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Nottingham Browns

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This page is created as an archive for sources about the Browns of the 18th century township of Nottingham. Nottingham began in Chester County, Pennsylvania, but after the Mason-Dixon Line most of it ended up in Cecil County, Maryland. Among other places, Brown descendants migrated to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. This includes the Quaker Browns of New Garden, North Carolina. An interesting and touching history of their cemetery is attached to this profile as a PDF. (Note: As the G2G discussion of the Brown family evolved, some documents previously attached here became obsolete and were removed.)

All the Browns of Nottingham descended from two original settlers, the Quaker brothers James and William Brown, who were granted Nottingham Lots 14, 27, 23, and 33, as shown on the map on this page directly to the right of this paragraph. Born in England to Quaker parents, the brothers emigrated to America as young men. James, who was two years older, came first and William arrived several years later.

Note: On the map, William Brown's name is also on Lot 28, but the lot's original owner was Robert Williams. He died in 1716, and left the lot to "my friends William Brown Senr" in his will.

James was married in New Jersey in 1679. He settled in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, where he lived for over 20 years before moving to Nottingham around 1702. A record of his property transactions can be found at Space:James_Brown's_Property_Holdings.

May 30, 2019 update: The G2G forum has been closed, but interested readers may still learn something of the issues involved by reading the discussion. Now a new free-space page has been set up to gather and compare information about Brown family issues at Space:Brown_Family_Issues. Currently the page is restricted to the parties actively involved in the discussion. Our hope is that when the issues are resolved, all involved WikiTree profiles will be updated to reflect agreed-upon information. October 2019: A current summary of the theories being discussed is at James Brown Theories.

  • A note about Quaker Dating: Since many of the documents concerning the Nottingham Browns are dated in the Quaker style, it is important to understand Quaker dating system. Although the Gregorian calendar used today had been adopted elsewhere, the Julian calendar, which began March 25 and ended March 24, was used in the British Isles and British colonies until 1752. In addition to using the Julian calendar, Quakers avoided using "pagan" names of months, preferring, instead, to number months, beginning with the month we call March (1st month) and ending with February (12th month). For example, as a Quaker, James Brown (1656-1715) dated his will using the Julian calendar. His closing sentence, “Dated in Notingham this fifteenth of ye 11mo called January one thousand seven hundred & fifteen,” should be understood to mean the 11th month of the Quaker year 1715, which translates to January 15, 1716 in New Style. Aware of the problems inherent in identifying an exact year, especially for January through March, Quakers sometimes used a “double-dating” system. Again, by way of example, the date James Brown's will was proved by Deputy Register John Simcock, —“ye first of the first month 1715/6”—should be understood as the first day of the Quaker first month (i.e., March) prior to the close of the Quaker (or Julian) year 1715, or March 1, 1716 in the Gregorian (modern) calendar. For further explanation, see “The Quaker Calendar,” a page of the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College: https://www.swarthmore.edu/friends-historical-library/quaker-calendar.

Uploaded Documents and Maps

Documents and maps on the right appear in the order uploaded. The list below sorts these into relevance. Links to the documents are provided for each.



Transcribing Old Documents - Resources

As every genealogical researcher knows, many documents we need in our work are hand-written. We have learned from experience that it is often impossible to understand the full meaning of such documents without detailed, word-by-word transcriptions. Also, it can be useful to review original documents even when transcriptions are available, because transcribers may have missed or misinterpreted words, or used more liberal transcription standards than we might choose—for example, presenting words in their more modern forms even when they are not written that way, etc.

Whichever method you choose, it will be helpful to the reader to provide explanatory notes describing your choices as well as definitions of unusual terms and abbreviations.

Several types of resources are useful in transcribing old documents, including guides to transcribing conventions, aids in deciphering penmanship, and glossaries of specialized terminology from the relevant period. Below is a list of some of those resources.

Conventions for transcribing:

  • https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/ceres/ehoc/conventions.html This website notes that a diplomatic transcription copies everything it sees as it is; a semi-diplomatic transcription makes changes for readability and clarity. It also provides tips on deciphering old penmanship (but does not include illustrations).

Penmanship, symbols, etc.:


Land Records and Wills - Resources

  • Bryant, Carol. (1997-2006). Abstracts of Chester County, Pennsylvania land records. Published in several volumes, Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books and Heritage Books.
  • Buck, D. A. (Ed.). (2006). Frederick County, Virginia Deed Books (Vols. 1-10). Fairfax, VA: Buck.
  • Dorman, John Frederick (Ed.). (1961-1971). Orange County, Virginia Deed Books, 1738-1743 (Vols. 1-3). Washington, DC: J. F. Dorman.
    • Volume 1: Deed books 1 and 2, 1735-1738 ; Judgments, 1735
    • Volume 2: Deed books 3 and 4, 1738-1741 ; Judgments 1736.
    • Volume 3: Deed books 3 and 4, 1738-1741.
  • Fulton, Eleanore Jane, & Mylin, Barbara Kendig. (1936). An Index to the Will Books and Intestate Records of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania 1729-1850. Lancaster PA: Intelligencer Printing. Limited search capabilities online at https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/102108610. Also available on Ancestry (search card catalog: wills\Pennsylvania\Lancaster)
  • Joyner, Peggy Shomo. (c. 1985). Abstracts of Virginia's Northern Neck Warrants and Surveys. Portsmouth, VA: (n.p.).
  • MacInnes, Sharon Cook. (c. 2008). Early Landowners of Pennsylvania: Atlas of Township Warrantee Maps of Lancaster County, PA. Apollo, PA: Closson Press.
  • Shuck, Larry G. (1999). Berkeley County, (W) VA, Deeds and Wills, Abstracts. Apollo, PA: Closson Press. Available at Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Deed Books 1-5 cover 1772-1781 and Will Books 1-3 cover 1772-1805. Note that the northern third of Frederick County, Virginia became Berkeley County in 1772.
  • Chester County, Pennsylvania Land Records: To find deeds, first go to https://chesco.org. Enter "1402" in the search box. Scroll down and choose "Deeds, 1688-1865." Select the appropriate surnames category and find the person you are researching. Note down the book and page number of the deed you want to find. You may want to make some screen prints. Next, go to https://familysearch.org. Using the drop-down Search menu, select "Catalog." Searching by place, enter "Pennsylvania." Click on "Search." Then click on "Places within United States, Pennsylvania" and select "Chester." Scroll down to "Land and property" and click on that. Select "Deeds 1688-1903." Scroll down until you find the deed books listed. Find the one you want and click on the camera icon. Note that some of the FamilySearch films combine several deed books, and the image numbers are not the same as the page numbers. You will need to experiment until you find the relevant page, and not all images capture the page numbers at the tops of the pages. You can sometimes depend on the document dates to help get your bearings, but not always.
  • Lancaster County wills: An index to the will books and intestate records of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1729-1850. Available on Ancestry. Note: to search for a specific will, start with page numbers from Fulton and Mylin (above), then go to FamilySearch and search records for Pennsylvania\Lancaster wills.
  • Maryland land records can be found at Maryland Historical Mapping, an archive created to help explain and locate land records for the State of Maryland, particularly the western half of the state and along the Pennsylvania line.
  • Virginia land records can be found in Digital Collections at Collections by Topic at Virginiamemory.com. From the list of topics to browse, select “Land Office Patents and Grants,” which links to the searchable database, “Virginia Land Office Patents and Grants/Northern Neck Grants and Surveys.” (If starting from the main page, choose “Collections by Topic” from drop-down menu.)

Additional Pennsylvania and Quaker Resources

  • Beard, Alice L. (2006/1989). "Births, Deaths and Marriages of the Nottingham Quakers 1680-1889." Westminster, MD: Heritage Books. (Original work published 1989, Westminster, MD. Family Line Publications.)
  • Bell, James Pinkney Pleasant. (1905). "Our Quaker Friends of ye olden time; being in part a transcript of the minute books of Cedar Creek meeting, Hanover County, and the South River meeting, Campbell County, Va." Lynchburg, VA: J.P. Bell.
  • Bradley, A. Day. “Early Settlers of the Nottingham Lots.” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 70, 282-294.
  • Cope, Gilbert. (1864). The Browns of Nottingham. West Chester, PA. See also The Browns of Nottingham. Downloadable at https://archive.org/details/brownsofnottingh00cope/page/14
  • Day, Robert Warwick, Ph.D. (2001). The Nottingham Lots and the Early Quaker Families, paper presented to East Nottingham Monthly Meeting, Calvert, Maryland. http://www.churchman.org/Nottingham_hist.htm
  • Ellis, Franklin, & Evans, Samuel. (1883). History of Lancaster County Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Philadelphia, PA: Everts & Peck. Available as a free EBook.
  • Futhey, J. Smith, & Cope, Gilbert. (1881). History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with Genealogical and Biographical Sketches. Philadelphia, PA: Louis H. Everts. Available online and can be downloaded at https://archive.org/details/cu31924005813518/page/n6
  • Gragg, Larry Dale. (1980). Migration In Early America: The Virginia Quaker Experience. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Research Press.
  • Hinshaw, William Wade. (1936). Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy. Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Brothers. Volume 6 includes a four-page introductory narrative to Hopewell section.
  • Norris, J. E., Ed. (1890). "History of the lower Shenandoah Valley counties of Frederick, Berkeley, Jefferson and Clarke, their early settlement and progress to the present time; geological features; a description of their historic and interesting localities; cities, towns and villages; portraits of some of the prominent men, and biographies of many of the representative citizens." Chicago: A. Warner. Available online at https://archive.org/details/historyoflowersh00norr/page/n8
  • O’Dell, Cecil. (2007). Pioneers of Old Frederick County. Westminster, MD: Heritage Books.
  • Wayland, John Walter, & Joint Committee of Hopewell Friends. (1936). Hopewell Friends History 1734-1934, Frederick County, Virginia: Records of Hopewell Monthly Meetings and Meetings Reporting to Hopewell; Two Hundred Years of History and Genealogy. Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Publishing. Reprinted in 1998 by Heritage Books. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Available on line at https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001593685
  • Wiley, Samuel T., & Garner, Winfield Scott. (1893). Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chester County, Pennsylvania... Philadelphia, PA: Gresham Publishing. Online and downloadable at https://archive.org/stream/biographicalport00garn#page/1/mode/2up. Note that Ancestry has an 1892 version on-line.

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Jillaine, please see https://www.wikitree.com/index.php?title=Space:James_Brown%27s_Property_Holdings&public=1

I have added a final paragraph to the Summary section that I hope answers your question.

posted by [Living Kelts]
Is it possible to summarize what these land records tell us? How if at all do they answer our genealogical questions about the Nottingham Browns?
posted by Jillaine Smith