Discussion of the Genealogy of James Roney, Sr., and his Family of Sumner Co., Tennessee

By Henry B. Brackin Jr.

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:

  1. James Roney (1711-1756) m. Elizabeth (1715-1763)
  2. Ann Roney (1713)
  3. Elizabeth Roney (1716)
  4. Patrick Roney (1716) m. Sarah (1722)
  5. Mary Roney (1721)
     The source of the names of the children and the source of the dates of birth were not given. It is stated that only an inventory was found relative to settlement of his estate.

     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:

  1. Elizabeth Roney (1738), m. John Hodge (1738)
  2. Benjamin Roney (1740-1827), m. 1774 Catherine Andrew (1756-1829)
  3. James Roney (1741-1805) m. 1761 Susannah Hugh (1742-1780); m. (2) 1781 Anne ? (1754-1821)
  4. Ann Roney (1743) - no information

     It is said that James Roney moved into Orange Co., N. C. about 1740. The area would have then been in Edgecombe Co., later in 1746, a part of Granville and then in Orange in 1750. No records in Granville County or Edgecombe County have been offered. James Roney was in the 1755 tax list of Orange County. This is the only entry for a Roney in any of the two volumes of North Carolina Taxpayers by Ratcliff before 1799.

     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:

  1. Margaret Roney (1776) m. 1796 John Bryan (1775-1799) m. 1800 John Eason (1777)
  2. Nancy Roney (1778-1846) m. 1796 David Bryan (1775)
  3. Benjamin Roney, Jr. (1781) m. 1804 Margaret Pickett (1784-1809)
  4. Sarah "Sally" Roney (1782) m. James McAdams (1780)
  5. Catherine Roney (1785) m. 1808 John Pickett (1785-1843)
  6. James Roney (1786-1841) m. 1812 Mary "Polly" Collins (1783-1843)
  7. Andrew Roney (1787-1832) m. 1814 Sarah "Sally" Freeman (1795-1879)
  8. Elizabeth Roney (1789-1871) m. 1810 John Trollinger (1790-1869)
  9. Mary "Polly" Roney (1791) m. 1814 William Clendenin (1790)
  10. John Roney (1792-1866) m. 1815 Mary Trollinger (1800-1879)

The above marriage with dates are in the Orange Co. marriage books.

     3rd Generation: - James Roney (1741-1805) m. Susannah Hugh (1742-1780), m. Anne ? (1754-1821). His children were:

  1. James Roney (1762-1833) m. 1782 Elizabeth (1763-1828) m. 1829 Catherine Perry (1793)
  2. John Roney (1764) m. 1790 Mary "Polly" Deaker (1772)
  3. Helen Roney (1768) no information
  4. Hugh Roney (1770) m. 1793 Elizabeth Newton (1774)
  5. Mary "Polly" Roney (1772) m. 1796 Israel Standiford (1772)
  6. Benjamin Roney (1784-1810) - never married
  7. Anne Roney (1786) no information
  8. Nancy Roney (1788) m. 1809 William Hughes (1787)
  9. Thomas Roney (1791-1860) m. 1815 Mary "Polly" Chrosby (1795-1832) m. 1832 Jane Martin (1814)

     Only the Nancy Roney - William Hughes marriage is in the Orange Co. marriage books. The only record of John Roney is the marriage in Lincoln Co., N.C. in 1790. The only record of Hugh Roney is the 1793 marriage in Duplin Co., N.C. and the 1790 census of Duplin Co., N.C. The only record of Thomas Roney is records of his life in Georgia, dying in Warren Co., Georgia in 1862 (information furnished by Sam Roney P. O. Box 3323; Savannah, Georgia). The proof of connection to the Orange Co. was not given. No record is given for the other marriages. According to the Roney publications, the last 4 children were by the 2nd wife, Ann. They say James, the oldest son, and his half brother Benjamin went to Sumner Co., Tennessee, where Benjamin left a will in 1803 giving his entire estate "to his half brother, James, son of James and Susannah Roney." His executors were Isaac Stalcup and Richard Cope. The will was witnessed by James Roney, Sr., and James Hasten. Apparently, their interpretation is that the recipient and half brother James, was also the witness, James Roney, Sr.

     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)

  1. Samuel Roney (1784) m. 1808 Patsy House (1791)
  2. William Roney (1785) m. 1808 Leah Groves (1790)
  3. Elizabeth Roney (1787) m. 1805 William Dinning
  4. Margaret Roney (1788) m. Richard Cape (Cope)
  5. James Roney, Jr., (1789-1844) m. Catherine Young (1788-1841)
  6. Susannah Roney (1791) m. 1808 David Groves (1787)
  7. Lydia Roney (1793) m. 1810 Christopher Woodall (1788)
  8. John Roney (1795) m. 1828 Armanda Crafton

The dated marriages are recorded in Sumner Co., Tenn. marriage books. This list contains 8 children - 4 boys and 4 girls. This is where the discrepancies begin to show up.
The 1800 census of Orange Co., N.C. for James Roney is as follows:
James Roney:
Males 0-10 (1), 10-16 (2), 16-26 (2), 26-45 (0), 45 and up (1)
Females 0-10 (2), 10-16 (1), 16-26 (2), 26-45 (0), 45 and up (1)
     This is the only James Roney in the county. This record does not fit either families of James Roney. This James Roney has 5 sons and 5 daughters. The James Roney (1741-1805) had 5 sons and 4 daughters, but 3 of his sons and 1 of his daughters were married before 1800. Both he and his wife Anne are listed as 45 and up - born before 1755, but the 1810 census of Orange Co., N.C. lists Ann's census record as follows:
Ann Roney:
Males None
Females 0-10 (2), 10-16 (0), 16-26 (2), 26-45 (1)
     Ann Roney in that census was born 1765-1784. Moreover, there should be two James Roney families in Orange Co. records according to the genealogy just given; James Roney (1741-1805) and James Roney (1762-1833). However, I find the following:
North Carolina Taxpayers by Clarence Ratcliff
Roney, James - Orange Co. - 1775
Roney, James - Orange Co. - 1779
Roney, Benjamin - Orange Co. - 1779
Roney, John - Halifax Co. - 1783
Roney, William - Halifax Co. - 1783

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)
Tombstone Record
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.

  1800 1830 1850 Birth Death Name Spouse
Husband Bef. 1755 1750-60   1751-2 1835 James Roney Sr. ? Susannah Stalcup Catherine Perry
Wife Bef. 1755     1754 Bef. 1829 Susannah  
Son 1774-84     ca 1775 1810 Benjamin -----------
Daughter 1774-84     1778 1864 Elizabeth William Dinning
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 ? ?
Daughter 1790-1800     1793   Lydia Christopher Woodall

     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.

  1. John b. 4/22/1739 - [wife Elizabeth]
  2. William b. 5/27/1741 - [had son Isaac] [in Orange Co. tax list 1779]
  3. Tobias b. 8/1/1743 - [in Orange Co. tax list 1779]
  4. Swithin b. 1745 - [in Orange Co. tax list 1779]
  5. Rachel b. 8/1/1749 - [married Isaac Brackin in old Swedes Church in Wilmington, Delaware 8/31/1769 - my g.g.g.grandparents]
  6. Lydia b. 6/11/1750
  7. Susannah b. 8/10/1754
  8. Peter, Jr., b. 1/21/1757 [in Orange Co. tax list 1779]

Repeated names among the grandchildren of Peter are Rachel (2), Susannah (3), Lydia (3), William (5), John (5). Susannah, Lydia and William are not prominent Roney names, but all three are among the names of the children of James Roney, Sr. Also James Roney Sr. had a grandson names Peter. The Stalcup family crops up over and over in the records relating to James Roney as is shown in the following:

  1. James Roney and Isaac Stalcup (son of William) lived next door in the 1790 census of Orange Co., N.C.
  2. James Roney, Blacksmith, on 8/16/1791, sold 167 acres to Tobias Stalcup on both sides of Quaker Cr. in Orange Co., part of a 640 acres, granted from North Carolina to Roney on 11/9/1784.
  3. Benjamin Roney's will of 1803 in Sumner Co., Tn. names executors, Isaac Stalcup and Richard Cope.
  4. James Roney sold land in Sumner Co., Tenn. in 1812 to Elizabeth, widow of John Stalcup. This land bordered on the road up to James Roney's house.
  5. James Roney sold land to Isaac Stalcup in Sumner Co., Tenn. in 1813.
  6. In a lawsuit in 1819 in Smith Co. Tn. over the estate of William Stalcup, the court ordered the taking depositions from Rachel Brackin and James Roney.

Now for the family connections:
  1. John Brackin (son of Rachel Stalcup Brackin) married Rhoda Groves, daughter of Thomas Groves.
  2. Thomas Groves (father of the above Rhoda) had two children, Leah, to marry William Roney, and David, to marry Susannah Roney, both Roneys were children of James Roney Sr.
  3. Lydia Brackin, daughter of Rachel Stalcup Brackin, married James Boyle in Orange Co. N.C. In Tennessee, she had three daughters: Rachel, Mary and Sinai, to marry three sons of Micajah House; William, Henry Sr., and James.
  4. Another of Micajah House's children, Martha (Patsy), married Samuel Roney, son of James Roney Sr. Susan Cope, daughter of Margaret Cope and granddaughter of James Roney, Sr., married John House, son of Micajah House.
  5. Orvil Houston Freedle, son of Susan Boyle Freedle, who was the daughter of Lydia Brackin Boyle and granddaughter of Rachel Stalcup Brackin, married Mary Ann Roney, daughter of Samuel Roney and granddaughter of James Roney Sr.
  6. Dovie A. M. Roney, daughter of Samuel Roney and granddaughter of James Roney Sr., married Pleasant Stalcup, grandson of Tobias Stalcup.
  7. Isaac Boyle, son of Lydia Brackin Boyle and grandson of Isaac Brackin and Rachel Stalcup, married Rachel Shy, daughter of Robert Shy and Sarah Stalcup Shy, who was the daughter of Tobias Stalcup.

     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:

  1. James Roney (171?---1765), wife Elizabeth (?); children: Elizabeth, Benjamin, James and Ann.
  2. James Roney (1751-2---1835), m. 1st ?, 2nd Susannah Stalcup, 3rd Catherine Perry in 1829; children: Benjamin by 1st wife, by 2nd wife: Elizabeth, Margaret, James Jr., Samuel, William, daughter (deceased before the writing of the will), John, Susannah and Lydia.

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