Lawhorns of Virginia

The following information is coutesy of Brian and Sandra Lawhorne Green

The Lawhorn family takes root in Virginia in the early 1700s with a Thomas Lawhorn in Goochland County. He is listed in June 1731 as a taxpayer tasked to clear a road from a ferry on the James River to the "Church" close to Goochland Courthouse. His tax was his labor and, later, his descendants would pay their tax in tobacco as "planters" moving up the James in search of new tobacco lands. Lawhorns moved into Buckingham County, then into Fluvanna, Bedford, Amherst, and Nelson Counties. After the Revolution they spread into southwestern Virginia and after 1812 on to Kentucky and from there on to Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase.

Tradition says the family comes from Wales and the village of Laugharne on the Welsh south coast with its famous Laugharne Castle. The Castle was a scene of battle during the English Civil War in 1644 and this event may explain a family exodus to the colonies. A Thomas Laughorne is identified in 1720 on a ship bound from Bristol on the English west coast to Maryland, and he is the likely family originator and the same Thomas Lawhorn in Goochland.

Lawhorn land purchases in the 1700s are numerous in the surveyor books of Albermarle and Amherst County. A William Lawhorn in 1745 is shown living on the Slate River in Buckingham County close to the James. In 1750, a Thomas Lawhorn is on Rockfish Creek east of Scotsville owning 81 acres. In 1767, a Thomas and a Henry Lawhorn attempt to separately purchase land on Woodson’s Great Creek and Shepard Creek in Fluvanna County, again, close to Scotsville.

The Lawhorn’s entry into Nelson County occurred in 1773 with a Henry Lawhorn taking 48 acres on Davis Creek north of Lovingston. Henry didn’t stay however, and it wasn’t until 1791 when a Thomas Lawhorn transferred land warrants to a William Lawhorn that settlements on Thasher’s Creek and Indian Creek put the family firmly into Amherst and Nelson Counties.

The early records offer many interesting facts about the Lawhorns. In 1746 Thomas Lawhorn is listed as neighbor to Tuckahoe Plantation seated by Peter Jefferson father of a young Thomas Jefferson. A later Thomas Lawhorn is 18 in 1781 when he re-enlists for service in the Revolutionary War at Chesterfield Courthouse. In the War of 1812, four Lawhorns serve with one dying in 1815 at Camp Holly east of Richmond. In the Civil War, many Lawhorns serve, and one, an Isham Lawhorn, Private from Buffalo Springs, is killed in action on July 3, 1863 at Gettysburg as his unit, the Virginia 19th, under Major General George Picket attacks Union lines.

One of the more interesting facts of the family history is that Lawhorns never owned slaves according to Census records. Nearby neighbors did own slaves but the Lawhornes worked their own land it seems and shifted from tobacco to grain crops as the markets changed in the middle 1800s. Another interesting item is the supposed mix of Monacan Sioux Indian blood in family lines in the early 1800s. Strong hints say the mix is so but records are limited and the search continues on this and other family legends.