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Marable Finneywood Plantation
Mecklenburg Co., VA

Submitted by James L. Marable 14 Aug 2000

The Finneywood plantation was established by Matthew's father, William Marable (b. ca 1700, James City Co., VA; d. aft. 1762, Lunenburg Co., VA) with two patents obtained in 1747 totaling 850 acres and a third patent obtained in 1755 consolidating the two earlier patents and adding land to a total of 1870 acres. One of the 1747 patents spanned the ridge between the headwaters of Bluestone Creek and the South Fork of the Meherrin River (from Bluestone toward Finneywood). The other was a 425 acre square located on "the head branches of Bluestone and Finney Wood . . . Beginning at a white oak on the meadow of Finney Wood." The 1755 patent added land further east, with part of its boundary running "to a Poplar on Finneywood Creek Thence up the same as it meanders to Munford's Corner Spanish Oak on the same Thence along his Line." (See estimation of the boundaries and extent of the 1755 patent, mapped by James L. Marable.) It is reasonable to believe that the patent was about three miles by one mile and oriented in an approximate west southeast to east northeast direction from the headwaters of the Bluestone to Finneywood meadow and the area north of Finneywood Creek.

The Finneywood plantation (with other parcels) was transferred from William to his son Matthew Marable (b. ca 1730, James City Co., VA; d. 1786, Charlotte Co., VA) in connection with their 1757 Articles of Agreement providing for Matthew to assume William's obligations and undertake to raise William's minor children in exchange for essentially all of Williams lands and estate.

The Finneywood plantation is described in a rather unique document published as an advertisement by Matthew in Rind's Virginia Gazette in 1773 (and republished in the William and Mary Quarterly). In the advertisement Matthew announced his intention to sell all his properties and leave Virginia, expressing, sub silentio, some pre-Revolutionary disenchantment with his ability to prosecute his business to his satisfaction in the Colony. At this time Matthew had been a member of the House of Burgesses representing Lunenburg and then Mecklenburg counties, off and on, for almost 20 years, and he had already joined with other Burgesses in Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg in the associations against British trade. Matthew in fact never left Virginia, the Revolution intervening, but his advertisement comes down to us as excellent record of his successful farming and mercantile enterprise. It also contains an important description of a thriving backcountry settlement of the pre-Revolutionary era, with its main house, various domestic outbuildings, servants, overseers and slave quarters, and school, blacksmith shop and tailor's shop. (A copy of a transcription of this advertisement is attached.) Matthew, of course, describes his properties in glowing terms as suitable for producing various crops and great quantities of high quality tobacco. Lest you be inclined to discount these claims overmuch, be aware that Matthew "Marable was almost the only correspondent [of the Scottish trading house of Buchanan & Simson] whose tobacco was praised for quality." (40 WMQ 3d 28-29.) Also, he has been judged by some to have been "the most successful of the local planter-merchants during this [pre-Revolutionary War] period . . . [having] that distinctive business acumen that was enhanced by his supreme confidence, aggressive operative style, and previous success." (Charles J. Farmer, In the Absence of Towns: Settlement and County Trade in Southside Virginia, 1730-1800 (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc), p. 123.)

By his 1786 will, Matthew divided Finneywood and his other properties between his children George, Elizabeth, Richard, John and Champion, and his son-in-law David Stokes, Jr., who had married his daughter, Mary Meriwether Marable. His son Matthew had left home sometime before, and was bequeathed the value of the property that he took with him at that time. Most of the Finneywood and other lands seems to have ended up in the Stokes family as the other sons left Virginia for Georgia around 1800. Mary Meriwether Marable Stokes appears with land at Finneywood in the 1812 land tax records as the guardian of her son William B. Stokes. Matthew Marable's oldest son, George, died in 1796, leaving his share of Finneywood for the care of his mother, Mary Meriwether, who died in 1808. This is likely the Finneywood parcel that appears on the 1813 land tax records as held by George Marable's estate. George's son, Champion Carter Meriwether Marable left Virginia in the 1820's, ending up in Mississippi.

1773 Advertisement


I hereby inform the public that as soon as I can settle my affairs I intend to leave this country; and to enable myself to purchase elsewhere, resettle myself, and to prosecute the mercantile business with more ease, and to a greater extent than hitherto it hath been in my power, I propose selling the following lands, viz.

-- Upon the line dividing the counties of Mecklenburg and Charlotte the noted tract known by the name of Finny Wood, containing 2357 acres. As the quality of this land is generally known, and has ever distinguished itself as being remarkably fine, it is unnecessary to say any thing about it in that particular. The improvements are very considerable, having every necessary building suitable for a planter or farmer, and I may venture to say they are in as good order as any in the colony; nor are the plantations in less order than the improvements, being cleared in the most regular form, under good fences, preserved as much as possible from running into gullies, and, by being constantly shifted into winter grain, are as capable of produce as ever. The crop now growing upon this land is tended by 28 hands and promises to produce, should the weather be agreeable, 30 hogsheads of tobacco, 1500 barrels of Indian corn, 3000 bushels of wheat, and 1000 gallons of peach brandy. I once sold 850 acres of this land for 2500, but finding my bargain to be bad, I gave a consideration to be off; and have several times been offered 3 an acre for great part of it, but being resolved never to divide it, I refused every such offer. My price for the whole tract has been fixed for some time at two guineas per acre, and which is adjudged by those acquainted with the land to be very reasonable. However, that I may be the sooner prepared to prosecute my schemes as aforesaid, I will take fifty shillings an acre, one-half to be paid at the time a title is made, and the residue in twelve months after. A title shall be made at the next court after the bargain, and possession given at Christmas next.

-- In the county of Charlotte, about five miles from Finny Wood, a tract containing 2929 acres, improved with a plantation sufficient to work seven or eight hands, several small dwelling houses, two tobacco houses, and a corn crib; and a gristmill, which, with little expense, may be made very valuable, and a good apple and peach orchard. This tract affords a great quantity of very valuable creek low grounds, and a considerable quantity of very fine high land. My price for this land is a thousand pounds; and a right will be made, possession given, and payments made, in the same manner as for Finny Wood.

-- In Charlotte county also, and about ten miles from Finny Wood, a tract containing 1020 acres, lying upon Staunton river, at the mouth of Cedar Creek, improved with a plantation sufficient to work about five or six hands, several good barns, an overseer's house, and a Negro quarter. This tract affords about 100 acres of river low grounds, equal to the best upon the whole stream, and formed in such a manner that it is benefited by every fresh creek that goes over it; also a considerable quantity of creek low grounds, and high land, which produces tobacco of a quality inferior to none. My price for this tract is 750, payable in like manner as for the other two pieces.

-- In Mecklenburg, upon Finny Wood creek, adjoining Finny Wood, a tract of 500 acres, improved with an overseer's house, Negro quarter, corn crib, a tobacco house, and cleared land, that is fresh, sufficient to work four or five hands. This tract affords a considerable quantity of very fine tobacco land, both high and low, and produces admirably well. My price for this tract is 500, payable at Christmas next, when a title shall be made, and possession given.

-- In Mecklenburg also, and is the place whereon I live, a tract containing 715 acres, improved with a dwelling house 48 feet by 26, divided below into four convenient rooms, a passage, several closets and beaufaits, and above, into two rooms and a passage, five dormer and four sash windows on each side; there is a brick chimney at each end, which affords a fireplace to each room below stairs, and underpinned with brick. The whole (except a small matter of painting) is finished off in a genteel manner. There is also a store house, lumber house, ordinary house, kitchen, dairy, meat house, barns, cribs, stables, quarters, overseer's houses, school house, tailor's and blacksmith's shops, all new, and built in the best manner to answer their several purposes, and a plantation sufficient for 12 or 15 hands, formed with the greatest regularity to render the culture and tillage of it the most easy and convenient; it is under exceeding fine fences, and has adjoining it a large pasture well enclosed, two peach and three large apple orchards, with a variety of other fruit trees of the best kind, and chiefly grafted. The soil of this piece of land is very rich and strong, produces everything that I have tried in it very well, but being of a stiff and thirsty nature, winter grain is most applicable to it, such as wheat, rye, and barley, and is more level than any I have ever seen in the back country. It is likewise situated in a very healthy spot, having exceeding good water, and being a high place clear of any kind of swamps, or sunken grounds. I can recommend this piece of land either to a merchant or a farmer; for the latter none can answer better, being, as before mentioned, equal to any for winter grain, and will undoubtedly answer for the former, as it is fixed for that purpose in the center of the county, and in a thick settled neighborhood of able people, has public roads leading to it from every quarter, and, what will yet make it more answerable to this purpose, it may be expected that all or chief of my friends and customers will become so to whoever may succeed me. My price for this land and settlement is 1500, one-third payable when the title is made, and a third yearly till the whole is paid. A title shall be made at the first court after the purchase, and possession given in November next.

-- In the town of Petersburg two lots or half acres of land, known by the numbers 41 and 42, in the plan of the town; they are situated on the main street, are the most beautiful lots in the whole place, and are improved with a very large and convenient dwelling house., that has three good rooms and a passage both above and below stairs, and a well built cellar of brick the full size of the house, a large and well calculated store and lumber house, kitchen, and dairy. My price for those two lots, or half acres, is 500, payable, with interest, 125 annually, till the whole is paid. Possession and title shall be made and given the purchaser at any time.

-- Any person inclinable to purchase any of the lands above mentioned may be shewn the same by applying to me any time between this and the last of August, as I shall during that time be constantly at home.

-- That I may be sooner and better prepared to execute my intentions, I hereby give notice, that on the 10th day of September next I shall expose to public sale, for ready money, at my aforesaid dwelling house, the several estates hereafter mentioned, and which I hold by recorded deeds of trust, to secure me in the payment of large sums of money due from the persons here respectively mentioned: The tract of land whereon Henry Crenshaw lives, in Lunenburg, together with his Negroes, stock, household furniture, &c. The land whereon William Easley lives, in Mecklenburg, together with his Negroes. The land whereon John F. Thompson lives, in Mecklenburg, together with his Negroes. The Negroes and personal estate of Peter Ragsdale, in Mecklenburg. The Negroes and personal estate of John Clemmonds, in Mecklenburg. The land of Robert Tucker, in Mecklenburg. The Negroes of David Chandler, in Charlotte. The land and personal estate of Ephrim Pucketts, in Mecklenburg. The personal estate of John Bing, in Mecklenburg. The land of Joel Moore, in Mecklenburg. The land and personal estate of Lewis Atkin , in Mecklenburg. A Negro and personal estate of Jesse Taite, in Mecklenburg. The land and personal estate of William Brown, in Lunenburg. The personal estate of Thomas Smith, in Mecklenburg. The Negroes of Robert Christopher, in Mecklenburg. The Negroes of Thomas Farrar, in Mecklenburg. The land and personal estate of John Clark, in Mecklenburg. The land of Henry Robertson, in Mecklenburg. The personal estate of Lewis Zoone, in Mecklenburg. Part of the estate of Henry Isbell, in Charlotte. The land and personal estate of Edward Crews, in Mecklenburg. The land of James Camels, in Mecklenburg. The lands of James Flynns, in Mecklenburg. The personal estate of Philip Johnson, in Mecklenburg. And the land of Daniel Gorries, in Mecklenburg.

-- As it is probable that the sales of all the estates aforesaid cannot be made in one day, I here give notice that it will be continued from day to day till the whole can be complete.

                                                 MATTHEW MARABLE

* From Rind's Virginia Gazette, July 22, 1773. __ William and Mary Quarterly 279 (19)

Copyright 2000 JoLee Gregory Spears