Little Otter To Lost River, 2
PETER (PIERRE) CHASTAIN
Often referred to as Pierre, the Immigrant, by researchers, this man is without doubt, through his sons -- John, Peter and Rene, the father of the Chastain family in America.
He was born about 1662 in the Province of Bern, France. Due to the persecution of the Huguenots, he fled to Switzerland in the early 1690s. The 1693 Swiss Census of Refuguees for the Baillage de Vevay lists him as does the Census of 1696. The September 9, 1698, listing of the same place names "Peter Chatain, 35 ans, de charost en Bern, chirurg, sa femme et cinq infants." His occupation is listed as "Appoticairies et chirurgiens." Peter is no longer listed in these census records after 1698 and apparently moved to England for a period of about two years.
The ruling monarchs of England at that time were William and Mary, who were anxious to plant colonies in the new world. Beginning in 1699, under Marquis de la Muse, and ending in 1700, four successful debarkations by the ships "The Peter and Anthony," "The Galley of London,." "The Mary and Ann," and "Le Nassau" were made. They landed in Virginia between 500 and 700 French Huguenots. They settled on the south side of the James River, some twenty miles above Richmond. They were given a tract of 10,000 acres of land which had once been occupied by the then extinct Manakin tribe of Indians. No traces of the original town of Manakin remain today.
Peter Chastain, wife and five children, were among 207 Swiss and French passengers, who embarked April 19, 1700, on "The Mary and Ann" of London, George Haws, Commander, which arrived at the mouth of the James River on July 23, 1700, after a passage of thirteen weeks. The unknown first wife of Peter Chastain, as well as some of the five children appear to have died shortly after reaching Virginia.
As suggested by the 1698 Swiss Refugee census, two Virginia records do refer to Peter Chastain as a doctor. On March 20, 1731, James Robinson deeded land "Bounded by the land of Dr. Peter Chastain" and in the accounting of the estate of Antoine Trabue on December 8, 1727, the list of creditors include Dr. Chastain. He may also have been a preacher.
Peter Chastain is shown with two tithes on the vestry book of King William Parish for 1714, 1715 and 1717 with a negro named Robert. The 1720 lists shows him with three tithes. The 1714 list shows him with a wife, two sons and four daughters. This list excludes son, John, and probably daughter, Judith.
Peter was elected to serve on the first vestry of the newly created parish of King William about 1701. He was again elected to serve on August 25, 1718, and on November 25, 1718, he and Abraham Sallee were elected church wardens, both taking the oath of office December 18, 1718. At the time of his death in 1728, he was serving both as church warden and on the vestry. In 1729, following his death, his accounts as warden were rendered by Mr. John Chastain, in place of his father, Peter Chastain, and also by Mr. Louis Soblet.
Peter Chastain patented 111 acres of land on March 23, 1715. On July 9, 1724, a second patent was granted to him in Hennico county which contained 379 acres on the west side of Jones Creek. He had secured a 574-acre tract from Rene LaForce sometime between 1723 and 1728, by a deed apparently lost in the destruction of the Henrico County records. By 1727-1728, his holdings in the parish totaled 1,063 acres of land.
The second wife of Peter Chastain was Ann Soblet. It is my opinion she is also the ancestor of the
Chastains of Washington County, Indiana, but have no proof of this. She was born about 1684 and was the daughter
of Peter Chastam's fellow immigrants Abraham and Susannah (Brian) Soblet, refugees from Sedan, in the Province
of Champagne, to Virginia, via London. The Register of King William Parish, April 3, 1723, says: "Died Ann
Soblet the wife of Monsieur Peter Chastain, aged about __ years, was buried the 4th of the month."
Peter then married Mrs. Magdelaine (Flournoy) Trabue, daughter of Jacob Flournoy and the widow of
Antoine Trabue. Peter had helped take the inventory of Trabue on May 19, 1724, and the inventory was returned to
court October 3, 1726, by Magdalene Chastain, so they were evidently married in 1725-1726. Magdalene
Chastain, the widow of Peter, made her will June 2, 1729, and died prior to the first Monday in May 1731 when her
will was presented for probate. In it she names only her own children by her first husband, Trabue, and appointed
her brother, Francis Flournoy, as Executor.
Determination of the maternity of the children of Peter Chastain is quite difficult. His will appears to name
the children in order of birth, after first separating them by sex. The sons may be assigned to the correct mother with
comparative ease because we can estimate the age of each closely, thanks to the near completeness (1710-1738) of
the King William parochial tithe lists on which free white males became titheable at age 16. John, Judith and the
three children who died before 1701 were probably children of his first wife, and his second wife, Ann or Susannah
Soblet, was evidently the mother of all the others.
Peter Chastain died in the Parish of King William, then Goochland County, Virginia, between October 3
and November 20, 1728, the dates of the making and probating of his will. He signed the will with his customary
"Chastaing," without Christian name. He and his wife are supposed to have been buried on his farm near Manakin.
The will of Peter Chastain contains the following provisions: son John Chastain to have the land where he
now lives, containing an estimated 90 acres; son Peter Chastain to have the land, 111 acres, where the elder Peter
lived, son Rene Chastain to have 379 acres on Jones' Creek, it being the land where William Bottom lives;
daughters Judith, Susanna, Mary, Elizabeth and Magdalin to have an estimated 574 acres on lower Manakin Creek
to be equally divided, Judith to have the lower part where she now lives; Susanna to join to her; Mary to join to
Susanna; Elizabeth to join Mary and Magdalin to join Elizabeth and if either of them dies before they come of age or
marries, then the land belonging to them that die is divided between the other daughters that join the one who dies.
Rest of estate to be divided between "my wife Magdalin, three Sons John, Peter, Rene, and my five daughters,
Judith, Susanna, Mary, Elizabeth, and Magdalin." Sons John and Peter appointed executors. "Rane" Chastain was
one of the witnesses.
Before taking up the children of the above Peter Chastain, it will be pointed out that, while he is no doubt
our first ancestor in this country, we cannot prove our ancestry directly back to him for the simple reason we do not
know through which of the three sons we descend from. This will be discussed more in what I like to think of as
"The Missing Link" section of this book. Since the three sons will be taken up in considerable detail in one section,
the following pages will be devoted to what is known concerning the five daughters of Peter.
( More - there are 24 pages for this chapter. )
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