Here’s Something

[Updated 8/1/16]

So there I was, skimming through Volume 38 of the Archives of Maryland Online, searching for legislation about the colonial court system for my “day” job, when I came across this genealogical tidbit: a slew of information about the descendants of Edward Day (and the dubious conduct of his widow) in the General Assembly’s response to a petition from one George Scott to clear up title to some of Edward Day’s property.  So here’s the story, as related in “An Act for investing the Right heirs of Edward Day late of Sumersett County, with an Estate in fee Simple of Certaine Lands in the said County” [Acts of May 1718, ch. 15].

Back in July 1687 Edward Day made an agreement to purchase about 200 acres of land that had belonged to Andrew Jones.  The act doesn’t actually specify that Andrew Jones was dead by 1687, but Day’s agreement was with John Huett and Stephen Luffe who were acting as attorneys-in-fact for Thomas Jones and Howell Jones of Monmouthshire, Wales.  That’s a clear clue right there that Thomas Jones and Howell Jones were probably heirs of Andrew Jones, and — bonus info — that Andrew Jones probably came to Maryland from Wales.  Turning to my vast database of Somerset residents, I see that Mr. Andrew Jones of Somerset County Gent. died sometime before 22 December 1684, when Daniel Hast and Stephen Luffe (!!) took an inventory of his personal property.

So Andrew died, and his heirs Thomas and Howell gave John Huett and Stephen Luffe authority to sell Andrew’s land, and they accordingly made an agreement with Edward Day.  According to the act, Edward obtained a bond from Huett and Luffe wherein they pledged to make over the land when Edward paid a £30 installment (in current money, presumably, but the act does not specify) toward the agreed-upon purchase price (also not specified).  The bond stipulated that Huett and Luffe would be penalized £120 sterling if they failed to make over the land.  With that agreement sealed by the bond, Edward “was Imediately put into the possession of the said Land” and evidently got to work, as the act says he “made Considerable Improvements thereon,” and just as evidently also stayed put, for he “dyed in possession thereof.”  And along the way he paid to Thomas and Howell part of the purchase money — thirty pounds fourteen shillings and nine pence, so a bit above that £30 threshold for securing title — but died intestate before the land was re-titled.

So far, so good, but then Edward’s widow, Mary, made things more complicated.  Although Edward “Left a Sufficient Personall Estate” (£147.5 current money, according to the inventory taken sometime before May 1699), when Mary administered the estate she didn’t pay the remainder of the purchase money and instead “paid Sundry Debts of an Inferior Nature” (sounds like Rodents of Unusual Size . . . ).  And then to make matters worse, Mary left the bond with Huett and Luffe “unsatisfied as to the residue” but then got the land made over to herself by passing her own bond to pay the balance.  And then — in 1701 or so, about two years after Edward’s death — she gave birth to “a male Child Called Abraham Turner, being born out of wedlock” (cue the gasp).  And then Mary gave the land to Abraham!

Back to George Day, and his petition to the General Assembly.  The journal of the Lower House does not include the text of the petition (although the reading and consideration of it are recorded here and here), but does specify that George petitioned on behalf of his son — and hey! his son’s given name is “Day,” following the trend so frequently seen in colonial Somerset, where one child (usually the first-born male child) has the mother’s maiden name as his given name.  And we know for certain that Day’s mother was Edward’s daughter, because the act spells it all out:

Edward had children, one son and four daughters.  Two of the daughters died “Infants” (which in this context means they died when they were younger than sixteen, not necessarily in their infancy — although that is certainly possible).  Then the son died, leaving Edward Day’s two surviving children, daughters named Elizabeth and Anne.  Elizabeth eventually married George Scott, the petitioner, “by whom she had the Child menconed Day Scott” . . . and then she died.  As for Anne, she married Philip Todd and had “issue” (i.e., at least one child) . . . and then she died.  (Yes, there’s a lot of death.  That happens when you go studying people who were born about three hundred years ago.)

After all that death, George argued, one half of the property in question “belongs to the said Day Scot, and the other half to the right heirs of Anne.”  (I am somewhat annoyed that the act does not spell out who Anne’s heirs are; Philip Todd is not a Somerset guy — I am betting he’s one of those Dorchester Todds, but there’s no entry for him in my handy-dandy Index of Maryland Colonial Wills so I will have to go hunting for other probate records for him . . . just not today.)  The delegates of the Lower House agreed, or at least enough of them for the act to say “the truth of the Allegations of the said Petition is made Sufficiently Appear to this Present Generall Assembly.”  It didn’t help that the delegates had given due notice to Edward’s widow to “Appear and Answer” but she didn’t, nor did her second husband, William Round (who must not have been too bothered about Abraham’s existence, since that appears to have been common knowledge).  So the assembly decreed that Day Scott and those mysterious children of Philip and Anne Todd were the rightful owners of the land.

[Update: I am told this is all confusing, so let’s recap.  Edward Day bought a tract of land from the heirs of Andrew Jones but died before the heirs’ agents completed the sale.  When Edward died, he had five children, a son and four daughters.  The son inherited all of the land, but died without children of his own (without a will, and in all likelihood before he was of age).  Therefore the land became the property of his heirs, his sisters Elizabeth Day and Anne Day.  But Edward’s widow Mary acted as though she had inherited the land and then gave it to her illegitimate son, Andrew Turner.  Elizabeth Day married George Scott and had a son named Day Scott.  Anne Day married Philip Todd and had children, too.  Both Elizabeth and Anne died (without wills), so the land became the property of their children.  George Scott petitioned on behalf of his son to get ownership of his half of the land, and the General Assembly passed an act to that effect after Mary and her second husband, William Round, didn’t make any effort to prove their claim.  Got it?]

There’s more to be done with all of this.  For starters, Clayton Torrence has more detail about Andrew Jones and his Welsh connections (in Old Somerset on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; really just about everything you could ever want to know is in Old Somerset — and much of it is accurate).  And I am sure with a little digging I can figure out more about the land, like the name of the tract and its rough location . . . or perhaps its precise location, as the act includes at least part of the description of the original grant. Tracking down Philip Todd is a distinct possibility, too.  And I think Mary Day’s . . . shall we say, indiscretion, may have left a trail in the Somerset court records.  But even without following all those rabbit holes, I am delighted because my “family tree” for Edward Day has gone from this:


To this:


And see how the chart runs off the sides?  That’s because I have quite a bit of information for the extended Scott family.  More on that later, I hope.