Rolleston Hall, Virginia

Did you know that there was a Rolleston Hall near Norfolk, Virginia?

Rolleston Hall, Virginia

This view of ex-governor Wise's residence near Norfolk, Virginia was published in the January 6th 1866 issue of Harper's Ferry Weekly magazine. The main house called Rolleston Hall was built and occupied by William Moseley and his family, in Princess Ann County c1649. The ex-governor of Virginia, Henry A. Wise purchased the Hall. During the Civil War the Hall was used by the Union forces after Wise had to flee for two years. On Wise's return he sold the Hall to the Freedman Bureau and a school holding some 200 slaves was held on the grounds. Later in the same century the house burned down. The right hand portion of the Hall had a mansard roof ie. one with two slopes, the lower being steeper. The location of the Greenwich and Rolleston homes of the early Moseleys was on the eastern branch of the Elizabeth river in the lower portion of Lower Norfolk county which later became Princess Ann County and later Virginia Beach, VA. William Moseley had 560 acres there - bought from a man called George Heigham. (Idris Bowen - Rollestonian article Spring 2002).

Why the name Rolleston Hall?

Idris Bowen was asked to research the origin of this William Moseley and of other Moseleys who joined the emigration in the 17C. He checked to see whether there was a William Moseley related to the Mosleys of Rolleston (and who emanated from Manchester) who fitted the facts known about the emigrant. The research is now complete with surprising results. William the emigrant was one of the Moseleys of South West Staffs, around Wolverhampton. His grand-father Humphrey was a well-known barrister who married into the Heigham family of Suffolk, the very family of Heigham who had sold William the Lower Norfolk estate. Humphrey had a son called William, a lawyer, who returned to London from Holland, where he had some unknown business, and bought an estate at Carburton, Notts. to which he retired. This estate was sold by one of the Rollestons of Watnall Hall, Nottingham, who was descended, via the Lea, Matlock from the Rollestons of our village. William's son (also William) was the emigrant. He had, like his father, worked in Holland as a "Merchant Adventurer" and he was to take his family, bonded servants and his jewellery and family paintings to Virginia in 1649. He died in 1655 leaving two sons to share his estates.

So why did William (or one of his descendants) call his home "Rolleston Hall"? William and his father, could have had no doubt that they were unrelated to the Mosleys of Rolleston. The confusion probably arose in later generations in Virginia. Through their close acquaintance with the Rollestons at Carburton the family would be aware that the Mosleys (with one 'e') had bought Rolleston Hall from the Rollestons in 1622. It is possible however that they wrongly assumed the Mosleys and Moseleys were the same family and hence they dubbed the house, Rolleston Hall.

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This site was created by Richard Bush

Last updated: 28 July 2003