32. Our Cousins The Scientists: John Bartram, William Bartram, and John Dalton

My wife and I are scientists — behavioral scientists, to be sure, but scientists nevertheless. Today such occupations are not unusual, but two or three hundred years ago they were almost unheard of in a world where most people made their living off the land.

I have written before about two protoscientists in our family tree. Thomas Ashton and Edmund Trafford, of co. Lancaster, England, practiced alchemy in the 15th century, claiming to have “discovered an elixir that restored youth and changed base metals into gold and silver”.

Not truly scientists, alchemists nevertheless displayed certain scientific characteristics. These included notions of causation – one idea, for example, was that different metals were alloys that could be transmuted into precious metal by driving out impurities – and the use of experiments to further knowledge. They departed from science in the haphazardness of their efforts, the use of religious metaphor to support their endeavors (e.g., Christ’s torments reflected in the alchemical torment of metals), and the failure to properly cumulate results (which if nothing else should have led to an earlier abandonment of their efforts). As a result in the end they contributed little to the science of chemistry [7, 8].

However, there are three true scientists in our family background who made more substantial contributions than the alchemists. Unlike Thomas Ashton and Edmund Trafford they are not direct ancestors, but rather cousins of varying degree.

John Bartram

John Bartram was born in 1699, the son of William Bartram, a Quaker of Darby township, (now) Delaware county, Pennsylvania, and the grandson of John Bartram, who in 1682 had immigrated to the colony with his family from co. Derby, England.

John educated himself in botany, medicine, and surgery while supporting himself as a farm laborer. In 1728 he created the first American botanical garden in Kingsessing, now part of Philadelphia and still in existence as “Bartram’s Garden”, a national historic landmark [1].

He began actively collecting native American plants and seeds of all types, many of which he forwarded to London naturalist Peter Collinson. For that purpose he began undertaking long-range travel across the eastern half of the American continent. A keen observer, he experimented with plant hybrids in his Kingsessing garden. However, he was not a systematist like Carolus Linnaeus, the creator of the genus and species classifications we know today. Nevertheless Linnaeus called him the greatest “natural botanist” in the world, and in 1765 George III appointed Bartram as Botanist to the King. John died in 1777 [1, 2].

John Bartram
John Bartram (reputed)

Today Bartram is best known for his 1751 book, Observations on the Inhabitants, Soil, Divers Productions, etc., Made by John Bartram in His Travels from Pennsylvania to Onondaga, Oswego, and the Lake Ontario. He is commonly regarded as “the father of American botany” [1].

Through the Bowers and Stayman side of the family, my relatives and I descend from the scientist’s grandfather, the immigrant John Bartram. We are therefore first cousins several times removed from the botanist.

William Bartram

Like his father John, William Bartram (1739-1823) was a noted botanist and writer, as well as an artist, naturalist, ethnographer, and explorer. His Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws (1791) was initially published in Philadelphia, but soon after was reprinted in London, Dublin, Berlin, and Paris, the latter two places in translation [1].

William Bartram
William Bartram

Although he discovered a number of new plants – and resented that he did not receive more recognition for it – William’s fame as a naturalist is based on his great skill as an illustrator of both flora and fauna. This was something that was evident by his teens, and he became progressively more accomplished as he aged. He also continued to maintain the garden at Kingsessing, to which he added new species [3].

John and William Bartram home and garden


In 1808, William sat for a portrait by the famous artist Charles Wilson Peale. A reproduction accompanies. My close relatives and I are William’s second cousins several times removed.

John Dalton

John Dalton was born in 1766 in Eaglesfield, co. Cumberland, England, the son of a Quaker weaver named Joseph Dalton. Joseph’s parents were Jonathan and Abigail (Fearon) Dalton. It was Abigail who provided our ancestral link, for my close relatives and I descend from the Fearon family [4, 5].

At a young age John undertook a course on surveying and navigation, and came to the attention of Eliju Robinson, his relation and a man of means who provided further educational opportunity. He began teaching school in Eaglesfield at the tender age of 12, and studied under John Gough, a blind scholar who taught him the classical languages, mathematics, and natural philosophy [5].

John began his scientific inquiries with a weather diary, using a barometer, thermometer, and hygroscope of his own construction. In 1793, he became a teacher of mathematics, natural philosophy, and chemistry in the New College of Manchester. A year later he read a paper on his own defective color vision to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, to which he had been elected a short time previously [5].

In 1795, Dalton began the investigations into chemistry and physics that were to lead to his greatest successes. His early work was on the circulation of heat in fluids, and on the relationship between temperature and compression. In the course of studying diffusion, he began to experiment with different elemental gases such as oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Studying the absorption of the gases by water, he speculated that absorption was determined by the weight of the gas particles. Although that proved incorrect, it led directly to his successful attempts to assign weights to elements [5].

Developing his ideas over the opening years of the 19th century, Dalton proposed that elements are made of tiny particles called atoms, which differ in size and mass from the atoms of other elements. In addition, elements were proposed to combine in whole-number ratios during chemical reactions to form compounds [4].

Dalton proceeded to publish tables of atomic weights, starting with only five elements, including hydrogen which he assigned a weight of one — a unit now unofficially called a dalton. By 1808, he had included 20 elements in his scheme, and by 1827, 36. These concepts and discoveries allowed the rapid advancement of the field of chemistry [4].

John Dalton

Today Dalton is regarded as the father of atomic theory [4]. He died in 1844, having achieved fellowship in the Royal Society, corresponding membership in the French Académie des Sciences, and foreign honorary membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences [6].

My close relatives and I are related to John Dalton through the Bowers and Snyder side of the family. We descend from John Fearon, Sr., of Eaglesfield (d. Jan 1661/2), the grandfather of Abigail Fearon Dalton. John Dalton is our third cousin several times removed [4].

The Bartram genealogical material cited in this article, and our connection to it, is available in the Stayman-McCrosky Ancestry, which can be downloaded at Lulu.com. The Dalton-Fearon material is in The Omnibus Ancestry: 619 Documented American and European Lines, likewise downloadable at Lulu.com.


[1] Boles, D.B., & Boles, H.W. (2000). Stayman-McCrosky Ancestry. Tuscaloosa, AL: private print. Available for download at Lulu.com.

[2] Information retrieved from http://biography.yourdictionary.com/john-bartram (2017).

[3] Slaughter, T.P. (1996). The Natures of John and William Bartram. NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

[4] Boles, D.B. (2017). The Omnibus Ancestry: 619 Documented American and European Lines.  Available for download at Lulu.com.

[5] Millington, J.P. (1906). John Dalton. London: J.M. Dent & Co.

[6] Information retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dalton (2017).

[7] von Meyer, E. (1891). A History of Chemistry from Earliest Times to the Present Day. London: Macmillan and Co.

[8] Nummedal, T. (2013). Alchemy and religion in Christian Europe. Ambix, vol. 60, pp. 311-322.

Picture Attributions

John Bartram: Public domain. A controversial portrait, it is not universally accepted as one of John; and if it is of John, it may nor may not be from life. Nevertheless it has inscribed on the back, in an apparent 18th-century hand, “Portrait of John Bartram of Darby died 1777 … C.W. Peale Artist. Property of Isaac Bartram 1795.” (Slaughter, op. cit.).

William Bartram portrait: Public domain.

John and William Bartram home and garden: “Jtfry at English Wikipedia”, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

John Dalton: Public domain.

25. The True Parentage of Ralph Lewis, of Darby Township, Chester (now Delaware) County, Pennsylvania

The material below is treated at greater length, with full references, in the Omnibus Ancestry (available for download at Lulu).

In 1683 Ralph Lewis emigrated from Wales to Pennsylvania. He took with him a Certificate of Removal from the Friends’ (Quaker) Men’s Meeting for Cardiff and Treverig, co. Glamorgan, stating that he was leaving with John ap Bevan (John Bevan). Shortly before, while in Wales, Ralph had purchased Pennsylvania land from John, at which time he was described as a resident of “Illan”; i.e., Eglwysilan parish. The removal certificate was signed by a man named Thomas Prichard, among others [1,2].

Footpath and Stream Near Eglwysilan

By 1691 Ralph had settled in Darby (now Upper Darby) township, then in Chester county but now part of Delaware county, Pennsylvania. He appeared in the records of the Quaker meeting in Haverford township, (now) Delaware county, and owned land there and in the townships of Upper Darby and Lower Merion (now in Montgomery county). His will was made in 1712 when he was still a resident of (Upper) Darby, and he died that same year. Ralph left many descendants through his large family of 9 children, 8 of whom lived to married adulthood [1,2].

The Contribution of Thomas Allen Glenn

The identity of Ralph Lewis’ parents has long tantalized genealogists, not least because of his known place of origin and his association with John Bevan, a Pennsylvania Quaker of known royal descent [3]. In the late 19th century, the genealogist Thomas Allen Glenn took up this problem, initially concluding that Ralph’s father was another Ralph Lewis, whose 1683 will indicated he was of Llanishen, co. Glamorgan [4]. Glenn’s rationale was unexplained, but because the will did not name sons, was probably based on nothing more than the testator’s name and the proximity of Llanishen to Eglwysilan.

More importantly to the possibility of royal descent, however, Glenn concluded that the immigrant Ralph’s mother was a Prichard:

She must have been Ann Prichard, as Thomas Prichard is called Uncle, by William [Lewis] in letter to Ralph, and for a number of minor reasons all of which make me consider this as proved and beyond question. [4]

It is through a Prichard connection that John Bevan has a traceable royal descent. He was the son of Evan John, of Treverig, co. Glamorgan, and his wife Jane Prichard, the sister of Ann and Thomas Prichard. The Prichards were the children of Richard ab Evan, of Collenna, co. Glamorgan, and his wife Catharine Bassett [1,2,4]. Then, by tracing a number of additional generations, they are found to be descendants of Edward III, King of England [1,2,3].

In subsequent years Glenn changed his mind about the father of Ralph Lewis. In 1913, as part of a much larger work, he published a brief account of the family in which he stated that there was “evidence amounting almost to a certainty” that Ralph Lewis of Pennsylvania was the son of one David Lewis, of Eglwysilan [5]. To my knowledge, however, Glenn never reported the nature of that evidence.

The Publication of Withers-Davis Ancestry

Leading up to the publication of the Withers-Davis Ancestry in 1998, which included a treatment of the Lewis family, I was intensely concerned with acquiring whatever evidence was to be had on the subject of Ralph Lewis’ ancestry. For a time I maintained a round-robin mail discussion among Lewis researchers that unearthed a number of publications and manuscripts.

In retrospect, the most important document found in this discovery process was the letter alluded to by Glenn. It was found transcribed in three different sources, two in unpublished form (one manuscript and one typescript) and one in published typeset form. The letter was written in 1684 “from Ilan” by William Lewis to his “Dear Brother” Ralph Lewis. It mentioned “thy t[w]o sisters” and that “Thy Brother David doth Remember himselfe to thee” [6].

The critical passage that Glenn had noticed was transcribed most clearly by the highly-regarded local historian and genealogist Gilbert Cope, working from a photograph of the original, and had been published in 1887 [6]:

Remember me to my Loveing frind John ab Evan, for his Chilldren were Sike and now they are well. youre unkel thomas prichard were ded and mary william. [6,8]

Based on this letter and a number of other records, including (a) a substantial list of associations of Ralph Lewis with John Bevan, and (b) evidence that Thomas Prichard had married an heiress, I concluded that Ralph was a blood nephew of Thomas, and accordingly that Glenn was right in concluding that his mother was Thomas’ sister [2]. Furthermore, because previous pedigrees of the Prichard family named only one sister whose marriage was not given:

It is likely that her given name was Anne, although this seems somewhat less certain in that it is unclear whether the known list of siblings … is exhaustive in nature. [2]

The question of Ralph’s father, however, seemed even less certain given that Glenn had not named his sources or even stated the basis of his opinion that his father was named David. After equivocating on how best to represent this situation, I named his father as David, citing Glenn as the source, but noted that:

… evidence that the father was David Lewis is weaker than evidence that the mother was a sister of Thomas Prichard. [2]

The volume then traced the extensive noble and royal ancestry of the Prichard family.

Residual Doubt

I was reasonably certain that a sister of Thomas Prichard was the mother of Ralph Lewis, but a small residual doubt remained in my mind following publication. It was triggered by the ordering of the statements in the critical paragraph of the William Lewis letter. Specifically, “Remember me to my Loveing frind John ab Evan” preceded “youre unkel thomas prichard were ded”. There seemed to me a small possibility that when William used the term “youre unkel”, he was addressing himself to John ab Evan (John Bevan). Bevan, of course, was indeed the nephew of Thomas Prichard, his mother Jane having been Thomas’ sister.

To be sure, taking this alternate interpretation would involve accepting some syntactic gymnastics within the paragraph. Between the statements “Remember me to my Loveing frind John ab Evan” and “youre unkel thomas prichard were ded” was inserted the wording “his Chilldren were Sike and now they are well”, so if a change occurred in mid-paragraph in who was being addressed, the transition between “his Children” and “youre unkel” was jarring. Although the alternate interpretation was judged unlikely, it nevertheless remained within the realm of possibility.

The True Father of Ralph Lewis

While preparing to publish the Omnibus Ancestry, I revisited the issue of Ralph Lewis’ parentage, concentrating my efforts on wills. Initial searches using the Lewis surname were fruitless, replicating Glenn’s unsuccessful search.

But then I hit on the possibility that Lewis may not have been a true surname as Glenn had assumed, but rather a patronymic, a name based on the name of his father. In 17th-century Wales, a process was underway in which patronymics were being converted to permanent surnames. Thus the Prichards derived their permanent surname from “ap Richard” (i.e., “son of Richard”, as borne by the children of Richard ab Evan). But the process had just begun. In some families it would not be completed until the 19th century [7]. I reasoned, therefore, that Ralph Lewis might have been the son of a man with Lewis as given name rather than surname.

So it was that I found the true father of Ralph Lewis. In his will, Lewis William named, among other sons, Raulph Lewis, David Lewis, and William Lewis — all known from the 1684 letter. Two daughters Gwenllian Lewis and Elizabeth Lewis were also named — the 1684 letter, of course, mentioning to Ralph “thy t[w]o sisters”. The final proof of identity was the naming by Lewis of “Mary William my wife”. As William Lewis had indicated in his 1684 letter, “youre unkel thomas prichard were ded and mary william” [1]. Without a doubt, Lewis William was the father of Ralph Lewis of Darby township.

The True Mother of Ralph Lewis

How William Lewis chose to convey news of the death of Mary William is of central importance to this story. He didn’t lead off his letter by saying “our dear mother is dead”. Indeed, Mary’s death was almost an afterthought, inserted as a postscript at the end of a letter that began by describing the good health of Ralph Lewis’ brothers and sisters and their families. Even John Bevan’s children and uncle Thomas Prichard’s death received priority over poor Mary William.

Because no son would announce the death of his mother so offhandedly, there can be very little question that Mary was the stepmother, not mother, of both William and Ralph. As their stepmother, it could well be the case that neither brother felt a strong emotional attachment to her, particularly if she had married their father relatively late in life and he had long been deceased when the letter was written.

But Mary William’s mention at the end of the critical paragraph has another, rather profound implication. Because she had a relationship by marriage to Ralph Lewis, but none at all to John Bevan, her naming indicates that the entirety of the paragraph was addressed to Ralph. If syntactic gymnastics are required to assume a shift of address from Ralph to John Bevan, as suggested above, then the shift back to Ralph within a single sentence (“youre unkel thomas prichard were ded and mary william”) is simply impossible. Thus by William Lewis’ own testimony, Thomas Prichard had to have been Ralph Lewis’ uncle. Glenn was right in this.

But what was the given name of Ralph’s Prichard mother? As mentioned, Glenn and I had both assumed that her name was Anne, because she was the only Prichard sister in existing pedigrees whose marriage was not given.

Here, once again, Welsh wills proved to have something to say. The father of the family, Richard ab Evan, made his will naming among other relatives his daughters Anne, Katherin, Marie, and Flourance Prichard [1]. Because Anne was still alive in 1671/2, while Lewis William died previously, she obviously could not have been Lewis’ first wife. But the letter carries a further implication, because the previously-mentioned pedigrees naming the children of Richard ab Evan did not include daughters named Katherin or Flourance [1,2]. Neither of those could have been Lewis’ first wife for the same reason that Anne could not have been. But their existence raises the possibility that Richard ab Evan had one or more daughters, deceased and not named in the will, who also did not appear in the pedigrees.

That is how I prefer to leave it, with the mother of Ralph Lewis a Prichard of unknown given name, but certainly one of the daughters of Richard ab Evan and his wife Catharine Basset. Assuming that she was a daughter not yet identified, Ralph Lewis and John Bevan were first cousins.

Nevertheless, there is another intriguing possibility worth noting. As mentioned, John Bevan was the son of Evan John and his wife Jane Prichard. The dates of death of both parents are unknown. It is possible, therefore, that Jane was widowed by the death of Evan John, and married as her second husband Lewis William. In other words, Ralph Lewis may have been John Bevan’s half brother through a shared mother. That would certainly account for the known close associations between Ralph and John [2].

This speculative raw material, unfortunately, must be left to future workings of The Genealogist’s Craft. Until then descendants of Ralph Lewis may claim descent from King Edward III through his unknown Prichard mother.  That descent, and many others of Ralph Lewis, are given in the Omnibus Ancestry (available for download at Lulu).


[1] Boles, D.B. (2016). The Omnibus Ancestry: 589 Documented American and European Lines, 2nd ed. Available for download through Lulu.

[2] Boles, D.B., & Boles, H.W. (1998). Withers-Davis Ancestry. Decorah, Iowa: The Anundsen Publishing Co. Available for order from Bolesbooks.

[3] Richardson, D. (2011). Plantagenet Ancestry. Salt Lake City, Utah: private print.

[4] Glenn, T.A. (1899). Lewis. Typescript, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.

[5] Glenn, T.A. (1913). Welsh Founders of Pennsylvania. Oxford: Fox, Jones and Co.

[6] Cope, G. (1887). Genealogy of the Sharpless Family. Philadelphia: Dando Printing and Publishing Co.

[7] Rowlands, S. (1994). The surnames of Wales. In J. Rowlands (Ed.), Welsh Family History: A Guide to Research. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., pp. 57-72.

[8] The original letter, Cope indicated, had been in the possession of a Dr. George Smith, of Upper Darby, whose widow was a descendant of Ralph Lewis. Its present whereabouts is unknown, assuming it is extant at all.

Picture attribution:

Image Copyright Gareth James. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, Cali


24. Tartan Day and Our Scottish Origins

Happy Tartan Day! It’s probably safe to say that most Americans don’t know about this commemoration of Scottish heritage, or that the U.S. Senate in 1998, the House in 2005, and the President in 2008 recognized it. Whether official or not, it has spread to other countries of the Scottish diaspora — notably Canada, Australia (although there it is celebrated on July 1st), and Argentina. It has even gotten back to the home country of Scotland, where regional councils are attempting to promote it as a global celebration [1].

Why April 6th? That was the date in 1320 that the Declaration of Arbroath was signed, declaring Scottish independence from England. I have written about the declaration previously on my Bolesbooks Facebook page. Considered by many a foreshadowing of our own Declaration of Independence, it denied the divine right of kings and left to the nation the choice of its sovereign.

Some Scottish Origins

In the case of my family tree it was understood from an early date, certainly the early 1960s if not previously, that we had discernible Scottish origins among its many roots. However, this came from an indirect assessment of surnames more than from direct evidence. Ancestral “Mc” surnames such as McCrosky, McFadden, and McIntire were recognized as most probably either Scottish or Scotch-Irish, even though repeated searches failed to turn up evidence of specific places of origin. The later additions of my wife’s ancestral families of McClain and McMurtrie fell into the same vaguely Scottish category.

Today we have hints of whispers of the origins of a couple of these families: Possibly co. Antrim, Ireland, for the McCrosky (McCoskery) family, and co. Antrim, Ireland, for the McMurtries, who in both cases were therefore most likely Scotch-Irish [2]. But actual hard evidence of specific geographic locations has been slow in coming. Below I’d like to highlight three ancestral lines for which hard evidence exists, namely the Ellyson, Boles, and McQueen families.

The Ellyson Family

I descend from Virginia’s Ellyson family through my mother. Her ancestor Deborah Harbour’s mother was a Thomas, her mother was a Jordan, and her mother was Susanna Ellyson, daughter of Joseph Ellyson, a Quaker of New Kent county, Virginia. From there the line is traceable to two Robert Ellysons, father and son, who lived in Gloucester and James City counties. The two are almost universally confused both because they shared their given name, and because they died nearly simultaneously (1668/9 in the case of the son, and about 1669 in the case of the father) [2,3].

Their distinctness, however, is attested by an extraordinary family Bible entry written in the late 1700s, reciting the ancestry of one Robert Allison (Ellison) three generations back to the younger Robert Ellyson, then to his father Robert, and finally to the immigrant ancestor John Allison. The entry concluded with a geographic payoff: John was stated to have come from Windyedge, co. Lanark, Scotland, sometime before 1625 [3].

This account has been sufficiently corroborated through other evidence that it can be taken as largely accurate. One thread of evidence is that an Alison family is historically known at Windyedge, a farm located in Avondale parish in the vicinity of Strathaven. One member was James Alison, born 1621, who resided at Windyedge. His sons John, Michael, and Archibald all took up the cause of the Covenanters, a nationalist Presbyterian movement that dominated Scottish politics between 1638 and 1651, but which was doomed to defeat by the forces of Oliver Cromwell and later King Charles II [3,4]. John was taken prisoner at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge in 1679, and banished to Virginia. Michael fled to Ireland after the military defeat at Airsmoss in 1680, and was at the siege of Londonderry in 1688/9. Archibald, however, was the most unfortunate. He was executed at Edinburgh in 1680, his dying statement appearing in the book A Cloud of Witnesses [3].

The Virginia Ellyson family, incidentally, provides a major royal descent from King Edward I of England, as well as from a raft of noble families. This thread came into the family from the marriage of the younger Robert Ellyson with a Gerard wife, about the year 1655 [2,3].

The Boles Family

I have written extensively about the Boles family origin in a previous post, 8. The Kelburn Castle Origin of the Boles Family: A DNA Success Story. The American ancestor was James Bole (1752-1836), who died in Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, and whose son William (my ancestor) added the friendly ending “s” to the name [2].

For many years we thought the Boleses might be English. However, their true origin began to emerge when it was discovered, from the apparent statement of a grandson, that James was born in Ireland. That, and his known Presbyterian religion, pointed clearly to a Scotch-Irish origin. In other words, James was almost certainly the descendant of a Scot who had crossed to Ireland, probably specifically to Ulster [2].

The next realization was the family might ultimately have been from Kelburn, Ayrshire, Scotland. This hypothesis emerged as it began to be appreciated that the spelling of the surname varied in American records, and Bole could sometimes appear as Boyle. A family named Boyle, now Earls of Glasgow, have been seated at Kelburn castle continuously since at least the late 1200s, plenty of time to generate cadet lines, one or more of which may have crossed to Ireland. Furthermore until early in the 20th century, the surname Boyle was pronounced in Ayshire as Bole, potentially explaining how the Bole and Boyle spellings could refer to the same family.

The Kelburn hypothesis recently received a ringing confirmation when it was discovered that a male-line descendant of James Bole has a Y chromosome with similar genetic markers to that from a male-line descendant of John Boyle (1688-1740), the 2nd Earl of Glasgow and a member of the Kelburn family. The relationship certainly was not close; my ancestor may have left the castle, never to return, around 1430. Nevertheless it affords a second specific Scottish location to feel a connection to, one that is all the more meaningful because it connects me to the origin of my surname.

The McQueen (MacQueen) Family

The family most appropriate to recognize this Tartan Day, however, may be the McQueens. Unlike the Ellysons and Boleses, who were Lowlander families having little to do with tartans, the McQueens were Highlanders and presumably did wear the plaid (see graphic).

The MacQueen Tartan

I have written extensively about my ancestor Dugal McQueen (ca 1666?-1746) in two posts, namely 4. Dugal McQueen, Scottish Rebel and Gateway Ancestor to Royalty, and BRIEFLY NOTED: A McQueen 300th Anniversary. It is sufficient to say that he is known to have been of Pollochaig, Moy parish, co. Inverness, Scotland, a location made possible to identify through an English prison record establishing his Moy origin [2]. Today the manor house at Pollochaig is in ruins but can still be visited at its location near Tomatin.

Dugal’s known ancestry is very extensive, being known in his male line for an additional two generations back to 1644, with a family presence at Pollochaig likely back to about 1510, and for many generations back through his mother and numerous intermarried Scottish families [2].

Dugal came involuntarily to Maryland in 1716, exiled and probably in chains, having been captured in the Battle of Preston the previous year [2]. Whatever one’s views of the failed Jacobite rebellions of the 1700s, their participants saw them as nationalist expressions of freedom from English overlordship. That seems appropriate to recognize on Tartan Day.

Final Thoughts

The difficulty of genealogically “jumping the pond” to Scotland should not be underestimated. Looked at together, the three geographic locations I’ve described were all the result of unusual discoveries. They included a remarkable family Bible entry, a converging pair of Y-DNA tests, and an obscure prison record from a failed rebellion. Other families, like the McClains, McCroskys, McFaddens, McIntires, and McMurtries, have so far proved impossible to trace back to Scotland. In most cases this is due to the stretch of years taking family origins beyond available church records, and in some if not most cases due to intervening lost generations spent in Ireland.

Nevertheless unusual records sometimes exist, and they make good material for the genealogist’s craft. Keep weaving your threads together! But on today’s Tartan Day, feel free to celebrate your Scottishness no matter how it is known.


[1] Information retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartan_Day (2016).

[2] Boles, D.B. (2016). The Omnibus Ancestry: 589 Documented American and European Lines, 2nd edition. Available for download through Lulu.

[3] Boles, D.B. (2005). Snyder-Harbour Ancestry. Available for download through Lulu.

[4] Information retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covenanter (2016).

Picture attribution: Owner Celtus, “MacQueen tartan (Vestiarium Scoticum).png”, retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MacQueen_tartan_(Vestiarium_Scoticum).png. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.


3. The Jolliffe Family Descent from Barbara Blaugdone, Quaker Sufferer

A genealogist constantly judges the relative worth of varying lines of evidence, sorting and sifting in an attempt to arrive at the truth. One excellent example of this is provided by the descent of the Jolliffe family of Frederick county, Virginia, from Barbara Blaugdone, Quaker sufferer and entrant in a number of books on women’s history.

Jolliffe, J. gravestoneI descend from John Jolliffe through my grandmother Audra Foster Boles.  John was born in Frederick county in 1768, and died in Johnson county, Indiana, in 1851 (though his gravestone, possibly placed at some delay after his death, says 1850).  John was the son of James Jolliffe (ca 1734?-1771).   The Quaker connection can be traced backward in time beginning with that generation. In 1759 James was disowned by Friends, as the Quakers were known, probably for marrying “out of unity” — in other words, to a non-Quaker (in this case Hannah Springer).

What is less certain is whether James’ father William Jolliffe, Sr., was also a Friend. William was placed on the roll of attorneys in Frederick county in 1743, and was subsequently known as the “Quakers’ lawyer”, having the law business of the local Hopewell Monthly Meeting. However, while a number of his family members were clearly in membership, William does not appear in that capacity in the meeting’s records. He is nevertheless said to have been buried in the meeting’s cemetery.

According to the much-cited Historical, Genealogical, and Biographical Account of the Jolliffe Family of Virginia, published by W. Jolliffe in 1893, William Jolliffe, Sr., was the son of Joseph Jolliffe and wife Ruth, of Norfolk county, Virginia. This assertion, however, rested on only the slimmest of evidence, specifically a then-existent family legend that Joseph and Ruth had a son James who had a brother William — who in turn had left the area and had never been heard from again. As the author noted, he was otherwise unable to find any record of William in Norfolk county. Nor does there appear to be a record of James there.

The assertion is troubling for two other reasons as well. First, Norfolk and Frederick counties are about 220 road miles apart, a long distance to bridge with an assumption that the same surname in both places indicates relationship. Second, the names of Joseph and Ruth do not appear among the known children of William (William, John, Edmund, and James), or the children of his son James (William, Ann, Drew, Elizabeth, John, and Margaret), an unusual circumstance at a place and time when namesakes were considered important.

A competing account of William Jolliffe’s origins was provided in more modern times by the discovery, published by Cecil O’Dell in 1995, that a William Jolliffe sold land in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, in 1736. This was only a year before William of Frederick county is first known to have appeared in Virginia, as he witnessed a deed in Orange county, one of two parent counties of Frederick county, in 1737.

Could these have been the same men? Further information published by O’Dell showed that one Cuthbert Hayhurst was an adjacent land owner when William Jolliffe sold the Bucks county land. And in what must surely have been a “Eureka!” moment, O’Dell found that Cuthbert Hayhurst witnessed a mortgage of William Jolliffe in Frederick county in 1767.

Which line of evidence should be believed? The 1893 account, recycled through countless publications and web pages, including a 1994 book by my father and myself? In other words, the account with a large geographical discrepancy, no record of William or his putative brother in Norfolk county, and no repetition of parental names? Or the account in which an adjacent landowner in Pennsylvania became William Jolliffe’s witness in Virginia? Clearly the latter, as otherwise the coincidence is astonomically improbable.

The Jolliffe Descent from Barbara Blaugdone

O’Dell also learned that William Jolliffe had a wife named Mary Sheppard, of New York City, who in 1726 had bought the land sold in 1736. His account stopped there, but in short order I was able to work out a descent from Barbara Blaugdone. Mary was the daughter of John Sheppard, a cooper in New York City, and his wife Mary Watts. That Mary, born 1677, was of Bristol Friends’ Monthly Meeting in Bristol, England, and was the daughter of John Watts by his wife Mary Blaugdone, daughter of Barbara Blaugdone. John, the name of Mary Sheppard Jolliffe’s father, was a name found among her children, and among those of her son James. While the name Mary is not known to appear among the children, the names of the daughters of William and Mary are unknown.

Barbara Blaugdone, Quaker Sufferer

Barbara Blaugdone, born Barbara Brock in 1609 but widow of a Blaugdone husband whose given name is not known, died in 1704 in London, England. Toward the end of her life, in 1691, she published a remarkable autobiographical sketch, An Account of the Travels, Sufferings, and Persecutions of Barbara Blaugdone. In her highly readable account, she noted that she was a teacher in Bristol, England, when she converted to Quakerism in 1654. After losing most of her students because of her “dangerous” beliefs, she became a preacher. She obtained the release of Quaker prisoners at Basingstoke in 1655, and over the following two years undertook missionary trips to Ireland, meeting at one point with Henry Cromwell, then major general of forces but later Lord Deputy of Ireland.

Preaching in western England in 1657, she was imprisoned at Marlborough and went on a short hunger strike. She did the same in Exeter and was whipped in prison. During these early years she was at least twice in mortal danger, once when stabbed and once when a bystander narrowly prevented a butcher from striking her head with his cleaver. She also suffered shipwreck and piracy. While imprisoned in Dublin a man confessed to her that he had borne false witness against 5 men and women. However, the judge would not hear her and hanged them all, causing her to recall, “And a heavy day it was, and I bore and suffered much that day”. In 1681 she was again imprisoned, in Bristol, and in 1683 was fined the large sum of £60 for failure to attend the Anglican church.

Barbara’s life and writing have been included in a number of books on women’s history. They include A Historical Dictionary of British Women (2005); Female Alliances: Gender, Identity, and Friendship in Early Modern Britain (2014); Life Writings (2001), a volume of the series Early Modern Englishwoman; and Reading Early Modern Women: An Anthology of Texts in Manuscript and Print, 1550-1700 (2003). Her monograph is also frequently cited in Quaker histories.

What Was Barbara Blaugdone’s Background?

As forthcoming as Barbara was about her sufferings, she was remarkably circumspect when it came to her own family background. Yet sprinkled throughout her writing are references that suggest she may have been of the upper class, and that she consorted with nobility prior to becoming a Quaker. Thus, writing of a trip to Devonshire in 1654/5, she stated, “I went to the Earl of Bath’s, where I had formerly spent much time in vanity”, and that when she asked to speak to the countess, she “never asked me to go into her house, although I had eaten and drank at her table, and lodged there many a time”. Then of her imprisonment in Dublin, Ireland, which occurred about 1656, she wrote “there were some friends of mine, namely — Sir William King, Colonel Fare [sic, Fane?; see below], and the Lady Browne … came to see me, and they would needs go to this judge, to get me released . . . [they] told him they had known me from a child, and there was no harm in me at all”.

These references highlight a second aspect of genealogy, i.e., that it is never complete. The classical example is that every generation traced provides two parents to be further traced. In this case real persons were named in Barbara’s account to whom, potentially, she may have been related. The “Earl of Bath’s” must have been the Devonshire estate of the recently deceased Henry Bourchier, 5th (or 6th) Earl of Bath, whose widow was Rachel Fane, daughter of the Earl of Westmorland. Rachel had a brother Col. George Fane, whose son Sir Henry Fane was confirmed an estate near Limerick, Ireland, in 1668. Also near Limerick were the substantial lands of Sir William King and his wife Barbara Boyle, widow of Sir John Brown.

Barbara herself hinted that she may have been from Ireland, for she noted of her visit to Cork that “I was made to call to my relations and acquaintance … I came to witness that a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country”. It is possible that somewhere among the repeating names of Fane, King, and Brown, in Ireland, lies the origin of Barbara Blaugdone. Perhaps it merely awaits an enterprising genealogist to discover.

All references for the above statements are given in two volumes. The first is the all-in-one ancestry, The Omnibus Ancestry. That work updates and corrects, in brief form, material in the much more detailed volume, Ellis Ancestors: Some Immigrants, Colonists, and Pioneers (1994). Both books are available for download through Lulu.

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