Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thieves! Indentured Servants! Tobacco! Oh my: William Spurgeon and Mary Styles

My g8 grandfather, William Spurgeon, was born on May 7, 1704 in Mile End Town, a former hamlet in Stepney in the county of Middlesex, which is East and North of London, England. His parents were John Spurgeon (1662-1708) and Elizabeth Mary Ostler (1669-?). John was a Tobbaconist.

William's Christening

Mary Styles was born a few months later on 16 November, 1704 in the same county to Thomas Styles (1652-?) and mother Mary (dates unknown). Thomas was a weaver and died shortly after Mary was born.

St. Dunstan, the church where William was baptized in Stepney
Growing up in one of the roughests parts of London in the 18th century, I imagine both William and Mary had difficult childhoods. According to other researchers, it looks like William's father may have died when William was 4 years old. I am not sure when his mother died. The same goes for Mary. It is entirely possible she was an orphan from an early age.

In any case, in February of 1718, William Spurgeon stole several garments which were drying in a woman's garden. Mary Styles bought the garments from him, and the garments were found in her possession. Both were convicted. William was sentenced to transportation. It is unclear what Mary's sentence was. Shortly after that, William's older brother, James, broke into a widow's house and stole clothes. He was found in possession of stolen property and was also sentenced to transportation to America.

Account of their crimes and trial
William was only 14 when he was sentenced to transportation; his old brother was about 19 or 20.

It may be possible that their parents had died when they were young, forcing them to a life of crime. It may also be that James and William planned their crimes in order to be transported together.

Upon researching their particular neighborhood of London in the 18th century, I found that Stepney was the source of the plague in 1665. This is the same neighborhood where Jack the Ripper would kill in 1888. Think prostitutes, fish mongers, sewage and deep poverty. It's non surprise to me that young men and women would do anything to get out and start new, even if it meant being an indentured servant.

As indentured servants, William and James set sail aboard the ship Margaret in May 1719, bound for America. They arrived at the port of Oxford in Talbot County, Maryland in June of 1719. William was bought in August and James was bought in September 1719 by Richard Snowden, "The Iron Master" of Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

An Ann Spurgeon is also on that ship, but it does not say that she committed any crime. She is sold to Rosanna Lees in Maryland in September 1719. If she is their sibling, it may be that since her parents were dead and her brothers were being transported, she may have volunteered to be indentured as well.

It is unknown how long William and James were indentured to Snowden, (one researcher says 14 years,) but in any case, James and William worked Snowden's land near Baltimore (another place I lived for 2 years.)

Meanwhile, Mary Styles commits some sort of crime in London. She is jailed for the first six months of 1728 and in June she is transported on the ship Elizabeth. She arrives in Potomac, Maryland in August, 1729 at age 24.  Also on that ship with her is a John Spurgeon, also from Middlesex county. I have a feeling this may be a brother of William and James.

Mary and William haven't seen each other in ten years, but they marry two years later in Maryland, which means William was a free man. According to Dickey, the brothers William and James must have "proved themselves industrious to Snowden and he invited them to move to the open land he was heading for." This land was Prince George's county, near Monocacy. James and Williams eventually bought land and began farming tobacco. Ironic, as their father, John, was a Tobbaconist.

In 1738, the brothers bought land on the banks of the Potomac River, right across from one another, James on the Maryland side, William on the Virginia side. Below is a photo taken by researcher Dr. Dickey:

William and Mary had at least 7 sons and 1 daughter. Their immediate family line is as follows:

In 1729, their first child, John, was born. He would become my 7th great grandfather. Like his parents, John would grow up to be a documented Loyalist. He fought for England in the French and Indian War. He married Maryland-born Margaret Elizabeth Pennington. Together they had at least 3 children: 2 boys, William and John, and a girl Margaret, who would be a 6th great-grandmother to me. John died in 1779 at age 50 in Camden, South Carolina.

Their second son was born in 1734. They named him William. He first married Mary Jane Sellers (not sure yet if she's kin to my Sellers). They had at least 11 children: William, John, Josiah, Jesse, Margret, Mary, Agnes, Janet, Isaiah, Elizabeth, and Joseph.  A Loyalist like his parents and brothers, he would become a Colonel in the British Army. He joined the march with Lord Cornwallis and was named a dispatch-rider. After the war was over and lost, William felt his life was in grave danger, and actually hid for several years. His wife and children were ardent patriots. Hearing that land was being given to Loyalists in Canada, Col. William Spurgeon left his family and moved north. He eventually married a new woman in Canada, Ann Redick Bedsaul. He had four more children with her: Aaron, Samuel, Ann, and Sarah. He died in 1806. His American son, Joseph, became a North Carolina state Senator.

George was born in 1736. He died in 1827 but nothing was found about his life.

Next, a daughter, Agnes in 1738. She apparently lived until 1847, but no records of her or who she may have married can be found.

Also in 1738 (either twins or wrong dates), Samuel was born. At the age of 26, he married Sarah "Sally" Ledford. They had 5 sons and 1 daughter: William, Samuel, John, Eli, Sarah, and Zacheriah.

James was the next son, born in 1740. When he was 21, he married Eleanor Peterson. They had at least 7 children: Eleanor, Nancy Ann, John, Ezekial, Ellender, Mary Ann, and James. Eleanor would only live to be 6 years old. James lived a nice long life, dying at age 80 in Ohio.

Jesse was borth the next year, in 1741. Little his known about his life.

David is their last child, born in '42. Little is known about his life.

William and Mary's demise:

According to another researcher's notes on Rootsweb, William was killed in 1755 on the Indian Trail west of Frederick County, Virginia at the start of the French and Indian War.

The year William died, Mary moved to Rowan County, North Carolina with her sons. She lived there until her death at the age of 79 in 1783.

Researching this set of grandparents was particularly fascinating. I imagine them as early day Charles Dickens characters who committed their crimes out of necessity rather than malice. In fact, that one would even be transported for stealing a few garments is a testament to the severity of the crown many of the would-be Americans were so desperate to escape.

However, it isn't as simple as all that. What is possibly the most fascinating fact about these two is that William and Mary both remained loyal to the crown. One would think they would hold some malice toward those that enslaved them for their small crimes, yet they remained steadfastly loyal. William even gave his life for England's cause during the French and Indian War. If anything, researching these two has made me realize how complicated the origins of this country was. The history books want us to believe that everyone who came to this country wanted to be independent, but that wasn't always the case.

In addition, what more than anything that has been missing in many of these stories is romance. How romantic that these two, who must have fallen in love when they were barely pubescent, waited for each other nearly a decade with an ocean between them before they could marry. Granted, both were either incarcerated or slaves for many of those years, but that's a small matter in the scheme of things.

Works Cited

Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage
    1614-1775. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: Baltimore 1988. Print.

Dickey, Gary Alan. Spurgeon Family History.  
    1993. Web.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Boston Connection: The Revolutionaries Thomas Holden & Margaret Spurgeon

Thomas Holden, Senior (1749-1810) 6th Great-Grandfather on the Day side

Son of Massachusetts natives Simon Holden (1700-1786) and Abigail Grover (1713-1760), Thomas was born on May 8th, 1749 in Charlestown, Massachussetts. He was allegedly one of the participants in the Boston Tea Party on December 16th, 1773.  It is not widely known who committed this act of rebellion, but it is known that many who participated left town immediately for fear of imprisonment. Many were also in their 20's, and Thomas would have been 24. Two weeks after the Boston Tea Party, he is found in Spartanburg, South Carolina marrying 18 year-old Margaret Spurgeon.

Now, how is it possible for Thomas to leave Boston, travel the long trek to upland South Carolina, and find a girl to marry all in 2 weeks? Say he did leave right after the Tea Party event. Laurens County, SC is nearly 1,000 miles from Boston. Even traveling 20 miles a day on horseback it would still take him nearly 50 days to reach Spartanburg. Map of the route.

The only real proof that our Thomas Holden was a Tea Party participant is a paper found by K. Casagranda in the Old Courthouse Museum in Marshall, Texas which stated that Thomas HOLDEN, Sr. was a member of the Boston Tea Party and shortly after left home never to return. (This is according to a story from another researcher on The museum is currently closed for renovations, but I intend to try to find this paper.) Why this mysterious paper would be found in East Texas is another question.

Another problem is that on his marriage license, Thomas Holden claims to have been born in Spartanburg, SC, but both of his parents were born and died near Boston. Did he do this to try and hide his identity?

It's possible the date is wrong on the marriage certificate. For example, Thomas and Margaret do not begin having children until their first child until 1777. This is unusual because, in my research experience, I've noticed people of that time usually began having children right away, though it is possible their early children didn't survive and were not recorded.

In any case, it is documented with the Daughters of the American Revolution that Thomas helped the war effort by providing forage and provisions for the militia in South Carolina from 1779-1781.

To further prove this is the same Thomas Holden, patriot from Boston, Thomas's father, Simon Holden, gives Thomas a portion of land in his will dated 1782. In the will, it states that should Thomas be dead or never return, then his portion of the estate would go to another sibling. There is no evidence that Thomas ever returned.

Below, I will begin to piece together what I know about Thomas Holden and Margaret Spurgeon. Margaret (1755-1811) was the daughter of John Spurgeon (1729-1779) of Maryland and Margaret Elizabeth Pennington (1731-1768) also of Maryland. Ironically, Margaret's father John, was a loyalist.

Their first child, Julia, was born in 1777. There is nothing to support her living beyond infancy. At this time, Thomas was leasing land, and had borrowed some money. He was issued a deed of release from a David Adam in 1778. It seems it took Thomas a few years to get on his feet after leaving Boston (and a relatively wealthy family) so abruptly 5 years earlier. At some point in this time frame, Thomas makes a claim for financial aid due to his revolutionary service.

In 1781, their second child and my g5 great-grandmother, Lydia, was born.

Two years later, a son came along, Thomas, Jr.

At some point in 1785, Thomas and Margaret have another son, John. Doing well now, Thomas buys 300 acres on a branch of the Tyger River in Laurens County, South Carolina and 444 acres on Brushy Fork in nearby Chester County on July 14th.  Chester would soon become a great trade center for agriculture, and Thomas would have been one of the first settlers there.

Tyger River

Thomas's father Simon dies on June 8, 1786. That year, Thomas and Margaret have their third son and name him Simon.

Things must have been going very well for Thomas. That fall of 1786, he bought 1,000 acres on a fork of Big Generostee Creek on October 16th. A month later he bought 558 acres on Tugelow River and Beaver Dam Creek.

A couple months later on the first day of 1787, another son was born, Joseph Jackson Holden. Thomas must have thought he was on top of the world. He was a large landholder, farmer, slaveowner, and he now has 1 daughter, possibly two if Julia lived, and 4 sons. This is what he fought for and risked his life for by standing up to the British, the ability to buy land, and work it, to make his own way in the world.

The next year, another son was born, Mahlon Beeson. At 8 years old, Lydia finally gets a little sister the next year. Sarah was born.

Next, Hugh was born in 1790. In June of 1792, Thomas bought 311 acres on a branch of Dirbens Creek, which is close to Fountain Inn, SC. (Interestingly enough, I have been to Fountain Inn, SC many times, when I worked with a no-kill animal shelter there.) Later that year in October, they welcomed another daughter, Abigail.

In August of 1798, Thomas bought 241 more acres on Little Beaver Dam Creek. He now has a grand total of almost 3,000 acres in the uplands of South Carolina. (Incidentally, this is very near where my daughter and I lived the year I taught at Clemson.)

In 1795, their last son, Charles, was born.

On May 5, 1796, my 5th great-grandmother, Lydia marries Harvey Day Pearson, at the ripe old age of 14. Harvey was 20. I haven't looked deeply into the Pearson line yet, but I suspect they were either relatives or very close friends, the Holdens, Pearsons, and Days.

On July 16, 1798, Thomas's first grandchild was born, Joel Pearson, to Lydia and Harvey.

Still not finished with having children themselves, in 1799, their last child was born to Thomas and Margaret, a daughter Margaret.

Lydia and Harvey will have two more children in the next couple of years, Margaret in 1800, and John in 1803.

1805 is a key year for this family. Their oldest son John marries South Carolina girl Elizabeth Flannagan. It appears the Holden family was doing well. But, the land wasn't. According to one researcher, "The red clay soils of South Carolina did not wear well under cultivation, especially after 1800, when an emergent upland cotton culture depleted soil much quicker than had subsistence food crops or pasturing" (The Tates of Pearl River). Someone had the idea to move south towards Spanish West Florida. It would be quite an undertaking to move such a large family so far.

But they do it. Somehow, Thomas and Margaret, along with their 11 children, in-laws, grandchildren, slaves and friends, make the great exodus from Laurens County, South Carolina through the Indian-saturated, dangerous and unknown landscape (about 650 miles) to the southern county of Amite, in Mississippi/St. Helena's Parish, Louisiana. Going 15 miles a day, it would have taken them about 6 weeks.

My g5 great-grandmother, Lydia, would have been pregnant with her fourth child, Thomas, whom she gave birth to in mid-March of 1805 in Louisiana.

Thomas, Sr. would have 5 more years to live; Margaret, 6 more years. It's not clear how Thomas spent much of his time, but the 1805 census shows that he bought land, was a farmer, and owned 6 slaves.

Next door to him lived Thomas, Jr., his new wife Elizabeth Flannagan, and their infant son John, along with 2 slaves. Next door to them were Flannagans, most likely Elizabeth's parents, also from South Carolina.

The years between 1805-1810 seemed happy enough, but not always. At age 19, their son Simon married Sarah Kennedy on 7 May, 1805. At 20 years old, their son John married Hester (Hettie) Nichols on 2 Dec., 1805.

In March of 1805, their 16 year old daughter Sarah marries Charles Boser. They will be married 5 years with no children. Either Charles dies or they divorce, but in any case, Sarah marries her second husband, George Newman in May of 1810, a few months before her father dies.

On January 2nd, 1806, Mahlon, 18, marries 16 year old Catherine Nichols.

In 1807, John and Hettie have their first child, Mahlon. That same year, Mahlon and Catherine also have a son they name Mahlon.

Lydia and Harvey had another son, Charles, in 1808, but he was either stillborn or died the same day. Thomas, Jr. and Elizabeth would give them three more healthy grandchildren, Hugh, Mary, and Sarah.

In 1809, their son Joseph Jackson married Tennesee girl Martha Vashtie Fields on July 27th.

Their daughter Abigail married James Tate on 14 December, 1809. She was an interesting character. According to the writer of The Tates of Pearl River, within the previous two months, "Abby" Holden and two other suitors had applied for marriage licenses in Amite County, first on October 13, 1809, with James Graham, and next on October 28, 1809, with Robert Kilcrease, in the latter case with a note from Thomas Holden to issue the license to Kilcrease to marry his daughter. In neither of the first two cases was there a return on the marriage.This researcher seems to believe that Abby was either a terrible flirt or it was a shotgun marriage situation. In any case, she and James Tate married and Nancy Tate was born in 1810.

Thomas died on Nov. 7, 1810. He was 61. Margaret followed him at some point the next year. She was 56. In their 40 years together, they raised a large family: at least 12 children, 11 lived to adulthood.

Their immediate legacy is as follows:

Lydia and Harvey Day Pearson had 9 children who lived to adulthood. Lydia lived to be 75. Much more about them later.

Thomas, Jr. and Elizabeth had 14 children. He lived to be 66.

John and Hettie had 9 children together. John died when he was 55.

Simon is kind of an interesting character. From a quick glance at his census records, it looks like he may have had at least three wives, including relations and children with a slave. He had 8 children total, and died when he was 64.

Joseph and Martha had 6 children. He only lived to be 51.

Mahlon and Catherine had 19 children together, but I believe some of them might have be confused with John and Hettie's children. Hettie and Catherine were sisters, and a lot of their children's names overlap.

Sarah did not have children with her first two husbands. At age 27, in 1816, she married Barry Bayne West. Together, they had 9 children. She lived to be 71.

Not much is known about Hugh. He married Ruth Mixon, but there is no evidence of any children. He only lived to be 36.

Their last child Abigail had 7 children with her husband James. James Tate was quite successful with land and farming.