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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brief biography of my paternal side of the family tree (Denman)

Earliest verified paternal ancestor, gg-grandfather William C. Denman (b. August 9, 1836-d. March 31, 1906; served in the C.S.A. 1861-1865, & buried in the Denman Family private cemetery in Flemington, Marion county, Florida, alongside his wife, Sarah F. (Sallie) Crankfield, of South Carolina (b.1844-d.1937). They married in June of 1865.

Edit: I recently, finally was able to trace my paternal lineage back to John Denman (age 14 at time of emigration), who sailed w/ his twice-widowed mother (Judith Stoughton Denman Smead, sister of Boston merchants Israel & Thomas Stoughton), his sister Mary, & his younger half-brother William Smead, on the 'Dorset' in 1635 (Capt. Flower), from Gravesend, London England, to Boston & then to Salem Colony by way of Barbadoes.

(In those times of religious & political oppressions, a direct route to Boston might have met w/ interference from British authorities; who sometimes forced ships to drop anchor in the harbors, not allowing them to sail right away. So Captains often booked their voyages to Barbadoes first, never mentioning that they would also later head over to the Colonies.)

UPDATE:  The spelling in ancient records (such as ship logs) is often pretty wonky, but my current understanding is that the ship Dorset, on which John Denman sailed, actually was headed to ~Bermuda (not Barbadoes).

The family was from Suffolk and/or Essex Co., England (it eventually traces back in time to Retford, Nottinghamshire, up North); Judith's father was a Puritan 'reverend', who later endured religious discrimination when Charles II regained the throne. One of the descendants (a cousin or nephew, I believe) of John Denman (b. ~1620 in England) was William Stoughton, Lt. Governor of Salem Colony & Chief Magistrate for the notorious Salem Witch trials (1692-3).

There were also two Protestant English Queens (sisters Mary II & Anne, the Stuart daughters of James II and Lady Anne Hyde), who descended maternally from a Denman: I suspect we're related to them somehow, also.  But neither one of them had any living children to survive to adulthood, so their lineages ended with themselves.

I traced our Southern branch of the Denman tree (of whom the majority have resided in Northern states or in California) from Westfield, New Jersey to Wilkes Co., Georgia, where a Daniel Wright Denman (my ggggg-grandfather), along with his son, James, and brother, John, helped defend Georgia against the British in the American Revolution.  Daniel's wife (and Jame's mother) was Deborah Scudder.

Evidently Daniel's eldest brother, John, was disowned by their father (receiving only "2 shillings" in the will).  His mother, Mary Elizabeth Williams, was also excluded from inheriting any of her husband's property, for some reason (although like John, she was acknowledged by name in the will) Daniel (my ggggg-grandfather) and his brother John (Daniel had inherited properties in New Jersey, including a part of a 100-acre "plantation" and his portion of a half interest in a mill) apparently abandonned their New Jersey families to remake their lives in Georgia, during the Revolution. John, the eldest Denman brother, may have returned to New Jersey afterwards).

Daniel's son (James) won some Georgia land in the post-Revolutionary lottery. Daniel didn't participate in the lottery, & no further record of him exists (possibly partly owing to Civil War General Sherman's later march to the sea, whence he burned every courthouse & home in his path).

James married Claranna Wellborn & had a big family (including my ancestor, Blake Denman).

Blake married Neaty Elston & had my gg-grandfather, William C. Denman (already mentioned). He & wife Sallie had 2 living children, including my g-grandfather (Isaiah "Isaac" Cranfield Denman, a man reputed to be musically gifted).
Neaty Elston was the g-granddaughter of John Sevier, the first and six-times governor of Tennessee.  He was also a Revolutionary war hero, an Indian fighter, a foe of Andrew Jackson, a multiple times elected Congressman or Senator (not sure which), who died having attained the rank of General (George Washington himself promoted him to the rank of Brigadier General).  Furthermore, John Sevier came from a noble Basque family called the de Xaviers.  St. Francis Xavier was one of his (and thus my) uncles.  The family which was once Catholic, later converted to Protestantism (Huguenots) and moved from Navarre, Spain, to France; then later again moved from France to London, England.

William C. & Sallie Denman, a daughter (Willie Denman Brown, age 20 at death) & an infant grandchild, a girl also named 'Willie', are all buried on private land once owned by the family in Flemington, Florida.  Sallie (Sarah J.) was the daughter or granddaughter of Littleton Crankfield, of South Carolina.

Isaiah & wife Lillie V. (Vernon?, perhaps) had 3 children, including my grandfather (Vernon Winters Denman, who died age 38 in 1944, under suspicious circumstances, leaving his wife (my grandmother, Lillie Yarbrough) a widow with orphanned children eventually spending some time in foster homes).

I intuitively knew that these were my paternal ancestors, but now I'm quite sure of it. Before going South (so to speak), our clan picked up a little bit of Dutch DNA, through Marie Madelain Gerneaux (var. spellings, most commonly Mary Gano), in Staten Island, New York. She had sailed to America with her family at age 1 1/2, on the 'De Beaver', from La Rochelle, France, in the second half of the 17th century. (The Stoughtons are probably also of Dutch heritage, apparently.)  The first John Denman to come to America (from Gravesend to Boston, on the Dorset), married Sarah Hollander (which I believe is a German surname).

[UPDATE: Seems I'm a daughter of the Revolutionary War, just as I suspected (Daniel Wright Denman fought for Georgia, along with two of his brothers. We are descended from Daniel & his first wife, Deborah Scudder, whom he abandonned in New Jersey when he went south to Georgia).

Also we do trace back to the earliest Puritan colonists in Salem, Massachussetts. Then our family settled in Dutch New York & later, New Jersey. The line is traceable all the way back to 1430, to John Denman of Redford (or, Retford, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, England).

We are related to the (Dutch/English) Stoughtons, Judith Stoughton's son John Denman (who emigrated to the New World via the 'Dorset' which embarked on September 30, 1635 & captained by a man named "Flower"). We're also related to (Dutch) Marie Madelain Gayneau (many spelling variations).

We have two Protestant queens on the tree (Mary II, who reigned with her husband William III, Prince of Orange - "William & Mary" - & Queen Anne, who was married to the Prince George of Denmark. Both women were either childless or had many stillborns, children who died in infancy, etc. So none of their heirs survived to continue their branch of the Denman tree.

These two sister-queens were descended maternally from a Reverend Nicholas Denman, husband of Lady Anne Hercy. Their son, Francis Denman's, daughter (Lady Anne Aylesbury) had a daughter (Lady Frances Hyde) who had a daughter (Anne Hyde) who married king James II (a Stuart, & Catholic) & was the mother of Mary II & Anne (Stuarts). He evidently was deposed & replaced first by Mary, then later by Anne.

So, we've had many prominent & wealthy individuals on our family tree. But our specific line fell into economic hard times (like so many other Americans, these days).]

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