Home | Absalom Farrar Winfrey | Baptist Minister Heritage | English WINFREYs | "My Mother and My Father" | Early Kentucky Settlers | Henry Winfrey's Letter | Colorado Homesteaders | Winfrey Book | WINFREY Genealogy | Ancestors I | Ancestors II | Contact Me
WINFREY Genealogy Paper by Robley E. Winfrey
"Searching the Genealogy of the WINFREY Family Tree" 

Robley E. Winfrey
(May 1987)





This collection of information on the genealogy of the Winfrey family name is taken from my collections gathered over the past ten years.  My early intention was to put in book form the history of Winfreys in Virginia and Kentucky.  Because of failure of health and family obligations, my objectives may be reduced somewhat.


In the January/February 1987 issue of the Genealogical Helper, page 69, I had three items asking for information from the Winfreys who had lines connecting with John Winfrey and his wife, Mary Turpin.  The results were highly favorable.  I gained helpful information, and was privileged to materially help most of those who responded to my requests.  In the end, many more persons will benefit from the contacts with those who had contacted me.


This collection is being given to those who wrote me and to many of my correspondents of the past ten years.  Many other subjects are well worth writing about, but my time is limited.  This short edition is much better than single-sheet letters, and I hope its contents will be helpful to many readers who will hear about its existence and find a copy to read.


Although this report is written in the first person of Robley E. Winfrey, he was aided greatly by the efforts, counsel, and support of his wife Verne Cooper Winfrey.  Her help was continuous from 1976 through the completion of this report.


I was aided materially by professional genealogists who searched the state and county records in Virginia and Kentucky.


Robley E. Winfrey

10 May 1987










1.        Background Information


2.        Brief History of the Development of

            Winfreys in Virginia and Kentucky 


3.        The John Winfrey Genealogical Line


4.        Proof that the John Winfrey who

            married Mary Turpin is our John


5.        The French Huguenots as Related

            to the Virginia Winfreys


6.        Land Office Military Warrant No. 1684

            and John Winphrey


7.        Other Subjects


8.        Tables and Graphs


            A.        Variant Spellings of the Family Names of

                        Winfrey/Winfree as Found in Sources of

                        Genealogical Information


            B.        Work Chart of the John Winfrey Family


            C.        Pedigree Chart – Philip Winfrey Back to

                        Israel Winfrey and Philip Turpin


            D.        List of John Winfrey Family Members Written

                        Before 1936 by Thomas Henry Winfrey


            E.        John Winphrey’s land Warrant No. 1684


            F.        Reverse Side of Warrant No. 1684


            G.        Typed Copy of Wording on Each Side of

                        Warrant No. 1684











My searching the genealogical aspects of the Winfrey name, with 30 or so different spellings, started about 1976.  My start was to develop my family line as the main objective.  As I got deeper and deeper into the available records and developed correspondents over the states, I began to see that researchers in general were reading from the library and county headquarters the same papers, files, books, records, and documents.  Further, the searchers were being blocked by the same factors they could not find answers to, and also they were gathering and believing “facts” that were not facts, as well as adding in their own information of doubtful truth.


My reaction to these findings and observations was to change my objective from developing my Winfrey family line to the broader one of finding the history of the Winfrey name and variations in spellings in Virginia and Kentucky, 1607 to 1850.  The Winfrey Family, a book by James Clifton Winfrey, fulfills part of my objective.  I am pleased to have had the opportunity to work with him and enhance my own knowledge and capabilities.  I also broadened the scope with extensive searching in England, especially in Lincolnshire.


My own Winfrey genealogical line is from our John Winfrey and wife, Mary Turpin, through their son, John, Jr., whose son Thomas went from Kentucky to Polk County, Iowa in 1861.  My grandfather, James King Winfrey, was born in Russell County, Kentucky, in 1843, and went to Iowa in 1861 with his father, Thomas.


Our John Winfrey family, from which I, Robley E. Winfrey, am descended, consists of seven sons and six daughters, most of who went to Kentucky from Virginia in the period from 1785 to 1820.  Then some went on to Missouri.  John’s family is described later in this statement.


Herein the widespread geographical coverage, the time period, the spellings of names, and the stories of how, when, and where the Winfrey families developed brought to my attention conflicting “facts.”  A few comments about such items is of interest.


I have found no evidence that allow a positive story of how and when the Winfreys came into Virginia or other colonies.  These stories are varied in detail, but many relate to two, three, four, five, six, or seven brothers coming from England to Virginia, then spreading out to other colonies or states.  My father says two brothers came; one went to Kentucky and one stayed in Virginia.  Another story says three brothers came from England to Georgia with James Oglethorpe in 1733; later they went north to Virginia or west to Louisiana.


These brothers stories are family fiction.  All of them cannot be true.  But here in Virginia and Georgia and in England I found no Winfrey brothers or nonbrothers who came from England to the American colonies.  Floods, fires, Indians, and wars destroyed many collections of genealogical records, so we cannot be certain of many early events and actions of peoples.


We are 99% certain that our Virginia Winfreys (all spellings) did come into Virginia from England, but when, how, and who is not known.


This collection of Winfrey information has been put together rather hurriedly, but hopefully helpful to my correspondents.  This collection will provide more information than I would put in single letters.  Also, less time is required to prepare the replies.  We had three “queries” in the January/February 1987 Genealogical Helper magazine, page 69.  All persons sending in replies will get this collection.


Note:  In the printed magazine, the birth of our John Winfrey is given as CA 1747, which is in error.  The correct year is CA 1740.





Where cometh from the Winfrey families of Virginia?  The general belief of those persons who have searched carefully for the history and origin of the Winfrey family name is that they came directly from England sometime after 1607.  Searching in England and in Virginia has not located any records that prove that the Winfrey in early Virginia came from England or other European country.  The Jamestown, Virginia, records here or in England do not list any Winfreys.  However, the fires, floods, Indians, and wars destroyed many record of the 1600’s, 1700’s, and 1800’s.  County, state and national records have all suffered from these losses.  Most of the early histories will never be discovered.


A search of England, especially Lincolnshire, of the records of about 1550 to 1750 (the span of time searched) shows that Winfrey persons, with some 26 variant spellings, were then in England.  The spelling of “Winfrey” was quite common.  What has high probability, but no proof, is that the following four “Winfrey” persons came to Virginia during the years shown and then spread around the Virginia counties with changes in spelling of the name.  Not one of these persons has been identified after arrival in Virginia.  A land grant was given to the person who sponsored the trip from England to Virginia for these four “Winfreys” and other named persons.


      William Winifrett – 5 July 1636Charles River County

      William Winnfrye – 18 June 1638Isle of Wight County

      George M(W)infrey – 6 January 1655Lancaster County

      Bernard Winefry – 18 April 1668 – Old Rappahannoch



The actual spelling of the names of these four persons may be questioned.  How, when, and at what place these four “Winfreys” entered Virginia is not known.  Where those persons lived in Virginia and under what spelling of the name what became of them is not known.


From the vestry book of Blissland Parish, New Kent and James City Counties, Virginia, 1721-1786, the following information is found:  Jan. 29, 1677, Commissioners sent over by the English Government to inquire and report upon state of affairs in the Colony arrived in Virginia.  Grievances complaining of the oppressions . . . were presented  . . . .”  Henry Winifride was one of the inhabitants who signed the statement presented from Blissland Parish.


Within Virginia the Winfrey persons begin to show up in the Parish and County records about 1675.  The St. Peter Parish records of New Kent County report the marriage of Jacob Winfree and Elizabeth Alford in 1698, the  earliest marriage   I   have  found  of  a  Winfrey.    From  


Virginia,  the Winfreys  began  moving  to  North Carolina TennesseeGeorgia, and  Kentucky about 1750.  The movement of the John Winfrey line to Kentucky started about 1785.


Not only is there a wide spread of spelling, there also are many reported meaning of different spellings.  Examples are:


       Friend in peace--White wave--White phantom--Streamy


                        Win (something won) and free (freedom)


This freedom applied to serfs or slaves who won their freedom, or the French Huguenots winning their religious freedom.


Some references say the Winfrey name is derived from a different family given name or person’s first given name, but from the evidence as cited it is illogical to conclude that the family name Winfrey comes from another name when there are 20 to 40 spellings of the name, starting from before 1550 in England.


In Virginia the spelling “Winfrey” seems to have appeared before “Winfree.”  But now in Virginia the Winfree spelling is the leader.  For the United States as a whole in 1976 of total Winfrey/Winfree spellings there were 72 percent Winfrey and 28 percent Winfree.  This information is based on a tally made from telephone directories for 189 cities and towns.


Our John Winfrey, husband of Mary Turpin(e) at the time he moved to Kentucky, spelled his name “Winphrey.”



Conclusions by Robley Winfrey – 17 September 1984


Neither the origin of the family name of Winfrey nor its meaning are clearly stated in the many references I have read.  Starting with Saint Boniface in 680 A.D., and coming forward to 1750 in time in England, there are different spellings of names that can be accepted as variants of “Winfrey” or “Winfree.”  Writers at all ages of history do not agree as to spelling, origin, or meaning of the names and spellings of “Winfrey.”  Country and language sources involved include German, French, Norse, Danish, Anglo-Saxon, Welsh, Irish, etc., in many writings over a time span of 1,400 years.  The detailed support for specific positions is rarely stated.


I have collected papers on the subject that are not presented herein.  I doubt that a full-scale search of the complete literature would come up with a name and source from which “Winfrey” was developed, and a specific meaning of that name.  My position is strengthened by correspondence with a Winfrey family from Petersborough, England.  The names “Winfrey” and “Winfree,” as commonly used today, may be said to have just come from hundreds of years of “evolution” as evolved within a collection of languages, spellings, and meanings.




The Winfreys and Winfrees in Virginia comprised a high number of such persons with the same or similar names, from about 1700 to 1800.  Two genealogical lines have developed – the John Winfrey line, from which the Kentucky Winfreys were started by our John Winfrey, who started the movement to Kentucky about 1785.  The Valentine Winfree line as a whole stayed in Virginia, though some persons went west and south, reaching out through Tennessee to Louisiana and Texas.  I see signs of these two lines having a common beginning and a geographic home in the area of New Kent, King William, and nearby counties.  We know that the John Winfrey line dates back to his father, Israel Winfrey, born CA 1720, probably in Henrico or Goochland County.  We have land transfers by a Valentine Winfree in King William County as early as 1702 and 1705.


There has been no record of where or when the first Valentine came from.  Persons have theorized or directly assumed that the first Valentine family came out of New Kent County, probably the St. Peters Parish.  Extensive searches of the records of the parish and of New Kent County do not show any Valentine Winfree entries in either place.


Though I have searched the Valentine name extensively, this statement treats mainly only the John line.  See attached work chart on our John Winfrey and his 13 children as of my findings of 10 February 1986.  My father, Thomas Henry Winfrey (1866-1936) comes up from John, Jr. (No. 6 on chart), Thomas Winfrey and James King Winfrey.  The Thomas in this line moved from Russell County, Kentucky, to Polk County, Iowa, in 1861.


The handwritten notes as prepared by my father list 12 of the 13 children shown on the chart.  James (No. 9) was located in my searches before I knew there was a thirteenth child.  Much of my searching has been directed to finding the birth, marriage, and death of our John Winfrey, the marriages of his children, and his ancestors.  An examination of the work chart will disclose what has been found and what has not been found.  I started searching about 1976, but did not find our John’s wife, Mary Turpin, until late 1985.  I am still hunting for more facts on the Turpin line from England to our John.  Although we now have our John’s wife, the date and place of marriage has not been found.  It is a strange fact that I have not seen in Virginia or Kentucky any mention of Mary, his wife (except for the Winfrey/Turpin, father/mother existence at the birth of their first child (Sarah), 13 February 1762, or mention of John as a parent to the 13 children.  The only record or signature found of our John is to his land office military warrant No. 1684 when he sold his warrant in January 1784.  The warrant was issued 29 August 1773 to John Winphrey.


See attached Section 4 on the proof that Mary Turpin did marry our John, having sons  Philip,  Henry and John, Jr.   The proof that Israel is the father of our John is in the same section.  See also Section 6 on the Warrant No. 1684.


My father lists five sons of Israel and his wife, Elizabeth Slaughter:  Reuben, Hilly, John, William and Philip.  I have put forth but little effort to identify these sons other than for our John.


I have searched for Mary (Polly) Winfrey Luttrell, but have found no trace as yet.


On the work chart there are sufficient birth spaces left to fit in the remaining three sisters.


The Turpin line is under search to develop the Mary Turpin family.  It appears now that the line will extend back through about 1650 in Virginia to Yorkshire in England.





This section is directed to the proof that the John Winfrey, father of our Philip and Henry Winfrey, is the John Winfrey who married Mary Turpin.  The date and place of this marriage is not known.  The source of information of the husband/wife relationship of John and Mary and birth date and name of their first child is found in the Douglas Register.*  The basic information given in the Douglas Register is: John Winfrey and Mary Turpin – first child to be born 13 February 1762, named Sally Winfrey.  The source of this information, the Douglas Register, is fully reliable to the last detail.  It is noted that the date and place of the marriage of John and Mary is not given.


Israel Winfrey is the father of our John.  In a deed transferring land from Israel to Arthur Moseley, 5 June 1778, in Powhatan County, Israel states “which tract or parcel of land my son John Winfrey now liveth on” (TWF** p. 19).  Thomas Henry Winfrey (1866-1936), father of Robley E. Winfrey, and descendant of our John Winfrey Via John, Jr., and his son, Thomas, left papers (TWF p. 30) which list Israel as the father of our John.  These same papers list six sons of our John and Mary, and six daughters, including one daughter named Sarah.  The son, James, was not listed.  Coming from written papers and in a direct line from our John, these items from Thomas Henry Winfrey are considered to be fact.  The information supports Israel as our John’s father and Sarah Winfrey as John’s daughter, as shown in the 10 February 1986 work chart of our John’s family.


James C. Winfrey, author of The Winfrey Family, and I each arrived separately at CA 1740 as the birth year of our John.  Adding 21 years to 1740 gives 1761 as the probable year of his marriage (at age 21).  With his daughter, Sarah, being born in 1762, a one-year subtraction gives the year 1761 as a probable year of marriage of our John and his Mary.


Israel Winfrey and Philip Turpin owned adjacent land on Swift Creek in Cumberland County (in 1777 this area became Powhatan County).  Thus, they were neighbors, and Israel’s young son, John, didn’t have to go far to find Mary Turpin to court and later to marry.


Elizabeth Turpin, widow of Philip Turpin, in her will names her daughter, Mary Winfrey, and also names her granddaughter, Sally Winfrey.



                *The Douglas Register, by W. Mac Jones, 31 July 1928, published by J. W. Fergusson & Sons, Richmond, Virginia.  This register covers the years 1750 to 1797 as recorded by the Reverend William Douglas, pastor of the Dover Church, St. James Northern Parish, Goochland County, Virginia.  See pages 122, 146 and 321.


                **The Winfrey Family, by James Clifton Winfrey, 1982.


The Winfrey persons and the Turpin persons were together in Goochland, Powhatan, Cumberland, and other Virginia counties, and also in Kentucky and Missouri.  So a marriage of our John and Mary Turpin is a normal type of event to expect from these families.


We have found no other John Winfrey who could be identified as our John.  The John Winfrey who married Mary Hughes Walton has been chosen by many Winfrey genealogical researchers as our John, but examination of the records does not bring forth any related facts (see TWF, pp. 11, 20).   The military record of John, the sons Philip and Henry, and the travel to Kentucky, all are missing from the records of the other John.  Also, the marriage date of 17 April 1752 does fit into the birth record of Philip, Henry, and John, Jr.  The more that the John Winfrey/Mary Walton family is searched, the more facts are found that prove their John is not our John.


Their first child, Sarah, of our John and Mary, fits well into the birth schedule of the ten children identified to date.  Note in the 10 February work chart of the position of the child No 3, Judy Elizabeth.  For proof of our John, Sally is correct in name and also by year of birth, related to her brothers and sisters.  The daughters Patsey, Betsey, and Nancy have not been isolated as yet.


The generation-to-generation listings and travels by our John Winfrey family as begun by his father, Israel, fit well as a whole.  Other Johns may not include this fact.


Our John Winfrey and Jacob Ashurst were witnesses to the will of Josiah Turpin, their brother-in-law.



                Herein the references to the book, The Winfrey Family, by James Clifton Winfrey, are made by (TWF, p__).  Note that this book was available May 1982.  The author died 26 July 1982.





There are many Winfrees (and other spellings) who claim they are descendants of the French Huguenots.  Different stories of how this came about prevail, though I have not found here in America or in England a reference to how French Huguenots became American members of the family line names Winfrey, Winfree, or other spelling.  The following writings are my effort to clarify the mixed-up stories and to relate the correct history.


First, the Huguenots.  They began leaving France about the time of the St. Bartholomew Massacre in 1572.  Over the years they entered the lowland countries nearby to France and across the channel to England and associated lands, such as Wales.  Some Huguenots probably went to England first then to the continent.  From all three general areas, the Huguenots went to America.  Virginia was one of their settlement areas, particularly near Richmond about 1700.  These movements took place over 300 years or so.  Suring this long period of years, many changes took place in family makeup, spoken language, family names, religion, etc.


Stories relate to a change in name from their French name to some form of Winfrey.  After a change in name, they went to America (Virginia).  A search of the Huguenot Societies here and in England does not reveal any French Huguenot having a Winfrey name by any similar spelling.  One source of the spelling is that the Huguenots just took an English spelling like Win-free, with the inference that they had “won their freedom.”  Nowhere in the records of Virginia and Huguenot Society is there any finding of a Huguenot by the Winfrey name.  The conclusion to all of this:  there seems to be no French Huguenot Winfreys in the Virginia history.


One story is that one source of the Huguenots was from the ship landing in 1733 in Georgia under the leadership of James Oglethorpe.  Three Winfrey brothers (French origin) landed; John went north to Powhatan County, Virginia. William went north to Chesterfield County, Virginia, and the third (no name) went to western Virginia.  Searchers in Georgia do not support any element of this story, which has many variations, depending upon who is telling it.  But the lack in all versions of this story and all other stories on the French Huguenot Winfreys is the lack of named persons, places, and dates to give support to the stories.


It is true, and is just a normal development still as of today, there were marriages between the English (and other nationalities) men and women and Huguenot men and women in the settlement in Virginia.  But such marriages did not make French descendants out of the Winfreys in early Virginia.  But the many reports, verbal and written, give rise to a need to trace the history of the statements and beliefs.  The absence of reliable data on names, dates, and places makes for difficulty in tracing the history of the Huguenot Winfrey beliefs.  Perhaps the autobiography of  William Powhatan Winfrey, published in 1920, has been themain source to spread the beliefs.  However, the beliefs could have been widespread before 1920.  William Powhatan Winfrey was born 28 January 1843 and died 25 January 1919, in Kentucky.


To quote from the William Powhatan Winfrey autobiography:  “My Winfree progenitors were refugees from France after the St. Bartholomew Massacre of the Huguenots.”  This French massacre occurred in 1572.  During the years following 1572, the French Huguenots were steadily leaving France to seek permanent homes where they could live their way of life in peace.


A variation of the statement above is found in “The Winifree Family of Powhatan County, Virginia,” as prepared by Misses Edna and Billy Whitlow.  To quote:  “The Winifree (note spelling) family were Huguenots who came to America from France after the St. Bartholomew Massacre, 1572, and settled in Powhatan County at Bartholomew Springs, Virginia.  The first of the names known to the contributor were John, William, and another brother.  John lived in Powhatan County, William in Chesterfield County, and the unnamed brother in Western Virginia.”


The uncertainty here is what persons are included in the statement. “The Winifree family were Huguenots.”  Does “family” include all Winfree families in Virginia, just the parents and children of Powhatan’s familu, or all in-line families back to Valentine Winfrey.  Neither of the two statements puts a year of beginning of the Huguenot ancestors.  The Whitlow version states that the John Winifree was a revolutionary soldier, so he probably was in Cumberland County before his land became part of Powhatan County in 1777.


In these Huguenot/Winfree uncertainties, it needs to be clearly accepted as to whether we are tracking human nationality or are tracing family names.  As a general practice in genealogy tracing, we follow the family names.  As in the present case, we are tracking the movement of families of the name of Winfree (with variations) from England (we assume) to Virginia and then within America.  However, there is a restriction.  The name Winfrey has to be attached to a Huguenot person.  Actually, many of the searchers neglect the name follow only the Huguenot persons.  How can such persons fit into the genealogical history of the Winfrey name when the name and history are French?   Any other named family or person is of no interest unless the other family names have an in-marriage connection.  If a French Huguenot was named Winfrey, there would be no question, he would be included in our genealogical family.  But to date no such person has been identified.  The French Huguenots have scattered to other countries under their French name or a name to which they changed.  No one has a record of a French Huguenot with a Winfree name being in Virginia at any time.


William Powhatan Winfree does not identify the Huguenots who are his progenitors of the Winfrees who claim to be descendants of the Huguenots.  Powhatan’s statement could mean that all Winfrees descend from the Huguenots or that just his own ancestors descend from the Huguenots, there are the questions of where and when the Huguenot persons came into the William Powhatan Winfree genealogical line.


This collection of Winfrey genealogical information was planned to include a Powhatan pedigree and his family groups leading backward in time to Valentine I. Winfree, who died in Chesterfield, Virginia, in 1795.  This Valentine I. had two sons who have been mentioned as being in the Powhatan line.  They are Reuben and John.  Reuben also had a son as a candidate for the Powhatan line.


My search for the genealogy of William Powhatan Winfree encountered “facts” that were not facts, questionable statements, and the absence of information.  Working on an acceptable statement was delaying the printing of this collection of Winfrey information.  This printed collection does not include the Powhatan data, but the searching will continue.


I would be thankful to receive Powhatan Winfree information from any readers who care to send me what they have.


Should a Huguenot woman marry a Winfree man, the past history of the affected Winfree line would be unaltered.  The future years, however, would continue to be inclusive of the one generation French Huguenot entry under the Winfree name.  Marriages of this type would not form a base acceptable for developing a genealogical line of French Huguenots.


Consider the Winfreys in Virginia about the year 1700, when the Huguenots were settling in Virginia.  By this year the Winfreys were already in Virginia, and they were not Huguenots.  No records have been found that indicate that the French Huguenots entered Virginia at any year, before or after 1700, under the family name of Winfree.  Not finding any Huguenots with the Winfrey name entering Virginia does not support Powhatan Winfrees progenitors of his family of Winfrees as refugees from France.  However, marriages between English Winfreys and French Huguenots were found in the records, 1700 forward over time.


The paper, “The Winifree Family of Powhatan County, Virginia,” relates that John Winifree, one of the three brothers (French Huguenots) who came into Powhatan County was a Revolutionary War soldier.  This John married Betsy Owens of Prince Edward County.   The book, The Winfrey Family, by James C. Winfrey, describes on page 12 the one John Winfrey as a Revolutionary War soldier from Powhatan County.  The wife of  this  John  was  Elizabeth  


(Betsy)  Owens,  who  applied  for  a  widow’s pension.  The records state this John Winfrey was the son of Valentine Winfree.  Then this John Winfrey, by positive evidence, was the son of  Valentine and born in Chesterfield County.  Therefore, he cannot have been a Huguenot coming into Virginia.  Also, this John had a brother William who no doubt lived in Chesterfield County, and who was most likely a son of Valentine Winfree and not the William as the Huguenot brother who came into Chesterfield County.


What is needed as a means of separating the facts from the fiction as related to the French Huguenot/Winfrey family name is for those Winfreys who claim the Huguenot ancestry to study all aspects involved and bring to light the whole story.  The genealogical viewpoint should prevail, since that is the area of interest and use of such information.



            AND JOHN WINFREY



This specific Warrant, No. 1684, has been searched for by many searchers of Winfrey genealogy in the past ten years in Virginia and Kentucky with no success.  Finding the warrant, or any land obtained by John Winphrey by use of the warrant, could be helpful in tracking John Winphrey or getting clues as to the dates and places of his birth, marriage and travels.  Now the story unfolds and hunt ends with the final story about Warrant No. 1684.


At my request for another search for the warrant, Mrs. Kandie Adkinson, of the Office of the Secretary of State for Kentucky at Frankfort, brought together the full story of this warrant.  We all owe her our thanks.


The original act set apart land for the officers and soldiers of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  In 1780, the lands set aside for these warrants became Kentucky lands in the new state.  The history Warrant No. 1684:

            29 August 1783 Issued to John Winphrey

                 ? January 1784 Sold by John Winphrey to Alexander Petrie

               ??       ??       ??       Sold by A. Petrie to Walter Edward Strong

               16 December 1793  Land* granted to Walter Edward Strong


Note that prints of the front and back sides of Warrant No. 1684 are presented.  The original print and the write-in information are difficult to read, partially because of the old colonial spelling.  New typewritten translations are separately printed here so that correct reading of the original is assured.


So far as is known, John Winphrey’s handwriting has never been found by genealogical searchers.  Therefore, this signature, when he sold the warrant, becomes the only signature know to exist.  A talented person in graphic arts touched up the signature and produced an accurate version of the original, but clean of the dark markings.


It is important to note that the spelling John used here, “Winphrey,” is the same as found in the 1800 Green County, Kentucky, tax rolls for John, Sr., John, Jr., and Philip Winfrey.  Henry in the same list used “Winfrey.”



*Grant totaled 2,333.33 acres for 18 warrants.  Located of this land was along the Big Barren River.  This grant was later sold for nonpayment of taxes.




On the assumption that our early Winfrey-named persons date back to England, to, say, 1500, many persons expected that there would be found an historical coat of arms for the name Winfrey or a varied spelling.  Search in England and Ireland does not show any such coat of arms ever to have been registered.  Here in the United States, several outlets make up and sell coats of arms for Winfrey.  The practice is to make up the coat of arms according to acceptable colors, shapes, and objects to fit what they think the name means.  I have seen three Winfrey coats of arms----all different.  These coats of arms are original designs coming out of their “back room workshop” here in the States and are the product of whatever the makers schemed together.  In general, these outlets are honest, but seem to avoid admitting that they do not have, or know of, any historical coat of arms for the name “Winfrey.”  The Turpin name, however, does have a registered coat of arms.


There are in Virginia early records of its counties that are not available to the public because of their fragile paper.  A program is underway to photocopy all county records, or otherwise provide public access to the records.  In Chesterfield County, the seat of much Winfrey history, there are hundreds of metal file boxes.  They are open to the public, but are not used because nothing is indexed by date, subject, or name.  There will be an explosion of Winfrey information when the contents of these boxes are arranged in an indexed system.


I have the national census for 1790 through 1850 for all states, completely listed for Winfrey and similar spellings.  I refer to it frequently.


When the number of Winfrey persons in our population is compared to the total United States population, one sees why the sources of genealogical data are so few.  But the fact is that for the period of 1607 to 1700, Virginia is the only source for Winfrey records.  Papers written on the genealogical searches of Winfrey families are few and scattered.  The book, The Winfrey Family, by James Clifton Winfrey, is the only one of its kind.  Here is a short description of the book and a statement of its availability.




The Winfrey Family is a 414-page hard-bound book published in May 1982.  The author, James Clifton Winfrey, of LittletonColorado, met his untimely death the following July.


The Winfrey Family (often called “The Red Book”) is excellent in every respect – physical makeup, genealogical factors, reliability of information, and geographical coverage.


The Winfrey name in early England is treated briefly, as is done also for the 1600’s in Virginia.  The John Winfrey line in Virginia is developed from the mid-1700’s to about 1785, when the John Winfrey family started moving into Kentucky.


These Winfreys began their move to Missouri about 1830.  Many of the children, though, remained in Kentucky.



The searching for the genealogical factors of the early history of the Winfree-ee family name in Virginia and Kentucky takes un into and through the era of the buildup of the counties and a form of civil government.  At the beginning in Virginia, 1607, the land of this colony extended west and north to cover what now is several other states.  Kentucky was wholly within Virginia until 1780.  In 1634, eight Virginia counties were established.  By 1699, 15 more counties had been carved out of the original lands assigned to each of the original eight counties.  As new counties in both Virginia and Kentucky continued to be formed, the county lands were subdivided a second, third, fourth, . . . time.  Some of the residents of a county, such as Henrico, could find themselves having lived in Henrico, Goochland, Cumberland, and Powhatan counties, yet never having moved from their original land location.  Kentucky was in Virginia when it was formed in 1780 as a state with three counties:  Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln.


Winfreys are found over the years 1650 to 1825 in many counties.  The following list includes the counties that were the main areas of Winfrey families for both Virginia and Kentucky.


Virginia (Year Formed)                         Kentucky (Year Formed)

Henrico                      1634                      Lincoln                      1780

New Kent                   1654                      Green                        1792

King William              1701                       Cumberland            1798

Goochland                1727                       Adair                          1801

Amelia                        1734                       Casey                         1806

Albemarle                  1744                       Russell                      1825

Cumberland              1748

Chesterfield              1749

Bedford                      1753

Buckingham             1758

Powhatan                  1777


The literature during the 1700’s contains references of Winfrey persons moving into or from the state of Pennsylvania.   Such references correctly probably should read Pittsylvania or Spotsylvania County, Virginia.








Public Documents in

Lincolnshire, England

for Years 1550 to 1700


01  Whinfrea           21  Winnifree

02  Whinfrey            22  Winphrey

03  Whinphrey        23  Wymfray

04  Wimpra              24  Wynfray

05  Wimprah            25  Wynfree

06  Wimprey            26  Wynfrey

07  Wimprise

08  Wimpriss

09  Wimfee

10  Winferay


Public and Private Documents in

Kentucky, North Carolina, and

Virginia for Years 1636 to 1850


01  Whinfrey            21  Winfrith

02  Wimbrey            22  Winfry

03  Wimps                23  Winfryth

04  Wimpee             24  Winifree

05  Wimphrey         25  Winifrett

06  Wimpie               26  Winifirey

07  Wimpy                27  Winifride

08  Wimpys              28  Winifrith

09  Windberrie       29  Winiphrey

10  Wimberry          30  Winneford

11  Wineford           31  Winney

12  Winford              32  Winniford

13  Winefred           33  Winnifree

14  Winefry              34  Winnifrett

15  Winfred              35  Winnfrye

16  Winfree              36  Winnifrye

17  Winfret               37  Winphrey

18  Winfrey              38  Winprey

19  Winfrid               39  Wynfrid

20  Winfrie               40  Wynfryth


NOTES:       Some names may be considered to be true variants and other names may just be confused with Winfrey/Winfree.  Winfield, Wingate, and Wingfield do not appear to be confused with the Winfrey spellings; they are excluded.  In both lists the spelling of “Winfrey” is found far more frequently than the spelling “Winfree.”


The above lists should be considered as just illustrative of what may be found in sources of genealogical information.


Robley Winfrey

17 September 1984




C. PEDIGREE CHART - Philip Winfrey Back to Israel Winfrey and Philip Turpin

D. List of John Winfrey Family Members Written Before 1936 by Thomas Henry Winfrey

F. Reverse Side of Warrant No. 1684

G. Typed Copy of Wording on Each Side of Warrant No. 1684

Note for Genealogists:  A Word document copy of this article is available by sending an e-mail request to the "CONTACT ME" e-mail link at the top of this page.