Person:James Finley (46)

James Finley
d.Bef 22 Aug 1785
m. 10 Jan 1705/06
  1. James FinleyEst 1708 - Bef 1785
  2. Robert Finley1710 - Bef 1763
  3. William Finley1711/12 - Bef 1789
  4. John Finley1724 - Bef 1782
  1. John Armour FinleyBef 1745 -
  2. David FinleyBef 1748 -
  3. Robert FinleyBef 1750 - Bef 1775
  4. Samuel FinleyBef 1750 -
  5. Elizabeth FinleyBef 1754 -
Facts and Events
Name James Finley
Gender Male
Birth? Est 1708 Of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania
Marriage to Agnes Unknown
Death? Bef 22 Aug 1785

James Finley was one of the Early Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia


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Early Land Acquisition in Augusta County, VA

James Finley acquired land in 1763 from his brother, Robert Finley as his heir-in-law, then sold the land as described in the following transaction from Chalkley's:

  • Page 208.--18th August, 1765. James Finley, heir-at-law and administrator of estate of Robert Finley, and Agness ( ) to James Huston, £28, 37 acres woodland in Beverley Manor on the Chesnut Ridge, part of 155 acres of woodland surveyed to Robert, 22d February, 1753, joining Felix Gilbert and William Preston; also 1/4 of an acre lot in Staunton, No. 13, opposite the lots of George Wilson and Samuel Moor. Delivered: Thos. Smith, 25th September, 1772. (Note: as "heir-at-law" of Robert Finley, James Finley was likely his eldest living sibling).
  • Page 173.--20th May, 1766. James Finley, of Staunton, farmer, and Agness to Sampson and George Mathews, merchants and partners in Staunton, mortgage, £110. three half lots of land in County lots, lot No. 3, lot No. 4, lot No. 13; also the residue of tract conveyed to James by Beverley, 19th March, 1754, containing 155 acres, part of which was formerly granted to Felix Gilbert. Thomas Stewart and James Huston; also remainder of a lease for 87 acres in Beverley Manor, and described in a lease from James Brown to the said Robert Finley, 16th January, 1754, for the term of 57 years; all which land was conveyed to Robert Finley, late of Augusta County, deceased, and descended to James Finley as his brother and heir-at-law.

Records in Augusta County, VA

From Chalkley’s Augusta County Records:

  • Vol. 1 - NOVEMBER 21, 1766. - (357) James Findley committed to jail for debt. (Note: this record may partially explain James Finley's move to Bedford County, VA).

Carmen Finley Article on Brothers Robert and James Finley of Augusta County, VA


By Carmen J. Finley, Ph.D., C.G.

[Published in The American Genealogist, Vol. 66, No. 4, October 1991, p 239-246]

During the period from the late 1730s through the early 1800s there were numerous Finleys in Augusta Co., Va., many bearing the same given names. For at least three generations the given names of John, James, Robert, George and William appeared with such frequency it is difficult to determine the exact relationships. Some Finleys with identical names seem hopelessly intertwined; others, through careful study and by tracing documents that chain their various locations together, can be identified properly. By accounting for those that can be identified, the overall problem of assigning the various Finleys to the correct family units can be reduced to more manageable units.

A previous paper demonstrated this principle by distinguishing between two George Finleys, both sons of a different John Finley (Carmen J. Finley, "The George Finleys of Augusta County, Va.," TAG 64 [1989]:216-225). The purpose of the present paper is to similarly define the lives of a Robert and a James Finley, brothers. Robert lived in Augusta Co. from the early 1750s until his death in the early 1760s. His brother, James, appeared in Augusta Co. to settle Robert's estate and moved on to Bedford Co., Va., about 1768. By accounting for them, it is possible to reduce the number of remaining records in Augusta Co. belonging to other Roberts and James Finleys.


Finley records first started appearing in Bedford Co. (formed 1753 from Albemarle and Lunenburg Cos.) in 1768. In October of that year, James Finley was exempted from paying levies for the future (Bedford Co. Order Book 3:471). On two occasions shortly later, he appeared in court for having "misbehaved" (Bedford Co. Order Book 3:529, 554). In the second instance Robert and Samuel Finley provided securities in the amount of 10.

Agnes was identified as the wife of James when their daughter, Elizabeth spinster, was named in a marriage bond to Hugh Carr, 15 Sept. 1772 (Earle S. Dennis & Jane E. Smith, Marriage Bonds of Bedford County, Virginia, 1755-1800, [n.p., c1932], hereafter Bedford Co. Marr. Bonds., p. 15).

The first recorded land purchase found for James Finley was 20 July 1778 when he purchased 50 acres from George Walton of Prince Edward Co. This property was described as on a branch of Beaverdam Creek "being the land whereon the sd. James Fendley formerly lived & binding on the sd. Findleys own line," (Bedford Co. LR 6:123). This, of course, implies an earlier purchase for which no record has yet been found. James Finley was also involved in two sales of property prior to this date. On 18 Nov. 177_ sold 161 acres to Samuel Finley "on waters of Cats Creek Beg. at Masons line," (Bedford Co. LR 5:294). A modern day map of Bedford Co. shows Kate's Creek to be a tributary of Beaverdam not far from its confluence with the Roanoke River ("Bedford Co., Virginia," [reprint of the 1931 map by S.S. Lynn amended to show modern routes and sights] [Hamilton, Va., 1986]). James Finley sold a second parcel of 243 acres to Samuel Finley on 18 Dec. 17__ Bedford Co. LR 7:113). This property was referred to as "part of a tract of land granted to Robert Finley by patton [i.e., patent] 1771 being part of a tract of land of 323 a. in Bedford upon N. fork of Beverdam Creek . . ." (Robert Finley had patented 323 acres on the "East branches of Beaver Dam Creek" on 16 March 1771 [Virginia State Land Patents & Grants, 1623-192_ LDS film #7116, part 50, p. 374.]).

James died sometime prior to 22 Aug. 1785, for on that date, John Armour Finley, eldest son and heir at law of James Finley, deceased, refused to administer his father's estate. In his stead, Samuel Finley was granted papers of administration (Bedford Co. Order Book 8:192). Items in his inventory, (i.e., pins, chintz, cambrick, black silk, Irish linen, sundry remnants of ribbon, tape, etc.) strongly suggest he must have been a tailor (Bedford Co. PR Will Book 1:499).

Known children (FINLEY) of James and Agnes (--), b. prob. in Pa.:
2 2 i. JOHN ARMOUR2, b. prob. mid 1740s; m. (1) MARY--, (2) ELIZABETH--, and (3) poss. BETHANY.
3 ii. ELIZABETH m. HUGH CARR, 15 September 1772, (Bedford Co. Marr. Bonds p. 15).
Probable children of James and Agnes Finley include:
4 iii. DAVID, b. prob. in or by 1748.
5 iv. ROBERT, b. prob. by 1750.
6 v. SAMUEL, b. prob. by 1750.

2. JOHN ARMOUR2 FINLEY (James1) was probably born in the mid 1740s inherited property from his "onckall" Robert's estate in 1765 while living in Augusta Co. (Augusta Co. LR 12:400). He was married at least twice a possibly three times. A wife, MARY, mother of daughters Sarah and Elizabeth,was named in 1783 (Bedford Co. LR 7:229). He married ELIZABETH CONN May 1785 (Bedford Co., Va., marr. bond and return, LDS film, Salt Lake City; William Wade Haunch, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 6[Ann Arbor, Mich., 1950]:915). In December 1786, wife BETHANY, was named in a deed transaction (Bedford Co. LR 7:717). (Given the closeness in dates, it is at least possible that Elizabeth and Bethany were the same person.)

On 9 April 1767, shortly after inheriting money from Robert's estate, John Armour Finley "of Albemarle" Co. bought 249 acres on both sides of Rownding Branch for 18 (Albemarle Co. LR 4:358). He must have lived in Albemarle Co. for a relatively short period of time (the property was sold in 1773 [Albemarle Co. LR 6:340]) for within three years of the date of his purchase, he was acquiring property in Bedford Co. Records for the Council of Colonial Virginia show John Armour Fendley in court on 13 June 1770:

John Armour Fendley having entered a Caveat against James Fendley for four hundred Acres in Bedford on Goose Creek, the Plaintif appearing and the Defendant having been summoned and not appearing, it is ordered that the Plaintif have a Patent for the said land.

The same having entered a Caveat against James Fendley and Patrick Evans for two hundred and fifteen Acres in Bedford on the North branch of Bever dam, it is ordered for the same reason that the Plaintif have a Patent for the said land. (Benjamin J. Hillman, ed., Executive Journals, Council of Virginia, 6 [Richmond 1966],:351).

The 215 acres on Beaverdam was patented to John A. Findley on 1 May 1775 (Virginia State Land Office, Patents & Grants Index, Bedford Co., LDS film #0029309).

Further records for John Armour Finley were not found until 1783 when he and his wife, Mary, made a gift of personal property to daughters Sarah, and Elizabeth (Bedford Co. LR 7:229). Also in 1783 he leased 50 acres on Beaverdam to Isaac Berry (Bedford Co. LR 7:231). In April 1785, he deeded 365 acres to Robert Mead (Bedford Co. LR 7:505). In December 1786, John Armour Finley and his wife, Bethany, of Bedford Co. deeded 250 acres on Beaverdam to Avery King (Bedford Co. LR 7:717).

John Armour Finley is clearly identified as the eldest son of James Finley in 1785 when he refused to administer his father's estate. In his stead, Samuel Finley was appointed (Bedford Co. Order Book 8:192).

Records for John Armour Finley disappear after 1786, although a 1787 survey for Samuel Fendley on Beaverdam Creek, refers to John Fendley's line (Bedford Co. Surveyor's Record #2, 1754-1795, p. 506).

Known children (FINLEY)of John Armour 2 and Mary (--):
i. SARAH3 b. prob. Va. in the late 1760s.
ii. ELIZABETH b. prob. Va. in the late 1760s.

4. DAVID2 FINLEY (?James1) was probably born in Pennsylvania in 1748 or earlier, since he purchased land in 1769.

The earliest record of any Finley acquiring land in Bedford Co. on Aug. 1769, when David Finley purchased 100 acres on Bandy (Baudy?) Camp Creek from Thomas Ballard (Bedford Co. LR 3:335). Body Camp Creek is a tributary of Goose Creek about 10 miles northeast of Beaverdam where James and Agnes settled. Recall also, that John Armour Finley acquired land on Goose Creek in 1770. Less than two years later, David sold his land to John Murphy (Bedford Co. LR 3:529). David also appeared in the court records of Bedford Co. a number of times between 1769 and 1774, primarily as a witness or as a jury member in the affairs of other persons (Bedford Co. Order Books 3:553, 3:631, 5a:32, 5b:293, 6:34). In 1774, he brought suits against Benjamin McCraw, William Mead, and John Hook for debts owed him (Bedford Co. Order Book 5b:40). There are two court records showing a connection to other Finleys in the area. David appeared as a member of the jury in the case of Finley v. Pate (Bedford Co. Order Book 3:553). While the given names of Finley and Pate were not provided, it should be noted that various Pates were prominent both as witnesses and as grantees in dealings with James and Samuel Finley (Bedford Co. LR 5:294, 5:359, 7:113, 7:118). In addition, Thomas and Matthew Pate served as appraisers, along with David Holladay, of the estate of James Finley, 24 Oct. 1785 (Bedford Co. PR Will Book 1:499). Because of his close association with other Finleys in Bedford Co. and because his first appearance coincided with those Finleys, it seems likely that David is a member of the family.

5. ROBERT2 FINLEY (?James1) was probably born in Pennsylvania by 1750 died, probably in Bedford Co., Va., before 26 June 1775 (Bedford Co. LR 5:359).

On 16 March 1771, Robert Findley patented 323 acres on Beaverdam Creek (see above). This Robert died prior to 26 June 1775, when Samuel Finley sold 160 acres on Cats Creek to Thomas Peate, and it was described as part of a patent granted to Robert Finley, deceased (Bedford Co. LR 5:359). On 18 Dec. 1778 James Finley sold 243 acres on Beaverdam Creek to Samuel Finley, the description also stating it was part of Robert Finley's 1771 patent of 323 acres (Bedford Co. LR 7:113). While there clearly are some missing documents explaining the exact succession of Robert's land, both James and Samuel Finley came into possession of portions of what Robert had owned. In addition, recall that Robert Finley was one of the persons who appeared in court and provided sureties for James Finley in 1769 (Bedford Co. Order Book 3:554). For these reasons, it is believed that Robert was also a member of the family of James and Agnes Finley.

6. SAMUEL2 FINLEY (?James1), was probably born in Pennsylvania by 1750.

Samuel's first appearance in the records of Bedford Co. was when he and Robert Finley appeared in court in 1769 to provide sureties for James Finley (Bedford Co. Order Book 3:554). His first purchase of land was made from James Finley on 18 Nov. 1774 when he bought 161 acres on Cats Creek (Bedford Co. LR 5:294). On 28 April 1778, Samuel bought 200 acres on Beaverdam Creek from George Walton of Prince Edward Co. (Bedford Co. LR 6:140). This was less than three months before a similar purchase made by James Fendley (Bedford Co. LR 6:123). By 1782, Samuel had moved on to Montgomery Co., Va. for on 26 Feb., when he sold 297 acres to Thomas Pate, Samuel was described as "of Montgomery County." The property was described as being a place where James Finley formerly lived together with 50 acres of land which the said James Finley purchased of George Walton (Bedford Co. LR 7:118). In addition, an entry and survey were found for Samuel for 110 acres on Walker's Creek in Montgomery Co. (now Bland Co.) in July 1782 and February 1783 (Virginia State Library, Reel 33, B:57). However, this property did not remain long in Samuel's hands since it was delivered to Thomas Dun Jr. on 15 Oct.[?] 1786 (Montgomery Co. Survey Book B:180). It was Samuel who was named executor of the estate of James Finley in 1785 when John Armour refused to accept the responsibility (Bedford Co. Order Book 8:192). The evidence strongly indicates that Samuel was the son of James and Agnes Finley.


Robert and James Finley, brothers from Cumberland Co., Pa., lived for a brief period of time in Augusta Co., Va. (early 1750s to late 1760s). Robert died in Augusta Co. prior to 16 Nov. 1763 and his brother, James and his wife, Agnes, moved from Cumberland Co., Pa. to Augusta Co. to settle Robert's estate. James and Agnes moved on to Bedford Co. about 1768. Their children included at least John Armour (eldest), and Elizabeth, and most likely David, Robert and Samuel. James died prior to 22 Aug. 1785. There is some indication that the family may have moved on to Ohio Co., (now West), Va. but more research needs to be done in that area to be confident of this move. James and Agnes of Bedford, John and Mary of Montgomery (now Wythe Co.) and John and Thankful of Augusta each had a son, David. Additionally, James and Agnes and John and Mary also had sons, Samuel. The primary purpose of this paper has been to help sort out the many Finleys who lived in Augusta Co. during the second half of the 18th century. Robert of Staunton and his brother, James, have now been accounted for.

Submitted by Carmen Finley <finleyc@@SONOMA.EDU>