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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Two Colonial American Denman Wills of Record

[Note: the following is a copy of the abstract of John Denman's (m. Mary Elizabeth Williams) will, wherein he disinherited his eldest son John, and apparently his wife also.   Don't know ~why (maybe the two high-status family members, wife and eldest son, were already wealthy enough in their own right, and didn't need or want any of the old man's wealth -- who knows?); but I do know that evidently after John and my ancestor, his brother Daniel, left New Jersey for Georgia shortly after the Revolutionary war was formally declared by the United Colonies -- John Sr. died rather suddenly of a cold he caught while standing in for one of the absent sons, at a local Presbyterian church christening ceremony of one of his sons' infant babies: his grandson, named "John".

There was also another of his grandbabies christened that same day or evening, and it is assumed by historians, that one child each belonged to the two absent sons.  The Revolutionary war, as any other bloody conflict would, took a great toll on individuals and entire communities.  But there are times when we must fight for what we believe is ~right.]

"You could say I am a bit confused here, trying to read all these messages "In Defense of Daniel Wright Denman". And the comment that there's no proof he existed. Is the question over the fact of the middle name 'Wright'?

'**abstract of will 1769, Jan 14.
DENMAN, JOHN, of Borough of Elizabeth, Essex Co., Yeoman.

'Eldest son John, 2 shillings. Son, Joseph, land near where he lives, bounded by John Scudder, Benjamin Scudder, John Williams, and my son Joseph.
Sons, DANIEL, and Christopher, my plantation of about 50 acres. Sons, Joseph, DANIEL, and Christopher, all my one-half part of the mill and land near thereto, and my salt meadow and real estate not before devised. Wife, Elizabeth, all the good which she brought at our marriage. Daughters, Mary and Jane, the moveable estate. [END abstract] exe my friends Ephraim Terrill and David Ross, Jr.....
signed John Denman Proved April 2, 1776.'

"So I suppose we know for sure there was a Daniel Denman and would guess since John Scudder and Benjamin Scudder are mentioned in the will as neighbors, that this Daniel Denman is probably the one who married Deborah Scudder 22 Mary 1761 Newtown, Queens County, Long Island Presbyterian Church.
Am I way off here?


[Note: People unfortunately often fail to understand the effects that wars (overt or covert; declared or undeclared) have on civilization, and on the continuity and accuracy of record-keeping.  War causes chaos and confusion, in addition to losses of life and property.  Maybe that's why the Native Americans didn't bother to try to keep formal written records (it wasn't that many of them weren't capable of doing so).

Maybe it was fruitless to invest much energy or resources into it, because they too often were forced by circumstances (ie by numerous and various types of enemy tribal attacks) to fight so much, just for basic survival.  Maybe they valued life itself and the sustenance thereof, more so than the upkeep of official legal records.  Their homes and structures were rarely built in such a way that would imply local permanence (excepting the cosmopolitan tribes, like the Maya, etc.).  They seemed to be constantly on the lookout for, and prepared for, potential raids on their villages.  I don't believe that the reason was because they were all ignorant savages; the truth is not that simplistic.]

Abstract of John Denman's (b1643, Newtown, NY m. Mary Gano) will, taken from a December 25, 1884 edition of the "Newtown Register":

"Extracts from the Records of Newtown; edited by the Town Clerk; XXVII; Editor's Note -- The following copy of the will of John Denman has been procured from the archives in Jamaica [Queens Co., NY].  It presents a faithful idea of the ancient wills.  It also marks the exodus of the Denman family from Newtown, and their settlement in the Jerseys:

'In the name of God, amen.  The thirteen day of December, in the year of our Lord Christ one thousand seven hundred and fourteen, I, John Denman, of Newtown, in Queens County, on Nassau Island, in the province of New York, yeoman, being sick and weak in body, but of perfect mind and memory, thanks be given unto God therefor, calling unto mind the mortality of my body, and knowing it is appointed for all men once to dye, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say first and principally I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God Almighty that gave it, and for my body I recommend it to the earth to be buried in a Christianlike manner, at the discretion of my executors hereafter named, nothing doubting but at the general Resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God, and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life -- I give, devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form Inprimus:

'I will that all my lawful debts shall be paid wheresoever due by bills, bonds, or any other lawful amounts whatsoever.  Item, I doe hereby ordain my dearly beloved wife, Mary Denman, to be executrix and also my beloved friend and brother-in-law, Jeremiah Gannaugh, of Flushing, in Queens county aforesaid, executor, to be assistant to my beloved wife; giving and granting to my said executors full power, lawful and absolute authority by these presents to make seal of all or any part of all my lands and meadows or goods and chattels shall be and remain to my beloved wife Mary, during her natural life or her widowhood to be for her own benefit and profitt, and at her decease or marriage that then what land and meadow shall be left in her possession, and after all the lawful debts are paid as aforesaid, that then I give, grant and bequeath unto my beloved Son, John Denman, my musket, to be by him injoyed for his birthright, and that all the rest which shall be then remaining after all my lawful debts are paid as above stated, that then all the land and meadow which shall be left I will and bequeath to my four beloved sons, John, William, Philip, and Thomas Denman, to be equally divided by them, quantity and quality, my eldest son to take his first choice in the division, and the remainder of the movable estate that shall then be left I doe give and bequeath also to my three daughters, Martha, Mary and Elizabeth Denman, to be also by them equally by them divided, giving and bequeathing my land and meadow as above expressed, to my four sons above named, to them and to their heirs and assigns for ever, and also to my three daughters above named, Martha, Mary and Elizabeth Denman, above said to be by them divided equally -- and I doe hereby utterly disallow, revoke and disannul all and every other testaments, wills, legacies and enventory by me in any wise before this time named willed and bequeathed, ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament.

'In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year first above written.

'John Denman {Seal}'

"Signed, sealed, published, pronounced and declared by the said John Denman, as his last will and Testament in the presence of us the subscribers, viz:  Sam'l Schuder (his E mark), Jacob Recder, John Gansell.

"At a special meeting of John Jackson, Esq., Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, in Queens county, and Willm. Bloodgood and Anthony Waters, Esqrs., Justices of the said county, held at Jamaica, in said county, on Tuesday, the first day of March, in the first year of the reigne of our Sovereigne Lord George, King of Great Brittaine, &tc., &tc., Anno Dom 1714, the within last will and testament of John Denman, of Newtown, in Queens county, Yeoman, deceased, therein named was proven by the oaths of Sam'l Schuder, Jacob Reeder and John Gunsell, witnesses thereunto subscribed.  And Mary Denman and Jeremiah Gennung, executors thereunto named, are hereunto impowered and authorized to act and doe what executors by law are required or ought to doe, they having already exhibited an inventory of the goods and chattels of the said testator, and also given in bond with sureties for their true performance of the same.  John Jackson, Willm. Bloodgood, Anthony Waters

"Entered March 2, 1714.

"J. Smith, Clerk... Queens Couty, Clerk's Office,}ss.

"I, John H. Sutphin, Clerk of said county, do hereby certify that I have compared the foregoing instrument with the original thereof recorded in my office, March 2d, 1714, in Liber C of Deeds, page 53, and that the same is a true copy thereof and of the whole original.

"Witness my hand as Clerk and the Seal of Queens county, at Jamaica, this 2d day of July, 1884.

"John H. Stuphin, Clerk."

..."John, the eldest son, purchased in 1720 a hundred acre tract in what is now called the town of Cranford, Union county, New Jersey [near Westfield].  He died in 1775 [or 1776?], leaving four sons, John, Daniel, Joseph, and Christopher Denman, and two daughters, Mary and Jennie.  Christopher, the youngest son, purchased the rights of his brothers in the farm, and he became sole owner.  He died in 1808, leaving the farm undivided.  The old homestead still remains in the family and name."


Perhaps I should point out, that there is no evidence in these two wills, of slave ownership by my Denman ancestors.

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