There are numerous Drapers who landed in the Colony of Virginia in the first years. Early writings list a Thomas and Sarah Draper in 1620 (probably the charter investors in the Virginia Company). Henrie Draper (born 1610), servant to Albiano Lupo Leiueten, crossed on the “George” and arrived in Elizabeth Cittie in 1621. Robart Draper (born 1608), servant to John Banum, crossed on the “Jacob” and arrived in Elizabeth Cittie in 1624. Albiano Lupo and John Banum were both “Ancient Planters” who were among the first to earn land patents.
Joseph Draper arrived on the “Falcon” in April 1635, and Thomas Draper was aboard the “Paule of London” that landed in July 16, 1635. Thomas Draper of Heptonstall, Yorkshire, arrived in 1647; and Richard Drap [actually Draper] was transported independently to Virginia from England in 1654 by Thomas Willoughby of Lower Norfolk County. None of these Drapers can be directly linked to the known inhabitants of the Northern Neck counties, and are not yet considered possible relations.
This family history begins in earnest with Thomas Draper of Richmond County, Virginia, where he is first identified in surviving county records on 5 April 1710. When and where he was born was for years the focus of firm guesswork by many Draper researchers, and by others who hold the even firmer belief that this guesswork is based on solid assumptions. If you can find a descendant of Thomas, they will probably tell you the Registers of North Farnham Parish (the Richmond County area) prove he was born in 1681 and in 1690. But actually it does not mention the birth of Thomas at all, leaving his home and birth - and the names of his parents - open to speculation.
The North Farnham Parish Registers became important when it identified the marriage of Richard Draper and Elizabeth Man on 12 December 1680. All other Draper entries refer to Thomas and his children, so Richard became the obvious choice to be the father of Thomas. But it is an assumption made questionable with research. Many Europeans strictly followed the tradition of remembering beloved parents through the names of their children, and from Thomas down, no descendant ever repeated the name Richard. It is no small point in this family.
While there was some disagreement, many descendants decided (until better evidence surfaced) that there were simply no alternative Draper families in the area, and agreed Thomas must have been born in North Farnham Parish between 1680 and 1690. But since Thomas could have been brought to Richmond County as a boy or moved there as a young man, there are other Draper families nearby who are very qualified and should be considered. The Draper families of adjacent Lancaster County easily match the profile in ages, names, educations, and professions. Unfortunately, most of the early Parish and County birth and marriage records are missing in Lancaster.
The first Drapers to appear in documents in the Northern Neck begin to show up as transported persons whose names were used to acquire land patents. Robert Bird obtained a patent for 1400 acres on the north side of the Rappahannock River in 29 July 1650 by transporting 28 people, including Henry Draper. 1 Mrs. Eleanor Brocas, wife of Capt Wm. Brocas, received a patent for 700 acres in Lancaster County on 2 January 1652 for transporting 14 people, including James Draper. 2 William Draper appears to have been transported with Thomas Petty to Old Rappahannock County sometime before 17 April 1668 when a patent was given to John Bowen and George Soones. 3
In the Northumberland Order Book for 1665-1669, two more Drapers appear - Josias and Thomas. While not brothers, or father and son, they remain close enough to appear to be related. Colonists settling near the Potomac during this period most likely came from Maryland. They could have been Maryland settlers forced out of the colony due to religious oppression, or early Virginians forced off their land around Kent.
Thomas (call him #1) and Josias Draper are first known to have settled in Northumberland County in the 1660s, but Josias then purchased a Lancaster County tobacco plantation in 1672. Thomas (#1) was awarded Lancaster property adjacent to Washington’s River (or Run) in 1675. Other Drapers appear in Lancaster Order Books: William (Order Book 1678-1706); John (Order Book 1674-1684); Richard (Order Book 1662-1669); and Robert (Order Book 1674-1678). Josiah and wife Jocina are listed in the Lancaster Will Book 1674-1689.
It’s possible to determine a few relationships among the Lancaster Drapers, but even if all these Drapers are somehow related, it has been impossible to prove. Josias died in Lancaster in 1712, but he also listed Thomas (#2) and John (#2) as living sons. Thomas (#1) had two brothers, William (#1) and John (#1). While this Thomas (#1) died in Lancaster in 1688, Josias’ son Thomas (#2) was awarded property in Lancaster in 1677, and was still living in 1712.
Thomas’ brother William (#1) moved to Richmond County around 1702.
Thomas (#1), William (#1), and John (#1) Draper of Lancaster County, could be related to the Draper family outlined in this document. The clues combine to make a stronger case than that of Richard Draper, who married Elizabeth Man in North Farnham Parish in 1680. With all of the documented evidence it is easy to imagine many recorded Drapers being related – brothers, fathers and sons, uncles and cousins.