• B. Sullivan

Tully Choice Bond, Dec. 26, 1750

"My word is my bond." A handshake sealed a deal. These were codes of honor of men from our past which pretty well died out after the American Civil War. That didn't mean that agreements were not written in legal form. Aside from its historic value, this bond, indenture or promissory note if you prefer, is an excellent sample of the legalese in use in 1750's Colonial America....even in remote areas such as Orange, Virginia. The bond also binds his heirs to the debt along with the executors and assigns.

Who was Tully Choice?


Like so many pre-American Revolution records, things can be a bit tangled at times. Eventually, one either finds the connection or is stuck in a frustrating tangle. Not having access to primary documents I had to rely on Internet searches. Unfortunately, The Library of Virginia and the National Archives digital resources had no references of Tully Choice. I had a brief flare of hope with Founders Online, but Madison’s use of “Tully” was actually a Roman named Tullius; thought I don’t know if it was the general or the merchant. Being unable to find primary or academic sources, I was reliant upon Ancestry.com. One has to remember that such sites are often good sources, however, information is sometimes entered incorrectly.


Based on the records of both Gene.com and Ancestry.com, Tully Choice was born on July 1, 1706 to John (1686-1707) and Abigail (Tully) Choice (1683-1708). This seems strange because one would thought he would have married and have his first child before the age of 45.


Choice and his wife, Mary Ann Duff Choice (Mary or Ann) (circa 1709-1785) had 13 children of whom all but one seemed to have lived beyond their 20’s. Her birth year seems a bit off to me as well because a women in her late 40’s just starting bearing children, 13 total!, is at least unusual.

Mary/Ann was born in Orange County to William Duff, Jr. (born in Ireland, immigrated, died in Greene County, Ohio) and Elizabeth Oglevie Green Duff (born in Ireland, died in “Virginia Colony”).


There’s another little knot; “Rebecca Ann Duff” is listed as his wife as well, with several of the same children listed as theirs. With my limited resources at this time, I’ll have to leave these knots tangled for now.

Choice was a captain during the American Revolution as reported in the records of the “Committee of Pittsylvania county on Wed. 27th of September 1775, the following gentlemen were nominated for officers of the Militia Agreeable to the Ordinance of Convention vis:…” In the listing of captains, one Tully Choice is present. His participation in the Militia would seem to be a positive indicator that he did sign the Oath of Allegiance to the Virginia Colony on September 13, 1777. (The Oath of Allegiance swore allegiance to Virginia rather than to Great Britain.) Choice had given his age at the time as 71.


His death date is actually after the date of his will (11/2/1777), however it was not presented to the Court in the Parish of Camden (then Henry County) until October 27, 1785. It is believed by researchers for Ancestry.com that he had written it early in anticipation of hostilities. The County of Orange was formed on August 8, 1734, which meant the county was a mere 16 years old when the American Revolution was underway.


In his Will he names his children and tells us something of his life and times. We know from it that he was a religious man, for he thanked God for his perfect mind and memory, although he was, to quote him, "being weak in body". In addition to the bequests there is a description of the lands he owns, and which he now parcels out, retaining the bulk for his "Beloved Wife" throughout her life or until remarriage...said "Beloved Wife" possibly being Ann Duff, daughter of William and Elizabeth Duff.


There is also a glimpse of a rather contentious man: in Orange County, VA in 1741, the Reverend Richard Hartswell, of the Parish of St. Thomas, was presented for being drunk on the information of one Tully Choice who had been presented the same day for swearing an oath. Again in Orange County (Book 12, p.31), he was ordered into court for swearing an oath and for trespassing in Orange County; both cases were dismissed. In 1741 he was granted a patent of 1,000 acres of land in that county. In another transaction, he was granted a patent of 1570 acres of land in Pittsylvania Co, VA, He was, among other vocational enterprises, a surveyor and surveyed land in many Virginia counties. In 1751 he sold slaves in Louisa Co, VA to an Edward Spencer; he also sold three white servants.

An examination of records shows that in 1780 he moved his family to the 96th District in South Carolina; his Will is in both the SC archives and in Henry Co, VA.


We'll look at Colonel Thomas Chew in the future.