Friendship Andrew Willis – Part II, the Last Man Standing

Researcher Ann Wilson recently received Y-DNA results for two male Willis cousins that placed her lineage within “The Maryland Group” in the Willis DNA Project. That lineage descends from “Wantage John” Willis, died 1712, who occupied 50 acres called Wantage in Dorchester County, Maryland. Ann’s paper trail, however, leads to “Friendship Andrew” Willis, died 1777, who is not currently tied to Wantage John. Those facts launched the search for Andrew’s parents among a couple of Willis families. Part I of this analysis posted earlier concluded that Andrew Willis did not descend from the family of Quaker Richard Willis.

Part I Recap

The analysis showed the following as to Friendship Andrew:

    • He may have been born between 1720 and 1730, or likely sooner.
    • His first appearance may have been 1743 when an Andrew Willis posted a bastardy bond.
    • He was a planter of Dorchester County when he bought land called Friendship in 1753.
    • Friendship was located in Caroline County after 1773.
    • Friendship Andrew died in late 1777 or early 1778.
    • His eldest son distributed per his father’s direction Friendship Andrew’s land among five heirs including four surviving sons.
    • Andrew was likely Quaker. Two of his sons were Nicholite, or New Quakers, a sect which later merged with the Quaker

And as to the Quaker Richard Willis family:

    • Quaker Richard had a daughter Frances and sons Richard II and John:
      • Richard II had a daughter Mary and a son Richard III, who had no children.
      • John had no children.
    • Quaker Richard “daughtered out” with no male descendants beyond Richard III.
    • Friendship Andrew is not descended from Quaker Richard.

Part II

This post continues the search for Friendship Andrew’s parents within Wantage John Willis’s family. This analysis will try to eliminate men who could not have fathered Friendship Andrew, concluding with “the last man standing” as his parent. Wantage John had four sons:

    • Andrew – six known sons, one named Andrew
    • William – possible sons William and Thomas
    • Thomas – no children
    • John Jr. – six known sons, none named Andrew

Neither Andrew Willis, Son or Grandson of Wantage John, is Friendship Andrew

Andrew Willis, son of Wantage John, was born in 1690.[1] His well-documented family lived in southern Dorchester County, and he died in 1738.[2] He had a son named Andrew born around 1719, about the right time to be Friendship Andrew.[3] However, that son Andrew lived until at least 1781 in southern Dorchester, not the part that became Caroline County in 1773.[4] Moreover, young Andrew was not Quaker. Three of his children were baptized at Old Trinity Church between 1768 and 1775. His children were not the known sons of Friendship Andrew.[5] Therefore, neither Andrew Willis born 1690 nor his son is Friendship Andrew.

William Willis, Son of Wantage John May Be Friendship Andrew’s Father

William inherited the family homestead under Wantage John’s 1712 will and lived there with his wife Judith (neéSeward/Soward). In 1734, they sold the property to Judith’s brother Richard.[6] Dorchester records do not show them buying or inheriting other land. However, deed records show they gave a deposition in 1748 about the boundaries of a tract in the Neck Region of Dorchester County.[7] William testified he had known the property for about 25 years near Hudson’s Creek. William and Judith must have moved there even before they sold Wantage, maybe as early as 1723. Such a move makes sense because Judith’s family owned land in that region.

Dorchester records do not show William and Judith had any children. However, two deed book entries indicate they may have had sons. In 1764, a sale of land on Hudson’s Creek locates the tract at the head of Willis’s Cove near where William Willis lives.[8] This reference could be to William husband of Judith, or it could be to a son of that couple. Second, a Thomas Willis gave a 1784 deposition about the boundaries of Bridge North, property of William Soward.[9] At the time, Thomas was about 70 years old, therefore born about 1714. He stated he had been shown one boundary marker of the tract about 30 years ago. Thomas is the right age to be a son of William and Judith.

Beyond those two instances, the records give no clue about children of William and Judith. Regardless, the couple is the right age to have had a child Andrew, a relatively common name among William’s extended family.

One factor not in their favor, besides the lack of circumstantial evidence, is geography. Friendship Andrew Willis in 1753 purchased land a considerable distance from the Neck Region of Dorchester County. That distance brings into question how a son of William would know about the land or the owner from whom he bought it. Two siblings, Thomas and John Jr., lived much closer to Andrew’s land purchase and are thus more geographically desirable.

 Thomas Willis, Son of Wantage John, Is Not the Father of Friendship Andrew

Thomas and Grace Willis are not Friendship Andrew’s parents. They are in the right place, the part of Dorchester County that became Caroline. However, there are no children in the record and circumstantial evidence indicates there were none.

No Children in the Record

In 1717, Thomas Willis purchased 50 acres of land, one half of a tract called Sharp’s Prosperity, adjacent his brother John Jr. in what would become Caroline County. Thomas died intestate in 1722, and Grace Willis administered his estate. His brothers Andrew Willis and John Willis signed the inventory of his estate as kindred. John was on the adjoining property. Andrew was not too distant, living at the time on Shoal Creek some fifteen miles away. The record does not state whether Grace Willis is Thomas’s widow or his sister, nor does it indicate if he had children. However, the inventory of Thomas’s estate lists only one bed and bedstead suggesting Grace is his widow, and they were childless.[10]

Land Records Also Suggest No Children

The ownership history of Sharp’s Prosperity also suggests the couple had no children. Various parties paid the rents on the tract after Thomas’s death.[11] The last such entry, thirty-four years after Thomas’s death, shows payment by “heirs of Thomas Willis.”[12] If Thomas and Grace had children, those children would be the heirs. If there were a single child, that child at maturity would have taken over the land and payment of rents, which did not happen. If there were multiple children, they likely would have sold the land and divided the proceeds. The record shows no such sale.

If there were no children, Thomas’s siblings and his spouse would be the heirs. In that case, Grace may have been living on the tract, and her in-laws farmed the land and helped pay the rents. The debt books show no rent payments after 1756.[13]Upon non-payment of rents the land reverted to the proprietor. We do not know why the heirs quit making payments. Possibly, Grace died. Also, her brother-in-law John Jr. acquired some additional land in 1756. Both of those events would be reason to let the land go.

Clues in the Probate Record

Thomas’s probate record reveals a couple more facts about Grace. First, she was not a Quaker. The inventory states that she took an “oath on the Holy Evangels”, that is, swore on the Bible, that her inventory filing was true and correct. Quakers did not swear on the Bible, they “affirmed” or “testified according to law” and the record usually noted that fact. The couple’s religious affiliation is significant because Friendship Andrew was probably Quaker. Two of his sons were members of the Nicholites, or “New Quakers.”

Secondly, Grace’s maiden name may have been Bexley. Her administration bond listed William Woods and William Bexley as sureties.[14] Normally, bondsmen assuring probate administration performance included one or more relatives and, if necessary, a non-relative wealthy enough to be good for the bonded amount. It surprised me to see no Willis as a surety. In 1693, a William Bexley in Talbot County made a will naming a son William. That son may be the listed bondsman.

Thomas’s estate inventory shows total assets of only £12.10.4, including a debt William Bexley owed the estate of 2 shillings, 4 pence. William Bexley’s debt suggests he may be a relative. No one else owed money to the estate. In colonial Maryland, wealthy people loaned money on a regular basis. Non-wealthy people like Thomas Willis did not, except to family. However, Thomas’s inventory of cobbler tools and leather shows he was probably a shoemaker. One explanation for the debt might be that Bexley bought a pair of boots and had not yet paid for them. We just do not know. However, we do know that there are no hints in the record that Thomas and Grace had children or that they were Quaker.

All things considered, we can be relatively certain that Thomas and Grace were not Friendship Andrew’s parents.

John Willis Jr. Could Be Friendship Andrew’s Grandfather

John Willis Jr. had six sons, none named Andrew. However, his eldest son John III is a candidate to be Friendship Andrew’s father. John Willis III was born to John Jr. and his first wife Mary about 1704.[15]  Documentary evidence does not help us here. History does not record a marriage, land purchase, children, or even the death of John III.

If John III were Anglican, the records of St. Mary’s White Chapel Parish might have that information. However, those records do not survive. If Quaker, John III likely would have attended Marshy Creek Meeting established in 1727 near his family’s home. However, I cannot find records of that meeting. Other meetings he may have attended such as Northwest Fork Meeting do not record his name.

John III died sometime after 1771, likely during the period 1776-1790 when there is a gap in the Caroline County probate records. If Friendship Andrew were born between 1724 and 1732, John III was about 21 to 29 years old at that time. That makes John III a reasonable candidate to be his father. John III is the only son of John Jr. that fits as a possibility. The other sons are either too young or their families are well documented and do not include a son Andrew.

 Conclusion – The Last Man Standing

Two of Wantage John’s four sons cannot be the forebearer of Friendship Andrew:

    • Direct evidence shows Friendship Andrew did not descend from Wantage John’s son Andrew.
    • Solid circumstantial evidence rules out son Thomas.

That leaves William and John Jr.

    • Son William is geographically undesirable but has a proved marriage and likely children. William could be Friendship Andrew’s father.
    • Son John Jr. had a son John III the right age to be Friendship Andrew’s father. John III is in the right place at the right time, but nothing else in the record argues either way as to his parentage.

Between William and John III, the latter is more likely the father of Friendship Andrew based on location, but we cannot prove it. Possibly down the road more facts will emerge. Until then we have two “last men standing,” and cannot conclusively prove either one.

 

[1] Dorchester County Deed Book 8 Old 404 – 4 Sep 1730, Deposition of Andrew Willis, aged about 40.

[2] Maryland Will Book 21:918 – 24 May 1733, Will of Andrew Willis submitted to probate 23 Aug 1738

[3] Birth year estimated.

[4] Dorchester County Deed Book 28 Old 356 – 22 Sep 1781, Andrew Willis of Dorchester County, planter, purchased  for £60 current money 49½ acres from Benedick Meekins of Dorchester County, planter, and Mary his wife, being part of a tract called Addition to Adventure and part of a tract called Adventure

[5] Palmer, Katherine H., transcribed Baptism Record, Old Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church, Church Creek, MD, Cambridge, MD – Children of Andrew and Sarah Willis: Andrew 12 Feb 1768; Keziah 12 Oct 1770; George 3 Dec 1775.

[6] Dorchester County Deed Book 9 Old 214 – ­­­­15 Aug 1734, William Willis and wife Judeth of Dorchester County, planter, for £6 current money sell to Richard Seward of Dorchester County 50 acres called Wantage near the head of Blackwater River adjoining Littleworth. Signed William (M) Willis, Judeth (+) Willis

[7] Dorchester County Deed Book 14 Old 658 – 3 Sep 1748 Judah [sic Judith] (+) Willis age 50 stated she had heard of the tracts Rosses Range and David Ropies but did not know the bounders; Wm (M) Willis age 52 stated he has known the place for 25 years but not the bounders.

[8] Dorchester County Deed Book 19 Old 343 – 11 Jun 1764, John Taylor Sr. of Dorchester County, Merchant., to Nicholas Maccubbin of Annapolis, Merchant for £285.14.6, three tracts totaling 291 acres on Hodsons Creek, at the head of Willis’s Cove near where Wm. Willis lives.

[9] Dorchester County Deed Book NH 5:259 – 4 Dec 1784, Deposition of Thomas Willis, aged about 70, regarding the boundaries of Bridge North, property of William Seward/Soward.

[10] Perogative Court of Maryland Inventories, 9:9 – Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Willis, 15 Oct 1722.

[11] Skinner, V.L. Jr., Abstracts of the Debt Books of the Provincial Land Office of Maryland, Dorchester County, Volume I and II, Genealogical Publishing Company: Baltimore, MD, 2016

[12] Ibid, Vol II, p 234, 1756, Book 20:159, Heirs of Thomas Willis, Sharp’s Prosperity, 50 acres.

[13] Ibid, Vol I and II, Rent entries, which include the years 1758, 1766, 1767, and 1770, show no property named Sharps Prosperity nor any payments on behalf of Thomas Willis.

[14] Testamentary Proceedings of the Perogative Court of Maryland, 26:77, on 28 Nov 1722 John Pitts, gentleman, of Dorchester County exhibited bond of Grace Wallis administratrix of Thomas Wallis. Sureties William Bexley, William Woods, dated 29 Sep 1722. Also filed inventory of the estate.

[15] Dorchester County Deed Book 25 Old 26, 13 Nov 1770 -2 Aug 1771, Deposition of John Willis the Elder of Dorchester Co, aged about 67 years, mentions his father John Willis and a bounder of land called Painters Range on Hunting Creek Mill Pond.

Friendship Andrew Willis – Mystery Man, Part I

Researcher Ann Wilson recently received Y-DNA results for two male Willis cousins that placed her lineage within “The Maryland Group” in the Willis DNA Project. That lineage descends from John Willis, died 1712, who occupied 50 acres called Wantage in Dorchester County, Maryland. We refer to him as Wantage John. Ann’s paper trail, however, leads to Andrew Willis, died 1777, who is not currently tied to Wantage John. This article explores how John and Andrew might be related.

What We Know About Andrew

In 1753, Andrew Willis “of Dorchester County, Planter,” bought a 28-acre tract for £6.10.00 in Dorchester called Friendship, so let’s call him Friendship Andrew.[1] He was therefore a resident of the county at the time of the purchase. He was not a yeoman farmer who tilled the land. A “Planter” had others, sometimes enslaved people, doing the hard work. Frustratingly, Dorchester records do not show Friendship Andrew before 1753, so there is no indication how he qualified as a “Planter.”Friendship Andrew’s first appearance in the record may have been ten years earlier. In 1743, an Andrew Willis posted a bastardy bond in St. Mary’s White Chapel Parish.[2] That parish covered the region of Dorchester County that included the tract called Friendship.  After his initial 28-acre purchase, Andrew had his land resurveyed twice to confirm boundaries and add vacant land, resulting in a tract that by 1764 totaled 304 acres called Friendship Regulated.[3]

Friendship Andrew had five sons. He orally directed that should he die without a will, his son Thomas was to divide Friendship Regulated among the five, with 100 acres each to Thomas and Andrew, 70 acres to Ezekiel, and the home plantation to his youngest son Elijah except for a parcel to Joseph.[4] Friendship Andrew died intestate in 1777 or 1778. In Aug 1778, Thomas essentially followed his father’s request and deeded parts of Friendship Regulated to Andrew, Ezekiel, Joseph, and to Isaac Collins.[5] Thomas did not deed any land to Elijah, who must have died before 1778. Likely, Isaac Collins married Elijah’s unnamed daughter, who would be entitled to a share of the land under the Maryland law of intestacy.

Between 1783 and 1786, Joseph, Andrew Jr., and Ezekiel sold all or part of their inherited land.[6] Each was most likely at least 21 years old at that time. Therefore, all were born by 1765. If their father was 25 – 35 years old at that date, he would have been born between 1730 and 1740. Since Friendship Andrew was a “Planter” by 1753, his birth date was probably sooner, maybe in the range of 1720-1730.

What we do not know are Friendship Andrew’s parents. Two groups from which he might directly descend are the family of Wantage John Willis and the Quaker family of Richard and Frances Willis. This article will examine Quaker Richard’s family. I will address Wantage John in a later post.

Quaker Richard married Frances, widow of Richard Dawson, about 1683.[7] Quaker Richard died in 1690 leaving a will that proved their sons Richard Jr. and John and a daughter Frances.[8] Based on the following analysis, it is highly unlikely that Friendship Andrew descended from either son of Quaker Richard.

 Friendship Andrew Is Not Descended from Richard Willis Jr.

Richard Willis Jr. was born 13 Oct 1684.[9] He is the right age to be Friendship Andrew’s father. However, Richard Jr.’s mother Frances wrote a will in 1723/4 and a codicil in 1729 in which she named three children, two sons-in-law, and eight grandchildren. She did not name an Andrew as a son of Richard Jr. Instead, she identified Richard (III) and Mary as Richard Jr.’s children.[10] Frances divided her real property between her son Richard Jr. and his son Richard III.[11] In 1741, Richard Jr. made a will that, like his mother Frances, did not name a son Andrew.  Richard Jr. left all his property to his wife and at her death to a grandchild, with a nephew as a conditional devisee.[12] Surely, if Andrew were a son of Richard Jr., that child would have been named in either his father’s or grandmother’s will, if not both. We can reasonably conclude that Friendship Andrew was not a son of Richard Jr.

Furthermore, Andrew was not a son of Richard Jr.’s son Richard III. In his 1737 will, Richard III gave everything to his sister Mary, except some bequests to two cousins.[13]  Clearly, he had no widow and no children. Thus, neither Richard Jr. nor Richard III, son and grandson of Quaker Richard, was Friendship Andrew’s father.

John Willis Is Not Friendship Andrew’s Father

Quaker Richard’s son John was born 7 Sep1686 and married Margaret Cox 10 Jul 1712.[14] He died intestate in 1723 almost certainly without surviving children. First, there is no mention of children in the record. Second, there was no division of his estate as required by the laws of intestate distribution if children are involved.

No Mention of Children in the Record

If John and Margaret had any children, the eldest would have been about ten when John died. The accounts filed by his widow, however, do not mention any children, who are often identified in such filings.[15] Further, there are no guardianship records as required for minor children … no guardian bond, no guardian accounts, no distribution of the estate to indicate an heir other than Margaret.

Division of Estate

If John and Margaret had children, John’s estate would have been allocated by law one-third to the widow and two-thirds to the children.[16] Margaret died just three years after John, and her personal property was almost identical to her husband’s. John’s estate inventory totaled £103.14.04.[17] Hers amounted to £102.17.11, rather than a third that amount.[18] Having no portion carved out for any children indicates there were none.

If John had no children, the widow would get one-half the personal estate according to law and the other half would go to the deceased’s siblings Richard Jr. and Frances.[19] In that case, one would expect Margaret to have controlled only about £50. However, with no minor children involved, the adult heirs could easily have forgone receiving anything immediately from their sister-in-law. Taking their share would have only made her life more difficult. It makes sense that they would put off a distribution until a later date. In this case, the delay was only three years until Margaret died.

Land – The Final Evidence

The final argument against Friendship Andrew descending from Quaker Richard’s sons is that Andrew received no land from them. Families almost always passed down land from father to son. Maryland Provincial Land Office records show the subsequent owners of the lands of Quaker Richard and Frances Willis and their sons. Friendship Andrew Willis inherited none of that land.[20] Were he in the line of succession, he most likely would have ended up owning some of their land.

Conclusion

It is safe to conclude that the mystery man, Friendship Andrew Willis, is not descended from the line of Quaker Richard and Frances Willis. Neither Richard Jr., his son Richard III, nor John Willis is Andrew’s father. The next article will look at the sons of Wantage John for a possible father.

 

[1] 15 Sep 1753, Dorchester County Deed Book 14 Old 738 – Thomas Hackett of Dorchester County, Planter, and wife Sarah for 6 pounds, 10 shillings, paid by Andrew Willis of the same place, Planter, sell part of a tract of land called Friendship adjoining Grantham and containing 28 acres.

[2] Wright, F. Edward, Judgement Records of Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties, Delmarva Roots: Lewes, Delaware, 2001, p 34 – Aug 1743, Dorchester County Court Judgment Records, p 231 – Presented that Sarah Willis of St. Mary’s White Chappel Parish, spinster, on 10 May 1743 committed fornication and begat a bastard child. Fined 30 shillings. Andrew Willis her surety to indemnify the inhabitants of the county for 7 years from keeping and maintaining a bastard child.

[3] 6 Apr 1754 survey, 23 Sep 1760 patent, Dorchester County, 113 acres, Patented Certificate 1174, MSA S1196-1317, the survey found Friendshipencroached on an elder 1,000-acre tract patented in 1684 called Grantham located in “woods near Catarine Creek.” The resurvey eliminated the encroachment, realigned his tract adjoining Grantham, and added vacancies for a new total of 113 acres then called Friendship Regulated. And 23 Mar 1764, Dorchester County, 304 acres, Patented Certificate 1175, MSA 21196-1316 added vacant lands for a total of 304 acres called Friendship Regulated.

Note: The reference to Catarin Creek is an error. The land was located about five miles north of Federalsburg, estimated by the location of “Davis’s old field,” “lands of Abraham Collins,” “Collins Crossroads,” and Raccoon Branch referenced in other tracts adjoining Grantham and Friendship Regulated.

[4] Caroline County Deed Book D:381, 27 Aug 1793 – 10 Dec 1793, Deposition of John Walker, carpenter, age 52, said he was at the house of Andrew Willis, father of the late Thos. Willis dec’d, of whom Sina Willis is widow, and heard Andrew say he intended 100 acres of his land for Thomas, 100 acres for son Andrew, 7 [sic 70] acres for son Ezekiel, and the home plantation for his youngest son Elijah excepting a parcel to be laid off for the said Andrew’s son Joseph; and that in the event of his death without a will, that Thomas would so convey; to which Thomas agreed and so did. The deposition was requested by Abraham Collins who bought part of Friendship Regulated from Ezekiel in 1786.

[5] Caroline County Deed Book GF A:285-287, 21 Aug 1778. Rather than the instructions conveyed in the above 1793 deposition, Thomas conveyed 87 ½ acres to Andrew, 50 acres to Ezekiel, 32 ½ acres to Joseph, and 29 ¾ acres to Isaac Collins. This left Thomas holding 104 ¼ acres for a total of 304 acres contained in Friendship Regulated.

[6] Caroline County Deed Books, A:650, 659 – Joseph, 1783; A:773 – Andrew, 1784; B:116 – Ezekiel, 1786.

[7] Marriage date estimated based on the 13 Aug 1684 date of the birth of Richard Willis Jr.

[8] Dorchester County Deed Book 4 ½ Old 1 – Will of Richard Willis dated 21 Oct 1689, probate 2 Jan 1690. 300 acres called Rondley to go to his sons.

[9] Quaker Birth Records, Third Haven Monthly Meeting, 1665-1930, p 21, Richard Willis 8th Mo 13th 1684. Note: 1st month for Quakers is March.

[10] Maryland Will Book 19:679 – Will of Frances Fisher dated 28 Feb 1723/4, codicil 14 Apr 1729, probate 7 May 1729. Note: the widow Frances Willis married Edward Fisher who predeceased her.

[11] Ibid, ­­­679 and 680

[12] Maryland Will Book 22:439 – Will of Richard Willis dated 6 Nov 1741, probate 20 Jan 1742 – To wife Mary the dwelling plantation which at her death to pass to granddaughter Elizabeth Jolley and heirs. Should Elizabeth Jolley die without heirs the plantation would go to Willis Newton son of Edward Newton [and Richard’s sister Frances Willis Newton]. Personal property bequeathed to wife Mary and to Elizabeth Jolly at age 16. Wife Mary executrix. Wit: Thomas Smith, James Billings, Robert Jenkins Henry. [Note: at the time of his will, Richard Jr.’s son Richard was already dead. Richard Jr.’s daughter Mary’s husband Francis Jolly had died (with his estate underwater), and she had married Hugh Rimmer. Richard, Sr. was guardian of grandchild Elizabeth Jolly. At Richard’s death, Major James Billings became guardian. Elizabeth Jolley died without heirs, and the land went to Willis Newton and eventually his son Thomas Newton.]

[13] Maryland Will Book 21:814 – Will of Richard Willis, wheelwright, of Dorchester County dated 11 May 1737, probate 19 Nov 1737 – To sister Mary, executrix, entire estate except legacies of personal property to cousins John Newton and Margaret Newton children of Edward Newton [and Frances Willis Newton]. Wit: Richard Webster, Sr, Sarah Whaland, Anna Webster.

[14] Quaker Records, Third Haven Monthly Meeting, 1665-1930, p 21, John Willis 7th Mo 7th 1686, and Marriage Book 1668-1938, p 100, 10 Jul 1712 at their Meeting House in Dorchester County. Note: The record is in the books of Third Haven Monthly Meeting in Talbot County.

[15] Perogative Court Accounts 5:280, 19 Sep 1723 – Account for estate of John Williss of Dorchester Co, total account £103.14.4, payments made £25.15.8, dated 19 Sep 1723. Payments to William Ennals, John Orell, Dr. William Murray, William Hemsley, John Hodson Jr., Capt John Rider. Administratrix Margaret Williss.

[16] “An Act for the better Administration of Justice in Testamentary Affairs granting Adminisrcons recovery of Legacies Secureing filiall portions and distribution of Intestates Estates” (1715)  (Ref: Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly of Maryland, Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly of Maryland, April 26, 1715 – August 10, 1716, Acts of the Assembly, April 26-June 3, 1715, Archives of Maryland, Volume 30, William Hand Brown, Maryland Historical Society, 1910, pp. 331-347) – “… one third part of the said Surplusage to the wife of the Intestate and all the residue by Equall portions to and amoungst the Children of such persons dying Intestate and such persons as Legally represent such Children …”

[17] Perogative Court Inventories 8:191, 9 May 1723 – ­­­­Inventory of the estate of John Willis, £103.14.04 appraised by Thomas Hides, Charles Dean; creditors Jno Rider, W Ennalls; kindred Richard Willis, Daniel Cox: filed 16 July 1723 by Margaret Willis administratrix, who “gave testimony according to law” that the inventory was true and correct.

[18] Perogative Court Inventories 11:399, 4 Jul 1726 – Inventory of the estate of Margaret Willis, £102.17.11 appraised by W Ennalls, Edward Newton; creditors W Ennalls, John Rider; kindred Dan’l Cox, Betty Cannon; filed 5 Jul 1726 by Richard Willis administrator.

[19] Testamentary Affairs Act, “And in Case there be no Child or Children nor any Legall representatives of them then one Moyety of the said Estate to be allowed to the wife of the Intestate the residue of the said Estate to be Distributed Equally to Every of the next of kindred of the Intestate who are in Equall Degree and those who Legally represent them(Provided there be no representatives admitted among Collatteralls after brothers and Sisters Children) …”

[20] Skinner, V.L. Jr., Abstracts of the Debt Books of the Provincial Land Office of Maryland, Dorchester County, Vol I, Genealogical Publishing Company: Baltimore, 2016 – p 152, Richard III tracts owned by Phil. Covington, p 193, Richard Jr.’s tracts owned by John Leatherbury “for his wife.”

[21] Dorchester County Deed Book 7 Old 63 – 26 Jul 1718, Frances sold all her real estate to sons Richard and John Willis for 2,000 pounds of tobacco. The deed provided that when ready to make a division, John would have first choice as to the part he would take. The deed also required them to sell Rondley to John Dawson, possibly Frances’s son from her first marriage.

[22] John received 2,000 pounds of tobacco “on account of the land” and another 2,000 pounds as compensation for not receiving an enslaved person (Frances willed five enslaved people to various legatees).

[23] Jenkins, Dan, Baja Oklahoma, Antheneum, division of Simon & Schuster: New York, 1981

WILLIS or WILLEY – A Critical Misread

Occasionally, we each run into difficulty interpreting handwriting in old documents. It comes with the territory. Modern genealogists are not the only ones affected by the problem. Decades ago, clerks who hand copied original documents ran into the same issue. Worse, publishers then printed typeset versions of those recopied texts (or abstracts of them). Once a misinterpreted word gets into print, it becomes accepted wisdom and resistant to change.

The situation is particularly vexing when the misinterpreted word is a person’s name. Willis and Willey provide a good example. Families of each surname lived close to each other in early Dorchester County, Maryland. The handwritten name Willis in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries often ended with a downward swooping tail on the “s,” which made it look like a “y.” [1]

The following illustrates the script anomaly. Parties to legal documents of the era often took an oath on the “Holy Evangels of Almighty God,” meaning the Christian Gospels. Here is the way that phrase appears in a Dorchester County Will Book:

 

There is no discernable difference in the “y” at the end of the words Holy and Almighty and what is supposed to be an “s” at the end of Evangels. The scribe who recopied this deed into a nicely readable volume misread a long-tailed “s” in the original, writing it as a “y.”

No harm done. We know there is no such word as “Evangely,” so we can just move on … maybe tsk, tsk-ing under our breath. But what of the poor Willis and Willey families? A similar misread could easily convert a Willis into a Willey, or vice versa. In fact, an authoritative source of marriages in early Maryland states that Francis Insley married Keziah Willey on 27 Oct 1785 in Dorchester County.[2] However, a land sale by that couple twenty years later provides evidence that the bride’s name was actually Keziah Willis, not Willey.

In 1805, the Insleys’s sold 60 acres of land called “Addition to Adventure.”[3] The Willis family had owned that parcel for four decades, dating back to Richard Willis’s purchase in 1764.[4] The 1805 Insley deed recites that Benedict Meekins and his wife Mary [nee Willis] had sold the land to Andrew Willis, who devised it to his son Andrew. The deed does not state how Francis Insley and his wife Keziah got title to the land from the younger Andrew, and there are no other deeds that explain their ownership.

Explaining the Insley’s ownership is simple, however, if Keziah’s maiden name were Willis rather than Willey. Keziah was one of four children of the elder Andrew Willis and his wife Sarah.[5] The elder Andrew willed the land to his son Andrew, Jr. The younger Andrew subsequently died without a will and without children some time after 1796. His estate therefore passed to his heirs as defined under the Maryland laws of intestate descent and distribution, i.e., his siblings and the children of any already deceased siblings.

Keziah Willis Insley and her husband possessed the land in 1805 because she was Andrew’s only surviving sibling, and her brother George and sister Mary had each died without surviving children. Dorchester records make no mention in the relevant time frame of either George or Mary — no marriage, deed, death, or migration information. Their absence from the record supports the theory that they both died young and without issue.

The circumstantial evidence is sufficient to conclude that 1) a transcriber erroneously interpreted Keziah’s last name in the marriage record, 2) that Francis Insley married Keziah Willis in 1785, and 3) she was a party to the sale of Willis family land twenty years later.

The critical misinterpretation of Keziah Willis’s name will never be corrected in most published sources, but some of us will know the truth.

 

[1]Lower case “i” and “e” are also hard to distinguish.

[2]Palmer, Katherine H., Dorchester County, Maryland: Marriage License Records, 1780-1855, 1960.

[3]McAllister, James A., Jr., Abstracts from the Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 42 (Liber HD No. 21), Cambridge, Maryland, 21 HD 569

[4]McAllister, Abstracts, Volume 15 (Liber Old No. 19), Cambridge, Maryland, 1964, 19 Old 163

[5]Old Trinity Church records show that the elder Andrew Willis and his wife Sarah baptized three children — Andrew, Keziah, and George — between 1768 and 1775. The couple also had a fourth child, Mary.

Revised – A Surprising Willis – Quaker Connection

Subsequent to the original posting of this article, significant new information came to my attention requiring a substantial rewrite. I have deleted the original and post this revised version in order to clear the record of incorrect information. 

During the 18thand 19thcenturies, several Willis families on the Eastern Shore of Maryland were Quakers. I have long believed that the John Willis family who lived on land called Wantage in Dorchester County was not one of them.[1]The evidence I had found to date supported that conclusion.

For example, Wantage John’s eldest son John, Jr. lived on Marshy Creek in what became Caroline County. Several Quaker Meetings and the Anglican St. Mary’s White Chapel Parish served the region. The Anglican records do not survive, so whether John Jr.’s family attended there is lost to history. On the other hand, numerous Quaker Meeting records of the period exist. John, Jr.’s family does not appear in any of them. Apparently, the family was not Quaker.

The record for Wantage John’s son Andrew is more straightforward. Andrew lived in Dorchester County. Three of his four sons appear in the records of Old Trinity Church near Church Creek at the baptism of several children between 1754 and 1775.[2]No Quaker record names any of these people. This family was clearly Anglican and not Quaker.

The elder John had two other sons, Thomas and William. Thomas lived adjacent John Jr. on Marshy Creek. William inherited Wantage from his father and lived there until moving close to his wife’s family on Hodson’s/Hudson’s Creek in the Neck Region of Dorchester County. Neither of these sons appears in any religious record, Anglican or otherwise. Therefore, no evidence suggests a connection to Quakerism for anyone in the Wantage John family for the first couple of generations. And, there is evidence that one family group was Anglican.

Beyond these first generations, descendants of John of Wantage and related families were prominent in Methodism. Barratt’s Chapel in neighboring Kent County, Delaware was the birthplace of Methodism in America.[3]Lydia Barratt, granddaughter of Philip Barratt who built the chapel in 1780 is the great grandmother of Henry Fisher Willis, a direct descendant of Wantage John. Henry was a significant supporter of the Bethesda Methodist Church in Preston, Caroline County, Maryland, with a stained glass window honoring his service in the late 1800s. Henry’s father Zachariah Willis was a trustee of the Methodist Church whose twin brother Foster gave land for a church in 1831.[4]

I concluded from this data it highly unlikely that any of Wantage John’s descendants belonged to the Society of Friends. In fact, I used membership in the Society as a screening tool to eliminate various Willis lineages as being related to John of Wantage. For example, there is a Quaker Willis line in eastern Dorchester County and in the Federalsburg region of Caroline County.[5]Another Willis line in Talbot and Caroline County attended the Tuckahoe Monthly Meeting. Indeed, many researchers have conflated a Richard Willis in that line, who married Margaret Cox, with a Richard Willis in Wantage John’s line. A third line of Willises who lived in Kent County, Maryland were also Quaker. None of these families are related to John Willis of Wantage at least on this side of the pond.

With a high level of confidence in the religious affiliation of the John Willis family, or at least its lack of affiliation with the Quakers, imagine my surprise when I came across the following entries reportedly from the birth records of the Wilmington Monthly Meeting, New Castle, Delaware.[6]Oops:

  • Richard Willis 24 of 1 mo 1794    Son of Richard Willis and Britanna his wife
  • Ann Willis 2 of 6 mo 1799      Daughter of Do & Do
  • Senah Willis 19 of 4 mo 1802    Son of Do & Do
  • Zachariah Willis and Foster Willis     27 of 12 mo 1804   Sons of Do & Do
  • Peter Willis 21 of 4 mo 1811    Son of Do & Do

The same document contains the following burial records:

  • Richard Willis 27 of 5 mo 1820    in 26thyear
  • Richard Willis 2 mo 14 1823        63rd
  • Britanna Willis 1 mo 2 1826          in the 59th

The listed parents Richard Willis and Britanna (Britannia Goutee) are well known to me, but I had no inkling they were Quakers. Richard, born 8 Aug 1759, is the son of Richard Willis, died 1764, and the great grandson of John of Wantage.  Richard and Britannia, born about 1765, married in Caroline County on 22 Jan 1788.[7]She is descended from John Gootee and Margaret Besson/Beeson, who came to the colony from France with Margaret’s father and became naturalized citizens in 1671.[8]So, have I been wrong all along about this Willis line and Quakerism?

Well, I don’t know. Certainly, I was wrong about Richard and Britannia, however, these seem to be the only Quaker records online for the family … no marriages, no grandchildren’s births, no deaths recorded after Britannia’s in 1826.

This particular record does reveal some other information. First, the record is handwritten … an Index plus a section of Births and one of Burials. However, the cover page is typewritten, stating that it is from the Wilmington Monthly Meeting.[9]An examination of the contents reveals, however, that the cover page is incorrect. The record is actually from the Northwest Fork Meeting in Federalsburg based on the following. For one thing, the record noted that two of the listed people were “Elders in the NW Fork Monthly Meeting.” Additionally, surnames in the record, such as, Charles, Dawson, Kelley, Leverton, Noble, and Wright, are of Quaker families known to have lived near the Northwest Fork of the Nanticoke River. Finally, the record indicates the residence of a few of the listed persons. The record mentions only three counties: Caroline and Dorchester, Maryland, and Sussex, Delaware. Federalsburg is located at the intersection of those counties. Clearly, the record is from that Meeting and not Wilmington.

The second thing apparent from this register is that it is a copy and not the original register. The handwriting is identical throughout, both in the index and the birth and death entries. Had the entries been made at the times the events occurred from 1790 to 1828, the person making the entries surely would have changed from time to time. Therefore, the handwriting would have varied. Furthermore, many entries relating to a single family are grouped together regardless of date. For example, all the Willis birth entries are on a single page.[10]The same is true of some other families. One would expect the original register to be in chronological order with the family names mixed together. Apparently, a clerk prepared a copy of the original register, reorganized and indexed it. Likely, this document was intended for the files of a Quarterly or Yearly Meeting to which the Northwest Fork Meeting was subordinate. That would have been the Southern Quarterly and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting during the years in question.[11]

One additional Quaker reference to this family is Kenneth Carroll’s Quakerism on the Eastern Shore.That source lists under the Northwest Fork Monthly Meeting the birth of Ann Willis, daughter of Richard and Britannia and the death of Ann Willis “daughter of Richard.”[12]If this is the same Ann, she died unmarried at age 35. Interestingly, Carroll’s work does not include the other data found in the mislabeled Northwest Fork record. Obviously, he did not have access to that register.

In conclusion, it is clear that Richard and Britannia Willis affiliated with the Quakers. Apparently, the Friend’s connection ended with Ann’s death. Possibly she was the motivating factor for the family’s involvement in the sect.

_____________________

[1]John Willis, died 1712, patented a 50-acre tract named Wantage in Dorchester County in 1702.

[2]Palmer, Katherine H., transcribed Baptism Record, Old Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church, Church Creek, MD, (Cambridge, MD), 19, baptisms of son Richard’s children Mary (1754), John (1755), Elizabeth (1758) and Richard (1761); son John’s child Jarvis (1758); son Andrew’s children Keziah (1770) and George (1775).

[3]See www.barrattschapel.org

[4]Caroline County, MD Land Records, Liber JR-R, Folio 115, 29 Oct 1831 deed for ½ acre from Foster Willis and Wife Ann to trustees of the Methodist Church, proved 31 Jan 1832.

[5]Actually, this family were Nicholites, or New Quakers, until that sect reunited with the Quakers in 1798. See Carroll, Kenneth Lane, Joseph Nichols and the Nicholites: A Look at the “New Quakers” of Maryland, Delaware, North and South Carolina (Easton, Maryland: The Easton Publishing Company, 1962), 78, Births of the children of Andrew and Sarah Willis: Andrew, 3 Nov 1774; Mary, 5 Dec 1770; Rhoda, 18 May 1766; Roger, 14 May 1768; and Shadrick, 15 May 1772. Births of children of Thomas and Sina Willis: Anne, 5 Dec 1770; Elic, 1 Feb 1785; Jesse, 15 Feb 1773; Joshua, 15 Dec 1774; Milby, & Aug 1768; Milley, 3 Feb 1784; Thomas, 28 Oct 1776; and William 20 Sep 1771.

[6]Ancestry.com, U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935: Births & Deaths, 1790-1828, Wilmington Monthly Meeting, New Castle, Delaware. Birth records are all at p. 19; Burial records at pp. 7, 8, and 10, respectively.

[7]Cranor, Henry Downes, Marriage Licenses of Caroline County, Maryland, 1744-1815(Philadelphia: Henry Downes Cranor, 1904), 18.

[8]Browne, William Hand, Archives of Maryland v.2, Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly of Maryland, April 1666 – June 1676(Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1884), 270, Naturalization of John Gootee and Margarett Gootee his wife of Dorchester County and Stephen Besson of Dorchester County all born in the Kingdom of France. Act read as being passed by the Assembly at 19 Apr 1671 closing of the session on the General Assembly, which began 27 Mar 1671 in St. Mary’s County.

[9]The typewritten text on the cover page reads, “II Department of Friends’ Records, 302 Arch Street, Phila., PA, Wilmington Monthly Meeting, Del., Births and Deaths, 1790-1828, Births 22 pp.; Deaths 11 pp.; Index 32 pp.”

[10]This record, however, does not include the couple’s two eldest daughters, Rebecca, born 9 Nov 1788, and Dorcas, born between 1790 and 1793.

[11]Jacobsen, Phebe R., Quaker Records in Maryland(Annapolis: The Hall of Records Commission, State of Maryland, 1966), 78, In 1800, by permission of the Southern Quarterly, a Monthly Meeting was established at Northwest Fork, consisting of Marshy Creek [Note: later named Snow Hill and then Preston], Centre, and Northwest Fork Preparative Meetings … When the Separation occurred within the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1827, the Southern Quarterly Meeting was simply dissolved by the Orthodox.”

[12]  Carroll, Kenneth Lane, Quakerism on the Eastern Shore(Baltimore: The Maryland Historical Society, Garamond/Pridemark Press, 1970) 255, Ann Willis daughter of Richard and Britana [sic] born 19 Apr 1799; 260, Ann Willis daughter of Richard died 22 Sep 1834.

Appendix to The John Willis Family and The Maryland Supply Tax of 1783

An abbreviated descendant chart for John Willis of Wantage with highlighted names of people and tracts of interest. This Appendix supplements the narrative article “The John Willis Family and The Maryland Supply Tax of 1783,” which is located immediately below this posting:

 

….. 1 John Willis b: 3 Jan 1668/9, Wantage, Berkshire, England, d: Nov 1712 in Dorchester Co, MD (patented Wantage in 1702)

……….. 2 John Willis, Jr. b: Abt. 1689 in Dorchester Co, MD, d: bef 23 Jan 1764 (1717 land on Marshy Creek, Willis Regulation)

……….. + Mary Unknown d: Bef. 1731, m: Abt. 1702

…………….. 3 John Willis b: Abt. 1703 (25 Old 26), d: likely Bef. 1783

…………….. 3 Mary Willis

…………….. + Unknown Clift (Poss. Joseph or Mark)

…………….. 3 Judeath Willis

…………….. 3 Elizabeth Willis

…………….. + Unknown Killingsworth

…………….. 3 Isaac Willis d: Abt. May 1789 (Letters Admin to Henry & Joshua Willis)

………………….. 4 Henry Willis b: Bef. 1760 (“of Isaac” in Loyalty Oath 1778)

………………….. 4 Andrew Willis b: Bet. 1761-1767 (“of Ic” in 1783 Supply Tax)

…………….. 3 Richard Willis b: Abt. 1718 (15 Old 452), d: 1764 in Dorchester Co., MD

…………….. + Rebecca Granger d: Aft. 14 Aug 1771

………………….. 4 Richard Willis, Jr. b: 08 Aug 1759 in Dorchester Co., MD, d: 14 Feb 1823 in Caroline Co., MD (Sarah’s Delight, New Foundland)

………………….. + Britannia Gootee b: Abt. 1765 in Dorchester Co., MD, d: 03 Jan 1826 in Caroline Co., MD, m: 22 Jan 1788 in Caroline Co., MD

………………….. 4 Mary Willis

………………….. 4 Thomas Willis d: 1795 in Caroline County, MD (Perry’s Delight, New Land)

………………….. + Elizabeth Perry

………………….. 4 Joshua Willis b: Abt. 1765, d: Bet. 1793-1805 (Good Luck, New Land)

………………….. 4 Robert Willis d: 1804 in Caroline County, MD (Perry’s Discovery)

………………….. + Sarah Rumbold b: 31 Oct 1757, m: 08 Nov 1774 Dorchester Co., MD

…………….. 3 Joshua Willis b: Abt. 1720, d: Abt. 1797 (First Constable Caroline Co.) (Painter’s Range, Bank of Pleasure, Willis’s Right)

…………….. + Susannah Unknown poss. Richardson d: Bef. 1774

………………….. 4 Elizabeth Willis b: Abt. 1762

………………….. + William Everngham m: 1786

………………….. 4 Joshua Willis b: Abt. 1763

………………….. + Elizabeth Wright m: 02 Sep 1799

………………….. 4 Frances Willis b: Abt. 1767

………………….. + Charles Baker d: Bef. 1805 in 23 HD 181, m: 1785

…………….. +Deborah Greenhawk m: 1774

………………….. 4 Deborah Willis

………………….. + Joshua Lucas m: 1789

………………….. 4 Charles Willis b: Abt. 1776, d: Bef. 1801

………………….. 4 Peter Willis b: Abt. 1777, d: 03 Oct 1834

………………….. + Elizabeth Holmes m: 1798

………………….. 4 Thomas Willis b: Abt. 1778, d: Bef. 1801

………………….. 4 James Willis b: Abt. 1779

………………….. 4 John Willis b: Abt. 1780

………………….. 4 Annaretta Willis b: Abt. 1781

………………….. + Unknown Fleming

………………….. 4 Mary Willis b: Abt. 1783

…………….. 3 Dorcas Willis

…………….. + Benjamin Nicols

……….. + Elizabeth Sharp d: Aft. Nov 1768, m: 1730

…………….. 3 John Willis III b: 1731, d: Abt. Nov 1794 (inherited Willis Regulation)

…………….. + Keziah Unknown d: Aft. Nov 1794

………………….. 4 Philemon Willis b: 1764, d: 05 Mar 1836 in Talbot Co., MD

………………….. 4 John Willis

………………….. 4 William Willis

………………….. 4 Lewis Willis

………………….. 4 Sarah Willis

………………….. + John Nabb

………………….. 4 Nicholas Willis b: Aft. 1771

………………….. 4 Henry Willis b: Aft. 1771

…………….. 3 Gernay “Jarvis” Willis b: 1735, d: 1799

……….. 2 Grace Willis b: Abt. 1685, d: Aft. 1722

……….. 2 Elizabeth Willis b: Abt. 1688

……….. 2 Andrew Willis b: 1690, d: 1738 in Dorchester Co., MD

……….. + Jennet Jones d: Bef. Apr 1728

…………….. 3 William Willis b: 1717, d: 1782

…………….. + Unknown poss. Elizabeth Hill

………………….. 4 Elizabeth Willis b: Abt. 1736, d: 1793

………………….. + James Buchanan b: 1737, d: 1805

………………….. 4 William Willis b: Abt. 1740, d: 1793

………………….. 4 Jacob Willis b: Abt. 1742, d: 1782

………………….. + Elizabeth Nancy Eaves b: 1756, d: 1782

…………….. 3 Thomas Willis b: 1715, d: 1751

…………….. + Rachel Bullock d: 1757

…………….. 3 Andrew Willis b: 1719, d: 1778

…………….. + Sarah Hill b: 1720

………………….. 4 Andrew Willis b: 12 Feb 1768 in Dorchester Co., MD (Fisher’s Venture)

………………….. 4 Keziah Willis b: 12 Oct 1770 in Dorchester Co., MD

………………….. 4 George Willis b: 03 Dec 1775

………………….. 4 Mary Willis

…………….. 3 Sarah Willis b: 1721

……….. + Rebecca Goostree b: 1697, d: 1746 (inherited land that became New Town)

…………….. 3 Richard Willis b: 1721, d: 1773 (inherited New Town)

…………….. + Rachel Possibly Pritchett

………………….. 4 Mary Willis b: 17 Feb 1754 in Dorchester Co., MD (inherited New Town)

………………….. + Benjamin Meekins b: 03 Oct 1747 in Dorchester Co., Maryland, d: Bef. Sep 1782

………………….. 4 John Willis b: 03 Jan 1755

………………….. 4 Elizabeth Willis b: 08 Dec 1755 in Dorchester Co., MD (inherited Buttons Chance)

………………….. + possibly Budd Shinton (owner of Buttons Chance in 1783)

………………….. 4 Richard Willis b: 20 Mar 1761 in Dorchester Co., MD

………………….. 4 Sarah Willis

…………….. 3 George Willis b: 1723, d: Bef. 1784 without issue

…………….. 3 John Willis b: 1725, d: Aft. 1784 (inherited New Town through George)

…………….. + Ann/Nancy Unknown

………………….. 4 Jarvis Willis b: 06 Dec 1758 in Dorchester Co., MD, d: 1852 in Lawrence, AL

………………….. 4 John Willis b: 21 Apr 1762 in Dorchester Co., MD

……….. 2 Thomas Willis b: Abt. 1692, d: 1722

……….. 2 William Willis b: Bet. 1694-1700, d: Aft. 1746 (inherited Wantage)

……….. + Judith Seward/Soward b: Bet. 1696-1702, d: Aft. 1746

…………….. 3 Thomas Willis b: Abt. 1714, d: Aft. 1784

 

 

The John Willis Family … The Second Generation

by Gary N. Willis

Note: This article has been updated to include a likely child of William and Judith Willis and to correct name of the second wife of John Willis, Jr. She was Elizabeth Nichols/Nicolls, not Elizabeth Sharpe.

An earlier article on this site concluded that John Willis, the Court Cryer of Dorchester County Court and owner of “Wantage” several miles from Cambridge, had six children at the time of his death in 1712. He made a will on 18 September 1712 and died soon thereafter.[1] In his will, John devised or bequeathed the following to his children:

  1. To son William and his heirs, all of John’s land and a mare, a cow, three yearlings, and a frying pan;
  2. To daughter Grace, 2 cows, three yearlings, a young horse, bed & furniture, and his “Great Chest”, and all of John’s land if William died without issue;
  3. To daughter Elizabeth, a mare and colt; and
  4. To son John, 12 pence.

The will named four children … William, Grace, Elizabeth and John. Probate records prove an additional son, Andrew,[2] and circumstantial evidence points to a fourth son named Thomas.

Assigning accurate dates of birth to the children is difficult. Andrew was born about 1690 based on his testimony in a 1730 deposition.[3] Another deposition proves John Jr. was the eldest son.[4] A third deposition establishes that William was born between 1694 and 1700.[5] Grace was named before Elizabeth in the 1712 will, suggesting she might be the elder of the two. It is unclear whether Thomas was older than William. I suspect William was the youngest child. It was not uncommon for the youngest son, the last to leave the household, to serve as a caregiver for aging or ill parents. Such service would put him in good stead with regard to inheritance. The same is true of unmarried daughters who remained in their parents’ household.

Although establishing a birth order is not necessary to this discussion, it provides a picture of the family consistent with the known facts. A feasible order of birth satisfying that criterion is:

1689 – John, Jr.                     1690 – Andrew

1692 – Thomas                        1694 – William

1696 – Grace                           1698 – Elizabeth

Records indicate that of these children, John, Andrew, and William had offspring. This article discusses first the three siblings who had no children.

Elizabeth Willis

Beyond the 1712 will there is no further mention of an Elizabeth Willis in the Dorchester County records in the early 1700’s. However, one item of interest is a corrected interpretation of her name. Several abstracters have called this daughter Eliza, but a close review of the Dorchester Will Book entry suggests otherwise. The hand-written record shows the letters “Eliz,” followed by a colon, and then followed by a superscript that appears to be “th.” I interpret this writing as shorthand for Elizabeth, not Eliza.

Thomas and Grace Willis

A Thomas Wallis [Willis] bought 50 acres of land from John Sharpe in 1717 on Marshy Creek. This land was half of a 100-acre tract called “Sharp’s Prosperity” that Sharpe patented a year earlier.[6] Thomas’s purchase adjoined the other half of the same tract that Sharpe sold on 10 Mar 1717 to John Willis.[7]

There is no record of a marriage or children for either Thomas or his sister Grace.[8] I speculate that neither brother nor sister married and that they lived under the same roof on the land Thomas bought. Thomas Wallis [Willis] died intestate five years later and a Grace Wallis [Willis] administered his estate.[9] Nothing further is known of Grace, except that she likely died before 1734, based on the sale of Wantage mentioned below.

William Willis

William married Judith (likely Seward/Soward), and they probably lived at Wantage, devised to William by his father in 1712. In 1734, William and Judith sold Wantage to Richard Seward for six pounds. Two weeks earlier, William’s brother John Willis sold the same land to Henry Ennalls for 20 shillings.[10] It is unclear from the extant records how John and William could both sell that same land to different people. The de minimis price paid to John suggests his transaction may have been to clear the title rather than to sell the land. John had filed a will contest back in 1712, which must have been unsuccessful. Otherwise, John would have been in possession of Wantage rather than William. But, that old suit may have been enough to cloud the title. I speculate that the document missing from the record is a Power of Attorney whereby Henry Ennalls acts on behalf of William to buy any claim John might have to the property. That action would clear the way for William to sell to Seward.

The sale of Wantage also suggests that sister Grace Willis may have died before the date of the transaction. The 1712 will devised the land to Grace if William died without heirs. There is no record of Grace having signed away that conditional interest, which would have descended to her heirs, if any. Two possibilities exist to explain William being able to sell the land without a quitclaim deed from Grace. Either William and Judith had children, or Grace died before 1734 and without issue, extinguishing her potential ownership. In the absence of a quitclaim deed or proof of children of William and Judith, it would be more likely that Grace had died. However, William and Judith likely had at least one son, as we shall see.

Between 1746 and 1752, William and Judith each testified regarding the boundaries of a tract of land located in Casson’s Neck or Ross’s Neck. [11] The so-called Neck Region of Dorchester County is on the north side of Little Choptank River about 10 miles west of Cambridge and 14-15 miles from Wantage. Ross’s Neck lies east of Hudson’s Creek with Casson’s Neck to the west. William and Judith must have lived nearby to give credible testimony about those property boundaries. While there is no record that they bought land in this area, a William Willis is definitely living on Hudson’s Creek at the head of Willis’s Cove.[12] With no evidence of any other Willis family in the vicinity, I conclude that this is the home of William and Judith.

Either the Willis’s deed for that land is lost or they rented the land, possibly from a relative. In that regard, various facts suggest a family connection between Judith and the Sewards. First, William and Judith sold Wantage to Richard Seward. Second, a woman named Mary Seward testified in the 1746 boundary proceeding along with William and Judith. Mary was 68 years old at the time of that deposition and Judith was 50, so Mary was old enough to be Judith’s mother. It is probably not a coincidence that the Willises sold land to a man named Seward, and then, a dozen years later, lived near a woman named Seward. The following records suggest a family connection rather than a coincidence:

  1. In 1669, a tract called “Bridge North” located west of Hodson’s [Hudson’s] Creek was first surveyed.[13]
  2. In 1710, John Seward and his wife Mary conveyed an interest in land called “Bridge North” on Hudson’s Creek to a sister Clare and her husband.[14]
  3. In 1749, Richard Seward administered the estate of John Seward, deceased.[15]
  4. In 1750, widow Mary Soward [Seward] made a will leaving land on Hudson’s Creek to her son Richard Seward.[16] The devised tract was named “Bridgeworth” [“Bridge North.”]

Those facts establish that John and Mary Seward were husband and wife, and they had a son named Richard. Mary named him as a son and executor in her will, and he was administrator of John’s estate. The Sewards owned land west of Hudson’s Creek, which qualified Mary to testify in the boundary dispute. William and Judith sold Wantage to Richard Seward for only £6, a favorable price suggesting a “brother-in-law” deal. Finally, after selling Wantage, William and Judith Willis lived in the vicinity Richard’s parents John and Mary Seward.

One explanation for the Willises’ sale of Wantage and move to the Neck Region might have been to help farm Bridge North and to care for Judith’s parents as they aged. Perhaps to assist in the Willises’ transition, the family arranged for Richard to buy Wantage. At her death, Mary gave Bridge North to Richard, and William and Judith may have lived at the head of Willis’s Cove until they died. In any event, I believe there is enough circumstantial evidence to conclude that Judith who married William Willis was the daughter of John and Mary Seward and the sister of Richard. Richard Seward still possessed Wantage as late as 1755.[17]

Circumstantial evidence also suggests William and Judith had a son. A Thomas Willis gave a deposition in 1784 about the boundaries of Bridge North, owned by William Seward. At the time of that deposition, Thomas was 70 years old, meaning he was born about 1714. He testified that he was shown the boundary markers in about 1754. Therefore, Thomas was definitely the right age to be a son of William and Judith Willis and to have come with them to the Neck Region of Dorchester County as a young man in 1734. If so, he had been a resident of the area for 50 years at the time of his deposition.[18] With no evidence of another Willis family in the area, it is highly likely that Thomas was a son of William and Judith. We can also speculate that Thomas’s parents were deceased by 1784 (they would have been 88 – 90 years old) or they also would have been deposed about the boundaries. Possibly, Thomas was living at the head of Willis’s Cove.

John Willis, Jr.

Even before the death in 1712 of John Willis, Sr., his eldest son John had established a large family. He married Mary (last name unknown) probably by 1702, and they had several children. He was a carpenter and likely also farmed on rented land. Five years after the unsuccessful contest of his father’s will, John Willis, Jr., bought a 50-acre tract of land from John Sharpe on Marshy Creek Branch, about 15 miles from Cambridge upstream on the Choptank River.[19] As noted previously, less than five months later, Sharpe sold an adjoining 50 acres to Thomas Wallis (Willis).[20] In 1723, John expanded his property. That year, John sought a warrant to survey an additional 50 acres that he named “Willis’s Right;” the patent for the land issued in 1726.[21] In 1728, John Willis engaged John Edmondson to build a new house, probably on this new land. A lane from his new home opened onto Marsh Creek Road, which ran westward from Hunting Creek Mill past John’s property.[22]

John eventually discovered that some of his land encroached on earlier surveys. In 1736, he resurveyed Willis’s Right and his half of Sharp’s Prosperity. The resurvey found Willis’s Right ran into an elder tract called “The Plains” to the south and east. Furthermore, Sharps Prosperity ran into an elder tract to the north and east called “Bennett’s Purchase.”[23] About half of Willis’s 50 acres purchased from Sharp fell within the Bennett survey, and a few acres of Willis’s new land overlapped The Plains. The consolidated resurvey compensated for the loss of land to the elder surveys and added some vacant land for a total of 111 acres. The new patent, named “Willis’s Regulation,” included some of the land that now falls within the town of Preston.[24]

John and Mary had at least eight children who were alive in 1764: John, Mary, Judeath [Judith], Elizabeth, Isaac, Richard, Joshua and Dorcas. There is no record of Mary’s death, but she probably died between 1720-1725 based on John’s subsequent marriage and children. After Mary’s death, the senior John Willis married Elizabeth Nicolls, a daughter of his neighbor John Nicolls.[25] John and Elizabeth had two children, a son also named John born in 1731 and a son Jarvis born about 1735.[26]

John Willis’s 1764 will named all of these children.[27] Significantly, his will referred to him as a planter rather than a carpenter. “Planter” most often applied to those who had others working the land for them, and denoted a more elevated status than “carpenter,” “farmer,” or “yeoman.” John’s will left a very small amount of money to the children of his first wife: five shillings to John, Jr. and two shillings, sixpence to each of the other seven. He devised a life estate in his land to his second wife Elizabeth and then to their son John 3rd after her death. Also after her death, John 3rd and Jarvis were to split the remaining personal property.

All the children of his first wife were not only grown but were relatively old by the time John passed away. In effect, he had two families separated by almost a generation in age. Most of these children lived to see the formation in 1774 of Caroline County from parts of Dorchester and Talbot Counties. Some were involved in governance of the new county. Others added land to Willis’s Regulation or established other farms in the region. They also witnessed or took part in the formation of a new country as the Colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and established a new republic.

Andrew Willis

While John, Jr. moved his family north up the Choptank River and further into the county, Andrew initially remained closer to his father’s original land on the headwaters of the Little Blackwater River. Andrew married Jennett Jones, the daughter of neighbor William Jones, who was one of the executors of John, Sr.’s will. The 1718 will of Thomas Ennals and a 1722 land sale both mention Andrew Willis and William Jones as having previously lived on adjacent tracts at head of Shoal Creek.[28] That location is about three miles from Cambridge (near the current Cambridge-Dorchester Airport), and a mile or so from the headwaters of the Little Blackwater River. Those records establish that, prior to 1718, Andrew occupied a 50-acre tract owned by Thomas Ennals called “Ennalls Purchase.” Presumably, Andrew was a tenant farmer. There is no record of Andrew’s family residence for ten years after leaving the Ennals tract. He may have moved to new farmland purchased by his father-in-law, or he may have rented elsewhere. In 1718 and 1719, William Jones bought 250 acres on Cabin Creek, which flows into the Choptank River further upstream of Cambridge and Shoal Creek, but not as far upstream as Marsh Creek where brothers John and Thomas had moved.[29]

Andrew’s and Jennett’s four children were Andrew, William, Thomas and Sarah. Doubtless they named the sons for Andrew and two of his brothers, and daughter Sarah for one of Jennet’s sisters. Jennet died about 1725. William Jones died in 1729 and devised 100 acres of his land on Cabin Creek to his son William, and 150 acres to his daughters Sarah and Elizabeth. He gave 1 shilling each to his four grandchildren by Andrew and Jones’s deceased daughter Jennet.[30]

Shortly after Jennet died, Andrew married Rebecca Goostree, daughter of Richard and Rebecca Goostree. It is unclear where Andrew and Rebecca met. Later generations of the Goostree and Willis families attended Old Trinity Church at Church Creek.[31] It is possible Andrew and Rebecca attended as well and their names are just not in the record. In any event, the couple had three sons, Richard, George and John. Those names honor her father, her brother George, and Andrew’s elder brother and father John. In 1728, Rebecca’s father died, and she inherited half of a 100-acre parcel named “Newtown” near the Great Beaver Dam.[32] I have not located the deed record for Goostree’s acquisition of Newtown. However, land records indicate in 1694 he surveyed 100 acres called “Goostree’s Delight” between Cattail Marsh and Russell Swamp, which he devised to his wife during her lifetime.[33] Current Maryland maps show Russell Swamp and Beaverdam Creek located close together about 12 miles southeast of Cambridge west of State Highway 335. Richard Goostree’s Newtown property was in that vicinity, some 20 miles or more from Cabin Creek.

Within two years after Rebecca inherited the 50 acres from her father, she and Andrew had established their residence on the land. At that time, Andrew patented an adjoining 45 acres named “New Town.”[34] The land office record locates the new 45 acres on the west side of the Blackwater River, east of the Cattail Swamp and adjacent Andrew’s dwelling plantation, presumably the inherited land.

 Andrew Willis, Sr., died in 1738 leaving a will naming his wife and all seven of his children. He devised New Town, divided equally, to his sons Richard and George. If either died without issue, his share would descend to son John. Andrew gave a pewter plate each to Sarah, William, Thomas, Andrew, and John. He left a featherbed and iron pot to Richard. Andrew named his wife Rebecca executrix and left her the residue of the personal estate as long as she was single. If she remarried, the remainder of the personal estate was to be equally divided among Richard, George, and John.[35]

Some of Andrew’s children would expand New Town and occupy the land for almost another 50 years. Some of the children and grandchildren were active supporters of the coming revolution, while at least one opposed it. However, those are all stories for the next generation.

 

[1] Cotton, Jane Baldwin, The Maryland Calendar of Wills, (Baltimore: Kohn & Pollock, 1904, reprinted Westminster, Maryland: Family Line Publications, 1988), IV:23 – The date given in this source for the submission to probate is 24 Nov 1714. This date conflicts with the date John Willis, Jr., filed a protest to the will and the dates of activity in the Perogative Court records. I conclude the correct date for submission to probate is 24 Nov 1712. Dorchester County Will Book 14:12.

[2] Wright, F. Edward, Judgment Records of Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties, (Lewes, DE: Delmarva Roots, 2001), 33, L36A:203, Inventory of John Willis, Dorchester County – £23.14.1 – Appraisers John Kirke, Arthur Smith. Next of Kin: Andrew Willis (son), William Willis (son). FHL 975.2 P28w

[3] McAllister, James A., Jr., Abstracts from the Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 5 (Libers Old No. 7 – Old No. 8), (Cambridge, MD, 1962), V:145. 8 Old 404, 13 Jun-30 Sep 1730 – Commission to John Hodson, Mark Fisher, Thomas Nevett & Henry Ennalls, Jr to perpetuate bounds of Patrick Brawhaun’s land at the head of Blackwater called “Hoggs Island.” Deposition of Andrew Willis, about age 40, regarding the first bounder of “Littleworth” or “Stevens.”

[4] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 9 (Liber Old No. 13: Liber Old No. 14, folios 1-373), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), IX:36, 14 Old 130, 14 Mar 1746 – Deposition of Thomas Pierson, planter of Dorchester County, aged about 60 years, states that John Willis now living in St. Mary’s White Chappel Parish near Hunting Creek was to the best of deponent’s knowledge the eldest son of John Willis who lived on Blackwater River about 4-5 miles from Cambridge, and who was formerly Cryer of Dorchester County Court.

[5]  McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 10 (Liber Old No. 14, folios 374-741), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), X:74. 14 Old 658, 11 Nov 1746 to 27 May 1752, Commission to perpetuate the bounds of John Harrington’s land called “Rosses Range” and “David Ropies”, and Return. Nine men and women give depositions regarding this land on Hobson’s Creek. Among them are William Willis, age about 52; Judah (Judith) Willis, age about 50; and Mary Seward, age 68.

[6] FHL 13080, Maryland Land Office, v. FF 7:23 – Survey Certificate 22 Nov 1716 for 100 acres to John Sharpe called “Sharp’s Prosperity” in Dorchester County beginning at a red oak in the woods on south side of the head of Marshy Creek Branch that issues out of south side of Great Choptank River above Hunting Creek. Beginning at a red oak, then S 13 deg E 80 perches, then S 85 deg E 80 perches, then N 38 deg E 145 p, then N 13 deg W 46 p, then by a straight line to the beginning. Patent issued 6 Aug 1718

[7] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 5 (Libers Old No. 7 – Old No. 8), (Cambridge, MD, 1962), at 23, 7 Old 68, no day or month 1717 – John Sharp of Dorchester Co sold to Thomas Wallis, of the same county, 50 acres, part of “Sharps Prosperity” on south side of the head of Marshy Creek branch out of Great Choptank River above Hunting Creek. Bounded on one side by land sold to John Willis. Wits Jerem? Thomas, J Lookerman. Acknowledged 19 Aug 1718

[8]  The land on Marshy Creek was located within St. Mary’s White Chapel Parish. Unfortunately, the church records for that locale which might prove the marital status of Thomas or Grace do not survive.

[9] Skinner, Testamentary Proceedings of the Prerogative Court, XVI:60, 61 and 151. Filings by John Pitts, gentleman, of Dorchester County, bond of Grace Wallis, administratrix of Thomas Wallis, and inventories of the estate of Thomas Wallis, and Skinner, Administration Accounts of the Perogative Court, Libers 1-5, 1718-1724, (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1995), 138. L5:38, Account of Thomas Wallis of Dorchester dated 13 Mar 1723 – Account total £12.17.7, Payments totaled £18.5.2 made to Patrick Mackalister, Mr. Charles Ungle, John Sharp, John Pitt, Edward Billeter, William Edmondson. Administratrix Grace Willis.

[10] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 6 (Liber Old No. 9), (Cambridge, Maryland, 1962), 9 Old 223, 30 Jul 1730 [or 1734], John Willis of Dorchester County, planter, for 20 shillings to Henry Ennalls, of same, gentleman, “Wantage,” 50 acres, originally taken up by John Willis, dec’d, on Blackwater Riv., adjoining “Littleworth.” Signed by mark, John Willis. Witnesses: William Murray, Bw. Ennalls. Acknowledged 30 Jul 1734, and 9 Old 214, 15 Aug 1734, William Willis and wife Judith of Dorchester Co., planter, for 6 pounds to Richard Seward, of same, “Wantage,” 50 acres near head of Blackwater River adjoining “Littleworth.” Signed by marks, William Willis, Judith Willis. Witnesses: Henry Trippe, Cha. Lowndes. Dorchester County Court (Land Records) MSA CE46 10, http://mdlandrec.com

[11] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 10 (Liber Old No. 14, folios 374-741), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), X:74. 14 Old 658, 11 Nov 1746 to 27 May 1752, Commission to perpetuate the bounds of John Harrington’s land called “Rosses Range” and “David Ropies”, and Return. Nine men and women give depositions regarding this land on Hobson’s Creek. Among them are William Willis, age about 52; Judah [Judith] Willis, age about 50; and Mary Seward, age 68.

[12] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 15 (Liber Old No. 19, (Cambridge, MD, 1964). 19 Old 343, 11 Jun 1764, John Taylor Sr. of Dorchester Co, Merchant, to Nicholas MacCubbin of Annapolis, Merchant: ½ of “Rosses Chance” containing 42 A. Also 200 A, being part of “Addition to Rosses Chance” on Hudson’s Creek, laid out to said John Taylor for 400 acres. Also “Littleworth” on east side of Hudson’s Creek, at the head of Willis’s Cove near where Wm. Willis lives, 49 A. (Mortgage). Wit: Thomas Taylor, Thos. Harwood. Ackn: Robt. How and Jno. Anderson, Justices.

[13]         Keddie, Leslie and Neil, Dorchester County, Maryland, Rent Rolls 1659 – 1772 Volume #1, (The Family Tree Bookshop, 2001), 35, “Bridge North” surveyed 8 Apr 1669 for John Tench, lying on the west side of Hodsons Creek.

[14] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 4 (Liber Old No. 6), (Cambridge, MD, 1961), 6 Old 154, 13 Jun 1710 – John Seward of Dorchester County, planter, and Mary his wife, to their sister Clare and to Aaron Tunice of said county, planter, her husband, part of two parcels of land of the west side of Hudson’s Creek called “Bridge North” and “Addition”, containing 98 acres more or less. Conveyed to Aaron and Clare Tunice for the lifetime of Clare, and after her death to Edward Tunice their son. Wit: Jno Snelson, Theo. Bonner, Jno Hambrooke. Acknowledged 14 Jun 1710

[15] Skinner, V.L., Jr., Abstracts of the Inventories and Accounts of the Perogative Court, 1744-1750, (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1994), 131 – Admin Accounts of John Soward, dec’d, of Dorchester County, 10 Sep 1749 – Account Balance £29.9.6, Payments £35.3.1; Received from: Joseph Harrington; Payments to: Foster Cunliff & Sons per John Caile, Thomas McKeel, Henry Ennalls, Henry Hooper, Jr.; Administrator Richard Soward.

[16]         Cotton, v. 10 at 218, Will of Mary Soward, widow of Dorchester County, 5 Oct 1750 – To son Edward Soward 1 Shilling; to son William Soward 1 Shilling; to son Richard Soward dwelling house and plantation, which is part of two tracts “Bridgeworth” and “Addition”. Executor: son Richard. Wit: Thomas Calwell (or Caldwell), Abraham Walker, and Cornelia Jones. Probate 4 Nov 1751. 43. V.10, P 218 28:323

[17]         McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 11 (Liber Old No. 15, folios 1 – 368), (Cambridge, MD, 1963), XI:52, 15 Old 247, 11 Aug 1754 -15 Mar 1755, Commission to perpetuate the bounds of Richard Soward’s land called Wantage. A deposition of Thomas Soward, about 30 years old, mentions the widow Brawhawn; John Stevens grandfather of the present John Stevens; Richard Soward, brother of the deponent; and a bounded tree of Littleworth and Wantage between Roger Woolford’s plantation and Brawhawn’s, about 15-16 years ago.

[18] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 27 (Liber NH No. 5), (Cambridge, MD, 1967), 5 NH 259, 12 Oct 1784 – 8 Oct 1785, Commission to Charles Eccleston, Nathaniel Manning, Stanley Byus and John Trippe of Dorchester Co, Gent., to perpetuate the bounds of Wm Soward’s land called “Bridge North”, and Return. Deposition of Thomas Willis, aged about 70 years, concerning a bounder on a cove of Hudson’s Creek, shown about 30 years ago by Joseph Blades who had possession of the land. Mentions Henry Claridge who was also present when Blades showed the bounder, and who has died in the last two years. The land where the said Joseph Blades lived 30 years ago is the same land where Wm. Lee now lives, called “Bridge North”.

[19] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 5 (Libers Old No. 7 – Old No. 8), (Cambridge, MD, 1962), 16. 7 Old 51, 10 Mar 1717 – John Sharp of Dorchester Co sold to John Willis, of the same county, carpenter, 50 acres, part of “Sharps Prosperity” on Marshy Creek Branch above Hunting Creek. Wits Thomas Noble, Jane Noble. John Nichols, attorney for John Sharp. (Note that Thomas Noble and John Nicols co-owned “Hampton” located on west side of Hunting Creek, bought from Richard Bennett 15 Jan 1713, 6 Old 230)

[20] Clerks frequently varied the spelling of the name Willis, sometimes within the same document. Those variants include Wallis, Wallace, Wallice, Willace, Willes and Willous. In fact, John Willis Sr. appears in early rent rolls as John “Wallis” in possession of “Wantige.”

[21] Maryland Land Office – Warrant for 50 acres surveyed, called “Willes’s Right,” beginning at red oak standing in the woods on south side of Great Choptank River and west side of main road from Hunting Creek Mill [Murray’s Mill] to Parsons Landing, then N 82 deg W 40 perches, NNW 30 perches, SW 24 perches, SE 26 perches, SW 66 perches, SE 98 perches, NNE 11 perches, and then straight line to the beginning. Patent issued 5 Jul 1726

[22] Mitchell, Dora, A History of the Preston Area in Lower Caroline County, Maryland, (Denton, MD: Caroline County Historical Society, 2005), 122

[23] Maryland Land Office – Warrant granted John Willis 1 Jul 1736 for resurvey of “Willis’s Right” of 50 acres and one moiety of “Sharp’s Prosperity” of 100 acres. Resurvey of 14 Oct 1736 found: 1) “Willis’s Right” was adjacent Sharps property but ran into an elder tract called the Plains; 2) “Sharps Prosperity” began on the south side of the head of Marshy Creek and two legs ran into an elder tract called “Bennett’s Purchase.” The consolidated survey for John Willis contained 111 acres including some vacant land and is called “Willis’s Regulation.” It adjoins “Bennett’s Purchase.” Patent examined and allowed 21 Nov 1737; fees collected and patent issued 21 Oct 1743.

[24] Mitchell at 122

[25] Perogative Court Inventories 86:347 – Eizabeth filed an inventory of John’s personal estate 13 Jun 1765 appraised by Wm Edmondson and J. Harris, which Joshua Willis  and Thomas (X) Willis signed as kindred. This Thomas Willis is unidentified.  The estate account filed in 1768 named John Willis and John Nicolls as kindred. This John Nicolls may have been Elizabeth’s brother or father. The personal estate amounted to £29.19.10 (29 pounds, 19 shillings, 10 pence); and, Perogative Court Inventory 99:357 – Elizabeth continued to run the farm until her death in 1769. John Willis  was the administrator of her estate. On 17 Mar 1769, John filed an inventory of her estate prepared 18 Feb 1769 by Andrew Banning and John Valliant. Jarvis (X) Willis and David Nicolls signed as kindred. David was likely Elizabeth’s brother. Her personal estate totaled £27.07.08 ½ (27 pounds, 7 shillings, 8 and ½ pence).

[26] Mitchell at 123

[27] Maryland Calendar of Wills – 23 Jan 1764 – Will of John Willis, Sr., Planter, Dorchester County – Wife Elizabeth; Children: elder son John Willis, Jr. (born of first wife, Mary) (5 shillings), Mary Clift, Judith, Elizabeth Killingsworth, Isaac, Richard, Joshua, Dorcas Nichols (each 2 sh, 6 p) Wife Elizabeth got all remaining personal property for her life, and then to be divided equally between John Willis 3rd, son of Elizabeth, and son Gervey [Jarvis]. Wife Elizabeth to have all land known as “Willis’s Regulation” for life and then to go to John 3rd. Executrix: Wife Elizabeth Willis, Wit: Henry Turner, John Barton, 33. V.13, p.58; WB 33:27

[28] Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, IV:167-9 – Will Book 14:631, Will of Thomas Ennals dated 7 May 1718 – To Thomas Hayward and heirs, 50 acres part of “Ennalls Purchase” (plantation where Andrew Willis lived), at head of Shoal Creek, and on branch lying between Wm Jones and Andrew Willis’, proved 13 Aug 1718, and, McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 1 (Libers Old No. 1 – Old No. 2), (Cambridge, MD, 1960), I:71. 2 Old 161, 13 Mar 1722 – Land sale from Thomas Hayward to Henry Ennalls, land devised to grantor by Col. Thomas Ennalls, dec’d, at head of Shoal Creek where Andrew Willis lived adjacent land where William Jones lived, part of “Ennalls Purchase”, 50 acres more or less.

[29] McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 1 (Libers Old No. 1 – Old 2), (Cambridge, MD, 1960), 2 Old 16, 2 Feb 1718 – Thomas Gray and Mary his wife to William Jones: Goodridges Choice on Cabin Creek containing 101 A more or less. Wit: Richard Hooper, Bartholomew Ennalls, and Henry Ennalls. Acknowledged 2 Feb 1718 before Henry Ennalls and Levin Hicks, Justices, by Thomas Gray, And, McAllister, Land Records of Dorchester County, Maryland, Volume 1 (Libers Old No. 1 – Old 2), (Cambridge, MD, 1960), 2 Old 27, 15 Nov 1719 – Jacob Gray, planter, and Isabell his wife to William Jones: Part of “Guttridg Choice” on Cabin Creek containing 150 A of land. Wit: Edward Verin, Goovert Loockerman. Assignment from Philadelphia Williams to William Jones of her “third part of ye within mentioned lands,” dated June 15, 1720.

[30] Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, VI:127 – Will Book 19: 765 – Will of William Jones, planter, Dorchester County, 10 May 1729. 1) To son William and heirs, 100 acres on north side of Cabbin Creek being part of a tract bought from Jacob Gray; he dying without issue, to daughters Sarah and Elizabeth; and personalty; 2) To daughters Sarah and Elizabeth, 50 acres of afsd tract; they dying without issue, to son William; and 100 acre dwelling plantation illeg., bought of Thomas Gray; and personalty; 3) To daughter Rebecca Vearing, personalty; 4) To four grandchildren, issue of daughter Jennet Willis, deceased, 1 shilling each; 5) To wife Jennet, executrix, use of dwelling plantation illeg., and residue of personalty during life; at her decease to pass to son William and daughters Sarah and Elizabeth. Probate 5 Sep 1729.

[31] Palmer, Katherine H., transcribed Baptism Record, Old Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church, Church Creek, MD, (Cambridge, Maryland), 7 and 19.

[32] Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, VI:80 – Will Book 19: 501 – Will of Richard Goostree, planter, Dorchester County, 30 Apr 1728 – To wife Rebecca, executrix, dwelling plantation “Goostree’s Delight” during life; at her decease to son George and heirs; he dying without issue to pass to grandson Robert, son of Robert Johnson; and 1/3 of personal estate – To son George, personalty; – To two daughters, viz, Elizabeth, wife of Robert Johnson, and Rebecca, wife of Andrew Willis, and their heirs, 100 acres “Newtown” near the great Beaver Dam – To children of son-in-law Phillip Phillips, 1 s each – To son George and daughters Elizabeth Johnson and Rebecca Willice, residue of personal estate – Overseers: Sons-in-law Robert Johnson and Andrew Willice. – Test: Redman Fallen, John Shenton (Shinton) Acknowledged: 12 Nov 1728 –

[33]         Keddie, Rent Rolls 1688-1707 Volume #3, 7 – 2 Mar 1694, Goostree’s Delight, 100 acres surveyed for Richard Goostree, lying in the woods between Cattail Marsh and Russell Swamp.

[34]         FHL 13086, Maryland Land Office – Book EI 2:164 – Warrant for 45 acres called New Town granted Andrew Willis 8 Oct 1730, in Dorchester County on west side of Blackwater River and on the east side of Cattail Swamp and on the west side of Andrew Willis’s dwelling plantation. Survey certified 21 Oct 1730, Henry Ennalls, Deputy Surveyor Dorchester Co. Patent issued 13 Jun 1734

[35] Cotton, Maryland Calendar of Wills, VII:259, Will Book 21: 918 – Will of Andrew Willis, Dorchester County, 24 May 1738. 1) To two sons Richard and George, “New Town” divided equally, should either die without issue to pass to son John; and personalty; 2) To sons John, William, Andrew and Thomas, and daughter Sarah, personalty. He left a pewter plate to each child plus a feather bed and iron pot to Richard; 3) To wife Rebecca, executrix, residue of personal estate, should she marry to be divided between sons Richard, George and John. Test: Robert Johnson, Mary Carway (Carriwy), John Pritchett Fisher. Probate 23 Aug 1738.