Thomas Lord Culpeper 2nd Baron of Thoresway1,2

Male, #8478, (circa 1635 - 27 Jan 1689)
Father*John Lord Culpeper 1st Baron of Thoresway2 (7 Aug 1599 - 11 Jul 1660)
Mother*Judith Culpeper2 (c 1606 - Nov 1691)
Note* Four Lords, Not Enough Sons
By Warren Culpepper

A discussion of the widespread belief that some American
Culpeppers are descended from Lord Culpeper of Virginia.


Introduction
From childhood, I heard from my father that we were descended from Lord Culpeper of Virginia. He had determined this by retaining a professional genealogist to trace our family's roots. I never saw the document that was produced, and don't know the identity of the genealogist, However, until I started a serious pursuit of genealogy, I never had any reason to doubt the claim.

In discussions with other Culpepper descendants that I've met as a result of creating this web site, I have discovered that quite a few other Culpepper families have held the belief that they were descended from Lord Culpeper. However, a review of very well-documented research indicates that any Culpepper claim of Lord Culpeper ancestry is a myth.

There were actually four Lord Culpepers, but only one of them, Thomas, Lord Culpeper, Second Baron of Thoresway, ever lived in America.

Modern-day Culpeppers should be heartened by the fact that they are not descended from a man whose character was viewed so poorly by both his peers and historians:

     Hartwell, Chilton and Blair (1696) 'one of the most cunning and covetous men in England.'
     Beverley (1705, i, 80) 'he had the art of mixing the good of the Country with his own particular Interest.'
     Bishop Burnet (1723, i, 798) 'A vicious and corrupt man, but made a figure in the debates.'
     Chalmers (1782) 'having shown by his conduct that they who act under independent authority will seldom obey even reasonable commands, no more governors were appointed for life.'
     Bancroft (1837, ii, 246) 'He had no high-minded regard for Virginia: he valued his office and his patents only as property... yet Culpeper was not singularly avaricious. His conduct was in harmony with the principles which prevailed in England. As the British merchant claimed the monopoly of colonial commerce, as the British manufacturer valued Virginia only as a market for his goods, so the British Courtiers looked to appointments in America as a means of enlarging their own revenues or providing for their dependants. Nothing but Lord Culpeper's avarice gives him a place in American history.'
     Lodge (1881, p., 23) 'Culpeper's sole object was extortion, which he freely practised... Culpeper's administration was, as a whole, one of simple greed and violent exaction, varied by an extensive swindle in raising and lowering the value of the coin.'
     Doyle (1882, i, 259) 'His worst fault was rapacity, of which he stands convicted both by general tradition and certain specific actions.'
     Wertenbaker (1914, p. 239) 'Few British colonial Governors are less deserving of respect than Thomas, Lord Culpeper.'

In addition, his personal life was equally flawed, having spent most of his adult years with his mistress Susanna Willis, in spite of his marriage to Marguerite Van Hesse.

The four Lord Culpepers are identified below. The text associated with each name is exerpted from more detailed narratives written by Fairfax Harrison in The Proprietors of the Northern Neck. A study of this text should help remove any lingering doubts as to the possibility of any modern-day Culpepper being a descendant of any of the four Lord Culpepers.

1st Baron of Thoresway: Sir John Culpeper (1600-1660) of Wigsell and Hollingbourne. John inherited his father's share of ownership in the Virginia Company in 1617, and at the age of 21, was knighted by King James I (which gave him the title of "Sir"). In 1644, he was raised to the peerage, becoming the First Baron of Thoresway (which gave him the title of "Lord"). He became one-seventh proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia under the charter of 1649. He never lived in the colonies. and had seven children that survived him: Thomas (2nd Lord Culpeper), John (3rd Lord Culpeper), Cheney (4th Lord Culpeper), Frances, Elizabeth, Judith, and Philippa.

2nd Baron of Thoresway: Thomas Culpeper (1635-1689) of Leeds Castle. Thomas succeeded upon his father's death in 1660 as the second Lord Culpeper. He was a Member of the Council for Foreign Plantations, 1671-1674. Governor of Virginia, 1677-1683; Proprietor of the Northern Neck under charters of 1669 and 1688; viz: one-sixth until 1681, and thereafter, five-sixths. Proprietor of all Virginia under the Arlington charter of 1673; viz. one-third, 1673-1681, and the whole, 1681-1684, when he surrendered to the Crown. He was, however, in the colony only during two brief tours, from May to August, 1680, and from December, 1682, to May, 1683. He had three daughters and no sons. The only child from his marriage was, Catherine, who married Thomas, Lord Fairfax. His other two daughters, Susanna and Charlotte, were by his mistress Susanna Willis.

3rd Baron of Thoresway: John Culpeper (1641-1719). John succeeded upon his brother's death in 1689 as the third Lord Culpeper. He married his cousin Frances (1664-1740) daughter of Sir Thomas Culpeper the younger, of Hollingbourne. He never lived in the colonies, and he died childless.

4th Baron of Thoresway: Cheney Culpeper (1642-1725). Cheney gained notoriety in the roaring days of the Restoration when he killed an officer of the guards with a blunderbuss and was pardoned only because he was brother to a peer. He succeeded upon his brother's death in 1719 as Fourth Lord Culpeper. He never lived in the colonies. There is no record of a marriage, and when he died without a surviving son, the Culpeper peerage became extinct.

And with Cheney, Lord Culpeper's death, so dies the possibility of any further Culpepper descendants of any Lord Culpeper.3 
Name-AltSpell This surname is sometimes spelled Colepeper. 
Name-AltSpell This surname is sometimes spelled Culpepper. 
Birth*circa 1635 Thomas was born circa 1635. 
Baptism21 Mar 1635 He was baptized at Hollingbourne, co. Kent, England, on 21 Mar 1635.2  
Research note He is referenced in a research note for Thomas Culpeper of Barbados.4 
Will13 Jan 1644 He is mentioned in the will of Sir Alexander Culpeper of Greenway Court, Knight at Greenway Court, Hollingbourne, co. Kent, England, on 13 Jan 1644.5,6 
Will30 Jan 1644 He is mentioned in the will of Sir Alexander Culpeper of Greenway Court, Knight on 30 Jan 1644.7,8 
Marriage*3 Aug 1659 He married Margaretta van Hesse at The Hague, Holland, on 3 Aug 1659.2 
Will3 Jul 1660 He is mentioned in the will of John Lord Culpeper 1st Baron of Thoresway at co. Kent, England, on 3 Jul 1660.9 
Death of Father11 Jul 1660 His father John Lord Culpeper 1st Baron of Thoresway died on 11 Jul 1660 at co. Kent, England.9 
Marriage*say 1670 He married Susanna Willis say 1670. Susanna was the mistress, but not a wife, of Thomas, Lord Culpeper.2 
Residence*between May 1680 and Aug 1680 Thomas resided at Virginia between May 1680 and Aug 1680. (First of only two times in the colony.) 
Residencebetween Dec 1682 and May 1683 Thomas resided at Virginia between Dec 1682 and May 1683. (Last of only two times in the colony.) 
Death*27 Jan 1689 He died at Saint James Street, London, England, on 27 Jan 1689. 
Biography* Thomas, bap. 1634, succeeded his father as second Lord Colepeper, and by his marriage with Margaret, daughter and co-heiress of Jean Van Hesse, Seigneur de Perschill and Wena in Holland, had an only daughter and heiress, Catherine.

The 2nd Lord Colepeper was not a very estimable character. After his death, 27th Jan., 1688/9, his widow stated that her late husband had two houses in London, one in St. James' Street, the other in Hammersmith. He died in St. James' Street and she was living at Leeds Castle, not having had the least notice that he was sick until some time after his decease. She immediately went to London and buried him, and wants to administer his estate in order to pay his debts, which she is informed are very great and many. But Susanna Willis, alias Weldon, alias Laycock, who had been living with him at his house in St. James' Street, has the key of his closets and has possessed herself of everything.

In her answer Susanna Willis mentions her two daughters by Lord Thomas Colepeper, Susan, wife of Sir Charles Englefield, Bart. (married at St. James', Westminster, 22nd Feb., 1685/6) and Charlotte, aged 13. By indenture in 1688 Lord Colepeper granted to her daughters land at Solihull, co. Warwick, the tithes of Mayfield, the Manor of Thoresway, 24 acres at Wittersham, land near Kent Bridge, in Wittersham, yielding £7. 10s. 0d. per annum, land in Erith, Lesnes and Plumstead, valued at £72 per annum, land in Buriton, co. Southants, 260 acres of marsh at Lydde and Bromehill, worth £185 per annum, a farm in Loose, Eastfarlegh and Maidstone, yielding £30 per annum. Then she mentions a will of Thomas Lord Colepeper, in which he revoked all his other wills, especially his last one, Aug. 23rd, 1681, and he settled on his natural daughter Susan, Wife of Sir Charles Englefield, an annuity of £100 for life out of Thoresway Manor and £3,000 portion, £3,000 to his natural daughter Charlotte, his house in Hammersmith to Susanna Weldon, alias Willis. The Manor of Arreton, Isle of Wight, to his natural daughter, Charlotte. The residue of his property to Katherine, his daughter, who is executrix.

A Bill in Parliament to annul the above gifts, whether by deed or will, to Susanna Willis, alias Weldon, alias Laycock, and her two illegitimate children, was rejected in the House of Lords 15 Jan 1689/90.

The preceding all from "The Sussex Colepepers", published in the "Sussex Archaeological Collections", Volume XLVII, 1904, pp 67-69 For a much lengthier discourse on the 2nd Lord Culpeper, see Chapter 3(c) of Fairfax Harrison's "Proprietors of the Northern Neck", found on Culpepper Connections! at: http://gen.culpepper.com/historical/nneck/3c-holling.htm
Biography He is referenced in a biographical note for Alexander Culpeper Surveyor General of VA.10 
Will29 Nov 1691 He is mentioned in the will of Alexander Culpeper Surveyor General of VA on 29 Nov 1691.11,12 
Will12 Aug 1710 He is mentioned in the will of John Lord Culpeper 3rd Baron of Thoresway on 12 Aug 1710.13,14 
Research note He is referenced in a research note for John Marlo Culpepper (Apocryphal).3,15,16 

Family 1

Margaretta van Hesse (12 Jan 1635 - circa 10 May 1710)
Marriage*3 Aug 1659 He married Margaretta van Hesse at The Hague, Holland, on 3 Aug 1659.2 
Child

Family 2

Susanna Willis (say 1645 - )
Marriage*say 1670 He married Susanna Willis say 1670. Susanna was the mistress, but not a wife, of Thomas, Lord Culpeper.2 
Children
ChartsThe 12th century Culpepers of England: Descendant Chart (16 generations, Males only)
The Culpepers of Hollingbourne, co. Kent, England (Possibly extinct): Descendant Chart
Last Edited4 Mar 2013

Citations

  1. Col. F.W.T. Attree R.E./F.S.A. & Rev. J.H.L. Booker M.A., "The Sussex Colepepers, Part I", Sussex Archaeological Collections, XLVII,47-81, (1904)http://gen.culpepper.com/historical/sussex/default.htm.
  2. Fairfax Harrison, The Proprietors of the Northern Neck - Chapters of Culpepper Genealogy, Richmond, VA: The Old Dominion Press (Privately printed), 1926, Repository: LDS Family History Library - Salt Lake City, Call No. US/CAN Film #929429. Transcription available online at: http://gen.culpepper.com/historical/nneck/default.htm
    Chapter 3c.
  3. Warren L. Culpepper (#1942), Former publisher of Culpepper Connections, e-mail address.
  4. E-mail written 1999-2011 to Culpepper Connections from William A. 'Bill' Russell, Alexandria, VA, e-mail address (Sep 2011).
  5. E-mail written 2007 to Warren Culpepper from Charles Andrew Grigsby, England, e-mail address.
    Transcription of Will of Sir Alexander Culpeper of Greenway Court Hollingbourne Kent 1649
    Ref: 422.
  6. Public Records Office, National Archives, London.
    Image of will at: /archives/uk/wills/images/Alexander_of_Greenway_Court_1649.pdf .
  7. Fairfax Harrison, The Proprietors of the Northern Neck - Chapters of Culpepper Genealogy, Richmond, VA: The Old Dominion Press (Privately printed), 1926, Repository: LDS Family History Library - Salt Lake City, Call No. US/CAN Film #929429. Transcription available online at: http://gen.culpepper.com/historical/nneck/default.htm
    P. C. C. Rivers, 157.
    Image:http://gen.culpepper.com/archives/uk/wills/images/Alexander_of_Greenway_Court_1645-1.pdf.
  8. Public Records Office, National Archives, London.
    Image of will at: /archives/uk/wills/images/Alexander_of_Greenway_Court_1645-1.pdf.
  9. Fairfax Harrison, The Proprietors of the Northern Neck - Chapters of Culpepper Genealogy, Richmond, VA: The Old Dominion Press (Privately printed), 1926, Repository: LDS Family History Library - Salt Lake City, Call No. US/CAN Film #929429. Transcription available online at: http://gen.culpepper.com/historical/nneck/default.htm
    P. C. C. Nabbs, 235.
    Will dated July 3, 1660.
    Codicil dated July 9, 1660.
    Proved August 6, 1660.
  10. Fairfax Harrison, The Proprietors of the Northern Neck - Chapters of Culpepper Genealogy, Richmond, VA: The Old Dominion Press (Privately printed), 1926, Repository: LDS Family History Library - Salt Lake City, Call No. US/CAN Film #929429. Transcription available online at: http://gen.culpepper.com/historical/nneck/default.htm
    Chapter 4b.
  11. Public Records Office, National Archives, London.
    Image of will at: /archives/uk/wills/images/Alexander_of_Hollingbourne_1695.pdf.
  12. Fairfax Harrison, The Proprietors of the Northern Neck - Chapters of Culpepper Genealogy, Richmond, VA: The Old Dominion Press (Privately printed), 1926, Repository: LDS Family History Library - Salt Lake City, Call No. US/CAN Film #929429. Transcription available online at: http://gen.culpepper.com/historical/nneck/default.htm
    P.C.C. Irby, 3., Will dated November 29, 1691 and proved January 5, 1694/5.
  13. Public Records Office, National Archives, London.
    Will of John 3rd Lord Culpeper, dated 12 Aug 1710, transcribed by Charles Andrew Grigsby. Image at: http://gen.culpepper.com/archives/uk/wills/images/John_Baron_of_Thoresway_1719-1.pdf and
    http://gen.culpepper.com/archives/uk/wills/images/John_Baron_of_Thoresway_1719-2.pdf.
  14. E-mail written 2007 to Warren Culpepper from Charles Andrew Grigsby, England, e-mail address.
  15. Lewis W. Griffin Jr. (#47), e-mail address.
  16. Fairfax Harrison, The Proprietors of the Northern Neck - Chapters of Culpepper Genealogy, Richmond, VA: The Old Dominion Press (Privately printed), 1926, Repository: LDS Family History Library - Salt Lake City, Call No. US/CAN Film #929429. Transcription available online at: http://gen.culpepper.com/historical/nneck/default.htm.