Sawyers Family of Augusta County, Virginia

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Augusta, Virginia, United States

The Sawyers family were Early Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia


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Sawyers Family Origin

Most likely, the Sawyers family of Augusta County originated in Ireland, migrated into Pennsylvania and then into Augusta County, Virginia in the early 1740's. We know they came from Pennsylvania, because Robert Sawyers' will in Augusta County, written in 1746, begins "Robert Sayers, late from Pennsylvania". There are records of the Sayers family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania that may tie into this family (more research necessary). There was a William Sayers that left his will in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1784 that deserves further research for a possible connection (Lancaster County PA Will Book E, Vol. 1, Pg. 145).

Records of other Sayers families (most likely not directly related to this family) exist in early Virginia records, including some early records of a Thomas Sayers, who lived in Virginia's "Northern Neck", was described as a "leading citizen of Norfolk County, Virginia and died there, about 1655-1656. His widow, Elizabeth married Walter Bruce, and Thomas Sayers' son Francis Sayers, one of the Justices of Norfolk County in 1671, married the widow of George Newton. Thomas Sayers' daughter, Sara was sent "to schoole, etc. and (Walter Bruce) devises four cows to her education" (Lower Norfolk Records, 1656-1666, pg. 438).

(Sources: Chalkley's Augusta County, Virginia Records; The Virginia magazine of history and biography, Volume 12", by Virginia Historical Society, William Glover Stanard, pg. 447).

Sawyers Family of Augusta County, VA

After a thorough analysis of the early Sawyers records in Augusta County, Virginia, there appear to be two early Sawyers families that migrated from Pennsylvania (probably Chester or Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and settled in the southwest portion of "Beverley Manor". David Sawyers, Sr. and Robert Sawyers appear to be the patriarchs of these two families, were of similar age (both were born about 1700 or a few years earlier) and left enough records in Augusta County to at least circumstantially reconstruct their families. David Sawyers, Sr. and Robert Sawyers are assumed to be brothers, although no records have been found to date that can prove this relationship.

According to land records in Orange and Augusta Counties, the family of David Sawyers, Sr. acquired 247 acres of land from Joseph Reed on 26 Sept. 1741, and William Sawyers, the son of Robert Sawyers acquired part of Patrick Campbell's tract just three years later in 1744. What is interesting, and probably not coincidental about these two acquisitions is that the acquisitions occurred in adjacent tracts in Beverley Manor, as shown below in the J.R. Hildebrand Map:


Family of Robert Sawyers

Robert Sawyers was probably born about 1700, most likely in Ireland. Since his eldest son William was born sometime around 1723-1723, Robert would have been in his early 20's, which would have been typical of young men seeking brides in Colonial Virginia.

The family of Robert Sawyers is the easiest to reconstruct, since Robert died within a few years of coming to Augusta county and left the following will in 1746:

  • Page 16.--26th June, 1746. Robert Sayers, late from Pennsylvania. Will--Sons, William, Alexander; wife, Cathren; daughters, Margaret, Ann, Elizabeth. Executors, John Buchanan and Joseph Culton, Gent. (desiring Col. Patton to assist if he will grant me the favor). Teste: Jno. Buchanan, Wm. Adair, Francis McCown, Thos. Beard. Proved, 20th August, 1746, by all except Beard. Wm. and Alex. Sayers qualify executors 20th August, 1746, with sureties John Buchanan and John Hays.

As stated in Robert's will, his wife was Catherine (Harris according to many sources) and his children are as follows:

1. William Sawyers - his estimated birthdate was abt. 1723-1724 and died 23 Jan 1784 in Wythe County, Virginia. Since he acquired land in Augusta County in 1744, he would have to have been an adult to conduct that transaction. He married twice; first to Esther Thompson, daughter of John Thompson, abt. 1753, who died in 1770; and second to Elizabeth (surname unknown) in 1771 in Wythe County, Virginia. William Sawyers' children are fairly well-documented.

2. Alexander Sawyers - his estimated birthdate was abt. 1725 and he died before 18 March 1767, when guardianship records of his son Robert Sawyers as eldest son of Alexander were recorded in Augusta County. The name of his wife is unknown, as are the identity of his other children. He acquired 650 acres on Woods River on 3 July 1755, as recorded in Augusta County.

3. Margaret Sawyers - birthdate estimated abt. 1729, this appears to be Margaret Sayers that married Frederic Smith (Smidt) on 23 March 1754 in Augusta County, Virginia (

4. Ann Sawyers - birthdate estimated between 1727-1737, no further information.

5. Elizabeth Sawyers - birthdate estimated between 1727-1737, no further information.

Note: Robert Sayers MAY have had other unproven children, but no others were named in his will, and no records exist to circumstantially place them as children of Robert.

Family of David Sawyers, Sr.

David Sawyers, Sr. was also probably born about 1700 or a few years earlier, most likely in Ireland. The name of his wife is unknown at this time. Unfortunately, no will or records of his administration have been located to prove all of his children, but two sons, Robert Sawyers and David Sawyers, Jr. can be proven through records in Augusta County. David Sawyers died after 1756, when he administered the estate of his son Robert in Augusta County. Three others, Mary Sawyers, James Sawyers and Rebecca Sawyers are being placed as "probable" children of David, but could possibly be children of David's brother William, but not named in his will.

The proven and probable children of David Sawyers are as follows:

1. Mary Sawyers (probable child) - born about 1720, in Ireland, married William Blair and had a child William Blair, born about 1738, who married Elizabeth Downey, daughter of Samuel Downey and Martha McPherson.

2. James Sawyers (probable child) - his estimated birthdate was abt. 1722 (some say in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland and he died before 15 January 1790 in Augusta County, Virginia. James married Rachel (some sources claim her surname was Ball) about 1742-1744, most likely in Virginia. Although James Sawyers did not leave a will, land records from James to "James Sawyers, Jr." and to Sampson Sawyers (likely his son) exist, and his daughters Anne, Rebecca, Martha and Rachel are named in James' sister, Rebecca Sawyers, listed next.

3. Rebecca Sawyers (probable child) - her birthdate estimated to be about 1723 and died before 15 December 1790 in Augusta County, Virginia. Rebecca married John Archer in about 1741 (some say in County Tyrone Ireland, but more likely in Virginia) In the will of Rebecca (Sawyers) Archer, she named "Anne, Rebecca, Martha, Rachel Sawyers, daughters of James Sawyers, deceased", the daughters of her brother James Sawyers (listed above), who had died in January 1790.

4. Robert Sawyers - (proven through land and his will & estate records) birthdate estimated between 1724-1729 and he died before 17 November, 1756 in Augusta County, Virginia. According to some sources, he married Hannah Lafon, daughter of Nicholas Lafon and Elizabeth Sthresthly abt. 1755 in King & Queen County, Virginia. It appears that Robert's father, David Sawyers put forth the bond to administer Robert's estate in 1756, based upon Augusta County records. Robert mentioned his father and named his brother, David Sawyers in his will, written on 3 September 1756 (proves his brother was David Sawyers, Jr). Robert acquired 247 acres from his father, David Sawyers, in Beverley Manor on 24 November, 1751, which his father had previously acquired from Joseph Reed in 1741. Robert Sawyers sold this land later in 1754 to George Rogers; it is not clear if he moved elsewhere to Augusta County after that date.

5. David Sawyers, Jr. - (proven through land records) birthdate estimated between 1726-1728 and he died before March 1819, possibly in Wythe County, Virginia. Some sources claim that David was born in 1733, but since he clearly acquired land in Augusta County records, in 1748, and would have had to have been an adult to conduct legal transactions, he was most likely born around the dates indicated. David Sawyers, Jr. married Mary Beatty, daughter of John Beatty and Eleanor Gilmore, about 1772 in nearby Fincastle County, Virginia according to some sources. As mentioned, David acquired land in Augusta County, apparently bordering that of his father, David on 15 September 1748, from Joseph Reed (the acreage was not listed in the record), and was clearly identified as "David Sawyers, Jr." in the records. Records of his children are fairly well documented.

Note: David Sayers MAY have had other unproven children, but no records exist to circumstantially place them as children of David.