Griffith & Mary James
Although he was obviously of Welsh ancestry, we can't be sure of Griffith's birth date or his parentage. And similarly, although many clues point to his being the son of Thomas James of Chester County, PA, no definitive evidence has been found. Family researcher Ann Fleming tentatively assigns the parentage of Griffith James to John James and Mary Ann Griffith, daughter of John Griffith, based upon documents in the Missouri Historical Society, but Ann has been unable to verify these relationships. Louise Rourke stated that some descendants believe that Griffith was the son of Evan James, but Louise instead thinks that Evan's son was the Griffith James residing in Delaware (formerly Chester) County, PA in 1794. (Also of this opinion is Ashley Cagle, who claims Margaret John Jones as his mother). Jeanette Cuthriel lists Griffith's father as William James, in agreement with an unknown source that names his father as William James and his mother as Elizabeth. The latter claims that William was born c. 1692, and died c. 1778. To summarize, his origins remain unknown!
Griffith must have married c. 1751, but the only certainly is that his wife was named Mary. Several researchers have claimed that her surname was Gyger, but again, without any definitive proof. Various sources have written that: 1) Mary Ann Gyger died on 7 Oct 1773; 2) Mary Gyger was born in 1754 in Chester County but was the wife of Isaac James, not Griffith; 3) Mary Gyger was born c. 1737-1741 in Washington County, MD, but didn't marry Griffith James until c. 1779 in Pendleton District, SC; 4) wife Mary was born c. 1730; 5) Mary Gyger was the wife of the Griffith James who stayed in MD. The Patriot Index lists Griffith James, PS PA, born before 1739, died 1812, married to Mary Gyger.
All we can state with any reasonable certainty is that . . . .
4 Sep 1763: An agreement between Joseph Chapline, Samuel Beale, David Ross, and Richard Henderson mentioned 250 acres sold by Chapline to Daniel Moore and Griffith James, apparently on or near Antietam Creek in Frederick County, MD. This deed was recorded 31 Oct 1765.
16 Jun 1764: Griffith purchased Lot #66 in Sharpsburg, Frederick County, MD, for 55 shillings from Richard Dean, but was required to pay a yearly rent to Joseph Chapline. Witnesses: Joseph Smith and Peter Bainbridge. According to Beverly Dean Peoples, the seller was a free black man, not the father of son-in-law Samuel Dean.
25 Oct 1766: Griffith sold Lot #66 (103' x 206') in Sharpsburg for 1 shilling to Robert Colbern. The deed was recorded 20 Nov 1766. Wife Mary James released any dower right in the property, which was usually only done when the property had come to a couple through one of her relatives. Why is the price so small, since the lot was bought for 55 shillings only two years before?
18 Aug 1767: Griffith James versus Stephen Bennett, William Bleakley, and Richard Ongord for £2.0.1 and costs. The judgment was for the Plaintiff.
3 Mar 1769: He witnessed the will of George Laurence.
24 Dec 1774: Grifey James is among those listed in "Estrays" in Frederick County.
1777: Grifit James, along with Eran and George James, took the Oath of Allegiance before Honorable Christopher Cruse in Lower Antietam Hundred, Washington County, MD. Washington County had been formed from the western portion of Frederick in 1776.
1778: Grifet James appeared on the Patriot's Oath List in Lower Antietam Hundred. On another list are Richard Jeames Jr and Abraham Jemes Jr. Is this the same oath as 1778, or a second one?
1783 Tax List, Washington County, MD (Lower Antietam and sharpsburg): He's shown with 60 acres of woods, 40 acres of arable land, 4 horses, and 8 black cattle. His land was named Pough.
14 Feb 1788: Along with John Ritchie, Hannah Codd, and William Gregory, he witnessed the will of Richard Dean in Sharpsburg.
1790 Census, Washington County, MD: 2 males over 16, 1 under; 2 females; 0 slaves. He's listed next to [son] Joseph James. Not far away was Hezekiah James with 1 male over 16 and 1 female.
12 Apr 1791: Griffith purchased 50 acres of King Cole from Joseph James for £50.
3 Mar 1792: He bought slave Phil, age 16-17, from Stephen Yates for £65.
30 May 1792: He sold 75 acres known as Pough to Robert Hoffman for £330.
30 Aug 1792: Along with James Austin, he sold 50 acres of King Cole in Washington County to Stephen Yates for £90. Son Joseph James had married Elizabeth Austin, daughter of James Austin c. 1780, so the two fathers were selling property that Joseph had bought from the young couple in 1791.
17 Jun 1794: Along with [son-in-law] Thomas Linard, he witnessed a deed from Jacob Herring to [son-in-law] Samuel Dean for 125 acres on Big Generostee of the Savannah River adjoining Richard Beaudeut in Pendleton District, SC.
20 Apr 1795: Griffith had signed his will. . .
Will of Griffith James
In the name of God, Amen. I Griffith James of the State of South Carolina and County of Pendleton being weak in body but of sound memory, blessed be God, do this day the twentieth of April in the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five make and publish this my last will and testament in manner following, that is to say, First I give to my son Joseph James all my wearing apparel which shall be at my decease also ten pounds of money, it being part of money due to me in the state of Maryland if it is ever collected. Also I give and bequeath unto my daughter Hannah Leonard one dollar to be paid within one full year after my decease. Also I give to my daughter Jenny Dean one dollar to be paid to her at or with one full year after my decease. Also I give to my daughter Mary Cummins one dollar at the same time. Also I give to my son John James one dollar at the same time. Also I give to my son Samuel James one dollar to be paid at the same time. And also and every other thing of my estate real and personal which shall or may belong to me at my death I give and bequeath to my dear wife Mary James and I make & ordain my son John James and son Samuel James Executors of this my will in trust for the intent and purposes in this my will contained & to do & perform the same according my true intent and meaning. In witness thereof I the [said?] Griffith James have to this my last will and testament set my hand & affixed my seal the day & year above written. Signed & delivered by the said Griffith James for his last will and testament in the presence of us who were present at the signing and sealing thereof _________________________.
The will was witnessed by Owen McCorkel, Jane (O) Lesley, and James Jones. It was proved 12 Apr 1796.
Griffith probably died the spring following his will. Jeanette Cuthriel lists date of death as 30 Oct 1795, but that would seem at little too long before the will was proved.
February 1817: "There was a grievance between [daughter Mary] Cummins and her mother and the old woman being not able to attend the meeting, therefore the church thought it expedient to appoint a committee to go to Mr. Samuel Dean's, where the old lady lives, and settle it on behalf of the church . . ."
*Children of Griffith and Mary James:
Hannah Elizabeth James (2 Nov 1752 – 3 Nov 1842; m. Thomas Leonard)
Gwendolyn James (c. 1754 – 1835; m. Samuel Dean)
Joseph James (c. 1758 - 22 May 1825; m. Elizabeth Austin)
1783 Tax List, Washington County, MD (Lower Antietam and Sharpsburg): Joseph James was assessed for 50 acres, part of King Cole.
Samuel James (c. 1760 - )
Was he the Samuel James (married to a Catherine) who signed his will in Jefferson Co, KY on 15 Dec 1821, proved 16 Jan 1822? His sons Griffith and Samuel were bequeathed land in Pendleton County, SC. There was later a Griffith James, who was born c. 1818 in Kentucky, who resided in Bates County, MO.
Mary James (19 Nov 1763 – 29 Mar 1847; m. Harmon Cummins 7 Sep 1779)
*These are the children named in Griffith's will. Thus, Aaron James of Pendleton has been excluded since he was alive in 1795 but not named. Was Aaron Griffith's grandson or nephew? Heidi Lahey and David Wright also list Thomas James, born c. 1756, as a son of Griffith James. Thomas married Elizabeth McFall 18 Apr 1777 in Washington County, MD.
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Nancy Denty Breidenthal
Any information is only as reliable as its source. Evaluate the following sources accordingly.
 Anderson, Frederick County, Maryland Land Records, Liber J Abstracts 1763 -1767, p. 59, from Liber J, Frederick County, Maryland Land Records, Liber J Abstracts 1763 -1767, p. 798
 Anderson, Frederick County, Maryland Land Records, Liber J Abstracts 1763 -1767, p. 49-50, from Book J, p. 652
 Anderson, Frederick County, Maryland Land Records, Liber J Abstracts 1763 -1767, p. 68, from Book J, p. 818
 Anderson, Frederick County, Maryland Land Records, Vol. 6, Liber K Abstracts, 1765 – 1768, p. 41, from Book K, p. 453
 Ann Fleming, from Will Book A1, p. 343
 Ann Fleming, from Wright, Early Lists of Frederick Countians
 Peden, Revolutionary Patriots of Washington County, Maryland, p. 184, from original J-3
 Brumbaugh, Revolutionary Records of Maryland, p. 13
 Ann Fleming
 Beverly Dean Peoples
 Washington County 1790 Census, p. 9
 Ann Fleming, from Book G, p. 368
 Ann Fleming, from Book G, p. 666
 Ann Fleming, from Book G, p. 771
 Ann Fleming, from Book G, p. 815
 Willie, Pendleton District, South Carolina Deeds 1790-1806, p. 153, from original p. 360
 Book C, p. 82, copy provided by Louise Rourke