Sign marking Whitson's Fort near Newport, Tennessee. This fort was built by William Whitson Jr. son of Wm Whitson b. 1706
It is a well-documented practice of the British, as well as other Europeans, to give the family wealth to the oldest son. The rest of the family would either work in the family business or try to find their own way in world. However, the opening of the Americas allowed children such as Joseph to find a new avenue to make a living. With this in mind, it is believed that Joseph was a younger son to a father who was likely in the shipping business and had some wealth. Joseph never turns up as a `sponsored' immigrant to a large land owner, but is seen as being associated with the merchants of Bristol. Documents dated back to the 1660's in Isle of Wight County, Virginia show Joseph as affiliated with Bristol merchants.
It is believed that Joseph moved to Lower Norfolk County, Virginia in 1679 when he bought land there from Jacob Smith.
In 1684, Joseph bought the plantation of William Odion. Signing the document of sale were sons Samuel Whitson, Joseph Whitson, and daughter-in-law Mary [Fletcher] Whitson. On the basis of this document, it is believed that the oldest son Thomas had died by this time.
At a sheriff sale in 1694, Joseph purchased 300 acres of land in Stafford County, Virginia on the Rooses bank of the Aquia River. Stafford County is located in the northeast corner of Virginia on the Potomac River.
Joseph's spouse (name unknown)
was alive for the trip to Stafford County in 1694. However, she died by
1696, as Joseph is seen documenting that she was buried in the family burial
plot. In Joseph Whitson's will of 1696, the Whitson plantation was divided
into three parts and willed to eldest surviving son Samuel, son Joseph,
and daughter Elizabeth [Whitson] Butler. Joseph Whitson died in 1696 and
was buried beside his spouse in the family cemetery.