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The first American ELIZABETH NANCE - a sister of JOHN NANCE?

Introduction --

The earliest known American Nance who can be definitively connected to present-day Nances is JOHN NANCE, who was probably born abt. 1650, and who married Sarah (Gookings?). He died in 1716, leaving 6 children: Richard, John, Susan, Elin. (prob. Elinor) "Warpole"(sic), Eliz. Gregory, and Dorothy.

It has been assumed, or at least suspected, that this first American John Nance was the son of the Richard and Alice Nance who appear in John Nance's 1639 patent of 300 a. in Henrico County (Patent Book 1 p. 715).

But were there any other Nances of John's generation -- or, in other words, did he have siblings? It appears that he did.

Materials kindly contributed to me by Nance researcher Joseph G. "Jerry" Sullivan contained a reference to an ELIZABETH NANCE who had married Caesar Walpole (died 1678) and whose daughter Sarah Walpole Jones (evidently widowed after a first marriage to a Jones) had married William Epes in 1691. I initially failed to pay much attention to the implications of these dates, until one day when it dawned on me that this Elizabeth Nance had to have been of a very early generation. Digging into my available information a little more deeply, here is what I found:

Elizabeth Nance --

ELIZABETH NANCE married Caesar WALPOLE, with whom she had at least two children, Richard and Sarah. Caesar Walpole d.1678, and Elizabeth (Nance) Walpole then remarried to James Wallis. Elizabeth Nance had died by 1691, when her daughter, Sarah Walpole (who had married first to William Jones, who died about 1688) married William EPES. "Ancestors & Descendants of Francis Epes I of VA", J. F. Dorman (1992); also, according to J. G. Sullivan materials, the book "Epes of County Kent").

Obviously, Elizabeth Nance's daughter Sarah Walpole must have married William Jones before 1688; Sarah was thus probably born in the early 1670's at the latest, and that means that her mother, Elizabeth Nance, was probably born in the 1750's at the latest. Indeed, these dates are probably too late. Given the dates of death and date of death of William Jones, it seems likely to me that Elizabeth was probably born in the 1640's.

This is consistent with the fact that records in "Charles City Co. Court orders 1664-1665, and Fragments 1650-1696", cited in "Virginia Colonial Abstracts", Vol. 3, B. Van Fleet (1988), show that Caesar Walpole was a witness and a landowner in 1665, and thus presumably of age at that point.

Thus, Elizabeth Nance was clearly in the same generation as the original American John Nance. Considering that there was probably only one family of Nances capable of having children in John and Elizabeth's generation, it seems likely that they were siblings. In fact, we do not need to rest on this basis for the inference -- for there is more.

[An interesting sidelight on Caesar Walpole -- possibly the same one, as the name is fairly unusual -- according to an e-mail I received 16 Jun 1998 from Nathan E. Boyd , "In 1623 a Caesar Walpole of London loaned a sum of money to Captain John Martin of Martin's Brandon that was to be paid off at 10 pounds per year. Captain Martin's brother-in-law was Sir Julius Caesar, who was in charge of American Affairs at the time. Well, Captain Martin never paid on the loan. The Walpole family sold the loan to a John Jermyn, who in 1654 filed suit against the new owners of Martin's Brandon for non-payment on the loan. The lawyer who did the work for John Jermyn in 1654 was George Jordan of Surrey Co. VA. When Jordan died he requested to be buried at his friend's plantation known as Four Mile Tree owned by a Col. Brown. In checking tax records for 1782, Thomas Walpole and family are in residence at Four Mile Tree Plantation. The owner of the plantation, another Brown, was still probably off to the war, and the Walpoles were acting as caretakers or overseers on his plantation while he was gone".]

Connections between John and Elizabeth Nance --

In addition to being contemporaries in time and place, and the fact that there does not seem to have been any other set of possible parents for them other than Richard and Alice Nance, there are definite connections between the early John and Elizabeth that, to my mind, mark them unmistakably as brother and sister. The closest connection is that it seems quite likely, that Elizabeth (Nance) Walpole's son, Richard Walpole, married John Nance's daughter, Elinor Nance. Indications of this are:

Another connection between Elizabeth and John was somewhat less direct in terms of family relationship, but was perhaps just as strong. As noted above, in 1691 Elizabeth (Nance) Walpole's daughter Sarah Walpole married (as her second husband) William EPES. There were numerous connections between the Epes' and the Nances (and the Walpoles). Thus:

Connections between Nances and Epes' in fact continued well into the 18th century. They were neighbors on Gravelly Run adjoining Richard Nance, and on the Nottoway adjoining John Nance.

Conclusions, Summary --

The evidence about Elizabeth Nance and her connections with John Nance can be illustrated as follows:

    (EPES)          (WALPOLE)      (NANCE)

    Epes(1)                       ____|____
    __|______                    |         |
   |  |      |       Caesar  Elizabeth    John
Fra. Thos. John(2)   Walpole---Nance     Nance---Sarah
             |           ____|____            | 
             |          |         |           |
          William(3)---Sarah    Richard----Elinor Nance
                      to Jones)

The interconnections here -- between Elizabeth Nance's son Richard Walpole and John Nance's daughter Elinor Nance, and between Elizabeth Nance's son-in-law William Epes (and other Epes family members) and John Nance and his family -- betoken close family connection. Based on this evidence, I am persuaded that Elizabeth Nance and John Nance were sister and brother, in the first generation of Nances born in America.

(Note: What about the William Nance, who appears in Surry County as early as 1668, and whose name appears in records there through at least 1680? From the fact that he was of age in 1668, when he witnessed a power of attorney, or at very least by 1670, when he was listed as a tithable there ("Surry Co. VA Court Records, 1664-1671", W. P. Haun, 1986), it appears that he must have been born in the 1650's. Thus, he appears to be a good candidate for another sibling of Elizabeth and John. Here, however, the evidence is much sketchier, so this must remain up in the air for the time being.

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