Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mary Pennington Free's documented ancestry

Hoorah for the ladies!

Copyright Jul 2011 by LaRae Free Kerr M ED

It took only a few hours perusing published books of deeds and court records in Maryland to prove that Mary Utie married Anthony Drew, not Richard Perkins. It only took a few days reviewing court and other records to find that Margaret was not William Sherwill’s wife’s name but his son’s wife’s name, and that the Rudil, Rudisil, Reutzel, family did not arrive in colonial America until well after that marriage was supposed to have taken place.

But Adam Sherrill’s wife Elizabeth is another story. Both the surnames Bigger or Biggen and Corzine or Corsine have been postulated as her surname. That her name is Elizabeth is certain, for that name is found in deeds. Older records consistently list her surname as Corzine, and there were certainly people by that name near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania when Adam lived there. Still I haven’t found even one document – yet – carrying both the Sherrill and Corzine name.

Captain William Sherrill’s wife’s full name is known from Bible records; it is Agnes White. But there are two distinct and related branches of Whites living near Sherrill’s Ford at the right time period. And maybe more. Which family does Agnes belong to?

OK, so why am I so interested in finding the wives of these adventurers? As a wife and mother myself, thank heavens, I know those women are of utmost importance. True, most family histories start with the earliest male immigrant and come down through the males. I understand why. For most of my own life, let alone all the centuries before, history was a male dominated discipline. And, of course, as you can see here, records for men outnumber women about a gazillion to one.

But for our history, at least this first section where the Sherrills, Perkins, Penningtons and earliest Frees are discussed, it is based on women’s lines. And it all starts with Mary Pennington [1778-1839] who married Andrew Free.

At one time in my research, a careful genealogist asked me why I thought I was a descendant of Elisha Perkins. You may be asking the same question: Why do we think we are related to Penningtons, Perkins and Sherrills? Well, I’ll tell you.

The 1908 brochure entitled “Reunion of the Descendants of Absalom Pennington Free” held at the Wandamere, Tuesday, June 9th, 1908 is the basis of our genealogy. It was prepared by Junius Free Wells who, as his daughter Abbie said, did it right. Further he knew Absalom Pennington Free who knew Absalom and Margery Perkins and Joshua and Mary Sherrill Perkins in his teens and beyond. Here are the first three sentences from that brochure under the heading “The Free Family:”

“Andrew Free, only child of his parents, the progenitor of this family, was born in North Carolina about the year 1775. He married Mary Pennington, only child of Absalom Pennington, born 1752, and Marjory Perkins of Virginia. Her mother was the daughter of Joshua Perkins, born 1728, and Mary Shirrell of Virginia.” That, dear cousins, is as good as it gets, the same as a family Bible. But we have more.

Absalom Pennington’s will drawn 12 Jan 1838 in St Clair County, Ill has this telling information: “what is then left of moneys or debts due me shall be divided equally between my daughter Polly and her children. I do hereby constitute and appoint Absalom P Free my grandson sole executor of this my last will and testament. [Polly is the usual nickname for Mary]. So there is no question Mary Pennington is the daughter of Absalom Pennington. Margery is not mentioned in this will because she had recently died. But we have several independent records showing she is Absalom Pennington’s wife such as Daniel Hanmer Wells Family Temple Record Book GSf 1036993. This is as good as a Bible. Remember that though parish registers were kept in northern colonial America, they were not kept regularly in the South. Because of this, family Bible records are the best.

Ok, So Mary Pennington is the proven only child of Absalom Pennington and Margery Perkins. The 1908 reunion brochure assures us Margery Perkins is the child of Joshua Perkins and Mary Sherrill. [Note I’m making no effort at all to spell these names the same way. They didn’t either.] Even though the brochure entry is conclusive, do we have corroborating evidence? Yes, including Absalom Pennington and Annie Hicks Frees’ family Bible [thanks Jill] where we find this entry, “Joshua Perkins great grandfather to Absalom Pennington Free.”

Joshua Perkins’ parentage was illusive until I received the entire will of his father Elisha drawn 10 Sep 1741 where he listed six children on the first page and bequeathed his son Joshua 1 shilling on the second page. Probably not much love lost between that father and son. But wait, you can read the book for more… That Elisha Perkins did indeed marry Margery Perkins is as proven as can be for that time and place, for their marriage was recorded in the St George’s Parish records in Baltimore County, Maryland. That Elisha is the son of Richard Perkins and his elusive wife Mary is recorded in those same parish registers.

How do we know that Margery Sherrill is William Sherwill, the Fur Trader’s, daughter? Both Adam and William Jr are named as sons of William Sherwill the Fur Trader in deeds. In other court records Margery is given as a sister to Adam and William.

We descend from William Sherwill through his daughter Margery as shown above. We also descend from his grandson William called Captain to distinguish him from all the other William Sherrills. Captain William Sherrill’s wife is Agnes White. How do we know? Bible records give us her full name and birth date but not her parents’ names. The same Bible says Adam Sherrill is Captain William’s father. And those deeds and court records mentioned in connection with his sister Margery above declare Adam the son of William Sherwill the Indian Trader.

That leaves only Adam’s wife to identify. Her name is Elizabeth as recorded in deeds. Her surname is unproven. See the second paragraph above.

This is a really solid pedigree, better than most, especially when you consider that we have many additional records declaring the same. Just thought you might want to know. LFK

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