The Unhappy Family of Christopher Vernon

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Date: 1691 to 1724
Location: Anne Arundel County MDmap
Surnames/tags: Vernon, Evans Gongo
Profile manager: Anne Agee private message [send private message]
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Christopher Vernon, planter, of St. James Parish, Herring Creek, Anne Arundel County MD and Lois Gongo Vernon Evans, his “wife”

Researched by Anne Scrivener Agee, 1992

The Register of St. James Parish records four children of Christopher Vernon and Lois (Lois Gongo Evans) his wife: Ephraim, born 18 February 1691, baptized 11 June 1704; William, born 23 January 1693, baptized 11 June 1704; Lois, born 1 October 1697, buried September 1718; and Thomas, born 27 January 1701.[1]

Christopher Vernon’s will , written on 9 June 1724, reveals a very interesting set of relationships among this family. [2]

He spends the greatest part of the will disowning his wife, Lois. He claims that he and Lois were never married since Lois “utterly den[ied] to say the words at the intended solemnization of marriage that she would honour and obey her husband.” Further, Vernon claims that Lois has tried to “poyson” him and has separated herself from him “these last ten years past.” Because of her “stubborn and brutish behavior,” Vernon is determined that Lois will inherit as little as possible of his estate. Even if “corrupt justice” should allow Lois her thirds, Vernon says that he has given away all his property in England so that Lois won’t be able to get her hands on it.

Vernon also seems unhappy with his son, William, and his daughter{?} Ann Martin. He leaves them only one shilling each since “they having always grievously slighted me and utterly renounced me as a person.” Likewise, he doesn’t seem to care too much for his son Ephraim, either. He leaves his dwelling plantation—two tracts of land called Marshes Seat and Barnwell’s Plantation—to the two eldest children of Ephraim. Ephraim and his wife may live there during their lives, but they may not sell the property.

The remainder of his goods and chattels Vernon leaves to his son Thomas and Agnes Martin, his granddaughter and the two eldest children of Ephraim (unnamed).

The only person Vernon really seems to like is his step-daughter, Elizabeth Anketil, (Elizabeth Evans Anctill Faudrie) the daughter of the brutish Lois by her first marriage. He appoints Elizabeth to manage his goods until his grandchildren come of age, and if they die before coming of age, Elizabeth will inherit their share. He also forgives Elizabeth any debts she may owe him and gives her title to all the lots on the Crown land for which he has the conveyances. Elizabeth is appointed Executrix of Vernon’s estate.

The will was witnessed by John Brown, Anthony and John Gott, and Thomas Neil (TN).

In fact, Elizabeth Anketil did not administer the estate at all.

It seems that Christopher went to England to dispose of his property there and shortly before he died in December 1724, made a later will which superceded the vituperative one left in Anne Arundel County. This later will left his property to his family in England, and it was this will which was actually probated in Maryland. [3] The earlier will was not discovered until much later. [4]

An administrative bond of L1600 was filed on 2 April 1725 by William Chapman, Turner Wooten and Zachariah Maccubbin. [5] Chapman filed an inventory of Vernon’s estate in June 1725.[6] The inventory totaled L359.9.11, including eleven Negroes, various livestock—cows, steers, yearlings, calves, hoggs, horses, household equipment such as a spinning wheel, a close stool, seven leather chairs, a looking glass, a rugg, three dozen quart bottles, and some earthen mugs, and farm equipment such as hinges, nails, lumps of brass, pewter, and iron, a cart and wheels, and some old lumber. Lois Vernon (VL) and William and Thomas Vernon verified the inventory as nearest kin.

In July of 1726, according to the Testamentary Proceedings, Chapman turned over the administration of the estate to William Vernon, who then filed a second administration bond in the amount of L800. [7]

At the same time, Ephraim Vernon, of Richmond VA, “son and heir of Christopher, late of Anne Arundel County, deceased,” sold 150 acres of Marshes Seat and 100 acres of Barnwell’s Plantation to William Vernon, merchant, of Anne Arundel County. [8] Apparently, the Vernons had decided to ignore their father’s instructions about not selling the property.

Meanwhile, a check into Lois’s background reveals that she was first married to Lewis Evans of Anne Arundel County. The 1705 Rent Rolls for Anne Arundel County show that Christopher Vernon held several tracts of land” in right of his wife, the relict of Lewis Evans and in behalf of the orphans of the said Evans.” [9] These tracts included 100 acres of Jericho and 200 acres of Town Land, also known as Evans Purchase.

Lewis Evans’ will, dated 10 December 1690, names his wife, Lues, and four daughters—Elizabeth, Sarah, Catherine, and Ann, none of whom had yet reached the age of 16. [10] To Elizabeth and Sarah, Evans leaves his dwelling plantation (Town Land), and to Catherine he leaves Jericho. He appoints Joseph Chew of Anne Arundel County and Samuel Griffon of Calvert County as trustees. His wife is the executor. Thomas Tench, John Chappel, and Edmond Evans witnessed the will.

The Register of St. James Parish records marriages for Elizabeth Evans to Francis Anctill on 19 August 1708, for Sarah Evans to Samuel Griffith on 26 November 1702, and for Ann Evans to Benjamin Battee in August 1717. [11] Francis Anctill probably died before 1715. In that year, Elizabeth Anctill, Samuel Griffith and Sarah his wife petition for a warrant to resurvey the 200 acres of land left to Elizabeth and Sarah by their father, Lewis Evans. [12]

In tracing Evans’ other property, Jerico, I found that it next appeared in the Anne Arundel County Debt Book in 1753 as the property of William Thornberry, [13] suggesting he might have married Catherine Evans. Sure enough, Thornbury’s will, made in 1750, names his wife Catherine, two daughters-in-law, Elizabeth and Lois, and two sons-in-law, William Scrivener and John Carr. [14] The designation daughters-in-law suggested that Elizabeth and Lois were Catherine’s daughters by a previous marriage. This is confirmed by a Deed of Gift in 1727 from Catherine Clark to her daughters Elizabeth and Lois, witnessed by William Thornbury. [15]

Further research unearthed an inventory and an account for John Clark of Anne Arundel County filed by his widow, Catherine, in 1723. [16] The Register of St. James Parish shows John Clark born 13 June 1686 and baptized 11 August 1691, one of four children, the second son of Mathias and Elizabeth Clark.[17] In 1706, Mathias Clark gave a tract of land in Baltimore County—Repulta—to his two sons, John and Webber Clark. [18] The deed of gift indicates that the property had belonged to Clark’s second wife, Elizabeth, “the widow of Job Barnes and only daughter of Thomas Ford.” Finally, a Baltimore County deed of 1744 [19] shows the sale of Repulta by William and Elizabeth Scrivener and John and Lewsey Carr to Samuel Grover Jr. The deed was witnessed by William Thornbury.

In 1753, after her husband’s death, CatherineThornbury purchased a 163-acre tract called Kequotan’s Choice. [20] Tracing this property eventually led to the discovery of Catherine’s maternal grandmother, Faith Wilson Gongo, whose will, proved in 1694, mentions her daughter Lois, the wife of Christopher Vernon, and three other daughters, Mary, Ann, and Faith, to whom she leaves Kequotan’s Choice. [21]

Eventually, through this research, I was able to develop a maternal line of ancestry for John Scrivener, a line which included some fascinating women: Faith Wilson Gongo | Lois Gongo—1. Lewis Evans 2.—Christopher Vernon |Catherine Evans—1. John Clark 2.—William Thornbury |Elizabeth Clark—William Scrivener |John Scrivener[22]

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I was convinced for some time that I was related to the Quaker Vernons but the more I look into the most likely possibilities of my line, I think this is the line I belong to. I think I am related to one of the unknown sons of Christopher Vernon.

It looks like my ancestor was Caleb Vernon who had a child named Philip Vernon with a wife named Mary in Prince George's Parish, MD back around the revolutionary war era.

Philip ended up in Alexandria, VA where my line is from. I think it goes Philip Baker Vernon > James William Vernon > William Albert Vernon > Ernest David Vernon.

Just trying to connect these dots but I am even having a hard time with Philip Baker Vernon.

Any advice?

posted by Rich Bianchi