By Henry B. Brackin Jr.
Reprinted with permission
Reprinted with permission
There are two books published on the Roney Family (William B. Rowland and Mary Searle Rowland, The Roney Families, 1979 and Doris Roney Bowers, Roney Family History and Genealogy 1790-1972 Astoria, IL: Stevens Pub. Co., 1978.) that give a descent for James Roney Sr. of Sumner County, Tennessee, from a James Roney of Richmond County, Virginia. There are some aspects of this genealogy that appear contrary to the available evidence. It is my intent in this treatise to reveal these discrepancies and to present some new conclusions. Let me first outline the published descent.
1st Generation: - James Roney (1678-1738), married Ann
Comengs. He immigrated to America about 1700 and settled on the eastern side of the
Rappahannock River in Richmond Co., Virginia. His widow, Ann Roney, acted as administrator
of his estate appearing in court November 6, 1738. Their children were:
2nd Generation: - James Roney (1711-1765), married
Elizabeth __ (1715-1763), Again, no source is given as to the dates of births of James, his wife or
children, nor of his wife's death or family name. James left a will in Orange Co., N. C. 1765 in
which he named his four (4) children. It was dated August 2, 1765 and probated November 1765.
No evidence is given linking this James Roney with Richmond Co., Virginia. In his will he ordered
his estate to be divided in four equal parts. Apparently his wife was dead. It was witnessed by
James McCarley, Mary Sample and John Bul. The children were:
3rd Generation: - Benjamin Roney (1740-1827), married
Catherine Andrews (1756-1829). This man and many of his descendants resided in Orange Co.,
N. C. His children are named in his will, probated August 1827. One of his granddaughters,
Artelia Roney, married Washington Duke, a founder of the American Tobacco Co., and after
whom Duke University is named. Their children were:
3rd Generation: - James Roney (1741-1805) m. Susannah
Hugh (1742-1780), m. Anne ? (1754-1821). His children were:
4th Generation: - James Roney, Sr. (1762-1833), married
Elizabeth ? (1763-1827) and Catherine Perry (1793) in 1829 in Sumner Co., Tennessee. He
moved to Sumner Co., Tennessee, about 1800 along with his half brother, Benjamin Roney.
Children: (taken from the will of James Roney Sr., dated 1833)
U. S. 1790 Census of North Carolina
Benjamin Roney - Orange Co.
James Roney - Orange Co.
Hugh Roney - Duplin Co.
The James Roney in Orange Co in 1755 died in 1765. After
his death, there is never more than one James Roney family in the tax lists and census records of
Orange Co. at one time. Which one existed between 1765 and 1800? Let us look at the James
Roney who went to Sumner Co., Tennessee to see if he is the James Roney in Orange Co. in 1790
and 1800. Incidentally, a number of other Orange Co., N. C. families lived all around him,
intermarried with each other and the Roney's. They included the Brackin, Denning (Dinning),
Stalcup, and Boyle families. Benjamin Roney went with him. First let us re-interpret the Will of
Benjamin Roney. He gave his property to half brother, James, son of James and Susannah Roney.
It was witnessed by James Roney, Sr. It is very unusual for the recipient to witness a will. It may
not stand up to challenge in court. I believe that the witness, James Roney, Sr. was the husband of
Susannah and the father of the half brothers. To support this, on August 25, 1814, James Roney
Jr. sold to John Stewart for $24.00 a lot in Gallatin that had been conveyed to Benjamin Roney on
Feb. 21, 1803. Thus it apparent that it is James Roney Jr. that is the half brother and recipient of
the will and James Roney Sr. must be the husband of Susannah.
In 1833, James Roney, Sr. made a will which was probated in May 1835. He gave a life estate to his wife, Catherine (whom he had married on September 25, 1829), and then it was to be "divided equally among James Roney, Jr., Sam Roney, William Roney, John Roney, Elizabeth Dinning, Susannah Groves, Liddy Woodall, and heirs of my deceased daughter, Margaret Cope and granddaughter Susannah House." Obviously James Roney Sr. must have been the husband of Susannah Roney (mother of the half brother James Jr.). He names 4 sons, 4 daughters. He either had a fifth daughter who married a House and had a daughter named Susannah House, or Susannah is the Susan, daughter of Margaret Cope who married John House on Oct. 9, 1824. In the latter case, the fifth daughter in the 1880 census probably died before 1833 without issue. This list, along with his son, Benjamin, by a former marriage, makes the 5 sons and 5 daughters, the number in the 1800 census of Orange Co., N. C. Moreover, in the 1830 census, James Roney, Sr. is 70 to 80 years old, born 1750-1760. This also fits with the 1800 census and, of course, differs from the published record in the Roney Family books which give his birth as 1762.
Let us look at the other census records for the children and see if their ages fit the 1800 census. There were too many William Dennings to distinguish which one. However, a book entitled The Denning and Allie Families by Michael Denning has Elizabeth Roney Denning b. 1/23/1788 d. 12/23/1864. Also Margaret Cope died between 1815 (when her last child was born) and 1819 (when Richard Cope remarried Keziah Best). Thus she is not in any Sumner Co., Tn. census records.
1830 Census of Sumner Co. Tn.
James Roney Sr. - 0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,01 - 0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,1
(Both James and Catherine were born 1750-1760)
Samuel Roney - 1, 1,1,1,0,0,1 - 1,1,1,0,0,1
(Samuel b. 1780-1790)
William Roney - 3,0,0,2,1,0,1 - 1,1,1,0,0,2
(William b. 1780-1790)
John Roney - 1,0,0,0,0,0,1 - 0,0,0,0,1
(John b. 1780-1790)
Christopher Woodall - 0,1,1,1,0,0,0,1 - 2,1,1,1,0,1
(Lydia b. 1790-1800)
1830 Census of Robertson Co., Tn.
David Groves - 0,1,1,2,1,0,1 - 0,0,0,0,0,0,1
(Susannah b. 1780-1790)
1840 Census of Sumner Co. Tn.
James Roney - 0,0,1,1,0,0,0,1 - 0,0,1,0,2
(James Jr. b. 1790-1800)
John Roney, Sr. - 2,0,0,0,0,0,1 - 1,1,0,01
(John b. 1790-1800)
1850 Census of Sumner Co., Tn.
Samuel Roney - 67 years (b. 1783)
William Roney - 66 years (b. 1784)
1850 Census of Warren Co., Ky.
John Roney - 61 years (b. 1789)
1860 Census of Robertson Co., Tn.
Susannah Groves - 71 years (b. 1789)
Lydia Woodall - b. 3/17/1793, d. 4/41876
Using the order of names in James Roney, Sr's will, let us put these census records together. They will be combined in Table 1. Those deceased at the time of the will are interspersed at appropriate places.
|Husband||Bef. 1755||1750-60||1751-2||1835||James Roney Sr.||? Susannah Stalcup Catherine Perry|
|Wife||Bef. 1755||1754||Bef. 1829||Susannah|
|Daughter||1774-84||ca 1780||1815-19||Margaret||Richard Cope|
|Son||1774-84||1780-90||ca 1782||1844||James Jr.||Catherine Young|
|Son||1784-90||1780-90||1783||1783||aft 1850||Samuel||Martha House|
|Son||1784-90||1780-90||1784||1784||aft 1850||William||Leah Groves|
|Daughter||1784-90||1780-90||1789||1789||aft 1860||Susannah||David Groves|
|Son||1790-1800||1780-90||1789||1790||aft 1850||John||Armanda Crafton|
|Daughter||1790-1800||ca 1791||bef 1833||?||?|
These census records are amazingly consistent and I think
prove that the James Roney in the 1800 census of Orange Co. N.C. is the James Roney, Sr. of
Sumner Co., Tenn. There is not evidence of any other James Roney in Orange Co., N.C. between
1765 and 1800. He must be the James Roney, son of the James Roney who made the will in 1765.
The 1830 census of Sumner Co. Tn. shows his birth between 1750 and 1760. Moreover, on Nov.
25, 1922, a Martha Virginia (Towell) Harrison was quoted as saying her great-grandmother
Roney, at the age of 80 years married a man of 82 years. She was referring to Catherine (Rainey)
McAdams Perry. From this we may deduce that James Roney was born 82 years before this
marriage of 1829 or in 1747, and Catherine was born in 1749 (not 1793 as reported by William
Rowland). Her second child by Samuel McAdams, Sarah, great-grandmother of Martha Towell
Harrison, was born 1/25/1775 and married Isaac Towell in Sumner Co., Tn. on 6/30/1792, shortly
before her mother married Thomas Perry in Sumner Co., Tn. on 7/24/1792. Furthermore, in the
Records of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Orange Co., N. C., Bill #466, Aug. 12, 1766,
there is the report of the binding of James Roney, orphan of James Roney who died in 1765, was
age 14 yrs. to Frederick Albert Black. This indicates that James, son of James Roney, who died in
1765, was born 1751-2, the approximate time of birth of James Roney Sr. of Sumner Co., Tn.
Also in the same Court Record, Bill #447, dated May 13, 1766, is the report of the assignment of
Samuel and Elizabeth King as guardian of Ann Roney, orphan age 12 (other minor child of James
Roney), making her born 1753-4. I wonder if Elizabeth King may not have been Ann's older sister
even though Mr. Rowland reports Elizabeth married John Hodge. Now what do we do with the
family constructed for James Roney (1740-1805) who apparently never existed. Benjamin has
been taken care of. The other sons, John, Hugh and Thomas have not been connected with
Orange Co. and may be related to the John and William Roney in the 1784 Halifax tax list. In fact
the 1850 census of Warren Co., Ga shows Thomas Roney as having been born in Georgia and this
is verified in the 1880 census of his son, Samuel Lowery Roney, which shows his father as being
born in Georgia. Also a biographical article on another son, Judge Henry C. Roney, states his
father was a native of Georgia. I have no answer for Nancy, who married William Hughes in
Orange Co., N.C. in 1809; or for Anne in the 1810 census, probably Nancy's mother; or Mary
"Polly" Roney, who married Israel Standiford in 1796.
Obviously some work is yet needed in this area. It is possible that Anne is the Ann in James' will of 1765 and that she never married. But if this is so, then the age given to Anne in the 1810 census is incorrect. It is also possible she is the widow of some Roney that moved into the area after 1800- perhaps from Virginia or Halifax County.
Now, I want to address the matter of who Susannah, wife of James Roney, Sr., was. The Roney Family book say she was Susannah Hugh and I am told that Mr. Rowland thought the name Hugh Roney was supporting evidence of this. However, Hugh Roney was not a new Roney name in 1790. A Hugh Roney died in Cecil Co., Md. in 1746 and another Hugh Roney from Maryland served in the Revolutionary War in 1775. Many people from Cecil Co., Md. migrated to North Carolina. In 1748 in Cecil Co., Md., a James Roney Sr. and Jr. owned land and in 1745 the brothers, Thomas and John Roney were listed as runaway servants. There is ample reason to believe that there are other courses of descent for Hugh, Thomas and John Roney then James Roney of Orange Co., N. C. I spent considerable time studying this matter long before my seeing the Roney books, and had come to the conclusion about 20 years ago that there is a significant possibility that she was, before her marriage, Susannah Stalcup, daughter of Peter Stalcup and Susannah Paulson. When I read of the Hugh family name, I was shocked because I had not run across the name in conjunction with James Roney. In those pioneer days, people married their neighbors who were frequently distant relatives. I have not found any business contacts between a Roney and a Hugh, nor any record of their intermarriage. Study of deeds in Orange co., N.C. in fact, does not reveal the name Hugh. There are some records with the name Hughs, Huges and Hughes, the different spellings in some instances being interchangeable. The only Hugh I have found is William Hugh in the 1790 census (a tax list of 1787) of Orange Co. There was a John Hugh in Pasquotank tax list of 1769 and a John Hugh in Brunswick Co. tax list of 1784.
On the other hand, the contact between James Roney and the Stalcup family is extensive. First, let me give you the family of Peter Stalcup (1712-1768). He lived in New Castle Co., Delaware where my Brackin family lived. Both families moved to Orange Co., N.C. in the 1760's. The following comes from his Bible record.
From the above list it is quite apparent that there is extensive
intermarriage of the Stalcup, Brackin, House, Groves, Boyle and Roney families. I am trying to
find the deposition of James in the lawsuit over William Stalcup's estate. I have not yet located it,
but all avenues have not yet been explored. Clearly James Roney was very close to the Stalcup
family. It seems to me that the name Lydia as a child in the Roney family is a key. It is not a
Roney name. It is a repeated name among the descendants of Peter Stalcup. Also there was a
Roney grandson named Peter.
At the present time I cannot say with firm belief that James Roney of Orange Co. N.C. was the son of the James Roney of Richmond Co., Va. since there is no one named Patrick in the Orange Co. Roney's and since there was such a large migration of people from Cecil Co., Md. (where there was both a James Roney Sr. and Jr. in 1748) to Orange Co., N. C. Incidentally Cecil Co., Md. adjoins New Castle, Del. where the Stalcups lived before 1769 and it is quite possible that the Roneys and the Stalcups knew each other before the move to North Carolina. Presently, I shall start my first generation with James Roney who died in 1765. In closing I see the line as follows: