This page is not trying to be the definitive Dorsey genealogy. For that you might look at the study of the Dorsey family done by Maxwell J. Dorsey, Jean Muir Dorsey, and Nannie Ball Nimmo in The Dorsey Family: Descendants of Edward Darcy-Dorsey of Virginia and Maryland For Five Generations and Allied Families. It appears to include every mention of each of the individuals in existing public records of Maryland. It has been augmented and corrected by later genealogists and historians. If, however, you are more interested in the roots of the immigrant Edward Dorsey, you might want to follow the work being done by Jefferson Dorsey working with a combination of primary sources and Y DNA tests.
What this page attempts is to fill out the story of the direct ancestors of Deborah Dorsey whose first husband was Charles RIDGELY. She was only daughter of John Dorsey (ca. 1645-1715), son of the immigrant Edward. I hope that readers may be able to offer new information about the lives and immediate families of these three generations of Dorseys, or point out where I need to correct errors. If you have documentation, I would be very grateful if you would e mail me at .
Individuals who are direct ancestors in "our" lines are in bold face, whether or not they are directly connected to these three Dorsey generations. There was a great deal of intermarriage among planter families in colonial Chesapeake. For a list of all the connecting lines given in this web site, click here.
Most of the older Dorsey genealogies assume that our immigrant Edward is descended from the Norman D'Arcy family. I must confess to jumping on that bandwagon myself. But new genetic research tosses this out the window. A Dorsey family DNA project that started in 2002 has resulted in an excellent web page that points strongly to an Irish family that has not had an obvious "paper trail" documenting the link between our Maryland emigrant, Edward Dorsey and the ancient Irish family, the O'Dorceys, or, in Irish Gaelic, the O'Dorchaidhe clan. There is a set of Irish cousins dating from the nineteenth century, indicating there must be an older common ancestor. The Anglo-Norman D'Arcy/Dorsey men who have participated in a DNA project are clearly of a quite different genetic stock from Edward and the Irish cousins. My thanks to Rick Saunders, who first brought this to my attention. As he explains, "If you go to the Dorsey DNA page and scroll down to the results, you can compare the lines of Edward DORSEY, and the French-Norman DARCY line more readily. Not only are the results not close, but their haplotypes (R1b and E3b) are different."
Secondly, my thanks to Jefferson Dorsey who has done more recent work searching for the paper trail. He has rediscovered the 1645 work of Duald MacFirbis, a noted Irish scholar and historian of Connaught, whose The Genealogies, Tribes, and Customs of Hy Fiachrach was translated in 1844 by Irish scholar, John O'Donovan. This says "There is no justification for the Darcys of Munster and Connacht (with a few exceptions) using the form D'Arcy, because they were of native Irish stock and their name is a corruption of the Gaelic O Dorchaidhe, which was first anglicized as O'Dorcey." The family itself then grafted itself to the line of Sir John D'Arcy, who was Chief Justice of Ireland in 1323 with a forged link between a Nicholas D'Arcy, captain of horse, who married Jane, daughter and heir of O'Dorcey of Partry. In 1608 England outlawed "Mac" and "O" making their use a felony punishable by death.[1a]
If Edward Dorsey was of Gaelic stock, presumably Roman Catholic, how did he end up among Puritans first in Holland, then in Virginia? A simple explanation is offered by a quick look at conditions in Ireland in the seventeenth century. During the Civil War and Commonwealth in England, Irish Catholics loyal to the Stuarts constituted a continual threat. After the execution of Charles I the Royalists regrouped in Ireland. Parliament sent Oliver Cromwell to deal with them. He landed in Dublin 15 August 1649 and set about subduing the country. Nine months later he left for Scotland, but the brutal work continued until land ownership among Catholics had been reduced from perhaps 60% of the island to a mere 8%. Genocide is probably an accurate description. It was not a good time to be an Irish Catholic so there was a strong incentive to reinvent the Dorsey Family by grafting it onto the Anglo-Norman D'Arcy stock. What is not known is whether young Edward did this, or if his family had already moved to England, erasing their previous ethnic and religious identity.[2a]
Of the seven references in sixteenth and seventeenth century British records to Edward Dorsey (with nearly as many spellings), the only one that is at all likely to be our ancestor is No. 16 in the Exchequer Record of the King's Remembrancer: "Edward Darcie -- lycensed April 18th 1632, aged thirteen, to go with his master Richard Gips to Berghen." Translated, this means the young teenager had permission to leave England with Richard Gips, or GIBBS, either as an apprentice, servant, or ward, probably to Bergen op Zoom in the Netherlands. It was easier to get a license to go to Europe than to the new world. It would be relatively easy to travel from the Netherlands to Virginia, perhaps by way of Barbados. However, there is as yet no proof that this is our man.
One way or another, Edward Dorsey1 managed to emigrate from the British Isles (exactly where, Ireland or England, is unclear) to Virginia. Perhaps he came by a circuitous route through The Netherlands, where his apprentice master might have had Puritan conections. Another possibility is that he was transported "in company with" Cornelius LLOYD, and others, because on 7 October 1646 Thomas BROWN was granted land in Lower Norfolk County, Virginia for their transportation.[2b]
So far I have found no record of when he married his wife, Ann. A common assumption is that she was Ann BACHE, since "Ann Do?y" was mentioned in the 1662 will of her brother Humphrey Bache, a Londoner who became a Quaker. Humphrey's daughter Elizabeth married William HARRIS in 1649 in St. Mary's Abchurch. Elizabeth Harris became a well-travelled and well-known Friends minister. However, a direct descendant named Edward Dorsey has examined the probate record of Humphrey Bache. He concludes: "The reference to his sister Anne lists her last name as Do?y where the "?" could be a "u" or "n" (quill pens were not reliable) -- but, comparing the letter to others in the document, I can't see how it could be much else."[3a] While misspellings and mis-translations were not uncommon in probate records it seems a bit of stretch to get Dorsey from Douy or Dony.
In May 1638 another pair of our ancestors, Matthew HOWARD and his wife Ann, were granted land in Lower Norfolk County, Virginia, on the western branch of the Elizabeth River, south of Broad Creek. In the immediate vacinity were grants to Robert TAYLOR, Edward LLOYD, Richard OWEN, and Cornelius LLOYD. The year before, Matthew Howard had with him "two persons unnamed", one of whom might have been 17- or 18-year old Edward Dorsey. Although a male could own land at the age of 16, obviously Edward did not. Perhaps he was too poor. However, throughout his life he seemed to be curiously careless about registering his land. This may have been because an oath was required, and he may have early felt a scruple against swearing that would eventually find full fruition in the Quaker testimony. It is suggested that young Edward was in Virginia by 1636, or even as early as 1635, and he stayed near Richard Owen and John Howard. For three generations these families stayed together and intermarried.
There is a 1642 contract for Edward's purchase of three cattle (a cow, steer, and calf), with descriptions of each animal, indicating that he had some disposable wealth and was not indentured. When the County Court met 15 December 1645, at the house of William SHIPP, it ordered Thomas TOD to pay Edward "Darcy" and Thomas HALL forty pounds of tobacco apiece "for theire tyme and charge in attendance of the Court for two days." On 10 December 1649 Edward witnessed a quit-claim deed executed by Thomas Tod; his signature reads "E D: Dorsy".
References to Edward Dorsey, with a variety of spellings, are found in the land records of Lower Norfolk County, Virginia, between 1642 and 1648. On 7 October 1646 Thomas BROWN was given 240 acres in Lower Norfolk County due by assignment of the rights of five persons transported by Cornelius LLOYD, including Edward Dorsey. On 15 December 1642 Cornelius Lloyd received a grant of land for bringing sixty people to the colony, including "Edw:_orsey" -- the first letter is illegible. Edward bought 200 acres in Lower Norfolk County on "a neck of land upon the south turning" of the Elizabeth River. The boundaries were further delimited: going "east upon a creek, and south upon a creek, and north into the woods". Dorsey's tract was on the point of land at the foot of present day Chestnut Street, and on it in the 1930s were the ruins of an old Marine Hospital. The land lies on Ferry Point and was once offered to the fledgling United States as a site for its capital. Dorsey styled himself a "boatwright" (i.e. involved in naval stores, perhaps, rather than actually building ships) and was probably in business with and for his near neighbor, Thomas TOD.
Apparently a number of settlers in Lower Norfolk County were not members of the established church, but were a variety of dissenters or nonconformists; some were Puritans. A ten-year controversy had raged between Governor BERKELEY and the more vocal Puritans that was both political and religious. When a few Roman Catholics immigrated into the colony in 1642 Berkeley saw his chance. The colony decreed that no "popish recusants" could hold any office. It also decreed that anyone holding office and refusing to take the "oath of allegiance and supremacy" should be dismissed from office and fined 1,000 pounds of tobacco. The following year it was enacted that all ministers must be conformed to the Church of England, and any nonconformists should be compelled to leave the colony.
Meanwhile farther up the Chesapeake Bay in 1637, Maryland forces had taken over Kent Island, which had originally been an outpost of Virginia. Lord Baltimore gave the settlers full civil and religious rights. In 1648 he specifically invited disgruntled dissenters to move from Virginia to his colony. He appointed the Virginia Protestant, William STONE, (apparently no relation to our William Stone) as his governor. Baltimore patronized the newly settled Protestants, who quickly moved into important political posts in both local and provincial government.
The lack of freedom of religion in Virginia, coupled with an invitation to move north, led between 400 and 600 settlers to migrate to Maryland, mostly to Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties. The larger group of immigrants, whose religious affiliations are not known, included Edward Dorsey, John NORWOOD, Matthew HOWARD, Thomas TODD, and Nicholas WYATT and their families who settled in and around Annapolis. They had owned land near each other in Lower Norfolk County, Virginia, and soon acquired tracts near each other along the Severn River in Maryland; their children and grandchildren intermarried. However, 15 November 1652 Edward and four others returned to Virginia where Francis FLEETWOOD got a grant of land for their transportation. They soon returned to Maryland.
In November 1650 Edward Dorsey was granted a warrant for 200 acres in Maryland, and in 1651 for another 200 acres. Lord Baltimore had instituted the English practice of granting and patenting tracts of land under proper names. Acreages named "Norwood", "Howard", "Todd", and "Wyatt" were laid out for other members of the group, with their locations specified in the records. Unfortunately, the location of Dorsey's land was not specified. Before 1655 Edward Dorsey, together with Thomas MANNING bought 600 acre "Theobush Manning" on the west side of Chesapeake Bay, south of Norwood's, north of the Bay. Perhaps because it was incorrectly entered on Lord Baltimore's Rent Rolls as belonging to Edward "Darby", the patent was not issued until 1661. Whenever he acquired it, eventually Edward Dorsey owned land that is now occupied by part of the Naval Academy and Bloomsbury Square in Annapolis.
In 1655 or 1556 Elizabeth (Bache?) HARRIS, a British Friend, came to Maryland and found a receptive audience among the community of dissenters settled along the Severn and Patuxent Rivers, and among the unchurched folks on Kent Island. Many who heard her and worshipped with her were convicted inwardly and convinced of the Truth Friends proclaimed. She was followed in 1657-1658 by Josiah COALE from Bristol, Thomas THURSTON from Gloucestershire, and Thomas CHAPMAN. Among the new Friends in Maryland were Thomas MEARS, Nicholas WYATT, Edward and Ann DORSEY, Robert CLARKSON and his wife, John BALDWIN, Henry CAPLIN, Charles BALYE, Elizabeth BEASLEY, William FULLER, William DURAND, Thomas and William COLE, Henry WOOLCHURCH, and others.
A letter from Robert CLARKSON, member of the House of Burgesses from Anne Arundel County, to Elizabeth HARRIS, back in England, summarized Elizabeth's work and reported on the condition of local Friends:Elizabeth Harris, Dear Heart, I salute thee in the tender love of the Father, which moved thee toward us and I do own thee to have been a minister by the will of God to bear the outward testimony to the inward word of truth in me and others. Of which word of life God hath made my wife a partaker with me and hath established our hearts in His fear, and likewise Ann Dorsey in a more large measure; her husband I hope abides faithful . . .
We have disposed of the most part of the books which were sent, so that all parts where there are Friends are furnished and every one that desires may have benefit of them; at Herring Creek, Rhoad River, South River, all about Severn, the Brand Neck, and thereabouts the Seven Mountains and Kent. . . .
Echoing the political events in England, there had been a coup in Maryland against Lord Baltimore in 1654. But many dissenters, especially in Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties, and on Kent Island, were more loyal to Baltimore than to the new Puritan regime. William FULLER, acting governor after 1654, was convinced upon hearing Elizabeth HARRIS, and became a Friend. By 1658 definitely five, and perhaps as many as eleven of the 24 commissioners had become Quakers. Others had close ties with Friends.
Then Edward Dorsey was drowned with several other people off the Isle of Kent. On 2 August 1659 the Court paid Thomas HINSON 100 pounds of tobacco for raising the boat in which they had drowned, as desired by Dorsey's overseer. But was this our ancestor? Although the Dorsey family historians assume it was, genealogist Caroline BULKLEY thinks it was some other person with the same name. She discovered a 1667 deed referring to Edward Dorsey, boatwright, a designation never used by his son. Descendant Ed Dorsey, who examined the bill of sale, notes that "the seller declares himself to BE Edward Dorsey but did not use the word 'said' that was typically used when repeating a previous reference (to the purchaser). So we have to conclude that it really was the immigrant OR it was his son (after all they really were both Edward Dorsey). He does not specify that he is heir which he did with later documents. So either the immigrant was the seller OR, more likely, his son impersonated him." However, Fredric Saunders has examined the original document that does indeed include the word "said" in two places, so that it actually reads as if the old man had died and his son is the one who signed.
Caroline BULKLEY continues that another "curious case was the sale, again by the son, in 1664 of other property owned by his father which he just didn't get around to recording until November of 1670 (six years?). He then calls himself heir of the 'late' Edward Dorsey. So it appears to me that the immigrant was alive in 1667 but had died by November 1670."[13a] More conclusive, perhaps, was a reference by Edward Jr. to land "my father Edward Dorsey [had] from Thomas MARSH in 1661". Edward Jr. stated that his father was living in 1667, but by the time Edward Jr. transferred "Hockley-in-the-Hole" to his brother John in 1681, their father was dead. Edward Dorsey, either father or son, appraised the estate of Thomas TODD 12 May 1677. Thomas was the old companion from Virginia with whom the elder Dorsey had worked on ships.
The Dorsey family chroniclers found no further records of Ann Dorsey. They assumed she returned to Virginia. I assume she remained in Maryland near her children. Unfortunately the West River Friends minutes do not begin until 1671. Family historian Ed Dorsey thinks she went back to England with the immigrant Edward Dorsey.
Children of Edward and his wife Ann (__) Dorsey as named in land patents, deeds, and wills (may be incomplete and out of order):
- Edward Dorsey2, b. probably in Virginia ca. 1644 or 1645?; d. 1705 in Baltimore Co., Md. (signed his will26 Oct. 1704, and it was pr. 31 Dec. 1705 in Baltimore Co.); m. (1) 12 Oct. 1671 Sarah WYATT (d. ca. 1692), daughter of Nicholas and Damaris Wyatt; perhaps 8 children (5 were named in his will), one of whom was Sarah who m(1) 1695 John Norwood; m(2) ca. 1693 Margaret LARCON, or Larkin, daughter of John Larkin, who m. as her second husband, John ISAAC, or Israel, who d. 1707. Margaret d. 1707. Edward and Margaret had 5 children. Although Edward was raised a Quaker, he was listed as "Protestant" as an adult. He was a planter, merchant, and contractor. After Edward sold his share of "Hockley-in-the-Hole" to his brother John, Edward probably built a large home on Prince George's Street in Annapolis; there is confusion over whether it became the home of Gov. Sir Francis NICKOLSON, where the Assembly met for a while. Edward was a judge in the Chancery court. His strong support of Lord Baltimore brought his dismissal from the bench and from the militia after 1689. He went to England to testify against the Protestant Associators in 1690. Two years later he was accused of being a Jacobite. He was quite active politically; referred to first as Col., more usually as Major. Edward was involved in contesting the will of Nicholas WYATT, father of his first wife, Sarah, in 1673. Edward was one of the original trustees for King William's School in Annapolis, founded in 1696. His estate inventory was valued at £721.9.8 sterling, and included 13 enslaved people and 2 servants.
- Joshua Dorsey, b. ca. 1646?; d. 1688 (will signed 20 Feb. 1687/8, pr. 3 May 1688 in Anne Arundel Co.); m. Sarah RICHARDSON and had 1 son, John Dorsey. Sarah m. (2) Thomas BLACKWELL, who d. 1700. Sarah d. 1705/6. Joshua made bequests to "cousins" (i.e. nephews) John, Samuel and Matthew Howard, the children of Matthew Howard.
- John Dorsey, b. ca. 1645 or 1648?; d. 1714/5; m. Pleasance ELY. She m(2) Thomas WAINWRIGHT.
- Sarah Dorsey, b. ca. 1650?; d. by 3 Oct. 1691; m. Matthew HOWARD, Jr. (d. 1692), brother of our John Howard. Matthew was elected to the Lower House of the Maryland Assembly. They had 4 children.
- Samuel Dorsey, is sometimes listed as a member of this family.
John Dorsey2, was born ca. 1645 in Lower Norfolk County, Virginia, the son of Edward and his wife Ann, and died in 1715 in Maryland. He emigrated with his family in 1649 to Anne Arundel County, Maryland. John married in 1684 Pleasance ELY. One source identifies her as the step-daughter of Thomas WAINWRIGHT (d. 1729), while another states Thomas was her second husband. John is usually referred to in the records as "Hon." or Captain, a rank he held from 1695 until his death in 1714/5. Although raised as a Friend, he was later identified as Protestant, meaning neither Quaker or Anglican.
In 1663 John was living with his brothers at "Hockley in the Hole", Anne Arundel County, because it was surveyed for them on 27 January that year. This 400 acre plot had been taken up by their father sometime before 1658, on the south side of the Severn "and or a branch of Broad Creek". In 1681 John bought out his brothers' rights to it. He paid Edward 24,000 pounds of tobacco for it and additional land Edward had bought, and paid 8,000 pounds to Joshua. When it was resurveyed in 1683 (or 1685) it was found to contain 842 (or 843) acres (or resurveyed in 1685 and contained 1,842 acres). The secondary accounts of the original records are a little hard to interpret in large part because they don't always differentiate among the multiplicity of bureaucratic steps necessary to secure title to a tract of land. The original patent was in the possession of a descendent, Anne Elizabeth Dorsey, who was still living in the old homestead in 1913. A photo of that date shows a relatively small house with two dormers on the roof, one chimney at the left end of the photo, and a narrow porch with a roof two storeys high suported on thin columns. The house was nearly obscured with shrubbery. When we went to find it in April 2004, there was a white historical marker on the road, but the two houses that might conceivably have been a remnant of the old homestead both looked twentieth century, to me.
John purchased significant amounts of land during his life. A list of them, by their names, includes:"Howard's Heirship" (150 acres) purchased from Cornelius and Elizabeth HOWARD on 4 August 1679; they were the brother and sister-in-law of our John Howard;
"Hockley in the Hole", purchased Edward's and Joshua's rights in 1681; resurveyed in 1683 and found to contain 842 acres (see above);
"Orphan's Addition", near "Hockley in the Hole", on 10 March 1697, which he gave to his son Caleb on 6 August 1702;
"Dorsey's Adventure" (400 acres on Elk Ridge between the Patuxent and Patapsco) on 30 Feb [sic: perhaps April?] 1688; this tract with the next one were called "Patuxent Plantation", and were bequeathed to John's grandson, John Dorsey;
"Dorsey's Search" (479 acres) purchased on 6 December 1694 from James BAYLEY;
"Troy" (763 acres) on 12 October 1694;
"White Wine and Claret" (1,400 acres) on 6 January 1702;
"Whitaker's Purchase" (79 acres) in 1704;
"Roper's Increase" (100 acres) obtained on 14 February 1705 from Cornelius and Mary HOWARD;
"Mt. Gilboa" (245 acres) in 1706, which he conveyed the next year to Richard COLEGATE.
On 12 June 1688 John and his brother Edward acquired land in what was then Baltimore County (now Howard County). Edward settled on his "Major's Choice", but John did not build on his "Dorsey's Adventure". Instead John commissioned surveyors to "go beyond Richard Warfield" in upper Anne Arundel County. There on 10 November 1695 he patented "Troy", 736 acres, between the present towns of Elkridge and Guilford, where he built his home. He also patented "Isle of Ely", named for his wife's family, and "Dorsey's Search". Another source says that Pleasance herself took up the tract after John's death, which she named "The Isle of Ely". The tax return of 1695 recorded, "John Dawsey's Quarter, on Elke Ridge, etc.", so John had a house there by that year. This makes "Troy" the oldest remaining house in Howard County, although it has been greatly altered. Originally "Troy" was a one-storey house with a front porch devoid of any ornamentation other than a simple ballustrade. Other floors were added later. The interior and exterior walls were about two feet thick. The old family burial ground was on one side of the house. The front porch now overlooks Meadowridge Cemetery (once part of the Dorsey estate) and route I-95. The entrance is from route 1 north of Dorsey Road.
John, like his brothers, probably opposed the Revolution of 1689. He gained his first appointed office from Governor Francis NICHOLSON who was sympathetic to the proprietor. From then on John had an active public career. He was appointed Justice of the Peace in Anne Arundel County in 1694 and 1696. In 1694 he was appointed to a commission charged with laying out the town and port of Anne Arundel in the County of the same name. On 17 May 1695 he petitioned the Assembly for a boat to carry the Burgesses of Anne Arundel County to St. Mary's. He was Captain in the Baltimore County militia in 1696. John served on a commission to oversee and direct construction of a Provincial prison in Annapolis. He was named to another commission to report on repairs to a house (purchased from his cousin Major Edward Dorsey) for the storage of public arms.
In 1692, after the consolidation of the reign of William and Mary in England, a new government was elected in Maryland that was very unsympathetic to Friends. They required an oath of allegiance in order to sit in the Assembly, and four Friends were immediately dismissed. The lower house tried to substitute an affirmation, but Governor Lionel COPLEY insisted on conforming to English practice. That year the Church of England was established, with a compulsary poll tax of forty pounds of tobacco. There were renewed efforts to force Friends to serve in the militia. The following year Friends were not permitted to give evidence in court unless they gave an oath. John Dorsey served as a member of the lower House of Assembly in 1692-93, and again in 1701-04 when a modified bill, rewritten by the Privy Council to meet some of the objections of Friends, was passed. It retained the 40 lb. tax to support the established church, and Friends continued up until the Revolution to suffer distraint of goods for refusing to pay it. In 1704 a bill was passed stipulating again that all office-holders must swear an oath. I do not know how John felt about these attacks on his family's faith.
John sat in the Lower House for Anne Arundel County in 1692-93 and 1701-04. He was appointed to the Provincial Council where he served from 1710/1 to 1714/5. On 18 January 1714 he described himself as "being lame and indisposed" and asked to be excused from the Council meeting. The following year the Council was said to consist of twelve "of the most able and discreet gentlemen" of the Province, including "John Dorsey, Esq., lately deceased."
John was a planter and merchant, somewhat more prosperous and less controversial than his older brother Edward. At the time of his first election, in 1692, John owned 1,242 acres. By 1696 he owned 2,484. In 1699 he was listed among the taxables on the South side of Patapsco, owning five slaves. Shortly thereafter he moved his family to "Troy", 763 acres at Elk Ridge, Baltimore County, which had been surveyed 12 October 1694. He took up 1,400 acres called "White Wine and Claret" between the present towns of Simpsonville and Clarksville in Howard County on 6 January 1702. The story goes that he sent out the surveyors with an ample supply of those liquid refreshments; when they returned with crooked lines, John figured that was the cause, and kept the name. The tax lists for Baltimore County sometimes indicate the number of slaves he owned at various plantations. In 1699 he had five on South Side Patapsco; in 1702 four, and in 1703 ten at Elk Ridge.
A few Friends were exercised about the institution of slavery, citing Jesus' injunction to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But nothing was done at this time to rid the Society of Friends of this blemish. A few Friends were also exercised about the excessive use of tobacco. Hardshaw Monthly Meeting in Lancashire, Old England, minuted this advice 14 Fourth Month [June] 1691:It being considered that the too frequent use of smoking Tobacco is inconsistent with friends holy profession, it is desired that such as have occasion to make use thereof take it privately, neither too publicly in their own houses, nor by the highways, streets, or in alehouses or elsewhere, tending to the abetting the common excess.[27a]Most Maryland Friends were oblivious of these movements that would impact so heavily on their economic and social well being.
John signed his will in Baltimore County on 26 November 1714; it was witnessed by six men, one of whom signed with a mark. It was probated 22 March 1714/5. He left one third of his real and personal estate, after the payment of his debts, to his wife Pleasance as full payment of her dower. She was to be given her choice of either the plantation on South River or "my own dwelling plantation" on Elk Ridge. Her share of the estate included four human beings: Jacob and his wife Jenny, and two other Negro men, Lyman and Sambo. John's extensive real estate holdings and the remaining slaves were carefully apportioned to his grandchildren, with instructions for their further disposal if a given grandchild died with no heirs. His daughter Deborah was to be given £50, doled out at the rate of £8 per year "for her support", but no real estate. Her children were the third back-up to inherit if other grandchildren died without heirs. The residue went to his son Caleb, who was named executor. Nathaniell and Thomasin STINCHCOMB owed money to him.
An inventory of John's property was taken on 25 April 1715 by Thomas HAMMOND and John ISRAEL. The only values given in the Dorsey Family's copy were for the seventeen enslaved people. An odd assortment of items were listed "At the Home Plantation", "In the New Room", and "in the Kitchen". They included one silver tankard and one silver spoon; a dozen old leather chairs, six new leather chairs, and 4 "Turkey workt" chairs; an old sealskin trunk; a gun and 1/4 lb. of gunpowder; a small looking glass; one feather bed with canvas tick[ing], rug blanket, sheets, bedstead, and pillows; another feather bed and furniture, curtains and "vallens" [valence]; one pair Taylors Shears; a pair of money scales and weights; one parcel of new books; a pair of spectacles and case; 8 small brushes, 3 old combs, 3 pair sissors; 1 parcel of spice. There were lots of shoes, indicating the kind of merchandize with which John dealt: 2 dozen and 10 pair men's shoes, 3 pair women's shoes, 21 pair men's shoes. To go with them, 13 pair "large wove" stockings, 1 pair motheaten stockings, 20 pair of 4-thread hose, 5 pair women's thread stockings, 8 pair men's worsted hose, 1 pair large wove stockings. Then there was thread: 6.5 lbs. colored, 3 lbs. "Whited brown, coarse", 2 lbs. finer, 1 lb. brown, 1.5 lb. White and Brown, .5 lb. fine white, and about 1 lb. silk. John also had 6 gross Coat buttons and 6.5 gross Vest buttons, and about 5 gross fine thread [buttons?]. The only food mentioned was 1,692 lbs. of bacon. Negroes were listed "in the Kitchen": 2-year-old girl Beck; 6-year-old boy Sambo; 4-year-old boy Roger; 10-year-old girl Sarah, "much hurt by fire"; a "dropsical man" Jack; men named Jack and Tom, and one without a name; a woman, Beck, and young (unnamed) girl with child. The total value of these ten people was a mere £163 and 10d. At the Elk Ridge House there was ten lbs. of old pewter, a punch bowl, and more enslaved people: men named Simon, Sambo, Jack, and Toby; a woman named Jenny, a one-year old girl named Hagar and another girl (age not listed) named Juno. They were valued at £157. Other, unspecified items were at "Pattuxant Quarter", at South River, and at the "New Design". He probably owned about 5,000 acres; his estate was valued at £2,752.11.1.
Pleasance, "of austere memory" was described in family records: "between her name and her disposition there was no similarity." She married a second time, on 30 November 1722, Thomas WAINWRIGHT. With this marriage, "Troy" passed to her grandson Basil Dorsey, son of Caleb. Thomas died in 1729, leaving Pleasance the greater part of his estate. Pleasance apparently used her wealth to invest in land. A warrant was made out for her 17 December 1717 for 200 acres called "Isle of Ely" adjacent to "Troy". That year she also bought 100 acre "Oldman's Folly". In 1720 she bought 200 acre "Roper's Increase" (perhaps part of the original of which her husband had bought 79 acres in 1705), 50 acre "Howard's Addition", and 120 acre "Poplar Spring Garden" in Baltimore County at the head of the Patapsco River, adjacent to "Howard's Ridge".
Pleasance died in 1734. Her estate was appraised 14 August 1734, by Benjamin HOWARD and John HAMMOND, son of Charles. Her possessions included some items that had been in her first husband's inventory. Pleasance had wearing apparel, a silver tankard and cups, a silver spoon, thimble, and buckles, 3 silk handkerchiefs, taylor's shears, 2 small punch bowls, 4 ivory handled knives and forks, a pepper box, 1 caster, 1 tin baster, 1 flesh fork, 1 cutting knife and 1 pen knife, 2 chests, a pair of spectacles, 2 "Turkey-workt" chairs, 6 old books (unspecified), furniture and kitchen utensils, stock and feed, one old Negro man named Tom, one old Negro woman named Beck, and one Negro lad named George.
Children of John and Pleasance (Ely) Dorsey as named in John's will (perhaps incomplete):
- Edward Dorsey3, b. ca. 1677; d. 1700/1; m. Ruth ___. Ruth m(2) John GRENLIFFE; she m(3) John HOWARD (not related to our line). Edward predeceased his father so did not inherit. However, his son John was given "Patuxent Plantation" and "Dorsey's Search", a Negro named Solomon, and 4 cows and calves when he turned 21. This son John and his wife Elizabeth (__) lived and died at "Dorsey's Search", and the manor house still stands, as "Dorsey Hall". Edward's son Edward [Jr.] inherited the Negro boy, Roger, and 4 cows and calves when he turned 21.
- Deborah Dorsey, b. 168_; d. before 1752 in Prince George's County, Md.; m(1) Charles RIDGELY; m(2) Richard CLAGETT.
- Caleb Dorsey, b. 11 Nov. 1683; d. 1742; m. 24 Aug. 1704 Elinor WARFIELD, daughter of Richard Warfield. Elinor's sister Mary Warfield m. John HOWARD, from whom we are descended. Caleb was named executor of his father's estate. Caleb and Elinor had children:a) Samuel, with his brother Richard inherited "Southriver Quarter" in Anne Arundel County;
b) Richard, with his brother Samuel inherited "Southriver Quarter" in Anne Arundel County;
c) Bazill, or Basil, inherited "Troy" on Elkridge in Balt. Co. Capt. Basil d. 20 Aug. 1763 at Elk Ridge of a "long and tedious indispositon"; his son, Basil Jr., had already d. of consumption at the age of 22 on 17 Feb. 1761 at his father's house on Elk Ridge.
d) Achsah, m. Amos WOODWARD, son of Henry Woodward, grandson of William of London; had children: Mary Woodward, Elinor Woodward, Elizabeth Woodward, and an only son Henry Woodward who d. at age 23, m. Mary YOUNG, daughter of Col. Richard and Rebecca (HOLSWORTH) Young of Calvert Co. Henry and Mary had 5 daughters: Rebecca Woodward m. Philip ROGERS; Eleanor Woodward m. Samuel DORSEY; Mary Woodward m(1) William GOVAN(E), m(2) Samuel OWINGS; Harriet Woodward m(1) Col. Edmund BRICE, m(2) Col. Alexander MURRAY; Achsah Woodward d.y. The brothers-in-law Philip ROGERS and Samuel OWINGS were leading merchants, in partnership in Baltimore[34a]
Deborah Dorsey3, only daughter of John and Pleasance (Ely) Dorsey, was born in the 1680s. She married first Charles RIDGELY, and they lived in Prince George's County. Charles died in 1705 leaving her with two young sons. The three of them went to live with Deborah's parents in Baltimore County. She filed the administration of her late husband's estate on 14 October 1705.
In 1706/7 Deborah married Richard CLAGETT (1681-1752). They resided at his plantation "Croome", a large estate in Prince George's County, which he had inherited from his father, Captain Thomas Clagett (d. 1703). Thomas had married Sarah PATTERSON of London, who may have been the sister of Martha Patterson, the mother of Charles Ridgely. Thomas and Sarah Clagett were appointed guardians 12/1692 for Martha Ridgely, Jr., Charles's sister. Thomas had emigrated from England by 1670 to Calvert County, then by 1699 resided in Prince George's County. Thomas was a Captain in the militia, owned over 2,000 acres, and opposed the Revolution in 1689.
Richard a Land Commissioner for Prince George's County.
Richard's will was dated 27 October 1752 and proved 7 December 1752. As he did not mention Deborah, she probably predeceased him.
Children of Deborah and her first husband, Charles Ridgely:
- Charles Ridgely4, b. ca. 1700/1; m. (1) Rachel HOWARD; m. (2) Elizabeth (__); m (3) Lydia (WARFIELD) STRINGER, widow of Samuel. Inherited the Negro boy Saxon from his grandfather, John Dorsey. He also was to receive 4 cows and calves and £30 sterling when he reached the age of 21.
- William Ridgely, b. ca. 1702/3; m. Elizabeth DUVALL. He and his brother inherited from their grandfather, John Dorsey, "White Wine and Claret" on the south side of the middle branch of the Patuxent in Baltimore County. He also inherited from his grandfather, John Dorsey, the Negro girl Juno, and was to receive 4 cows and calves and £30 sterling when he reached the age of 21.
Children of Deborah and her second husband, Richard CLAGETT:
- Martha Clagett, b. before 1714; d. before 1752; m. __ TUBMAN of St. Mary's Co. Inherited the Negro girl Sarah from her grandfather, John Dorsey.
- Elinor Clagett, b. before 1714; m. 9 May 1730 Rev. John EVERSFIELD. He was b. in Eng., educated at Oxford, ordained, came to Md. where Lord Baltimore gave him parish of St. Paul's in what is now Prince George's Co. He was rector there for nearly 50 years, and oversaw construction of the present brick building, St. Thomas's. Elinor inherited the Negro girl Hagar from her grandfather, John Dorsey.
- Edward Clagett, b. ca. 1706; m. Eleanor (Bowie) BROOKE, daughter of John BOWIE, Sr., and widow of Benjamin Brooke, son of Col. Thomas and his second wife, Barbara (Dent). Eleanor m(3) __ SKINNER of Baltimore Co. Inherited the Negro girl Beck from his grandfather, John Dorsey.
- Richard Clagett, b. after 1714; d. before 7 Dec. 1752; m. Lucy KEENE, daughter of Richard.
- [the Rev.] Samuel Clagett, b. after 1714; m. (1) Elizabeth GANTT; their son Richard Dorsey Clagett was b. 24 Apr. 1749; Samuel m. (2) Ann BROWN, daughter of Gustavus Brown of Port Tobacco, Charles Co.
- Mary Clagett, b. after 1714; d. 15 Oct. 1792; m. Jeremiah BERRY, b. 1712, son of Benjamin and Mary (HILLEARY). Jeremiah d. 3 Apr. 1769. They resided at "Marlborough Plains" near Upper Marlborough. 5 sons and 2 daughters.
If you have additions or corrections to this web page, I would be delighted to hear from you. Contact me via e mail at .
See some other colonial Maryland families that link one way or another with these Dorseys: Addison, Bale, Brooke, Browne, Dent, Ely, Hall, Hatton, Holliday, Howard, Isaac, Molton, Norwood, Owings, Randall, Ridgely, Sim, Smith, Stone, Tasker, Warfield, and Wilkinson.Go to the index of Other Lines that are included in this website (not all of them have been posted yet).
The stories of these 23 families are being expanded with a great deal of historical context into a hardcover book that, with luck, will be published by the end of 2013.
Go to the Paxson home page.
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This page was posted on 4/9/2004, and updated most recently 9m/21/2013.
Citations and Notes
The full bibliographical citation is given the first time a source is mentioned, but is not repeated each time that source is cited. Scroll up til you find the first mention and there you will find the complete citation.
- E mails from Rick Saunders, March 24 and 25, 2006.
1a. My thanks to Jefferson T. Dorsey, e mail 12/17/2011, and a draft of his paper, "Edward Dorsey, the Mystery Deepens".
- Caroline Kemper Bulkley, "Identity of Edward Dorsey I: A New Approach to an Old Mystery", in Maryland Genealogies from the Maryland Historical Magazine: A Consolidation of Articles from the Maryland Historical Magazine, indexed by Thomas L. Hollowick, 2 vols., 1:383-84.
2a. For more on the horrific English treatment of the Irish, see Nicholas Canny, The Elizabethan Conquest of Ireland: a Pattern Established, 1565-76 (Harvester Press, 1976), and From Reformation to Restoration: Ireland 1534-1660 (Dublin 1987). For the suggestion that the Dorseys deliberately tried to change their identity, see Jerry Kelly as quoted by Jefferson Dorsey, "Edward Dorsey, the Mystery Deepens", on the web at http://dorseyfoto.com/dorsey/EdwardDorseyIndex.html, seen 12/17/2011.
2b. Nannie Ball Nimmo "Notes on Edward Dorsey and Nicholas Wyatt", Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. 32, no. 1 (1939), 47. This is on the web at http://mdhs.mdsa.net/mhm/dsp_viewer.cfm?id=588100010125&span=1930-1939, accessed 4m/11/2012.
- Edward C. Papenfuse, Alan F. Day, David W. Jordan, and Gregory A. Stiverson, A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979) 2 vols., 1:274; Jay Worrall, Jr., "America's First Quakers Revisited: A response to America's First Quakers--Where, When and by Whom?, by Kenneth L. Carroll", Quaker History, Vol. 86, no. 1 (Spring 1997), 58.
3a. E mail from Edward Dorsey, October 2, 2006. My thanks to him for bringing this to my attention.
- Bulkley, "Identity of Edward Dorsey I", 1:386-88; 390.
- Maxwell J. and Jean Muir Dorsey and Nannie Ball Nimmo, The Dorsey Family: Descendants of Edward Darcy-Dorsey of Virginia and Maryland For Five Generations and Allied Families (Baltimore: authors, 1947), 1; Bulkley, "Identity of Edward Dorsey I", 1:390 dates the quit-rent witnessing in October; if it was written Tenth Month, Old Style, that would be December.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 1, cites: Minute Book A, f293, f 160; Patents 2, State of Va., f113. Bulkley, "Identity of Edward Dorsey I", 1:389 cites Lower Norfolk Co. rec. Book B, p. 127; also 1:384 and 391.
- Rufus M. Jones, The Quakers in the American Colonies (London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1911), 269.
- David W. Jordan, "'Gods Candle' within Government: Quakers and Politics in Early Maryland", William and Mary Quarterly, ser. 3, v. 39, no. 4 (Oct. 1982), 629, 631.
- Jordan, "'Gods Candle' within Government", 629; Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 2, citing Patents 3, State of Va., f. 179; Bulkley, "Identity of Edward Dorsey I", 1:397.
- Hester Dorsey Richardson, Side-Lights on Maryland History with Sketches of Early Maryland Families (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins Company, 1913) 2 vols., 1:257, 2:88; Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 2; Bulkley, "Identity of Edward Dorsey I", 1:399.
- Jones, The Quakers in the American Colonies, 266-67; Jordan, "'Gods Candle' within Government", 629; Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 4 citing Md. Hist. Mag. XXXII:47.
- Jones, The Quakers in the American Colonies, 267-68. The orignal is in the Swarthmore Collection iii. 7.
- Jordan, "'Gods Candle' within Government", 630.
13a. E mail from Ed Dorsey, 3 Oct. 2006.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 4; Bulkley, "Identity of Edward Dorsey I", 1:398-400. See J. D. Warfield, The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland (Baltimore: Regional Publishing Company, 1980 reprint of 1905 original), 55-56 for extracts of the deeds, and see p. 57. Skinner, Abstracts of the Inventories and Accounts of the Prerogative Court of Maryland, 1:44.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 4; J. Reaney Kelly, Quakers in the Founding of Anne Arundel County, Maryland (Baltimore: The Maryland historical Society, 1963), 57; E mail from Ed Dorsey, 3 Oct. 2006.
- For names of 8 children, see http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ddorsey/dorsey/d87.htm. Additional suggested children include Charles, Levin, Francis, and Anne. My thanks to Dr. William Hester, e mail 7/22/2008, although he is somewhat skeptical of them because of a lack of good documentation. For the house, see Richardson, Side-Lights on Maryland History, 2:89, who thinks the house did become the Nickolson home; Bulkley thinks it was at 211 Prince George's Street and was not where the Assembly met. Bulkley, "Identity of Edward Dorsey I", 1:400. Biog. Dic. of Md. Legis., 1:274; Warfield, The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, 58, 219. Edward's will is given, 58-59, and in Maryland Wills 3:725-727, FHL microfilm 0,012,842 (my thanks to F. Saunders for this citation).
- Biog. Dic. of Md. Legis., 1:468.
- Biog. Dic. of Md. Legis., 1:274. However, he does not show up on the Darcy DNA project, possibly because he had no twentieth century descendants?
- Robert Henry McIntire, Annapolis Maryland Families (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1980), 198. McIntyre also gives the dates of Pleasance's marriages. Biog. Dic. of Md. Legis., 2:681 says Wainwright was her step-father, while on 1:275 makes no mention of him. Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 133.
- "Hockley-in-the-Hole" was patented to Edward, John, and Joshua 25 Aug. 1664, Gust Skordas, The Early Settlers of Maryland: An Index to Names of Immigrants Compiled from Records of Land Patents, 1633-1680, in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1968), 137, citing Liber 7, folio 378. Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 3. Listed on Lord Baltimore's Rent Rolls, as transcribed in Richardson, Side-Lights on Maryland History, 1:329. Warfield, The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, 56-57; Celia M. Holland, Old Homes and Families of Howard County, Maryland, with Consideration of Various Additional Points of Interest (privately printed, 1987) 9, citing Newman, Anne Arundel Gentry, 2:7-10.
- Richardson, Side-Lights on Maryland History, photo opposite page 2:88.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 133.
- Warfield, The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, 61; Holland, Old Homes and Families of Howard County, 10, 13, 42, 125.
- Biog. Dic. of Md. Legis., 1:275; Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 133, citing Md. Arch., 19:111, 199, and 24:181, 198.
- Jordan, "'Gods Candle' within Government", 647, 651.
- Biog. Dic. of Md. Legis., 1:275; Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 133-34, citing Md Arch. vols. 8, 13, 19, 20, 24, 25:294, 319, and vol. 29.
- Biog. Dic. of Md. Legis., 1:275; Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 133; the date on a copy of Lord Baltimore's Rent Roll is 26 Apr. 1702, Richardson, Side-Lights on Maryland History, 1:337; Warfield, The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, 416; Raymond B. Clark, Jr. and Sara Seth Clark, comps., Baltimore County, Maryland, Tax List, 1699-1706 (Washington, DC: Raymond B. Clark, Jr., 1964), 6, 23, 37.
27a. Journal of the Friends Historical Society (London), vol. 3 (1905), no. 2, p. 68.
- Maryland Calendar of Wills, 4:25-26; Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 134-35, citing Balt. Co. Hall of Rec., Annapolis, Wills 14, f. 26. Skinner, Abstracts of the Inventories and Accounts of the Prerogative Court of Maryland, 1:18.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 138-39, citing Invts. & Accts., 36B, f. 279; Biog. Dic. of Md. Legis., 1:275.
- Richardson, Side-Lights on Maryland History, 2:89, 212; Holland, Old Homes and Families of Howard County, 10; Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 7, (citing Md .Wills 20, f. 90), 139.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 139, citing Md. Invts. 20, f. 126.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 139.
- There is a photo of it in Holland, Old Homes and Families of Howard County, 125.
- Biog. Dic. of Md. Legis., 1:275; Robert Barnes, comp., Maryland Marriages, 1634-1777 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1976), 53, citing St. Ann's Parish rec 1:389; Robert Barnes, comp., Marriages and Deaths from the Maryland Gazette, 1727-1839 (Balt.: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973), 50.
34a. Joshua Dorsey Warfield, The Founders of Anna Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland: A Genealogical and Biographical Review from wills, deeds and church records (Baltimore: Kohn & Pollock, Publishers, 1905), 123, 527-29, on googlebooks, accessed 4/20/2012.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 145, citing Invts. & Accts. 25, f. 48.
- Effie Gwynn Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George's County (Richmond: Garrett and Massie, Incorporated, 1947), says Deborah's second marriage was in 1704/5, p. 130. Bowie on p. 120 says Richard Clagett was born in 1679; on p. 130 she says it was 1681 as in court testimony.
- It is likely that Richard's brother was Charles Clagett, who married Mauldin, daughter of Thomas Howe. Charles was Protestant, probably Anglican, and a planter. Biog. Dic. of Md. Legis., 1:220.
- Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George's County, 130.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 146. Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George's County, says it was 7 Oct, p. 130.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 146.
- Dorsey, Dorsey, & Nimmo, Dorsey Family, 147; Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George's County, 131. Where these two sources disagree or draw upon other pages, I have made additional footnotes.
- Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George's County,131, 642-43.
- Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George's County, 131 says that Richard died in 1754.
- Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George's County, 59, 60-61, 63.
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