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  • #16 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: A Biographical and Geographical Survey of the American South, Part 1A

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Published Date : February 13, 1987
    On October 9-10 the Society is holding a two-day seminar in Houston, Texas (space is still available--simply call us), where I am speaking on colonial immigrants of royal descent and "An Introduction to Southern Genealogy: A Bibliographic and Geographic Survey." The former subject I shall address with the 2nd edition of The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants, now scheduled for the year 2000. Today and for the next two columns I shall discuss the South, beginning with Maryland and ending with Texas.

    The northernmost "southern" state is Maryland, although Delaware has certain southern characteristics and was perhaps partly Confederate in sympathy. Maryland itself contains some extension of Pennsylvania and much of northern Virginia. It is, however, a separate planter culture with its own major city (Baltimore), a Catholic 17th-century hegemony ( the Calvert-Sewall-Lowe-Ross kinsmen of the lords Baltimore), and a noted Revolutionary elite (Carroll, Paca, later Key and Taney, with John Dickinson of Pennsylvania and George Mason of Gunston Hall among "crossover" figures with Maryland ancestry). After the Civil War Maryland, like Pennsylvania, is important only regionally and belongs more to mid-Atlantic culture than to the South. Baltimore becomes almost a northern city, linked to Wilmington and Philadelphia, plus Washington, D.C., rather than to Richmond; and the mid-Atlantic cities are all dominated by New York. In western Maryland there is much German and Pennsylvania-Shenendoah Valley migratory culture.

    Major Maryland sources include the multi-volume Maryland Archives, Passano's Index of the Source Records of Maryland (a subject-index by family to all Maryland works published through 1940), and G.N. Mackenzie's Colonial Families of America (7 vols.), especially good for Baltimore and Maryland planter families. Maryland Genealogies (2 vols.) consolidates all genealogical articles from the Maryland Historical Magazine, and H.W. Newman consolidated English origins scholarship (plus mere clues or "hunches" in To Maryland from Overseas. Especially useful among area compendia are Newman's Anne Arundel Gentry, 3 vols., and Charles County Gentry, plus Baltimore County Families, 1659-1759 by Robert W. Barnes, who has also transcribed many records and newspaper notices. Barnes's Maryland Marriages, 3 vols., covers the whole state through 1820.

    Virginia so dominates the South that I shall divide this column after discussing the geographical divisions and some major clans, and cover sources next week. Virginia's three major areas are the Tidewater; then southside Virginia, the "spillover lesser Tidewater" south of Richmond; and the Shenendoah Valley, or western Virginia, later West Virginia and Kentucky. In this last there is some Tidewater planter migration (note Strothers and Thorntons among Anthony Savage descendants), but most of the Valley is dominated by Pennsylvania Germans, Scots-Irish, and Welsh; these groups seem to compose much of Appalachia as well, but are very poorly covered in print.

    The Tidewater plantation culture can be divided into three generations of immigrants--the Jamestowners, 1607-25; the "cavaliers" of the English Civil War and Cromwellian period, 1640-1660; and the post-Restoration large grants and huge plantations. A few major clans with some of their noted descendants (and an emphasis on the colonial figures) include Randolphs--Peyton, Edmund (Jennings) and John of Roanoke, plus among descendants of Randolph daughters, Jefferson, John Marshall, Jeb Stuart, and R.E. Lee, and wives of Thomas Nelson, Gouvernour Morris, and Woodrow Wilson; and Carters--the two Benjamin Harrisons, William Henry Harrison, Carter Braxton, R.E. Lee, wives of Peyton and Edmund Randolph and of John Marshall, plus Byrds, Nelsons, and Pages. Three other clans (all, like the Randolphs and Carters, of some gentry and royal descent) are almost as important. From the Eltonhead sisters, wives of Edwin Conway, Henry Corbin, and Ralph Wormeley, descend all major Lees, James Madison, Cyrus Griffin, plus wives of Gouvernour Morris, Francis Scott Key, Carter Braxton, and Edwin McM. Stanton (this last Lincoln's Secretary of War!). From Mary (Towneley) Warner of Warner Hall or her Towneley and Smith nephews descend George Washington, Meriwether Lewis, R.E. Lee, wives of Thomas Nelson and Robert Mills, plus, among 20th century figures, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, George S. Patton, George C. Marshall, and Adlai E. Stevenson II. And from a group of Ligon cousins including Sir William Berkeley and Lady Thomas Dale (plus Edward Foliot, my ancestor Colonel Thomas Ligon, and almost certainly Anthony Savage) descend Madison and Zachary Taylor; wives of William Clark, Jefferson Davis, and A.S. Johnston; plus once again Patton, Marshall, and Stevenson.

    Virginia, along with Philadelphia and New York, and with less New England influence than is often thought, dominates the Revolutionary and early Federal periods in American history. The "Virginia dynasty" of presidents extends from Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe to W. H. Harrsion, Tyler, and Taylor.This much intermarried plantation aristocracy also produced major Civil War generals--from the list above, not only Robert E. Lee but also Jeb Stuart, Albert Sidney Johnston, and even the first Mrs. Jefferson Davis (Zachary Taylor's daughter). After the Civil War Virginia, like Maryland, becomes only regionally important. It produces almost no tycoons and only the second Mrs. Wilson among presidents or First Ladies. In World War II, this old aristocracy gives us Patton and Marshall, and afterwards Adlai Stevenson (plus Admiral and Senator Byrd). Virginia is now, however, secondary to the "Sun Belt", with "capitals" in Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Florida and Texas easily outshine the Dominion state and northern Virginia, even Richmond, is more and more an extension of Washington, D.C., and its suburbs.

    The next column will cover Virginia sources, the Carolinas, and Georgia. A third column will cover Kentucky, Tennessee, the "Deep South," the Mississippi River culture and Texas. I hope readers will enjoy this excursion into non-New England topics. At some future date we shall consider the mid-Atlantic as well.
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