James Lupo, Isle of Wight County (d. 1790)

On a September’s day in 1790, a man identified as James Lupo Jr. of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, appeared before the county ordinary bearing the purported last will and testament of his father, James. At the session of court where he appeared, James asked for a continuance because he did not have anyone with him to act as security. A short while later, he returned with his father-in-law, Benjamin Atkinson, who put up a bond in the amount of 500 pounds so the will could be probated. The will of James Lupo Sr. was the last Lupo will to be presented in Isle of Wight County for afterward his sons would not live there. Of the three named executors to the estate, James is the only one to appear, along with two of four of the named witnesses to the document. The family was on the move, at the beginning of a journey which would take them across two centuries and into nearly every state in the union and they were ending a chapter in the family’s history that had gone on nearly as long.

Land, census, and estates records suggest that almost everyone named Lupo, and many with the common variant Luper, who lived in the Southern United States at the time of the Civil War, descended from one of the three sons of James Lupo. This makes James the common ancestor of much of the early Lupo family in the United States, particularly those in the South and West, who can trace their ancestry to Virginia, North or South Carolina. Despite the fact that his will was recorded in Isle of Wight County, and he’s mentioned in probate records there, it appears James and probably his father’s family, were living in Nansemond County for a time, which is among the burned out counties in Virginia, meaning no records survive. This is a heavy loss for Lupo researchers, as Nansemond was formed, in part, from Elizabeth City County (now the independent city of Hampton) where the Lupos first settled.

A number of records can be cited to establish the line of descent from the Lupo musicians who served the Tudors in England to the earliest colonial settlers.

  • Late in the reign of Elizabeth I, Ambrose Lupo and sons Peter and Joseph were granted a coat of arms, which names Ambrose’s father as Baptist.
  • The christening records of Peter’s children are found in the parish of St. Botolph’s without Aldgate, and include Alybanus, born 1579, and Phillip, born 1582.
  • Phillip marries Mary Comes in Strood near Rochester, Kent, England around 1604.
  • Phillip Lupo, age 42, shows up on a census in Elizabeth City, one of the earliest English colonies in Virginia in 1624, having arrived in 1621, along with his brother Albiano, who arrived in 1610.
  • A burial record in St. Botolph’s Bishopsgate for Phillip “Luprue” age 70, recorded 1652.
  • In 1668, Phillip Lupo makes out his will in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, stating he’s returning to England and is the son of Phillip Lupo, a goldsmith in England, and names his sons, Phillip and James, and daughter Mary Ryall.
  • Will and deed records from Isle of Wight County, show that James Lupo married Sarah Branch, the daughter of George Branch and Ann England, prior to 1679.
  • James Lupo makes out his will in 1712 (probated 1713), mentioning sons Phillip and John, and daughters, Sarah Lilbourne, Ann Bedgood, Elizabeth Bidgood, and Mary, and stating that son John is not yet sixteen years old (born after 1696).
  • John Lupo signs off on an appraisal of the estate of his sister, Sarah Lilbourne, in 1728 in Isle of Wight County.

We therefore have a fairly unbroken line of descent from Ambrose down to John Lupo in 1728. In 1735, William Bidgood, John’s nephew, signs off on the estate of Sarah Lilbourne, suggesting John has died by this time. The last mention of his older brother Phillip is as a witness to a deed record dated 1708 or 1709 in Isle of Wight County. Around 1673 in Southhampton County which borders Isle of Wight, a Richard Lupo shows up as witness to a deed record, but this is the only mention that’s been found on this individual, and his connection to the family in Isle of Wight is unknown. There are also records of a sailor named Francis or Francisco Lupo on passenger lists, who either originated in South Carolina, or docked there around 1735-1737, though whether or not he settled in the colonies is unknown.

The will of Mary Gladhill from 1712 helps to clarify some of the relationships between the Lupos and allied families. In it, Mary mentions she was the wife of James Day, and had a son with him of the same name. The younger James Day is one of the witnesses to the will of James Lupo in 1712. Mary then mentions she’s also the widow of John Johnson, who made out his will in 1703 that was witnessed by James and Sarah (Branch) Lupo. John Johnson mentions a daughter named Patience in his will, and the order in which she’s listed suggests she’s his youngest daughter. In 1698, the estate of Thomas Proud mentions payments from James Lupo and John Johnson for education of their children, and both the Johnsons and Lupos lived in the Blackwater region of Isle of Wight County. In 1779, the will of Patience Cary is recorded in Isle of Wight County, naming son James Lupo as her executor. While there’s no specific document proving it, a strong circumstantial case can be made that Patience Cary was Patience Johnson.

James Lupo first appears in Isle of Wight guardian records on 7 August 1755, part of a quit rent list filed by Captain John Mallory as guardian for Thomas Day, orphan of Thomas Day, and, apparently, the descendant of James Day who witnessed the will of James Lupo in 1712. On 10 December 1760 James purchases the farm on which he’s living from Thomas. Throughout the history of the Lupos a number of other Isle of Wight families show up in documents relating to the family for multiple generations. John Wrenn, for instance, shows up as a witness or administrator in numerous documents for or with the Lupos throughout the middle of the 18th century as did Thomas Wrenn in the late 17th and early 18th century. John Bidgood is a witness to the will of the elder James Lupo in 1712 as well as his son-in-law, and Samuel Bidgood shows up as an executor to the younger James Lupo’s will of 1789 and as guardian to James’ daughter Elizabeth. Other family names, such as Webb, Hodges, Brantley, Davis, and Miller can be found among documents relating to the Lupos for several generations. This suggests the existence of a strong, well-rooted community of families that interacted for well over a century.

James Lupo may have married more than once as he has sons who appear to be considerably older than the daughters who appear with him on the 1782 census. His wife’s name in 1782 is Mary but she does not appear in his will written in 1789, suggesting she’s died by that time. His will also mentions daughter Elizabeth Gray Lupo who’s not on the 1782 census with James. One possibility is that James married a relative of Thomas Day from whom James purchased property in 1760, though neither James nor any of his children are mentioned in Thomas’ will dated 21 October 1769, nor in his father’s will from 1752. It’s possible that Mary was the mother of all James’ children, depending on her age when she married and had her first child. James oldest son, William, appears to have been born around 1753-56, given that he’s listed on the 1787 census in Johnston County, North Carolina with a sizable family but the only mention of William in Isle of Wight records is James’ will in 1789 which names sons James and Laban as executors along with Samuel Bidgood. James had a daughter Mary who married Thomas Brantley in 1792.

James’ brother Phillip names two daughters in his will, Sally and Mildred and in the will of William Carrell from 1785, who identifies them as granddaughters, they’re listed as Sarah and Mildred. Phillip makes out his will in 1778 and does not mention his wife, but makes provisions for his daughters education and leaves money to the children of James Lupo, Mary Brantley, and John Hodges. Phillip appoints his brother James as guardian of his daughters until they turn twelve and in 1782, Milly can still be found in James’ household. Mary, who married Benjamin Brantley, is identified in the will of Patience Cary as her daughter. In addition to her sons and daughter, the will of Patience Cary lists five granddaughters, who are the children of her apparently deceased daughter Comfort with John Hodges, Jr. While it is not known with certainty which of the earlier Lupos Patience married, the best guess is John Lupo, since he’s the only son mentioned in James Lupo’s 1712 will who can still be found in later Isle of Wight records. If Patience Lupo Cary was the daughter of John Johnson, whose will was witnessed by James and Sarah Lupo in 1703, then Patience lived well into her seventies, outliving two husbands, a son and a daughter.

On the Virginia census from 1782, James appears to have two sons, Phillip and Laban in his household. Laban is named as an executor to James’ will in 1789, but Phillip cannot be found in records beyond 1782. John Bennett Boddie’s Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia contains a record from August of 1777 when a Phillip Lupo was appointed an “ensign” in William Hodsden’s company of militia, though whether these were patriots or loyalists is not reported. Given the timing, it’s possible that this is the Philip Lupo who died in 1778, though Phillip, the son of Patience Cary, might have been too old to have been appointed an “ensign” which was the lowest infantry rank of the time. Milly Lupo shows up as a witness to the will of James Lupo in 1789 and appears in court in 1790 when the will was probated. She married Thomas Mallicote on 7 August 1790 and on 24 January 1792, Milly Mallicote, a widow, married James Atkinson, who, in 1799 is paid a sum of money by the estate of John Harrison who’s listed as “guardian” for Mildred “Looper”.

In records related to the estate of James Lupo, the family sells a plot of land to John Womble and the only ones who actually made their marks on the document were James, Jr., his wife, Ann, and Margaret Lupo, apparently the wife of Laban, who does not appear in court when the will is presented and does not appear to be present when payment is received for the land. James is also the only son of James Lupo to actually make his mark on the acknowledgement of payment for this land. Within a year, a deed is recorded in Edgecombe County, North Carolina for James Lupo. In 1800, Laban Lupo appears on the census in Robeson County, NC and by 1804, William and John Lupo, presumably the William from Johnston County, NC and his son, show up in records in Montgomery County, Georgia. The story of the Lupos in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, had effectively come to a close.


  1. “Grants of Arms Named in Docquets and Patents to the End of the Seventeenth Century”, transcribed by Joseph Foster, Harleian Society Publications, Vol. 66, page 160.
  2. Ancestry.com. London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
  3. Ancestry.com. England, Select Marriages, 1538–1973 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
  4. Chancery Bills and Answers, Whittington’s Division, 1671, Public Record Office (UK), as recorded in Virginia Colonial Records Project.
  5. Hotten, John Camden, Original Lists of Persons of Quality, 1600-1700, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., Baltimore, 1986.
  6. Boddie, John Bennett, Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Southern Historical Press, Inc., Reprinted 1994.
  7. Original Will and Estate Records obtained from the Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000.
  8. Chapman, Blanche Adams, Wills and Administrations of Isle of Wight County, Virginia 1647-1800, Willow Bend Books, 1938/2002.
  9. Chapman, Blanche Adams, Marriages of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1628-1800, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1982.
  10. Hopkins, William Lindsay, Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Deeds 1750-1782, Iberian Publishing Company, Athens, GA, 1995.
  11. Hopkins, William Lindsay, Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Colonial Deeds, 1647-1719, Court Orders, 1693-1695, & Guardian Bonds, 1740-1767, Iberian Publishing Company, Athens, GA, 1993.
  12. Davis, Eliza Timberlake, Surry County Records, Surry County, Virginia 1652-1684, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., Baltimore, 1980. Information supplied by Kathy Anderson.

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