Unlocking the real Medford Story

by Jonathan Medford

In the Fall 2000, I was a freshman student at East Carolina University who had an assignment to complete a family history research project. Little did I know that I would catch one of the worst addictions known to man. GENEALOGY. I started my Medford quest at the Joyner Library North Carolina room where I found a lot of information about Medfords in the Annals of Haywood County. One researcher who submitted information to the book named Robert Medford stuck out, so I googled his phone number and gave him a call. I was in awe when I found out that he already had my name in his database. I was equally impressed that he had written a book and traced the Medfords back to the King's of the East Angles. While I have a great deal of respect for Robert Medford's knowledge of the descendants of Jonas and Israel Medford, his theory of the Medfords origin is based on a lot of nothing. Robert is the reason that almost every tree with Jonas and Israel has their father listed as James Medford of Martin County, despite the fact that James had a will which did not mention them. Robert was inspired by information published earlier in Haywood County that said that the Medfords descended from a Fletcher Medford from Ireland. When he couldn'd find a Fletcher Medford he chose Henry Medford and attached the middle name "Fletcher" to him. Hence the birth of the popular Henry "Fletcher" Medford theory which everyone now believes is fact.
Other books like Medford's of the South and Related Families Volume II By James Elmer Medford and Joseph W.B.H. Medford also point to the Medfords immigrating from Ireland in the late 1700s which is clearly not the case. I don't mean to come off negative on the people who have gone before me to try to find the origins of our Medford ancestors. Almost all of the Medford books were written long before the days of the Internet and the ability to search through massive amounts of data. If they had the resources that we have today and the repository of early Medford records that I have inventoried over the past several years with the help of others, I think they would come up with very different conclusions. The American Medfords of the South have a rich history to tell. While none of it is 100% conclusive I am offering a new theory that is based on a compilation of records that have been set in timelines on this website which gives us researchers the most broad prospective of our origins than has ever before been possible.

The following is my perspective of our Medford origins.

The Medfords of the South did not come here from Ireland in the 1700s. The Medfords have been in America since the early 1600s and they came from England using their own ship. The first Medford to spend time in America was a ship master from the port of London named Richard Medford who spent time in the colony of Virigina. By 1664 we find another ship master out of the port of London named John Medford who was ship master of the "Humphrey & Elizabeth". After John, a Robert Medford became captain of this ship. The "Humphrey & Elizabeth" sailed all over the world. It was commissioned by the East India Company to serve the Crown and actively traded in India and the Caribbean. On the 21 of June 1760, John Medford received 250 acres of land in Rappahannock County, VA for the transport of 5 people. This is likely when Robert took over the ship and left John to start his life in America. John went on to become a successful tobacco farmer where we know much of his crop was shipped back to England, perhaps on Robert's ship as Robert continued to trade between Virginia and England.
In 1701 a deed shows that John Medford sells the property of a Robert Edwards who died in 1682 wherein the wife of John Medford is specified to have been Philadelphia Edwards.  John and Philadelphia are known to have had two children named Henry and Jarret Medford. John also had another son name John Jr. with a second wife after Philadelphia passed.

No additional information is known about Jarret Medford. John Medford Jr. might have stayed in Northern Virginia where he later signed the 10,000 Name Petition which was presented to the General Assembly in October of 1776 which sought the disestablishment of the Church of England. Henry Medford slid further south to Richmond County, VA. Henry could very well be the father of the oldest generation of Carolina Medfords like Henry, Jeptha and other names found in the earliest Carolina Medford documents. To date, the only proven child of Henry Medford of VA is a daughter named Rachel.
Rachel Medford born about 1739 married William Sanford III (1734-1806) of Westmoreland County, Virginia. William Sanford III served in the Revolutionary War. So did his brother Jeremiah Sanford and his son Jesse Sanford. They received land in Georgia for their service. Jeremiah did very, very well, and is buried in Greensboro with a headstone noting that he was a friend of George Washington. It is believed that William III and Rachel died and were buried in Baldwin County, Georgia where their sons settled [source Beth Elliott].

Henry Medford of Martin County and Jeptha Medford start showing up in the Carolinas in the mid-1700s. Henry settled in the Martin/Halifax/Edgecombe county area of North Carolina just 140 miles south of where the elder Henry Medford was last known living in Richmond, VA. Jeptha ended up settling in the Sandhills area of North Carolina which is the central portion of the state located closest to South Carolina. We know a lot about Henry Medford as he and his son James died testate (left wills) which documented their children. Almost all Medford family histories written in the South trace their lines back to Henry Medford, regardless if their ancestor was mentioned in his or James' will. Because no known will exists for Jeptha Medford he is simply forgotten. Researchers avoid considering him as an ancestor despite the fact that he had no less than 6 to 7 unaccounted for Medford males born in North Carolina.