This set of documents tells the story of William’s legacy, clarifies the lineage of Sina Burrus Barlow, and provides a few hints about the story of his mother and father as well. Thank you, William for going to court, and thank you Fredericksburg Courthouse for giving me access to these documents.
In October 1800, Sina Jennings Burrus died in Caroline County, Virginia and left a will in which she gave a small legacy to her great grandson William Burrus Barlow.
That’s the history. Now here are the details which make it extra interesting.
Sina Jennings Burrus’ will starts it off. Here’s the section dealing with the legacy.
Item: All the rest and residue of my estate of whatever kind it may be after first discharging my just debts I give and bequeath in the following manner: to Charles Burruss one fourth part, to my Daughter Elizabeth Mason other fourth part, and to my grandchildren Samuel Burruss, William Burruss, and Wilmouth Burruss, children of William Burruss dec. And to my great grandson William Burruss Barlow the remaining fourth part to them and their heirs forever.
Evil treatment? Robert T not to get his hands on the money? What's going on here? Let's look at what the documents have to say about William's mother, another Sina.
After I found the Barlow Bible record I started looking for "Lena" Burruss in Caroline County, Virginia, Burrus researchers were quick to tell me that “Lena” was a misreading of “Sina” and that the woman I was looking for was Sina Burrus, daughter of Samuel and Sina “Jennings” Burrus of Caroline County, Virginia. They based their assumption on a chancery court case "Burrus, Charles, his administrator &c. vs Robert T. Barlow, Benjamin Leay and William Burrus". The loose papers from this case are at the Virginia State Library. A statement by William B. Barlow is included in this file. In his opening statement he refers to “his grandmother Sina Burrus.” According to the Burrus researchers a daughter of Sina and her husband Samuel “the elder” was also named Sina and would have to be the person that Robert T. Barlow married. They calculated her birth date to be about 1758. Since Robert T. Barlow was born in 1773, the idea of this marriage required a little stretch from me but the numbers were just workable. My direct ancestor Henry Barlow would have been born when Sina was 43.
Robert and Sina's uncomfortable marriage existed in my files for several years – until I found the Historic Court Records project at Fredericksburg Courthouse. Sina’s will which I quoted from above and her estate settlement were included in the record 27-7, “Barlow vs. Breame”. Statements in those records identify Sina Jennings Burrus as William’s Great- Grandmother and the papers in her estate settlement identify Sina Burrus Barlow quite accurately.
To three of the orphans of William Burrus deceased viz Samuel, William and Wilmouth, and to W.B. Barlow Son of Sina Burrus now Sina Barlow £15.4.9 each = £60.19.0 ½ “
So - Sina Burrus Barlow was a daughter of Sina Jennings Burrus’ deceased son William and his wife Jemima Chiles. She would have been born in about 1775. Elsewhere the documents refer to a "maiden daughter" of Sina and Samuel Burrus, also named Sina - who is quoted as “being content with a smaller share”. Please - if you still have Sina Burrus born 1758 identified as Robert T. Barlow's wife - change your records.
One of the problems with genealogy is that, unlike fiction, you aren't supposed to make up stories without provable facts. This is my reading of the information however. Robert T and Sina ran off and got married when Sina was under age and her grandmother never forgave Robert T Barlow. Viewing the Burrus estate settlement it’s also apparent that Robert T. and Sina were from different social classes. The Burruses were well to do. Robert was a younger son whose father died in the time when all the family property was still inherited by the oldest son. (That changed in 1785) Robert inherited 40 acres from his mother’s dower property when she died, but that was several years after he and Sina married and was a pitiful amount of property in comparison to the Burrus holdings. He probably had good use for Willliam's legacy.