Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Of White Wine and Claret


Sometimes, in order to identify the right ancestor, we need to explore deeper into the family constellation. Since our task today is to locate the right William Ridgely of Anne Arundel County in colonial Maryland, we'll first need to take a detour to a place called White Wine and Claret.

We want to make sure we locate the right William Ridgely because Anne Arundel County had more than one man by that name, and because we don't yet have firm dates on this man's life.

The impetus for our quest is his daughter, Rachel, who sports yet another name with many duplicates in colonial Anne Arundel County. Rachel happened to be wife of Joseph Howard, another name with duplicates. Together, Rachel and Joseph were parents of my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandmother, Elizabeth Howard.

So, which William is the right Ridgely? From our original source, Harry Wright Newman's 1933 book, Anne Arundel Gentry, we see his name cited as husband of a woman named Elizabeth Duval. Discovering another book which researched many of the same names from colonial Maryland's history, I found mention of eleven daughters of William and Elizabeth. Rachel's husband Joseph Howard had many sisters-in-law.

Talk about potential for multiple descendants all claiming the same matriline! Researching those eleven daughters of William Ridgely will keep me busy for far more than the remainder of this month.

There was one additional—and tantalizing—clue about who this William Ridgely was: the name that was given to his inheritance. This was an inheritance of property gained not from William's own parents, but from his maternal grandfather, the Honorable John Dorsey

The property was patented in 1712, for the specific intent of providing for the sons of John Dorsey's daughter Deborah, wife of Charles Ridgely. Thus, Dorsey's land was willed to his Ridgely grandsons, Charles and William. Since the younger Charles chose to live on one of his other properties, the land—dubbed by John Dorsey as "White Wine and Claret"—went by default to the other grandson, William.

The land, hemmed in by the "crooked outlines" of the surveyor's work, Dorsey attributed to the gift he had bestowed upon the surveyors as he sent them off on their duties: white wine and claret. The land, originally encompassing 2,500 acres, is now located in Clarksville, part of Howard County.

That land became the site where William Ridgely and his wife, Elizabeth Duval, raised their three sons and eleven daughters. A book published almost three decades before Harry Wright Newman's work—called The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland—actually names each one of them, including the identity of the married daughters' husbands.

More pertinent to our current goal—to pursue Elizabeth Howard's matriline—this second book spells out a few details on William Ridgely's wife, Elizabeth Duval. This is precisely the line we will need to follow next. While we'll have our work cut out for us at this stop on the generational train trip with those ten sisters of Rachel Ridgely, it will also be important to see what we can learn about Rachel's mother, Elizabeth Duval. We'll zero in on that, next.  

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