How Most Courteously to Kill Them?

Greenfield, one of the oldest housees in Charlotte County, built by Isaac Read in 1771, and still inhabited by Read descendants.

Who was Anne Read of Annefield?

First, a word about her first husband, William Jameson. Pictured here are two sets of coats of arms on the tombstone of  Mildred (Smith) Jameson, wife of David Jameson, who died 10 December 1778 and is buried at Yorktown, Virginia.  Note the Jameson arms on the left (Smith, obviously, is on the right).  While not known to be a relation to William Jameson, the arms fit the description of a now lost armorial artifact that once belonged to Anne Read, the widow of William Jameson; Jameson died about 1785, as his last will and testament of 1784 announces, probably while on a perilous journey: “Whereas I am about undertaking a voyage to Great Britain, from which it may be the will of the almighty I may never return … “

William Jameson, as we have already mentioned, named his plantation Annefield, presumably in honor of his wife, Anne Read.  Anne was the daughter of Clement Read and Mary (Hill) Read, and was a minor when her father died in 1763.  She was born in 1748, and  married in 1768 Captain William Jameson, a man of Scottish descent who was a planter and factor for the Scottish mercantile firm Buchanan & Hastie.

Anne’s grandson, William H. Elliott (born c.1800, died after 1876), the nineteenth century Read family historian, wrote that “he came from Glasgow, Scotland, and settled in Petersburg, became acquainted in the family of Colonel Clement Read of The Red House, Bushy Forest, and married Nancy Read.”  After his marriage he settled in Charlotte County and became very prominent in county affairs.  Captain Jameson was Clerk of the Charlotte Committee of Safety in 1775-76, and as a Captain of the county militia, fought at the pivotal Battle of Guilford Courthouse at Greensboro, North Carolina in 1781 and was present at Yorktown when Lord Cornwallis surrendered at the end of the American Revolution.

His  family, an ancient one of Norse extraction, had settled in the Shetland Islands and later removed to Leith in Scotland.  Mr Elliott continued:

“His faraway ancestors had been granted an Armorial Bearing.  It consisted of four ships under full sail placed diamond fashion in a fine frame.  It always hung over the fireplace of my grandmother’s chamber.  I remember it very well when I was a child; there were some lines at the bottom giving its history.  I wonder what has become of it; I would give anything in reason to possess it.”

According to Burke’s Peerage, one of the Scottish Jameson arms are Azure — a saltire cantoned with 4 ships under sail, argent.  (Translation: a blue shield divided into four parts by a Saint Andrew’s Cross, depicting four silver ships under sail, one placed in each quadrant.)  Absent the color, of course, this is what appears on Mildred Jameson’s tombstone.  We have not been able to find a photograph or drawing of the Jameson Arms with four ships; most show only three, with what appears to be a horn in the lowermost quadrant.  They do, of course, evolve over time as prominent families intermarried and differenced them to show their family alliances.  We do not, however, have any evidence that David Jameson was related to William Jameson, nor have we sought this out.  It would be interesting to find out.

A disclaimer for those who care about these things: use of Arms does not necessarily mean that person is entitled to them, or that they were actually granted to that person or their ancestors.

William H. Elliott recounted for a relative a charming story that gives some insight into the character of Anne Read.  He describes her as a “pretty madcap” before her two marriages (first to Captain William Jameson in 1768, and second to Colonel Richard Elliott in 1787).  On the occasion of a great wedding of one of the girls at Bushy Forest, her childhood home, we have this story:

Mischief entered the head of my grandame and another girl of her own age.  They went up to their brother’s room and each selected from the wardrobe a full suit of men’s apparel, had them secretly conveyed to a thicket where they arrayed themselves.  They then bribed the hostler to saddle three horses and put a portmanteau behind his own saddle.  Then they slipped out the rear of the premises, got onto the public road, and so came up the avenue, and asked for the gentleman of the house.  To the host who came out, “Sirs, we are travelers unacquainted with the country and benighted; we should be much beholden could we stay with you this night.”

“Gentlemen,” he returned, “I am much embarrassed.  A wedding is being held here, and our house is filled with guests, every bed bespoken; but if you will put up with couches and a few rugs and blankets, we shall be most happy to shelter you.”

The youths were then taken in and introduced to the company as benighted travelers, and hospitably received; but after a little while they waxed boisterous and uproarious, smacked the girls’ shoulders, put their arms bout them and became so outrageous that their enforced hosts were wondering how most courteously to kill them, when suddenly a long curl, a blue ribbon, “some whimsical tag of dress,” says the chronicler, escaped and betrayed them.


Duels were averted, and with much laughter and various brotherly whacks, shakes and touslings, the naughty masqueraders were captured by their horrified mammy and turned into young misses once more.

Much of the information from this post is from that masterful family history, The Reads and their Relatives, by Alice Read Rouse (Cincinnati: Johnson & Hardin Press, 1930).

Architectural Legacy of the Reads

We have a special regard for architecture — history and the present exist in parallel time in the form of architecture, because the buildings represent centuries of history, and provide a fabric that lends historic context.  You can stand before any of these historic buildings and contemplate the accomplishments and disappointments of the occupants.   These buildings connect us to these times and people, and the events that made us who we are.  These buildings need to be cherished and preserved.

Mulberry Hill.

The original Annefield is long gone, but several houses associated with the Read family still stand, most notably Greenfield, built in 1771 by Isaac Read (1739-1777); recent scholarship indicates that the house at Mulberry Hill, the plantation of Judge Paul Carrington (1733-1818), is even older; part of the structure dates from about 1755 or 1760, with additions in the 1830s.  Judge Carrington had married Margaret Read, Anne Read’s sister.  The county seat, Charlotte Court House, was once known as Marysville, in honor of Anne Read’s strong-willed mother, Mary (Hill) Read.

Both properties are listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.  Greenfield is privately owned and is not open to the public.  Mulberry Hill was recently given to the Commonwealth by Carrington descendants and is part of the Staunton River Battlefield State Park, but it is currently not open to the public while the structure is being stabilized and prepared for exhibition.  Another property, Ingleside, built in 1810 by Thomas Read (1745-1817),  another son of Clement Read,  is also privately owned and is not open to the public.  The inset photographs of Greenfield and Mulberry Hill are courtesy of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.  The author has never seen Ingleside, for it is not visible from any public thoroughfare; the photograph below appears in J. Cullen Carrington’s Charlotte County, Virginia: Historical, Statistical and Present Attractions (Richmond: The Hermitage Press, 1907).  The same photograph appears in Robert Alexander Lancaster’s Historic Virginia Homes and Churches (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1915).


All three men played pivotal roles during the American Revolution.  Expect more details of their exploits and adventures in the future.

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