John Milam Sr's Early Life in Brunswick & Chesterfield Counties

The early life of John Milam, Sr. (ca 1718 - 1789) has been confused by 1) mis-information e.g. that he lived in Louisa County and 2) lack of information e.g. ignorance of the years he and his sons were in Brunswick and Chesterfield County, Virginia. Since this John is one of the Patriarchs of the Colonial Virginia MILAMs, it is important that we make every effort to get the chronology of his life correct. Also Y-DNA genetic studies show that his descendants and those of the other Virginia Patriarch, Thomas Milam (ca 1716 - 1775) are extremely closely related. So if we can learn the early life of one, it may lead us to the early life of the other.



COURT ORDER BOOK 3 (28 SEP 1749 - DEC 1750)

Knowing that there was a Brunswick County court order for a John Milam as early as 30 JUL 1752, I decided to start reading much earlier on 28 SEP 1749 so that I wouldn’t miss any MILAM records. This was some eleven years before John Milam’s Chesterfield County Deed of 7 NOV 1760. It turned out that there were no orders for any MILAM during these years.



I began reading Order Book 4 on page 1, dated 26 MAR 1751. Through the end of Book 4 in June 1753, I found one record which is the earliest for any MILAM in Brunswick County.

30 JUL 1752, page 311: “The Petition of John Milam against Joseph Hamilton is Dismissed being agreed by the parties.”



I continued searching for MILAMs with the first page of Order Book 5 dated 24 JUL 1753 and found these records:

26 DEC 1753, page 98: “David Anderson plt against John Milam deft: The Defendant not being arrested, on the motion of the Plaintiff by his attorney an Alias Capias is awarded him returnable to the next court."

{Alias Capias was a second writ of a particular type issued in the same case. In this case it was a writ notifying the John Milam, the defendant, to defend Anderson's suit.}

{ *** John Milam Jr. (son of John Milam Sr.) stated in his Revolutionary War pension application that he was born in 1753 in Brunswick County, Virginia. This was John's 7th or 8th child.

24 JAN 1754, page 158: “John Overby plt against Edward Milam deft: The Defendant not being arrested, on the motion of the Plaintiff by his attorney, an attachment issue against his Estate for Ten Pounds and Cost returnable to the next court.”

{ This is the first record for an Edward Milam. This court case means that Edward is at least 21 years old and is a free man. So if John Milam’s birth ca 1718 is about right, John was ~ 36 years old - NOT old enough to have a son 21 years of age or older! So perhaps John Milam was born five years earlier than previously reckoned. In addition, £10 is a significant debt - for comparison, John Milam will pay £50 in 1760 for 100 acres of land in Chesterfield County.}

24 JAN 1754, page 159: “David Anderson plt against John Milam deft: The Defendant not being arrested, on the motion of the Plaintiff by his attorney a Pluries Capias is awarded him returnable to the next court.” 

{ Pluries Capias is issued after multiple previous writs were ineffective.}

28 MAY 1754, page 189: “Charles Hayes plt against John Millam deft: Upon a petition for three pounds six shillings due by promissory note. The Defendant having been duly summons and not appearing, it is Considered by the court that the Plaintiff recover against him Debt aforesaid in the said petition mentioned and his Costs.”

{ The spelling of John’s surname, “Millam”, means nothing since different Clerk of Courts – spelling phonetically - spelled names differently. I have discussed the Milam name here (link) .}

30 MAY 1754, page 206: “John Overby plt against Edward Milam deft: In case. Dismissed being agreed.”

30 MAY 1754, page 207: “David Anderson plt against John Milam deft: In debt. The Defendant not being yet arrested, on the motion of the plaintiff by his Attorney, It is ordered that an attachment issue against his Estate for ______ Pounds and Costs returnable next Court.”

25 JUN 1754, page 238: “David Anderson plt against John Milam deft: In debt. The attachment awarded against the Defendant’s Estate being returned on two pewter Spoons by the Sheriff of this County and he not appearing…. It is considered by the Court that the Plaintiff recover against him Eighteen pounds one shilling Current Money, the Debt in the Declaration mentioned and the Costs by him in this expended. And the said Defendant in Mercy etc. But this Judgment, the Costs excepted, is to be discharged by the payment of five pounds 11 shillings and four pence three farthing with Interest thereon after the rate of five percent per annum to be computed from the ninth day of December 1750 to the Time of Payment. And it is ordered that the Sheriff make the Sale of the Spoons according to Law and return an account thereof to the Court." 

{ From this order we learn that John Milam lived in Brunswick County since before December 1750. This is why I started reading on court day 28 SEP 1748. }

24 JUL 1754, page 270: “David Anderson plt against John Milam deft: In debt. The Sheriff having returned an account of Sale of attached Effects amounting to three pence. It is ordered that he pay the same to the Plaintiff toward satisfying his Judgment.”

25 SEP 1754, page 295: “William Hamilton who as well for Our Lord the King against John Milam deft: In debt. The Defendant not being arrested, On the motion of the Plaintiff’s Attorney, an Alias Capias is awarded against him returnable next Court.”

28 JAN 1755, page 355: “William Hamilton who as well etc., etc ...against John Milam deft: In debt. By Consent of the Parties and the Attorney for Our Lord the King, It is ordered that this Suit be Dismissed.”

There were no more orders for any MILAM through the end on page 541, dated DEC 1756.



I found no orders for any MILAM in Order Book 6 from the beginning on page 1 dated 29 JAN 1756 through the end on page 213 dated in February 1757.



I continued searching for MILAMs with the first page of Order Book 7 dated 26 APR 1757. Book 7 ends on page 431, 22 NOV 1759. I note that a “James Milham, Merchant”, appears on pages 271 and 294. The James Milam who is recorded later in Chesterfield County was never idntified as “Merchant” so I highly doubt these are the same men.



Page 1 is dated 5 FEB 1760. I found no orders for any Milam in the 97 pages of this order book that are available. This book ends abruptly on 22 SEP 1760, the next page is marked "page 99" and is dated 22 JAN 1783. I note there is a “John Mailin, Gentleman, Major of the Militia of this County” mentioned on page 75. { These records were apparently destroyed by fire or perhaps during the Civil War. }



I began reading on page 1 of this book which begins on 5 FEB 1765 - so 4 1/2 years of records between 22 SEP 1760 and 5 FEB 1765 are missing.

30 MAY 1765, page 252: “Adam Milam against Benjamin Seaward - Debt. Defendant not guilty. Milam to pay defendant’s costs.”


{ From this entry we know that Adam Milam must have been at least 21 years old at the time and a free man, not an indentured servant. This mean that Adam must have been born by 1744. }

30 MAY 1765, page 256: “Ordered that Adam Milam pay unto Isaac Marshat 400 pounds of tobacco for his 16 days  attendance as Witness.”

30 MAY 1765, page 257: “Samuel Lanier and Elizabeth, his wife, against Adam Milam. In case: referred to the determination of Richard Hill, Gray Bridge and Daniel Fisher and their award to be made the judgment of the Court.”

23 JUL 1765, page 313: “Adam Milam for taking up a Runaway having been made. An Oath to the same. Ordered to be Certified.”

__ ___ ____, page 474: “Ordered that John Williams pay unto Adam Milam 50 pounds of tobacco for two days attendance at Court.”


Brunswick County Order Book Records Complete through July 1765.



27 NOV 1760, page 579: Richard Ledbetter of Dinwiddie County to John Williams of Brunswick. 99 acres. Wittness: Charles Floyd, William Bryant, Adam Milam. Proved 26 JAN 1761


24 SEP 1763, page 3560. John Hamilton of Brunswick County to Benjamin Ezell of same. 100 acres. Witnesses: Allen Love, Roger Tilman, Adam (A) Milam. Proved SEP 1763



30 OCT 1766, page 448: John (R) Ray Sr of Merhyerrin Parish in Brunswick County to William Ray of said parish. 150 acres. Wittnesses: Adam Milam, William Smith, John Wrey. Proved 23 FEB 1767.




I began reading Order Book 3 at its beginning on page 1, 1 JUN 1759 – more than a year before John Milam’s land purchase deed on 31 OCT 1760. I have made images of the orders I found as documentation.



7 NOV 1760, page 86: “A Deed from John Tillotson to John Milam was proved….

6 MAR 1761, page 116: “Charles Cheatham vs Samuel Milam, Petition. Defendant to pay 2 pounds and 9 shillings money & cost….

{ From this entry we know that Samuel Milam must have been at least 21 years old at the time and a free man, not an indentured servant. This mean that Samuel must have been born by 1740. }

5 JUN 1761, page 132: “John Milam vs William Gordon, Trial. Milam to receive 10 pounds money for damages & cost….

5 JUN 1761, page 133: “John Milam to pay Nathaniel Macy and Robert Franklyn (witnesses) for 9 days attendance at trial, 225 pounds of tobacco each…."

5 JUN 1761, page 137: “Hanah Rudd vs Jamestown Hatcher and John Milam, Debt. Defendants to pay 4 pounds and 16 shillings money & costs….

7 MAY 1762, page 215: “Ordered that the male laboring Tithables of Thomas Branch, John Milam, …., …., James Milam do work on the Highway under Cole.”

{ That James Milam had “Tithables” indicates that he had land to work and was at least 21 years old at the time. Since there is no deed for him, he must have been leasing land. Also a road order mean that these men lived along this highway - relatively close to each other. This means that James must have been born by 1741. }

4 JUN 1762, page 227: “Aurthor Moseley vs John Milam, Petition, the Defendant not appear….the Plaintiff to recover three pounds and fifteen shillings current money & costs…”

4 JUN 1762, page 228: “William Jenkins vs Samuel Milam, Petition, the Defendant not appearing….the Plaintiff recover two pounds and eight shillings current money & costs…”

6 MAY 1763, page 404: “Grand Jury Presentation:….Samuel Milam for retailing Liquors contrary to the law by the information of Henry Turpin, Jr.”

{Samuel wasn't the only one accused of retailing liquor.}

7 MAY 1763, page 411: “John Milam, a witness for William Gordon plaintiff against John Chotwood defendant, failing to appear. Ordered that he make his fine with the payment of three hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco for the use of the said William Gordon….”

3 JUN 1763, page 421: “Samuel Milam plaintiff vs Jamestown Hatcher defendant. Debt. Dismissed.”

1 JUL 1763, page 435: “Samuel Milam vs Henry Turpin, Jr, Petition. Judgment for 30 shillings and 7 pence & costs."

18 AUG 1763, page 446: “James Milam, plaintiff, vs Ann Hatcher, Petition. Judgment for plaintiff of three pounds current money & costs.”

15 SEP 1763, page 462: ”On hearing the complaint of Sarah Milam against Charles Cheatham, ordered that said Charles give Surety for keeping the peace. There upon the said Charles with James Robinson & Mathew Turpin his Sureties acknowledged themselves severally indebted to the our lord the King, the said Charles in the penalty of £ 50 and the said James and Mathew in the sum of £ 25 each of their respective goods is to be levied; but upon the condition that if the said Charles shall be of good behavior for the space of one year next ensuing, then this recognizance to be void.”

16 FEB 1764, page 477: “Ann Hatcher vs James Milam. Petition. Dismissed.”

18 FEB 1764, page 489: “Charles Cheatham, plaintiff, vs Samuel Milam, defendant. Case. Plaintiff not proceeding. Non suited.”

15 MAR 1764, page 496: “John Locket, plaintiff, vs John Milam, defendant. Petition. The defendant not appearing….the said Plaintiff to recover…four pounds, nine shillings current money & costs.”

4 APR 1764, page 519: “Ordered that the Attachment brought by James Milam against Ann Hatcher be dismissed as to Gerald Walthall, one of the garnishees.”

1 JUN 1764, page 530: “A Deed John Milam to Thomas Womack proved by the oath of John Gammon, Edith Womack & Joel Womack witnesses thereto…”

{ Please note that there is no mention of John Milam’s wife or his wife’s dower suggesting that she had died by then. }

JUL 1764, page 566: “Samuel Milam and his wife, Sarah, Plaintiffs, vs Charles Cheatham, defendant. This day came the parties by their attorneys and thereupon came our Jury….who do say the Defendant is guilty in manner and form the plaintiffs…declared…and set the damages at Thirty shillings current money….”

{ This entry clearly states that Samuel Milam's wife was named Sarah. }


As you have read, colonial times were very litigious because more than 75% of new arrivals came as indentured servants. All the Virginia Milams were involved in lawsuits for debt, both as plaintiffs and as defendants. John Milam and sons was no different than Thomas Milam and his sons in Orange and Bedford Counties - as was the case for the vast majority of Virginians. I discuss court days here (link) .


Chesterfield County Records Complete through July 1764.

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