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Some Descendants of "Dr." John Woodson

First Generation


1. "Dr." John Woodson 1, 2 was born in 1586 in Dorchester, Devonshire, ENG. He died 3 on 18 Apr 1644 in Fleur de Hundred, Prince George Co., VA.

[Brderbund WFT Vol. 4, Ed. 1, Tree #1649]
Dr. John Woodson was born in the year 1586 in Devonshire, England. He married Sarah Winston who was born in the year of 1590, also in Devonshire, England. Dr. John Woodson came to Jamestown as a surgeon with Sir George Yeardly. The young couple embarked on the ship GEORGE, January 29, 1619 and landed in Jamestown, Virginia in April 1619. (This was one year before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Mass. on the Mayflower.)

Dr. John Woodson located at Flowerdew Hundred (also called Fleur de Hundred, Flour De Hundred, or Piersey's Hundred), which is on the south side of the James River some thirty miles above Jamestown, in what is now Prince George County. Two Woodson sons were born at Flowerdew Hundred; John born in 1632 and Robert born in 1637.

In 1632, Dr. Woodson was listed as the Surgeon of the Flour De Hundred Colony in Virginia. On April 19, 1644, Dr. Woodson was killed in sight of his house by Indians, who had called him out apparently to see the sick. After killing him, they attacked his home which was successfully defended by his wife and a shoemaker named Ligon. Ligon killed seven of the Indians with and old muzzleloading gun eight feet long, now one of the prized possessions of the Virginia Historical Society. Mrs. Sarah Woodson killed two Indians who came down the chimney; One with boiling water and one with a roasting spit. The boys, John and Robert, were concealed during the attack under a tub and in a potato pit, respectively.

The Indians were led by Chief Opechancano, who was the son of Powhaten and had killed 300 settlers on April 18, the day before. Opechancano had also led the Massacres of 1622 at Martin's Hundred. Several weeks later Opechancano was captured by the colonists and executed. The Indians were permanently driven out of that part of Virginia as a result of the uprisings of 1644.

Dr. John Woodson is the progenitor of the Woodson Family in America. Among his descendants are Dolley Todd Madison, wife of President James Madison and the famous outlaw Jesse Woodson James.

Graduated from St. John's College, Oxford, 1604; came to Virginia in the "George", 1619.

Dr. John Woodson attended Cambridge. Sarah was a Quaker, and rather than make her give up her religion, he immigrated with her to the colonies.

Dr. John Woodson's father died in Bristol, England. John was his fourth son.

"John Woodson came to Virginia in the George, which left England January 29, 1619, bearing the new Governor, Sir George Yardley, and about one hundred passengers" (Genealogies of Virginia Families, From the William and Mary Quarterly Historical Magazine, Volume V, Thompson-Yates (and Appendix), Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1982).

Arrived in Virginia on ship "George" in 1619. Survivor of Indian massacre, March 22, 1622. Killed in Indian massacre, April 18, 1644 within site of his own home, (Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 20, 1976, p3-8)

Flower de Hundred, sometimes called Peirsey's Hundred was on the south side of the James River. Curls (or Curles) was a plantation on the north side of the James River, above Flower de Hundred. (Genealogies of Virginia Families, From the William and Mary Quarterly Historical Magazine, Volume V, Thompson-Yates (and Appendix), Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1982)

The following story was sent by William Stephen Woodson:
(please excuse any prejudicial remarks)

"There are many stories told about these Woodson, like the one about Dr. John Woodson and his family in April 1644. There was an Indian uprising during which the savages made a sudden attack on Fleur de Hundred. Dr. Woodson, returning from visiting his patients was killed as he returned home. His wife and two children were alone in the house with the exception of an old schoolmaster. Their only weapon was a huge old-fashioned gun which the schoolmaster used so effectively that at the first fire he killed three Indians and at the second, two. Meanwhile two Indians tried to come down the chimney to the house. Mrs. Woodson seized a pot of boiling water from the fire and scalded the first; she snatched up the iron spit from the fireplace and with it brained the second. The howling savages began to retreat, but the schoolmaster fired a last shot, killing two more of the enemy.

Then the mother called the two little boys from their hiding places: the ten-year old had been concealed under a large wash tub and the twelve-year old crawled out from a hole in which potatoes were stored in winter.

Even today when there is a gathering of Woodsons, a favorite question is, 'Are you a wash-tub Woodson or a potato-hole?'

In the early part of the 16th century, one of Dr. Woodson's ancestors was granted a coat of arms by Henry VIII; along with this privilege came the right 'to bear arms.' Nothing was said about his wife's right, though!"

From "Adventurers of Purse and Person":
JOHN WOODSON and his wife Sarah came to VA, 1619, in the George and settled at Flowerdew Hundred, known by Feb. 1624/5, when the muster was taken, as Peirsey's Hundred. They had been fellow passengers on the ship with Governor Sir George Yeardley and his wife Temperance Flowerdew, Lady Yeardley. No further documentary evidence has been found relating to them until 1660. a family account written about 1785 by Charles Woodson (1711-~1795), son of Tarleton Woodson, however, survives and supplies details which link the first generations of Woodsons and Robert Woodson, John Woodson, Senr., and John Woodson, Junr." who were among the tithables at Curles, 1679.

Tradition states that John Woodson was killed in the Indian massacre of 18 April 1644. His children were very young and Mrs. Sarah Woodson soon remarried (2) ___ Dunwell, who died leaving her with a daughter Elizabeth, and (3) ___ Johnson. As a widow again she left a combination inventory and nuncupative will which was recorded 17 Jan 1660/1. This made bequests to John Woodson, Robert Woodson, Deborah Woodson (apparently under age) and Elizabeth Dunwell (under age). John Woodson was the implied executor.

The family record of 1785, with no evidence to the contrary presented during two centuries, has posited this descent: issue: John, Robert, Deborah, left a cow and a feather bed by her mother, not mentioned in the 1785 account.

"Woodsons and Their Connections", Henry Morton WOODSON, 1915
excerpts from that book. ---Lorraine (KWDLAD@aol.com)

"1604-5 1 March, St. Johns, JOHN WOODSONNE; Bristol, gent. f. matriculated age 18". Meaning that our Dr. John Woodson graduated from St. Johns College in Bristol England in 1604 (before coming to America in 1619).

"On the 29th day of January, 1619, the Ship 'George' sailed from England and in the following April landed at Jamestown, Virginia. This vessel brought the new governor, Sir George Yeardley and about one hundred passengers; among whom were Dr. John Woodson, of Dorsetshire, and his wife Sara, whom he married in Devonshire.
Dr. John Woodson came in the capacity of surgeon to a company of soldiers who were sent over for the better protection of the colonists; for the Indians about this time were scowling and seemed disposed to resent further encroachments of the white man. Dr. John Woodson was a man of high character and of great value to the young colony. He was born 1586, in Devonshire, England.

Like other young gentlement of his time, he, no doubt had a desire to see the new country in which the Virginia Company of London had planted their colony a dozen years previously: so at the age of 33 he, with his young wife, Sara, embarked on the ship George and landed at Jamestown, Apr. 1619.

Sometime in 1620 a black looking vessel landed at Jamestown, having on board about 20 negro captives whom the Dutch skipper had kidnapped somewhere on the coast of Africa. These were sold to the colonists as slaves and found to be quite profitable in the cultivation of tobacco which was the staple crop at that time.

Dr. John Woodson, at this time or shortly afterwards, bought six of these Africans who were registered in 1623 as part of his household, and simply as Negars, without giving them any names."

Dr. John Woodson located at Fleur de Hundred, or, as it was sometimes called, Piersey's Hundred, some 30 miles above Jamestown on the south side of James River in what is now Prince George County. He and his wife, and their 6 negro slaves were registered at Fleur de Hundred in Feb. 1623. It was, no doubt, at this place that their two sons, John and Robert), was born."

March 1622 was the first attack by indians made on the Jamestown colony killing hundreds. The colonists retaliated and drove the indians deeper into the wilderness.
"Twenty two years had passed and the fire of revenge was still smouldering in the heart of the bloodthirsty chief, Opechankano, who had matured another scheme for slaughtering the whites.

"On the 18th day of April 1644, the Indians made a sudden attack upon the settlements and killed about 300 of the colonists before they were repulsed.
"At this time Dr. John Woodson's two sons, John and Roberts, were respectively 12 and 10 years of age.

"There is a cherished family tradition that, on the day of this second massacre, Dr. John Woodson, while returning from visiting a patient, was killed by the Indians in sight of his home. The Indians then attacked the house which was barred against them and defended by his wife, Sara and a man named Ligon (a shoemaker) who happened to be there at the moment. The only weapon they had was an old time gun which Ligon handled with deadly effect. At the first fire he killed 3 Indians, and two at the second shot. In the meantime 2 Indians essayed to come down through the chimney; but the brave Sara scalded one of them to death with a pot of boiling water which stood on the fire: then seizing the iron roasting spit with both hands, she brained the other Indian, killing him instantly.

"The howling mob on the outside took fright and fled; but Ligon fired the 3rd time and killed 2 more, making 9 in all.

"At the first alarm, Mrs. Woodson had hidden her two boys, one under a large washtub and the other in a hole where they were accustomed to keep potatoes during the winter, hoping in this way to save them in the event the Indians succeeded in entering the rude log cabin in which they lived.

"From this circumstance, for several generations, the descendants of one of these boys was called "Tub Woodsons" and those of the other were designated as "Potato Hole Woodsons."

"The old gun which rendered such valuable service on that dreadful 18th day of April, 1644, is still in the possession of the descendants of the late Charles Woodson, of Prince Edward County. Mr. C. W. Venable, late of that county, writing of it says: 'The gun is, by exact measurement, seven feet six inches in length, and the bore is so large that I can easily put my whole thumb into it. when first made it was 8 feet long, but on account of some injury it was sent to England to be repaired and the gunsmith cut off 6 inches of the barrell.'

"As if to commemorate his bravery on this historic occation, the name of Ligon was rudely carved upon the stock. The gun is now (1915) in the possession of Mr. Wm. V. Wilson, a prominant lawyer of Lynchburg, VA."

The gun has been proved to have been made in the 1700's.

John married Sarah Winston 1 daughter of Winston in 1619 in Dorsetshire, ENG. Sarah was born in 1590 in Devonshire, ENG. She died in 1660 in Henrico Co., VA.

NOTE: Last name not verified by any legal document.

They had the following children:

+ 2 M i John Woodson Jr. was born in 1632. He died in Sep 1684.
+ 3 M ii Col. Robert Woodson was born in 1634. He died in 1716.
  4 F iii Deborah Woodson was born about 1636.

No proof of her existance has been found.

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