Published in the December 2007 issue of the SGES Quarterly

Ancestors of Spicer Christopher
By J. G Braddock Sr.

It doesn’t necessarily take Joshua and his trumpet to make a brick wall fall. Sometimes, it can be accomplished with persistence, perseverance, and patience, patience, patience and finding an Internet genealogy lookup angel.

One of the longstanding brick walls in researching the ancestry of descendants of John Cutler Braddock is finding the origin of Spicer Samuel Christopher, father-in-law of John’s two sons John David and William. There are abundant mentions of Spicer in East Florida Papers-records of the second Spanish possession of Florida. However, only a handful of baptismal records and the 1783 census taken by the Spanish immediately after regaining the province give hints of his origin, saying only that he was a native of Maryland and giving his parents names as John Christopher and Martha Watson.

The baptismal records reveal one other possible clue: Spicer gave four of his children the middle name Bluet, which would make one think Bluet, or a version of it, could be a family name. He makes an even stronger case for it being a family name in an entry in his will. After identifying a grantee as his niece, he wrote, “I do freely give and grant unto Martha Bluet Grisholm . . .” Two other possible clues are his given name, Spicer, and that of his brother, Spencer.

Soon after learning eleven years ago that Spicer Christopher was one of my ancestors, I began surfing the Internet for his origin, using various combinations of the names Christopher, Spicer, Spencer, Watson, and various spellings of Bluet, along with the word Maryland. As new web sites are continuously being added to the Internet, I surfed periodically in hopes of getting a rewarding hit. With each fruitless try, my tries grew further and further apart. Recently, after not trying in over a year, I gave it another shot and immediately got a hit on the Maryland State Archives web site. In Somerset County's tax records for the years from 1723 through 1759, with a few years missing here and there, Christophers?including four Johns?Spicers, Watsons, and Bluetts were listed.

Adding the word Somerset to my searching, I got a hit on the “Lower Delmarva Shore USGen Web Counties” genealogy web site. Delmarva stands for the peninsula between the Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay, which is occupied by parts of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. I made the most important discovery of my search on the Delmarva website: lookup volunteer Elizabeth Smith. During the course of my research I received 332 emails from Elizabeth, most of them containing information or directions for finding information. To say I couldn’t have done it without her would be a gross understatement. Between the two of us we found enough records to get a reasonable picture of several limbs of Spicer’s ancestry and for several generations on some of them.

The most critical piece of information she provided was that the youngest of the four John Christophers married a Martha, but her maiden name wasn't Watson, it was Bluett. Identifying this Martha was the toughest part. Martha Bluetts appearing on two different documents of the same time period were at first thought to be the same Martha who had married Joseph Dashiell. Several records identify Martha Bluett Dashiell as the daughter of Thomas Bluett and Eleanor Covington, including the will of her father.

Scant few records could be found for the second Martha, however, an accounting of John Bluett’s estate 28 July1748, from the book “Maryland Probate Records” clearly establishes that she was the daughter of him and his widow, Marian Watts. A Somerset County Rent Tolls record from August 1713 mentions Marian Watts’ uncles, John and Spicer Watts. An indenture record from March 1755 mentions her brothers, John and Spencer Watts. Another accounting of John Bluett's estate, filed 10 years after the first, reveals that Martha has married John Christopher in the interim; the ultimate of coincidences, if that's all it is.

The second Martha was a Bluett not a Watson?I found no Martha among the several records of Watsons in Somerset County. Her mother was a Watts who married a Bluett and had an uncle named Spicer and a brother named Spencer. If these are mere coincidences, there are a lot of them. It is known from records in Florida and Georgia that John and Martha had two children: Spicer Samuel and Spencer. They may have had at least one other. In September 2006, I received an email from Virginia Steele Wood, Naval & Maritime History Reference Specialist at the Library of Congress and author several works of Southern history of a maritime nature, asking if I were familiar with a Bluit Christain who was captain of the ship “Industry” which had delivered supplies to Georgia troops preparing for the third expedition against British East Florida. I replied that with the given name “Bluit,” his surname had to be Christopher instead of Christian. She apparently agreed because I received the following response: “In what is currently my draft of chapter 6 concerning Georgia's third military expedition to E. Florida in 1778, I have tried to identify all the Ga?S.C. vessels involved. This is difficult, but it turns out that all four of Georgia’s galleys were down there as well as South Carolina's galley Beaufort, Lt. James Mayberry, also the schooner Industry, Bluit Christopher. This information about B. Christopher is all too brief, but it comes from a ration return receipt that I found in the Sheftall Papers at headquarters of the American Jewish Historical Society now located in New York City.”

From the abundance of historical records Elizabeth and I found, I pieced together a reasonable picture of John Christopher and Martha Bluett and their ancestors. Based on a record giving Martha's birth year as 1739, it is reasonable to assume John was born around the same time, perhaps a year or two sooner. This would be congruent with their son Spicer's known birth year of 1759. Somerset County tax records show John lived with his parents until 1759, when he was reported as head of his own household. Records of Rockawalkin Presbyterian Church, said to be the earliest Presbyterian church in America, list him and his father as pew holders in 1759. According to Worcester County Circuit Court of records, he had two lots surveyed in 1762, and in 1763 he signed a petition for an act to promote the advantages of the town of Salisbury. Records of John Nelm’s Store of Salisbury reveal he charged a bridle and a dozen small buttons in 1767 and paid his account in full in 1769. He witnessed the will of Isaiah Bayle 10 Jan 1775. Another accounting of John Bluett’s estate, filed 10 years after the first one, reveals that in the interim John Christopher has married Martha Bluett.

John’s parents were Clement Christopher and Sarah Shockley. Clement was listed in his father, John Christopher II’s, household from 1724, first year of the tax records, through 1735 was listed as head of his own household from 1736 through 1759, last year of tax records. In addition to John, the children of Clement and Sarah were Clement, William, and Anne. He witnessed the will of Stephen Bailey February 15,1729, the will of George “Baily” February 21, 1746, and the will of John Mears 01 Nov 1759. His estate was appraised 19 Aug 1767. His wife, Sarah Shockley, was the daughter of John Shockley and his wife Sarah. In addition to Sarah, John Shockley and Sarah had Richard, David, Eleanor, Elizabeth, Mary, and William. John Shockley's will was probated June 19, 1766. He was the son of Richard Shockley and Ann Boyden. One source says Richard Shockley was born in Kent, England. In addition to John, Richard and Ann Boyden had Richard, David, Eleanor, Elizabeth, Mary, and William.

Clement Christopher's parents were John Christopher II and Hannah. John Christopher II was born 16 Jan 1669 in Calvert County, Maryland. In addition to Clement, John Christopher II and Hannah had Hannah, Mary, John, Grace, Sarah, and Joseph. Somerset County, MD tax records listed Clement as head of household for 1724, the first year of tax records, through 1744. Somerset judicial records show he served on a grand jury 12 Oct 1689. Along with many other Somerset County residents, he signed a letter in November 1689 to the king and queen of England expressing gratitude for their continued support of the colony. He died January 1750 in Somerset County, MD at the age of 81.

The parents of John Christopher II were John Christopher I and Ann. In addition to John Christopher II, John Christopher I and Ann had Jane, Ann, and Ephraim. John Christopher I served on the jury of a murder trial 6 Nov 1668, deeded 50 acres to John Davis 18 Nov 1682, and was taken to court by Andrew Whittington over a debt 6 Feb 1683. He was listed in Somerset County, MD tax records as head of household for 1724, the first year of tax records, through 1747. His parents are not known. Gust Skordas” book, Early Settlers of Maryland, lists one possibility, a John Christopher transported from England to Maryland in 1662.

Martha Bluett was born on 6 Sep 1739 in Stepney Parish, Somerset County, MD. She married John Christopher and was mother of Spicer and Spencer and possibly a third son named Bluett, perhaps John Bluett Christopher. She was mentioned in an account of the estate of her father, John Bluett, 28 July 1748 and in another accounting of it ten years later as the wife of John Christopher. John Bluett and Marian Watts were the parents of Martha Bluett. He was on Somerset County, MD tax records as a dependent in the household of Thomas Gillis 1735 through 1737, then as Head of household for 1738 and 1740. He conveyed to David Polk 75 acres for the “sum of 116 pounds current money of Marylad” 29 Jun 1741. He died before 28 July 1748, the date of the accounting of his estate. John's widow’s name is shown on the document as “Merrin.” It could have been a phonetic misspelling of Maryann, Miriam, or Marian. I chose to use the last variation. Marian is named on the document on which her husband conveyed 75 acres to David Polk and the two records of the accounting of John’s estate.

She married William Toadvine after John's death. Marian’s parents were John Watts and Ann. In addition to Marian, John Watts and Ann had Spencer, John, and Winifred. 600 acres were surveyed for John Watts 14 Apr 1678 on Boquetemorton Bay, had bequeathed to him 75 acres on the north side of Coutomattico Creek 30 Apr 1716, and refused to pay duties for a ship he owned and captained 29 Oct 1730. He died sometime before 1730.

It is not uncommon to take a few steps over the pile of bricks of a newly broken down brick wall and run headlong into another one. This is almost the case in searching for John Bluett's father. Among the meager records found for John, none connect him with his parents. However, a search of historical records for Bluett and its variations (Bluitt, Bluet, Bluit, Blewett and Blewitt) in a wide geographical area in the time frame of John turned up only one individual, Thomas Bluett. As a minister, lawyer, and judge, Thomas had records in several areas of the Delmarva Peninsula. However, most were found in Somerset County, Maryland, the same county where records of John Bluett were found. Thomas is in Somerset’s tax records for some of the same years as John, but in a different household, and was on numerous other public records of the area from 1722 until his death. There are no records revealing a relationship between Thomas and John. The two could have been father and son, brothers, cousins, or not related at all. Because the earliest public record of Thomas is in 1722, mentioning him as “Rev. Thomas Bluett” and the fact that John”s first mention in Somerset tax records is five years after Thomas’ first mention raises a strong possibility that Thomas is John’s father, an assumption I am making until, and if, I learn otherwise. Besides, Thomas and ancestors of his wife offer a highly interesting heritage.

In the abundance of records of Thomas Bluett, suspected father of John Bluett, none reveal his origin. The closest possibility found geographically is that of a Captain Bluett who was dispatched to Jamestown in 1619 by The Virginia Company to establish an ironworks. He died shortly after his arrival. Thomas was married to Eleanor Covington. In addition to John, they were the parents of the aforementioned Martha Bluett who married Joseph Dashiell. Thomas was listed in Somerset tax records as head of a household for 1730, 1731,1735, 1736, and 1744 through 1746. His first historical mention was in 1722 as being a minister and a member of Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, a missionary organization of Colonial times. Page 851 of Classified Digest of the Records of the Society for the Propagation othe Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1701 - 1892, lists him as one of the Society's missionaries. He is shown in some old Maryland records as an attorney, some as a judge, some as a minister. In 1731 he gained a degree of lasting renown through an encounter he had with a slave. The slave had been brought from Gambia in Africa to Maryland and given the name Job. Finding difficulty in performing the physical labor assigned to him by his master, the slave ran away, was captured, and put in jail. While in jail he was visited by Thomas Bluett. Thomas became impressed with Job and, through another slave acting as interpreter, wrote Job's biography, giving it the long title Some Memoirs of the Life of Job, the Son of Solomon, the High Priest of Boonda in Africa; Who was a Slave About Two Years in Maryland; and Afterwards Being Brought to England, was Set Free, and Sent to His Native Land in the Year 1734, which gained considerable note at the time and still gets numerous mentions today. Bluett had Job write a letter to his father in Africa. The letter had to go through England and somehow ended up in the hands of James Oglethorpe, who at the time was Deputy Governor of the Royal African Company. Oglethorpe had the letter translated by Oxford University. Touched by Job's story, Oglethorpe not only ransomed Job, he invited him to England. Accompanied by Bluett, Job arrived in England in the spring of 1733 while Oglethorpe was off founding the colony of Georgia. After a year of being treated royally, Job got to meet the General when Oglethorpe returned to England for a brief visit in June 1734. A month later, Job was on his way back to Gambia, a journey made possible by two compassionate men: Thomas Bluett and James Oglethorpe. One of the sources for the above was the book, Life of GeneraI Oglethorpe, published in 1890 by Henry Bruce. Thomas witnessed the will of Philip Covington 22 Jan 1733, was attorney for James Shirley June 19, 1733 in a suit over a debt, witnessed the will of Benjamin Cottmann December 1, 1744, and witnessed the will of Ann Walker September 11, 1745. Christ Church Parish, Dover, Delaware lists Thomas Bluett as a minister in 1748-1749. According to Early Clergy of Pennsylvania and Delaware, S. F. Hotchkin, “Rev.Thomas Bluett, of Dover, in 1748, mentions a sickness so that two, three, or four, or more would die every day; and the church-yard would see from one to two or three daily burials. A Public Fast was observed, and the clergyman preached to the greatest audience he had seen since he came to the place. Quoting the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Journal as its source, Some Records of Sussex County Delaware, compiled by C.H.B. Turner, page 229, states “…that in February last the Rev. Mr. Bluet Missionary at Dover in Kent had departed this life not much lamented by his congregation. They had applied to him to serve their church as often as he could, which he had promised to do once in 5 weeks; and through Mr. Bluet’s indiscretion the church was reduced to a very low ebb.” The same book says “Thomas Bluett (Attorney) is shown as giving 2 pounds on a list of donors for buying Missionary William Beckett a farm.” In his will made July 30, 1748, Thomas left everything to his wife and daughter Martha, the wife of Joseph Dashiell.

Parents of Eleanor Covington, wife of Thomas Bluett and suspected mother of John Bluett, were Phillip Covington Sr. and Eleanor Bozman. Children in addition to Eleanor were Margaret, Mary, Ann, John, Elizabeth, Priscilla, Rebecca, Nehemiah, and Levin. Phillip was the son of John Covington and Mary. Children of John and Mary in addition to Phillip were John, Mary, Nehemiah, and Abraham. Parents of Eleanor Bozman, wife of Phillip Covington Sr., were John Bozman and Bandina Risden.

Parents of John Watts, father of Marian Watts, were James Watts and Elizabeth Ann Youell. Other children they had were Ann, Youell, Spencer, and Spicer. Little is known of James Watts and his origin other than he moved from Maryland to Westmorland County, Virginia and his will was probated August 30,1699. His wife, Elizabeth Ann Youell, who married Thomas Atwell after his death, was of notable ancestry. She was the daughter of Thomas Youell Jr. and Ann Lee. Other children of Thomas Jr. and Ann Lee were Wmifred, Thomas, Penelope, Jemima, and Richard. Thomas Jr. was a Colonel in the Maryland Militia along with Colonel John Washington, uncle of our first president. He and his family moved from Maryland to Westmoreland County, Virginia where he became a justice and a member of the House of Burgess. He died February 1696 in Westmoreland County. Thomas Youell Jr’s. parents were Thomas Youell Sr. and Ann Sturman. Thomas Sr. was born in 1617 in Wilbrasome, Northamptonshire, England and came to America in 1631 at age thirteen. He served in the House of Burgess in 1638 and 1642 through 1649. Thomas Youell Sr. died February 1655 in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

 Ann Lee, wife of Thomas Youell Jr., was the daughter of Richard Lee and Ann Constable Owen, daughter of Richard Owen and Frances Constable. Richard Lee was born at Cotton Hall, Shropshire, England, son of John Lee and Jane Hancock. Richard came to the Jamestown colony in late 1639 or early 1640. He was appointed to a number of offices in the Jamestown colony, including clerk of the Quarter Court in 1641, attorney general in 1643, sheriff and Burgess of York County in 1646 and 1647, respectively, Secretary of State in 1649, and the Governor's Council in 1651. By 1640 he had acquired his first tract of land, at Tindal’s Point in present-day Gloucester County, Virginia. The Lee family of Virginia, many of whom played prominent roles in the political and military affairs of the colony and state, including Robert E. Lee, is among his descendants. He held the rank of colonel in the Northumberland militia, the only military force in the Virginia colony in the seventeenth century. By the time he died March 1, 1664, he owned more than 15,000 acres of land in Virginia and Maryland and a large estate outside London, at Stratford-Langton. He is buried in the cemetery at Cobbs Hall, near the original mansion site of his grandson, Charles Lee.

A more detailed genealogy of Spicer Christopher's ancestors is on this web page: http://www.woodenshipsironmen.com/ancestorsofspicerchristopher.htm 

 

 

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