«JAMES HORSLEY SR. of MARYLAND (c1685-c1748) AND OUR HORSLEY FAMILY BEGINNINGS Research Report by Joan Horsley © 2006, 2009 Joan Horsley Revised Fall ...»
JAMES HORSLEY SR. of MARYLAND (c1685-c1748)
AND OUR HORSLEY FAMILY BEGINNINGS
Research Report by
© 2006, 2009 Joan Horsley
Revised Fall 2010
This document may not be used in part or whole for commercial purposes or paid subscriber services. All
personal use must reference the document and author. Cite as:
Horsley, Joan. James Horsley Sr. of Maryland (c1685-c1748) and Our Horsley Family Beginnings. Rev. ed.
Raleigh, NC: J. Horsley, 2009, Rev. 2010. Available online at: www.JoanHorsley.org
TABLE OF CONTENTS
AND OUR HORSLEY FAMILY BEGINNINGSJAMES HORSLEY SR.
Born: c1680-90, Maryland (probably); Died: c1748, Queen Anne’s County, MD Possible father (not proved): Richard Horsley - d. 1718, St. Peter’s Parish, Talbot Co., MD Married: 03 Feb 1728/9, St. Luke's Parish, Church Hill, Queen Anne's Co., MD Wife: MARY SEWARD - b. 1710, Queen Anne’s Co., MD; d. Aft. 12 Jun 1769 Proved daughter of Thomas Seward Jr. and wife Susannah
CHILDREN OF JAMES HORSLEY SR. AND MARY SEWARDAll born Queen Anne’s County, MD Hannah Horsley – b. c1729, married Thomas Tharp 10 Oct 1749 St. Luke’s Parish, QA Co., MD James Horsley, Jr. – b. 1731, married Patience (Maiden Name Unknown) c1752; d. c1815 S.C.
Thomas Horsley – b. c1733, married Mary Connikin (widow) c1766; d. 1790-1800, QA Co., MD Richard Horsley – b. 1737; married wife unknown after 1764; d. after 1784, possibly QA Co., MD
James Horsley Sr. was a literate and highly skilled carpentry craftsman probably born in Maryland about 1685. Although his parents and ancestors are not proved, he likely was related to the small Horsley group that was in Calvert County, MD by the 1660's and may be the son of Richard Horsley who died in Talbot County, MD in 1718. James Horsley Sr. first appears in Maryland records in Annapolis in 1712 during a politically contentious time in the province's history. For the next eight years, James is involved with some of the most prominent and controversial figures in that era in Maryland: Charles Carroll, a wealthy Irish Catholic; his nephew James Carroll; and in particular Carroll-kinsman Thomas Macnemara, an outstanding lawyer for whom James Horsley worked for four years. During James' employment, Thomas Macnemara was elected to high offices in Annapolis, including mayor of the city in 1715, but the persecution of the independent-minded Macnemara by the staunch Protestant authorities who detested him spilled over onto James Horsley as well.
In 1721, after the deaths of Charles Carroll and Thomas Macnemara and the retirement of James Carroll from public life, we find James Horsley on Maryland’s Eastern Shore using his carpentry expertise to repair an old church building in Queen Anne's County. James married Thomas and Susannah Seward’s eldest daughter Mary Seward in that church eight years later. James and Mary raised at least four children on their land called Bishopsfield near Church Hill, MD that had been in Mary's family since 1675. James Horsley apparently prospered in his craft and was a trusted and respected member of his community. He died intestate about 1748 in Queen Anne's County, MD. His widow Mary re-married to Joseph Slocum but probably bore no more children, was widowed again, and was still alive in 1769 at age 59. The time and place of Mary’s death are not known. By the 1810 U. S. census, no Horsley families resided in Queen Anne's County or in any part of Maryland.
The story of James and Mary’s son James, who moved his family to Virginia shortly before the American Revolution, continues in James Horsley Jr.1731-c1815 and Descendants: The Road South From Maryland, available online at www.JoanHorsley.org.
I cannot remember a time when I did not want to learn more about my Horsley family and heritage. I grew up knowing very little. My Horsley father’s parents died when I was two years old, his two siblings and my one cousin lived in distant states, and my dearly-loved father died when I was twelve.
Moreover, none of my family were inclined to tell family stories. With adulthood came professional and family responsibilities that left little time or energy to explore family history. Yet my desire to know only grew stronger as I raised the next generation while all my Horsley relatives died with their stories still untold.
Then when my mother died, I discovered among her personal papers a wealth of Horsley family items I had never seen or even known were there. These letters, photos, news clippings and Bibles not only gave basic genealogical information but transformed mere names into "real people" and supplied context to family events. Serendipitously, finding this treasure trove coincided with retirement and my last child's departure from home so that, at long last, I was able to begin the in-depth Horsley family research that led to this paper. My hope is that beyond the basic facts of names, dates and places, our early Horsley family may become as alive to you as they are now to me.
Much of this research report was written in August of 2006 at the end of Phase I of my research on James Horsley Sr. of Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Since then it has gone through several revisions to include discoveries from additional records and to rework older ideas that no longer fit in the same way with the newly-found documents. Family history research is always a “never-ending story” as new records and research come to light; thus, this version and any that follow are also open to revision, correction, updating, and refining.
The goal of Phase I, researched mainly between 2001 and 2006, was to see if I could find primary documents (that is, records made at the time of the event) to support an affidavit filed in 1940 by Dale Grammer Hopper that includes a statement purportedly about our early Horsley line and James Horsley Sr. in particular. This statement also seems to be the basis of the unsourced information about James Horsley Sr. in Horsley Families of America 1650 to 1986 Vol 1 (1986) by Brenda Horsley Scott and Roy Deris Horsley Jr., now widely disseminated on the internet. Their book has been the primary publication to date that focuses on the descendants of James Horsley Sr. and his son James Horsley Jr. My mother bought a copy of the book when it was published in 1986, and although as a researcher I must admit I have been frustrated by the authors’ lack of sources and documentation, their book laid the first groundwork when I was able to begin researching in earnest.
To my surprise, even my initial research into the primary records regarding James Horsley Sr.
revealed that basically all of Hopper's information, including the portion repeated in Horsley Families of America, was either unsupported or directly contradicted by the records themselves. It also became obvious that what seemed by the wording of Hopper’s statement to be from a Bible record dating back to 1863 was written instead by someone much closer to Mrs. Hopper's generation who apparently relied on pieces of handed-down family stories and popular peerage books of the day.
Relying on such sources was standard practice for family historians in the decades around the turn of th the 20 century, prior to the more exacting standards for family history research set by today’s genealogical societies and certifying boards and before the access we now have to original records.
Although we owe these earlier family historians a large debt of gratitude for their role in keeping the family story alive, the results of their efforts are often factually unreliable, as the Hopper statement turned out to be.
Thus, the core of my initial report on “James Horsley Sr and our Horsley Family Beginnings” focused on using the primary records located to date to distinguish between the direct or indirect evidence found in these documents and the information included in the Hopper statement and Horsley Families book. (“Indirect evidence” is the term for information in the records that indicates or implies, rather than actually states, a situation or relationship. Indirect evidence of a relationship usually begins with records that show same the surname, same time, same place, and shared or linked associates of the people being investigated, along with other considerations as discussed in Part I.) The first version of this report written in August 2006 was shared with Gerald Horsley for his personal use in a presentation at the yearly Horsley reunion held alternately in Georgia and Alabama. Gerald has a lifetime interest in collecting Horsley family history, photos, and stories, specializing in James Sr.’s grandson Valentine Horsley and his descendants, of whom Gerald and I are two. Gerald has been most generous in passing on to me information he has found, which I acknowledge in my citations and use here with his permission, including the Hopper affidavit.
Since that initial report, a number of additional primary records have been found that not only reveal new facts but also add dimension and depth to facts previously known. Records for James Horsley upon which the Narrative (Part I) is based are presented chronologically in the Timeline of Records (Part II). Most of these records in the Timeline are accompanied by extended notes that further explain or expand upon the record itself and the historical context in which the event took place. Due to what has become a web of difficulties in locating and/or obtaining original records at the Maryland State Archives, many records included here come only from secondary sources (e.g.,
books) and still need to be verified by the actual documents.
In the process of researching primary records to untangle the threads of early facts from later fictions, the real story of James Horsley Sr. has begun to come to light and take shape, and a fascinating and surprising story it is, even though there is more yet to research and flesh out from emerging facts.
Some elements of the story are proved directly by the records themselves. Some elements may never be proved absolutely or definitively, yet the interpretations and suggestions presented here may be judged sufficiently substantiated by the records to be accepted as strong indirect evidence.
Some of these may later be revised or overturned by my own or others’ research.
As in all history, gaps in the story are inevitable due to the absence of records for the pertinent time and place. Filling in those gaps with imaginative guesswork is an ever-present temptation which I have tried to resist, but when I do speculate, I try to make that very clear and explicit. I also find that intuitive conjectures which are grounded in the factual information on hand can provide clues for searching records otherwise overlooked.
This report tells what I and others have found to date as part of an on-going research project. I make it available to a public readership now in the hopes that along with numerous other Horsley researchers our combined efforts and shared discoveries will continue to refine and expand our understanding of our Horsley family heritage and of our ancestors’ lives and times. As we learn about them, we rightfully honor and thank them. As lagniappe, in the process we often meet previously unknown cousins and learn more about ourselves as well, some of the many ways our ancestors continue to contribute to our lives.
Joan Horsley Fall 2010
Probably few of us who descend from James Horsley of Maryland escaped childhood nicknames like "horsehead" or "horseface" or just plain "horse" accompanied by taunts that attempted to mimic neighs or whinnies. For many, that only endeared to us our family name. At least few people ever mispronounced it, even if we did have to spell it letter by letter for anyone needing to write it down.
How did we get saddled with such a name (if you'll forgive the pun)?
Early Horsley History in England
The name Horsley derives from the Anglo-Saxon words “hors” and "leagh" (ley), meaning a forest clearing where horses would pasture, so from earliest times many places in all quarters of England became known as Horsley. Alone or in combinations such as Horsleycross, the name came to identify villages, streets, manors, parishes, and natural landmarks from Gloucestershire to Surrey and the London area in the south, to Derbyshire in central England, to Northumberland in the far northeast corner of England.