Recently, I’ve gotten back into the swing of researching my family genealogy. It’s long been rumored in and around the Botetourt County area that Austins were related to the those of the same name that founded Austin, TX. The thought was that the first Austin in Botetourt was a brother or distant cousin of Stephen Austin, “The Father of Texas.” This was even the preface to the Austin chapter of a book that details the history that side of my family, Related Families of Botetourt County, Virginia. Sadly, though, that piece of oral history seems to be made up.
Instead, the first Austin in Botetourt was a well-made man who migrated from West Nantmeal Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania to the mountains of western Virginia in the early 1770s. His name was William Aston and he’s my 6th great grandfather. Upon researching his name a little further, I found an excerpt from The Annals of Southwest Virginia detailing an account of him telling the King’s officers to, in so many words, shove it amongst other charges that day. The record is as follows:
William Aston this day personally appeared in court agreeable to recognizance to answer a certain complaint against him wherewith he stands charged. On consideration whereof the court arc of opinion that he shall be fined the sum of ten pounds for insulting the Magistrates in the executing of their (missing word) and fined two securities to be bound himself in the sum of fifty pounds and his said securities in the sum of twenty five pounds each that he shall be of good behaviour to all his Majesty’s liege subjects for and during the term of twelve months from this day.
William Aston, Joseph Phipps and Hugh McNutt came into court and acknd. themselves severally indebted to our Sovereign Lord the King and his heirs and successors the said William Aston in the sum of fifty pounds and the said Joseph Phipps and Hugh McNutt in the sum of twenty five pounds each of their respective goods and chattels, lands & tenements, to be levied to our said Lord the King and his successors rendered. But on the condition that if the said Wm. Aston shall be of good behaviour to all his Majesty’s liege subjects for & during the
term & time of twelve months and one day from this time, then this recognizance to be void.
Upon the complaint of Wm. Aston against Andrew Henry for a breach of the peace, parties heard & [missing word] opinion that the complaint be dismissed.
The bond he was released on that day was backed by Colonel William Fleming, a state legislator from western Virginia who would briefly serve as the third Governor of Virginia in the following year.
An ardent supporter of the Revolutionary cause, my 9th great grandfather even fought under Captain John Mills in the later years of the Revolutionary War. He then returned home to Botetourt and died a few short years later. Can’t wait to find out more…