Markham of Chesterfield
      Ancestors and Descendants of John Markham

Bio: Peter Markham


Peter Markham was the first born son of John Markham and Mary, his wife. His mother may have been Mary Tunstall, but that is not confirmed. He was probably born about 1778-1780 in Pittsylvania county Virginia. It is not certain where the name Peter came from. At present, he is the only Peter Markham I have identified in our family. But recently, a record has surfaced that might suggest this Peter Markham had an uncle who shared the same name. It seems likely that Peter was named for his great-grandfather, Peter Mathews, of New York. But the question is not settled.

Little is known of Peter Markham's childhood and youth. He grew up on the family plantation in Pittsylvania county Virginia. His father died in 1801, when he was around the age of twenty and he likely took the role of family head. His mother died eight years later in 1809.

Peter Markham appears in several records of Pittsylvania county Virginia. He serves as surety to his sister Elizabeth Markham's 1804 marriage to James Whitehead, and he appears on the tax rolls in 1810. In the Court Order Book of Pittsylvania county Virginia, dated 15th of July 1811, there is a dispute between two of his married sisters and his younger siblings. Peter Markham is named as guardian of his six minor siblings - John Markham, William Markham, Catherine Markham, Rebecca Markham, Judith Markham and Thomas Markham. This is probably a "friendly" suit related to the settlement of their parent's estate.

In June and September of 1812, Peter Markham serves as a witness to two deeds in adjoining Amherst county Virginia, one involving his brother-in-law James Whitehead. There is no indication that Peter Markham married. He probably continued running the Markham family plantation in Pittsylvania county Virginia, with the help of his brothers John Markham and William Markham.

The Library of Virginia has an Index to the War of 1812 Pay Rolls and Muster Rolls which includes the name of Peter Markham on a payroll. In 1812, Peter Markham would have been in his early thirties. It indicates that he was a member of "8th Regt (Wall's) Virginia Militia". Captain Wall's Company of Riflemen were among the two thousand Virginia milita who established Camp Carter, near Richmond Virginia in September of 1814. These men were under the command of General John H Cocke, and from the Cocke Papers at University of Virginia, we learn that Camp Carter, ". . . was intended to act as a defensive post to thwart possible British invaders coming up the main road from Williamsburg to Richmond. During the winter, wooden huts were constructed from the adjoining lands for temporary barracks, and streets were laid out in rectangular grids. The winter of 1814-15 was uncommonly cold and thirty-nine soldiers died primarily from pneumonia and diarrhea." The British never came into this area, and the camp was abandoned in February of 1815

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Was Peter Markham among the thirty-nine soldiers who died at Camp Carter? Efforts to locate him after 1815 have turned up no solid clues. There is no evidence that he returned to Pittsylvania county Virginia. He is never mentioned again in the business of his family members. There is a Peter Markham whose estate administration is mentioned in the Court Orders of Nelson county Virginia in 1820. This does present possibilities, as Nelson county was formed from Amherst county Virginia in 1808. But, I have not located any other records of this Peter Markham in Nelson county Virginia.


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Biography of Peter Markham; written by Pamela Hutchison Garrett for John Markham of Chesterfield website; 2014.