In his article on the Sanders of Stafford, Fairfax, and Loudoun Counties in Virginia, Jim Sanders mentions several lawsuits in Fairfax County, Virginia, involving Francis Sanders, Daniel Sanders, and Lewis Sanders, Jr. Based on our research, Jim and I assume these men were brothers and sons of Lewis Sanders, Sr., who is believed to have been our immigrant ancestor. The evidence that Daniel and Lewis were sons is likely because of family tradition and documents that show they had mutual business dealings. Though there is no family tradition about Francis, Jr., being a son of Lewis, he also had business dealings with the others and he was a chain carrier for a land survey Daniel Sanders registered in 1745, hence our assumption that Francis was also a son. To add to the family tree, there is also a document from 1753 that names Moses and Aaron as sons of Francis Sanders. We cannot be certain that these two sons are the brothers Moses and Aaron who appear in the 1770s in Montgomery County, North Carolina, but we do have Y-DNA evidence that the Sanders of Montgomery County in North Carolina are part of the same Sanders line as Lewis Sanders of Fairfax, Virginia.
From the court cases that Jim examined,
the brothers--Francis, Daniel, and Lewis,
Jr.--encountered financial problems, probably
caused by crop failures. Francis had assisted Daniel with his
land survey and acquistion in 1745, and the two probably farmed
the land together. At least, this is what we think happened. What we
know is that in June, 1750 William Wallace sued Francis and
Daniel Sanders for 1356 pounds of tobacco. Apparently, they had not
paid for their seed or other agricultural necessities in a timely
manner. Wallace prevailed in court and the Sanders
were charged interest from June of 1747. On the same day of the suit
against Francis and
Daniel, John Pagan, a
merchant of Fairfax County, sued Lewis Sanders, Jr., for 388 pounds of
tobacco; from this, it appears the three sons of Lewis
Sanders Senior were sued
on the same day by two different merchants.
Further, in January of 1752 Robert and Edward Maxwell, merchants of Fairfax, sued Francis Sanders and Lewis Sanders. Though there is no indication given, the suit was probably against the younger Lewis, not his father. It is possible that additional Sanders brothers were farming together for in December 1754 the estate of Richard Shore sued Francis and James Sanders for two pounds in currency. William Janney, a well-known Quaker in the community, was their bail. The suit carried interest from January of 1752, the date of the causal factor for the suit. Francis had leased property from Mahlon Janney in 1753 and this relationship may account for William Janney being the bail for Francis and James. We are unable to determine how this James Sanders is related to the other Sanders; he could be another brother of Francis or a cousin or other relative. In addition, Francis Sanders, individually, was sued by the estate of Richard Shore on the same day and pled not guilty and requested a jury trial. He did not appear for the trial.
In 1755 Francis and Fernando O’
Neale, along with Joseph
Phillips and Marty Connel, were sued by the estate of William Maddie.
Moses and Sarah Sanders, Phillips, Connel and O’
Neal are connected in another action in 1764. Sarah Sanders is probably
the widow of Francis Sanders and the mother of Moses. Whether
Fernando O'Neale has any non-business connection to the Sanders family
is not known, but he seems to have been associated with the Sanders for
several years. In July of 1756 Francis Hague, a Quaker, sued Francis
Sanders. In this case,
Francis Sanders prevailed and his costs were borne by the
plaintiff. In May/June 1757, Francis was noted in a lawsuit
Murry. Francis Sanders prevailed and was awarded two pounds and five
shillings and six pence and one hundred pounds of tobacco.
Jim Sanders and I think Francis Sanders died about 1761. Sarah Sanders is listed alone in a tax record in 1762, and in 1765, Sarah Sanders is referred to as a widow. We assume this is the same person, though there is a possibility that the widow Sanders could be someone other than the surviving wife of Fancis. The children of Francis continue to appear in some court cases in the 1760s but not after 1770, hence our belief that they moved to North Carolina, stopping in Brunswick and Halifax counties in Virginia. It was in Brunswick County that Moses Sanders met his future wife, Mary Hamilton.
Lawsuits such as the ones mentioned above were common in colonial America and their existence does not necessarily indicate that the Sanders brothers of Fairfax were particuarly inept at farming or that the suits against them were meritorious. Arrest warrants were often used to make sure that people would show up for the court case. Land was the main form of wealth and disputes over land and mortgages were frequent. Though we often do not know the final disposition of some cases or the merits of the arguments on either side, court cases such as these occasionally enable us to determine family relationships or to decide whether someone was still alive at a particular time.
Though Jim Sanders found the preceding cases recorded on microfilm and we discussed their implications for Sanders genealogy, he and I never even thought about the possibility that any of the original documents themselves could be anywhere but in a government repository.Therefore, it was something of a surprise when in August 2018, I received an e-mail from Dennis Dutterer, a collector of colonial Virginia documents and artifacts. Dennis explained,
"I have come across for sale two arrest warrants 1749/50 issued to the Sheriff of Fairfax County for the arrest of Francis and Daniel Sanders of Fairfax. I see that you posted notes relating to your family research.I have not read all of the note, but I saw a reference to a William Wallace suing Francis and Daniel in 1750 for 1400 pounds of tobacco. Without further inspection of the records, it really sounds like the two arrest warrants are related to this lawsuit...They are being offered at an auction this weekend in a group of a few other similar early documents."
Dennis later sent further elaboration:Here is the auction house description of the lot of items for sale: