Francis Eppes, Burgess from Charles City

Francis Eppes, son of John and Thomazine (Fisher) Eppes, was baptized 14 May 1597 in Ashford, Kent, England.  The exact date of his arrival in Virginia is unknown, but he may have come to VA on the Hopewell, for he later named his plantation on the south side of the James River “Hopewell.”  The Hopewell brought passengers to Virginia in May 1622, November 1623, and May/June 1624.  Incomplete passenger lists exist for the 1623 and 1624 arrivals, but none for 1622.  It is probable that he arrived in 1622 because his brother William arrived in VA on the William & Thomas in 1618.  Francis was certainly a resident of Virginia before April 1625 when he was elected from Shirley Hundred to sit in the Assembly at James City on 10 May 1625.

Eppes was appointed Commissioner for the Upper Parts of the Colony in 1626 and Commander of forces with Captain Thomas Pawlett when they attacked the Weyanoke and Appomattox Indians in 1627.  He was also a member of the Assembly in 1628, by which time he himself held the rank of Captain.

Francis Eppes, as well as his wife and two young sons, must have returned to England a few years after coming to Virginia as there is no record of him in Virginia between March 1629 and February 1632.  On 8 September 1630 Thomas, the third son of Francis Eppes and Marie, was born in London.  Eppes was back in Virginia by February 1632 serving as a member of the House of Burgesses for Shirley Hundred.

 In 1635 Capt. Francis Eppes was granted 1700 acres in Charles City County on the Appomattox River for the transportation of thirty persons plus his three sons—John, Francis, and Thomas—and himself. This land is the present site of the city of Hopewell.  A portion of this tract, owned by the Eppes family of “Appomattox Manor,” remained in the family until 1978; it was acquired by the National Park Service in 1979.  Until that time it was the oldest plantation in VA still in the hands of descendants of the original owner.

Eppes is found on a list of the “Names of the cheifest … planters that hath both ventured theire Lives & estates for the plantation of Virginia.”  Although the list is undated, it was apparently drawn up circa 1635. 

The maiden name of his wife, Marie, is not proven; but circumstantial evidence suggests she was the daughter of Captain Thomas Pawlett of Charles City.  In January 1626 Francis Eppes testified in the controversy between Mr. Thomas Pawlett and the Rev. Greville Pooley, and in his will dated January 1644 Captain Pawlett named Francis Eppes as one of the overseers of his will and left him his drum.  Pawlett left to Mrs. Eppes his Bible and 20 shillings to buy a mourning ring in his memory, and his “Godson” Francis Eppes was also named in his will.

Capt. Eppes also owned land on Shirley Hundred Island, now named Eppes Island, in 1644.  He served in the House of Burgesses for Charles City in 1640 and 1656 and was a member of the Council in 1652.  He consolidated his land in a 1668 patent for 1980 acres and died before 30 September 1674 when his son and heir John Eppes renewed the patent in his own name.

Francis and Marie Eppes left three sons:  (1) John, born 1626, who married Mary Kent and had sons Francis, John, William, Edward, and Daniel; (2) Francis, born 1628, who married 1st — and had Francis and 2nd Mrs. Elizabeth (Littlebury) Worsham and had William, Littlebury, and Mary; and (3) Thomas, born 1630, who married Elizabeth and left sons Thomas and John.

First Mississippi Company Descendants of Colonel Francis Epps: Sharron Hailey Baird, Better Carter McSwain