Finding Your Folks: The Westmoreland family

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

Continuing with our series on the Tidwell family of Fayette, this week we add the collateral family of Westmoreland, descendants of William Westmoreland of Virginia. Much of the information in this series was taken from the book, “McCall-Tidwell and Allied Families,” written by Ettie Tidwell McCall of Atlanta in 1931. Several members of the Westmoreland family married Tidwells.

Many were in the south metro Atlanta area. The Westmoreland family was not among the very early settlers of Georgia (1700s) but began arriving in the early 1800s and settled mostly in central and western Georgia, as it became open for settlement. Using a Soundex search of’s database of the U.S. Federal censuses, I found in 1820 there were only two Westmorelands in Georgia, Reuben and John, who both were in Monticello in Jasper County.

By 1830, a John Westmoreland had moved into Fayette County and a Robert Westmoreland was living in Habersham County in northern Georgia.

By 1840, the number of Westmorelands began multiplying and there were seven Westmorelands in Georgia: John and Robert both in Capt. Nichols’ District of Fayette; Reuben, Robert C. and William S. all in the First District of Coweta; Mark in Meriwether, and Robert, still in Habersham.

By 1850, Westmorelands were really making a presence in Georgia and were scattered all over the state, having moved from the Carolinas and northern states into Georgia. The Westmoreland children in the Fayette and Coweta area, all descendants of William in Virginia, had grown up and were producing Westmorelands of their own, and there were many of them. Here is the story of their ancestors.

Mrs. McCall writes in her book: “William Westmoreland is the first authentic ancestor of this family and was probably the son of Joseph and Sybilla Westmoreland whose names appear in 1720 in the Vestry book of the Bristol Parish Church, Virginia. It is known that he lived in Virginia and died in North Carolina. The name of his wife is unknown. He left two sons, Joseph and Jesse and, perhaps, other children.

“The Cumberland Westmorelands are the parent branch in England and from records it is found that this Cumberland branch (was) living at Wigton Hall, Cumberland, in 1667, then at Milburn, Westmorelandshire, England, where Isaac and Agnes Westmoreland lived. Many of this branch of the family have been Rectors of the Church of England (Lampleigh, England). From records in Virginia, it is found that many of this Westmoreland family came to America before 1720 and settled in Virginia at the mouth of the James River.

“ ... Records show Joseph Westmoreland in the Virginia Militia in 1758; Robert Westmoreland in North Carolina in 1746; John Westmoreland in Pennsylvania in 1745; Thomas Westmoreland in South Carolina in 1765; and Robert and William Westmoreland in Virginia in 1757. The name Westmoreland is English and is spelled Westmoreland, Wesmoreland, Westmorland, and Westmarland.

“Joseph Westmoreland, son of William of Virginia, was born in Virginia about 1740. About 1764, he married Martha Shores and settled on a plantation in Dinwiddie County, Va. He was a planter, member of the Virginia Colonial Militia and member of the Church of England. He was a surveyor and was appointed to procession the lands.

“ ... In 1775, he moved with his family to Mecklenburg Co., Va., where, in 1775, he enlisted as a Revolutionary Soldier, a private in the Virginia Continental Line. He received a military grant of 100 acres of land in Kentucky for his Revolutionary services.”

Joseph Westmoreland died in Virginia about 1784, as his name does not appear in the 1790 census, although his wife, Martha and nine children do appear.

Also in the 1790 census is the name of Joseph’s brother, Jesse, who married Martha’s sister, Maria Shores. Jesse also was a Revolutionary Soldier and received a pension in April, 1833, as a resident of Overton Co., Tenn. Jesse died Feb. 16, 1835. He was 82.

Quoting more from the book: “Martha Westmoreland, widow of Joseph, gathered her little flock around her and, with her indomitable Irish spirit still unbroken after seven years of war, she devoted herself to training her children to lives of usefulness. The writer vividly remembers the stories told by Angelina Westmoreland Tidwell, the granddaughter of this wonderful woman, how alone and unaided she reared her children during the turbulent times that followed the Revolutionary War. She moved with the tide of immigration to North Carolina and gave her children the best education the times afforded. Almost all her children came to Georgia.”

Martha came to live with her sons, Reuben and Robert Westmoreland, in Fayette County and died in 1838 at the home of her son, Reuben, after a long life of over 90 years. She is buried at County Line Christian Church. She and Joseph had nine known children: Joel, Joseph, Reuben, Robert, John, Sybella, and three daughters, names unknown.

We’ll learn more about those children next week
Although time does not permit me to do personal research for others, I welcome all letters and e-mails about genealogy and info on south metro Atlanta families. Send them to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214; E-mail or Any letters and/or e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

Until next week, happy hunting!

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Submitted by Robert Edge Johnston on Sun, 01/29/2006 - 3:58pm.

Hello Judy,

I read your recent series involving the Westmorelands with great interest. I have researched the Westmorelands and other allied families of Fayette County and nearby areas for many years (including the Jennings, Matthews and May families, all amongst the earliest Fayette County settlers).

If you should wish to see more detail about the Fayette County Westmorelands you might review the article I prepared about these folks for "The Fayette County Georgia Heritage Book." I can e-mail the text to you if you prefer, although the book included two pictures of possible interest.

Mrs. McCall's book, to which you have referred, was a wonderful effort, especially for 1931. Although I live some 2,000 or so miles away, I have also had an opportunity to review and copy her 100 plus pages of handwritten Westmoreland notes, preserved at the Georgia State Archives.

Mrs. McCall's claim to a tie to William Westmoreland, unfortunately, as best as I can determine, remains unproven, as do, I believe, claims by others to a Westmoreland tie to English Neville royalty. I do believe the William Westmoreland to which Mrs. McCall claimed descent may have been a Thomas William Westmoreland, but evidence is virtually absent.

Your columns are wonderful!

Best regards,

Robert Edge "Bob" Johnston

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