An article of unknown date by John C. Downing
published in The Pilot, a newspaper of Southern Pines, North
Carolina, entitled "Know Your Name", discusses the origin of the
Pegram name. Mr. Downing is a well recognized researcher on family
names, and has columns in various newspapers on the subject,
including The Atlanta Constitution. Quotes from Mr. Downing's
article on the Pegram name follows:
In a religious sense, it denotes one who had visited Rome or the Holy Land. In Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," in the book "Pilgrims Progress" and the New England Pilgrim Fathers it took the religious sense. The name was also used as a christening name and was also sometimes adopted by one who had made a religious journey to some shrine.
In England, Hugo Pilgrim of Warwickshire, William
Pegrim or Pegrum of Dorsetshire, Robert Peregrime of Somersetshire,
William Pelegrim of Cambridgeshire and Simon Pegrim of County
Suffolk lived in the period 1185-1327. William Pylgrem was on the
1379 Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls.
The 1790 census lists the spellings Peagrim in
Maryland, Pegram in North Carolina and Virginia, and Pilgrim in
Maryland, New York, North and South Carolina, and Pilgreen in North
The various Peagrims, Pilgrims and Pilgreens shown in the 1790 census in Maryland, New York and North Carolina apparently had no connection with our Pegrams of Virginia and North Carolina, although they probably were of the same family in England at some early time.
In 1960 Mr. Walter Weston Folger, then of Chattanooga, Tennessee conducted correspondence with several sources in England, in an effort to establish a direct link between the first Pegrams known in this country and a specific family in England. Mr. Folger did not carry his studies to completion, but with the information obtained, I believe that a definite linkage could be established if more effort were devoted to the task.
The Reverend A.J. Morley, Rector of Mistley and Vicar of Manningtree Churches, County of Essex, England, supplied a goodly number of marriage, baptismal and death records of the Pegram family. As would be expected the name in England was spelled in a number of different ways, even in the same church. Some of the spellings were: Pegram, Pigram, Pygram, Peagrum, Pegrum, Pigrome, Pegrym, etc. These were all seventeenth century records.
The Reverend Morley stated that the observations about George Pegrime were some of the most valuable in the Register. The inhabitants of Manningtree had petitioned for the rebuilding of their chapel in 1610, as it was "utterly ruinated and fallen downe." He stated that the records show that the Pegrym family did much toward the reconstruction. Most of the church of today dates from that period.
In 1961 the Archivist of the County of Essex, Chelmsford, England, supplied a long list of Pegrams, Pigrams, etc., that had recorded wills in the seventeenth century. A number of the wills were duplicated and furnished to Mr. Folger, and I obtained copies.
About 1950, when visiting Liverpool, England, I noticed a large brick building on the waterfront, bearing the name of Pegram Iron and Coal Company. Undoubtedly the family still carries on in their ancestral home. Most of the Christian names of the Pegrams of Essex County were the same common ones as those of the early Pegrams in Virginia, such as John, George, Sarah, William, Thomas, Robert, Henry, Mary and Edward.
Since a name to name link has not been established between the Virginia Pegrams and those of England, no further consideration will be given the subject. Perhaps the meager information given will stimulate a further search by someone, to close the gap between the Pegram families in America and England. It would probably not be too difficult.
Many people have worked on the history of the Pegram family in America. The accumulation of unpublished data in the hands of private investigators is voluminous, and there have been several articles and small booklets published on the subject. In addition, official records of Colonial and early Virginia abound with information. Various historical and genealogical publications also carry references to many members of the family. The Virginia Historical Index (1)*, An Index Guide to the Southern Historical Society Papers (2), and The Biography and Genealogy Master Index (3), list over two hundred references to published information on known members of the Pegram family under discussion (see appendix).
With the exception of a brief resume published by the compiler in 1981 (4), there does not appear to have ever been a published treatise that correctly identifies the first two Pegram generations, as perceived by present day workers; and accepted by an accredited organization, the Society of Colonial Dames of the Seventeenth Century (5). The most common story, which has been published several times, and perpetuated for generations (6, 7), is that the family began in this country with an Edward Pegram, who was born in England about 1660. He came to this country in 1699 with a party of engineers under Col. Daniel Baker. Edward was supposed to be Queen's Engineer, or Surveyor to the Crown, and reported directly thereto. He married Mary Scott Baker, daughter of Col. Daniel Baker, and was the father of twelve or more children. He settled in what, is presently Dinwiddie County, Virginia. After Edward's office expired he was supposed to have been given a tract of land ten miles square in Dinwiddie County, by Queen Ann. It is said that he lies buried on that place, although numerous searches have failed to find his grave.
Edward Pegram did settle in Dinwiddie County, which was until 1752 Prince George County, and before that Charles City, County. He did marry Mary Scott Baker (6, 8), daughter of Col. Daniel Baker, and he had eleven children. He did not migrate from England, and no record has been found of the alleged gift of land to him. Since Edward was born 4 March 1722 (8), and since Queen Ann died in 1714, such a gift would not have been possible. The dates given for both his birth and arrival in this country are not at all compatible with the known birth dates of his children. He did not die until 1795. Edward3 was at least the third generation of Pegrams in this country, as is shown in chapter 7.
John Combe Pegram7, son of William B.
Pegram6, and a nephew of Commodore Robert Baker
Pegram6, was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and of the Harvard Law School. He was a distinguished lawyer of Providence, Rhode Island. He wrote a letter in 1878 to his uncle Commodore Pegram, and also provided a memorandum to Mrs. Virginia Pegram McIntosh' of Baltimore, Maryland, concerning the gentleman in question.
(Note that the name is spelled Pegrum, and not Pegram, and it was sometimes spelled Peagram. This is of little consequence however, since these were two of the ways that the name was spelled in England.) The memorandum to Virginia Pegram McIntosh states:
Following this there were six additional official
items cited concerning the activities of John Peagram, Surveyor
In discussing the Pegrams of Virginia and their descendants, it is not intended to imply that all branches of the family have been investigated and included in this book. Such a task would be much beyond the scope of this undertaking. There is a paucity of information on some of the early members of the family. Some branches were excluded because they are being handled by other workers, and are of only marginal value to the family branches herein considered.
The present work emphasizes Edward Pegram3, of Dinwiddie County, Virginia, and his descendants, with special attention being directed to Daniel4, Edward's youngest son, and his descendants. The emphasis placed on the descendants of Edward's other children has been governed to a large extent by the information readily available. For instance, the political and military accomplishments of Edward Pegram4, his son General John5, and his descendants have been well recorded. Because of the noted professional accomplishments of some of the presumed descendants of William Pegram2, there are many available records which were utilized.
It is emphasized that this is not a balanced presentation of the entire Pegram family, nor was it intended to be. It will however, appear obvious to the reader that the inclusion of information on some collateral lines enhances the understanding and appreciation of the lines being primarily considered. Furthermore all have a filial relationship, and are properly a part of any Pegram history.
The Pegram family played a prominent role throughout the Southland. Pegram, Tennessee is a town of some one thousand people, just east of Nashville, in Cheatham County. It was settled by the Pegrams in the 1820s. Other towns that bore the family name were Pegram, Mississippi, in northern Benton County, now extinct; Pegram, Illinois, which had its name changed; Pegram, Florida and Pegram, Louisiana, which are no longer listed and apparently extinct.
In dealing with large numbers of people over a long period of time there are a few occasions where available information is lacking to conclusively show specific suspected relationships. Furthermore in a few instances available data is of a conflicting nature, or partially so. In cases of insufficient information and where there was justifiable reason to do so, extrapolation was employed in arriving at a plausible answer. In cases of conflict of data from two or more sources, it was often possible, by further research, to eliminate some or all of the conflict. Where this was not the case an attempt was made to arrive at a plausible solution by a careful analysis of all available information, or in some instances the conflicting
views were themselves given. Fortunately, instances such as the above mentioned were infrequent, and except in one early collateral case (John Pegram', presumed son of William Pegram'), could not materially affect the many Pegram lines herein treated.
The information obtained for the preparation of this book was derived from hundreds of sources, and some errors were likely made in transcription, especially as regarding the very large number of dates given. Regrettably, it was not possible for me to personally confirm each bit of information by an individual study of the original source, but where possible reference is made to substantial documentation. Every effort has been made to present a factual portrayal of the individuals treated, with the information available, and I do not think that any errors that may exist will materially affect this concept.
As a scientist I have always written for publication in the third person. I have found that this is not always the best way to present non-scientific subjects, especially genealogy. Consequently, both the first and third persons are employed in the present instance, whenever and wherever desired. This will make for more concise expression and reduce monotony, although at the expense of uniformity, which may be anathema to the purist.
In presenting the genealogy of a family the arrangement is most important, and is at the same time often very difficult. Individuals should be presented in such a manner that the reader can mentally place them in the family tree, without having to backtrack excessively to determine identity. The technique of arrangement is governed by the number of generations being considered and the number of individuals involved. When dealing with large numbers, as in the present instance, this can be rather involved, and frankly I have never encountered a system that did this in a completely satisfactory manner (although I have studied most of them). The arrangement used herein is one that might be designated the straight line system. It is about as simple as one will encounter, and is in essence as follows.
The earliest known individual, or progenitor, is discussed, giving available information on his life, that of his wife, where he lived, and what he did. Secondly, his eldest child is considered in like manner, followed by his descendants, in chronological order, to the present day. The second eldest child of the progenitor is next considered, followed by his descendants in like manner. Thus each issue of the progenitor and his descendants is treated, according to age seniority, through up to 12 generations.
One may initially encounter mild difficulty in following certain lines presented, but the arrangement will quickly become familiar. If one should need to refresh himself on the ancestry of a particular individual being studied, this can be readily accomplished according to the following example: Page 134 shows Joe Donald Pegram10 (the tenth generation). His father is the first 9th generation backward, or Carl Gaston Pegram9. Carl Gaston's father is the first 8th generation backward, or Walter Winchester Pegram8. Walter Winchester's father is Samuel William Pegram7, a considerable number of pages backward (page 121), there being several older siblings and their offspring intervening. Never the less the first 7th generation backward is his father. The parent of an individual of any generation is the next lower generation numbered person preceding that individual, regardless of intervening people. Thus, every Pegram related person listed in this book can be followed in this manner, back to George Pegram1, the progenitor, with the following exceptions.
When a person is named out of sequence, that is, in a section focusing on another individual, there could be an exception to the rule just cited. As an example: if Edward Pegram5, son of Daniel4 is the principal being discussed, but mention is made of Robert Pegram5, son of Capt. Edward Pegram4, then Robert's father would not be the next lowest numbered preceding generation, which is Daniel4, Edward's father. Robert's father appeared several chapters earlier. The reader will recognize that the preceding lowest numbered person is the parent of the principal being considered, and not of another individual brought into the discussion. Another case would involve the naming of an individual of a later generation, who had not before been introduced. It is doubtful that this will be encountered.
A considerable number of documents were collected during the period of work on this book. For the most part they are copies of the originals. They include such items as wills, deeds, marriage records, death notices and obituaries, letters, excerpts from books and many other types of information, including some misinformation. These documents will be deposited in the Virginia State Library at
Richmond, where they will be available to those doing research on the Pegram and related families. It is also my intention to microfilm these, as well as the book itself, to be deposited in the state libraries of Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
The state library of each Southern State from Virginia to Texas will have a copy of the book on deposit, and catalogued. Additionally, copies will be deposited in the Genealogical Society Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, at Salt Lake City, Utah, the Library of Congress and other depositories.
With this lengthy introduction I hope that you are now interested in returning to the seventeenth century with me and living the past three hundred years with the Pegram family, as their story unfolds. I believe that you will find their lives fascinating, flecked, as they were, with hope, heroism, success, romance, tragedy and much more. All of which endowed later generations with the traditional family concepts of independence, integrity, dignity and service, sometimes fortified with success, and occasionally prominence.