Monday, May 6, 2024

Sorting Out the Family Names


When it comes to tracing the extended Ijams family, it's been a challenge to sort out all the family names. Some given names appeared to be favorites over the generations. My main interest has been William Ijams, my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather, but it didn't take long to discover that he wasn't the only William Ijams in his family's home back in colonial Maryland. In order to make sure I didn't accidentally slip across family lines and stumble into the wrong collateral line, I had to first diagram the relatives as I found them.

Thankfully, we've located William's father's will, which provides a basic road map to guide us through the lines of descent. Though that showed us William's brothers—which, according to the will of his father John, also included sons John, Isaac, and Thomas Plummer Ijams—the document also provided us advanced warning of name twins ahead. Witness to John Ijams' will, for instance, noted John Ijams "of Plummer"—presumably son of the Plummer Ijams who also served as witness. And in the codicil dated March 15, 1783, there was mention of a William Ijams "son of George."

Fortunately, the will provided some guideposts to help us roughly estimate age ranges. John Ijams had drawn up his will on October 9, 1782, then added that codicil on March 15, 1783. The document was presented in court in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, on April 21, 1783, so we have an estimate regarding John's date of death.

The document listed four married daughters: Elizabeth Lyons, Ann Stockett, Mary Ijams—likely deceased by that point, though her two children and inferred husband were mentioned—and, almost as an afterthought at the close of the document, Margaret Sunderland

As for the sons, John Ijams specifically noted that his eldest son was William. Also named were sons John, Isaac, and Thomas Plummer Ijams. It was to the final two sons that John bequeathed his property and—thankfully—made mention of stipulations, in case either, or perhaps both, died before they came to  "ye age of twenty one."

That was the only device left us to help determine dates of birth for any of John Ijams' children. Since John died in 1783 sometime between his last codicil dated March 15 and the presentation of his will in court on April 21, we now can say his youngest two sons had to have been born after at least mid-April of 1762. Further, since the will specified that youngest son Isaac would be permitted to "act for himself at ye age of sixteen," his birth was likely after April of 1767.

Those dates are only estimates, of course, but may become useful as we move forward in this exploration of William Ijams and his siblings, some of whom moved with him when he left Maryland for the wilds of territorial Ohio around the turn of the upcoming century. 

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