By Harriet Fast Scott

       Major John's wife, Jane, was first documented as "Ja. Gregory" with her husband Thomas Gregory, by Firdinando Austin in 25 Feb 1653, when he claimed headrights for paying their transportation. This entitled Mr. Austin to 50 acres for each such person.

      The date of claiming headrights might be years after the people actually arrived. At any rate, Thomas Gregory soon died (1655), leaving Jane with a son, Thomas Gregory Jr., and Jane soon became the (second?) wife of Joseph Parsons. Parsons also died shortly after (1656) and Jane married John Stith around 1656. This union lasted until his death in about 1694.

      There are several books of court records of the 1650's mentioning John Stith. One has to do with Judith Parsons, Joseph Parson's daughter by a previous wife.

      The maiden name of Major John Stith's wife, Jane, has puzzled family genealogists for years. Randolph, Mosby, Gregory and others have been suggested. I would like to suggest that the pattern of naming sons in the 1600's indicates that at least one son was given the mother's maiden name.
It is clearly a tradition in the Stith family, but occurs frequently in unrelated families. Hence, Jane DRURY is the most obvious choice for her maiden name.

      John Stith and Elizabeth Anderson name their son Anderson Stith.
Anderson married Joanna Bassett and names a son Bassett Stith.

Robert Bolling and Anne Stith name a son Stith Bolling.

Jane Stith and Daniel Llewellyn's daughter (name not known) marries an Epes and she names her son Llewellyn Epes.

Jane Stith that married Thomas Hardaway named her son Stith Hardaway.

Elizabeth Buckner married Drury Stith Jr and had a son Buckner Stith and even a Bathurst Stith for Drury's mother Susannah Bathurst.

In other non-Stith families:

Mary Beheathland married Capt Thomas Bernard and named a DAUGHTER Beheathland Bernard.
Beheathland Bernard married Francis Dade and had a daughter Mary Dade who married Robert Massey. They were the parents of Dade Massey.

Barbara Calthorpe married Henry Freeman and produced Calthorpe Freeman.

Some researchers have mistakenly, in my opinion, thought that the use of the last name was as a MIDDLE name, not a first name. Thus Anderson Stith might
be regarded as really Charles Anderson Stith for his grandfather. This has been proven wrong in several cases. for example William Stark married Mary Bolling (daughter of Robert Bolling and Anne Stith) and fathered BOLLING Stark. But they also had a son named ROBERT. This would exclude the notion that he was really ROBERT BOLLING Stark. So Bolling was a first name not a middle name.

Later in the 18th century middle names became more common, but in some families the custom of using the wife's maiden name as a first name continued for many generations, especially when the wife's maiden name went well with her married name.

Take the Randolph family. William Randolph (1651-1711) married Mary Isham and named his third son Isham Randolph.
It may well have been that the Randolphs, as one of the first families of Virginia, spread the idea of maiden names as first names by example. We find William and Anne (Harrison) naming a son Harrison Randolph. There is also a Peyton Randolph.

The reason for this custom was probably the high mortality rate of the early colonists. Major John Stith's wife, Jane Drury, was twice a widow when he married her. Her first husband was Thomas Gregory by whom she had a son Thomas and her second husband was Joseph Parsons. He had already been married and had a daughter Judith. Early records of 1656 indicate Edward Moseby paid for Parsons' funeral. But there was a Thomas Drewe on the document who could have been Thomas Drewery or Drury, perhaps related to Jane. There was a shortage of women in the colonies to boot so that widows often remarried before a year passed. This encouraged them to give their family name to a son that might be raised by another woman and not even know who his mother was.

By the mid-1700s life in Virginia was more settled and women often had ten or twelve children by the same man so that preserving her maiden name was not so urgent. The custom gradually shifted to first son being named for the husband's father, second son for the wife's father, first daughter for the husband's mother, second daughter for the wife's mother, then the husband's name was used and the wife's name. By the 1800's, patriotism was dominant and every family had a George Washington, a Thomas Jefferson, and an Andrew Jackson! By the end of the Civil War, names were selected from thin air it would appear.

I vote for Jane Drury.