Mary Brooks (d. 1787, Frederick County, Virginia): What I Know (and Don’t) about the Earliest Generation of This Brooks Family

The Will of Mary Brooks, Frederick County, Virginia, 9 July 1786

The posting I have just linked has a digital image of the will of Mary Brooks. At the top of this posting is my transcript of the original will. Other than the notation in Frederick County court minutes that Thomas Brooks, executor, presented Mary’s will to court on 4 April 1787 and that the court ordered Bartholomew Smith, Michael Smith, Robert Hollingsworth, and Thomas Throckmorton to appraise the estate, I have not found any other records of Mary’s estate.[2] A digital image of these court minutes is in a preceding posting.

A Close Reading of Mary Brooks’s Will: What We Can Learn from It

What can we glean from a close reading of Mary Brooks’s will? 

1. It does not mention landholdings. 

2. It shows Mary bequeathing “the whole” of her estate to her son Thomas, except for specific monetary bequests to her other children (and in the case of daughter Elizabeth, Mary’s wearing apparel).

3. It tells us that Mary’s four daughters were married, and gives us their married surnames.

4. Given that Mary’s four daughters are all married, we can deduce that her six children were likely of age when the will was made.

5. It gives us names of two witnesses who apparently had some association with Mary, and the probate document tells us several other names, those assigned by the court to appraise Mary’s estate. I’ll say more about all of these names in a moment.

6. As stated above, the will (and the probate record) tell us that Mary died between 9 July 1786 and 4 April 1787. 

7. Since he is not mentioned in the will, it is likely that Mary’s husband predeceased her. Nothing in the will suggests that her children were born to her by a husband other than her Brooks husband, either.

8. Though many early settlers of Frederick County had Quaker roots — and the Hollingsworth family into which Mary’s daughter Mary married and to which one of her estate appraisers also belonged had Quaker roots — the will does not use Quaker terminology in naming months, in contrast to the 12 December 1759 Frederick County will of another Brooks widow, Elizabeth Brooks Warren, widow of Matthew Brooks, which I’ll discuss later, does. We can conclude that Mary was not likely a Quaker — or if she and her family had Quaker roots, those were in the past by the time of her death.

What We Can Learn from Mary Brooks’s Will Combined with Other Information about Her Family

What more can we glean when we combine Mary’s will and probate record with other pieces of information about her family members discussed previously?

1. As noted previously, various pieces of information outside the will allow us to conclude that Mary Hollingsworth and Elizabeth Rice were the oldest of Mary’s daughters and Thomas the older of her two sons. These pieces of information allow us to estimate Mary Hollingsworth’s date of birth as likely 1745-1750, Elizabeth Rice’s as likely 1747-1750, and Thomas Brooks’s as about 1747. 

The same pieces of information that suggest likely birthdates for these three children of Mary also suggest that Mary has named her daughters and sons, grouped separately, in order of birth. We can also conclude that Mary and Elizabeth married around 1767-8, and I’ve concluded that Thomas is very likely the Thomas Brooks who married Margaret Beamon/Beaman, daughter of John and Jane Beamon/Beaman/Beaumont, in Christ Church parish, Middlesex County, on 29 January 1771. 

2. The preceding pieces of information about the probable birthdates of Mary’s oldest children and their dates of marriage also suggest to us that Mary and her Brooks husband, given name not yet known, may have married around 1740-1745.

3. If that’s a good deduction, then Mary and her Brooks husband may have been born around 1720 or somewhat before that year.

4. In the families into which Mary’s children married — we know at least the married surnames of the daughters through the will — we may find further clues about the Brooks family and its roots. The will tells us that Mary’s daughters married a Hollingsworth, a Rice, an Asdril, and a Haynes. From other sources, we’ll discover (as discussed previously) that Mary Brooks married Jacob Hollingsworth, son of Samuel Hollingsworth and Barbara Shewin; Elizabeth Brooks married George Rice, son of Patrick and Elizabeth Rice; and Sarah Brooks married James Asdell/Ashdale. I have not been able to find information beyond Mary Brooks’s will about her daughter Susanna and Susanna’s husband.

An Overview of What I Know about Mary Brooks’s Children

Here’s an overview of what I know of Mary Brooks’s children; I’ve already discussed Thomas in detail in two previous postings, and will discuss Mary’s other children in detail, with such documentation as I have, later:

1. Mary Brooks was born about 1745-1750, died after 15 May 1821 in Franklin County, Georgia. About 1767-8, she married Jacob Hollingsworth. Jacob is said to have been born in 1742 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and died before 4 November 1821 in Franklin County, Georgia. Jacob’s parents Samuel Hollingsworth and Barbara Shewin married 2 December 1738 at the Kennett Friends meeting in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Records show Jacob’s father Samuel living in Birmingham township in Chester County and dying there, being buried in the burial ground of the Old Kennett Friends meeting in Chester County. It’s likely Jacob Hollingsworth was born in Birmingham township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

2. Elizabeth Brooks was born about 1747-1750 and died between 18 February and 16 March 1816 in Frederick County, Virginia. Around 1767-8, probably in Frederick County, Elizabeth married George Rice. George was born about 1734 and died August-October 1792 in Woodford County, Kentucky. 

3. Thomas Brooks was born about 1747 and died between 4 November 1804 and 12 February 1805 in Wythe County, Virginia. On 29 January 1771 at Christ Church parish, Middlesex County, Virginia, he married Margaret Beamon (also Beaman, variants of Beaumont). Margaret was born 30 November 1747 in Christ Church parish and died between 8 October 1805 and 14 September 1808 in Wythe County. For a detailed discussion of Thomas and Margaret and records I’ve gathered documenting their lives, see herehere, and here.

4. Sarah Brooks was born about 1750-1755, and died before 23 January 1830, probably in Frederick County, Virginia. Around 1770-1775, probably in Frederick County, she married James Asdell/Ashdale, who died before 16 August 1824 in Frederick County.

5. Susanna Brooks: as noted above, I have not been able to find information about Susanna and her Haynes (alternative spellings: Hanes or Haines) husband beyond her mention in the will of her mother Mary Brooks. If the daughters are listed in birth order in Mary’s will, as I think they are, then I think Susanna was likely born around 1755.

6. James Brooks seems to have been born between 1750 and 1760. I’m basing that deduction on the fact that Mary Brooks appears to list her daughters and sons in order of birth in her will, and James is listed after Thomas, whose birthdate seems to have been around 1747. James was definitely of age by 26 May 1787, since, as we’ve seen, he and Thomas witnessed a deed of their brother-in-law George Rice and wife Elizabeth in Frederick County to Anthony Crum on that date. This is the same Anthony Crum who had witnessed their mother’s will in the preceding year.

As the posting I’ve just linked also tells us, the first listing for James that I find on the Frederick County tax list is on 20 July 1791. Since their mother Mary had bequeathed “the whole” of her estate to her son Thomas except for specific monetary bequeathals to her other children (and clothes to Elizabeth), James may have lived with Thomas up to Thomas’s removal from Frederick County in 1792, and perhaps with their mother prior to that time. I find no evidence that James married. As we’ll see later, he died testate in Frederick County with a will dated 16 August 1824 which was proven in county court on 6 September 1824. The will describes James as “old and week in body” and bequeaths his property to the children of his sister Sarah Brooks Ashdale. Sarah had evidently died by the time the will was made, since she is not named in it.

A question: Mary Brooks’s will mentions no landholdings, and Mary also bequeaths the whole of her estate to her son Thomas. We do know from Frederick County records cited in a previous posting that Thomas gave wheat and mutton in March and July 1781 for the use of the Continental Army. These records suggest that Thomas was farming in 1781 — on whose land? Was he renting land? 

What I Don’t Know about This Brooks Family

The overview I’ve just provided of the children of Mary Brooks points out what I don’t know about this family. As I’ve stated a number of times

1. I don’t know the given name of Mary’s Brooks husband. I have not found this information, though I see numerous family trees online and in print making claims that they know the Brooks man whom Mary married. But I’ve seen no proof to substantiate these claims.

2. I don’t know Mary’s maiden surname. 

3. Because I don’t have the vital pieces of information in 1 and 2, I don’t know when and where Mary and her Brooks husband met and married.

4. I don’t know where the children of Mary Brooks were born.

5. I don’t know when and where Mary’s Brooks husband died.

Possible Clues about This Brooks Family Prior to Frederick County in the Hollingsworth and Rice Families

In addition to what the will tells us, we do know that the Brooks family was in Frederick County by 2-3 March 1767, when Thomas Brooks witnessed the deed of Patrick Rice to John Rice. Or, that record shows us, at least, that Thomas himself was in Frederick County by that date, and was of age. It and other records suggest to us that the Brooks family lived in the Long Marsh area of Frederick County near the Rices, a conclusion strengthened by the marriage of Thomas Brooks’s sister Elizabeth to Patrick Rice’s son George around 1767-8. That marriage does also suggest to us that not just Thomas but his mother and siblings were likely in Frederick County by March 1767.

I cannot say with certainty that the Brooks family was in Frederick County prior to that date, though it seems likely that the family had settled in the county at some point before March 1767, in order for Thomas Brooks to have a tie to the Rice family and for his sister to marry George Rice around the same time. We do know from a number of documents that the Rice family was in Frederick County before 1750, when Patrick Rice had a survey at the head of Long Marsh Creek on 20 October 1750. As the posting I’ve just linked also states, according to T.K. Cartmell in his history of Frederick County, Patrick Rice was among early landholders in Frederick County with surveys in the Long Marsh part of the county by the late 1740s and early 1750s. 

The Hollingsworths

We’ve also seen that members of the Hollingsworth family were prominent early settlers of what became Frederick County, with Abraham Hollingsworth buying 582 acres in 1732 south of what became Winchester — his Abraham’s Delight plantation that was to become a Quaker center for the county. And as the posting I just linked also shows us, Abraham’s grandson Robert Hollingsworth (abt. 1744-1800) married Patrick Rice’s daughter Susanna in Frederick County around the same time that George Rice and Elizabeth Brooks married.

So we have Hollingsworth and Rice clues overlaying themselves, with Rice-Hollingsworth ties via the marriage of Robert Hollingsworth and Susanna Rice, and with Mary Brooks, whose sister Elizabeth married George Rice, marrying Robert’s cousin Jacob Hollingsworth. As I noted above, the Hollingsworth clues potentially lead us back to Chester County, Pennsylvania, as one possible place the Brooks family could have been found prior to their showing up in Frederick County. We’ve also seen that we can place Mary Brooks’s husband-to-be Jacob Hollingsworth in Baltimore County, Maryland, on 4 March 1765 when the estate of his step-father Philip Philips was inventoried. 

J. Adger Stewart, Descendants of Valentine Hollingsworth, Sr. (Louisville: Morton, 1925), p. 143
Alpheus H. Harlan, History and Genealogy of the Harlan Family, and Particularly of the Descendants of George and Michael Harlan, Who Settled in Chester County, Pa., 1687 (Baltimore: Lord Baltimore Press, 1914), p. 83

In his study of the Hollingsworth family descending from the immigrant Valentine Hollingsworth, J. Adger Stewart states that Mary Brooks was “of Pennsylvania.”[3] Stewart thinks that Jacob Hollingsworth and Mary Brooks married in or around 1768. In his study of the Harlan family, another Chester County, Pennsylvania, Quaker family that was, as we’ve seen, thickly intertwined with the Hollingsworth family, Alpheus Harlan states that Jacob Hollingsworth married Mary Brooks “before leaving Chester Co., Pa.”[4] Harlan does not give a date for the marriage, but implies that it took place around 1768. As we’ve seen, the oldest child of Jacob Hollingsworth and Mary Brooks, their daughter Hannah, was born in 1769. Alpheus Harlan appears not to have known, by the way, that Jacob Hollingsworth was in Baltimore County, Maryland, in March 1765.

I think it’s very likely that the marriage of Jacob Hollingsworth and Mary Brooks did not take place in Pennsylvania or in Baltimore County, Maryland, but probably in Frederick County, Virginia. The couple’s marriage in 1767-8 might indicate that there was some tie between the Brooks and Hollingsworth family pre-existing the arrival of the Brooks in Frederick County, but given that Jacob had relatives in Frederick County from early on, it’s also possible he came to Frederick County to join his relatives and this could account for his meeting Mary Brooks there. Since we know that Mary’s sister Elizabeth married George Rice and that George’s sister Susanna married Robert Hollingsworth, it’s possible Mary Brooks and Jacob Hollingsworth connected through the Rice family — on whose behalf Mary and Elizabeth’s brother Thomas acted as a witness in a March 1767 deed.

If Frederick County is where Jacob Hollingsworth and Mary Brooks met and married, they did not remain long there, by the way. By 9 March 1772, they were in Guilford County, North Carolina, when John and Catherine Pickerell deeded to Jacob Hollingsworth (all parties living in Guilford County) 100 acres in that county on the east side of Deep River at the mouth of Broad Mouth Creek.[5] Guilford was a Quaker center in North Carolina, with many Quakers whose roots lay in the middle colonies having settled there, not a few having spent time in Frederick County, Virginia. From the time when Jacob’s mother Barbara Shewin married her second husband Philip Philips at Old Swedes church in Wilmington, Delaware, on 9 May 1754, this particular Hollingsworth family lost its Quaker ties, however, due to Barbara’s marriage outside the community of Friends — but former Friends did tend to migrate to places where Friends, including their family members, congregated.

The Rices

The marriage of Elizabeth Brooks to George Rice about 1767-8 and her brother Thomas’s witness to a March 1767 deed of George’s father Patrick Rice suggest to us that by 1767, the Brooks family had ties of some kind to the Rice family, their neighbors in the Long Marsh area of Frederick County. As noted above and in a previous posting, Patrick Rice, progenitor of the Rice family of Frederick County, seems to have been in the county before 1750. In fact, the minutes of Frederick County court show him in the county by 7 May 1746, when the court ordered Patrick Rice and Lewis Neill to lay off and mark a road to the chapel at Cunningham’s.[6]

I have not seen clear information about Patrick’s origins or place of residence before he begins to show up in Frederick County records. In their summary of Patrick’s history at their My Southern Family site at Rootsweb, Josephine Lindsay Bass and Becky Bonner, who descend from Patrick, refer to Patrick Rice as “the immigrant” (i.e., the immigrant ancestor of this family). They think Patrick was born around 1709 in Ireland, and they state, “His wife Elizabeth is thought to be a Brooks.”

Michael J. O’Brien, The McCarthys in Early American History (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1921), p. 86, n. 15

Bass and Bonner point to Michael J. O’Brien’s The McCarthys in Early American History, which notes the preponderance of men of Irish origins among those who had early land surveys in Frederick County. O’Brien writes,[7]

Others for whom Washington made land surveys about the same time in Frederick County were Darby McKeever, Barney McHandry, Patrick Mathews, Dr. James [i.e., John] McCormick, Hugh Rankin, Thomas McClanahan, Thomas and Francis Carney, Edward Hogan, Francis and William McBride, Daniel McKelduff, Patrick Rice and John Madden

If I am reading O’Brien correctly, he thinks that most of these Irish men had surveys in Frederick County before the mid-1750s, and that they were in Orange County, Virginia, prior to Frederick. O’Brien also notes that a group of Irish setters had come to the Rappahannock between 1650-1680, and that this colony including the McCarty and Rice families.[8] He indicates that Old Rappahannock County records show a John Rice who was a merchant, with wife Rebecca, for whom Dennis McCarty acted in a transaction on 20 December 1686. O’Brien thinks that this particular Rice family arrived in Virginia from the Barbados in 1679 aboard The Young William, and may have been related to the McCartys — and may also have had roots in Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland. 

Whether the Rice family found in the records of Old Rappahannock County by the latter half of the 1600s has any connection to Patrick Rice of Frederick County, I can’t say. I have not seen evidence of such a connection. If Josephine Bass and Becky Bonner are correct when they claim that Patrick Rice was an Irish immigrant, it would seem that he did not descend from members of a Rice family in Virginia by the latter part of the 1600s.[9] I haven’t seen any clear indication of where Patrick Rice may have been before he begins appearing in Frederick County records by the latter part of the 1740s — nor have I seen proof of Bass and Bonner’s claim that his wife may have been Elizabeth Brooks. 

If that piece of information is correct, then there might have been some tie between the Brooks and Rice families prior to the appearance of those families in Frederick County — and this might point us to Ireland as a possible place of origin for this Frederick County Brooks family. It’s worth noting here that the McCormick family, who lived near the Rices in Frederick County and was intermarried with them (see this previous posting for information), is also said to have come to Frederick County (with a brief appearance in Orange County records) from Ireland. Dr. John McCormick (abt. 1703-1769), progenitor of the Frederick County Rices, is said to have been born in Ireland and to have been living in Orange County on 21 March 1740 when Jost Hite deeded him the White House farm on which he settled.

So, to summarize: the connection of the Brooks and Hollingsworth families through Mary Brooks’s marriage to Jacob Hollingsworth (and Elizabeth Brooks’s marriage to George Rice whose sister Susanna married Robert Hollingsworth) could possibly point us back to Chester County, Pennsylvania, and/or Baltimore County, Maryland, for information about this Frederick County Brooks family prior to its settlement in that county. And the ties to the Rice family might point to Ireland as a possible place of origin for this Brooks family…. To Ireland, where, it’s worth noting, the Hollingsworths lived prior to 1682 when the Hollingsworth progenitor, Valentine Hollingsworth (1632-abt. 1711), and wife Ann Calvert Hollingsworth, arrived in New Castle County, Delaware, from County Armagh, Ireland, with their children….[10]

Without having a given name for Mary Brooks’s husband, a maiden surname for Mary, a place of residence prior to Frederick County, we are stabbing in the dark with these suppositions and guesses, aren’t we?

Possible Clues about This Brooks Family in the Witnesses to Mary Brooks’s Will and Appraisers of Her Estate

In a previous posting, I’ve already noted that Anthony Crum, who witnessed Mary’s will, and Bartholomew and Michael Smith, whom the court appointed to appraise Mary’s estate, were all German immigrants. That posting shares most of the information I have on the Crums and Smiths/Schmidts — except I might add now that, in his Families of Webster, Bachman, Van Valkenburg, McCall, etc.,” Robert Webster suggests that Anthony was born in the lower Rhineland area of Germany about 1713 and is the Anthony Crum who arrived in Philadelphia on 2 October 1753 aboard the Edinburgh from Rotterdam. According to Donald Lybarger, after immigrating, Anthony Crum initially settled at Media in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and then came to Frederick County.[11] Webster states that Anthony’s sons Christian and Henry were ministers in Frederick County, where they pastored a church called Old Crum’s Meeting House. In a generation, both the Smith and Crum families would become active promoters of the Methodist movement in their part of Virginia.

I do not know of any connection Mary Brooks may have had to these German immigrant families, but it’s worth noting that a member of one of these families, the Crums, witnessed Mary’s will and two other members of another of these families, the Schmidts/Smiths, appraised Mary’s estate, and as the posting linked at the start of the previous paragraph shows, the Crums and Smiths appear in other records of the Brooks family and their neighbors the Rices. It’s also worth noting that Anthony Crum was of the same generation as Patrick Rice and Dr. John McCormick — and also, I think, of Mary Brooks and her husband.

About James Perry, the other person witnessing Mary Brooks’s will along with Anthony Crum, I haven’t found any information.

Other Brooks Families in Frederick County, Virginia, Records in the 18th Century

There are at least two other Brooks families in Frederick County records in the period in which the family of Mary Brooks is found there. These are the families of Matthew Brooks (abt. 1711? – bef. 4 March 1758) and Jacob Brooks (1702-1770). These families appear to be related to each other; both also seem to have had Quaker connections. I haven’t researched either of them exhaustively, but want to share such notes as I have about them, since anyone researching the family of Mary Brooks needs to separate her family from these other families with the same surname living in Frederick County in the 18th century.

Matthew Brooks

Researcher Carol Redd, who has done valuable work on the family of Matthew Brooks, indicates that Matthew was born about 1711.[12] Records place Matthew in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, prior to 1748, when he begins to show up in Frederick County, where he was a constable. On 5 August 1740, he witnessed a deed in Spotsylvania by John Rogers of Drysdale Parish in King and Queen County, to various persons who were apparently legatees of Peter Rogers and John York of Spotsylvania County, including Thomas Warren and other Warrens.[13] The Warren information is significant, since the will of Thomas Warren, dated 13 April 1749 in Spotsylvania County, identifies Matthew Brooks’s wife Elizabeth as Thomas’s daughter.[14]

On 7 September 1742, Matthew Brooks witnessed the Spotsylvania deed of Abraham and Barbara Rogers of Spotsylvania County to Abraham Estes of King and Queen.[15] The same day, two enslaved people belonging to Matthew Brooks, Phillis and Pollipus, were registered in Spotsylvania County.[16] Matthew Brooks appears as a Spotsylvania juror on 1 March 1742 and 7 August 1744.[17]

Matthew Brooks died in Frederick County before 4 March 1758 when his estate inventory was presented to county court by his widow Elizabeth and son Joel, with appraisers William Dillon, Evan Thomas, and John Millburn.[18] This record says that the inventory and appraisement was presented in court 4 March 1758 by administrators Elizabeth and Joel Brooks. Appraisers were the three men I have just named, whom the court appointed. An account of the estate was returned to court by Joel Brooks on 7 March 1765.[19]

Will of Elizabeth Brooks, 12 December 1759, Frederick County, Virginia, Will Bk. 2, pp. 368-9

Matthew’s widow Elizabeth died testate in Frederick County with a will dated 12 December 1759 (or, as the will states, “the Twelfth Day of the Twelfth Month called December”), which was proved in county court on 6 February 1760.[20] An inventory of Elizabeth’s estate was returned to court on 1 December 1761, with appraisers Evan Thomas, Enos Thomas, and Jacob Chandler.[21] On 8 June 1763, Benjamin Thornberry and William Joliffe presented an estate account to court.[22]

Elizabeth’s will identifies her as of Opeckin [i.e., Opequon] in Frederick County. The will names her ten children, including sons David and Joel as well as six younger sons, William, Daniel, Matthew, James, Thomas, and Jesse, and daughters Judith Pemberton and Mary Thornback. The will names Benjamin Thornbrugh and William Joliffe as executors. Elizabeth signed the will by mark with witnesses Simeon Taylor, Thomas Eldridge, and Hester Taylor. On 6 February 1760, Benjamin Thornburgh and William Joliffe presented the will to court with the three witnesses proving it. The executors gave bond with George Ross and Michael Lowinger for the execution of the estate.

A number of records of the 1760s provide information about where in Frederick County Matthew and Elizabeth Brooks and their family lived. A 12 May 1764 deed of Simeon and Easter Taylor to John Reece for land on Opequon Creek states, for instance, that the land the Taylors were selling was bounded by land of Matthew Brooks and Robert Hutchins.[23]

On 2 May 1768, Isaac Johnson leased to Robert Rutherford land on the west side of Opequon near Winchester, with the deed mentioning that the corner of this land was on Matthew Brooks’s line.[24] On 1 November 1768, Edmond Lindsey, Jr., sold to Robert Rutherford of Winchester land on the east of Opequon at Matthew Brooks’s line.[25]

Susannah Brooks Johnson, The Rev. John Johnson and His Home: An Autobiography (Nashville: Southern Methodist Publ. Co., 1869), pp. 10-11

In her 1869 work Recollections of the Rev. John Johnson and His Home, Susannah Brooks Johnson, a daughter of Thomas Brooks, son of Matthew and Elizabeth Warren Brooks, states that Thomas was the son of Matthew Brooks and Elizabeth Warren, and that his siblings were Judy, who married George Pemberton, Mary, who married a Mr. Thornberry, and brothers Jesse, Matthew, William, James, Daniel, David, and Joel Brooks.[26] Susanna was born 22 October 1794 in Newberry County, South Carolina. 

Ida Brooks Kellam and Memory Aldridge Lester provide the following information about the children of Matthew and Elizabeth Brooks:[27]

1. David Brooks was born 19 April 1737, died 12 December 1814 in Stokes County, North Carolina, married Sarah Sanders, 24 December 1759, Hanover County, Virginia.

2. Joel Brooks died 1 September 1764 in Orange County, North Carolina, married September 1756 to Mary Wright.

3. William Brooks died after 29 January 1798 in Berkeley County, Virginia.

4. Daniel Brooks married Hannah Hammond, and remained in Frederick County, Virginia.

5. Matthew Brooks left will dated 9 July 1796 in Newberry County, South Carolina.

6. James Brooks married Sarah Singletary and left a will dated 10 January 1820 in Newberry County, South Carolina.

7. Thomas Brooks.

8. Jesse Brooks went to Wilkes County, Georgia.

9. Mary Brooks married 22 October 1759 in Frederick County to Benjamin Thornburg.

10. Judith Brooks married a Pemberton.

Matthew and Elizabeth Brooks’s son David is found in the records of Hopewell Quaker meeting in Frederick County, which show him removing to Cedar Creek Quaker meeting in Hanover County and then on to North Carolina.[28] On 6 April 1758, Matthew and Elizabeth’s daughter Mary Brooks witnessed the marriage of Henry Rees of Frederick County to Martha Thomas at the Opeckan Friends Meeting, under the supervision of Hopewell Meeting.[29] On 22 October 1759, Mary Brooks married Benjamin Thornburg/Thornbury (I find both spellings, and others, in various records) at Hopewell Friends meeting.[30]  

Martha Thomas, whose marriage in April 1758 to Henry Rees was witnessed by Mary Brooks, was a daughter of the Evan Thomas who was an appraiser of Matthew Brooks’s estate and of the estate of his wife Elizabeth, as well. Evan Thomas came from Wales to Philadelphia around 1719, and settled in the Gwynedd Quaker meeting in Montgomery Co., Pennsylvania. In 1726, he and wife Catherine removed to Goshen monthly meeting in Chester County, his certificate of removal stating that he was a minister. Evan was perhaps the first minister of Hopewell meeting.[31]

Joel Brooks’s wife Mary Wright was a daughter of John Wright and Rachel Wells, Quakers of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Ann Arundel County, Maryland. According to Wilmer Kerns, John Wright was born in 1716 in Chester County, and he and wife Rachel lived in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where they were members of Monocacy Friends Meeting, until 1749, when they moved to Orange County, North Carolina.[32] Kerns says that Mary Wright’s sister Sarah married James Brooks; she is perhaps the Sarah Singletary identified as wife of James, son of Matthew and Elizabeth Brooks, by Kellam and Lester (see above).

According to George Middleton Pemberton (1810-1878), a son of Jesse Brooks Pemberton and Tabitha Brooks, the George Pemberton who married Judith Brooks was a son of an older George Pemberton who came from Cheshire, England, to Virginia in 1710, and whose wife was Elizabeth Brooks.[33] Jesse Brooks Pemberton was a son of Judith Brooks and George Pemberton. According to Susannah Brooks Johnson, Tabitha Brooks who married Jesse Brooks Pemberton was Susannah’s sister, a daughter of Thomas Brooks and wife Susannah Teague, Thomas being the son of Matthew and Elizabeth Brooks.[34]

Jacob Brooks

Ida Kellam and Memory Lester identify the Jacob Brooks who appears in Frederick County records in the 1700s as a Jacob Brooks, son of William Brooks and Sarah (Warren?), who was baptized 21 November 1702 in Christ Church parish in Middlesex County, Virginia.[35] Jacob died testate in Craven County, South Carolina, with a will dated 17 September 1770.[36] The will names wife Rosanna and children Jacob, John, and Milly, wife of William Garry. 

Kellam and Lester state that Jacob Brooks witnessed a deed of Thomas Warren in Spotsylvania County in 1725.[37] This is the Thomas Warren whose daughter Elizabeth married Matthew Brooks; Jacob’s connection to Thomas Warren is one of a number of indicators that he and Matthew Brooks were related. By 24 February 1742, Jacob Brooks appears in Orange County, Virginia, records, and by 13 October 1744, in the records of Frederick County, according to Kellam and Lester. On the latter date, Jacob Brooks was a juror in Frederick County.[38]

On 15 September 1744, Jacob Brooks’s wife Rosanna/Rosannah appeared in Frederick County court records along with Mary Brooks, Priscilla Slater, Barbara Rankins, and Grace Harper giving testimony on behalf of Leonard Harper.[39] On 30 September 1744, the court directed Leonard Harper to pay Rosanna and Mary Brooks 100 pounds of tobacco for their appearance in court.[40] In citing this record, Kellam and Lester note that Rosanna was the wife of Jacob Brooks, and that she and Mary Brooks gave testimony by solemn affirmation, indicating that they were Quakers. Kellam and Lester do not identify Mary Brooks.

Jacob Brooks continues to appear in Frederick County records from 1744 to 2 June 1752, when he sold to John Briscoe his 62 acres on the Shenandoah and the south side of Opequon Run in Frederick County.[41] A loose-papers survey file for Northern Neck surveys in Frederick County shows that on 25 March 1751, Jacob Brooks of Frederick County was given warrant for survey of 200 acres on Opequon Creek joining his patent, with the patent dated 3 October 1734.[42] On 16 October 1751, John Baylis surveyed 462 acres for Jacob, of which 62 were his patent. The plat for the survey shows Opequon Creek flowing through the land with David Servis to the south. The file has a note dated 2 June 1752 by Jacob saying he had sold the land to John Briscoe, with Thomas Rutherford and John Ashby witnessing. The file has an additional note dated 10 October 1752 by Jacob (now signing with a mark, when he had signed his name previously), which states that he had 400 acres to John Briscoe. Matthew Brooks and John Wilkerson witnessed this document — another indicator that Jacob and Matthew Brooks were probably related.

Will of Jacob Brooks, 17 September 1770, Charleston County, South Carolina, Will Bk. 1774-9, pp. 54-5

By September 1753, Jacob had moved to Orange County, North Carolina, and by 1768, to what would later become Newberry County, South Carolina, where he died after making his will in September 1770.[43] As a previous posting notes, by the 1770s, Newberry was home to a group of Quakers who established the Bush River Friends meeting in that county.[44] Leonardo Andrea’s Hollingsworth file notes that “the Hollingsworths, Cooks, Stedhams, Wrights, Brooks, Smiths, Havins, and other Union-Laurens-Newberry families were Quakers and came into South Carolina from North Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, with some few from Maryland and Delaware.”[45]

In a 1 February 1998 posting to the Old Frederick County discussion group at Rootsweb, which is now defunct, unless I’m mistaken, researcher Anne Dowis states that by 1775, a large group of settlers from the vicinity of Winchester, Virginia, had moved to the area of Newberry County, South Carolina, north of Bush River. Dowis thinks that these people had left Virginia after the erection of Fort Duquesne in 1754, since they were mostly Quakers and Dunkards opposed to military service. 

After his relocation to Craven (later Newberry) County, South Carolina, on 24 December 1768, Jacob Brooks witnessed a deed by George Hollingsworth of Berkeley Precinct to Jacob Hoge, both of Berkeley Precinct. George Hollingsworth was a son of Abraham Hollingsworth; the Robert Hollingsworth who married Susanna Rice and who appears in records of the Brooks family in Frederick County associated with the Rices was George’s son.[46]  

According to Kellam and Lester, an old family record left by the father of a Mrs. Warner Bailey of Houston identifies the William Brooks who was the father of Jacob Brooks (see above on this point) as the immigrant ancestor, who came to America at the beginning of the 18th century. This record states that William Brooks was shipwrecked en route, to America and members of his family were lost.[47] Kellam and Lester think that a William Brooks who appears in a case of debt in Frederick County with John Hite/Hiatt on 3 November 1768 is Jacob’s father.[48]

Notes about a Robert Brooke/Brooks in Frederick County Records in the 18th Century

A Robert Brooks appears in records of the Hite-Fairfax lawsuit filed in 1736, regarding title to large tracts of land in Frederick County. Jacob Brooks is also mentioned in the same lawsuit. The Robert Brooks named in this lawsuit appears in other documents as Robert Brooke, a surveyor. Various records in Frederick County suggest that the Robert Brooke may have not ever lived in the county. They identify Robert as a member of a Brooke family of Essex County, Virginia, which appears to have had no connection to Matthew and Jacob Brooks, or to the family of Mary Brooks.[49] A 16 November 1753 deed of Thomas Branson to Alexander Ogilby, both of Frederick County, states that Robert Brooke was a surveyor living in Prince William County, and that he had surveyed the tract of land being sold on 27 November 1730.[50]  

In Conclusion

Unfortunately, none of the information I’ve provided above about various Brooks families living in Frederick County at the same time the family of Mary Brooks lived there tells us what we most need to know about Mary’s family — the name of Mary’s husband, Mary’s maiden surname, and where this family lived prior to 1767. These records do help us separate Mary’s family from other Brooks families living in the county at the same time. But they do not tell us whether Mary’s family had any connection at all to these other Brooks families. 

Frederick County, Virginia, Early Troop Records, 1755-1761, p. 30, appended to Frederick County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 18

I find one reference to a Thomas Brook or Brooks in early troop records of Frederick County on 27 October 1758 about whom I’ve wondered — I’ve asked myself if this could be Mary Brooks’s husband — but the more I consider this record, the more I am inclined to conclude that it’s a record of Thomas, son of Matthew and Elizabeth Brooks. On 27 October 1758, Frederick County military court ordered Thomas Brook of Captain Isaac Parkins’s militia company to be fined 20 shillings for missing two musters during the last twelve months.[51] On the same day that the military court fined Thomas Brook for non-attendance at musters, it also fined David Brooks of Capt. Thomas Speake’s company. This is definitely David, son of Matthew and Elizabeth Brooks. It may well be that both Thomas and David had avoided attending militia musters because they were Quakers — though Isaac Parkins was a Friend, too.[52] 

Parkins was a prominent figure in the county with large tracts of land south of and partly in the present limits of Winchester. He served as a county justice in addition to being a militia captain, and despite being a Quaker, sat on the vestry of Fredericksville parish. In 1754, he was elected to the House of Burgesses. 

According to Hopewell Friends, Parkins used his influence to help Friends imprisoned and fined for matters of conscience to be released from punishment.[53] The first wedding of Friends in the Frederick County region, between George Hollingsworth and Hannah McKay, was held on 19 December 1734 at Isaac’s house, and his son Isaac Jr. donated the land on which the Hopewell burial ground is found. Isaac Parkins’s daughter Rachel married Isaac Hollingsworth, a brother of George Hollingsworth.[54]

According to Cecil O’Dell, Isaac Parkins was born about 1700, and was in Cecil County, Maryland, by February 1725/6, when he and brother Ebenezer sold land in New Castle County, Delaware, with the deed noting that they had the land from the will of their father Ebenezer Parkins of New England in 1703.[55] By October 1734, Isaac had moved to Orange County, Virginia, where Robert Brooke surveyed 200 acres for him on 10 October. This was west of Albin in present-day Frederick County. Isaac’s wife Mary, who died in June 1762, was possibly the daughter of Henry and Lydia Atkinson Hollingsworth, in whose family records Isaac appears as “near kin.”[56] Isaac died by 2 March 1774 in Frederick County.[57]

The answer to my questions about the name of Mary Brooks’s husband and about where this family lived before arriving in Frederick County may be hidden in plain sight in the welter of information I provide above. There may be patterns and clues here I am simply not seeing. It’s entirely possible that I (and other Brooks researchers) have not been able to find information about Mary Brooks’s husband and an estate record for him in Frederick County because he died before Mary moved with her children to Frederick. Without knowing the name of Mary’s husband, though, for whom does one search, and where?

Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans, vol. 3 (Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1916), p. 1468

Conflicting clues about the origin of this Brooks family abound in family accounts. For instance, a 1916 biography of Mary Brooks’s great-grandson Charles Wesley Brooks (1829-1896), son of James Brooks and Nancy Isbell, states that Charles was “of English descent, … was descended from the numerous branch of that family name in Alabama and Georgia, and traced his family tree back to the days of King John and Magna Charta.”[58] Unfortunately, this biography provides no details about the Brooks line beyond Charles’s father James Brooks (1772-1835).

Biographical History of Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Newton, Benton, Warren, and Pulaski Counties, Indiana, vol. 2 (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), p. 1049

Then there’s a biography of William Bell (1814-1875), who married Sarah Ann Brooks (1823-1905), daughter of Robert Brooks (1780-1847), a grandson of Mary Brooks. This source states,[59]

William Bell was about twenty-two years of age when he accompanied the family to this locality [i.e., Tippecanoe County, Indiana], in 1836, and four or five years later he was united in marriage to Sarah A., daughter of Robert and Rachel Brooks, the ceremony being performed December 16, 1840. She was a native of Lauramie township, while both of her parents were born in southern states, Virginia or Tennessee, and her paternal grandfather was a native of Ireland (my emphasis added)

Take your pick, then: one biography identifies a great-grandson of Mary Brooks as “of English descent” and a biography of a great-granddaughter of Mary states that her grandfather Thomas Brooks (abt. 1747-1805) was “a native of Ireland.” The latter biography implies that this Brooks family was in Ireland when Thomas Brooks was born around 1747, which would suggest that Mary Brooks and her children perhaps came directly from Ireland to Frederick County, Virginia, by 1767. If this source is correct, that is….

In my next posting, I’ll begin telling you what I know about the children of Mary Brooks (I’ve already discussed her son Thomas in several prior postings) and about their families. I’ll start with Mary’s daughter Mary and husband Jacob Hollingsworth.


[1] Frederick County, Virginia, Will Bk. 5, p. 158. 

[2] Frederick County, Virginia Court Order Bk. 20, p. 387.

[3] J. Adger Stewart, Descendants of Valentine Hollingsworth, Sr. (Louisville: Morton, 1925), p. 143.

[4] Alpheus H. Harlan, History and Genealogy of the Harlan Family, and Particularly of the Descendants of George and Michael Harlan, Who Settled in Chester County, Pa., 1687 (Baltimore: Lord Baltimore Press, 1914), p. 83.

[5] Guilford County, North Carolina, Deed Bk. 1, p. 161.

[6] Frederick County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 2, p. 88.

[7] Michael J. O’Brien, The McCarthys in Early American History (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1921), p. 86, n. 15.

[8] Ibid., p. 4.

[9] Bass and Bonner also note that members of a Rice family are recorded in Fredericksville parish in Frederick County by early as 2 September 1743, though the Rices found in the parish records by that date are a William and Thomas Rice and not Patrick Rice, and no proof of Patrick’s connection to them has been established. 

[10] Stewart, Descendants of Valentine Hollingsworth, Sr., p. 1.

[11] Donald F. Lybarger, The Crum Family: Notes Concerning the Descendants of Anthony Crum, Sr. (Cleveland, 1963), p. 6. On another Frederick County Crum family descending from Henry Crum, who died in 1767, and who came to Frederick County from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, see Cecil O’Dell, Pioneers of Old Frederick County, Virginia (Westminster, Maryland: Heritage, 2007), p. 439.

[12] See Nigel Brooks, Brooks Family History online, “Matthew Brooks.”

[13] Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Deed Bk. C, as transcribed by William Armstrong Crozier, ed., Virginia County Records: Spotsylvania Co., 1721-1800 (New York: Fox, Duffield, 1905), p. 151; and Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1740-2, p. 95.

[14] Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Will Bk. B, p. 56; the will was probated 4 December 1750.

[15] Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Deed Bk. D; as transcribed in Crozer, Virginia County Records: Spotsylvania Co., 1721-1800, p. 161.

[16] Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1740-2, p. 185.

[17] Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1738-49, pp. 205, 275.

[18] Frederick County, Virginia, Will Bk. 2, p. 150. See also Ida Brooks Kellam and Memory Aldridge Lester, Brooks and Kindred Families (priv. publ., 1950), p. 275.

[19] Frederick County, Virginia, Will Bk. 3, pp. 261-2. 

[20] Ibid., Bk. 2, pp. 368-9.

[21] Ibid., Bk. 3, pp. 15-17.

[22] Ibid., pp. 134-4.

[23] Frederick County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 9, p. 165.

[24] Ibid., Deed Bk. 12, p. 345.

[25] Ibid., p. 545. By 13 September 1777, Robert Rutherford and wife Mary were in Berkeley County, Virginia, since their deed on that date to John Rynell, Jacob Harman, and Mordecail Lewis of Philadelphia for land in Frederick County on Matthew Brooks’ corner mentions Berkeley as their residence: ibid., Deed Bk. 17, p. 385..

[26] Susannah Brooks Johnson, The Rev. John Johnson and His Home: An Autobiography (Nashville: Southern Methodist Publ. Co., 1869), pp. 10-11.

[27] See supra, n. 18.

[28] See Manda Brooks, A Record of the Family of Brooks (Winchester, Indiana, 1951).

[29] Hopewell Friends (with John W. Wayland), Hopewell Friends History, 1734-1934 (Baltimore: Geneal. Publ. Co., 1975), p. 241. In 1735, Hopewell Meeting was officially established as an offshoot of Opeckan/Opequon Meeting.  Hopewell’s minutes from 1735-9 have been burnt. Up to 1736, this meeting reported to Nottingham monthly meeting in Cecil County, Maryland.

[30] William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, vol. 6: Virginia (Baltimore: Geneal. Publ. Co., 1973), p. 371, indexing Hopewell meeting minutes.

[31] Hopewell Friends, Hopewell Friends History, p. 30. Information about a Rees family of Frederick County is in J.E. Norris, History of the Lower Shenandoah Valley: Counties of Frederick, Berkeley, Jefferson, and Clarke, etc. (Chicago: A. Warner, 1890), p. 780. This source focuses on a Rees family descending from David Rees, “of Welsh descent,” who was born 15 March 1730, and was in Chester County, Pennsylvania, from 1757 to 1772, and after 1772 in Virginia. Several of David’s children married at Hopewell Quaker Meeting in Frederick County.

[32] Wilmer L. Kerns, Frederick County, Virginia: Settlement and Some First Families of Back Creek Valley 1730-1830 (Baltimore: Gateway, 1995), pp. 152-3.

[33] See Dixie A. Pemberton, “A Pemberton Scrapbook, of George Middleton Pemberton,” at the Pemberton Family World Wide one-name study site; and Jackson Pemberton, “George Pemberton of Cheshire: King Charles II’s Poem?” at the same site. The former essay provides a detailed history of George M. Pemberton’s scrapbook, and the latter has a snapshot of the typewritten page in the scrapbook in which George M. Pemberton says that his immigrant ancestor George Pemberton of Cheshire, England, married Elizabeth Brooks.

[34] Susannah Brooks Johnson, The Rev. John Johnson and His Home, p. 16.

[35] Kellam and Lester, Brooks and Kindred Families, pp. 310-313.

[36] Charleston County, South Carolina, Will Bk. 1774-9, pp. 54-5. Craven County had actually been abolished in 1768.

[37] Kellam and Lester, Brooks and Kindred Families, p. 313.

[38] Frederick County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1, p. 221, as cited in ibid., p. 314.

[39] Ibid., p. 196.

[40] Ibid., p. 190; see also Kellam and Lester, Brooks and Kindred Families, p. 313.

[41] Frederick County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 2, p. 521.

[42] The survey papers are in Northern Neck Surveys, 1749-1779; the originals are held by Library of Virginia, with digital copies available at Family Search. Jacob Brooks’s 1752 deed to John Briscoe is also in Frederick County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 2, p. 521: the deed notes that Jacob Brooks had deeded to John Briscoe, both of Frederick County, for two shillings 62 acres west of the Shenandoah and south of Opequon Run, part of 40,000 acres purchased by Jost Hite from John Vanmeter. Jacob signed by mark. Witnesses were William Green, Samuel Baldwin, William Loftin, and Joseph Beeler.

[43] See supra, n. 36.

[44] See William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, vol. 1: North Carolina Yearly Meeting (1936; repr. Baltimore: Geneal. Publ. Co., 1969), p. 1015; Judith Friedman Russell, James G. Clamp, and Ann K. Crowley, The Historic Bush River Quaker Cemetery, Newberry, South Carolina (Bogart, Georgia: Julian Rose, 2006); and query of Susan B. Hill of Edgefield, South Carolina, in William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 7, series 2 (1927), p. 218. 

[45] Leonardo Andrea Collection, Genealogical Folders, file 410, p. 23. Original is at South Caroliniana library in Columbia, South Carolina, with microfilmed copies at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

[46] Stewart, Descendants of Valentine Hollingsworth, Sr. p. 7.

[47] Kellam and Lester, Brooks and Kindred Families, pp. 310-1.  

[48] Ibid., p. 311, citing Frederick County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 14, p. 360.

[49] See e.g., Frederick County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 2, p. 396 (7 June 1749), Brooke to Shearer, which identifies Robert Brooke the Frederick County surveyor as son of Robert Brooke Sr. of Essex County, deceased. A 7 January 1763 lease of John Shearer to Archibald Shearer in Frederick County states that Robert Brooke Sr.  had a patent for land on the Potomac on 9 February 1737: ibid., Deed Bk. 8, p. 22

[50] Ibid., Bk. 3, p. 145. On 2 April 1751, Mr. R. Brooks surveyed 660 acres in a Northern Neck grant for John Lindsey of Frederick County, Virginia, on Long Marsh adjoining Patrick Rice and Col. Fairfax: Northern Neck Grant Bk. G, p. 477. This is Robert Brooke the surveyor, I’m fairly sure. On 28 March 1750, Robert Brooks surveyed land for Robert Spilsbe Coleman in Essex County between the town of Tappahanock and the Rappahanock River, adjoining Robert Brooks (Northern Neck Grant Bk. F, p. 331.

[51] Frederick County, Virginia, Early Troop Records, 1755-1761, p. 30, appended to Frederick County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 18.

[52] Hopewell Friends, Hopewell Friends History, pp. 18-9.

[53] Ibid.

[54] O’Dell, Pioneers of Old Frederick County, Virginia, p. 257.

[55] Ibid., pp. 261f.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans, vol. 3 (Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1916), p. 1468. The biography is a combined biography of Charles and his son John Lee Brooks.

[59] Biographical History of Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Newton, Benton, Warren, and Pulaski Counties, Indiana, vol. 2 (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), p. 1049.

2 thoughts on “Mary Brooks (d. 1787, Frederick County, Virginia): What I Know (and Don’t) about the Earliest Generation of This Brooks Family

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