Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Learning Experience

When I first started working in the Visitor Center I was amazed at how many visitors were descendants of the Lees. We get several folks each month who are somehow related to this great family. Once in a while guests with other ties to Stratford will come to visit.

Richard Mynatt's indentured contract
The story of Richard Mynatt is a great example. Some members of the Mynatt family  came in and told me that their 5th great grandfather was an indentured servant under Thomas Lee, the builder of Stratford, and his son Philip Ludwell Lee. Although I am not intrinsically a history buff, I do enjoy investigations. I began researching the story.

On February 12, 1749, Richard Mynatt, a 20 year old cook, signed an agreement of servitude with Thomas Lee for a period of 4 years at 8 pounds sterling salary per year. He became the head cook at Stratford.

Thomas Lee died soon after he hired Mynatt and his contract was passed on to Philip Ludwell Lee through inheritance.

At the end of the agreed upon term, Richard Mynatt asked for his freedom and salary. Philip Ludwell Lee refused. On July 31, 1754, Richard Mynatt petitioned the court in Westmoreland County, Virginia. The court adjudged him free with allotted wages. He was the first indentured servant in America to take his employer to court and win his case.

In 1754,  Richard Mynatt  moved to Prince William County (Virginia), married, and started a family. He later became a courier for General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. The Mynatt descendants are the rest of the story!

Come find and learn history with me at Stratford Hall.

Thanks to Judy Hynson, Director of Research Library Collections and our Master Archivist, for her help and patience while this old dog learns anew!!

 - John, Visitor Services


  1. What a very timely write-up about Richard. A nationwide Mynatt reunion is being held this Saturday, June 30th, in Corryton, TN. This is the place Richard settled and raised his family and the birthplace of all Mynatt's in the United States. We have 200 Mynatt's who will be in attendance from 16 states.

    All are aware of Richard's journey to America, and his service in the American Revolution.

    Thank you for this mention. We are all very proud of our brave ancestor, Richard Mynatt.

    1. That is very timely! Are you all on our e-mail and/or mailing list? I want to make sure you know about all the projects we have underway...we are very busy these days. One project we are looking at is the interpretation in the kitchen and Richard is a big part of that story. I can be contacted at Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. I'm so glad to see this! Richard Mynatt is my 5th great grandfather, too! Through his daughter Leannah. Thanks for sharing this lovely write-up!