Friday, October 10, 2014

Colonial Maryland- The Quakers, Traherns and Govers

Although I have known of the images of many of Colonial Maryland's prerogative court probate files, I never could figure out how to find the information I so desperately wanted on the estate of William Trahern in 1760. (Hint, it helps to read the directions, which involves actually editing you web address using math to get to the desired page.) So after reading the directions, viola, I found the records I wanted, only to find the page I needed was missing an image. I emailed the help desk for the Maryland State Archives and the next day I had the image. It confirmed what I had long suspected, William Trahern whose estate was inventoried in 1760 was the father of Nehemiah Trahern, but another relative popped up, Robert Gover, and after a day, when I read the documents again, I discovered that the Administrator, Robert Trahern, was a female, not a male.

It makes little sense for a daughter to be the administrator over a son, so Robert Trahern is the widow of William Trahern. She also affirms and does not swear that the account is accurate. To all those who do not know, that means she was a Quaker. As were the Gover family, who I dug into the records to find as much information as I could on. I also ran across a notation that Elizabeth Trahern affirmed and did not swear to an account of William Cromwell, which would seem to indicate she too was a Quaker. The importantance of her being a Quaker, with a husband from Calvert County has yet to be examined, but the marriage record for John Trahearne of Somerset shows he was not a Quaker, which in my mind at least, brings into question if Elizabeth is a relative of theirs or not.

Elizabeth Trahern died by 1703, and the account of William Trahere in probate records in 1703 in Calvert may or may not be that of a Trahern. I didn't see, though it is hard to read, any relatives listed in this accounting, whereas in the Gover documents of this time, family was the person giving the inventory, it is not for William Trahere's account. So at this juncture, we do not know if William Trahern was a son of William Trahere or not.

Based on Nehemiah's birth about 1725, it is safe to say William Trahern was at least around 60 upon his death. In the 18th century, this would be quite an old man. I did find a reference to a William Traherne in 1721 convicted to indenture and deportation to the United States in a book. This William Traherne was from Bromyard, Herefordshire, England and is the right age to be our William. (As a side note, this is the area where Thomas Traherne was from).

It does seem unusual that William Trahern would marry while indentured for seven years. It is my understanding that that was not allowed, but then, Nehemiah may not have been educated enough to have been aware of his true age, or his parents may have married later. I do not know if Bastardy bonds exist for this time frame, but if he was a bastard, he would have been indentured as a child. It is my understanding that some of these records are in the archives at Maryland.

From the inventory and account of William Trahern we learn two things. First, his wife being a Quaker, and the practice common at that time, he must have been one as well, and second, that he owned tools, and not much else, indicating he was a tradesman who did not own a slave or property. His was a modest existence, his estate after paying it's debts was just over 2 pounds of money. Records of the Govers in comparison showed that they not only owned slaves, but wills show they were property owners of large estates. So how is Robert Gover related? That is the question.

Robert Gover the first, or Senior died in 1699 leaving his estate to three sons, Robert, Samuel and Ephraim. His son Robert Jr died in 1700, leaving a daughter Rebecca, an unborn child and a widow Eliza who goes on to marry John Ward. Of this family I saw no further mention, though I haven't checked estates for John Ward.  His son Samuel married Elizabeth Roberts (Johns?) in 1706. His son Robert Gover dies before 1742 when his account is shown in records with an executrix of Eliza Freeland. Elizabeth Gover had married a Freeland in 1739 and a lag of 3 years is not uncommon in the account phase of probate. His son Ephraim married Mary Harper in 1705, and also has a son Robert Gover who dies after William Trahern. This would appear to be the right Gover.

Robert Gover names no daughters in his will, but it is impossible to clearly state he had none either, though most of the wills do seem to mention daughters, it wasn't required. There was a John Gover who indentured himself in 1750 and married in St. John's (King George's) Parish in 1757, but whether he is connected is unknown and irrelevant. There is also a Capt. Samuel Gover who dies in the same years as  Samuel Gover, likely a relative, and possibly the son of Robert Gover Jr (the unborn child) or a child of Ephraim Gover, but his child is named Samuel Gover.

So how are they related? William Trahern could be a cousin, brother in law or son in law, but since Ephraim's will precedes the death of William Trahern, we know of only three children, Robert Gover, Ephraim Gover Jr, and a daughter Mary. In the will of Robert Gover, he mentions his siblings and leaves their property to his daughters should they die without heirs, so it would appear that neither of them are married in 1760. Robert Gover's wife is named Sarah Walker and their first child is born in 1744, indicating she was most likely born no later than 1726 as she was married in 1740/1741. Robert also married Elizabeth Roberts in 1733 but no children are recorded in Quaker baptism records (from Quaker Records of Southern Maryland, Henry C. Peden Jr.)

Given that Nehemiah's mother was born likely by 1705, it sort of precludes his wife as a sister of Sarah Walker, though it doesn't rule it out completely that his mother, presumably the Robert Trahern, was a Walker. His mother could easily be Harper as well, but it is doubtful that she is a Glover, unless she is the unborn child of Robert Gover Jr. Just because Nehemiah is the only Trahern listed as next of kin, does not mean he was the only child of William Trahern as well, a matter most prevalent to the Loudon County, Virginia Trahern's who were Quakers.

Next or nearest kin signed the inventories of the deceased. It required two signatures, and generally was not witnessed by the administrator who affirmed or swore it's accuracy. That means that William Trahern, the husband of Rebeckah (last name unknown) was most likely Nehemiah's brother. It also means that Nehemiah may have had sisters. We know that the William Trahern in 1760 can not be the husband of Rebeckah (punished in 1759 for her marriage out of the Church), because she had three children with her husband after 1759. We also know that although bastards did exist, a woman who succeeded in having three bastards would have been ostracized and punished, and as I have never heard of a divorce in this time frame, we know that Rebeckah's husband can not be Nehemiah, nor could she be the Robert (on one document written Rob with small t above, which could be similar to Reb with small h above) from the probate documents.

The location of Rebeckah's admonishment is the same Quaker meetings attended by the Gover family, so I don't think it's a coincidence that Rebeckah and William Trahern were both in the same place at the same time. Especially given that we find only three Trahern families in the Colonies at this time. Adam Trehurn a Quaker in Chester, Pennsylvania whose will is viewable and left no males, the Somerset Trahearnes and our William Trahern.

A lot of questions arise for me now, places and things I need to check into. An examination of the Quaker minutes for the early to mid 18th century to see if the Trahern's are mentioned, examination of the rent rolls for Calvert County (and later Anne Arundel). Answers to some questions about the Quakers and the laws themselves. When Nehemiah was conscripted into the British Army during the French and Indian Wars, was he disowned from the Quakers? All I could find on the subject was that some states allowed them to pay a fine or pay someone to fight for them, which may not have been feasible for Nehemiah. Was it required to have your child registered in parish records and Quaker records (it wasn't the official church)? And when did that change? What is the parish for Calvert County, and if records exist, will I find something on Nehemiah? Was Amelia a Quaker or a protestant? By 1777 the Quaker's had outlawed slavery in Maryland (though the Episcopalian Methodists encouraged the same), so if he wasn't an Episcopalian Methodist by then that is probably why he became one.

Perhaps one day I will have both the money and time to answer some of these questions. A YDNA test on a Trahern (there aren't that many of our line left, I think we are at 4) may be helpful as well.

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