Elias Fort, I

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Elias Fort, I

Also Known As: "Forte", "John"
Birthplace: England, or, France
Death: March 10, 1678 (46-49)
Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Colonial America
Immediate Family:

Son of George Fort; Mary Forte and Eliza Fort
Husband of Phyllis Fort
Father of John Fort; Elias Fort, II and George Fort
Brother of Arthur Fort and Moses Fort

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Elias Fort, I

Southside Virginia Families Vol II by John B. Boddie, Pacifit Coast Pub., Redwood City, Ca 1996


(From website above:)

Notes for Elias Fort I

The folllowing summary of research on Elias Fort was initially published on a web site entitled “America’s First Families”. It was copied and can now be found on several other family sites who trace heritage through Elias Fort. The original site is apparently no longer available; the ISP went out of business.

The first date recorded on Elias FORT is dated Oct.9, 1667, when he scrawled his mark on the findings of a coroner's jury investigating the death of William PERSONS in Isle of Wight Co., VA. There is another record of jury service later that year when he and other men looked into the death of Edward BURGESS. In the years 1669, 1670 and 1677, respectively, he was called on to administer the estates of Joseph POOLE, Thomas DIXON, Robert ROE and William GROVES. A court record in Isle of Wight County for September 7, 1675, shows him in debt and overdue in his payments to Tom DENSON.

Elias died in late 1677 or early 1678, probably the latter, leaving his widow and "orphans". No one knows where his bones rest in old Isle of Wight.

There is fairly good evidence that Elias was born before 1646 and probably after 1630. His service on juries required him to be at least 21 years old. While the estate administration papers filed after his death tell little about his family, they describe the children as being "orphans" and hence under legal age. Elias and John FORT show up on the "tithable" list for Surry County June 10, 1694. George appears in listings for Surry Co. in Southwark and Lawnes Creek parishes in 1698. These lists of tithables cover white males 16 years and older with independent livings. All indications prove he left comparatively young children and died perhaps in his 40's. The administration papers on Elias' estate show his wife's name was Phillis; the will of Joseph POOLE, made Jan 8, 1668, in Isle of Wight County, indicates rather strongly that she was Phillis CHAMPION, and that her widowed mother had married Joseph POOLE after bearing a son Edward CHAMPION.

There is also evidence that in 1686 Phillis CHAMPION once married to John DUCIE, moved her son's with her to Surry County, VA. On 28 April 1694, sold 200 acres of land in Surry County to Lawrence FLEMING.

Elias shows up on no surviving land records in Virginia. But is seems highly unlikely for a man who administered four estates and who owned 18 pigs and 10 horses at the time of his death to have no land of his own. The records seem to have been destroyed by fire.

Speculation has it that Elias might have been an indentured servant earlier or even at the time of his death. But Elias' service as an executer of estates argues against his having that status in later years of life. The small appointments of colonial living are shown in Elias' inventory, filed by his widow. They include a dozen "spoones", a long table, "three old pots", two flock beds and one featherbed, and "very old" furniture.

Kate Hayne's Fort's Memoirs of the Fort-Fannin Family -one of the few published works on the family-recounts a tradition that three brothers named Moses, Arthur and Elias FORT came to America with a British expedition sent to quell the Bacon Rebellion in Virginia. One was a wagon master. An elaboration of this tradition says they arrived under the command of a Colonel MORRISON and Colonel Hubert JEFFRIES, the three brothers decided to stay after Nathaniel Bacon's uprising aborted.

Kate FORT'S story came from her mother who was trying to recall something Kate's grandfather had said years earlier. Facts are that Bacon's Rebellion did not take place until 1676, nine years after Elias first appears on the VA jury list. Furthermore, the brothers Moses and Arthur, along with a brother Drury FORT do appear together in a migration to South Carolina-though some 75 years after Elias died.

Another source states that two brothers did come to America together and they landed somewhere in the North, and one brother came South to Virginia.

A "Jennet FORTH" arrived in James City County, VA in 1651 and was indentured to Edward GREENWOOD; Surry County was originally part of James City. Some of Elias' descendants evidently pronounced and even wrote the name "FOORT" until about the end of the 18th century.

Another tradition states Elias FORT and his wife Phillis came to Virginia on the ship GEORGE in 1630. But this date seems to early for Elias.

A membership application from Ms. Mattie HIGGS sent to the Washington D.C. chapter of the Huguenot Society of America states "Elias FORT born 1631, married to Phillis in England in 1660".  Submitted by Delores Ellen Mann Franks of Hawaiian Gardens, California.

The Children of Elias FORT and Phillis CHAMPION were. 

  • 1. Elias, b. 1663-1665, d. 1739, m. Sarah HOLLIDAY or BATTLE 1685-1690 
  • 2. John, b. 1663-1665 in Isle of Wight, Va. d. 1725 in Surry Co. VA. m. Elizabeth JORDAN, b. abt. 1663, m.1685-1690 in Surry Co., VA. d. abt 1743 in Surry Co. 

Virtually all of John's children migrated to NC, settling in what is now called the Johnson, Wilson, Lenoir Counties and Halifax.

It has been established that the Forte (Fort) family traces its early origins back to Lezant, a civil parrish and village, in east Cornwall, England. The first known member of the family to set foot in America is Elias Forte who came from England to Isle of Wright County, Virginia. Few records of the first Elias Forte have survived; however, there is a recording dated Oct. 9, 1667, Isle of Wight, Va. when he served on jury. Elias Forte is also mentioned in a membership application for the Huguenot Society of America. Elias married Phillis Champion and together had 3 boys: Elias, John and George. From George Fort (1668-1719), the line of the Forts established in Harrell’s, Alabama would descend.

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Elias Fort, I's Timeline

England, or, France
Isle of Wight County, Virginia Colony, Colonial America
Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Colonial America
Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Colonial America
March 10, 1678
Age 49
Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Colonial America