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UNBREAKING THE CIRCLE:
Connecting some of the Nance Register's "Broken Lineages"

1. Introduction
2. Did John & Martha Nance have children besides Giles and Elizabeth?
3. Possible other children of John & Martha: James, Martha ("Patsy"), David, Clement
4. Evidence connecting David with John & Martha
5. Evidence connecting Clement with John & Martha
6. Other evidence: Property records
7. Other evidence: Guardianship Records
8. Previous theories ("Nance Memorial"/"Nance Register") critiqued and explained
9. Conclusion

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1. Introduction --

I have long thought that if the source of the name "Clement" in the Nance Family could be cleared up, it would cast light on a number of other mysteries as well.

My suspicions were that the story of the immigrant Clement (brother to Andrew) that is repeated in both "The Nance Memorial" (NM) and "The Nance Register" (NR) was, if not unfounded, then at least only coincidental to the presence of the given name "Clement" in American Nances. After all, the only source for the story was a letter from an Andrew X. Nance, of Belfast, Ireland, who corresponded with G. W. Nance, author of the NM, in 1879. It did not seem to square with more recent findings on Cornish connections, and the relative absence of the name "Andrew" in Nances also provoked my wonderment. Furthermore, there is absolutely no evidence of an immigrant Clement -- in fact, no evidence of any Clement Nance until the American Nances had been here for over 100 years and had grown into a number of lines. Also, the name "Clement" is not common in the Nance family, in terms of its distribution; it occurs only in certain lines (for example, there are no "Clements" in Books II and III of the NR (the descendants of Daniel and Elizabeth, and the descendants of James and Ann).

Therefore, I set out to try to determine whether there were any connections between the earliest identifiable Clement Nances. This involves a number of heretofore unconnected Nance lines:

There have been different theories advanced as to how some of these lines might connect.

The NM stated that the origin of the earliest Clement (of VA and later IN) was unknown. It also stated that the Clement of Newberry Co SC was the Clement said to have been a son of David Nance (whose origin was also unknown). The lines of Giles Nance and Reuben Nance were only mentioned in passing.

The NR, by way of contrast, identified the earliest Clement of VA and IN as being the Clement who was a son of Giles Nance. It stated that the origin of the Clement of Newberry Co SC was unknown (and it disagreed with the NM that he was a son of David Nance -- or that David Nance even had a son named Clement).

However, after the publication of the NR, "Pete" Nance continued working on some of the unresolved issues in the book, and by 1968 he had arrived at the view that the Clement who was a son of Giles and Martha Nance was the Clement of Newberry Co SC. This, however, left the origin of the Clement of VA and IN unaccounted for again -- just as G. W. Nance, the author of the NM, found him almost a century ago. Furthermore, it left unresolved the questions about the line of David Nance, who was said in the NM to have had a son named Clement.

I have been poring over the records that touch on all of the lines mentioned above, and I have arrived at a hypothesis about some connections which goes some way to resolving and explaining a number of the difficulties encountered in the NM and the NR. This article is intended to explain that hypothesis and to serve as a basis for further discussion and debate.

My Hypothesis -- Based on my analysis of the evidence I have been able to accumulate from the existing Nance genealogies and from my own research, I believe that the earliest Clement Nance (of VA and IN), and David Nance, were both sons of John and Martha Nance and thus brothers of John and Martha's known children, Giles and Elizabeth. I also believe that they had another brother, James, as well as a sister Martha ("Patsy"). The following chart summarizes this, as well as reflecting my inferences about birth order of John and Martha's children:

                         John
                       (m.Jane)
           _______________|_____________
          |                             |
        John       (Thos,Richd,Wm,Fredk, Molly,Eliz., 
     (m.Martha)     Sarah,Jane,Phebe,Elenor,Susannah)
   ______|________________________________
  |      |     |      |        |          |
Giles  Eliz. James  Martha   David      Clement
  |                ("Patsy")   |          |
Cloe                         David       Dorothy
Mary                         Susannah    Mosias
Elizabeth                    Mary        Susan
William M.                   Elizabeth   Mary
James                        William H.  William
Giles                                    Nancy 
Frederick                                Clement Jr.
Clement                                  Jane
Robert                                   Jordan
                                         John Wesley
                                         Elizabeth
                                         James Reed
                                         Giles

This may never be satisfactorily "proven" by direct evidence, in large part because John Nance died without leaving a will. However, the weight of the "circumstantial" evidence is imposing. What I will try to do in this article is to set out as completely as possible the evidence and the inferences from that evidence which supports this hypothesis.

 

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2. Did John & Martha Nance have children besides Giles and Elizabeth? --

We know from the "Bristol Parish Register" that John and Martha Nance had a child Giles, in 1735. (We also know that they had another child, Elizabeth; this is reflected in a written statement by John Nance filed in the Amelia Co. Deed Bk 8, p. 314, in 1764, in which he refers to "my son Giles", and "my daughter Elizabeth"). It is easy to track this Giles Nance, as he was the only Nance with that name in his generation. There are also numerous records from Amelia Co connecting Giles and John Nance.

We do not have a will for the John Nance who married Martha, because he died intestate. However, we know from the Court Order Books that on April 16, 1782 Martha, "relict" of John Nance, was granted administration of his estate in Pittsylvania County. Given that they had two children and were healthy enough to live long lives, it seems very unlikely that they had only two children. On the contrary, it seems positively likely that they had at least several more.

Therefore, while it is certainly not conclusive, when we find Nances of the right age and the right geographical area whose ancestors are unknown, we must at least consider the possibility that they are children of John and Martha.

In this article I discuss the evidence suggesting that certain other Nances of this time and place were, indeed, other children of John and Martha. While my principal focus is on David and Clement Nance, I will also cover the evidence relating to two others, James and Martha ("Patsy").

 

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3. Possible other children of John & Martha: James, Martha, David, Clement--

James -- I speculate the existence of a JAMES Nance who was the son of John and Martha, from the 1754 record in Amelia Co (Deed Book 5, p.101) indicating that in that year John Nance, with advice & consent of his son James, & with the consent & approval of the Amelia Co. Ct, bound his son, James Nance, to James Anderson, Jr. to learn the trade of carpenter. John and James Nance, and James Anderson, were all described as being "of Nottoway Parish". The circumstances here establish a fairly narrow age range for the son, James -- being bound out in 1754, he was probably born about 1740 -- and this, along with the location, which is the part of Amelia Co that later became Nottoway Co, in turn serves to limit possibilities as to the father. The most likely candidate seems to be the John Nance who married Martha. Indeed, John Nance of Amelia County was, in fact, a close neighbor to a man named Anderson: a deed found in Amelia County Deed Book 2 shows that on September 10, 1745 Epes deeded Bowrey land referred to as being adjacent to the lines of "Eppes, Chappel, Taylor, Willis, John Nance, Anderson".

There are very few later records relating to a James Nance who could be the one referred to in 1754. There is a deed in Lunenburg Co in 1751 referring to adjoining lands of James Nance and Thomas Nance, but this land-owning James Nance seems very unlikely to have been the same James Nance who was being bound out 3 years later. There is also a deed in Amelia Co in 1782 in which both James Nance and Giles Nance were witnesses -- but this may be Giles' son James, who was a Revolutionary War soldier and thus was probably old enough to sign a deed as a witness in 1782. In fact, the James Nance who was bound out by John Nance of Amelia Co in 1754 seems to have disappeared. However, whatever became of him , it is clear that in 1754 he was the young son of John Nance of Amelia, and it seems most likely that he was a son of John & Martha, and a brother of Giles.

Martha ("Patsy") -- The possibility of John & Martha having had a daughter Martha ("Patsy") is largely derived from the theory about David (see below), because in the NM, David is said to have been the brother of Martha ("Patsy") Nance, who married Zachariah Sneed. In addition, both the NR and a Sneed family genealogy I ran across describe this Martha ("Patsy") Nance as a sister of Giles Nance and a daughter of John and Martha, although without citing a specific source. (The NR cites "Bristol Parish Records and Amelia Records" as a source for the children of John and Martha having been Giles, Elizabeth, and Martha "Patsy", but the Bristol Parish Records only note the first two). The name "Martha" common to John's wife and this potential daughter is of course not proof, but it should not be overlooked as a clue. In addition, a William Sneed was one of the witnesses, along with Giles Nance, in 1778 when William Crenshaw of Amelia (David Nance's father-in-law) gave his son James Crenshaw a piece of land which was near or adjacent to John Nance's land in Amelia Co. William Sneed, the father of Zachariah Sneed, who Martha "Patsy" Nance married, had died in 1743, but he had a son named William, and this could be him (i.e., the brother-in-law of Martha "Patsy" (Nance) Sneed). From the fact that Martha "Patsy" Nance married Zachariah Sneed (b. 1737) prior to 1764, when their son James Sneed was born, it is reasonable to infer that she was born in the 1740's.

David -- Little is known about the origins and early life of the DAVID Nance who died as a result of murder in Pittsylvania Co VA in 1780. However, it is clear that he married Mary Crenshaw, daughter of William Crenshaw; that their children were David, Elizabeth, Susanna, William, and Mary; and that not long after David Nance's death, his wife remarried to David Scales. [ n. 1 ] The NR reports that David Nance married Mary Crenshaw in 1769, and this seems fairly consistent with the evidence that his 5 children were all minors at the time of his death in 1780 and that his daughter Elizabeth Nance married in 1789 (see below), so we may speculate very generally that David Nance may have been born in the mid-to-late 1740's.

The evidence connecting David Nance to John & Martha Nance will be discussed in more detail below. Suffice it to say here, that a couple of points which suggest the possibility are the fact that William Crenshaw, the father of David's wife Mary Crenshaw, lived adjacent to John and Martha Nance in Amelia Co, and that David was present in Amelia Co in 1767 as a witness to a deed from John Nance to Giles Nance.

Clement -- As in the case of David Nance, there is uncertainty about the origins and early life of the CLEMENT Nance who was the principal focus of the NM. The NM acknowleged having no idea who his parents were. The NR states that this Clement Nance was the son of Giles Nance, but this is clearly wrong. [ n. 2 ] Apart from the matter of his origins, though, much is known about his life. According to the NM and the NR, he was born in Virginia in 1756. He married Mary Jones, daughter of Mosias Jones; their children were Dorothy, Mosias, Susan, Mary, William, Nancy, Clement Jr., Jane, Jordan , John Wesley, Elizabeth, James Reed, and Giles. He lived in Pittsylvania Co VA, and in about 1803 he and most of his family (children, and grandchildren) moved (with a brief stop in KY) to Harrison Co, IN.

As with David, the evidence connecting Clement Nance to John & Martha Nance will be discussed in more detail below. Suffice it to say here, that a couple of points which suggest the possibility are the fact that he named a son Giles while Giles named a son Clement, and that for some time he appears to have been living next to John Nance's widow Martha in Pittsylvania Co. His generally accepted date of birth, in 1756, suggests that he could well have been John and Martha's last child.

 

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4. Evidence connecting David Nance with John & Martha Nance --

The earliest reference I have found to David Nance which I consider to be reliable [ n. 3 ] puts David in Amelia County in 1767, one of the persons who is witnessing a deed from John Nance to Giles Nance. (Amelia County Deed Book 10, p. 2). The deed stated that it was of 61 a. in Nottoway Parish, part of 261 a. patented to John Nance on 1 Feb. 1738, "being land and plantation where said John Nance now lives", adjacent to land of Irby, a new line between John and Giles Nance, line of Hen. Robertson, a small branch, and the Little Nottoway. (It is clear that the earlier grant referred to is the one reflected in Amelia Co. Patents No. 18, p. 197 -- a grant of "Feby. 1 1738" in which John Nance took 261 a. on the s. side of Little Nottoway R., & on both sides of Peter's Cr).

The witnesses to this deed from John Nance to Giles Nance -- almost certainly from the John whose wife was Martha, to his son Giles -- were James Henderson, Charles Irby, David Nance, Langston Bacon, Richard Robertson, and James Robertson.

It is worthwhile to take a few moments to consider the implications of a person's appearance as a witness. The person signing as a witness had to be known to and agreeable to the parties to the document. The role was not symblic, as a witness could well be required to subsequently appear in court to "prove" the document by their testimony that they did indeed witness the persons involved signing the document. Because of that, it was no doubt considered to be better to have someone from the locality, or at least the county, witness a document, since if they lived some distance away they could not be conveniently gotten to court to prove a document they had witnessed. Thus, it appears that David Nance was probably a resident of Amelia Co (rather than being a visitor from elsewhere who happened to be there when the document was being signed and needed witnessing), and that he was probably known to and trusted by John and Giles Nance.

Another connection dating to an early period, is the evidence that family of David's eventual wife were neighbors to John Nance. David Nance married Mary Crenshaw, daughter of William Crenshaw, of Amelia County. William Crenshaw lived adjacent to John Nance in Amelia County from at least 1742 to at least 1762: In 1742, Wallice (sic) and his wife Mary deeded to Joseph Crenshaw, 200 a. bounded in part by "Nantes' side line" (Amelia Co Deed Bk. 1), in 1752, Pledger deeded to Holland, land adj. William Crenshaw, John Nance, and others (Amelia Co Deed Bk 4, p.436), and in 1762, Michael Holland of Amelia deeded to John Winn of Amelia, about 32 a. on s.s. Little Nottoway, adjacent lands of William Crenshaw, Michael Holland, John Nance, John Winn (Deed Book 7, p. 643).

These are among the very few references to David Nance dating to a period when he was alive. Everything else we have regarding David arises after his death. Still, those post-mortem references are the most striking evidence of a connection to John and Martha Nance. Many of them are addressed below in the section that covers the myriad property records interconnecting John & Martha, Giles, David, and Clement. I want to address here only the most important clue to the connection between David Nance and John Nance and his son Giles Nance: the record of Giles' 1796 transfer of 270 acres in Pittsylvania Co. to David and William Nance, orphans of David Nance.

The deed instrument noted that this was a "gift...for love and affection, and for five shillings" (Deed Bk. 12, p. 92). This type of transfer betokens a close family connection. If David Nance had merely been the son of John Nance's brother William (as "Pete" Nance hypothesized), he would have been only a cousin to Giles, and his children would have been even more remotely connected to Giles. However, if David were Giles' younger brother, then David's children would of course have been Giles' nephews.

Just as importantly, the land which Giles gave to David Nance's orphans "for love and affection" was apparently once land belonging to David Nance the elder. On July 26, 1797, David Nance deeded to William M. Nance (Giles' son), 147 a. in Pittsylvania on the east fork of the Cascade, to pointers in Clement Nance's line, "being all of the claim the said David had to the land formerly possessed by David his father" (Deed Book 11, p. 196). This was presumably David's share of the land that Giles had deeded to him and his brother William H. Nance. In a September 17, 1798 court order approving the division of that land, it was described as the division of "270 acres of land, property of David Nance, deceased, between David and William Nance, orphans of the said David Nance, dcsd" (Deed Book 9, p. 33). (A "division" was necessary because the language of Giles' gift would have had the legal effect of creating a joint ownership in David and William, and neither could sell their interest until it was divided).

 

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5. Evidence connecting Clement Nance with John, Martha & Giles Nance --

Perhaps the strongest single piece of evidence suggesting that Clement Nance was a son of John and Martha Nance relates to a slave named Will.

The inventory of the estate of John Nance (husband of Martha) in Pittsylvania Co, recorded 16 Jul 1782, included "a Negro man". (This singular reference suggests that he was the only slave owned by John Nance). The 1782 Virginia census for Pittsylvania Co showed a Martha Nance (who appeared on the census list immediately adjacent to a William Nance and a Clement Nance), who was quite evidently the widow of John Nance, as the head of a household consisting of 1 White and 1 Black. Presumably, in this time and place, where an elderly widowed White woman lived alone with one Black person in her household, that Black person was a slave. In 1797, the Pittsylvania Co inventory of the estate of Martha Nance, recorded 16 Jan 1797, included a "Negro man named Will".

The connection to Clement is found in an entry (reported in the NM) in Harrison Co IN court records: a document authored by Clement Nance of Harrison Co IN in 1809, describing his emancipation of a Negro slave named Will in Pittsylvania Co VA in 1799: "In the year 1799, when I was an inhabitant of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, for and in consideration of the sum of $200.00 to me in hand paid by a certain Negro man named 'Will', as a compensation to me for the services I was entitled to receive from him as a slave, and that I did then and there emancipate or set free the said Negro, Will, who has ever since enjoyed the blessings of freedom, and the said Negro man is now a resident in this territory".

These records suggest that the slave Will belonged to John and Martha Nance, and that after Martha died he was inherited by the Clement Nance who later removed to Indiana.

 

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6. Other evidence: Property records --

Understanding the connections which tend to show that David and Clement Nance were sons of John and brothers of Giles requires a little Pittsylvania County geography lesson.

Numerous references show that the area in extreme southwest Pittsylvania County near Cascade Creek, Sugar[tree] Creek, and the South Fork (or "Prong") of the Sandy River, was a focal point for the Nance family in the latter part of the 18th Century. At the closest convergence of the three, these watercourses are only a few miles apart. Between 1779 and 1822, there were at least 22 separate transactions involving Nances and land on Cascade and Sugartree (or sometimes just "Sugar") creeks and the S. Fork of the Sandy (or sometimes just "Sand") River. Nances involved or referred to in these transactions were Giles (Sr., son of John and Martha), William Malone (Giles Sr's son), David and his sons David and William Howe, Clement "of Newberry Dist. SC", Clement "of Harrison Co IN", and Mosias (son of Clement of Harrison Co IN). It is fairly clear that this is also where John and Martha Nance, parents of Giles, lived.

(Interestingly, and perhaps not coincidentally, this area was only a few miles from the Leatherwood Creek area in Henry County where Reuben Nance's family was centered. On the map above, the location of a memorial to Patrick Henry, marking his home, is shown by a "PH". Patrick Henry was a neighbor of Reuben Nance. The question of whether this connection between the Henry Co Nances and the Pittsylvania Co Nances was more than geographic, however, is one I have not explored enough to address here).

There are so many connections here that it is diffcult to summarize them all. The important thing to note, in reading all of the following entries, is the extent to which various properties are either (1) deeded between members of Giles, Clement or David's families; (2) actually adjacent or share adjacent neighbors, and/or (3) in the immediate Cascade/Sugar(tree)/Sandy area.

The earliest records connecting Nances with Pittsylvania County (which was formed out of Halifax in 1776/7) are references to Nances who served in the Revolutionary War with Pittsylvnia Co forces: James Nance, Sr. (possibly the additional son of John and Martha Nance hypothesized above?) and William Malone ("Virginians in the Revolution" by John H. Gathaway, "An Intimate History of the Revolution in Pittsylvania Co. VA", by Frances Hallam Hurt). Also, David Nance and Buckner Nance were hailed into court there by the Committee of Safety in 1777 on suspicion of being "enemies of the Commonwealth" and made to post bonds for their "good behavior" ( a typical development when Toryism was suspected but could not be proven) . Ibid. An order was entered in the matter of John Hurt, Pltf vs. David Nance, Deft., on May 29, 1778. (Order Bk. 4, p. 91, 94).

The real proliferation of Nance records began in 1779, when Giles Nance took title to 1574 a. in Pittsylvania Co "on the branches of the Cascade, and Sugartree Cr., adj. the land of Clay, Coxe", and others. (I found an indication that this transaction is recorded in Halifax Co. Grants 13, p. 158 -- this is probably connected with the fact that Pittsylvania Co was only formed from Halifax Co in 1776/7). The size of this parcel (1,574 a., which if square would be about 1 1/2 miles on a side), and the fact that it was on the branches of BOTH the Cascade and the Sugartree, allows it to be pinpointed quite specifically: it was probably right on the road from Danville to Henry County (now Hwy 58), on or near the County line.

By at least 1780, Giles Nance's son William Malone Nance had settled in Pittsylvania Co. He married there (to Elizabeth Thornton) by 1782.

In the Virginia census of 1782, Clement Nance, William Nance and Martha Nance headed up three households which were adjacent on the census list, was was non- alphabetic; in addition, a Robert Bullington was only 1 name away from the household of Martha Nance, separated from her by Cahill. It has always been my speculation, that the location of names on the list reflected actual physical adjacency. Other evidence supports this -- a number of property transactions establish that lands of Nances and Bullingtons were adjacent.

In 1785 Cahall granted Clement Nance 4 a. in Pittsylvania Co.; Giles Nance witnessed this deed. (Recall that "Cahill" was on the 1782 Pittsylvania Co census list adjacent to Martha, Clement and William Nance). On November 3, 1786 Ricketts and Harris deeded 100 a. in Pittsylvania Co to Wm. Malone Nance. On April 16, 1787, William Malone Nance bought another 100 a. from William Ricketts and John Harris, the land being on the south fork of Sandy R. Deed Bk. 8, p. 15. Also in 1787, Giles Nance sold 300 a. on Sugar Tree Creek in Pittsylvania Co. to John Jones. Deed Bk. 8, p. 239. In 1790, Clement purchased another 254 a. of land in Pittsylvania Co.

There was a flurry of property transactions in October, 1796, that leaves little room for doubt about the close connections, both geographical and familial, between Giles Nance, his son William M.[alone] Nance, David Nance [deceased, and his son], and William Howe Nance[the other son of the deceased David Nance]:

The connections continued. On July 26, 1797 David Nance deeded to William M. Nance ("both of Pittsylvania"), for 100, 147 a. in Pittsylvania on the east fork of the Cascade, "to pointers in Clement Nance's line, being all of the claim the said David had to the land formerly possessed by David his father". Witnesses were Clement Nance, Joseph Jones, Wm. How. Nance, John Bullington, and Robert Bullington. Deed Bk. 11, p. 196. On Dec 29 1797, Clement Nance of Pittsylvania deeded to Mosias Nance of the same, for 60, 125 a. on the east fork of Cascade. Deed Bk. 11, p. 231. On Sept. 17, 1798, Clement Nance and James Denton of Pittsylvania Co. sold 70 a. on east fork of Cascade to Randolph McDonald. Deed Bk. 11, p. 338. (Clement's son Mosias had married Peggy Denton). On Dec 29, 1798 Clement Nance sold 100 a. on both sides of the Cascade to Joseph Burton (Clement's daughter married a Burton). Mosias Nance (Clement's son) was a witness. Deed Bk. 11, p. 487. In 1805, Mosias Nance and Peggy, his wife, deeded land in Pittsylvania Co to Harris, with Wm. M. Nance as a witness -- William M. Nance had purchased land from Harris in 1787, Mosias Nance was Clement's son, and William M. Nance was Giles' son. Then in 1807, David Nance's son William H. Nance (and Elizabeth V. Nance, his wife) sold William M. Nance of Pittsylvania Co., 113 acres on the east fork of Cascade, with pointers in Clement Nance's line. Deed Bk. 15, p. 313. William H. Nance had come into this land by the gift from Giles Nance of the land that had been David Nance's. The land was evidently adjacent to Clement Nance's land.

Even as late as 1858, there is evidence of the connection to this area. According to the NR, in that year Elizabeth Susan Nance, wife of Robert G. Nance, deeded 120 acres "on the headwaters of Cascade, on the Danville and Henry Road, near Axton, in Pittsylvania, adjoining the lands of Bullington, Pleasant H. Stephens, etc", deeding all interest in the estate of Robert Nance, deceased, late of Pittsylvania, and every claim on the estate of his guardian, the late James Nance. Deed Bk. 58, p. 428. These connections are very significant, in that they relate to William M[alone] Nance, the son of Giles Nance. One of the adjacent landowners, Pleasant H. Stephens, was the husband (1835) of William Malone Nance's daughter, Jane Nance. In 1848, Pleasant H. Stephens gave a deed of trust to Robert Y. Nance (by guardian), and Robert H. Nance with mention of James Nance, guardian. Deed Bk. 50, p. 248. Based on other records reflected in the NR which I will not detail here, it appears likely that these Roberts were children or grandchildren of William Malone Nance, as was the James Nance mentioned as a guardian. This location on the "Danville and Henry Road" is just where the 1,574 a. parcel of Giles Nance must have been.

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7. Other evidence: Guardianship Records

On April 16, 1787 Clement Nance was appointed guardian of Elizabeth Nance, orphan of David Nance, dcsd. Pittsylvania Co. Order Book 5, p. 445. This was probably not the Clement who was a son of Giles and Martha, as he would have been too young; it is more likely that it was the Clement Nance, b. 1756, who ended up in Indiana. This suggests a fairly close relationship between Clement and David.

Then, on November 16, 1789, Susanna Nance, orphan of David Nance, dcsd., came into court and chose William Nance as her guardian. "Alphabetical Index to the Court Order Books of Pittsylvania Co, VA 1767-1800". The NR notes that the law at this time allowed a minor at the age of 14 to choose their guardian. Possibly, Susanna had turned 14 since the appointment of Clement as her guardian in 1787, and for some reason wished to have William Nance as her guardian. Which William Nance was this? As he was the only William Nance who was a resident of Pittsylvania County at this time, and thus the only one who could have been a guardian there, this must have been William Malone Nance, son of Giles Nance.

By 1793 guardianship had changed again. The NR reports that in that year, there was an order entered in an action involving James Crenshaw, guardian of orphans of David Nance, deceased, versus David Scales, Defendant. Order Bk. 1, p. 38. David Scales was the new husband of David's widow Mary. At around that same time, an order was entered in an action involving Thomas Young and Elizabeth his wife vs. James Crenshaw, guardian of Susanna, William, David and Mary Nance. Pittsylvania Co. Order Bk. 1 at p. 40. Elizabeth Nance, having married to Thomas Young, was no longer under guardianship, but it is clear that the other 4 orphans all now had James Crenshaw (their Uncle, the brother of their mother Mary) as their guardian.

The exact nature of the conflict which were obviously taking place in the family can only be guessed at, but it seems likely that they had much to do with control over the property to which David's children were heirs. Because David had died intestate, each of his children was entitled to an equal share of his estate. In addition, the children's grandfather William Crenshaw had left a share of his estate directly to David Nance's children in his will in 1786 which they would have come into when he died in 1787. Indeed, this inheritance may have been what prompted the appointments of guardians beginning in 1787.

William Crenshaw, Mary's father, was quite evidently unhappy about something touching upon his daughter Mary and her new husband. His will left instructions that the shares going to his grandchildren should not go to them during his daughter Mary's lifetime, and that another share of his estate which he left to his daughter Mary was placed under the control of two of her brothers -- in effect, he cut her out of his will, but in a way that would still allow a significant share of his estate to go to her children.

Even though the deeper story here cannot yet be unravelled, what is significant about the guardianships which are part of that story is that both Clement Nance, and Giles' son William M. Nance, were close enough to David Nance that they ended up as guardians of his children. (Giles himself would not have been, as he was a resident of Amelia County). This in turn suggests a close connection to the branch of the family including Giles.

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8. Previous theories ("Nance Memorial"/"Nance Register") critiqued and explained--

"The Nance Memorial" -- The original Nance genealogy relied very substantially for its theories as to the earliest American Nances, on the recollections of William "Uncle Billy" Mitchell (1817-1903), who was the oldest living descendant of the Nances at the time G. W. Nance was working on his book (around the turn of the century). It is important to understand exactly what these recollections were, so that one can understand how they may have misled G. W. and taken him down a road which guaranteed that he would get things wrong.

"The Nance Memorial" reported that according to Mitchell,

In addition, Mitchell was "positive" that William How Nance, "Uncle Billy How", was the father of Clement -- and that Frederick and William How were brothers. Mitchell told G. W. Nance that he remembered a meeting at the home of his father when he (Mitchell) was but a lad -- let us assume, in the 1820's -- at which Clement and Cloa were there and the following charming exchange took place:

"Clement remarked as they met and embraced, 'Well, Cloa, I must kiss thee'. She
replied, 'Why not, Clement, for are we not cousins? Were not our fathers brothers?' "

Also, based in part on information from a descendant of David Nance, Bethenia H. Nance, the author of "The Nance Memorial" believed that David Nance was a brother to Zachariah Nance. There was a family tradition that after David Nance's health was broken during his Revolutionary War servive, his place in the army was taken by his nephew, Zachariah II. "The Nance Memorial" reported that Zachariah II remembered an Uncle William, and so this was identified with the "Uncle Billy How" (William Howe Nance) supposedly remembered by William Mitchell. The children of David Nance were identified as Frederick, Clement, Robert, Erasmus, Giles, (the Nances of Newberry Co SC), and William Howe.

Thus, the author of "The Nance Memorial" thought:

                        ??????
   _______________________|____________________________
  |            |          |               |            |
Frederick  William Howe  Zachariah     David        Martha 
  |            |          |              |          (Patsy)      
Cloa        Clement     Zachariah II  Frederick, 
(b.1755    (b.1756,m.               Clement, Robert, 
m.Wm.)     Mary Jones)              Erasmus, Giles, 
Mitchell     |                       William Howe
  |          |
  |       Dorothy(b.1776, 
  |       (m.Jos.Burton)
  |          |
James -----Nancy Burton 
Mitchell |  (b.1798)
         |
  "Billy" Mitchell
    (1817-1903)

However, it is now clear that "Uncle Billy" Mitchell was not a reliable informant: the Cloa (Chloe) Nance who married William Mitchell was not the daughter of Frederick Nance, but of Giles Nance. The principal evidence of this is the 1809 Will of Giles Nance, which mentions his daughter, Cloa Mitchell. This and other evidence makes the conclusion unavoidable, that it was Giles' daughter who married William Mitchell.

Given that we know that "Uncle Billy" Mitchell was wrong at least in part and that Cloa was the daughter of Giles, and given that we know Giles was the son of John and Martha Nance, then -- if the other information from William Mitchell about Clement's father were correct -- we would have:

                  John and Martha Nance
   _______________________|___________________________
  |            |          |              |            |
Giles    William Howe  Zachariah       David        Martha 
  |            |          |              |          (Patsy)      
Cloa        Clement   Zachariah II   Frederick, 
(b.1755    (b.1756,m.              Clement, Robert, 
m.Wm.)     Mary Jones)             Erasmus, Giles, 
Mitchell     |                       William Howe
  |          |
  |       Dorothy(b.1776, 
  |       (m.Jos.Burton)
  |          |
James -----Nancy Burton 
Mitchell |  (b.1798)
         |
"Billy" Mitchell
  (1817-1903)

(NOTE: In this chart, and the ones that follow, I have shown only some children to save space, and I have left in the information relating to William Mitchell, as a reference point so that the alternatives I propose can be more easily compared to the "starting point" ideas of the NM.)

But is the other information correct -- particularly the part about Clement's father having been "Uncle Billy How"?

I believe that William Mitchell was not reliable on this score either. For one thing, I have never been able to find any evidence of the existence of any William Howe Nance at any time prior to the William Howe Nance who was the son of David Nance. For another thing, we know that Cloa was Giles' daughter, yet there is no evidence that Giles' parents, John and Martha Nance, had a son William. The William who appears in Pittsylvania Co is, I am fairly certain, Giles' son William Malone Nance. In addition, there does not seem to be a William in the Amelia Co area where John and Martha and Giles lived, who is a good candidate for a son of John and Martha.

William Mitchell's recollection that he had "many times ... heard Cloa tell anecdotes of her 'Uncle Billy'" may be essentially accurate, but what we have to recall is that this could have been related to Cloa's mother's family. Indeed, Cloa's mother, Mary (Malone) Nance, born in 1738, had an Uncle William. He was born in 1730 and lived until 1826, so that he was "around" during much of her life and the life of Cloa -- and he would probably have been referred to by Mary (Malone) Nance (and possibly others in the household) as "Uncle Billy". ("Malone And Allied Familes", Randolph A. Malone, indexed by James D. McKain, 2d & Rev. Ed, 1996).

William Mitchell's recollection that he heard references to "Uncle Billy How" could well have been related to the William Howe Nance who was a son of David. When William Mitchell was a boy, that William Howe Nance was a man of some importance in his Davidson County, TN community, a minister and Justice of the Peace, head of a large Nance family, and a cousin to grandparents on both sides of William Mitchell's family. William Mitchell could well have heard references to this William Howe Nance in his family. Furthermore, it is likely that if he was referred to, his middle name "Howe" would have been used so as to not create confusion with William Malone Nance, Cloa's brother. It is even possible that, because of his age relative to William Mitchell's parents, William Howe Nance might well have been referred to as an "Uncle" even though he was technically a first cousin once or twice removed.

We know that William Mitchell's recollection as to the matter of his grandmother Cloa's father was wrong. I think that in addition, his recollection of references he had heard to "Uncle Billy" and to "William Howe Nance" had become confused by the time he was providing information to G. W. Nance. If we therefore reject the notion that there was a "William Howe Nance" who was Clement's father, and we instead rely on the evidence discussed above that Clement was actually Giles' (youngest) brother, we have:

                  John and Martha Nance
   _______________________|___________________________
  |           |           |              |            |
Giles      Clement     Zachariah       David       Martha 
  |           |           |              |         (Patsy) 
Cloa       Dorothy   Zachariah II    Frederick, 
(b.1755   (b.1776,m.               Clement, Robert, 
m.Wm.)    Jos.Burton)              Erasmus, Giles, 
Mitchell       |                     William Howe
  |            |
  |            |
James -----Nancy Burton 
Mitchell |  (b.1798)
         |
"Billy" Mitchell
  (1817-1903)

But if this is the case, what are we to make of William Mitchell's recollection of the interchange between Cloa and Clement about being "cousins"?

First, let's take Mitchell's story with a grain of salt. While a recollection of the two calling one another "cousin" is entirely plausible, the convenient explication of the reason for this that Mitchell remembered Cloa providing, is just too neat. People may indeed have spoken in a different way in "olden times", but I don't have any reason to think they were so much more inclined to belabor the obvious. I believe the "Cousin" part -- but not Cloa explaining to her cousin, what the term "cousin" meant. This seems to me more likely to be something that Mitchell's memory supplied for him.

But why would they have called one another "cousin", since Clement would have been Cloa's Uncle? The answer may lie in their ages -- Cloa was actually one year older than Clement, who was the son of her father's youngest brother. One still finds the practice by which the terms "cousin" and "aunt"/"uncle" are used somewhat imprecisely to refer to persons with whom one shares a common ancestor, with the term used more often being a function of relative age than of precise relationship. I can imagine Cloa calling Clement "cousin"; but given their respective ages I can not imagine her calling him "Uncle" -- even if he was. Thus, I think the picture above correctly reflects the relative relationship of William Mitchell to Cloa and Clement Nance.

[NOTE -- Nance researcher Elsie Wright has pointed out something I overlooked, and that provides what is perhaps a more likely scenario. The Clement Nance referred to above had a son, Clement Jr., born in 1788, who moved to Indiana with the family. Assuming that I am correct in my conclusion that Clement Sr. was a son of John and Martha and a brother of Giles, his son Clement Jr. would have been Cloa's cousin. I had assumed, as the NM assumed, that William Mitchell's recollection was of a meeting between Cloa and the older Clement -- but if it was of a meeting between Cloa and Clement Jr., then the interchange could have taken place just as Mitchell remembered it. Indeed, in that case, it is even more plausible that Cloa would have gone to the trouble of explaining to Clement Jr. how it was that they were cousins -- after all, it might not have been apparent to him without a reminder of the connections, since Cloa was fully 33 years older than him! DBN, 11/10/97]

However, another problem remains with that picture. It reflects the reliance of "The Nance Register" on the theory that the Nances of Newberry Co SC (Robert, Frederick, Clement, Erasmus, Giles) were all sons of David Nance. This appears to be completely wrong. For one thing, the identities of David Nance's children are made quite clear by the will of their grandfather William Crenshaw, the guardianship records, and the Pittsylvania Co property records. Robert, Frederick, Clement, Erasmus and Giles must therefore be removed from the picture, and replaced with David, Elizabeth, Susannah and Mary:

                  John and Martha Nance
   _______________________|___________________________
  |            |          |              |            |
Giles      Clement     Zachariah       David       Martha 
  |           |           |              |         (Patsy) 
Cloa       Dorothy    Zachariah II  David,Elizabeth
(b.1755   (b.1776,m.                 Susannah,Mary, 
m.Wm.)    Jos.Burton)                William Howe
Mitchell       |                     
  |            |
  |            |
James -----Nancy Burton 
Mitchell |  (b.1798)
         |
"Billy" Mitchell
  (1817-1903)

Now let's take another step, which gets into the ideas of "The Nance Register" and it's author, Martin L. "Pete" Nance. This has to do with the presence of Zachariah in this chart.

"The Nance Register" -- This work seemed to recognize that David Nance was in some close relationship to the line of John and Jane Nance, and that the gift "for love and affection" from Giles to David's orphans could well indicate that Giles and David were brothers. However, "Pete" Nance came down to the view that Giles and David were actually only cousins -- that David was the son of William Nance, the brother of Giles' father John. Based on comments in unpublished correspondence from "Pete" Nance to Walker P. Nance, which Walker's son Michael Nance was kind enough to share with me, it appears that the main reason "Pete" Nance came down this way was because of what he understood to be some information in the Sneed family, which had David's sister Martha "Patsy" as an ancestor. "Pete" Nance's views on this were based almost entirely on information that it was the Sneed family tradition, that the father of David's sister Martha "Patsy" (sometimes rendered "Patsy") Nance, who married Zachariah Sneed, was named William.

However, I ran across contrary information in a very detailed and extensive Sneed genealogy, "Your Heritage - Bush-Sneed", by Leila Bush Clark, Emma I. Sloan and Mary Ann Bush Mize (1983). This book is particularly interesting because the family it tracks is doubly- descended from Nances: the authors' ancestor Isaac Franklin Bush was the great-grandson of David Nance through his son William Howe Nance and his daughter Mary Ann Morton Nance; and their ancestor Susannah Perkins Sneed was great-granddaughter of Zachariah and David's sister Martha Patsy (Nance) Sneed throught their son James Sneed and his son Constntine Perkins Sneed.

Contrary to "Pete" Nance's indication of a Sneed family tradition that Martha "Patsy" had a father named William, this book takes it as established that David and Martha "Patsy" Nance were the children of John and Martha Nance. The source for this is not described, but at very least it calls into question the validity of "Pete" Nance's information that it was Sneed family tradition that Martha "Patsy" Nance's father was William.

(Interestingly, this book also takes it as established, that the Clement Nance of Indiana was also a son of John and Martha Nance, and thus a brother to David and Martha "Patsy").

What is just as interesting about this Sneed genealogy concerns the matter of the supposed brother Zachariah. The NM recited the family tradition that David Nance served in the Revolutionary War until his health was broken at Valley Forge, after which his place was taken by his nephew Zachariah. Probably because of the family tradition that G. W. Nance, author of the NM, took this to be David's blood nephew, and assumed that it was the Zachariah Nance b. 1760 in Charles City Co., VA.

This is difficult to square with the absence of any other evidence connecting these lines. More significantly, though, this represents an error similar to that G. W. Nance made when interpreting William Mitchell's recollections of references to "Uncle Billy" -- a failure to take into account other potential connections that could create a relationship of Aunt, Uncle, Nephew, or Niece. In fact, the Sneed genealogy discloses that Martha "Patsy" Nance, David's sister, who married Zachariah Sneed, had a son named Zachariah, and that he served in the Revolutionary War (as did his father). This Zachariah would have been David's nephew. While it cannot be considered demonstrated, it is certainly conceivable, that the Nance family tradition that David Nance's place was taken by his nephew Zachariah, relates to his nephew Zachariah Sneed.

This makes for a better explanation than the one giving David a brother Zachariah, because the evidence seems so clear that the Zachariah proposed as a candidate for this position, could not have filled it. The line of Zachariah Nance, as described in the Nance Family Genealogical Notes of Parthenia (Nance) Hill, begins with a Zachariah Nance of Charles City Co VA who married Susanna Duke Sherman and who died there in 1771 leaving 6 children, including a son Zachariah b. 1760, but not including a son David. The elder Zachariah, according to family tradition, had a brother William of Halifax Co, who had a son-in-law named Tucker and a son Thomas, both of whom were involved after the Revolutionary War in seeing to the family interests in the Vaughn estate. This clearly describes the William and Mary "Vaughn" Nance and Zachariah and Susanna Duke (Sherman) Nance, in the line of James and Ann Nance, discussed in Book III of the NR. For inumerable reasons, they simply do not fit here. Like some of Billy Mitchell's recollections, the idea that David Nance had a brother Zachariah thus seems to be another inaccuracy based on an ambiguous family tradition (David's place in the Army being taken by a nephew Zachariah). When this is cleared up -- and when the undisputed daughter Elizabeth is added, along with the probable son James -- the chart from above ends up like this:

                   John and Martha Nance
   _______________________|__________________________
  |           |        |       |        |            |
Giles      Clement  James  Elizabeth   David      Martha 
  |            |                         |        (Patsy)     
Cloa        Dorothy                David,Elizabeth
(b.1755    (b.1776,m.              Susannah,Mary, 
m.Wm.)     Jos.Burton)              William Howe
Mitchell       |                     
  |            |
  |            |
James -----Nancy Burton 
Mitchell |  (b.1798)
         |
"Billy" Mitchell
  (1817-1903)

---o0o---

9. Conclusion --

It seems likely that during their long lives, John and Martha Nance had more children than the two (Giles and Elizabeth) who can be confirmed -- so we have a Nance family with "missing children". Two Nances who are "missing parents" -- whose antecedents have long been a mystery -- are David Nance of Pittsylvania Co VA, and Clement Nance of Pittsylvania Co VA and Harrison Co IN.

David and Clement were "in the right places, at the right times", to have been children of John and Martha, and brothers of Giles. They clearly had a close relationship with one another, and with the line of John and Martha Nance, particularly with Giles.

Further research into the court records of Pittsylvania County might provide better confirmation, but I am already persuaded by the circumstantial" evidence described here, that they were John and Martha's sons and Giles' brothers.


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[NOTE 1]   Mary Nance is mentioned in a 1780 order qualifying an administrator in the matter of the estate of David Nance in Pittsylvania County. "Alphabetical Index to the Court Order Books of Pittsylvania Co, VA 1767-1800", Genealogical Services (Danville, VA, 1982). Then in 1783, David Scales and his wife (widow of David Nance) were given letters as administrators of estate of David Nance, dcsd. The 1786 will of William Crenshaw, of Nottoway Parish, Amelia Co VA identifies children Robert, William James, David, Elizabeth Bullington, Ann Moore, Savanna Moore, June Irby, Sarah Wallis, and Mary Scales, and it also speaks of "the children of David Nance, decd. and my daughter Mary: David Nance, William Nance, Elizabeth Nance, Susanna Nance, and Mary Nance". Amelia County, VA Will Book 4, p.41. In 1788 a document was filed in Pittsylvania Co reflecting that there had been laid off to Mary Scales, late widow of David Nance decd. her dower of land that was possess'd by sd. David Nance, which amounts to 70 acres more or less. "Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Inventories & Accounts Current 1770- 1797", compiled by Lucille C. Payne (Axton, VA). In 1789 Thomas Young m. Elizabeth Nance, consent given by Mary Scales who referred to "my daughter, Elizabeth Nance". "Marriages of Amelia Co. VA 1735-1815", Kathleen B. Williams (1961). Also in 1789, Susanna Nance, orphan of David Nance, dcsd., came into court in Pittsylvania Co VA and chose William Nance as her guardian. "Alphabetical Index to the Court Order Books of Pittsylvania Co, VA 1767-1800". In 1793, an order was entered in the matter of Thomas Young and Elizabeth his wife vs. James Crenshaw, guardian of Susanna, William, David and Mary Nance. Nottoway Co VA Order Bk. 1, p. 40. Also in 1793, an order was entered in the matter of James Crenshaw, guardian of orphans of David Nance, deceased, vs. David Scales, Defendant. Nottoway Co. Order Bk. 1, p. 38.

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[NOTE 2]   In the "Nance Register", this Clement is identified as having been the Clement Nance who was the son of Giles Nance. However, as has been noted by Nance genealogists Walker P. Nance and Michael Nance, this is incorrect. The Clement Nance who settled in Newberry Co, SC is clearly Giles' son.

Perhaps the clearest evidence of this is in records of land transactions which show that:

(1) The Clement Nance of Newberry Co SC sold land in Pittsylvania Co VA which had clearly originated with Giles Nance. In 1779, Giles Nance took a land grant from state for 1,574 a. in Pittsylvania Co VA, on the branches of Cascade and (Little) Sugar Tree (or Sugartree) creeks, adj. the land of Clay, Coxe, &c. . (Bk. B, p. 158). In Giles' 1809 will, his son Clement received 300 a. "on the waters of Sugar Creek" in Pittsylvania Co, VA. After the 1811 probate of Giles' will, an 1812 deed from Clement Nance "of Newberry District, SC", sold 100 a. on Little Sugar Creek, in Pittsylvania Co VA. (Deeds Bk. 17, p. 511).

and

(2) The Clement Nance of Harrison Co IN sold land in Pittsylvania Co VA which was clearly connected with the Clement Nance who had married Mosias Jones' daughter, Mary. In 1797, Clement Nance of Pittsylvania Co VA deeded to Mosias Nance (Clement's son, clearly named for his wife's father, Mosias Jones) of the same, 125 acres on the east fork of Cascade. Deed Bk. 11, p. 231. An 1811 deed from Clement Nance "of Harrison County, Indiana" sold 150 a. in Pittsylvania Co VA, on the east side of land formerly possessed by Mosias Jones, to Thomas Stacy. Deed Bk. 17, p. 494. In 1816, Clement Nance and Mary his wife, of Harrison County, Indiana Territory, sold 383 acres in Pittsylvania, on the east fork of Cascade. Deed Bk. 20, p. 73.

Another indication that the Newberry Clement was Giles' son, is the close relationship between the Newberry Nances and the Malones -- a relationship which could clearly have arisen from their contacts in Amelia County. Giles married Mary "Nancy" Malone there in about 1754, and in 1758 Robert and William Malone deeded land there in 1758, witnessed by Mary Nance, prob. their relative who had married Giles.

In addition, unpublished letters of Martin L. "Pete" Nance reflecting his further research and thinking after the publication of the NR, show that he eventually came around to the view that the brothers Clement, Robert and Frederick Nance of Newberry Co SC were the sons of Giles and Mary (Malone) Nance.

Thus, it seems clear that the Clement Nance of Indiana was not the Clement who was the son of Giles Nance.

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[NOTE 3]   In a compilation of abstracts of records from the Mecklenburg County, I ran across an entry from 1741 (Order Bk 2, p. 29), said to have recited that Daniel Nantz (Nance) had surveyed the road from Flatt Cr. to the Meherrin R. and ordering that certain tithables, including David (sic) Nantz, keep the road in repair. I suspect that this was an error by the compiler in reading old handwriting, and that this "David" was actually Daniel. To have been a titahable in 1741, this supposed David Nance would have had to have been born in the early 1720's. Yet it is clear that when the David Nance of Pittsylania Co. died in 1780 his 5 children were all minors. This seems unlikely to have been the same person. The context of the 1741 entry suggests that the it would have been the same Daniel Nance who had surveyed the road who would have been one of the tithables ordered to maintain it.

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