Family Stories

Scarlett and William Hancock – Brothers?


From a previous blog I have been asked to explain the relationship of Scarlett Hancock and William Hancock – who were both married to Ann Linton.  They are indeed brothers, sons of John Hancock and Catherine Smith.  In addition to Scarlett and William are a brother, John, and a sister, Susannah.  Susannah is the answer to our question.  She is a much younger sister who first lived with her brother Scarlett and his wife Ann Linton, and after his death, with William Hancock who had married his brother’s widow.

In approximately 1746/7 the 17/18 year old Susannah Hancock married the much older Moses Linton.  He was a widower with two sons, Thomas and William.  His first wife was very likely Susannah Harrison, daughter of Captain Thomas Harrison.

Moses and Susannah had three children – Catherine Linton, born 1748, who married Joseph Lewis; John Linton, born 1750, later a captain in the Revolutionary War, who married Ann Mason; and Moses Linton, born in 1752, who died approximately 1772.  Moses Linton, Sr., was a Justice for Fairfax
County, until his death in 1752.

The young widow, Susannah Hancock Linton, married John Berkeley less than a year after Moses death.  She had three infants to care for.  Thomas and William Linton chose Burr Harrison as their guardian, proving they were over the age of fourteen.  Nothing more is heard from these boys and they both died before 1775.

Susannah and John Berkeley had at least one son – his name was Scarlett Berkeley, named for the older brother who cared for her when she was young.

In 1763 a chancery suit was brought by Susannah and her second husband against William Hancock and George Brett in the court of Loudoun County.  It reads:

Lettice Langfit, aged forty-six years, saith that Susannah Hancock, now wife to the complainant John Berkeley, had willed to her by Richard Brett two Negroes to wit, Cesar and Flora and Scarlett Hancock, one of the executors of the said Brett had the two said slaves in his possession eight years and that the said Scarlett Hancock received for several years five hundred and thirty pounds of tobacco due yearly for rents.  After the said Hancock deceased, his widow, which was wife to the defendant [William Hancock] had the said slaves in possession two years and received the yearly rents.  Ye said Susannah was always very meanly clothed, such as plain Virginia cloth and employed at leading the horses to plow and other services and was four years old or thereabouts when she first went to live with the said Hancock [Scarlett].  Susannah had some schooling but of little consequence and further saith not.

Signed:  Lettice Langfit.

The slaves Flora and Cesar were included in the inventory of Moses Linton’s estate.  Scarlett and William Hancock were the sons of John Hancock and his wife Catherine Smith Hancock, the step-daughter of Burr Harrison, Jr.

In Prince William County Deed Book A, pp. 228-232, Ann Linton, widow, of Hamilton Parish, Prince William County, Virginia, deeds to William Linton, her eldest son, 300 acres where she, Ann Linton, now lives between the Occoquon River and Marumsco Creek, 600 acres by deed dated 12 Oct 1696, settled by Ann Scarlett, widow, upon the said Ann Linton’s mother and Lettice Smith, mother of Catherine Hancock, which Catherine is now in possession of – she holds the lower dividend and Ann the upper or Northern division.

17 replies »

  1. Having reviewed that data in the past and other information, I am still troubled to see any proven relationship of Scarlett and William. I too was convinced in the beginning that they were brothers, but there is little to help me with that. George was another brother of Scarlett and Lettice and Susannah. William was appointed his guardian in 1744-just appointed, not a choice and no comment as to relationship. George is listed in a partial copy of Richard Brett’s will as an heir if Lettice does not have issue, along with Ann and Susaner. Scarlett, George and Lettice are all mentioned in the bits and pieces of Richard Britt’s will. William does not appear to have any land or slaves that belonged to Richard Brett. A deed executed by Lettice and her son quotes some of Richard Brett’s will, mentions George as next in line to inherit. No mention of William. I am open to being convince. I have so much on these families that it is difficult to be sure that I have done the best with all of the data. Millie Starr

    • Millie,
      I have found in the Loudoun County Deed Book K, page 143, dated 16 Mar 1774, William Hancock gave to John Hancock and Scarlett Hancock, children of son William Hancock, now of Bedford County, a gift of a negro slave, Hannah, and her children Tom, Patt, George and Dennis, after the death of his wife Elizabeth and son William. This is witnessed by John Siglar, James Williams and Simon Hancock.
      After the death of his first wife, Ann Linton, William Hancock married Elizabeth Ellzey. Do you think a grandson would have been named Scarlett unless Scarlett Hancock was his great-uncle? What do you think?

  2. What a most wonderful as well as complicated set of names to follow.I have ran across such things before as well, but I believe it was pretty much expected back then to marry a brother in the family if the one you are married to dies. At least that is what I have seen within other families. I think this is remarkable that you have traced them as far back as what you have.
    Bravo to you and your beautiful articles.

  3. Hello Phyllis, I appreciate the good info you have at the website. Thank you for sharing it. Millie, I hope you are doing well these days.

    The following pertains to an error to my Hancock line that appears in John Alcock’s “Five Generations of the Family of Burr Harrison of Virginia.” Alcock has very good info on the Lintons, etc., but is in error on page 212 where he says that Scarlett and William Hancock [Sr.] (my 4th great-grandfather) were brothers. He is correct in showing Scarlett as the son of John Hancock and his wife Katherine (Smith) Hancock (source: Indenture dated 10/27/1740 in Prince Wm Co DB E P 238-240, involving John Hancock of Bladen Co., North Carolina, and Scarlett Hancock Prince Wm Co Va., which stated that John was Scarlett’s father).

    But after checking each of Alcock’s cited sources I found no evidence in them (or elsewhere) that William was the son of John Hancock as well. It appears that Alcock made the assumption that Scarlett and William were brothers due to their associations in some of the land records.

    The proof that William Hancock, Sr was in-fact the son of Samuel and Johan (Hancock) Hancock is as follows:

    1. The will of Samuel Hancock who died ca 1760 in Chest Co Va WB 1 P 377 devised to his “son William for his natural life the use and profit of a negro wench Jone [aka Joan aka Jean aka Hannah] and at his death to his son William…her increase to be equally divided between the two (2) brothers, that is to say, Simon and William Hancock…”

    2. By deed dated 29 Mar 1773 in Loudoun Co Va DB I Pages 412-413 William Hancock, Jr. of Loudoun Co., conveyed to William Hancock “the elder,” his interest in “negro woman Jone alias Hannah and her present and future increase…” The deed also refers to “Samuel Hancock of Chest Co, deceased…and [his] son William, who is the father of said William, Jr.” The deed was witnessed by Simon Hancock and William Ellzey, Gent.

    3. Many other documents confirm that the above Simon and William, Jr were brothers and the sons of William Hancock. [One such document is an Indenture dated 12 Jun 1775 in Loudoun Co DB L Pages 48-50].

    4. By Indenture dated 1767 in Pr Wm Co DB Q P 474-479, Simon Hancock sold his interest in 100 acres lying between the Occuquan River and Neabsco Creek, to John Tayloe, Esq. The indenture makes reference to the will of John Linton [Simon’s grandfather], who died in 1727, his will devising an estate tail to his daughter Ann and her heirs, and that Ann afterwards married William Hancock.

    Further Sources: The Hancock Family of England and America (1993), by Arvil Dale Hancock (Gateway Press, Inc, Baltimore, Md); Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th edition, volume 2 (2005), p. 289, by John Frederick Dorman, this line back to Thomas Harris of Henrico County, Virginia.

    The Indenture in Pr. Wm. Co DB E Pages 238-240, proves that Scarlett was John’s son. However, we don’t yet know who John’s parents were. As Millie and I have discussed it is possible his parents were William Hancock and Elizabeth Cockcroft (I believe that couple did have a son John who is yet unaccounted for). If this is connection is true, it means that Scarlett and William Hancock, Sr., were first cousins.

    Regardless, we do know that Anne Linton and her first husband, Scarlett Hancock, were 2nd cousins, in the following way: Anne was the dau. of Anne Barton (husb, John Linton), the dau of Anne Green (husb, Edward Barton), who was the dau. of Anne (husb. William Green). Anne Green’s sister, Lettice Green (m. J. Edw. Smith), had dau. Katherine Smith m. John Hancock, and had son Scarlett Hancock.

    This helps explain the Document conveying slave Hannah and her 4 children, dated 3/16/1774, in DB K P 143-144, Loudoun Co., Va, involving William Hancock,[Sr], “of Loudoun Co,” his [2nd] wife Elizabeth [Ellzey], and his two grandchildren, John and Scarlett, sons of his son William, [Jr] “now of Bedford Co., Va.” Capt. Simon Hancock [Wm. Jr.’s brother] was a witness. William, Jr., had named a son Scarlett, after his (Wm. Jr’s) mother’s first husband, deceased (known also to have been Wm. Jr.s’ 2nd cousin once removed via the Green line per above).

    Understanding these relationships also helps understand Pr. Wm. Co. DB Q P. 362-363, dated Oct 1765, was between John Hancock, Gentleman, and John Tayloe, Esq., that involved land formerly called Old Fields, nka Hancock’s Neck, located between the mouth of the Occuquan River and Neabsco Creek. It referred to “Anne Linton, Jr., daughter of the said Anne Linton, Sr., and mother to said John Hancock…Deed of Gift to John and Frances Linton, the son and daughter of said Anne Linton, Sr., and whereas Simon Hancock of Loudoun County, brother-in-law [in this case meaning half-brother] to said John Hancock, doth claim and pretend to have a right, etc…”

    To see these relationships please see my info here:

    My best, Jim Hancock

    • Jim, thank you for your post and explanation of these family relationships! Alcock’s book is my source for naming Scarlett and William brothers – so glad to know for sure that is not correct! I have two questions for you. The first – can you explain the relationship between Richard Brett and the Hancock’s? Why would Scarlett Hancock be given slaves? Second, Benjamin Mason married Elizabeth Berkeley, whose parents were William Berkeley and Elizabeth Hancock (1694-1772), Was this Elizabeth Hancock possibly a sister to John Hancock, Scarlett’s father? I have no information on her parents. Thank you for your expertise and for visiting my website!

  4. Hello Phyllis,

    1. Can you explain the relationship between Richard Brett and the Hancock’s? Why would Scarlett Hancock be given slaves?

    Not for certain. However, we do know that there was at least one family connection between the Bretts and the Lintons: Anne Linton (wife of Scarlett, then William Hancock) had a sister, Constant Linton, who married George Brett. According to his 1719 will, Henry Britt had sons Richard and George. Richard may have had a special connection with Anne and the other Lintons.

    2. Was this Elizabeth Hancock possibly a sister to John Hancock, Scarlett’s father?
    Apparently not. I have it that William Hancock (father of John) left a will in Lower Norfolk County naming his mother and his eight children (will dated 14 April 1687, recorded 17 May 1687): Simon, William, Samuel, Mary, John, Frances, Edward and George (no daughter Elizabeth, unless she had predeceased her father).

    Was Elizabeth a Hancock? Not proven. In a 1924 William & Mary Quarterly article Henry Berkley states that William Berkley (1690-1762) married in 1725 Elizabeth Hancock, daughter of William Hancock of Prince William County. Not sure what proofs were given for that statement. Elizabeth may have been Elizabeth Hancock, but this is not proven by me. She may have had another marriage as well; i.e. her daughter Martha (Hancock) is named in her will, but not in the will of her husband Wm. Berkeley, who died earlier.

    Named in the will of Elizabeth Berkeley, proved on 26 May 1772, Loudoun Co., Va., are: sons, John Berkeley and Reuben Berkeley; daughter, Martha Hancock; and granddaughter, Ann Linton.
    Excerpts of a previous message from Millie Starr: “… I have looked at my records and find that I have not solved this mystery. There are a number of connections between William Berkeley and the Hancock clan. My George, son of John (parentage unproveable), is a witness to William Berkeleys will. I do not find any Hancocks in the area to support this relationship of William being the father of Elizabeth. The only William I have in my records who is of an age to be the father of Elizabeth is William born about 1675, son of William and Elizabeth. I spent a few days in Salt Lake recently trying to find any Hancocks in the Stafford etc region early enough to provide a father for John. John appears in the rent rolls for 1723 I believe and so that is almost the first Hancock visible in the northern neck. There are a couple in Richmond but they are readily accounted for…
    … I believe after a lot of looking, that if Elizabeth wife of William Berkeley is a Hancock, then they are imported from somewhere else. I have spent large blocks of time trying to find a Hancock family in the early years of the area. In fact I did a good look again just this last month after Thankgiving trying to find where my John Hancock came from.
    By 1770 the many other Hancocks from Princess Anne would have spread all over and he could easily be a relative, but not close. Because of the conflicting evidence I cannot nail down my John, but still have hopes. Perhaps I will hire someone who has access to the Virginia State Library and see if they can get a copy of the supposed deed that says on the death of my brother John. If It indeed says that then I need to look elsewhere, but I have been doing that for years.

    The absence of good records for Virginia is most difficult. I still find it very hard to believe that William comes up from Princess Anne and marries the widow of Scarlett Hancock without some connection leading him to her. Quite a ways to take a ride just for the scenic beauty.” [end of Millie’s info]

  5. I’m an archeologist in Virginia. I corresponded with Phyllis a few months back regarding a site that I recently excavated near Leesburg in Loudoun County. At that time I thought the site might be Revolutionary War era homeplace on the old Linton grant near Broad Run but I have since determined that it is William Hancock’s short-lived ordinary (tavern) founded in 1762. I would appreciate any information that anyone might have on William Hancock, particularly any mention of the ordinary.

  6. I had this in my notes on William Hancock.
    “In 1762, William HANCOCK opened an ordinary on the Potomac Path at Broad Run , but the location must have proven untenable. (The Historian’s Guide to Loudoun Co., VA, Vol. I, John T. PHILLIPS, p. 300)

  7. I have the wills of William Hancock ! married to Elizabeth Cockroft, William Hancock II married to Elizabeth (Spencer), 2nd wife Elenor D. Durant, William Hancock III, m. Dorthy / Elizabeth Dearham.
    JOHN was the grandson of William Hancock II m. Elenor Durant.William Hancock I m. Elizabeth Cockroft, they had Son Simon, son William son Samuel, son JOHN, daughter Mary, mother Sarah Piggott was m. ot Simon. I have published a two VOL sets of books, 759 pages of my Hancock from Devon, England. called “The Hancock Family History 1550-2015.” I have worked for 35 years.
    $ 115.00 dollars costs with posted . You can see them on
    Beautiful book covers, good paper, wills, pictures, of our history, stories, events. I am very proud of these Hancock Books. Mildred Smith Gruner

  8. I just reviewed all the early wills of Sarah Piggott, wife of Simon, son William I, William II, William III and no mention of a Scarlett Hancock. Does anyone have the down line of John, grandson of William Hancock b.1647 d. bef.17May1687 and Elizabeth Cockroft b.1643 d.1685 m. 1660 ? This maybe the answer to who Scarlett is? Mildred Gruner

  9. Jim – regarding your comments of Nov. 25, 2011 about William Berkley and his wife Elizabeth Hancock and her will, it must have been transcribed wrong inasmuch as the will does not mention daughter Martha but “I give and bequeath to my daughter Althea Hancock all my wearing clothes to distribute as I myself shall direct her My will is that the remainder of my house furniture with the remaining part of my sheep and my other cow which has not been yet mentioned to be equally divided between my son Rueben Berkeley and my daughter Hancock.”
    I’m new at working on this Berkley family and would like to know Elizabeth’s linage. There are so many Hancocks in this line, and the familiar names – Burgess Berkley even married an Ellzey, the similarities go on and on. You have all been so helpful!

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