Map of the Vicinity of Mount Vernon in Ye Olden Time

"Map of the Vicinity of Mount Vernon in Ye Olden Time," by George Washington Ball (1891). Plantations which belonged to Richard C. Mason (Okeley) and Thomson F. Mason (Huntley) were built on land originally belonging to George Mason IV, their grandfather, and inherited from their father Thomson Mason. Gunston Hall, the eighteenth-century home of George Mason IV, lies to the left of Pohick Bay. 

Patriarchal Heir

George Mason IV 1773 Will

Land bequethed by George Mason IV to his son, Thomson Mason, bordering "Dogue's Run" and "Little Huntington Creek."

George Mason IV 1773 Will

Enslaved peoples bequethed by George Mason IV to his son Thomson Mason.

Thomson Mason 1797 Will

Thomson Mason bequethed "land" and "slaves with their increase" to his four sons: Thomson F., George W., William, and Richard C. Mason. Thomson also noted his sons would receive the land and enslaved peoples left to their mother after her death. 

Understanding Richard Chichester Mason begins with exploring the land and enslaved peoples he inherited from his parents and grandparents. Richard C. Mason was an heir to land and enslaved peoples passed down through a patriarchal structure which enabled Virginia’s landed gentry, such as George Mason IV, to ensure that their succeeding generations could maintain an elevated level of social, economic, and political power. The Fairfax Circuit Court Index enables researchers to track George Mason IV’s land and enslaved peoples to his grandson, Richard C. Mason.

            Richard Chichester Mason, born in 1793, was the seventh child of Thomson Mason and Sarah McCarty Chichester. Richard C. Mason was a grandson of George Mason IV, but was born in 1793, one year after his grandfather’s 1792 death.[1] Richard C. Mason married Lucy Bolling Randolph in 1816 and together they had fourteen children, eleven of which survived into adulthood, the youngest of which died in the 1920s. R. C. Mason himself lived until 1869 when he died on July 22 of that year.[2]

            Richard C. Mason’s mother, Sarah McCarty Mason, and father, Thomson Mason, benefited from inherited enslaved peoples. Thomson Mason, born in 1759, was the fourth surviving child of George Mason IV and Ann Eilbeck. George Mason IV wrote his will in 1773 and in it Thomson Mason inherited three enslaved peoples, “Sally, daughter of Lucy, Joe, son of Mrs. Eilbeck's slave Bess, [and] negro lad Cupid, formerly owned by grandfather William Eilbeck,” as well 3,300 acres of land.[3] Some of this inherited land, identified as lying between Dogue's Run and Little Huntington Creek, Thomson Mason eventually bequethed to his sons, Richard C. Mason and Thomson F. Mason, who built their respective estates, named Okeley and Huntley, on the property. 

            Sarah McCarty Chichester Mason, mother of Richard C. Mason, also grew her estate through enslaved property bequeathed to her by family members. Sarah received a 1/6 share of a group of twenty-four enslaved peoples in the will of her father, Richard Chichester, which ended up being five enslaved peoples.[4] She received another eighteen enslaved peoples and 800 acres of land according to her husband Thomson Mason’s will when he died in 1820.[5] Sarah also received the unnumbered “negroes, stock, and utensils” owned by her son, John Mason, which John bequethed to her before his 1821 death. Upon Sarah's death, Richard inherited a 1/3 share of her entire estate.[6]

To sum up his acquisitions, in 1820, when his father Thomson Mason died, Richard C. Mason inherited a ¼ share of his father's land and his enslaved peoples not given to Richard's mother. When Richard's mother Sarah McCarty Mason died six years later in 1826, Richard inherited a 1/3 share of his mother’s total estate. His mother's estate contained land and eighteen enslaved peoples from Richard's father, Richard's brother John Mason’s land and enslaved peoples, which John inherited from their father Thomson, and five enslaved peoples, Sam, Anna, Henry, Jenny, and Lavinia, which Sarah inherited from her father (Richard's maternal grandfather and namesake) Richard Chichester.


[1] Thomson Mason is sometimes referred to as “Thompson Mason.” I have used the “Thomson Mason” spelling because that is how he most often appears in his father’s 1773 will. However, George Mason IV did use the “Thompson” spelling at least once in his will.

[2] “Richard Chichester Mason,” The Mason Descendants Database, Gunston Hall.

[3] George Mason IV, Will, March 20, 1773. Fairfax County Courthouse, Will Book F-1, pg. 95.

[4] Richard Chichester, Will, September 19, 1796, Fairfax County Courthouse, Will Book G-1, pg. 194; Court Proceedings, October 17, 1826, Fairfax County Courthouse. 1824, pg. 298; Richard Chichester, Estate Division, October 17, 1826, Fairfax County Courthouse, Deed Book W-2, pg. 405.

[5] Thomson Mason, Will, April 15, 1797, Fairfax County Courthouse, Will Book M-1, pg. 130.

[6] John Mason, Will, October 24, 1820, Fairfax County Courthouse, Will Book M-1, pg. 239