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1. Darby SHAWHAN. Darby was born in Ireland in 1673. Darby died in Kent County, Maryland, on April 3, 1736; he was 63. Occupation: Farmer.
The peninsula of Eastern Neck — just north of Eastern Neck Island and Kent Island — is one of the earliest areas of settlement on the Eastern Shore. The site of the seventeenth century settlement known as New Yarmouth was built on Eastern Neck near Gray's Inn Creek by a man named Tovey. He purchased one hundred acres of land called "Huntingfield" from Thomas Ringgold. Maps still show "Hunting Field Point" and "Huntingfield Creek." In 1674 (Darby Shawhan, age 1) Charles Calvert had ordered court sessions to move from Eastern Neck Island to the mainland and by 1679 (Darby Shawhan, age 6) the first Kent County courthouse had been built at New Yarmouth. This area remained a commercial center and a port of entry until 1696 (Darby Shawhan, age 23) when the courthouse was moved to it's present site on the Chester River. With this relocation, the center of county government followed the inland shift of the population.
County boundaries shifted in 1706 with the creation of Queen Anne's County from portions of Kent and Talbot. The Shad's Hole property moved from Cecil to Kent as the Sassafras River became the northern boundary for Kent and the southern for Cecil. The southern boundary of Kent became the Chester River. The taxable population of Kent County was about three hundred at the time of Darby's birth and had risen to a little over eight hundred by the time of the Shawhan - Meeks marriage.
St. Paul's Parish
St. Paul's is one of thirty Maryland parishes formed by the Act of Establishment in 1693. The first vestry meeting was held in January 1693 in the house of Thomas Joce at New Yarmouth, at that time a commercial center on Eastern Neck, just north of Kent Island. There is physical evidence that a church building was standing in the New Yarmouth area prior to the Act of Establishment.
In 1695 the Vestry hired Daniel Norris to build a church at the present location of St. Paul's (west fork of Langford's Creek) on a parcel of land belonging to Michael Miller. The Vestry sued builder Daniel Norris on November 27, 1707 (seven days after the Shawhan-Meeks wedding) for an unfulfilled contract. In 1711 the Vestry contracted with James Harris and the present church was built in 1713, reflecting the inland shift of the population.
The marriage of Darby and Sarah (1707) pre-dates the existing church building (1713) by six years and may have taken place at the church building in the New Yarmouth area, eight to ten miles south (by way of Langford's Creek) of the present site of St. Paul's Church. It is also likely the wedding took place in their home, a common practice on the 18th century Eastern Shore. Darby, Sarah and two children — Daniel and John — were living at Shad's Hole (in Shrewsbury Parish) by the time the present church at St. Paul's was built.
In 1709 Darby and Sarah purchased (from Francis Bellows and his wife Margaret, also from St. Paul's Parish) 100 acres of a 650 acre tract named Shad's Hole on a branch of Morgan's Creek in upper Kent County. The typical dwelling of the time for small landowners was a 20 by 15 foot clapboard home with dirt floor. The structure was generally separated into two rooms and heated by fireplaces with wooden chimneys.1
Shad's Hole — now part of Glenmore — is one half mile north of Kennedysville (settled by an Amish community in 1954) on the west side of Turners Creek Road, roughly two and one half miles south of Shrewsbury Parish in which their children were born. 50 acres in the same area, called 'Darby's Desire' was surveyed in 1714 and patented in 1716. This purchase was consistent with the agricultural movement of the time toward richer soil for the growth of higher quality tobacco.
Ronald Shawhan differs in his account of the location of the Shawhan property. Following is his account: “The homestead is located on Route 448, about 1/4 mile west of the present village of Kennedyville, Kent County, Maryland. The 2 1/2 stories house now standing on the site of the original dwelling is known as Glenmore on the State of Maryland Historic Homes Survey. Facing east, it was constructed about the year 1780 when the land was owned by Joseph , son of John , and grandson of Darby (1). Joseph's son, Samuel, subsequently sold the property, in 1804, to Edward Sims; it is presently owned by Mr. Henry C. Beck, Jr., of Dallas, Texas. Records indicate that the Shawhan Family Graveyard, absent headstones, lies a few hundred feet to the right of the house and probably contains the remains of Darby (1) and Sarah.”2
Darby and Sarah were planters. Authorized river ports in north Kent County were the former site of Shrewsbury on the Sassafras River to the north and at Edward Walvin's plantation on the Chester River to the south.
Darby and Sarah died in 1736. Both are buried in the graveyard on the family farm, "Darby's Desire/Shad's Hole", Kent Co., Maryland. No markers survive.
Early court records of Kent County, Maryland, list Darby Shawhan in various ways, and this is probably due to language, dialect, speech, and writing variations in handwriting and transcriptions: Darby Shehorne, Sr.; Darby Shawvin; Darby Shehen; Darby Shaughen; Darby Shehawn; Darby Shawhan.3
Several family sources repeat Nell Downing Norton's reference to "The First Census of American People, p. 84, found only in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Md." Eastern Shore, Maryland genealogist, Irma Harper writes "I questioned the staff at the Maryland Archives on Thursday last, they know nothing of the above.... There is no known county by the name of Essex in Maryland."
"New Town" was laid out by authority of an Act of Maryland. Its charter was revised in 1780 and the name Chester Town given to it.
Darby Shawhan, 1672/73-1736 of Kent Co., MD, m. 1707, Sarah Meeks, will proved 1736.
2 Aug 1709. Darby Shawhan purchases 100 acres of a 650 acre tract known as "Shad's Hole" from Francis Bellows and his wife Margaret. The price was 3,200 pounds of tobacco.
14 Nov 1709. Name of Darby Shehorne, Kent Co., Md. appears on the bond of Francis Collins, administrator of the estate of Edward Carroll.
27 Nov 1714. Survey 50 acres of Shad's Hole, known as Darby's Desire, located on north side of one of the branches of Morgan's Creek.
10 Sept 1716. 50 acres named Darby's Desire patented
8 Sept 1721. Name of Darby Shehorne, Kent Co., Md. appears on bond of Francis Collins, adm. of Edward Carroll.
20 Nov 1733. Deposition in Kent Co., Md. Darby gave his age as 60 years.
16 Oct 1735. Darby's will written.
Last Will and Testament
In the name of God Amen. I Darby Shawn of Kent County in the province of Maryland, planter, being sick in body but of good and perfect memory praised be almighty God - due for avoiding controversies after my decease make, publish and declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say. First and principally my soul I resign into the hands of almighty God my creator, hoping that by and through the only merits and interception of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to obtain free pardon and remission of all my sins, my body I committ to the earth from whence it was formed to be decently buried at discretion of my executrix herein after named and as for and concerning all such temporal estate as the Lord shall be pleased to bless me with at my decease. I give, will and dispose of the same in the manner following (that is to say first) I will that all such just debts as I shall owe at my death and my funerall charges shall be fully paid and discharged.
Imprimis. I give and bequeath unto my dear and loving wife Sarah Shawin whom I appoint, constitute and ordain my sole executrix of this my last will and testament all my lands, living and moveable estate whatsoever or wheresoever as well real as personall (only these things omitted) during her naturall life.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my beloved son Daniel Shawn one long gun and no more.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my beloved son John Shawn one sow and pigg and no more.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my beloved son Dennis Shawn, one young horse four years old, called Doctor, and no more.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my beloved daughter Sarah Dier the now wife of Edward Dier one yearling heifer and no more that is next spring ten years old.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my two beloved sons Darby Shawn and David Shawn my Dwelling plantation being part of a tract of land called Shad's Hole containing one hundred and ten acres after my beloved wife's decease.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my beloved daughter Elizabeth Shawn one cow and calf and one ewe lamb and no more, when she arrives or ---- to the age of sixteen years.
Item. I give leave and bequeath unto my well beloved wife Sarah Shawn my three sons - Dennis, Darby, David and William Shawn to continue with my executrix till they arrive at age of twenty one years and I do hereby revoke anull and make void all former wills by me at any time made and do declare these proposals only to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I the said Darby Shawin to this my last will and testament have set my hand and seal this sixteen day of October in the ninth year of the reign of our sovereign Lord George the second by the grace of God of Great Brittain, France and Ireland King, defender of the Faith and so forth and in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and thirty five.
3 Apr 1736. Darby's will probated.
27 Oct 1736. Estate of Darby Shehawn, Kent Co., appraised by John Gleaves and Thomas Hatcheson. Daniel Shehawn listed as administrator. Sarah Dyer and John Shawhan listed as near of kin. Francis Bellows listed as largest creditor.
Inventory of Darby Shawhan's estate. Witnesses: John Shawhan, son; Daniel Shawhan, son; Sarah Dyer, daughter; Francis Belles, greatest creditor.
3 feather bed bolsters and pillows, 58 pounds of wool, 3 rugs, 1 linen wheel, 4 blankets, 3 chests, 4 large pots with hooks, 3 stone jugs, 1 frying pan, 3 axes, 3 augurs, 2 files, bricks, tackle & block, 43 lbs corn "stick baskit", carving knife, iron candle stick, branding iron, 2 locks, 2 bells, 1 "speling book," "buter churn tub," washing tub, 1 cart with traces and "pare of harnes," 9 sheep, 1 old sow, 4 young hogs, 2 cows and calfs, 2 barren cows, 1 "tabel and forms," 1 old bay horse 15 yrs old, 1 plowshare, 1 old mare and yearlong colt, 8-900 pounds of tobacco.
27 Oct 1736. "came Daniell Shawhan and made oath...that this is a good and perfect inventory...."
1939. Query by Wm. G. Hills (6 Shepherd St., Chevy Chase, Md.) re parentage of Sarah Meeks and Darby Shawhan, Sr.
Mar 1983. History of "Darby's Desire" and documentation of Shawhan ownership from 1709 to 1808 by Shawhan, Ron T. (New Providence, NJ)
He married Sarah MEEKS, daughter of Walter MEEKS & Sarah, November 20, 17074 in St. Paul's Parish. Died 1736 in Kent County, Maryland.
Other Family Connections
There are several relationships, the timing, locations and names of which may point to Darby's parents and family. In Talbot County these include the arrival of Cornelius and Thomas aboard the ship Encrease in 1679, the marriage of David Shehan to Bridget in 1713, the July 1714 death of a Daniel Shehawne whose estate was administered by his wife, Bridgett, the October 1714 birth of a Daniel Shehane to parents Cornelius and Alice at St. Peter's Parish, and the birth of David in 1716. The names Daniel and John appear frequently in Shawhan families of Kent and Talbot counties. Across the bay in Calvert County there is the 1718 death of John Shehon and in St. Mary's County the 1721 death of Darby Shohon. In Dorchester County Thomas appears in 1715 and in 1722. From Bertie County, North Carolina comes Miles Mason Shawhan. Other Shawn names appear in Massachusetts.
Daniel left the Eastern Shore for Frederick County, Maryland in 1740. The eldest daughter, Sarah, married Edward Dyer, son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Dyer. Edward died in 1749 and Sarah administered the estate in Kent County. Sarah's brother, William would have been 21 years old in 1749. William and his brothers David and Darby were old enough to have left their sister's house by this time. David died in 1766. The estate was administered by his brother Darby and witnessed by his brother John and John's son, Shadrack. The family bible was listed among the assets. Darby never married and died in the home of his brother, Dennis, in Kent County in 1767. He left his estate to Joseph, son of his brother John. Dennis filed suit against Joseph, executor of David's estate for costs incurred in the care of Darby. Of William there is no further record.
Closing In On Definitive Link Between "Shawhan" and "Sheehan" Surname
by Bob Francis
October 28, 2000
I may have found the definitive link between the "Sheehan" and "Shawhan" surnames, as well as discovering the original name of our ancestor, Darby Shawhan. As many of us who have researched this name are all-too-aware, the "Shawhan" surname is unusual and has not been found in Irish records. Though we have long speculated that "Shawhan" is a variation of "Sheehan," there has not been one shred of hard evidence to support this contention. Now, I believe I can say with a high degree of certainty that "Shawhan" and "Sheehan" are one-and-the-same.
My discovery came about while on vacation in Ireland this past October 17-25, 2000. My wife and I explored the counties of Limerick, Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Laois. It was while in the "Kingdom of Kerry" that I came across my first clue to the origins of Darby Shawhan’s name, though I did not know it at the time. As you may know, Gaelic is the common language of the folks of rural Kerry and Cork; so much so that many of the road signs are written in Gaelic, as well as the common language on the street.
Because of this, I decided to purchase a book titled "Irish Place Names" by Deirdre and Laurence Flanagan. The book provides a nice English/Gaelic dictionary of place names. As I scanned the dictionary, I came across the name of one of the small villages on the west coast of the Dingle peninsula, called "Ballydavid." The Gaelic form of this is "Baile Dháibhi" (spelled also "Dhóibhi"). It literally means "homestead of Dhóibhi." The name "Dhóibhi" struck me, as if I had "heard" it before, though this was the first time I had actually seen it. Keep this piece of trivia in mind because it becomes important later in this story.
One of the last places we visited while in Ireland was Tipperary. My reason for visiting this area was to follow up on a piece of data discovered by Eric Shawn. Eric uncovered data from a "hearth tax," dated 1659, which listed a Darby Shehane living in Tipperary. With this in mind, my wife and I visited the local Heritage Center with the hopes of finding some shred of evidence linking our ancestor to that data. Our hopes were quickly dashed as the hostess informed us that no records existed in Tipperary prior to 1800. She told us of a fire that destroyed most of the old records and those that remain can only be researched in Dublin.
On a "hunch," I asked the lady about the Gaelic pronuciation of the word "Dhóibhi." She said that the name is pronounced "Darvy." I sat stunned! Did she say what I thought she said?? I looked at Cindy and she had the same reaction. Making sure that what I thought I heard was correct, I asked the lady to pronounce the name again. Again, she said "Darvy." I asked about the "v" sound and she explained that the "bh" takes on a hard "v" sound. I then asked her to pronounce the Gaelic form of "Sheehan." She said "Shawn’n." I couldn’t believe what I just heard! My mind was definitely putting "two-plus-two" together. I then asked her to pronounce both words and she said "Darvy Shawn’n." The "n’n" sound was very subtle—sounding like "nun" but with a very slight and quick "u" sound. This could easily be misunderstood as a single "n."
My theory is that our ancestor’s name was originally the Gaelic name "Dhóibhi Siochain," anglicised as David Sheehan. When he sailed aboard an English vessel sometime in the 1680’s or 1690’s, he undoubtedly pronounced his name in Gaelic as "Darvy Shawn’n." and it was heard by the English scribe as "Darby Shawhan" who penned the name we inherited.
While I realize that this theory is yet to be verified and may be proven incorrect, it is the first clear connection between the "Shawhan" and "Sheehan" surnames. More than this, it is the first time that the name of our ancestor can be connected to Ireland—and more specifically—to the Southwest of Ireland.
I invite any and all thoughts on this theory. In the menatime, I am in the process of learning rudimentary Gaelic in order to verify what my wife and I heard from the genealogist in Tipperary.
Shads Hole -Glenmore Update
Kent County, Maryland
May 19, 2001
by Eric Shawn
New information has continued to surface since William G. Hills and others mentioned Shads Hole in The Shawhan-Shaughen Genealogy. According to this monograph, "The lovely old three story house now standing on the site of the original dwelling was built about the year 1780 when the land was owned by Joseph, son of John, son of Darby. It was first built of brick noggins and about 1810 covered over with clapboards by William Sims who had purchased the place from Samuel Shawhan who had inherited it from his father Joseph who died 1808."
According to a recent publication, Daniel Jones built the house mentioned above after 1826. Property deeds indicate that Edward Sims purchased portions of Shads Hole –now Glenmore - from John Shawhan’s son, Samuel, and John’s grandson, Charles. The ‘Shawn’ spelling is used for both in the county records.
In 1709 (2 August) Darby Shawhan and Sarah Meeks purchased (from Francis Bellows and his wife Margaret, also members of St. Paul's Parish, Kent County) 100 acres of the 650 acre tract named Shad's Hole on a branch of Morgan's Creek in upper Kent County. The name has been variously written as Shad Hole, Shads Hold, Shads Hold, Shads Hole, Shadshold, Shadshole, Shadds Hole, and Shades Hole.
Over the years Francis Bellow and his wife, Margaret sold various pieces of the property originally willed under the name ‘Shads Hole’ as follows. William Jones, administrator for Francis Bellowes in 1681, passed the 650 acres of Shad's Hole to Francis Bellows, Jr. Francis Bellows, the junior, in turn sold one parcel to Richard Bennett in 1708 (KELR JSN:81) and another (100 acres adjoining the part sold to Richard Bennett) to Darby Shawhan in 1709.
Francis Bellows and his wife Margret sold 215 acres of Shadds Hole to Francis Collins in 1715 (KELR BC#1:102). Hannah Bodeen received a 100 acre portion of the original Shads Hole property in 1722 (18 Sept) paid for by Frances Bodeen (KELR JS#W:277).
Both Darby Shawhorn (Shawhan) and Daniel Perkins were deposed regarding Shads Hole on 26 Feb 1733/4 (KELR JS#18:2).
In 1734 Benjamin Kelley sold a 50 acre parcel of Shadds Hole to Francis Bellass, the son of Francis Bellass. Other portions of Shad's Hole once held by Frances Bellas were in the hands of Ferdinando Hull (21 Apr 1737), Hezekiah Cooper (1760) who married Martha Bellas, Peregrine Cooper (1783) and John Hudson and Abraham Taylor (1783).
In 1736, Darby Shawhan left Shad's Hole to his sons, Darby, Jr. and David (MWB 21:572). By 1738, Darby’s el\dest son, Daniel Shawhan, held the debt on the property. In October 1740, Daniel sold 50 acres of Shads Hole, “beginning at a post by the west side of a road which leads from Thomas Creek to Daniel Perkins mill” to his brother, John, prior to departing the Eastern Shore for points West (KELR JS#23:145). John was the second child of Darby Shawhan and Sarah Meeks.
John Shawhan passed the portion in his possession to his son, Joseph, in 1783. Joseph, in turn, sold a stake in the property to his son, Samuel, in 1800 for £250. Samuel Shawn then sold the property to Edward Simms in 1804 for £517. Charles Shawn, grandson of John Shawhan, received a stake in the property from his grandfather, John. He sold his stake to Edward Simms in 1808 for £250. Shad's Hole remained in the Shawhan family almost one hundred years.
In March of 1983, Ron T. Shawhan (New Jersey), obtained a copy of the Maryland Historic Sites Survey, which contains a description of what has been called Glenmore since the early 1800s. The survey contains a summary of the building’s interior, as well as a photo of the house from August 1980.
In 1998, The Historical Society of Kent County at Chestertown, Maryland, published Historic Houses of Kent County: An Architectural History: 1642-1860. This reference includes a short history of the Glenmore site, described as being in the northwestern corner formed by the Kennedyville crossroads.
According to the author, Michael Bourne, Daniel Jones purchased the farm in 1826 from William and Mabel Sims and was responsible for construction of the oldest portion of the house. The text indicates the house was demolished around 1980. Although it is true that the house has been demolished, Rose T. Lane toured the house in September of 1987 with William A. Shawn, his wife Mildred, and William's niece, Lula Dennis.
Following is a chronology of Shads Hole - Glenmore.
1681 – William Jones, administrator for Francis Bellas, transmits the 650-acre tract to Francis Bellas, jr.
1709 – (2 Aug) Darby Shawhan purchases 100 acres of a 650-acre tract known as “Shad’s Hole” from Frances Bellows for 3,200 lbs. of tobacco.
1710 – Daniel Perkins (1685-1744) builds his first water mill on the upper reaches of Morgan Creek.
1714 – Darby surveys 50 acres and calls it Darby’s Desire.
1716 – Darby’s Desire is patented.
1719 – Daniel Perkins purchases Ridgley, the tract adjoining the water mill.
1721 – Daniel Perkins builds White House, a brick building with the date in glazed header numerals on the north gable.
1733/4 - Daniel Perkins was deposed regarding the Shads Hole tract.
1736 – Darby Shawhan wills use of the estate to his wife Sarah during her life time and then to sons Darby and David upon Sarah’s decease.
1740 – Daniel Shawhan, son of Darby and Sarah, and his wife, Jennett, sell a 50 acre parcel of Shad’s Hole to Daniel’s brother, John for 5 pounds.
1743 – John Shawhan is paying annual rent on a portion of Shads Hole.
1766 – John Shawhan, his wife, Elizabeth and their son, John are leasing a portion of Shads Hole.
1783 - The will of John Shawhan gives the portion of Shads Hole in his possession to his son, Joseph after the death of Elizabeth. “I give and bequeath unto my son, Joseph, negro Wench Dark, and all my land after the decease of his mother."
1800 - Joseph Shawn, of New Castle County, Delaware, sells 130 acres of a property known as Shads Hole, to Samuel Shawn of Kent County, Maryland for 250 pounds current money. See Kent Co. deed, 11 October 1800 (TW1/465).
1804 – Samuel Shawn of Kent County, Maryland sells 130 acres known as Shads Hole to Edward Sims for 517 pounds, 10 shillings current money.
1808 – (13 May) – Charles Shawn of Queen Anne's Co. sells to Edward Simms, Kent Co., 250 pounds current money for 110 acres, tract in Kent Co., SHADS HOLE. (“… being the same that formerly belonged to John Shawn, deceased, the grandfather of the said Charles Shawn...hath lately become entitled to being all the lands that the said John Shawn died possessed of or entitled to in Kent Co. which he devised by his last will and testament on or about 1st August 1783 after the death of his wife and son, Joseph, now deceased .... Witnesses: William Parrott. Elizabeth Shawn, wife of said Charles, gives her consent. See Kent Co. Deed (BC5/267).
1817 – Edward Sims makes the last of three purchases which established the boundaries of the 265 acre tract.
1826 – Daniel and Catherine Jones purchase the site from William and Mabel Sims.
1877 – The property is owned by John Wesley Jones, son of Daniel and Catherine Jones. John became secretary to the President of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and worked his way up to First Vice-President. During the period of John’s ownership the house was enlarged to the five bay, two-and-a-half story house.
1885 – Mary E. Hurtt purchases the Glenmore Site. Mary’s descendants built the kitchen wing and installed the segmentally arched architrave over the front door.
A new possibility: SHAWHAN (British). Form of Sharman. Found on http://www.familychronicle.com/namessz.htm web site.
On November 20, 1707 Darby married Sarah MEEKS, daughter of Walter MEEKS & Sarah, in St. Paul's Parish.4 Sarah died in 1736 in Kent County, Maryland.
They had the following children:
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