Lt. William Lewis (1733 - November 17, 1779)
William Lewis was the son of Robert and Jane Meriwether Lewis, thus a first cousin of Lucy’s father. He had grown up in great prosperity as his father had several land grants totaling 21,600 acres in the Albemarle County area as well as an interest in 100,000 acres in Greenbrier County (now West Virginia) (Anderson, p. 26) enabling him to leave each of his children a portion of his holdings. William Lewis received 1,896 acres on Ivy Creek (600 of which he later sold) and the slaves to work it. He was considered a reasonably prosperous planter. No doubt tobacco was his main crop as that was the prime crop through the 17th and early 18th century in Albemarle (Moore, p. 31). As the soil became depleted of its nutrients, grains began to be grown, but they could not produce the fortunes that tobacco had.
William Lewis married Lucy Meriwether in 1768 or 1769.
He was an active participant in militia excursions in Virginian in 1775:
- Marched with 27 other men under Lt. George Gilmer to Williamsburg to resist Lord Dunmore’s theft of the colony’s supply of powder.
- Appointed First Lieutenant of the 1st company of Albemarle Minute Men under his brother, Capt. Nicholas Lewis
- With six other companies under Col. Meredith’s command pursued Lord Dunmore who had taken refuge on Gwyn’s Island.
- He also was the third signer of Albemarle County Declaration of Independence (Anderson, p. 115)
He served in the Continental Line in the American Revolution without pay and bearing his own expenses.* Many years after his death, his heirs were granted bounty lands as payment for his military service of seven and one-half years and one month (this included the years he was in the Virginia militia). These bounty lands were lost through a dishonest agent who sold them for the heirs and then absconded with the monies. (Anderson, p. 115) Lt. Lewis’ service was limited to Virginia. Although family history states that Lt. Lewis participated in the siege of Yorktown, Virginia (1781), recent research indicates that Lt. Lewis died in 1779 and thus, could not have been at Yorktown. *There is also a question as to whether he served only in the Virginia Militia and not in the Continental Line. (Benson, deed records)
William Lewis died on a visit to his family at “Locust Hill”. While crossing the Rivanna River when it was in flood, his horse was swept away and drowned. He swam ashore but came down with a bad chill and died of pneumonia. He was buried at “Clover Fields,” his wife’s family home. He left “his plantation, £520 in cash and various chattels. The estate inventory included 24 slaves and 147 gallons of whisky. According to Isaac Weld, a traveler from Dublin, who wrote of his perceptions of life in Albemarle County, “almost all families have stills” and the drink of choice was peach brandy. (Weld, pp. 85-86)
Most of William Lewis’ estate went to his eldest son, Meriwether, under Virginia law of primogeniture. His widow Lucy, however, retained dower rights. (Bakeless, p. 13) The law defined dower rights as one-third of the estate for the duration of her life-time.
William and Lucy Lewis had four children:
- Jane M. Lewis (March 31, 1770 - March 13, 1845) married Edmund Anderson (1763 -1810), her first cousin in 1785. He was the son of David and Elizabeth Anderson of Hanover County. G. R. Gilmer’s opinion of Edmund was “[his] drunken spendthrift habits brought [the] family to poverty” (Gilmer p. 84). They lived on a plantation in Hanover County (he inherited 310 acres) and had nine children. Edmund seemed to have entrepreneurial impulses but had little success in business: “His schemes are as transient as they are suddon [sic]. (Meriwether Lewis letter, Special Collection, UVA Library) Sometime later, the Anderson family returned to Albemarle County and lived at “Locust Hill.”
- Lucinda, the second daughter (b. 1772) died as an infant.
- Meriwether Lewis (August 18, 1774 - October 17, 1809) was private secretary to President Jefferson and was appointed to command the Lewis and Clark Exploration of the Missouri and Columbia Rivers. He was also governor of Louisiana. He died unmarried. Meriwether inherited “Locust Hill” when his father died. He moved to Georgia with his mother and step-father, John Marks, and spent much of his childhood there. He returned to Albemarle County for schooling with Dr. Charles Everitt, a physician, Parson Matthew Maury, and then Rev. James Waddell, a Presbyterian minister who ran an Episcopal parish. His uncle, Nicholas Lewis, and his cousin, William D. Meriwether, acted as guardians for the young Meriwether. He lived in William Meriwether’s home, “Clover Fields.”
- Reuben Lewis (February 14, 1777 - February 17, 1844). He married his first cousin, Mildred Dabney in 1822, but had no children. He was an Indian agent to the Mandans and Cherokees on the Arkansas River and a fur trader on the Missouri and Columbia Rivers. (Ann Sale Dahl). He died at his home, “Valley Point,” near Ivy, Virginia.
Patricia Zontine, April 2009