Margaret Patterson Adams in Sussex Co DE

Margaret Patterson Adams in Sussex Co Delaware

Bio | Why Not Donnell | 1744 Will | Timeline | Sussex DE | Augusta VA 

By Wes Patterson (Last Revised: 15 August 2018)

Margaret Adams - as she was known the majority of her life - was never named Margaret Donnell. I discuss that on the Bio page, so I won't go into the details here, other than to mention it since she is so widely "known" by that name. Her name was Margaret _____ Patterson Adams, and this page will focus on her time in Sussex Co DE - most of which is derived from recorded events regarding other family members.

The Families of Margaret Patterson Adams

Margaret was first married to William Patterson, by whom she had at least two children, Robert Patterson and Elizabeth Patterson, who married Jeremiah Harrison. In Margaret's 1744 Augusta Co VA will, she named three grand-daughters. One was Mary Patterson, daughter of Robert. Another was Esther Harrison and was known to have been a daughter of Jeremiah Harrison, thus she was a daughter of Elizabeth Patterson Harrison.

After William Patterson died (probably around 1710-1715), she married again, to John Adams. By him she had at least three children, a daughter who married Andrew Donelson, a son named Samuel Adams who married a woman also named Margaret, and lastly another daughter, Jane Adams, who married Daniel Love. The third grand-daughter of Margaret named in her will was Margaret Dollinson, but should have been spelled Donelson. John Adams apparently died sometime in the 1720's.

Arrival in America

It is not known as yet when this Patterson-Adams family migrated from Europe to America. The Patterson descendants have always understood that we are Scots-Irish aka Ulster Scots... that is, Scots who migrated through Northern Ireland (Ulster region) before eventually migrating to the New World. So the assumption is this family migrated from Ireland or England and did so no later than 1732, as that is when Robert Patterson obtained his first tract of land in Sussex Co DE.

That said, it seems extremely likely that they were already in America by the late 1720's at least. Many of the families that settled around the Broadkill River region of Sussex Co DE in the early 1700's had roots in northern Virginia, eastern Maryland, the Jerseys (East and West), and New York. However, nothing has been found of this Margaret Adams, or her second husband John Adams, or their oldest son Robert Patterson, in any of those locations.

The earliest possible record we have found of this family is from 2 May 1727 in Sussex Co DE when a "Margret Addams" witnessed a land deed of transfer, seen following. Also notice the "X" mark in her signature from the original deed.
Sussex Co DE Deed Book F, p. 233, 2 May 1727, Philip Dirnie, marriner, of Sussex to William Burton of Somerset Co. Maryland for 10 pounds, 50 acres on North side of Broad Kill bounded by Bryan Rowles.  Witnesses: Margret Addams, Phil Russel.
1727 Sussex DE Deed with Margaret Adams signature mark
1727 Sussex DE Deed with Margaret Adams signature mark

Notice her "X" mark and how it slants at an angle from left to right. By comparison, notice the next two images that show her "X" mark from her 1744 Will in Augusta Co VA. The first is the clerk's version of it as he transcribed it into the Will Book. The second is from the actual original Will itself.

Clerk's version of Margaret Adams' "X" mark on her 1744 Will
Clerk's version of Margaret Adams' "X" mark on her 1744 Will

Original version of Margaret Adams' "X" mark on her 1744 Will
Original version of Margaret Adams' "X" mark on her 1744 Will

Again, notice how Margaret's "X" mark slants at an angle from left to right. While this doesn't prove anything, it certainly is intriguing, nonetheless.

Other Evidence from Sussex Co DE Deeds

There are other neighboring tracts of land that shed light on who else was in the vicinity of this land where Margaret Addams was a witness. There were other Adams families in Sussex, but they were concentrated in the Lewes area in the eastern part of the county. No known relationship has been discovered as yet.
Sussex Co DE Deed Book F, p. 341, 2 December 1729, Abraham Wiltbank yeoman of Sussex to John Harrison of same for 12 pounds, 100 acres on North side of Broad Creek bounded by formerly John Donovan but now Edward Naws, formerly Cornelius Wiltbank now John Jones on SouthWest and Broad Creek on SouthEast.  Witnesses: Alexander Draper, Phil. Russel.  Acknowledged: 4 December 1729. [WP: Broad Creek and Broadkill River were one and the same.]
Sussex Co DE Deed Book G, p. 230, 4 October 1737, Deed of Release John Harrison yeoman of Sussex to John Syllovan of same for 60 pounds, 135 acres on North side of Broad Creek bounded formerly by John Dunnovan but lately Edward Naws, Southwest by John Jones formerly Cornelious Wiltbank, Southeast by Broad Creek.  Signed: John Harrison.  Witnesses: Simon Kollock, Willm. Burton, Josa: Fisher.  Acknowledged: 5 October 1737.
Sussex Co DE Deed Book G, p. 231, 12 October 1737, Bond John Harrison, cordwinr of Sussex to John Sullevant, planter of Dorset County, Maryland for 125 pounds.  Harrison obligates himself to convey a tract of land and marsh to John Sullevant at next Court.  Land is on Broad Kill and bounded by Edward Naws on east, John Jones on west.  Signed: John Harrison.  Witnesses: Jacob Kollock, Robt. Smith.

Online notes from give additional clues:

Jones, John. Bought 137 acres of larger tract Hopewell in SXDE [WP: Sussex DE] by 2 Dec. 1729 from Cornelius Wiltbanck, adj. Bryant Roles/Rowls, on SW of land John Harrison (who bought part of Hopewell), N. side of Broadkiln Ck.; agreement to buy dated 31 Jan 1731/2 [SX Deed F:421-422].
Land of John Jones in Oct 1737 bounded the SW side of 135a of John Harrison, cordwinder and yeoman sold to John Sullivan [Syllovan, Sullevant], planter, of Dorchester Co. MD on the N. side of Broad Ck.; bounded in the NE by land formerly John Dunnovan’s, bought by Edward Naws. This is the land sold to John Harrison by Abraham Wiltbank [SX deed G:230-231].
John Sylavan of SX sold the 135 acres 11 June 1742 to Nathaniel Naws, planter of SX, adj. Edward Naws’ land; on N. side of Broad Kill (Broad Creek) [SX deed H:11].
Key places of interest around the Broadkill in Sussex Co DE
Key places of interest around the Broadkill in Sussex Co DE
John Harrison lived north of the Broadkill, but the exact location has not yet been identified. Somewhere in the vicinity of the "8" designation on the above map, perhaps north or NE of there could have been where John Harrison and Margaret Adams lived. John Harrison was a son of Isaiah Harrison, and a brother of Gideon. He was also a brother-in-law of Robert Cravens. Robert Patterson was a son of Margaret Adams.
The area of the Broadkill River is around modern day Milton, DE. See the following map. 

The Final Piece of Evidence for Me

What do these deeds tell us? Notice the names highlighted in red. We see neighbors adjacent one another on the North side of Broadkill (Broad Creek) in John Harrison, John Jones, and Bryant Rowls. They are named numerous times next to each other.

Furthermore, William Burton was also adjacent Bryan Rowles, same person as Bryant Rowls. This same William Burton was a witness to John Harrison selling his land in 1737. He's the same William Burton who purchased his land in 1727 where the deed was witnessed by Margaret Adams. This tells me that Margaret Adams was living on land owned by one of these men (perhaps Burton's?), or on another nearby tract of land.

Now, add one final note regarding "our" Margaret Adams who moved to Augusta Co VA in the late 1730's, as did this same John Harrison of Sussex Co DE, and that both John Harrison and Margaret Adams lived next to each other in Augusta Co VA on Linville Creek. This fact is the final piece of evidence that convinces me that this Margaret Adams in 1727 Sussex DE was the same Margaret Adams on Linville Creek in Augusta Co VA. Margaret Adams was referred to as Widow Adams on numerous land records in VA, and in some as "Mary Adams", but there are court cases that later point out that was an error and should have been Margaret Adams. See Thomas Jefferson's Memorandum Books for more details on those court cases.
Augusta Co VA Survey Book 1, p. 93a, 31 January 1761, John Harrison, 294 acres between branches of Smiths and Linvels Creeks and between Jno. Wright and Widow Adams Lands.
Now remember the "X" marks for both documents signed by Margaret Adams. Compare them to the Clerk's version (see above) which is more of a traditional writing of an "X". I am convinced that Margaret _____ Patterson Adams was in Sussex Co DE no later than 1727, and she witnessed William Burton's acquisition of land on the north side of Broadkill.

Wes Patterson

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