Col. Peter Ashton and Grace Powhatan

My apologies wikitree, I am picking on one of your profiles again. The descendants of the Powhatan Indians of  Virginia seem to grow daily. Unfortunately most of these ancestral lines are not based on facts, rather internet generated myths. Today, I want to talk about a woman named Grace Powhatan who married an English settler named Peter Ashton, or did she?

Iopassus, lesser chief of the Patawomeck Tribe of tidewater Virginia, was the father of Wahanganoche. His, Wahanganoche, birth date is unknown; it is believed that he died in about 1662 after being falsely imprisoned by the English in Williamsburg. The Patawomeck people believe that he was murdered as he returned to his tribe. In 1665 the English declared war on the Patawomecks and the Rappahanock. Their intent was the decimate the tribes, and they succeeded.

Surely the marriage of an upper class Englishman from an ancient family and the daughter of a minor Indian chief, would have been remarked on. Did Col. Peter Ashton marry an Indian woman named Grace Powhatan, daughter of Wahanganoche? Let's find out.

grace powhatan ashton

According to the wikitree profile of Grace Powhatan Ashton, she was the daughter of Wahanganoche and his Indian wife. The bio says she was born after 1635, m. Col. Peter Ashton, (b. 1605 in the county of Lincolnshire) and had daughter Mary (b. 1634 Lincolnshire) and lived in Virginia. No record of the marriage or children of Wahanganoche exists. The name Peter Ashton can, however, be found. [1] Simple math and geography rule this out immediately. How does a woman born after 1635 give birth in England in 1634?

Peter ashton
Chadderton Hall Grounds
It is believed that Colonel Peter Ashton was from Spaulding, Lincolnshire, descended from the Ashtons of Chadderton, Lancashire, England. He came to Virginia by 1654 when he began to receive land grants.  In 1656 Peter was a member of the House of Burgesses for Charles City. In 1665 he was patented 2550 acres in Staffordshire County. He named his estate Chatterton, possibly after the ancient seat of his family. [2]

In 1669 Peter Ashton wrote his will. Because he had no issue, he left his entire estate to his two brothers, John and James both of Lincolnshire. This Peter Ashton had no wife named Grace and no daughter named Mary. His brother James, who inherited Chatterton, died with issue in 1686-1687 and left his estate to a cousin, Captain John Foster of Cambridge, England. [3]

grace _____ashton
Although Peter Ashton did not have a wife named Grace, there was a Grace Ashton in Virginia. her husband was John Aston of Westmorland. He was born about 1621 and died in 1677, leaving Grace with at least eight children. The oldest of the children, Charles Ashton was no likely hers, and the birth dates for most of them went unrecorded so it hard to say whose is whose.[4]

In 1677 a William Frizer died and in his will he made bequeaths to the six children. For this reason there is some speculation that he might be Grace's father. If he was not her father, then he was most likely a relative. In 1670 Henry Meese gave Grace's daughter Mary, born by 1660, a mare.[5] This gift has also raised speculation that Grace was his daughter. If you read my previous post on Henry Meese, whose wikitree profile has him married to a daughter of Wahanganoche as well, it is clear that he was not the father of Grace and did not marry an Indian woman.

[1] wikitree profile for Grace Powhatan Ashon, as it was on 18 March 2016.

[2] Lothrop Withington, "Virginia Gleanings in England," Virginia Historical Magazine, Vol. 10, no. 3 (January 1902) 292-293, digital images, JSTOR ( : accessed 18 March 2016).

[3] Withington, "Virginia Gleanings in England," 292-293

[4] Norman S. Fitzhugh, "Captain John Ashton of Westmorland County, Virginia and Some of his Descendants," The William and Mary Quaterly, Vol 14, No. 2 (April 1934) 151-155; digital images JSTOR ( L : accessed 15 March 2016).

[5] Norman, S. Fitzhugh, "Captain John Ashton", 151-155

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