Charles Bragg

Charles Bragg, Brother of Joseph

Charles Bragg, son of Joseph Bragg and Mary Tapp and brother to Joseph Bragg, has some interesting facts attached to his tenure on earth: He was born 1692 in Old Rappahannock, VA and died 1759. He married Elizabeth Picket June 11, 1728 in Richmond County.

On April 2, 1718 court records note that “Charles Bragg his action of debt against John Davis is dismissed, the plaintiff not presenting.” 

On November 3, 1725 court records show: “Ordered that the sheriff summon to next court Charles Bragg of North Farmingham Parish to answer the presentment of the Grand Jury against him for planting tobacco after the tenth day of July

On March 26, 1734 at Richmond County, Virginia, Solomon Redman, Planter, of Lunenburg Parish, Richmond County, Virginia to Charles Bragg, Planter of same. 1,500 lbs of good tobacco for 80 acres upon the branches of Rapp Creek, land formerly belonging to Luke Thornton & given to his grandson Mark Thornton, and sold by Mark to Redman, now in the actual possession of John Jones (with life time rights to Ann Mountjoy and her daughter, Sarah Jones, wife of John Jones.) Relinquishment of dower by Mary Redman, wife of Solomon, admitted to record. 

On April 5, 1734 John Jones & Sarah his wife & Ann Mountjoy, all of Lunenburg parish, Richmond County, Virginia to Charles Bragg of same for 2,300 lbs of tobacco for 100 acres formerly belonging to Luke Thornton and by his will given to Sarah Jones and Ann Mountjoy during their natural lives, on branches of Rapp Creek, beginning at a swamp named Portage Pot. 


 

A Scandal–On March 1, 1741 The Court records of Richmond County, Virginia show that “Margaret Sheals, servant to Charles Bragg having fugitively absented herself from her masters house for the period of 15 days and it appearing to this Court that he expended two hundred pounds of tobacco in procuring her again, it is therefore ordered that the said Margaret Sheals serve her master or his assignees for 30 days for the said fifteen days absence, and according to law for said two hundred pounds of tobacco after her time by indenture become ____ or is fully expired.” 

Also entered the same day :”Ordered that Margaret Sheals servant to Charles Bragg serve her said master one whole year after her time by indenture customs or otherwise is fully expired in consideration of the trouble of his house for having a bastard child.” 

Another entry on the same matter: “Margaret Sheals servant to Charles Bragg this day refusing to pay fine for having a bastard child. It is therefore ordered that the sheriff take her and carry her to the common whipping post and give her twenty five lashes on her bare back well laid on.”


 

November 5, 1750 Thomas Sorrell of Cople Parish, Westmoreland County, Virginia, son and heir of John Sorrell, Planter, deck’s to Charles Bragg of Lunenburg Parish Westmoreland County, Virginia, planter.  4,000 lbs of tobacco for a parcel of land containing 128 acres in Cope Parish Westmoreland County on or near branches of Pantico Run & near Richmond County signed Thos Sorrell.  Wit. George Lee/See, Youel Davis, William Bragg, Elias Davis. 

Charles’s estate was probated on April 2, 1759 at Richmond County, Virginia, and on motion of William Bragg who made oath, administration is granted to him on the estate of Charles Bragg deck’s. Elizabeth Packet (Pickett) left a will on 30 September 1811 at Westmoreland Co., Virginia.

“First whereas my Negro man Tom was formerly appraised to £60 & it will appear by my papers and  accounts that I have long since paid debts for my husband’s estate to more than the amount thereof as was considered by the persons who was appointed to allot me my DOWER and who refused to divide the said negro man Tom in consideration of the money which I had paid for the estate and whereas Tom has been a faithful servant to me… I wish to give him his freedom and liberty after my decease. All my estate to be left in trust to Beckham Thomas to be applied to the use of said Tom. It is expressly understood that if Wm Hall who married Rebecca my daughter and Martha Stone my other daughter shall on my death secure to Tom his freedom and liberty so that he shall not be molesteed… then Martha Stone to receive one iron  kettle, one cow … and to my eldest daughter Rebecca Hall one high bed … I give to Wm Stone my young oxen … the remainder of my crops to be equally divided between my children Rebecca Hall & Martha Stone. Ex. Samuel Templeman. Signed Elizabeth X Bragg (mark). Witnesses Samuel Templeman, Polly Stone. Presented in court March 1812.”

So, it would appear that Charles Bragg, the brother of our Moore/Bragg ancestor, was a wealthy tobacco planter who had white indentured servants as well as black slaves working for him. I found this interesting because it reveals two contrasting views of treatment of people forced into servitude by rich planters of the time. A female indentured servant, Margaret Sheals, ran away for 15 days and was penalized with a fine and time was added to her ‘sentence’ by her ‘master’ for having a ‘bastard child.’ No doubt, she absconded in shame and fear of consequences for having a child out of wedlock. What really strikes me is her refusal to pay a fine for the child, accepting in its place 25 lashes (‘well laid on’ means with the full force of the sheriff performing this punishment–no light taps because she is a woman) from a whip in the public square on her bare back. I have to suspect that this poor woman’s refusal to pay a fine might have been because her ‘master’ was the father of this child.

On the other end of this spectrum we see Thomas Beckham, a slave who has been a faithful servant, who is to be given his freedom and is to be given his owner’s entire estate upon her death. Elizabeth Bragg first mentions Tom’s appraised worth (from her husband’s estate), counting him as part of her dower (the money and possessions she brought into the marriage was her dowry and as a widow she was legally entitled to the return of her dower above and beyond anything left to her by her husband’s estate). Her attorney made it clear that she owned this man and only she had a right to determine his status. Her express wish is that Tom be given his freedom and someone was appointed to administer funds from her estate to protect and support him. To force her children to agree to this demand, she promises a bed, some oxen, and her crops. Wow!

© Copyright 2015 Linda L Labin, PhD

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