Thomas Lacy I and his wife, Miss Rice (Rhuys in Welsh) whose name may have been Phebe. There were most likely other children but we have no knowledge of them. There is a record of a Julian Lacy in Hanover County towards the latter part of the 18th Century who may derive from an unknown branch of the family.
1b. Thomas Lacy II
(b ca 1683/4 New Kent Co., Va.) Planter. Practically nothing is known of him. There is a record in the Bible which belonged to Rev. William Sterling Lacy, taken from earlier records in the Bible of his father, stating that Thomas II married Ann Burnley; no date shown but it is supposed to have been about 1704/6 in New Kent Co., VA.
The parentage of Ann Burnley is not known. Reputedly the family was English and French. There are a few records of Burnleys but none go back as far as Ann who was probably born about 1688 or 1690. She may have been a sister to one John Burnley so is credited with being born about 1670; in fact, she could have been a daughter. There was one John Burnley who returned to England in 1771 leaving a will in Virginia and making another in England in which he devised a considerable estate. In this will is mentioned brothers Zachariah Burnley, Hardin Burnley, Richard Burnley and sisters Elizabeth Duke, Keziah Duke, and Ann Littlepage and sons of a deceased sister, Judith Meriweather, who married James Meriweather. He does not mention a wife or children. This John, who was a merchant, was no doubt the son of John, supposedly born ca 1670, and may have been a cousin or uncle to Ann. He was not a brother, else he would have mentioned her in his will.
It is most interesting to note that Zachariah Burnley held 880 acres of land in Bedford Co., Va., which he sold to Thomas and Elliott Lacy (sons of Thomas Lacy and Ann Burnley), and to Thomas Deen in 1758. This transaction will be discussed in the section on Elliott Lacy.
Authenticated records of the names of all of the children of Thomas and Ann are lacking, but the names of three sons are known, Thomas (III), William, and Stephen. The names of the others, proven by circumstantial evidence, are Elkanah, Nathaniel, Elliott and tentatively Phoebe. There may have been other, especially daughters, of whom we have no knowledge.