52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week #3— Father and Son, Charles Broadfield, Sr. and Charles D. Broadfield.

Broadfield (3)With this post, which is a participating blog entry in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  project, I am hoping to find members of my Broadfield family, which includes (as descendants) the surnames Baker, Burney, Duggan, Fleming, Folk, Johnson, Purdie, Waller, and Weston. If you happen to be kin, feel free to contact me.

So on to the Broadfields.

It is believed that father, Charles Broadfield, Sr., immigrated from England– possibly Bridgnorth, a town in Shropshire, England, situated on the Severn Valley– with his brother, Thomas, sometime in the late 1740’s or early 1750’s. The family moved to Isle of Wight County, Virginia. A ship record has not been located as of yet. My maternal grandmother spent 40 years researching family records and, throughout this time, remained adamant that the family originated in Bridgnorth, (and, yes, it is correctly spelled!)– although I haven’t found specific proof of this. It is believed that Charles’ father was a Thomas Broadfield but, again, there isn’t proof available. I have found a book that records the ‘Freemen of Bridgnorth.’ It includes 60 Broadfield men who were made Freemen between 1676 and 1854. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single Charles listed (though there are many Thomas Broadfields). However, the list only shows the men that were Freemen of Bridgnorth; a small minority of the total population of the town. I unfortunately don’t know an occupation for my Broadfield men, which would establish whether they may have been Freemen or not.

In his book, My Book of Memories, an uncle of mine wrote, “I’m not exactly sure why these brothers left England; however, I have a strong feeling as to their intentions. In the writings of James Morrison Broadfield, he states that his parents were ‘Wesleyan Methodists of the first water’ and always attended ‘camp meetings.’ I firmly believe that Charles and Thomas left England because of their faith. There was religious persecution in England towards Methodists at that time (Methodism was just beginning when the brothers left England) and freedom of worship was a necessity of life for many.” He continues, “Both Charles and Thomas fought against England in the American Revolution. It seems to me that if they’d left England on friendly terms they would not have wanted to fight against their mother country.”

Isle of Wight County was established in 1634 and was one of the original shires of Virginia. Though originally called Warrosquyoake, the name Isle of Wight came from the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England. The young county held vague boundary descriptions in the beginning, but originally included the land south of the James River between Nansemond County on its eastern flank and James City County on the northwest.

The first indication of a member of the Broadfield family residing in Isle of Wight Co., Virginia is a listing of deeds, 1750-1782. The surname Broadfield appears. Then, on 01 Sept 1787, three men, including our Charles Broadfield, examined the estate of a John Crocker in Isle of Wight.  In 1798, he was one of three appraisers for the estate of Richard Harrison.

Charles Sr., as well as his brothers John and Thomas, served in the Revolutionary War. Charles enlisted 03 Dec 1776 and served as a private for three years in the 5th, 11th, and 15th Virginia Regiment of Foot (the infantry).  According to the book, Marriages of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1628-1800, Charles married Catherine Penny 15 Jan 1783.

By 1790, Charles was a land and slave owner; by 1799, the Lists of Taxable Property in Isle of Wight County for Charles D. Broadfield(s) notes that he owned seven slaves, two horses, and four carriages of some sort.

On 06 Jan 1800, Charles Broadfield and two other men appraised the estate of “free negro”, Joseph Patrick.

In 1810, Charles wrote his Last Will and Testament, naming his wife, Catharine and sons, Thomas and Charles Broadfield. His daughter, Mary Broadfield, is willed a “negro girl,” Nancy; daughter, Peggy, is left the “negro girl Peg.”

By 1813, Charles’ son, Charles D. Broadfield, begins showing up in his own records as an adult. There exists a Virginia Chancery Record of a legal case held in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. The plaintiff is Charles Broadfield. The defendants are his brother, Thomas Broadfield, and their father, Charles Broadfield. Thomas is listed as the executor of Charles Sr.’s estate.

I have a copy of the booklet, 1815 Directory of Virginia Landowners: Isle of Wight County. It lists the following Broadfield family members and where, in relation to the courthouse, lies their owned property. One day soon I hope to travel back to Smithfield, Isle of Wight, Virginia and search out this land.

            – Broadfield, Charles D- 4NE

            – Broadfield, Charles- road from courthouse to Smithfield; 3E

            – Broadfield, John- estate. Smithfield; 8NE, 6NE

            – Broadfield, Thomas- road from courthouse to Smithfield, 5NE

            – Broadfield, Thomas- 4NE

The biggest question that remains in my research of the life of Charles D. Broadfield is what the middle initial “D” stands for. It has become common belief that the letter stands for “Davis.” Even my grandmother wrote back in the 1930s in a letter that his name was Davis; however, all known published records of the life of this man state his name as Charles D. Broadfield. So, though his middle name may have been Davis, I don’t have proof of this. One other researcher notes a belief that the name was David.

Charles D. Broadfield is recorded in the 1820 New Port Parish, Isle of Wight, Virginia census as having seven free white persons in his household and eight slaves. By 1830, his number of slaves has reduced to five.  Then, by 1840, he is down to three free white persons in his household and four slaves.

For some time, family researchers have believed that Charles Broadfield lived on a plantation named “MoonField” (also spelled “Moonefield”) or Red Point Plantation but, again, I don’t have proof of this claim. It is possible that he was a manager or overseer of the plantation but he did not own it– Captain John Moone did.

On 14 Dec 1812, Charles D. Broadfield got married. The book, Minister’s Returns, Isle of Wight County, Virginia notes that he married Martha Joyner in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.

In the March 17, 1896 issue of The Putnam Herald, James Morrison Broadfield, the son of Charles Broadfield, writes: “My father and mother were Wesleyan Methodists of the old guard, always tented on the old camp ground near our home. I (little as I was) always looked forward to camp meeting as a great time. Several weeks before the time my mother would commence fattening the pigs and chickens, making cakes, ……., and getting her house in order, preparatory to moving to the consecrated grove, where all the neighborhood followed suit to spend a whole week in doing and getting good.  It certainly was a glorious time in those days.”

Existing is a War of 1812 Service Record that lists a Charles D Broadfield who may be this same person. Company: 29 Reg’t (Ballard’s) Virginia Militia. Rank – Induction: Private; Rank – Discharge: Private; Roll Box: 25; Roll Exct: 602. 

In 1842, his Last Will and Testament was written and recorded. The will reads as follows (typographical errors left intact).

            “I Charles D. Broadfield being in sound mind and memory do make and ordain this to be my last Will and Testament in the following manner to wit I give my Daughter Averilla Weston five shillings to her and her heirs forever. I give unto my son James M. Broadfield the sum of five shillings to him and his heirs forever.

            It is my desire that all of my property Reversion or remainder to be sold both Real and Personal to be sold and the proceeds to be equally divided between my daughter Polly Purdie, Charles Broadfield, Jr., Robert Broadfield and my Grand son James Broadfield Jr., and if Charles Broadfield Jr., Robert Broadfield, James Broadfield Jr., either should die without issue from their body then in that event their share to go to the survivor or survivors, if the three last named children should all die without issue its my will it should go to the children of Polly Purdie. Given under my hand and seal this nineteenth day of April in the year of our lord Eighteen hundred and forty two. [Note: he also had a daughter, a Margaret Broadfield; however, she must have died prior to this will being written]

            Charles D. Broadfield (Seal)”

Regarding his slaves: it is fairly certain that at least one of his slaves took on the master’s surname of Broadfield, a man who became Charles Broadfield. It seems that this African-American Charles probably was born on the plantation in 1824. Charles married, it is believed, two women, both named Margaret, and he had a number of children. In his Civil War pension records he states that he married Margaret Johnson with the permission of her master. He later married Margaret Higsner with the permission of her master. His family continued to be Methodist, like their master’s family, after their freedom.

After “black” Charles was freed he was, supposedly, given some money by the Broadfield family, the exact amount remains unknown but, supposedly, a fairly large sum. He placed money, possibly from this gift, with the Freedman’s Bank in 1873. The account record names a partner, a Merit Thomas [Note: spelled Merritt Thomas in other records], and states that he was born 15 June 1824 in Isle of Wight, Virginia and was an oysterman by trade. He names his parents, spouse, and children.

In 2001, descendants of this African-American Charles and the Caucasian Charles met for the first time. Since then, I too, have spoken to the descendants of black Charles and have an ongoing connection to them, and am grateful for it. One family member indicated that, yes, “Pap Broadfield” (his great-grandfather, the slave) had been given money when freed, though the family doesn’t know how much. Slave Charles had been told, ‘If slavery ever ends, I’ll give you whatever is yours.’ Land was purchased with it, which remained in the African-American Broadfield family for some time before being sold off.



  1. Billy Wilson

    Hi I am a descendant of Purdies and Broadfields

    1. Julie (Post author)

      Well hello Broadfield cousin. You must descend from the marriage of George J. Purdie and Mary ‘Polly’ Broadfield. Is that correct? Which of their eight children do you descend from?

      1. Billy Wilson

        Hi cousin!!!MY great great grandma is Sarah(Sally)Purdie.I live in Virginia Beach about 45 minutes from Smithfield.I have been researching my genealogy to find I am related to many pioneers of colonial Virginia including Author Smith (where Smithfield received it’s name) Thank you for responding so quick.If you are ever this way it would be nice to meet in Smithfield,I will send my email.Talk to you soon.

        1. Julie

          Yes, please send me your email address. We can talk. I was raised in Tidewater (yes, I know that’s an old term!).

          1. Billy Wilson

            billydwilson79@gmail.com I am 38 and still say tidewater sometimes too,lol.What area do you live in now.I am so into family history and am working on a book now with more projects in mind.Great to hear back.


    I live in Bridgnorth, Shropshire UK and am trying to identify an old gravestone dated 1813 for someone aged 26. Closest I can find is Sarah Broadfield. It’s alone in some woodland alongside an old property, formerly named Fieldcote. I can send you images.

    1. Julie (Post author)

      I would greatly welcome those photos!! Thank you for reaching out. I hope to make it to Bridgnorth some day. Julie

      1. Janatareen

        Where can I send them to? We think gravestone could be of Sarah Broadfield died age 26 in 1813 in Bridgnorth uk.

        1. Julie (Post author)

          I’m so sorry that I am just seeing this! I’ll write you so you have the email address.

    2. Billy Wilson

      Hello Jane,

      I am a 3rd grandson of George James Purdie(born 1817 died 8-4-1889)of Nansemond,Virginia and Mary Broadfield(born 10-18-1818 died 5-5-1892).I am interested in genealogy and have alot of information. I would like to keep in touch and any information I can provide to help I would love to.
      I am born and raised in Norfolk,Virginia.My fathers side have all been here since the colonial era in the early 1600’s.Many were amongst the first settlers including the first European preacher along with the builders of the oldest church and oldest brick dwelling in North America.

      Hope to hear back,Take care and be safe during these times.

      Billy Wilson

      1. Julie (Post author)

        I just sent you an email.

      2. Janatareen

        Great to hear from you- did your family have someone named Sarah Broadfield that was born in Bridgnorth uk in about 1787 and died in 1813? I have found a grave and trying to locate the history but stone only has age 26 and DOD 1813.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *