Cobb Family

1520 - 1832

The surname Cobb, once Cobbs, is derived from the Middle English personal name Cobbe or Cobba; or the Old Norse name Kobbi. Another possibility is that it’s a shortened form of the personal name Jacob. The vast majority of Cobb families who immigrated to the United States were from Great Britain or Ireland.

The Cobb family in our tree begins with Thomas Cobbs (b. 1520 in Faversham, Kent, England) and Christina Young (b. 1525 in Reculver, Kent, England) whose son Ambrose Cobbs I was born 1564 in Lyminge, Kent County, England. Ambrose married Angelica Hunt, who was the sister of Reverend Robert Hunt of Jamestown. Ambrose owned the Manor of Eastleigh Court, which was situated in between Lyminge and Petham. He and Angelica had several children here:

  1. Susanna (b. 1586)
  2. Rachel (b. 1588)
  3. Elizabeth
  4. Thomas
  5. Edmund
  6. Ambrose (b. Aug 1595, d. Aug 1595)
  7. Jane
  8. Ambrose II (b. 1603)

Angelica died in 1603 so it’s possible she died giving birth to Ambrose II. Her husband Ambrose I then died sometime between 1605 and 1607 so it’s unknown who raised the now orphaned younger children. Ambrose I is buried in All Saints Churchyard and in his will, he left Susanna with only three pounds, while his other daughters received 50 pounds each, perhaps because Susanna was already married and the other two girls needed more financial support. His son Thomas was given 120 pounds and the rest was to be split evenly among Edmund and Ambrose II, after the sale of his estate.

Ambrose II married Ann White on April 18, 1625 when she was only 17 years old and they had seven children in total, four of them before immigrating and two after:

  1. Robert Cobbs I (January 7, 1626)
  2. Margarett (b. 1631)
  3. Jane (d. bfr. 1639)
  4. Ambrose III (d. bfr. 1639)
  5. Thomas (b. aft. 1639)
  6. Ambrose Jr. (b. aft. 1639)

Sadly, it’s believed that Jane and the first Ambrose Jr. died in infancy or childhood, which would explain why they named a second child Ambrose. Robert was born on January 7, 1626 in Willesborough, Kent, England and baptized July 1, 1627.

In 1639, when Ambrose was 43 years old, Ann was 31, and Robert 13, the family immigrated to the Colony of Virginia, which at that time was an area that extended much further west than the current state. However, our Cobbs family settled in eastern Virginia, initially in Henrico County and then York County. Ambrose purchased 350 acres of land in Henrico County on July 25 in the same year they arrived.

Ambrose Sr. died on January 15, 1656 in Henrico County when he was 60 years old. His wife Ann’s death is unknown but was sometime after their arrival in Virginia. Meanwhile, their son Robert lived in York County where he became a Church Warden in 1651 when he was 25 years old, a Justice of the Peace in 1667 at 41, a Commissioner in 1681, and finally a High Sheriff in 1682. He died not long afterwards though, in 1682 when he was only 56 years old. He also was among the first vestrymen of Bruton Parish Church in 1674.

In 1655, Robert had married Elizabeth Thorpe in York County. She had been born in 1634, making her 21 years old at the time of her married to her 29 year old bridegroom. They had four known children:

  1. Ambrose
  2. Edmund
  3. Otho
  4. Robert Cobbs II 

Not much is known about Robert II except that he had at least three sons:

  1. John
  2. Robert III
  3. Thomas

Thomas was born probably sometime between 1712 and 1722 and lived an extraordinary life. He served in the Revolutionary War, though he would have been in his 50s or even 60s by this point. He moved around a lot to places like Goochland, Hanover, Albemarle, and Buckingham Counties of Virginia, as well as Granville County, North Carolina before finally settling in Georgia. After the war, he owned the largest plantation in his county, which may have been when he was living in Albemarle since this was his residence in 1790 when he owned 8 slaves and 6 horses. By 1830, he owned a total of 19 slaves, three males under the age of 10, one male between 10 and 23, another one between 24 and 35, and four males between 36 and 54. Of the women, there were three under 10, three between 10 and 23, two between 24 and 35 and finally, two between 36 and 54. Thomas lived a remarkably long life, dying in 1832 when it was believed he was somewhere between 110 and 115 years old. Legend has it he was closer to 120 but most recent studies suggest he was probably slightly younger. Either way, he remains the second longest living person in Virginia of all time (I do not know the first), outliving many of his descendents and becoming known as “Old Tom”.

Thomas named a son after himself, Thomas Cobb Jr., who was born in Buckingham, Virginia (amidst his father’s many migrations). Like his father, he had also served in the Revolutionary War, having enlisted in 1778 when he was only 18 years old. A year later, he had perhaps been discharged from the army since he had returned to Buckingham and married Nancy Watson. Nancy had been born December 21, 1767 which would have made her only 12 at the time of her marriage so it’s unclear how accurate the marriage date is. It’s possible that Thomas had not been discharged from the army but was simply on temporary leave and perhaps Nancy was married so young on the basis that Thomas would be away from home and the marriage would not be consummated for another few years.

In 1796, Thomas Jr. and Nancy had a daughter named Nancy W. Cobb, obviously named after her mother. They probably had other children but they are undocumented.

Nancy Sr. died on November 21, 1813 at the age of 45. Sometime in the next three years, Thomas Jr. and his father Thomas Sr. (who would have been in his 70s by this point) decided to move to Columbia County, Georgia. Thomas Jr. then died there on January 13, 1816 at the age of 56.

That same year, Nancy Jr. married William H. Smith in Buckingham County, Virginia so Nancy had obviously stayed behind instead of moving to Georgia with her father and grandfather. To read more about their life together after marriage, see the Smith Family Chapter.

© Robin Bauer 2010-2013

Sources:

Cobb Photos and Documents

Bruton Church in colonial times, which Robert Cobbs I helped found.