Phillip Lupo, ca. 1605-1670

Perhaps the most important document in the history of the Lupo family of early America is the will of Phillip Lupo of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, dated March 8, 1668 and probated February 9, 1670. No other single document gives as many clues on the origin of the family or tells so much about its author as the few paragraphs of Phillip's will and the accompanying inventory of his estate from 1668. It provides us with his father's name and profession, the names of his brother and sister, his wife's name and the names of his children, but it also leaves us with a bit of a mystery, namely what became of Phillip after his trip to England. Recently, that mystery has been solved with the help of some re-discovered documents from England and at last, we can piece together a major episode in the life of the founder of the American family.

In 1668, Phillip Sr., accompanied by his son, Phillip, set out on a voyage back to his homeland to look after the estates of his father, Phillip the goldsmith, his brother James, and sister Katherine. James Lupo, in 1648, married Maria (or Mary) Askham in Ledsham, Yorkshire and the parish records show two daughters and a son born to their family, all of whom appear to have died in infancy. Katherine Lupo married first a Mr. Lowndes and had a son Thomas, who Katherine outlived. After her first husband's death, she married a Mr. Morecroft but had no children with him. Upon his return to England, Phillip discovered that some property Katherine had received from her son, Thomas Lownes, had been willed after Katherine's death to James, then to James' widow after his death. Phillip Sr., the oldest of Katherine's siblings and therefore the rightful heir under existing law, decided to challenge the inheritance in court.

While Phillip Sr. was visiting his sister-in-law in Yorkshire, he died, and his son Phillip took up the suit on his father's behalf. In depositions given before the Chancery Court, important information was revealed about Phillip Sr.'s life in Virginia. Edmund Ayres, a former neighbor of the Lupos in Virginia testified that Phillip Sr. lived near the James River and had three children, all born in the colony. John Exum testified that Phillip Sr. lived in Maidstone, Kent upon his return from the colony and that Phillip Jr.'s mother died in Virginia "about 16 or 17 years ago" (approximately 1654-1656). As Phillip Jr. appears to have had a different mother than his younger brother James, we have an approximate time when Phillip Sr. married his second wife.

The situation, while clearing up some questions about Phillip's activities while in England, leaves us with still more unanswered questions. Namely, why did it take Phillip 16 years to return to look after his father's estate. Evidence suggests that Phillip the goldsmith died around 1652, as that's when a burial record is recorded for a "Phillip Luprue" in St. Botolph's Bishopsgate. This man was 70 at the time of his death which is consistent with Phillip's birth in 1582. In testimony given by James' widow at the Chancery proceedings, she claims that James had stated that his brother had gone to Virginia and "was long dead". However, Phillip Sr. obviously knew his brother and sister were dead, or suspected as much judging from the wording of his will and he was aware that his sister had married Mr. Morecroft, though this could have occurred before he left England. It is true that Phillip was residing on another continent, but others who lived in the colonies maintained contact with loved ones back home and though travel was lengthy and hazardous, people did travel back and forth between England and the colonies on a regular basis.

Some confusion has existed among researchers as to when Phillip Sr. first came to the colony, due in part to the existance of records which show a Phillip Lupo coming to Elizabeth City County in 1621. This Phillip was reported to have been living in the household of Albiano Lupo and appears to not have had very much property of his own, and he does not appear among the list of those granted land in 1624, nor does he appear on the list of "ancient planters", as does Albiano. At that time, this earlier Phillip was reported to have been 42 years of age and born in 1582 which would have made him around 86 years old if he were Phillip Sr. of Isle of Wight. It seems more likely that the earlier Phillip was Phillip the goldsmith, who may have come to visit his brother, or to look after family holdings in the colony. He appears to have been an investor in the Virginia Company, but as of yet, no record has been found where he was given a grant of land in Virginia. He reportedly arrived in 1621 on a ship called The George, and apparently arrived alone as he is recorded as the sole member of his household in the census of 1624/5. This listing on the census was the last mention of Phillip the goldsmith in the colony.

The next official mention of a Phillip Lupo in Virginia comes from land records in Isle of Wight County around 1664. This appears to have been Phillip Sr., though no records have been found that detail when he came to the colony, who accompanied him, or whether he paid his own passage or was sponsored by someone else. Given that his wife is said to have died in Virginia around 1654 and that his children were all born there, he must have been married, but no record has been found to indicate whether he married in the colony or before in England. It does appear that his first two children, Phillip and Mary, were the children of his first wife. Following her death, Phillip Sr. married Mary Hodges Higgins, widow of Francis Higgins. With Mary, Phillip had another son, James. Mary and James are later mentioned in the will of Roger Higgins, who identifies Mary Lupo as his "mother". Other individuals related to the Taberers, including Joseph Copeland, the grandson of Thomas Taberer, appear in documents related to the Lupos for several generations.

There is a record from 1643 where Sir Francis Wyatt, former governor of the colony, received 50 acres of land for sponsoring the passage of a William Lupo, but it is not known if this was yet another relative of the family who arrived late, or if this is the same William Lupo who is listed as having died in Elizabeth City County in the Indian Massacre of 1622. Headrights were often claimed years after they had been earned and were frequently sold several times before being claimed. Francis Wyatt was temporarily governor of Virginia during 1643, though, so the possibility exists that this William Lupo was a later arrival, though no records have been found to show what became of him. Records from England show that Horatio Lupo had a son named William, born in 1624 in London, who would have been 19 in 1643, but it is not known if this is the William who went to Virginia. Horatio Lupo died in London around 1650 and apparently remained in royal service at least until the outbreak of the English Civil War which was waged from 1642-1649. If the Lupos remained loyal to the crown, which their long service to the Tudors and Stewarts might have dictated, this may explain why members felt it would be safer to migrate to Virginia during this period. It is also possible that this could have been another name for Phillip Lupo, who does appear to have arrived in the colony around this time, though no record has been found to support this contention. Regardless, no record of a William Lupo has been found in official records for several generations.

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