Elizabeth Thornton was descended from one of the old families of England whose ancestry was well established in 1363. On her mother's side Elizabeth Thornton had ancestors who were among the most ancient in Europe. This was the Taliaferro family of Tuscany, Italy, one of whose members is said to have migrated to Normandy in the year 868, and whose descendant—a Taliaferro—was "among those present" when William the Conqueror successfully invaded Saxon England on Christmas Day, 1066. The mother of Elizabeth and Mildred Thornton (both of whom married a Meriwether) was Mary Taliaferro who married Francis Thornton, Sr. The name Taliaferro has been subject to great abuse in its pronunciation by historians, members of the family who bear the name, and by the general public. The original pronunciation was "Tal-ya'-ferro," but it is today generally pronounced as "Tolliver," but at least its orthography is still Taliaferro. It seems a shame that a really beautiful gem like Tal-ya'-ferro should be rendered as Tolliver. It is my hope that the gentle lecture here will induce those using this musical nomenclature, at least as to spelling, to pronounce it as it so justly deserves to be. [NHM p. 72]
Elizabeth was born about 1719 at "Snow Creek" in Spotsylvania County and died before Oct 1774 in Albemarle County. After the death of her first husband, Thomas Meriwether, she married Robert Lewis, whose first wife had been Jane Meriwether, the aunt of Thomas. Robert & Jane's son, William Lewis, married Thomas & Elizabeth's daughter, Lucy. William & Lucy were the parents of the explorer, Capt. Meriwether Lewis.