Fifteenth in a series of biographical sketches on Burgesses whose descendants belong to the First Mississippi Company; in honor of the 400th anniversary of the July 30, 1619, meeting of the first representative governmental body in America at the 1617 Church on Jamestown Island.
Little is known about the origins of Barnaby Kearney; neither his exact birth date, birth place nor identity of his parents. Whether he was born in Virginia or immigrated is unknown; no manifest from a passenger ship to America has been found that bears his name.
Kearney lived in Nansemond County; records show he owned 460 acres there. He served as a Justice in Nansemond in 1678 and was a Major in the Nansemond County, Militia in 1680. In 1684, he was elected to serve as the Burgess from Nansemond. He was still living in the county as late as 1697, when he authorized Captain Joseph Godwin to serve as his attorney. Since he was living in Nansemond as late as 1697, he probably died there.
There was a close Kearney-Godwin connection, Thomas Godwin of Nansemond County and Barnaby Kearney were friends who had much in common. On 10 Jun 1779, Kearney and Godwin attended a Quaker wedding together when Thomas Jordan and Elizabeth Burgh married because the Godwins were Quakers. Like Kearney, Colonel Thomas Godwin also served in the Virginia Militia defending Nansemond from the Indians. Like Kearney, Godwin also served in the House of Burgesses from 1664-1665 and 1676. In 1676, Godwin was elected the Speaker of the House in the Assembly that met just before Bacon’s Rebellion began. Kearney was a participant in Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, led by Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of Governor William Berkeley.
Barnaby Kearney was definitely as odds with Governor William Berkeley before Bacon’s Rebellion, for Governor Berkeley sued Barnaby Kearney in 1672 for paying him with some invalid tobacco bills. When Barnaby appeared before the General Court on 21 Mar 1672, Barnaby claimed he had received the tobacco bills from Mr. James, probably Richard James I, a Jamestowne merchant. Mr. James had received the tobacco bills from John Everson. Kearney was ordered to pay William White of urban Jamestowne half of the freight charges associated with the transaction.
In 1674 Kearney was summoned for jury duty and was fined 200 pounds of tobacco for not appearing.
Although the name of Barnaby Kearney’s wife is unknown, he had two sons who have been proven: (1) Barnaby Kearney II, who married Elizabeth Godwin, the daughter of Thomas Godwin II, who also married Martha Bridger; and (2) Thomas Kearney, who married Sarah Alston.
First Mississippi Company Descendant of Barnaby Kearney: Dr. Russell F. Kearney, Jr.
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