The Grafton Family
By Steven R. Butler
FN=Footnote to be added at some future date.
William Grafton, Sr. |
William Grafton, Jr. |
I am related to the Grafton family by virtue of the marriage of my fifth great-grandfather Francis Jenkins  to Cassandra Grafton, who was the daughter of William Grafton, Jr., who was the son of William Grafton, Sr.
In Colonial times, the Grafton family resided in the eastern portion of Baltimore County, Maryland, which in 1773 became Harford County. It appears that most, if not all their property lay on both the north and south sides of Deer Creek. Harford County adjoins Pennsylvania on the north. The eastern boundary is the Susquehanna River. The city of Baltimore lies a few miles southwest and Philadelphia a little further to the northeast.
William Grafton, Sr.
William Grafton, Sr., a Baltimore County, Maryland tobacco planter, was born about 1685. An uncorroborated source states that Grafton was born in England and that he immigrated to America in 1699, when he was about 14 years of age. This suggests that he came either as a young indentured servant or with his parents, whose names are unknown. Another sources suggests that he arrived about 1725, when he would have been about forty years of age. It is possible, of course, that he was born in America. The fact of the matter is that William's place of birth is just not known for sure.
William Grafton Sr.'s wife was named Margaret (maiden name unknown).FN The date and place of their marriage is unknown, but is supposed to have been in Baltimore County sometime between 1705 and 1715. Together, they had at least four children (not necessarily shown in birth order):
- Christian or Christina (married Maurice Baker)
- William Jr., born about 1717 (married Phoebe Howell)
- Ann (married Daniel Preston)
- Mary (married Smithson)
The earliest known public record of William Grafton is dated 1723. At the age of about 38, he received a patent from Maryland's colonial government for 100 acres of land. FN
On 4 November 1724, at the age of about 39, Grafton witnessed a Baltimore County deed that transferred ownership of a tract of land from James Tracy to George Hitchcock.FN
On 5 June 1725, Baltimore County planter Thomas Preston and his wife Elizabeth, in consideration of the sum of £15, sold an unspecified amount of land to William Grafton, presumably in Baltimore County. Daniel Scott and Joseph Readus were witnesses.FN
In 1726, William Grafton gave 100 acres of land (for which he had received a patent in 1723), as a gift to John and Susannah Constant, Jr., "during their natural lives and thereafter to their children." Thomas Sheredine witnessed this document. This land appears to have been a wedding gift, leading me to wonder, although I have no proof of it, if Susannah Constant was in fact a daughter of William and Margaret Grafton and John Constant their son-in-law (which would mean, of course, that Grafton and his wife had at least five children, not just four).FN
On 6 November 1735, in consideration of 4,600 pounds of tobacco, Lewis Demoss, Jr., "late of Baltimore County, Maryland," sold 69 acres on the south side of Deer Creek to William Grafton. Richard Gist and Thomas Dodd were witnesses to the transaction.FN
This same month (November 1735), William and Margaret Grafton sold part of a tract called "Antioch" to their son-in-law Maurice Baker, husband of Christian or Christina Grafton. FN
On 5 January 1737, Ann Grafton, daughter of William and Margaret, married Daniel Preston, age 22. Ann's age at marriage is unknown. FN
In November 1738, William Grafton's servant, Catherine Shaw, who may have either been a free black or mulatto, was tried for bastardry (her sixth offense). In the previous case, the child's father was a slave. The father in this instance is unnamed or unknown. FN
On 5 May 1739, Isaac and Margaret Webster of Baltimore County sold William Grafton 100 acres of land for the remarkably small sum of £11. Samuel Lee and Samuel Webster witnessed the document.FN
In June 1739, Hannah Shaw, another of William Grafton's servants, admits to having a child by a slave. The child, whose gender is unmentioned, is sold to Grafton, to be his servant until age 30. FN
For 700 pounds of tobacco, William Grafton purchased 40 acres of land from Thomas and Sarah Braizer of Baltimore County. Henry Thomas and Grafton's sons-in-law Daniel Preston witnessed the deed, dated 4 August 1742. FN
Between 1742 and 1751, Grafton witnessed three deeds to which he was not a party.FN
In March 1744/5, Ruth Shaw, daughter of Catherine, is bound to William Grafton (as an indentured servant?). FN
On 13 May 1751, William Brazier sold an additional 100 acres of land to William Grafton for the incredibly small sum of £5. Shipwith Rigbie and James Scott witnessed the deed. FN
On 2 April 1754, James Billingsley, a Quaker planter of Baltimore County, and his wife Elizabeth sold 100 acres of land to William Grafton for £12, 15 shillings. Robert Adair and Walter Tolley were witnesses. FN
Nearly ten years later, on 8 March 1764, James and Elizabeth Billingsley conveyed 82 acres of a 100-acre tract to William Grafton, in consideration of the sum of £60. Isaac Webster and Aquila Johns were witnesses.FN
On 12 May 1764, William Grafton gave a deposition in court, in which his age was given as 79 years.FN
William Grafton, Sr. died on 4 October 1767 at the age of about 82. His will, proved on 26 October 1767, provides evidence of some considerable wealth. , In terms of land, he owned no fewer than nine tracts, the total acreage of which is unknown. It appears that most of these tracts were on or near Deer Creek, a waterway that flows eastward into the Susquehanna River, which in turn provides access to Chesapeake Bay. These tracts were named "Frenchman's Repose," "Bedmont" (conveyed by James Billingsley), "Grafton's Entrance," "Grafton's Angle," "Grafton's Fancy," "Good Endeavour," Brashure's Desire," "Grafton's Lot," and "William's Lot" (possibly also known as "Grafton's Lot.")
Here is his will, in its entirety:
In The Name of God, Amen, I William Grafton of Baltimore County and Province of Maryland being Weak of Body but of sound and disposing mind and Memory thanks be to God for his mercy Do make this my Last Will & Testament revoking all other Wills and Testaments declaring this to be my Last Will and Testament in manner and form, viz:
Impr. I Give and Bequeath unto my Daughter Christian Baker my five Slaves Old Tom, Bess, Anthony, Dinah with her Increase and Suhe to her her Heirs and Assigns, together with the use of my following Lands to wit Frenchman's Repose containing Sixty-nine Acres, allso [sic] all that part of Williams Lott conveyed formerly to me by James Billingsley, for Eighteen Acres together with that part of a Tract called Bedmont to begin for said part at the Beginning Trees of said Land and Runs thence with a straight Line to the nearest part of the Great Road that Leads from Job Keys to Isaac Hardins and thence down the said Road to the Land before given so as to Contain all [word uncertain] the said Beginning Trees together with all that part of a Tract of reserved Land called Graftons Entrance that lies on the [East?] side of the aforesaid Road for and During said Christians natural Life and at her Decease I give the Said Land to Grafton Baker his Heirs and Assigns.
Item. I give and bequeath to my Daughter Ann Preston all that part of my two Tracts of Land called Bedmont and Graftons Gift from the Beginning Trees of Bedmont with the aforesaid Straight Line to the Great Road aforesaid and up to the said Road until it comes to the Place where a Cross fence Joined the [same? said?] fence nearly opposite to Isaac Hardens bounded [Tree?] and thence with a Straight line to said Tree together with my Tract of Reserve Land called Graftons Angle as also my five slaves, Will, Bess, Liza, Priscilla and James.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Mary Smithson my three slaves Flora, Hannah and Margaret, also Sampson who was some years past Delivered [to] my said Daughter Mary and her Heirs.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my Grandson William Grafton all that Tract of Land called Graftons Lott to him his Heirs and Assigns.
Item. I give unto my Grandson Samuel Grafton all that part of a Tract of Land called Bedmont that lies on the West Side of the great Road which Leads from aforesaid Job Keys to Isaac Hardins together with all that Tract of Reserve Land called the Addition to him his Heirs and Assigns.
Item. I give and Bequeath unto Daniel Grafton (my Grandson) all my two Tracts of Reserve Land called Graftons Fancy and Graftons Great Endeavor to him his Heirs and Assigns.
Item. I give unto my Grandson Aquilla Grafton all my Tract of Kand called Bradshures Desire together with all that part of a Tract called Graftons Gift which lies to the Northeast of Isaac Hardins bounded Tree the other part being given to my Daughter Ann Preston to him his Heirs and Assigns.
Item. I give and bequeath to my Grandson Nathaniel Grafton all the remaining part of my Part of that Tract of Land in his Lordships Reserve called Graftons Entrance that lies on the West Side of the Great Road from Job Keys to Isaac Hardens together with all that part of a Tract of Land that lately was Conveyed to me by James Billingsley called Williams Lott to him his Heirs and Assigns.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my Grand Daughter Priscilla Grafton my Negro girl named Rachel to her and her Heirs and Assigns.
Item. I give and Bequeath unto my son William the use of the Dwelling House wherein he now lives with all that part of the Land he had Inclosed in fence Joining the said Houses as also the use of my Negro Man Young Tom for and During the said William's Natural Life and at his Decease I give the said Tom to the Children of the said William to be Equally Divided between them. I also give unto my son William Grafton one Shilling Sterling and no more of my estate, Real or Personal whatsoever.
Item. I give and Bequeath unto my Grand Children born of Pheby Grafton (to wit) William, Daniel, Aquilla, Nathaniel, Cassander, Margaret and Priscilla being Eight in Number my six Slaves, viz. Cesar, Jack, Old Sall, Nan, Rosie, young Sall and their Increase to be Equally Divided between them at the time that the aforesaid Daniel Grafton Should arrive at the Age of Twenty-one years, as also one fourth part of the Remainder of my Estate which is not heretofore given and my Will is that the aforesaid Part of my Estate given as aforesaid to my Grand Children the Land and Negroes Excepted shall be sold by any Executors and the money arising on the said sale put to use or Interest for them until they come to age to receive the same.
Item. I give and Bequeath unto Mary Waite one flock Bed Blanket and Rug and other furniture thereunto belonging also One Cow and Calf which is is Possessed of also two Ewes and Lambs and one Iron Pott to her her Heirs and Assigns.
I also give unto the aforesaid Mary Waite the use of a small field and the land adjoining thereto which lies on the West Side of the Road from Job Keys to Robert Briarly's Provided she lives thereon During her Natural Life this being part of Williams Lott heretofore Bequeathed to Nathaniel Grafton.
Item. I give and Bequeath unto my three Daughters Christian Baker, Mary Smithson and Ann Preston the other three fourth parts of my Estate that remains to be Equally Divided between them to them their Heirs and Assigns.
And Lastly I nominate and appoint my sons-in-law Maurice Baker and Daniel Preston Executors of this my Last Will and Testament. In Witness thereof I have hereunto Set my hand and Affixed my Seal this fourth Day of October Anno Dom. 1767.
WILLIAM GRAFTON his X mark
Proved October 26, 1767.
In the inventory of William Grafton, Sr.'s estate, 21 slaves were listed by gender, name, age, and monetary value:
- Woman, Flouro, age 33, £50 (left in will to daughter, Mary)
- Woman, Hannah, age 19 £55 (left in will to daughter, Mary)
- Child, Margret, age 3 mo., £6 (left in will to daughter, Mary)
- Woman, Nan, age 22, £55 (left in will to all eight grandchildren)
- Child, Sarah, age 4, £18 (not mentioned by name in will)
- Woman, Sal, age 16, £40 (left in will to all eight grandchildren)
- Girl, Rose, age 6, £25 (left in will to all eight grandchildren)
- Girl, Rachel, age 12, £35 (left in will to granddaughter Priscilla Grafton
- Man, Czar, age 24, £60 (left in will to all eight grandchildren)
- Man, Jack, age 19, £60 (left in will to all eight grandchildren)
- Man, Will, age 40, £40 (left in will to daughter, Ann)
- Woman, Bess, age 26, £55 (left in will to daughter, Ann)
- Girl, Lize, age 9, £30 (left in will to daughter, Ann)
- Girl, Cillor, age 2, £15 (left in will to daughter, Ann)
- Child, James, age 3 mo., £6 (left in will to daughter, Ann)
- Man, Tom, age 60, £20 (left in will to daughter, Christian)
- Woman, Bess, age 50, £20 (left in will to daughter, Christian)
- Man, Anthony, age 30, £55 (left in will to daughter, Christian)
- Woman, Dinah, age 19, £55 (left in will to daughter, Christian)
- Girl, Sue, age 12, £40 (left in will to daughter, Christian)
- Child, Tom, age 2, £16 (left in will to son, William)
TOTAL VALUE: £756
Not included in this list was a slave called "Sampson," who had earlier been "delivered" to William's daughter Mary, nor a slave he refers to in his will as "Young Sal" (unless he meant Sarah, above).FN
The date and place of death of William Grafton's wife, Margaret, which obviously occurred prior to 1767 (since no mention of her is made in his will), is unknown. Neither is it known where William and Margaret Grafton were buried.
WILLIAM GRAFTON, JR. (ABT. 1717-1769)
William Grafton, Jr. was born about 1717, probably in Baltimore County, Maryland. His parents were William and Margaret Grafton.
It is held that William Grafton's first wife was named Phebe (also spelled Pheby or Phoebe) Howell, born 3 November 1726, place unknown. They were almost certainly married when Pheby was in her teens, because she is supposed to have given birth to eight children before dying about 1752, or earlier. In all likelihood, they were married about 1740, when she was fourteen. If so, then Pheby spent almost all her married life pregnant. Their children (not necessarily shown in birth order) were:
- William (III)
- Cassandra, born 2 June 1745
In 1752, following the death of his first wife, William Grafton, Jr. married Sarah Billingsly, a daughter of a Quaker neighbor named James Billingsley. William and Sarah had no children together. FN
It appears that William Grafton, Jr. and his family resided with his parents on their plantation until the death of William Grafton, Sr., at which time he inherited the use of the house in which he was then residing, a two-year-old slave, and one shilling. This meager inheritance suggests that father and son were estranged. FN
In 1768, William Grafton, Jr. was one of 901 citizens of the eastern portion of "Baltemore County" who signed a petition addressed to the Royal Governor, Horatio Sharpe, protesting a possible move of the county seat from Joppa to "Baltemore Town." The petition was unsuccessful. FN
When William Grafton, Jr. died on 19 August 1769, at the age of about 52, his will mentioned only one tract of land, "Grafton's Entrance," which he left to his wife Sarah, who appears to have lived there for the remainder of her life. (This is curious, however, because in his will, William's father left "Grafton's Entrance," or at least part of it to Wiliam's sister, Christian Baker.)FN The date of Sarah Grafton's death is unknown.
At the time of his death, it appears that William Grafton, Jr. had only one slave (a man named Tom who does not appear to be the same "Tom" left to him by his father) and two indentured servants.FN Unfortunately, no inventory of his estate is on record in Baltimore County.
The will of William Grafton, Jr. is shown below in its entirety:
The Nineteenth Day of August in the Year of Our Lord and Savior One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Nine I William Grafton of Baltimore County in the Province of Maryland being weak and low in body but of perfect sound Dispensing mind and Memory and calling to mind the uncertainty of this Life Do for the better Settling of my Temporal Affairs make and Ordain this my Last Willa and Testament hereby revoking and Disannulling all former Will or Wills Testament or Testaments by me heretofore made which I make in mannerand form following, Viz.
Imprimis. I give and bequeath unto my Son William Grafton One Gray Horse named Jack to him and Heirs and Assigns for ever.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my Eight Children Cassanddra, William, Margaret, Samuel, Daniel, Priscilla, Aquilla and Nathaniel One Shilling Sterling apiece to each of them and their Heirs and Assigns for ever.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my Wife Sarah Grafton a Tract or parcel of Land called Grafton's Entrance Lying and Joyning the Plantation whereon I now Dwell during her Natural Life and after her Death I give and bequeath the aforesaid Land unto my son Nathaniel Grafton to him his Heirs and Assigns for ever and not more of my Estate of what natrue on hand soever.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my Wife Sarah Grafton she paying my Just Debts one Negro Man named Tom one Multatto Woman named Temperence during the Term she has to Serve. One Mulatto Woman named Catherine during the Term she has to Serve as also all the remaining part of my Estate [and?] any thing that belongs to me I give and Bequeath fo my Loving Wife During her Natural Life be ended and after her Death to be equally divided between all my Children (Cassandra and Nathaniel excepted) shares alike to them their Heirs and Assigns for ever.
Lastly, I constitute and appoint my Wife Sarah Grafton my whole and Sole Executor of this my Last Will and Testament Containing this part of a side of Paper In Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand Seal the Day and Year first Written.
Witnessed by Jac[?] Bond and David Armstrong
Proved September 11, 1769.
DOB 1745-DOD Unknown
Cassandra Grafton was one of the three daughters of William Grafton, Jr. and his first wife, Phoebe Howell. On March 7, 1760, in Baltimore County, Maryland, Cassamdra married Francis Jenkins .
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