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Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Grandfathers Were Gentlemen

Extracts from the Records of Newtown. EDITED BY THE TOWN CLERK. EDITOR'S NOTE. — The following

copy of the will of John Denman Has been procured from the archives in Jamaica [New York].  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 [New Jersey]:


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 there for, 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 Christian-like 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



I will that all my lawful debts shall be paid wheresoever due by bills, bonds, or any other lawful amounts



Item, I doe hereby ordain my dearly beloved wife, Mary Denman, to be executrix, and also my beloved

friend and brother in-law, Jeremiah Gannugh [Gano, his wife’s maiden name] 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 as they shall seem meet or convenient for the payment of all the debts, and after the

debts are all paid what shall be left of lands, 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 [she eventually married a Brooks, who was probably another French

Huguenot like herself] 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 6th (?) g-grandfather], 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 [John, husband

of Mary Elizabeth Williams; from whom we are descended through his son Daniel and wife, Deborah

Scudder] 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 [Samuel Scudder] (his E mark),

Jacob Reeder, John Gunsell.


At a special meeting of John Jackson, Esq., Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, in Queens county, and

Willm. [William] 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, &c., &c., Anno Dom 1714, the within last will and testament of John

Denman, of Newtown, in Queen’s county, Yeoman, deceased, therein named was proven by the oaths

of Sam'l. Schuder [Samuel Scudder], Jacob Reeder and John Gunsell, witnesses thereunto subscribed.

And Mary Denman and Jeremiah Gennung [ssp. Gennugh / Gano], 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.  [signed] John Jackson, Willm.

[William] Bloodgood, Anthony Waters.  Entered March 2, 1714 J. SMITH, Clerk. Queens County, Clerk's

Office, ss. [signed and sealed]


… 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 [NY], this 2d day of July, 1884.  JOHN H. SUTPHIN, Clerk.


… John, the eldest son [married to Mary Elizabeth Williams, of Welsh descent, and possibly related to

Rhode Island Governor, Roger Williams], purchased in 1720 a hundred acre tract in what is now called

the town of Cranford, Union county, New Jersey.  He died in 1775 [or most likely 1776, at the outbreak

of the Revolution, when it is rumored that he died shortly after standing in for his sons during the

christening  of two of his grandsons, while their fathers were away fighting]… leaving four sons, John

[the eldest, who for whatever reason only received “two shillings” from the will of his father John’s New

Jersey estate, ironically a far cry from the musket and land generously bequeathed to his father by his

grandfather – all three men of the same namesake, John Denman], Daniel [my ancestor, who with

brother John and son James, went down to fight in Georgia and vicinity during the Revolution –  never to

return to New Jersey (only John apparently did return to his NJ family, either during or following the

war; Daniel’s wife, Deborah Scudder, evidently was widowed during the war and remarried another

Denman man, Philip, probably Daniel’s Connecticut cousin; and James received Georgia land to homestead, in a post-war lottery)], Joseph and Christopher Denman [both of

whom fought the War for New Jersey], and two  daughters, Mary and Jennie.  Christopher; the youngest

son, purchased the rights of his brothers in the [100 acre New Jersey] farm [which the family had

purchased after settling their New York estate], and he became sole owner.  He died in 1808, leaving the

farm to his only son, John Denman [here the family broke from tradition of naming their eldest sons

“John” – Christopher’s eldest brother gave none of his sons that name, oddly enough; suggesting some

sort of grievance between him and their father might have been the reason for the father disowning him

in his will]… whose death took place in 1849, leaving the farm undivided.  The old homestead [in New

Jersey] still remains in the family and name [as of 1884, when this article was published in the Newtown

Register; the estate also is rumored to have supplied lumber for the building or maintenance of the USS

Constitution (“Old Ironsides”, a major asset during the War of 1812 and presently the only seaworthy

historical wooden US navy ship); the estate is also home to a locally famous tree called Old Peppy, a

Pepperidge tree].

(My 7th ? g-grandfather’s will, published in the December, 1884 issue of the Newtown (Long Island, New York) Register.)
(Updating a previous post of this and another will, now that I've learned a lot more about the family history and cleared up a few details.)

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