by Edythe Maxey Clark, 1980

Magazine Index

Submitted by Pat Wilkey Gilstap


from Introduction:

"Some Maxeys have sustained a tradition  that their forebears were Huguenots;
but that belief is incorrect.  Early Maxeys did, however, marry into many of
the French refugee families who settled in Manakin Town, west of Richmond,
about 1700, on land granted to them by the English king.  Some of those
Huguenot spouses were Bondurants, Chastains, Sallees, Agees, Subletts and
Fords.  The Maxey name is no longer acceptable for membership into the
Huguenot Society.

To be sure, there is a town of Maxey in France.  But the first person by that
name in England was said to have been Organ Maxey of Cheshire, who was
probably there by the 11th century. There is also an ancient town of Maxey in
the county of Northamptonshire, England. According to The History and
Antiquities of the County of Essex by Philip Morant, published in London in
1816, the Maxeys of Saling and Bradwell Halls in Essex County, England, from
the 15th to the 18th centuries were descended from the family originally of
Cheshire and of the Maxey castle (no longer standing) in the county of
Northhamptonshire.  There were also Maxeys in East Anglia, Suffolk,
Lincolnshire and London.

We have not discovered where our progenitor, Edward Maxey, was born or when
he arrived in this country; but he was definitely English-speaking and
probably came from the British Isles. The earliest record that has been
located for Edward is dated 1720, in Henrico County, Virginia.  However, some
of Henrico's earlier records are missing.  Edward may have moved inland to
that county, but many of the early records of the Virginia coastal counties
also have been destroyed.

An Alexander Maxcy  (not of the lines in this book) came to America in 1659,
settling in Massachusetts -- first in Wrentham, then Gloucester and finally in
Attleboro.  He and his wife, Abigail had a large family. A great-grandson,
Jonathan Maxcy, was the second president of Rhode Island College. (now Brown
University)  from 1792 to 1802 and then became the first president of South
Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) in Columbia from 1804
until his death in 1820 in his 52nd year.  Other unconnected lines were
discovered in South Carolina, northern Florida (Robert Clarke Maxey) and
Sabine Parish, Louisiana.  Several Maxey families from Ireland settled in
Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin in the 1840s, and a Patrick Maxcy, born 1783
in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland, was buried in 1849 in an old cemetery
in Louisville, Ky. (Some say that the Maxey name was a derivation of the
O'McKessessy Clan of County Limerick in Ireland.) There was also a William
Maxey who came with his family in 1832 from Wales and settled in Carbondale,
Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. One of his grandsons, who moved to Gallatin Co.,
Montana, after the Civil War, was the owner of the Maxey Mines in Bozeman.
None of the above have been linked to Edward and Susannah.


The Maxey name has been found in various documents spelled also Maxe, Maxcey,
Maxcy, Maxy, Maxi, Maxie, Macksie, Macksey and even McSey.  Some branches
today use the spelling Maxcy, Maxie and Maxcey.  But the names Massey and
Massie are other families, not of the Maxey lines.

The registers of Virginia parishes where the earliest of our Maxeys lived are
no longer extant.  Even before the Revolution the dominant church in Virginia
-- Episcopalian -- had begun a decay.  Churches were stripped of their
utilitarian trappings and allowed to crumble and be consumed by the forest.
Graveyards were recaptured by brambles, and stone markers were used as pastry
boards in farm kitchens, their legends being imprinted repeatedly on pie
crusts and bread loaves -- never mind the alarm of a guest who might be
offered a slice from a loaf inscribed Rest in Peace!  Battles fought on
Virginia soil during the Revolution and the Civil War also took a toll of
early tombstones; and then much of what vandalism didn't destroy "progress"

Beyond that, fires in many of the county courthouses in the areas where
Maxeys lived destroyed all or part of their early documents.  Research was
hampered by the fact that 110 years of records were destroyed in a fire at the
Buckingham County, Virginia, courthouse in 1868.  The land and personal
property tax books survived and helped fill a serious void.  Other counties in
our sphere of interest where all or part of the early records are missing
--burned, stolen or ravaged by time -- are Henrico (mentioned earlier) and
Nottoway in Virginia; Kanawha in West Virginia; Hart, Monroe, Cumberland,
Graves, Clinton and Rowan in Kentucky; Giles, Hancock and Macon in Tennessee;
Calhoun, Chickasaw, Newton and Jasper in Mississippi; Marion, Butler,
Covington and Conecuh in Alabama; Montgomery and Pulaski in Missouri; Wayne in
Illinois; Claiborne in Louisiana; and Trinity in Texas.  There are others.

An awareness of the formation of some Virginia counties is helpful; Goochland
was created from a part of Henrico in 1727; Albemarle from part of Goochland
in 1744; Cumberland from part of Goochland in 1748; Chesterfield from part of
Henrico in 1749; Halifax from part of Lunenburg in 1752; Buckingham from a
section of Albemarle in 1758; Powhatan from parts of Cumberland and
Chesterfield in 1777; and Franklin from portions of Bedford and Henry in 1785.
This redrawing of counties occurred in other states as well.  Thus it happens
that a person may have been born in one county, married in another and died in
a third, without ever moving.

Our ancestors were not very careful record keepers.  Birth and death records
from different sources, i.e., censuses, death certificates, county birth and
death records, obituaries, family Bibles, tombstones, etc., often conflict.
Family historians must also confront fading documents, poor handwriting, and
phonetic spelling of names.

Every effort has been made to be as accurate as possible in compiling The
Maxeys of Virginia.  And accuracy imposes an obligation of honesty to the
reader, which is violated if relevant facts are intentionally omitted to
obscure an indelicate episode.  As early American author and feminist Mercy
Otis Warren put it: "The faithful historian delineates characters truly, let
the censure fall where it will."