Family Tree Maker Online
Navigation Bar

[ Home Page | First Page | Previous Page | Next Page | Last Page ]

Descendants of William Wellford

Generation No. 2

2. ROBERT2 WELLFORD (WILLIAM1) was born April 12, 1753 in Ware, England, and died April 14, 1823 in Fredericksburg, VA2. He married CATHERINE YATES January 01, 1781 in Richmond, VA, daughter of ROBERT YATES and MARY RANDOLPH. She was born March 24, 1760 in Stafford Co., VA, and died February 11, 18313.

Notes for R
The following is an excerpt from a 1908 document written by Beverley Randolph Wellford, Jr. to Mary R. Wellford Wilson (original held by Susan Schueler of Akron, Ohio):

"Dr. Robert Wellford - The name was spelled in England with a single L, and after my Grandfather's settlement in America, his father sent him a sign bearing the inscription of: Dr. Robert Welford (with the one L). I always understood from my father that his father claimed the original spelling of the name was with a double L, and, in coming to America to be the founder of a new race in a new country he preferred to revert to the old spelling. As a boy, I thought this to be a sort of fad with my Grandfather until I bought in after years a volume of British Judicial History (Foss" Biological Works), with the names of all the old British judges from the old Norman days, and amoung the Judges of Richard Coeur de Lion and John 1, found the names of Ralph de Welleford and of Goeffroy de Welleford. I never doubted afterwards the inspiration of my Grandfather's change of the spelling of the name.

He came to America in 1777 as a surgeon of the Royal Grenadiers in Gen. Howe's Army of Invasion. He was a very young man, beginning his practice with his father in Ware, England. A prominent nobleman in driving through the country from London was the victim of a very serious accident. In obedience to the summons for the nearest medical aid, my Grandfather, in the absence of his father, answered the call and so successfully ministered to the relief of his patient as to win his appreciation and friendship during a somewhat protracted confinement in bed, etc. This patient took a great fancy to my Grandfather and earnestly advised him to seek a wider field for his professional life than the limited surroundings of Ware, and offered to procure for him a position upon the Medical Staff of the Army then about to sail for India--or, as an alternative, of the then projected Corps. of Gen. Howe for America.

He chose the latter, and came to America as Surgeon of the Battalion of Royal Grenadiers in Gen. Howe's Army. His very high professional merits were readily recognized. He was with General Howe when Philadelphia was captured, and, as a consequence, many wounded and disabled American victims of the disasters of Brandywine and Germantown fell into the hands of the British requiring medical care and attention. They were inhumanly cared for, and many curable wounded Americans died from utter neglect, if not wanton cruelty. To such an extent did this ill treatment prevail that Gen. Washington made a formal complaint, with threat of retaliation to Gen. Howe. He was so muched impressed by the complaint and himself a humane gentleman, ordered investigation , which resulted in the disgraceful discharge of a Tory Surgeon, then in charge of the Hospital, and the substitution of my Grandfather. His administration of the high trust was eminently successful in preserving the lives of many American Officers and privates, and in winning for himself their affectionate regard. His success and popularity with the his patients provoked amoung the Hessians and other low toned British officers an atagonism which occassioned some professional discourtesy to him by his superior officers of the line, in resentment for which my Grandfather, while the British were in occupancy of Philadelphia, tendered his resignation, proposing to remain in America as a private practitioner.

His many patients, relieved from captivity and restored to the Continantal Army, were much attached to him, and bore such unanimous and appreciative testimony to his humanity and skill that his relations with the high officers of our Army were very cordial. One of his patients, who always attributed to him his preservation was desperately and it was supposed, mortally wounded at the battle of Brandywine or Germantown. He was Col. John Spotswood, son or grandson of the always venerated old Virginia Governor, whose name was given to the county of Spotsylvania, in which Fredericksburg was situated.

Gen. Washington's early local and social associations made the Spotswoods and Washingtons very close friends, and the first aquaintance and ever after unbroken friendship of my Grandfather and Gen. Washington then began. When Col. Spotswood's brother came from Virginia to take his brother home, they both encouraged my Grandfather to accompany him-- advising him, as he proposed to remain in America, to make his home in Fredericksburg, then the home of Gen. Washington's mother and many kindred and within a few miles of the Spotswood estate of Newport upon the Rappahannock River. Gen. Washington concurred in this suggestion and profferred letters of introduction and recommendation to his oldtime friends and kinspeople. I have in Richmond the original autograph of one of these letters addressed to Mr. Fitzhugh of Chatham immediately across the river from Fredericksburg, who was the Grandfather of Mrs. Robert E. Lee.

Gen. Washington's kindly estimate was repeated during his afterlife. In Spark's Life and letters of Washington there is a letter to the Secretary of War, Jas. McHenry of Maryland, commending Dr. Robert Wellford for appointment on the medical staff of the Army, and when the Virginia Militia was called into service by United States, during Washington's administration, to suppress the then very alarming Whiskey Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania, Gen. Washington visited in person thethe Corps. commanded by Light Horse Harry Lee, of Revoltutionary fame, then Governor of Virginia and father of Robert E. Lee. In this little army were three or four nephews from Fredericksburg of Gen. Washington. In a public order dictated by him on the march of the forces in Maryland, he appointed my Grandfather, who had accompanied the Fredericksburg Company, Surgeon General of the Army."

There are several other accounts of how Dr. Wellford came to move to America. The following paragraph was from oral history provided to an unknown person by Miss Elisa Roy of Fredericksburg, Va., his great-granddaughter, now deceased:

"Dr. Robert Wellford was put in charge of American prisoners, where he was noted for his kindness and humanity in his treatment of them. The Hessian officers, in whose care they had been before his arrival, thought him much too kind and asked for his removal. This angered young Dr. Wellford, who said that before he would be removed for any such reason he would resign his commission in the British Army. Being a man of great determiniation, he did resign and left for Philadelphia. Here he was taken into custody by American scouts and carried to General Washington's headquarters in New Jersey. On arriving, the first person he saw was Colonel John Spotswood, whom he had picked up on the battlefield and whose life he had saved." . . . Spottswood encouraged Wellford to consider Fredericksburg for his home. Spottswood then introduced Wellford to General George Washington who offered to give him a letter of introduction, which follows (a legible photograph of the original is in the possession of Carmen Trammell, Tallahassee, Florida):

      William Fitzhugh Esq.of Chatham
      near Frederick Virginia
      Brunswick, New Jersey, 1778

      Dear Sir,

Dr. Wellford late of the British Army has an idea of settling in Virginia at the town of Fredericksburg. He will have the pleasure of presenting this to you. He is a gent. highly spoken of in his profession and deserves every countenance and support from us for his great humanity, care and tenderness for the sick and wounded of our Army in captivity. Hence it is, I take the liberty of recommending him to your civilities.

      I am with sincere regard and       affection to you
      your most obedient friend
      G. Washington

Another article of unknown origin (entitled "To All of the Descendants of Dr. Robert Wellford", Central Rappahannock Regional Library vertical file) claims that John Spotswood was a former English school mate of Robert's. This article also places Washington as the influence of him moving to Fredericksburg. It states that upon the outbreak of the Whiskey Rebellion, Washington appointed Dr. Wellford Surgeon in Chief of the army sent to quell the rebellion. It also states that, "When Dr. Wellford became an American citizen he was disinherited by his family from England. Conseuqently he added another "L" to the original spelling of the name Welford."

In January 1953, the Virginia Medical Monthly ran an editorial about Beverley Randolph Wellford which included the following:

"Dr. Robert Wellford (1753-1825), the American progenitor, and himself the son of a doctor, was the head of a long line of Virginia doctors that extends to the present time. He came to this country with the First Royal Grenadiers. His coming to Fredericksburg is an interesting story. It seems that after the battles of Brandywine and Germantown the wounded American prisoners were so badly treated by a British army surgeon that General Washington complained to General Howe, who after investigation put Dr. Wellford in charge of their treatment. A great improvement followed and Dr. Wellford gained the friendship of Col. John Spotswood, one of the prisoners, and of General Washington. At the same time he gained the enmity of the British surgeons which was so great that the situation become intolerable and led to Dr. Wellford's resignation from the British Army. When the way opened up for Col. Spotswood's return to Virginia, General Washington suggested that Dr. Wellford accompany him and gave the doctor a number of letters of introduction to his friends in Fredericksburg. Dr. Robert Wellford greatly prospered in Fredericksburg and became a leading citizen. When the whiskey rebellion broke out (1794) Washington made him Surgeon General of the army that was raised to suppress the uprising. He married Catherine Yates a descendant of Edward Randolph of Turkey Island. Two of their sons, Horace (1790-1828) and Beverley Randolph (1797-1870) and five of their grandsons became physicians."

An advertisement in the March 27, 1788 Virginia Herald announced that Dr. Wellford was residing in a house at the upper end of the main street (not 1501 Caroline), and that he was practicing "physic, surgery and midwifery." An announcement in the May 21, 1789 Virginia Herald states that he has moved his practice ". . . a few doors above the house he lately occupied on the main street." This is apparently referring to 1501 Caroline Street, as this is approximately two months after leasing the property from Henry Fitzhugh.

According to a document entitled "Dr. Robert Wellford," (Central Rappahannock Regional Library vertical file) which was apparently written in 1946, "Col. Spotswood gave a house party at his home, Dr. Wellford being one of the guests. Among others were Mr. and Mrs. John Thornton. In the midst of the festivities Mr. Thornton was suddenly taken ill and passed away that very night, leaving his widow, Catherine, and two children, William and Mary Thornton." Soon after Robert married Catherine.

Historic Fredericksburg Society documents state that in March 1789, Henry Fitzhugh leased the property at 1501 Caroline Street to Dr. Wellford. The house was at least partially built between 1785 when Fitzhugh bought the lot and 1789. Dr. Wellford probably completed the building of the house, adding an office onto the right side, as described on the 1796 insurance declaration." Dr. Wellford died in April of 1823, at which time the house was inherited by his son, Charles Carter Wellford. Around 1850 Charles added a brick addition to the left side of the house. The Wellford House remained in the family until well into the 20th century. There have been no additions or major changes to the exterior of the house since the mid-1800's.

The following are materials related to Dr. Robert Wellford, which I have yet to obtain or review.

A copy of two leaves from the original Wellford family Bible (1753-1870), which was in the possession of Miss Eliza Roy, Fredericksburg, Va in 1940, is held by the Virginia Historical Society, Manuscripts, Mss6:4 W4595:1

Robert Wellford (1753-1823) Diary for September 30, 1819-April 6, 1820, 137 pages. Kept in Fredericksburg, Port Royal, and Tappahannock, Va. Entries are of a religious nature, chiefly calling for resignation to the will of God in all things. In between, Wellford records his movements and the quality of the inns and taverns where he stops, his family's health, and his business arrangements. Persons mentioned include Dr. James Craik, Doctor Elisha Cullen Dick, William Fitzhugh, Lucy Yates (Wellford) Gray, Dr. Thomas B.W. Gray, James Leitch, Catherine Dangerfield Lewis, George Lewis, Eli Shortridge, George Washington, Dr. Beverley Randolph Wellford, Charles Carter Wellford, Elizabeth Burwell Page Wellford, Janet Henderson Wellford and John Spottswood Wellford. Held by the Virginia Historical Society, Manuscripts, Mss5:1 W4594:1

Correspondence of John Spotswood with Dr. Robert Wellford, Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series M: Selections from the Virginia Historical Society, Part 4: Central Piedmont Virginia, Mss1Sp687b, Spotswood Family Papers, Section 4. Copyright University Publications of America.

Images of Robert Wellford, Catherine Yates Wellford, Beverley Randolph Wellford, John Spotswood Wellford and other Wellford family members at Virginia Historical Society.

Genealogical notes concerning the Wellford family, Virginia Historical Society Item #19, Mss6:1 W4594:1, Author: Wellford, McDonald, 1913- , comp., Compiled in 1986.

Diary of Dr. Robert Wellford, 1794, as surgeon to Virginia troops supressing the Whiskey Rebellion, and his personal diary, 1800-1819. White, Wellford, Taliaferro, and Marshall Family Papers, 1743-1927, 318 Items (#1300), Originals on deposit at the Alexandria Library, Alexandria, Va., Microfilm at Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Southern Historical Collection.

Excerpts from Robert Wellford's Whiskey Rebellion diary can be found at:
"Whiskey Insurrection from The Diaries of George Washington," 30 September-19 October 1794
[Adapted from Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington, (University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1976-1979 [6 vols.], vol.1, pp. 170-98), all rights reserved.]

Dr. Robert Wellford of Fredericksburg, who was with the Virginia troops, noted in his diary Washington's arrival at Cumberland: "Between eleven & twelve o'clock this day arrived the President of the United States escorted into the town & to Head Quarters near the Fort by three troops of light dragoons, every man of whom cheerfully left ye encampment to pay the President a compliment, every regiment was drawn up in excellent order to receive him, & as he passed the line of Infantry he deliberately bowed to every officer individually. The Artillery at the same time announced his arrival" (Wellford, "Diary," 7).

On 17 Oct., Dr. Wellford of the Fredericksburg troops reported that he "was this day invited to dine with the President, and with a number of Officers, dined under Genl. Lee's Marque, and was treated very affably by the President, who was pleased to express his approbation of my conduct" (Wellford, "Diary," 8). TERRENCE: probably Joseph Torrence of Franklin Township, Fayette County, Pa. Clinton may have been Charles Clinton of Union Township, Fayette County.

On 19 Oct., Dr. Wellford noted in his diary that "this morning the President of the United States set out for Bedford on his return to the right wing of the Army, & from there to the seat of Government. . . . The Cavalry this morning escorted the President about five miles from (camp), when he requested the Troops to return, & taking leave spoke to Major George Lewis as follows: 'George, You are the eldest of five nephews that I have in this Army, let your conduct be an example to them, and do not turn your back until you are ordered.' Major Lewis made a suitable reply, but from this address of the President it was conjectured that the Troops would not be entirely disbanded at the end of the three months' service.

"Mem: The President's five nephews are Major George Lewis, Commandant of the Cavalry. Major Laurence Lewis, Aid de Camp to Major Genl. Morgan. Mr. Howell Lewis, in Capt. Mercer's troop, and Mr. Saml. Washington (son of Col. Ch's Washington), and Mr. Laurence Washington (son of Col. Saml. Washington), both of whom are light horsemen in the troop lately commanded by Capt. Lewis" (Wellford, "Diary," 8-9). At this time Bedford, some 110 miles west of Philadelphia, contained 41 log and 9 stone dwellings, a brick market house, a stone jail, a courthouse, and a brick building for keeping the records of the county (Scott, The United States Gazetteer). "The President's reception at Bedford on his return to the seat of Government was affectionate and interesting," Dr. Wellford continued. "When it was announced that He was approaching, the troops & the artillery paraded, the Cavalry marched down the road two miles, & drew up on the right of the road. As General Washington passed he pulled off his hat, &, in the most respectful manner, bowed to the officers & men, and in this manner passed the line, who were affected by the sight of their Chief, for whom each individual seemed to show the affectionate regard that would have been to an honoured Parent. As soon as the President passed, his escort followed the Troops, joined the train, & entered the town, whose inhabitants seemed anxious to see this very great and good Man. Crowds were assembled in the streets, but their admiration was silent. In this manner the President passed in front of the Camp, where the troops were assembled in front of the Tents. the line of Artillery Horse & Infantry appeared in the most perfect order, the greatest silence was observed. Genl. Washington approached the right uncovered, passed along the line bowing in the most respectful & affectionate manner to the officers--he appeared pleased" (Wellford, "Diary," 9-1O).

More About R
Burial: Willis Hill Cemetery, Fredericksburg, VA
Occupation: Physician4
Residence: 1789, 1501 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, Virginia

Notes for C
In publishing the marraige, the Virginia Gazette said she was "the fourth daughter of the Rev. Robert Yates."

The Spotsylvania County WPA stated that "Shortly after Dr. Wellford's arrival in Fredericksburg, he was hastily called to attend a Mr. John Thornton, who had been taken suddenly ill at a house party here in Fredericksburg. He died a few minutes after Dr. Wellford arived. Not so very long after the beautiful young wideow, Katherine, married Dr. Wellford." - The Wellfords and The Wellford House, by Mary Beth Gatza, July 1986. (Central Rappahannock Regional Library)

The following is an excerpt from a 1908 document written by Beverley Randolph Wellford, Jr. to Mary R. Wellford Wilson (original held by Susan Schueler of Akron, Ohio):

"(Robert Wellford) married a young widow, Catherine Thorton, a daughter of one of three brothers Gates (should be Yates), ministers in the Colonial Church. Her father, Robert Gates, whose name your father's father bore, and his brother, William Gates, married in England two sisters, daughters of the youngest son, Edward, of the Ancestors of the Randolph clan of Virginaia, William Randolph and Mary Isham, his wife, of Turkey Island, Henrico County Va. They left a prolific race, numbering amoung them the Randolphs of the Revolution, Thomas Jefferson, Chief Justice John Marshall and several Governors of Virginaia, one of whom, Beverley Randolph, was his mother's choice for the name of her son, my own venerated father, whose name I inherit.

The Fredericksburg Wellford stock has borne an abundant and a healthful fruitage. Our grandmother was, as I have told you, a widow. When she lost her maiden and first marriage name in that of Wellford, which she dignified and adorned, for more than fifty years of life. When she married my Grandfather she was the mother of one son, Wm. Thorton, who was killed in a duel in 1802, in which he and his antagonist, both cherished friends, fell victims to the vanity of a silly girl, a near kinswoman, perhaps a neice, of the after President of the United States, James Madison whose frivolous tongue wrought the agony of two desolated homes.

The only other child of Mrs. Thornton's marriage was, like yourself, a posthumous child, born some seven or eight months after her father's death. She was the Aunt Carter, of whom Mrs. Wilson's recollection of her vist to Fredericksburg speaks. She bore the name of her grandmother, Mary Randolph, the then and for many after years widow of Rev. Robert Yates. From her infancy to her death she was identified with the Wellfords. Her husband, Dr. Charles L. Carter, of the old King Carter stock, had died, and as a childless widow she was the ever loving older sister of the family and the repository of all the family traditions and associations of her childhood and the associate of that childhood reaching back beyond the outbreak of the Revolution in 1775."

More About C
Burial: Willis Hill Cemetery, Fredericksburg, VA
Children of R
  i.   LUCY YATES3 WELLFORD5, b. 1781; d. 1846, Tappahannock, Va.6.
3. ii.   JOHN SPOTTSWOOD WELLFORD, b. 1783; d. 1846.
  iii.   ROBERT WELLFORD, b. 1785; d. November 17856.
The following is an excerpt from a 1908 document written by Beverley Randolph Wellford, Jr. to Mary R. Wellford Wilson (original held by Susan Schueler of Akron, Ohio):

"The next of the sons was Robert, bearing his father's name, born in 1785 and dying in November of the same year."

4. iv.   ROBERT YATES WELLFORD, b. April 16, 1787, VA; d. September 28, 1841, Tallahassee, FL.
  vi.   WILLIAM N. WELLFORD, b. 17888.
The following is an excerpt from a 1908 document written by Beverley Randolph Wellford, Jr. to Mary R. Wellford Wilson (original held by Susan Schueler of Akron, Ohio):

"The next son, my Uncle William-- so called from his grandfather in England-- died in early manhood leaving an only child, a noble christian woman who married her cousin, Dr. Ro. C. Randolph of Clarke County, and was the mother of a heroic family, two or more of whom fell victims to the Yankee invasion of thier native state. One of them Col. Wm. Wellford Randolph, second to none in the heros roll of Stonewall Jackson's Corps. fell amoung the bushes of the Wilderness at the head of his column in the crisis of its successful repulse of the hordes of the Federal Army."

  vii.   DR. HORACE WELLFORD, b. October 04, 17908,9; d. May 23, 18239.
The following is an excerpt from a 1908 document written by Beverley Randolph Wellford, Jr. to Mary R. Wellford Wilson (original held by Susan Schueler of Akron, Ohio):

"Next to Uncle Edward was my Uncle Horace, born Oct. 4, 1790 and died May 23, 1823, 13 days after I was born. My father had been detained with my mother, and as soon after my birth as practicable he travelled the road some 70 miles to Richmond Co. on the northern neck to minister to his brother, but he arrived only in time to see him die. Uncle Horace was married twice and left three children by his first wife, and one daughter by the second. Mrs. Wilson remembers one of them, Cousin Evelina, not Evelyn, Spotswood, who, after her father's death, was always one of Uncle Charles family circle. She married very late in life and died childless. Through his other children Uncle Horace has living descendents in Virginia and Maryland."

  viii.   JANE ELIZABETHER CATHERINE WELLFORD, b. September 09, 17929; d. April 19, 17949.
The following is an excerpt from a 1908 document written by Beverley Randolph Wellford, Jr. to Mary R. Wellford Wilson (original held by Susan Schueler of Akron, Ohio):

"The next child was a daughter, Jane Elizabeth Cathernie, born Sept. 9, 1792, died April 19, 1794. The death of this baby daughter was a life long grief to her mother, who treasured up her little socks and shoes etc. to be buried with her in the then long after years."

5. ix.   BEVERLEY RANDOLPH WELLFORD, b. July 29, 1797, Fredericksburg, VA; d. December 27, 1870.
6. x.   CHARLES CARTER WELLFORD, b. December 19, 1802; d. December 29, 1870.

[ Home Page | First Page | Previous Page | Next Page | Last Page ]
Home | Help | About Us | | | Site Index | Terms of Service | PRIVACY
© 2009