Chaffin Family History

Our CHAFFIN Family, researched by Ira Chaffin of Salem, VA

The surname Chaffin is of Anglo-Saxon origin. It is derived from the Old French words "chauf" and "cauf", which both mean bald. This was ultimately derived from the Latin word "calvus", which has the same meaning. Thomas Chaffin emigrated from England to the Virginia colony in 1664. (Source: Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s,

On 18 October 1664 Accomack County in Virginia granted Capt. John Savage 4200 acres of land for bringing 84 persons, including Thomas Chaffin, to Accomack County from England.

Christopher Chaffin was born about 1690 and lived in Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County, VA, which was west of Accomack County. He married Sarah about 1710. They had five children: John, Christopher, Mary, William, and another John, all christened in Christ Church Parish. Christopher Chaffin Senior was killed by two runaway slaves in 1727.

In a petition (House of Burgesses 1727-1734) John Grimes stated that 2 of his Negroes ran away to Maryland, and Grimes hired Jacob Rice and Christopher Chaffin to bring them home; "that they murdered those two persons and returned again to Maryland where they were again committed; that the widows and children of these unfortunate men are left in a very difficult condition and the petitioner has been at great expense in bringing the said Negroes to justice" and requested aid. The petition was referred to the committee of Public Claims.

Chaffin lines of southern Virginia in the 1700’s appear to be those whom John Chaffin/Chafin, died 1773 in Cumberland County, VA, was the progenitor. There is controversy about whether he was the son or brother of Christopher Chaffin, but the dates indicate that he was a son. He was living in Goochland County, VA before part of it became Cumberland County in 1749.

John held 1300 acres of land in Goochland and Cumberland County, VA under original grants from King George II of England through his representative William Gooch, Esquire. John Chaffin/Chafin died 1773 in Cumberland County, VA. In his will his wife Mary was not mentioned, so she may have died before 1773. He does mention his children Joseph Chaffin, Rachel Chaffin Smith, Joshua Chaffin, Ruth Chaffin Bradley, and Christopher Chaffin. He does not mention his daughter Nancy Caroline Chaffin Huckaby who died about 1767 before the will was written. However, John Chaffin did deed to grandson Thomas Huckaby, Jr. “for love and affection” 130 acres where Thomas Huckaby, Sr. lived in Cumberland County.

Joseph Chaffin, son of John and Mary Chaffin/Chafin, was born 1741 in Cumberland County, VA. He inherited the 200 acres of land and the plantation where his parents lived in Cumberland County, VA. Joseph married Nancy (Ann) Mitchell, daughter of James Mitchell, before 1775 and had seven children. Joseph Chaffin and his family moved to Bedford County, VA by 1787. Joseph died in 1815 and left a will naming wife Ann and children Stephen, Joshua, John and Joseph, Rebecca Adams, Rhoda Hudnall, and Polly Hurt.

It is interesting to note that his son Joseph Chaffin, Jr. and wife Jane Adams had a son Josephus Chaffin, born 1825-1826 in Bedford County, who was a midget. In the 1860 census he was listed as Josephus H. Chaffin, age 34, male, 27 inches height, 28 lbs. weight, born VA, cannot read and write.

John Chaffin, son of Joseph Chaffin and Nancy (Ann) Mitchell Chaffin, was born 1782, probably in Cumberland County, VA, and died about 1855 in Bedford County, VA. He married Catherine Dowdy, daughter of John Dowdy Junior and Mary Foster, 09 September 1811 in Bedford County. John owned land he had inherited from his father. They had seven children, all born in Bedford County, VA: Joseph A., Joshua, Mary Polly, an unidentified male child, Catherine, John H., and Stephen. John Chaffin died about 1855 in Bedford County, and his wife Catherine died about 1865.

Joshua Chaffin, son of John Chaffin/Chafin and Catherine Dowdy Chaffin/Chafin, was born 1814 in Bedford County, VA. Joshua was a Quaker Baptist and a farmer. He married Lurena Margaret Turner 10 February 1842 in Bedford County. They had five children: Mary E., William H., Judith Ann, Thomas Jefferson and Martha Catherine Chaffin. Joshua Chaffin died 18 November 1891 and is buried in the Quaker Baptist Church Cemetery in Bedford County.

William H. “Bill” Chaffin, son of Joshua Chaffin and Lurena Margaret Turner Chaffin, was born 05 May 1845 in Chestnut Fork, Bedford County, VA. He was also a Quaker Baptist and a farmer. Bill was a Private in the Confederate Army, Company G, 28th VA Militia Infantry CSA. He enlisted 20 October 1863 when he was 18 years old. By 03 July 1864 he had deserted, and then returned 27 August 1864, being AWOL for about 6 weeks. Bill worked on fortifications for 2 months, wearing a 12 pound ball and chain 3 feet long. He re-enlisted in February 1864. William H. Chaffin married Emmaline L. Overstreet, daughter of Alexander S. Overstreet and Tabitha Frances Dowdy, 20 December 1865 in Bedford County. They had six children, all born in Bedford County: John William, Samuel Colea, James A., Lottie Roberta, Susan Clarke and Helen M. Chaffin. William H. Chaffin died 09 June 1890 and is buried off Route 727 on L.J. Bays' property in Bedford County. Emmaline died 12 October 1923 and is buried in the North Bedford Baptist Church Cemetery, Forest, VA.

John William Chaffin, son of William H. Chaffin and Emmaline L. Overstreet Chaffin, was born 08 October 1866 in Bedford County, VA. Johnny was a farmer. He played a musical instrument, the fiddle, and performed with bands at square dances. He married Bettie Banks Burnette, daughter of Marsel Valentine Burnett and Missouri Ellen Martin, 19 November 1890 in Bedford County. They had six children, all born in Bedford County: Gordon C., Okie Corbett, Hallie, Frederick Nelson, Ruby and Hilda Chaffin.

The family was listed in the 1900 census of Campbell County, VA and the 1910 census of Bedford County. John William Chaffin died 20 May 1918 in Danville, VA. Bettie B. Chaffin died 04 August 1954 in Martinsville, VA. They are buried in Green Hill Cemetery in Danville, VA. Their tombstone is engraved with these words: “Great Loves Live On”.

House of Burgesses

Land Patent John Chafin 1746

John Chaffin 1821

Joseph Chaffin

Emmaline & Colea Chaffin

Civil War Document
William & Emmaline Chaffin

John William Chaffin

Joshua & Lurena Chaffin

Ruby, Hallie, Hilda

Chaffin Coat of Arms

Accomack County

John Chaffin Appraisment

Josephus Chaffin

Joshua Chaffin

Emmaline Chafin

John & Bettie Chaffin Family

Bettie Chaffin

John & Bettie Chaffin

Gordon, Fred, Okie



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