History of the Hardcastle Family in America

The Hardcastle surname probably originated in the Middle Ages, and is either of Scottish or English origen. It likely was derived from the place where the individual lived, and could be a contraction of "Harden Castle".

Variants of spelling of Hardcastle include Hardcassell, Hardcastel, Hardassell and Hardcastell. There is a concentration of people with these surnames in the Yorkshire area of England. Our ancestors probably came from that area, though I presently have no proof on that issue.

So, when did our ancestors come to America? I simply do not know, and I have never seen any legitimate proof on that issue. Our ancestors were likely uneducated servants or apprentices who later acquired enough land to earn their living by farming. Consequently, genealogical records are sparse on the very early settlers. We have a few tidbits of information, but nothing conclusive on these early Americans.

The first bit of information is contained in the book "Adventurers of Purse and Person – Virginia – 1607 – 1624/25 ".  Matthew Hardcastell, age 20, was listed as a servant in the muster (or census) of Farrah Flinton in 1624. The record indicates Matthew Hardcastell came to the Virginia Colony in 1624 on the ship "Jacob". The book "Cavaliers and Pioneers", by Nell Marion Nugent also contains a couple entries of interest. These volumes list persons who received patents for land in Virginia in exchange for paying for transporting persons to the Virginia Colony. Elyas Edmondes received a patent in 1650 for the transportation of 18 persons including “Math. Harecastle” and “Farrar Flinton”. Other persons in the muster of Farrah Flinton were included among the 18 persons.

I have not seen any records between this 1650 entry and an entry in 1702 where Richard Littlepage received a patent for transporting 98 persons to Virginia. One of the persons listed was “Wm. Hardassell”. This entry is particularly interesting as three children were born to William Hardcastle in New Kent County, VA between 1707 and 1714. These births were recorded in the Vestry Book of St. Peter’s Parish. John was baptized in 1707, Hannah was baptized in 1711 and William was born in 1714. This record on "Wm. Hardassell" affords the best clue I have seen to establish our link back to England. Quite likely, we will have to pursue DNA evidence to prove this lineage.

I have seen a significant volume of records on another family of Hardcastles who settled in Maryland about 1740. Additionally, I have noticed several Hardcastles in the 19th and 20th centuries who noted their birthplace as England. I have not done any research on the Hardcastles who settled in Maryland, nor have I traced any other Hardcastles who noted their birthplace as England. I have concentrated my research and this website around the branch of the family that first settled in Virginia. I believe these are my ancestors and ancestors for most Hardcastles born in southern states in the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

A very significant historical document is the Will of William Hardcastle who died in Johnston County, NC in 1777. It is significant because it names his five children. I believe this William Hardcastle is the child whose birth was recorded in the Vestry Book of St. Peter's Parish in New Kent County, VA in 1714. My evidence on this point is circumstantial at best, but it is rather compelling. I will further explain my conclusions.

The name “William Hardcastle” appears dozens of times in various historical records for Amelia County, VA between 1738 and 1749. These records are mostly tithable (tax) records and miscellaneous court records. This ties in very nicely with a birth year of 1714 for William Hardcastle. Also, I have not seen any other Hardcastles in these records with the exception that the name “John Hardcastle” appears in the Vestry Book of Petsworth Parish, Gloucester County, VA in 1741.

I have not found any references to William Hardcastle in Virginia after 1749. I found William Hardcastle on a tax list for Granville County, NC in 1749. That is the first record I have seen of a Hardcastle in North Carolina. The next record I found on William Hardcastle in North Carolina was in 1762, when he was awarded a “Granville” grant of 632 acres in Johnston County, NC. William Hardcastle and many other Hardcastles appear in numerous historical records in North Carolina after 1762.

So, my conclusion that William Hardcastle who died in 1777 in North Carolina is the William Hardcastle born in 1714 in VA is based on the timeline of the records. His records as an adult in Virginia started in 1738 and ended in 1749. His records in North Carolina began in 1749 and extended until his death in 1777. As I said previously, this evidence is circumstantial, but it is quite compelling.

The children named in William Hardcastle's Will in 1777 were three sons, James, Elisha and John, and two daughters, Casiah Baucom and Betty Adams. Most family history research I have seen has been on the descendants of James and Elisha. Consequently, most of the information on this site is connected to these two ancestors. James migrated to Kentucky shortly after 1800. Elisha was in western North Carolina by about 1790 and moved on to Franklin County, TN after 1800. They have hundreds of descendants in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma and various other states. In fact, there is a large concentration of Hardcastles in the Bowling Green (Warren County) area of Kentucky where James Hardcastle settled in the early 1800's. I am a descendant of Elisha's through his son James (c 1776), Dr. John (1812) William (1834) and my father Jefferson Davis Hardcastle (1894).

Research on descendants of William's other son, John, and the two daughters, Casiah Baucom and Betty Adams, are opportunities to document many more descendants of William Hardcastle (1714). I have not done any research work on the daughters, but we have some clues on John. There is a Will for John Hardcastle in Johnston County, NC for his death in 1780. My best guess is this is the son of William (1714), who was named in his Will. I reviewed the original of the Will at the State archives in North Carolina. It is mostly unreadable, but I could make out that John had a son named William. There is a William Hardcastle listed in the 1790 Census for Bladen County, NC. The only other Hardcastle listed in the 1790 Census for North Carolina was James Hardcastle, who had to be the son of William (1714). I have no explanation why Elisha Hardcastle was not listed in the 1790 Census.

There are listings for Elizabeth Hardcastle in the 1810, 1840 and 1850 Censuses for Robeson County, NC. Robeson County was formed from Bladen County. In the 1850 Census, Elizabeth is shown as 85 years old and her birthplace is listed as "Bladen County, NC". Elizabeth likely was the widow of William Hardcastle listed in the 1790 Census, though I have no proof on this issue. There is a John Hardcastle in the 1820 Census for Robeson County, NC in the age group of 16-26 years. There is a John Hardcastle in the 1830 Census for Warren County, GA who is in the 30-40 years age group.

It seems clear the John Hardcastle listed in the 1830 Census for Warren County, GA is the father of a large group of Hardcastles who later migrated on to Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. By 1850, John's son Elisha was in Mississippi, his son Eli was in Alabama and his son James was in Louisiana. Each son lists his birthplace as North Carolina. Eli later moved to Texas. Other researchers have concluded this John Hardcastle was the son or grandson of Elisha Hardcastle. I believe the clues point in a different direction.

I believe John Hardcastle in the 1830 Census for Warren County, GA was the one in the 1820 Census for Robeson County, NC. I do not have any hard evidence on this point, but the ages match very closely. Also, I do not have any evidence to tie him to the other Hardcastles in the Bladen and Robeson County areas of North Carolina. There must be a connection, but I just haven't found it yet.

Besides the census listings for Elizabeth Hardcastle in the 1810, 1840 and 1850 Censuses for Robeson County, NC, a couple other bits of information could be relevant to this puzzle. William Hardcastle petitioned the State of North Carolina for compensation for Revolutionary War service. This petition was filed in 1792 in Craven County, NC. This possibly is the William Hardcastle listed in the 1790 Census for Bladen County, NC.

Another bit of information comes from the book, " Tennessee Genealogical Records" by Edythe Rucker Whitley. Page 36 of the book has a record of a land transaction in which it is stated that on November 25, 1796, William Hardcastle assigned a warrant for 640 acres in Bladen County, NC to Daniel McAllester. The land was due to William's brother, Timothy Hardcastle, deceased, in consideration of his services under command of Capt. Daniel Williams on August 30, 1796. Elizabeth Hardcastle signed her rights away and stated that William Hardcastle was her only surviving son and lawful brother to Timothy Hardcastle. This is the only reference I have seen for Timothy Hardcastle, and I do not know how this all fits together to establish lineages for the Hardcastles in Bladen County and Robeson County, NC. It seems reasonable this Elizabeth Hardcastle is the one listed in the later censuses in Robeson County, NC. Hopefully, this website will help identify some researchers in this line and we can develop adequate information to firmly establish this lineage. Until better information can be developed, I am leaving open the lineage of John Hardcastle listed in the 1830 Census for Warren County, GA.

Our family history story does not include anything to link us to famous people or to establish any outlaws or other infamous people. Through about 1900 our people were mostly farmers with very little formal education. In fact, I am the first person in my line to graduate from high school. Fortunately, I was also privileged to graduate from college. Our family's history is of hard-working, upstanding, fiercely independent people who contributed to the development of this country from its early beginnings. We can be proud of that heritage. Many Hardcastles distinguished themselves by serving in wars from the Revolutionary War to the present day wars. Many Hardcastles served in the Civil War, including my grandfather and two of his brothers. An in-depth study to document when and where Hardcastles served and the significant battles in which they participated would be a worthy project. One thing I have learned is that this quest for family history knowledge never ends.

I encourage each Hardcastle descendant to be proud of your heritage and to assist in its documentation and preservation. Thank you for stopping by the website. Please send me an E-Mail to discuss any points in this History or to contribute information that would help us further document the lineages back to William Hardcastle (1714).

John P. Hardcastle