Thursday, May 30, 2024

Another Generation, Another Puzzle


As this month draws to a close, it's time to wrap up all that can be found on the ancestry of William Ijams, fourth great-grandfather of my mother-in-law. In this past month, we've worked on tracing his ancestry to his parents, John Ijams and Rebecca Jones, then moving further in the Ijams line. John's father, also named William, had married another colonial Maryland resident, Elizabeth Plummer, yet finding any record of her father, Thomas Plummer, has not been something I've been able to achieve in this past week. However, before the end of this month, I also want to step back yet another generation to this William's father, and examine what can be found on that elder William's wife.

This goal, however, may generate another puzzle. Following these Williams in Anne Arundel County has been challenging, not only because we are looking for documentation in the 1600s and very earliest years of the 1700s, but also because Anne Arundel apparently suffered a courthouse fire. While many county residents supposedly voluntarily brought in their own copies of the lost records to be preserved after the fire, I have yet to find such records retained by the government—though I've found mention of them in one book by a Maryland researcher.

This eldest William Ijams—or Eyams, or Iiams, as the surname was alternately recorded—had married another colonial resident by the name of Elizabeth Cheyney. This Elizabeth, at least according to Harry Wright Newman in his 1933 book, Anne Arundel Gentry, was daughter of Richard Cheyney, and was born  about 1652. The Newman book made mention of a record, re-filed after the courthouse fire, referencing a deed of gift conveyed in 1674 by Richard Cheyney to William Iiams and Richard's daughter Elizabeth, specifically mentioned as "now wife of William Iiams." 

Finding such records for Richard Cheyney, however, is another matter—even with the help of FamilySearch Labs' Full Text search. I was able to locate a will drawn up in Anne Arundel County on March 6, 1685, for someone by that name, which looks promising. But I can't be sure. The will named sons Richard, Thomas, and Charles, along with mention of three daughters. Unfortunately, while identifying daughters Mary and Anne may be helpful to other descendants, seeing that third daughter listed as "Eliza" rather than Elizabeth causes me to wonder whether this is the will for the right parent of our William Ijams' wife Elizabeth. 

Granted, the mention in the Newman book of the re-filing of the deed of gift seems to tie the names into one neat family bundle, but I'd prefer to find further documentation to confirm the author's assertion. At least it might help to guide me in determining that I had located the correct Richard Cheyney's will. The only consolation in that will was the discovery that, while none of the daughters were identified by their current full names, the mention of "my son in law John Jacobs" indicates the possibility that either or both of the other two daughters might also have been married at the time their father's will was drawn up. Whether that was so, and what their married names might have been, however, is left for me to uncover.

Thankfully, a reference to where the probate documents were filed was included at the close of the Cheyney will for future follow-up. Incredibly, the date listed for that set of documents was during the year of 1726, long after Richard Cheyney's will was drawn up. If Richard's daughter Eliza was one and the same as our Elizabeth, wife of William Iiams, hopefully the probate records will indicate the woman's true identity. 

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