The Virginia Carys An Essay In Genealogy

Notes on Miles Cary

He acquired his father in law's lands at Windmill Point and Magpie Swamp, and others, aggregating more than 2600 acres in Warwick, including the plantations afterwards known as the Forest, Richneck and Skiffs Creek [Mulberry Island] 2 He was a slaveowner and left numerous slaves in his will. He operated a mill and a store. 

About his death at the hands of roving Dutch
The Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News area, known as Hampton Roads is where he was killed by the Dutch [in one of the last actions of their second and final war  with England in America] . 

The Dutch precense in the now United States involved only one  permanent settlement , New Amsterdam, on Manhattan Island, from which they sent branch hamlets up the Hudson and to the shores of Long Island Sound and to  the South on the Delaware River. The Swedes came into collision with the Dutch on the Delaware and were overpowered by them.   The English collided with, and finally overpowered the Dutch after several wars.  In the mid Seventeenth century the British and Dutch saw each other as direct competitors and so, several times during this period they were in conflict.  The First Dutch Anglo War (1652 - 1654) was followed by the Second (1664-1668) and  third (1672-1674). All of these wars were caused by commercial rivalry , and their battles were fought in the North Sea, English Channel, the Far East, and off the coasts of West Africa and North America.
In 1664, Stuyvesant surrendered Fort Amsterdam. In the same year Fort Orange capitulated as well. Both the city of New Amsterdam and the entire colony were renamed New York, while Fort Amsterdam was renamed Fort James and Fort Orange became Fort Albany. The loss of the New Netherland province led to a second Anglo-Dutch war during 1665-1667. Dutch gains in this second war were temporary, but of interest is that Dutch war parties extended as far south as Virginia. Miles Cary  was killed by the Dutch in Hampton Roads [Now the Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News area] during the Second Anglo-Dutch War and on  10 Jun 1667. With the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War [from 1665 to 1667] the Dutch faded entirely from now United Statesian presence.
About his Life: 
Birth Records: 
Baptismal record All Saints Church, Bristol reads 'The 30 Jan, 1622 [O.S.] was baptized Miles, the sonne of John Cary"2He is Mentioned in grandfather Henry Hobson's will as Myles Cary, son of Alice Cary, wife to John Cary, draper, of Bristol. "The Pedigree of Cary of Bristol, filed in the Heralds College, 1699 (includes the following... not repeated in the pedigree of 1701 ) among the children of John Cary and Alice Hobson, viz., 'Miles Cary, settled in Virginia and had issue Thomas Cary who married Anne, daughter of Francies Milner'"2 There was also "Testimony as to Miles Cary and his family in Hunsdon peerage case 1707, Harl. MS.6694, in the British Museum" 2

Life in Warwick County, Virginia

"Miles Cary went out as a young merchant with the tradition of a mercantile family, and suffered a sea change into a planter and public officer after he was established in the new world. On the other hand, the descendants of his New England uncle continued to maintain in their new environment and in a most interesting way, the Bristol seafaring and mercantile tradition ..." 2p 34-5

He " settled Warwick County, where he met his wife; He Lived at 'Magpie Swamps' inherited from father in law, and passed 'Magpie Swamps' to his son Thomas. His will mentions two homes, one on St Nicholas St, one on Baldwin , presumably in Bristol, to be sold for his daughter's benefit. In Virginia he owned 2, 000 acres well stocked, numerous slaves, in addition to a mill and a store. Anne bore him children between 1645-1666" 1
"*Note-Council and General Court Records, 1670. Col Miles Cary, late of Warwick, by his will, among several bequests and legacies, directed a sale to be made of his two houses in the city of Bristol, Kingdom of England; one of them situated in Belame Street and the other house situated in St Nicholas Street, and that the produce of money they should be sold for should be equally divided among his three daughters, to wit: Anne, Bridget and Elizabeth Cary. Emmanuel Willis married Elizabeth Cary, and they by a deed of the 11th of April, 1670, conveyed to William Bassetet, of the Courts of New Kent, all their interest in said houses [General Court Will Book . N. p 3]"

...'first record for him is on the bench of the Warwick County Court 1652. Major 1654, Lieutenant-Colonel 1657, Colonel and County Lieutenant 1660. Collector of the Tobacco Duties for James River, Escheator General for the Colony, Burgess 1660-1665, being member of the Publique Commitee" of the Assembly (Hening, ii, 31); advanced to the Council 1665. He maintained a water mill and a mercantile buusiness, both of which are mentioned in his will. Died , probably, from wounds, during the Dutch raid on Hampton Roads in June, 1667. He had acquired his father in law's lands at Windmill Point and Magpie Swamp, and others, aggregating more than 2600 acres in Warwick, including the plantations afterwards known as The Forest, Richneck, and Skiffs Creek (Mulberry Island). He married in Virginia not later than 1646 , Anne, dau of Captain Thomas Taylor. The surviving evidence for the marriage is the reference in miles Cary's will to 'my father in law, Thomas Taylor, deceased.' In his patents of 1657 Miles Cary recites that he had acquired Thomas Taylor's property by devise and he returns Anne Taylor by her maiden name as a headright. She is described in the 1682 patent of Miles2 as 'his mother Mrs Anne Cary' and so was living fifteen years after her husband's death. She was undoubtedly buried, as was also, probably , her father, in the graveyard at Windmill Point. No evidence has yet appeared to identify this Taylor family definitely. Thomas Taylor was one of the original patentees in Elizabeth City in 1626 (Hotten, 273) and in 1643 took up 600 acres in Warwick. In 1646 he sat as Burgess for Warwick and as late as 1652 was in the commission of the peace. In the patent of 1643 he is styled 'mariner.' He was probably a Bristol sea captain long engaged in the Birginia trade who retired from the sea in Warwick. Heis relation to Miles Cary suggests thta he may have been of the family of John Taylor, alderman of Bristol, who is mentioned in relation to the Bristol Carys in the 1652 will of the Bristol clergyman, Robert Perry (P.C.C. Bowyer, 243. See Va Mag, xi, 364). We have seen that there had already been a Taylor / Cary marriage in Bristol."2p 34-5

Death Records and Tomb
His will is found Will: Book A, page 448, June 21 1667 [recorded Warwick ]1
His located tomb was found in pieces , the fragments revealing a coat of arms when put together, which Fairfax Harrison describes as "Ar. on a bend sa. three roses of the field. Crest: a Swan ppr. " and part of an original monument involving brick altar tomb surmounted by a heavy iron stone slab, evidently carved in England but with no traces of the bricks remaining. 2 Pecquet du Bellet  informs that this tomb was discovered in 1851 " on a farm called "Bensalls" near Warwick Inn, then occupied by Mr Lucas1  , and Fairfax Harrison gives us description of the location "on the high bluff over the mouth of Potash Creek, looking down Warwick River, in the midst of an ancient grove. In 1868 it was described as 'at the foot of a giant walnut and in the deep shade of a bower formed by the festoons of a mighty grapevine with embraces the entire grove in its snake-like folds'" . 2

The tombstone was in five fragments that , when put together, held the coat of arms above described, and bearing the inscription;

"Here lyeth ye body of Miles Cary, Esq.
Only son of John Cary and Alice his wife,
Daughter of Henry Hobson of ye city of Bristol. Alderman, he was born in ye city and departed this life ye 10th day of June , 1667.
about the 47th year of his age, leaving four sons and three daughters [viz:] Thomas, Ann, Henry, Bridget, Elizabeth, Miles and William"

" The Will of Myles Cary [recorded in Book A, p 448, June 21st 1667] corroborates the statement of the epitaph. The coat of arms of the original colonist is represented on articles handed down from early days, with this motto: 'Sine Deo Careo'1
His tomb calls him Esq, but court records refer to him as Colonel , yielding to the Virginia tradition of calling the men of the militia by their rank.

About his Plantation, its position and occupants: 
He was given Windmill Point and Magpie Swamps by his father in law. Following the Characteristics of the Carys in Virginia is  account of the first Cary home in Virginia and Cary holdings in Virginia over several generations, in which Windmill Point features prominantly . These excerpts are transcribed from " The Virginia Carys : An Essay in Genealogy. " by  Fairfax Harrison. Published New York. Publisher: De Vinne. 1919. 


Wilson-Miles Cary (1733 or 1734–25 November 1817), member of the Convention of 1776, was the son of Wilson Cary and Sarah Blair Cary and was born probably in Warwick County. From 1752 to 1755 he attended the College of William and Mary, and on 25 May 1759 he married his first cousin Sarah Blair, daughter of his uncle John Blair (ca. 1687–1771), then president of the governor's Council. They had three daughters and two sons. Cary was also closely related to the influential Fairfax, Nelson, and Nicholas families, and his siblings and children married into other prosperous and powerful families, including the Amblers, Carrs, and Jeffersons. For some unrecorded reason, he hyphenated his given names.

Cary entered public life in 1757 when he was commissioned a justice of the peace in Warwick County and elected to the parish vestry. The following year he became a lieutenant colonel in the militia. Succeeding his father in 1761 to a customs post as naval officer of the lower district of the James River, he moved to Elizabeth City County early the following year and served on the court of that county for nearly forty years and also as colonel of the militia. In 1767 Cary became an Elizabeth City parish vestryman. From 1766 to 1771 he represented Elizabeth City County in the House of Burgesses, where he served on the Committee for Propositions and Grievances and the Committee for Religion.

Cary signed the nonimportation associations in 1769 and 1770 opposing British tax policies and used his post as naval officer to monitor enforcement of those agreements. After the nonimportation clauses of the Continental Association of 1774 went into effect, he obstructed the flow of banned goods. The following summer, after Cary spread news of the arrival in Virginia of a British warship, the royal governor described him as "one of the most active and virulent of the Enemies of Government." Cary closed his office in the autumn of 1775, an act that may have cost him as much as £500 a year. He was elected to the Elizabeth City County Committee that November and on 25 April 1776 was elected to the fifth and final Revolutionary Convention. A member of the Committee on Privileges and Elections, Cary also served on the ad hoc committee formed to oversee the establishment of the Virginia State Navy. He was almost certainly present for the unanimous votes for independence on 15 May 1776, to adopt the Declaration of Rights on 12 June, and to approve the first constitution of the commonwealth on 29 June.

A member of the House of Delegates during the October 1776 session, Cary again served on the Committee of Privileges and Elections. By the following year he was living temporarily in the new county of Fluvanna and was appointed to its county court and returned to the House in 1777 and 1778. He sat on the Committee for Religion during the former session and the Committees of Privileges and Elections, of Propositions and Grievances, and for Religion during the latter term. By 1780 he was living at Scotchtown, in Hanover County, which he purchased from Patrick Henry. Elected, nevertheless, to the House of Delegates that year from Elizabeth City County, Cary was once again appointed to the Committees of Privileges and Elections and of Propositions and Grievances, but his election was ruled illegal under the Constitution of 1776 because he resided in Hanover County. By 1783 Cary had moved to Warwick County, where voters elected him to the House of Delegates for two consecutive sessions. In 1783 he chaired the Committee of Privileges and Elections, and the next year he again served on that committee, chaired the Committee for Religion, and sat on the Committee of Propositions and Grievances. Cary later returned to Elizabeth City County and was elected to the House in 1795 and 1796. During the 1795 session he chaired the Committee of Religion and served on the Committees of Privileges and Elections, of Propositions and Grievances, of Claims, and of Courts of Justice. He sat on each of these committees except Courts of Justice in the following term.

A devout, lifelong Anglican, Cary attended the first convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia in 1785, at least two subsequent conventions during the next five years, and again in 1797. He became a staunch Federalist during the 1790s and closed his political career in March 1799 by entering his condemnation of the Virginia Resolutions, which opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts, into the Elizabeth City County records.

Cary's wife died on 28 February 1799, and not long thereafter he moved to Williamsburg, where he served on the board of the College of William and Mary. About 1802 he married Rebecca Dawson, daughter of Thomas Dawson, formerly commissary of the bishop of London and president of the college. During his final years Cary shared his house at Carysbrook, in Fluvanna County, with his grandson, his grandson's wife, the writer Virginia Randolph Cary, and their children. Once one of the wealthier men in the colony, he depended after the Revolution on the productions of his plantations, but bad crops and floods, other economic troubles, and heavy spending on hospitality to family and friends severely depleted his wealth. During the 1810s he added several codicils to his will denouncing the governmental policies of the Jeffersonian Republicans, which he blamed in part for his financial difficulties. Wilson-Miles Cary, a respected but heavily indebted old Revolutionary nationalist, died at Carysbrook on 25 November 1817 and probably was buried there.

Sources Consulted:
Fairfax Harrison, The Virginia Carys: An Essay in Genealogy (1919), 108–110, 179–180 (including abstracts of unlocated will and portrait facing 108); Wilson Miles Cary (1838–1914), genealogical notes, with birth year of 1734 and first marriage and death dates, on the Cary family (compiled 1896–1912), Virginia Historical Society, Richmond (VHS); Cary letters in several collections in Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., in Library of Virginia, in University of Virginia, and VHS; earl of Dunmore to earl of Dartmouth, secretary of state, 12 July 1775, Colonial Office Papers 5/1353, fol. 228 (quotation), Public Record Office, London; William J. Van Schreeven, Robert L. Scribner, and Brent Tarter, eds., Revolutionary Virginia, the Road to Independence: A Documentary Record (1973–1983); 1799 declaration in Elizabeth City Co. Deeds, 34:468; Richmond Virginia Argus, 5 Mar. 1799; Richmond Virginia Gazette, and General Advertiser, 5 Mar. 1799; obituary without date of death "in the 84th year of his age" in Richmond Enquirer, 4 Dec. 1817, reprinted in Virginia Patriot, and Richmond Daily Mercantile Advertiser, 5 Dec. 1817.

Written for the Dictionary of Virginia Biography by Peter V. Bergstrom.

How to cite this page:
Peter V. Bergstrom,"Wilson-Miles Cary (1733 or 1734–1817)," Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Library of Virginia (1998– ), published 2006 (, accessed [today's date]).

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