The Family of Jesse Tharp of Fauquier County, Virginia
Copyright © 1999, James D. Ball

Preliminary Discussion

Before we begin this discussion, it must be understood that the spelling variations of THARP, THARPE, THORP, and THORPE are interchangeable. These are not the only variants, but are the most common. While you may believe there is a "correct" spelling, I guarantee you will find other spellings associated with your family. In this study, I have used THARP and THARPE only by convention.

One of the first realizations researchers come to is that there are Tharp families in and around the Northern Neck area of Virginia which just don't seem to connect. There's good reason! There are at least three, possibly more, unconnected Tharpe families in the same vicinity during the late colonial period. All seem to have expanded into the interior as well as points south. In most cases, playing the "name game" doesn't give many clues to the family of ancestry.

Such is the case with the family of Jesse Tharp of Fauquier. If the researcher digs deep enough, it is learned that there are no exclusive rights to the names found in Jesse's family.

Further, location offers no clue. Jesse lived on the Rappahannock River in Leeds Manor, significantly distant from other Tharp families. His land seems to have fallen within the Marshall acquisitions of the Fairfax leaseholds which led to the "Free State" of Fauquier. After 1840 and apparently upon the passing of James H. Marshall, the tenants living on the "Tharpe Tract" removed themselves from the land.

It is assumed Jesse's land was a lease. No actual document, lease or deed, is to be found recorded in Fauquier. If extant, it may lie within the loose papers the Marshalls had studied during the acquisitions. As these Fairfax leases were typically for multiple lives, it is perplexing that the sons moved from the land.

The following document serves to identify many members of Jesse's family. The other Tharp family of significant size in the area are descendants of John Tharp of Stafford and his brothers. Members of that family have, for the most part, been identified through Lawler's Nehemiah Wood of Shenandoah County, Virginia. Given these, there are still many unidentified Tharps in Fauquier, Culpeper and Rappahannock.

A word of caution: There is a well known reference of compiled Fauquier marriage records which incorrectly identifies Elizabeth as the daughter of John and Lucy. A check of the actual register will show she is the daughter of "Jessy and Lucy". This indiscretion has foiled many past research attempts.

The major questions to be answered now are the identity of Lucy, and the origins of Jesse and Lucy. Are they associated with the ancient Tharp/Thorp families of early Northumberland and Surry? Are they associated with the Tharp/Thorp families which found their way into Virginia via New Jersey and Maryland? Are they associated with the Tharps/Thorps who settled in the area directly from England prior to the Revolution?

Before we leave this preliminary discussion, I want to credit Jeanne Cox for providing some critical information which allowed a mass of collected data to ultimately fall into place. We don't know yet if Jeanne connects to Jesse and Lucy, but I hope so.

Any input and insight into these families is most welcome.

Jim Ball
Uniontown, OH

The Jesse Tharp Family


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