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Notes for Peter Fontaine, An Immigrant to Virginia


REV. PETER FONTAINE (1691-1759) was born in Taunton in Somerset, England on December 1, 1691, to the Reverend Jaques Fontaine and his wife, Anne Elizabeth Boursiquot. Although his first few years were spent in Taunton, in 1694 the family moved to Cork, Ireland, and remained there until 1699. They then went to live in Bear Haven on the remote and underpopulated southwestern coast of Ireland. In this home Peter grew to manhood and experienced a number of adventures, but none more exciting than the French privateers' attack on the "Sod Fort" in 1708. A full account of this episode is contained in his father's "Memoirs," Following this attack and the general destruction which resulted, Peter's family, with the exception of the oldest son, moved to Dublin in 1709. His father opened a school there, while the rest of the family settled down to life in the city.

In 1711 Peter entered Trinity College, a part of the University of Dublin. In the beginning of his third year at Trinity (1713), an unexpected event occurred which would have a profound effect on the remainder of Peter's life. Captain Charles De Boulay of "Captain La Bully Fields," a mall estate in Carlow Parish, County Kildare, who was a retired calvary officer of the Irish Army and unknown to the Fontaines introduced himself to the Reverend Jaques Fontaine. Stating that he was a French refugee and a Huguenot, he expressed a desire to marry his thirteen-year-old granddaughter to one of Jaques' sons. Captain de Boulay explained that she was an orphan, but was his sole heir and that as he was now past eighty, he could not be expected to live much longer.

Jaques decided that the best course of action would be to take the granddaughter into his home as a boarder and see which of his sons liked her best. In time, as they came to know her, it was mutually agreed by all of the sons and Jaques that she should become Peter's wife. Therefore, on March 29, 1714, Peter married Elizabeth Fourreau, who had been in Portarlington, Ireland, in 1700 she was the daughter of Ayme Fourreau, Sieur de Toucheronde, a refugee from Poitou in France, and his wife Mariane Ingrand. The ceremony was conducted in secrecy by Jaques with only the family and Captain de Boulay present because Peter had not yet taken his bachelor of arts degree from Trinity.

On March 1, 1715, Captain de Bouley died, and as agreed upon, Peter inherited his property, which was worth over a thousand pounds sterling (equal in today's buying power to approximately a hundred thousand dollars). Later in the same month, he received his bachelor of arts degree and shortly afterwards traveled to London for his ordination into the Anglican Church by the bishop of London (who was also the Bishop of Virginia).

Peter, like other members of his family, had decided that his future lay in America. Soon after his ordination, he and Elizabeth sailed for Virginia. He arrived in America in October 1716 and were met on landing at Hampton by his brother John and escorted to Williamsburg, where they were given a cordial welcome by Governor. Spottswood and where they took up temporary residence. In 1720, he became pastor of an area including 233 families in about 300 square miles surrounding the parishes of Westover, Weyanoke, and Wallingford. During the period 1715-1718, Peter served as the rector of the churches of Wallingford, Martin's Brandon, Weyanoke, and for a short time, in Jamestown. There followed the merging into it all or part of the ancient parishes of Wallingford, Martin's Brandon, Weyanoke and Jamestown. Peter received a presentation of Roanoke Parish and in February in 1717, He, his wife, and brother John moved there in March.

In 1720 Peter Fontaine had the good fortune to become the rector of Westover Parish and Chapline to that "prince of the lordly manor of Westover," the distinguished Col. William Evelyn Byrd. In a novel by Marian Harland, called " His Great Self," founded on the Westover manuscripts of Col. Byrd, Peter Fontaine is shown to be a familiar member of the household, and an intimate friend of the beautiful Evelyn. He is described as "a polished scholar and courtly gentleman of winning manners, with an olive complexion, clearly chiseled features soft, dark brilliant eyes, 'a true descendant of the handsomest man in Navarre"

Romance says he was in love with the ill-fated Evelyn Byrd, but realizing the hopelessness of his own suit aided her by every means in his power in her unfortunate love affair with her English lover, Lord Peterborough.

Westover Parish in Charles City County, Virginia, which was in close proximity to the original settlement at Jamestown in 1613. [The predecessor of the existing Westover Church was constructed between the years 1630 and 1637 on he Westover plantation. The present church was built about 1730 on the present site on Herring Creek about 1 1/2 miles north of the Westover mansion.] In 1724 Westover Parish became and remains coterminous with Charles City County, an area twelve long and thirty miles wide along the northern banks of the James River, with about two-hundred and thirty families of communicants, and three churches: Westover, Weyanoke and Wallingsford. There were two glebes in his parish, neither of which had houses on them, and the best of them rented for thirty shillings. He lived in his own house and on his own farm. His salary, besides perquisites, was from fifty to sixty pounds. He remained in that position until his death. Although thinly populated, contained some of the great landed estates of the James River, i.e. the Byrd's, Carters, Harrisons, etc.

Peter, with his inheritance, purchased four hundred acres of land located ear the mouth of Jones Creek, halfway between Swineyards and Weyanoke, and about two miles north of the James River in Charles City County. On this tract of land in 1725, he established a plantation which he named "Bachelor's Quarters". (From several sources, especially Byrd's "Journals" and Meade's works on the ministers of colonial Virginia, glimpses in to Peter's character and life in Westover Parish have been revealed.) As minister, companion, and, eventually, friend to William Byrd, he associated freely with many of the most influential gentlemen in Virginia. These associations, in addition to Peter's independent means and his extended period as a widower, probably provided him with a life of greater refinement and sophistication than most ministers in Viginia would have experienced.

Peter's life appears to have centered around the strip of Virginia along the James River from Westover to Williamsburg, and he rarely, if ever, left the vicinity. One exception was during the period of 1728-1729, when at the request of William Byrd he served as chaplain to the commission which was to draw the boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina, and he traveled from the coast to the mountains through the wilderness.

Peter's wife, Elizabeth Fourreau, whom he married in 1714, had died about 1724, probably at the time of the birth of their son, Peter, Jr., or very soon thereafter. Peter remained a widower for several years and was considered a desirable match for many prominent young ladies of the area. There was a twenty-two gap between the children of the first marriage and those of his second marriage. Peter had been left with a daughter, who was about six years old, and an infant son. Mary Anne, the daughter, is known to have gone to live with Peter's sister, Mary Anne Maury, in King William County for six of seven years. It is very likely that Peter, Jr., also lived for several years with his Aunt Mary Ann Maury. For more about sixteen years, Peter lived as a widower. About 1740 he took as his second wife, Sarah Wade, the daughter of Joseph Wade, who was a farmer of Charles City County, and his wife, Elizabeth Lide. She was very much younger than Peter and had been, in fact, one of the first infants baptized by him after he came to Westover Parish in 1718. Although he was middle-aged, Peter settled down to raising a second family. Peter was sixty-four years old when his youngest child was born.

He was the mainstay of William Byrd's Westover Parish and accompanied Byrd on his expedition to survey the dividing line between Virginia and North Carolina in 1728

Both Peter and his brother, Capt., John Fontaine, were members of Gov. Spotswood's famous expedition across the Blue Ridge in 1716, which ended on their return in the institution of the "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe," Gov. Spotswood presenting to each member a miniature gold horseshoe inscribed with the motto "Sic Juvat transcendere Nomtes." The journal of Capt. John Fontaine had been preserved, in which he gives an account of the party reaching the top of the range of mountains, and drinking a health to King George and the royal family.

Peter prospered as a minister and a planter. Through his son, Peter Jr., a surveyor, he was able to procure six-thousand acres of land in Halifax County, and he acquired twenty slaves, which he planned to divide among his younger children. His goal was to leave each of his children one-thousand acres of land and enough slaves with which to work.

Peter died at his home in Westover Parish in July of 1759 and is believed to have been buried under the altar or in the cemetery in Westover Church.

Peter (Pierre) Fontaine, born 1691 in Taunton, Somerset, England; died August 1759 in Westover, Charles City Co., Virginia. He was the son of Jacques (James) Fontaine and Anne Elizabeth Boursiquot. Ordained Bishop of London, Emigrated to Virginia 1716. Rector of first Huguenot colony in Virginia at Mannekin. Rector for 40 years of Westover Parrish. Captain of Virginia Commission that ran boundary between Virginia and North Carolina. Peter (Pierre) married (1st) Elizabeth Fourreau March 29, 1714 in Dublin, Ireland. He also married (2nd) Sarah Elizabeth Wade

(1) Elizabeth Fourreau, born 1700 in Ireland; died WFT Est. 1723-1788 in Virginia. Elizabeth Fourreau was the granddaughter of Captain Boulay of the French Army who died March 1715. Elizabeth Fourreau had two children by Peter; Mary Ann and Peter, Jr. She was reported to be a lovely creature, endowed with Christian virtue; a good wife and a watchful mother; an obliging neighbor, charitable to the poor, beloved by all who knew her. She died shortly after the birth of Peter, Jr., around 1724.

(2) Sarah Elizabeth Wade of Virginia, daughter of Joseph Wade and Sarah Lide. She was born 1720 in Charles City, Virginia, and died August 10, 1784 in Louisa Co, Virginia

Children of Peter Fontaine and (1) Elizabeth Fourreau are:

i. Mary Anne (Marianne) Fontaine, born 1718 in Ireland or Virginia; died WFT Est. 1719-1812 in Henrico Co., Virginia; married Isaac Winston IV in Hanover Co., Virginia.

ii. Peter Fontaine, Jr., Col, born 1720 in Beaver Dam, Hanover Co., Virginia; died WFT Est. 1721-1810 in Hanover Co., Virginia; married Elizabeth Louise Winston 1749 in Virginia.

Children of Peter Fontaine and (2) Elizabeth Sarah Wade are;

i. Moses Fontaine, born 1742 in Virginia; died WFT Est. 1743-1832; married Elizabeth Ballard in Virginia.

ii. Sarah Fontaine, born 1744 in Charles City Co., Virginia; died WFT Est. 1745-1838.

iii. Elizabeth Fontaine, born 1747 in Virginia; died WFT Est. 1748-1841 in Virginia; married William Mills in Virginia.

iv. Joseph Fontaine, born 1748 in Westover, Charles City Co., Virginia; died September 01, 1813 in Christian, Kentucky; married Mary "Polly" Goode February 08, 1773 in Mecklenburg Co., Virginia.

v. Aaron Fontaine, born November 30, 1753 in Westover, Charles City Co., Virginia; died April 1823 in Louisville, Jefferson Co., Kentucky; Buried Ferry Park, Louisville, Jefferson Co., Kentucky, married (1) Barbara Overton Terrell May 19, 1773 in Louisa Co., Virginia; (Barbara was the Granddaughter of Col. William Overton of Glencaim, Hanover Co. Virginia and traces her Lineage to the Royal House of Stuart Barbara is 1 of 10 children. Barbara died in the very hard journey from Virginia to Kentucky). married (2) Elizabeth Whiting Thurston June 18, 1805 in Louisville, Jefferson Co., Kentucky. (Elizabeth was married before she married Aaron and had 6 children. She died before Aaron. They had 4 children. She was spoken of as the Handsomest woman in Kentucky.

Aaron was Kentucky pioneer. He settled at Harrods Creek, Jefferson Co. In 1796, Aaron was born in his father's 70th year, so he spent all his boyhood days in the home of his sister Mrs. Issac Winston. Aaron was a Virginia gentleman. On January 17, 1814 He purchased from Wm. Lytle of Cincinnati, a large estate, called Carper's Ferry, on the banks of the Ohio River, west of Louisville. It was afterwards called Fontaine Ferry. This estate was part of the 3,000 acres purchased by his son-in-law Fortunate Cosby, from Sarah Beard. July 7, 1806, the property known as part of the Connolly and De Warnsdorff Tracts. This estate of 3,000 acres was part of the large tract granted by Lord Eunmore of Virginia, to John Connolly in 1773, under the proclamation of King George The Third, for Military services. Aaron lived out his life, as a country squire. When he died he was buried beside his second wife, and youngest daughter, Mrs Patrick Dillon,just back of Fontaine Park. The foundation of the old Fontaine Mansion has been preserved and now forms the entrance to one of the amusement halls. * In a Volume in the Virginia State Library entitled "Virginia's Militia In the Revolutionary War" by J.T. McAllister, page 214, appears the name of Aaron Fontaine. The entry shows on April 13, 1779, he was recommended by the County of Louisa, Virginia, for appointment of Ensign. Also in"Auditors Accounts", 1783-84. Vol 8, page 460 appears the name of Aaron, received4-2-8 for Services in the Militia of the State of Virginia, 1780. The latter Land Grant to Soldiers Who Fought in the Revolution. Also listed in The Daughter's of the American Revolution.

vi. Abraham Fontaine, born April 09, 1756 in Virginia; died 1832 in Virginia; married Sarah Ballard in Virginia.



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