Will the Real Strawhorn Monk Please Stand Up? Documenting the Ancestry of Strachan Monk (1787 – 1850/1860), Son of Nottingham Monk and Rachel Strachan (3)

Purrington Monk Family Bible Births.png

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley: life has gotten in the way of my fulfilling my plans to spend time sharing my family history materials on this blog. When I fell silent about a year ago without having finished my series about the ancestry of Strachan Monk (1787 – 1850/1860), I hadn’t yet fulfilled my promise to trace his ancestry through his father Nottingham Monk (abt. 1755 – 28 Jan.-10 Feb. 1818) and Nottingham’s father Nottingham Monk elder (bef. 1720 – bef. 20 July 1793). In my previous two postings (here and here), I did focus on the story of the younger Nottingham, but without carrying his story or that of his ancestry — such that I have been able to trace it — to its conclusion.

Elishe Monk, Daughter of Nottingham Monk Elder

Before I resume that narrative, I’d like to provide some new information about Elishe Monk, daughter of Nottingham Monk elder and sister to Nottingham Monk younger. I discussed Elishe in the previous two postings I have just linked above

Since I made those previous two postings talking about Elisha Monk, I’ve received some important new information which indicates to me that her family (and she herself, very likely) used the Elisha or Elishe spelling, whereas I had previously thought her name might be Alicia. Since the latter spelling is recorded in her son’s bible, which records her date of birth — 15 April 1749 — this is the spelling I’ve now chosen to use for her name. The bible, which appears to be extant, belonged to her son Thomas Monk before passing to Thomas’ daughter Sarah West Monk (1807-1887) and Sarah’s husband Robert Foster Purrington (1799-1837), a doctor at Scotland Neck in Halifax County, North Carolina, and owner of the Beach Swamp plantation established by his father John Holmes Purrington (1768-1837), who was also a doctor.[2]

Purrington Monk Family Bible Title Page.jpg

The bible recording Elishe Monk’s date of birth was published by Thomas and George Palmer of Philadelphia on 7 November 1803, according to its title page. Thomas Monk’s signature is in the front of the bible. This bible record has been transcribed and published in the Halifax County [NC] Genealogical Society Newsletter.[3] Two of Elishe’s granddaughters, Maria Anna and Sarah West Monk, daughters of Thomas Monk, married Purrington brothers. A descendant of one of these two Purrington-Monk marriages sent me a digital copy of the bible register in July 2018. It is not clear to me who owns the original bible. It does not appear to be in the Purrington family papers held by the Southern Historical Collection at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library.[4]

The handwriting recording Elishe Monk’s date of birth matches the signature of Thomas Monk in the front of this bible. It is evident that he wrote his mother’s date of birth in the bible, along with the dates of birth of his wives Frances West and Ann Redding (Swain), the dates of birth of a number of his children, and the death dates of Frances and of Thomas Monk’s father Thomas Speller.

Purrington Monk Family Bible Thomas Monk Owner.jpg

As I noted in my previous two postings about Elishe Monk and her family, Bertie County court minutes for the fourth Tuesday in December 1771 (Bertie County Court Minutes 3, 1763-73, p. 996) say that Lisha Monk had borne a son Thomas fathered by Henry Speller, who was six months old and had been bound out to his father. But the 19 June 1812 will of Thomas Speller in Martin County, North Carolina (WB 2, p. 11) states that Thomas Monk was Thomas Speller’s son — and this is why, it seems to me, Thomas Monk has recorded the death date (28 June 1812) of Thomas Speller in his bible.[5]  Thomas Monk’s date of death on 17 January 1818 is also given in the bible, in a hand different than his own.

Purrington Monk Family Bible Deaths.png

My previous posting in this series provides a précis of what I knew about Elishe Monk and her son Thomas Monk when I wrote that posting in May 2018. As I told you in that posting, census data appear to indicate that she was born 1740-1750. The discovery of the bible of her son Thomas, recording her date of birth, now allows us to pinpoint the date precisely: 15 April 1749. Since her father Nottingham Monk lived in Bertie County at this point, she would likely have been born there. The bible register does not capture her date of death. She seems to have died after 1830, when she last appears on the federal census, and 1840, when she is no longer found on the census.[6] Since she is enumerated in Martin County, where her brother Nottingham Monk Jr. and her son Thomas lived in their maturity, it appears she died there.

Thomas Monk, Son of Elishe Monk and Thomas Speller

My discovery of the Monk-Purrington bible allows me to fill in some blanks regarding what I had previously known about Elishe’s son Thomas, and to correct misinformation I had previously recorded — e.g., that Thomas’ father was Henry Speller, when Thomas Speller is correct. In my previous posting, I also stated,

He is, I think, likely the Thomas Monk who married Frances West in Bertie County on 3 March 1801 with Thomas Speller and George Gray as his securities. Frances may have died by 24 November 1808, when Thomas Monk married Anna Swain in Bertie.

The Monk-Purrington bible proves that Thomas Monk, son of Elishe Monk and Thomas Speller, did, indeed, marry Frances West. It states that Thomas Monk’s late wife Frances West was born 25 December 1782 and died 21 November 1807 — both entries being recorded in Thomas Monk’s handwriting. The bible also tells us that Thomas Monk then had a wife Ann, daughter of Joseph and Ann Redding, who was born 22 April 1784, and who died 24 November 1817. The entry for Ann’s birth is in Thomas Monk’s handwriting, but the date of Ann’s death is in another hand. Ann is clearly the Anna Swain whom Thomas Monk married on 24 November 1808 in Bertie County. Neither his marriage to Frances West nor to Ann Redding Swain is recorded in his bible register.

By Frances West, Thomas had daughters Nancy S. Monk and Sarah West Monk, born 15 November 1803 and 11 November 1807. Both birth dates are written in Thomas’ bible in his hand. The bible also records Sally’s marriage to Robert Foster Purrington on 24 November 1824, and notes that Robert was born 30 April 1799. No marriage for Nancy appears in the bible register. Her father Thomas Monk’s will, which he made on 18 December 1817, gives her name as Nancy S. Monk, so it seems she was not married when the will was written.[7]

Monk, Thomas Will Martin Co., NC WB 2, 52.png

Monk, Thomas Will Martin Co., NC WB 2, 53.png

By 31 December 1819, Nancy S. Monk had married William D. Taylor, a fact we can deduce from the North Carolina Supreme Court Equity case Slade v. Rhodes, et al., which concerned the disposition of Thomas Monk’s property and states that William D. Taylor had placed in trust with John West half of the property devised to his wife Nancy under the will of her father Thomas Monk.[8] Allegations made in this case, which the Supreme Court justices deemed credible, stated that Taylor was intemperate and a wastrel, and that he and wife Nancy had separated prior to 1819 and did not reunite after that point, with Taylor dying in October 1830.[9]  The Race and Petitions Project of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro indexes eight petitions regarding the estate of Thomas Monk and 29 slaves he left to his heirs.

The Monk-Purrington bible records dates of death both for Robert F. Purrington and Sarah W. Monk: 27 February 1837 (Robert) and 29 May 1887 (Sarah). The couple are buried in Trinity Episcopal cemetery at Scotland Neck, North Carolina.

Also written in the register of this family bible are the birth dates of Thomas Monk’s three children by Ann Redding (Swain): Maria Anna (17 February 1811), Joseph S. (1 June 1814), and Martha Adaline Monk (29 May 1816). The bible notes that a son of Thomas named in his will as the daughter of Polly Hansel — the son’s name was Theophilus Hansel — was born 2 July 1801. All these dates of birth except that of Martha Adaline are in Thomas Monk’s handwriting. The date of Martha Adaline’s death — 4 October 1818 — also appears in the bible. Thomas Monk’s will names, in addition to the children whose dates of birth are given in his bible register, a son Thomas Hogans born to Susannah Hogans.

The Slade v. Rhodes case states that Thomas Monk’s son Joseph died in 1824. The death date is not in the bible record. Thomas’ one child by Ann Redding (Swain) to survive to adulthood, his daughter Maria Anna, married John Holmes Purrington Jr., a brother of Robert F. Purrington, on 22 October 1828 in Halifax Co., North Carolina. Neither this date of marriage nor dates of death for John and Maria Anna appear in the Monk-Purrington bible.

Thomas Monk’s father Thomas Speller made a will in Martin County, North Carolina, on 19 June 1812.[10] The will names Thomas Monk as Speller’s natural son, and leaves to Thomas Monk all of Speller’s property except for money left to William, son of Robert Sherrod, and to Andrew Joyner. The will also loans to Mary, daughter of Robert Sherrod, a number of slaves, for her use during her lifetime, and stipulates that they are to go to Thomas Monk following Mary’s death, and that Monk is to have the management of the slaves for the benefit of Mary as long as she is living. Thomas Monk and Andrew Joyner are names as Speller’s executors.

Slade v. Rhodes indicates that Mary Sherrod died in 1824, and at this point, the slaves loaned to her by Thomas Speller’s will passed into the possession of the estate of Thomas Monk. Elishe Monk is not named in Thomas Speller’s will. The will of her son Thomas states that he wished to bequeath to his mother, who is not named, $150 annually for her support to the end of her life.

[1] As my first posting in this series about Strachan Monk’s ancestry notes, Bertie County court minutes for the fourth Tuesday in December 1771 (Bertie County Court Minutes 3, 1763-73, p. 996) say that Lisha Monk had borne a son Thomas fathered by Henry Speller, who was six months old and had been bound out to his father. The 19 June 1812 will of Thomas Speller in Martin County, North Carolina (WB 2, p. 11) states, however, that Elisha’s son Thomas Monk was Thomas Speller’s son. The 1800 federal census, in which she is enumerated in Bertie County (p. 64), gives Elisha’s name as Letitia Monk. In 1830, when she was enumerated in Martin County (p. 413), spells her name as Felitia. As my previous posting in this series shows, the 19 August 1793 account of the sale of her father Nottingham Monk’s estate, compiled by her brother Nottingham Monk, spells her name as Elisha. This account is in the loose-papers estate file of Nottingham Monk Sr. and Jr. held by North Carolina Archives.

[2] Biographical information for both men is in the online overview to the “Purrington Family Papers, 1822-1989” (collection #05447) in the Southern Historical Collection at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library.

[3] “Frances And Thomas Monk, Sally Monk — Dr. Robert Foster Purrington, Bible, 1771-1816, NC,” Halifax County Genealogical Society Newsletter22,1 (2011).

[4] See n. 4, supra, on this collection. The online description of items in the collection makes no mention of this bible.

[5] On the documents cited in this paragraph, see n. 1, supra.

[6] 1830 federal census, Martin County, North Carolina, p. 413.

[7] Martin County, North Carolina, WB 2, pp. 52-3.

[8] Thomas P. Devereux and William H. Battle, Reports of Cases in Equity, Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of North Carolina: From December Term, 1834, to December Term1839, Both Inclusive, vol. 2 (Raleigh: Turner and Hughes, 1840), p. 24.

[9] Ibid., p. 28.

[10] Martin County, North Carolina, WB 2, p. 11.

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