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Captain William Lytle Chapter


(The below information was copied on March 29, 2014,from

The Lytle  Family of Rutherford County, Tennessee

The progenitor of this family in Rutherford county is Captain William Lytle, who came to Tennessee to settle land grants received for his services in the Revolutionary War. His grants, along with his inherited land grants from his brother, Colonel Archibald Lytle, are said to have provided him with over 26,000 acres. These covered several counties in Middle Tennessee, as well as some in the Western lands of Tennessee not yet settled.

Captain William Lytle’s family can be traced to the first immigrant ancestor, Archibald Little (Lytle), who settled in the area of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He is buried at Compass, Lancaster County. The Will of Archibald Little, of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania written 25 Jan 1748/49 lists the following children: Robert, Andrew, James, Archibald, Margaret, and Isobel.

On 9 Jun 1752, Robert Little sold his 1/3 share of his inherited estate to James Little and, traveling the Great Emigrant Road from Lancaster to North Carolina, settled in Orange County, North Carolina. Robert Lytle enlisted in the North Carolina Militia as a Captain in 1755. His Will listed the following children: Archibald, William, Andrew, Anne, Eleanor, Rachel, Robert, Margaret, Mary and Phoebe.

Colonel Archibald Lytle, oldest son of Captain Robert Lytle, served in the Revolutionary War and was captured at Stony Point, held captive, and released. He and his brother, Captain William Lytle, and the father-in-law of William, Lieutenant John Taylor were charter members of the Society of the Cincinnati. Archibald Lytle died, having never married, and willed all of his estate to his brother, William, to be disposed as as he saw fit.

Captain William Lytle married Nancy Ann Taylor, daughter of John and Sarah Day Taylor. Only one other member of Taylor family is known. Nancy Ann Lytle’s sister, Margaret. migrated to Murfreesboro with the family and was still living in 1850 in the household of William Franklin Pitt Lytle.

Five of the seven children of William and Nancy Lytle were born in North Carolina before the move to Tennessee. The remaining two, William Franklin Pitt and Julia Margaret were born in Rutherford County.

Captain Lytle is said to have settled his land and was the only family in the vicinty at the time. When there was an Indian attach, he moved back to Davidson County for two years before attempting to settle again. The second attempt was successful. Rutherford county was formed from Davidson county in 1803, and when enough settlers had come into the area, a decision was made to lay off a town. After a lengthy debate as to the location, William Lytle offered to donate 60 acres for the site. It was named for Hardy Murfree, the officer who had led the charge of the Patriots when they had stormed and seized Stony Point on the Hudson, July 1770.

William Lytle built his home on his land in 1810 and it was to be remembered for its functional beauty with fluted columns. It stood for 117 years before being torn down for the Carnation Milk Plant. Many of its architectural features were said to have been preserved in later built homes in the area.

In a letter dated, 7 Jun 1896, William Lytle’s grandson, Marion DeSheill Lytle, describes his
grandfather as a mechanical genius with a bluff and cordial disposition. He was described as a large man weighing over two hundred pounds and a man of strong will and purpose, his honesty and sense of righteousness secure from suspicion, lots of good humor and horse sense thrown in.

The Lytle family lived and prospered well in Rutherford County. The sons of Capatin William and Nancy Lytle raised large families. Their daughters were educated at the Female Academy in Nashville, and married well. Jennet Mebane Lytle married Ephraim Hubbard Foster of Bardstown, Kentucky, who later became a Senator from Tennessee. Sarah Lytle married Richard Caswell, son of General Richard Caswell, and former governor of North Carolina. Her second marriage was to Benjamin McCollouch, early settler of Rutherford County. The youngest daughter, Julia Margaret, married William Nichol, of Nashville, merchant, planter, steamboat owner, and Mayor of Nashville. He was known as the first Tennessee Millionaire. Their gracious antebellum home still stands on Donelson Pike and Briley Parkway.

A notable descendant of Captain William Lytle is Andrew Lytle, Southern Writer, (1898-1995) best known for his contribution to the manifesto published by twelve Southerners, called, “I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition.” His many novels, especially, “The Velvet Horn” has earned him additional respect in the literary world. Another descendant is a gggrandson, Quentin McGarel Hogg, Lord Hailsham, Baron of Marylebone, England.. Lord Hailsham’s mother, Elizabeth Brown, married first, Archibald Marjoribanks, and after his death, married Douglass Hogg, who was to become lord chancellor of England. When their son, Quentin, became lord chancellor, it was marked in English history as the only time a father and son had each held the post. Lord Hailsham still lives, at the age of 91, in England and is a member of the House of Lords.

The origin of the Lytle family has its beginning in the Debateable Lands between Scotland and England, which has been in dispute since the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066.

Clan Little was one of the fighting clans of the West March, living close up to the border on the Scottish side. Constantly raiding and reiving (rob or plunder), the borderers on both sides held in comtempt all who went on foot. By the close of the 16th century they had earned a reputation as the finest light cavalry in Europe. The preferred dress of the Borderers was “Trews” (close fitting tartan trousers) instead of the kilt.

Early correspondence between members of the Lytle family and different people of that Lytle-Little name in Scotland and Ireland, failed to resolve the question of the lineage further back than Archibald Little of Lancaster, Pennsylvania..

(The bulk of the above material was gleamed from early correspondence between various members of the Lytle family. Some of this material was used by Andrew Lytle in his book, “A Wake For The Living.” His book tells many tales about his Lytle and Nelson families. Much of it was included in my personal family book, “Lytles of Murfreesboro, From Reiver to Founder.”. )

Submitted by:
Margaret Nolen Nichol
Jacksonville, Florida