This family was the most crucial to get straight because for most Muir researches, this became the family of speculation for Phebe Muir’s origin. Early on, none of us knew where James Frier, the testator of 1771, came from, who his parents were, or again how old he was. I have seen him born anywhere from 1700 to 1740 depending on which speculation the individual researcher used. Nobody knew his age because none was given. Some researchers missed the clue in James Frier’s will because it was not in the abstract of his will published in the book Abstracts of wills, Inventories, and Administration Accounts of Loudoun County, Virginia, 1757-1800. In the actual will, all of James Frier’s children were under age, which gives us a strong clue as to his age. He had four children before he died in 1771. We also had no idea what his wife’s name was, which led to a lot of speculation that his wife was a Kilgore of some sort.
The first break came when Frier researchers found the will of one James Frier of Chester County, PA, who died in 1766 and left a will and an estate, land that was divided among his children, who together sold the property to a third party.
Between the will and deeds, we discover that this James Frier had two sons, James and Robert Frier, living in Loudoun Co., VA and two daughters, Jean Bear and Elizabeth Hodgson, living in Cecil Co., MD, just across the border from Chester County.
This information told us who the Robert Frier and James Frier of Loudoun Co., VA were. It also raised some problems. As soon as I read the estate and land records, it became clear that James Frier of Loudoun County had only two sisters, neither of whom could have married Robert Muir or George Kilgore. Even the Muir researchers who found this connection added Phoebe Muir as a daughter of this James of Chester Co., PA even though there were no records to support that identification. You can see these on Ancestry.com.
The records did give us some valuable information. First, it cleared up the matter of the name of the wife of James Frier of Loudoun Co., VA. One of the deeds named her as Abigail. Second, I discovered an earlier deed from 1762 in which James Frier of Cecil Co., MD had purchased his farm in Londonderry, Chester Co., PA, the same property his children sold after his death. Third, we now knew the name of the mother of James Frier Jr., Jean. With all of this information, we now had the following facts backed up recorded documents:
- The elder James Frier’s wife was named Jean
- In 1762, the elder James Frier bought land in Londonderry, Chester County, PA and was of Cecil Co., MD at that time.
- The younger James Frier was of Lowdon, VA and his wife was named Abigail
- The son Robert Frier was also of Lowdon, VA and his wife was Jane
- The first daughter was Jane Fryer of Cecil Co., MD, who married Andrew Bear
- The second daughter was Elizabeth of Cecil Co., MD, who married Abel Hodgson
Now let’s return to James Frier Jr’s will in Loudoun Co., VA, made in 1771. We reiterate that all his children were all under age as of that date. His two sons could not have been born prior to 1750 and the two daughters prior to 1752 and all were likely much younger. We know that Phebe Muir’s first child was born around 1760 at the latest so it is impossible for her to be the daughter of James Frier Jr. Neither she nor Robert Muir are mentioned in the estate of James Muir Sr. and no daughters who could have married either Robert Muir or George Kilgore appear in the elder James Frier’s estate in 1766. Phoebe Muir’s maiden name could not be Frier and keep the relationships specified in James Frier Jr’s will.
This adds information we did not have earlier. That James Frier’s Jr. wife was named Abigail will become important shortly. Also, that James Frier named his oldest son Daniel, which is not a Frier name, will also become important later.
This eliminates Option Number One. No sisters of James Frier existed who could marry either Robert Muir or George Kilgore.