Monday, May 20, 2024

Finding Yet Another Generation


No matter how much family history research I've done, it always seems incredible to me to realize I'm looking at a document drawn up by an ancestor who lived in the early 1700s. In today's case, that ancestor was named William Ijams, the sixth great-grandfather of my mother-in-law. Said to have been born in colonial Maryland about 1670, William drew up his will in "Ann Arundell" County (as the clerk put it) in 1734.

For our purposes almost three hundred years later, William Ijams' will serves to help us find the names populating another generation in the Ijams line. While we will look at the names of the siblings of John Ijams, William's son in my mother-in-law's direct line, first we need to recall the spelling challenges of researching such a surname as his. Ijams, as it turns out, was not always spelled in the same manner as we've found it in more recent documents. In the case of this particular will, the surname was actually written "Jiams," similar to how we found the name written for William's son John in his will nearly fifty years later.

So who was mentioned in this 1734 will? The first mention went to William's wife Elizabeth, who was to receive much of his personal estate—if she chose to remain unmarried after his passing. Then, in order of mention, William designated legacies for his son John, his son Plummer, and his daughter Ann. Later in William's will, he also mentioned another son, William, plus his sons Richard and Thomas. Included in the mention of names were three additional daughters, Elizabeth, Mary, and Charity—with that last daughter's name a guess on my part, due to the faded nature of the digitized record.

Equipped with that list of names of the children of William and Elizabeth, we can see how those same given names made a fair showing in the generations to follow. We can take our cue from that, now aware of how easily one William Ijams could be confused for a cousin. The same will likely be true for the names Plummer, Elizabeth, and Ann. As we dig further into researching descendants of that extended Ijams family, we will likely find those names echoing through subsequent generations, as well.

As surprised as I was to discover the Ijams line remaining in colonial Maryland to such an early date, this William did not turn out to be the founding Ijams ancestor. That designation was apparently to go to William's father. And, seeing how the family had such a penchant for namesakes, you will find it unsurprising to learn that my mother-in-law's sixth great-grandfather was the son of yet another man by the name of William Ijams.

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