Family Histories

Family Histories for the Rose and Kirkpatrick Families

Monday, May 9, 2016

52 Ancestors: Col. Thomas Pettus 1712 - 1780

Thomas Pettus, my 5th great-grandfather, was born in Middle Plantation (Williamsburg), Virginia on Christmas Day 1712.  He was the son of Col. John Dabney Pettus and Anne Elizabeth Overton.  The Pettus family emigrated from England to Jamestown about 1648. 

Thomas married Amey Ann Walker in 1735 and they settled in Lunenburg County, eventually becoming parents to six children.  Thomas was a Vestryman for Cumberland Parish and was elected to the House of Burgesses the representative branch of Virginia's government, in 1765.

The House of Burgesses protested the Townshend Act, imposing duties on British Imports to the Colonies.  Because of this, the Governor dissolved the Burgesses in 1769.   The more radical members, under the leadership of Patrick Henry, met at the Apollo Room of The Raleigh Inn, forming an early non-importation association.  Thomas, along with members like Henry and Thomas Jefferson, began communications with other colonies, a step toward unifying the Colonies against Britain.  The Burgesses were again dissolved when they protested the closing of Boston Harbor after the Boston Tea Party, but reassembled in 1774 to form another non-importation association, drafted by George Mason, and introduced by George Washington. 

Because of Thomas's protest of British taxation he is considered a patriot, and his name is on the plaque outside of The Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg.  The title of Colonel is likely honorary, as no record of military service can be found. 

Amey died in 1778 and Thomas in 1780 at the age of 67 in Lunenburg County.  Their burial places are not known. 

The Raleigh Inn, Williamsburg, Virginia


  1. How fun to discover your family's part in such a historical event!

  2. Thomas Pettus, 1712-1780, was my 5th ggf, too. So far as I am aware, nothing on record establishes where he was born. He apparently grew up in New Kent Co., Va., where he was vestryman of Blisland Parish. His parents were John and Ann Pettus, but their identities are uncertain, so far as I am concerned.

    The earliest Pettus in Virginia seems to have been Theodore Pettus, who is on record as having arrived at James City in 1623. His older brother Thomas arrived around 1631.

    After over 40 years of research, I finally published my two-volume book on the Pettus family in 2011 and 2013. I am now creating a website to present some key findings of my research, corrections to my book, later findings, and to refute some misinformation I have found in various secondary sources.