To: Descendants of Margaret (Sharp) Boggs
Re: Ancestry of Margaret Sharp Boggs, b. ca. 1732, m. March 25, 1751 to James Boggs in DE, lived in East Fallowfield Township, Chester County, PA, moved to valley of the Jackson River, Augusta (now Bath) County, Virginia, moved again to the valley of the Greenbrier River, Greenbrier County, (now West) Virginia, and d. between 1816 and 1819, leaving numerous descendants
Issue.Who were Margaret Sharp’s parents and siblings?
1. James Boggs was the son of Francis and Agnes (maiden name as-yet unknown) Boggs, who lived in East Fallowfield Township of Chester County, PA.
2. The marriage of James Boggs and Margaret Sharp was recorded at Old Swedes’ (now known as Holy Trinity) Church in Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware on March 25, 1751.
3. When founded about 1698, Old Swedes was a “Lutheran” church.The Rev. Israel Acrelius, a Swedish Lutheran missionary clergyman, was pastor of Old Swede’s from 1749 to 1756 and so, presumably, married James and Margaret.While Old Swede’s was Protestant, it is fairly certain that it was NOT a Presbyterian church and was NOT a Quaker meeting house.
4. James and Margaret (Sharp) Boggs named their first two sons William and Francis, born ca. 1752 and 1754, respectively.The choice of the name Francis for the second son would seem to be in honor of the baby’s paternal grandfather, that is, James Boggs’s father, Francis Boggs.
5. In 1754, a James Boggs appeared, for the first time, as an “inmate” on the tax list for West Marlborough Township, Chester County, PA.An inmate was a married renter.Later tax lists for West Marlborough do not include any James Boggs.
6. In 1756 and 1758, a James Boggs appeared on the tax list for East Fallowfield Township.Later tax lists for East Fallowfield do not include any James Boggs.
7. In 1753, a James Sharp appeared on the tax list for West Marlborough Township.Later tax lists for West Marlborough do not include any James Sharp.
8. In the 1750s West Marlborough Township was (and still is today) immediately South of East Fallowfield.See the map at http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/maps/pa/county/chester/usgs/http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/maps/pa/county/chester/usgs/.Click on the townships on the map to see a U.S. Geological Survey topographical map, showing watercourses and land elevations, along with towns.
9. In the 1750s, Buck Run, a watercourse near the Doe Run Presbyterian Church (which Francis Boggs helped to establish about 1740), was known as the North Branch of Doe Run.Doe Run’s North and South branches join and then it flows into the West Branch of Brandywine Creek, which flows South into Delaware and through Wilmington.
10. Doe Run (of today, or the South Branch of Doe Run, as it was known in the 1750s) flows through West Marlborough and then enters East Fallowfield, so that the two townships share the Doe Run valley.
11. In January 1750 (January 8-12, 1749/50 in the listing cited below), West Marlborough assessed a tax of 1 (one) shilling, 9 (nine) pence on a “Margrat” Sharp.I obtained this information from a genforum posting by a Patton researcher.See http://genforum.genealogy.com/patton/messages/4606.htmlhttp://genforum.genealogy.com/patton/messages/4606.html
12. The records of Chester County show that a William Sharp died there (no township specified) in 1747, leaving no will, so that the court appointed an administrator, requiring that bond be posted, but no inventory accounting of the estate was filed.See http://dsf.chesco.org/archives/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=612636http://dsf.chesco.org/archives/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=612636
13. James Boggs’s younger sister, Agnes, married a widower, Davidson Filson, son of John Filson (John was also instrumental in founding Doe Run Presbyterian Church).The wedding was at First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, on August 15, 1762.
14. East Fallowfield is approximately 32 miles from Philadelphia and approximately 26 miles from Wilmington.
15. The Rev. Andrew Sterling was pastor of both the “New Side” Doe Run Presbyterian and the “New Side”"Second Congregation of Upper Octorara" Presbyterian starting in 1747 (and continuing until 1765, being succeeded by the Rev. William Foster in 1768).
16. After living in southeastern Pennsylvania for a time, James and Margaret (Sharp) Boggs, with children, moved south and west, into the Valley of Virginia, into the area that was then Augusta County (on Jackson River), and eventually settling in the Greenbrier River valley.
17. Apparently there is no Sharp will from Chester County, PA in the period from 1751 to 1775 that includes any mention of the testator’s daughter being a Margaret Boggs.
Assumptions & Inferences.
1. Margaret Sharp was likely between the ages of 16 and 26 at marriage, so likely born between 1725 and 1735.Her last known child, Andrew, was born ca. 1767, so if she was no more than 40 at his birth, she was likely born in/after 1727.Because young women did not often go to college or pursue careers in the 1750s, marriage at 18 was not uncommon.Therefore, Margaret might have been born about 1732 (or early 1733).
2. James Boggs and Margaret Sharp were living in reasonably close proximity to each other in 1751, in order to meet and court.
3. In 1751, James Boggs and Margaret Sharp were living reasonably close to (i.e., within less than a day’s travel (wagon? horseback? foot?) of) Wilmington, DE.
While further research is needed, I would like to propose that Margaret (Sharp) Boggs was related to the Sharps who appear (fleetingly) in the records of West Marlborough Township.She might have been the daughter of the William Sharp who died in 1747 in Chester County, and either she herself, or, more likely, her mother, a widow, could have been the “Margrat” Sharp assessed in 1750.Economic hardship would have encouraged Margaret to marry.Margaret might also have been related to the James Sharp on the 1753 West Marlborough tax list (although this could have been the James Sharp of Sadsbury, who might have owned land in multiple townships).Does anyone have reliable information that would either discount or support the theory proposed here?
In analyzing the data (in historic context), I would like to focus on religion, geographic proximity, and naming choices as evidence supporting the theory here.I recognize that it is not the kind of iron-clad “proof” that we would like, but it might ultimately prove to be the only evidence we can find.
I would like to begin with an analysis of religion, because I believe it might shed light on the issue.James Boggs, of Scotch-Irish ancestry, was almost certainly Presbyterian.I believe his parents (widely accepted to have been Francis and Agnes, of East Fallowfield Township, in Chester County, PA) were living in the area near Doe Run Presbyterian Church, established in 1740 and apparently part of the “New Side” or “New Light” Presbyterian sect of that time.What religion was Margaret Sharp?
If Margaret was a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian living in reasonable proximity to the Boggs family in 1751, then she would have been in the area of either Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church or Doe Run Presbyterian Church.The question then arises, why would a couple, both of whom attended Doe Run, choose to travel a considerable distance (on foot? horseback? or in a wagon?) to Wilmington to be married in a non-Presbyterian church?Was there a custom of taking such a trip as a part of some “honeymoon” custom of that time???Apparently the pulpit of Doe Run was NOT vacant in March 1751, as the Rev. Andrew Sterling was filling both New Side Upper Octorara and New Side Doe Run from about 1747.Nonetheless, James’s younger sister Agnes, and neighbor Davidson Filson, son of a Doe Run Presbyterian founder, chose not to be married at Doe Run in 1762, going instead to Philadelphia (albeit to a Presbyterian church).Does this support the idea of a “wedding trip”?Or were these elopements to avoid parental disapproval?Surely Davidson was too old at the time of this, his second marriage, to worry about others’ opinions of his choice of bride?Did both James and Agnes seek to avoid the disapproval of their parents, Francis and Agnes?
If Margaret was NOT a Presbyterian, however, then she might have been a Quaker, as there were numerous Quakers in southeast Pennsylvania and several Quaker meeting houses (numerous organizations of “Monthly Meeting”).Quakers could not marry non-Quakers in the meeting house (in fact, some were “disowned” for marrying out of unity with their Quaker religion).It is also possible that a Presbyterian minister might not welcome a Quaker into a Presbyterian marriage service (on the belief that “mixed marriages” were unwise).Therefore, a goodly number of Quakers from southeast Pennsylvania made the trip to Old Swedes’ to be married to non-Quakers.If Margaret Sharp was a Quaker, she might not have been Scotch-Irish, but instead of English or Welsh ancestry.The surname Sharp was not uncommon in either England, Wales or Scotland (and Northern Ireland).
If Margaret was a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian, however, it is always possible that her family were not part of the “New Side” sect but of the more traditional “Old Side” Presbyterians.Maybe Margaret’s parents had avoided Doe Run and instead had attended church at Upper Octorara (near modern-day Parkesville, PA), which had actually split into “New” and “Old” sects, and where the Rev. Adam Boyd had the “Old Side” portion of the congregation.Cemetery records for the Upper Octorara churchyard include a Thomas Sharpe who died in 1782 at age 75 (and so would have been born about 1707) and church records apparently include people surnamed Sharp.So if James and Margaret were both Presbyterians, but different sects, perhaps they avoided controversy by foregoing a marriage in either of their churches and instead went to the “neutral” Old Swedes’??
While I once believed that Margaret might have been raised in a Quaker family and that she might have changed her affiliation upon marriage, I now believe she was a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian.
For almost 30 years, various Boggs researchers have considered the idea that Margaret might have been a Quaker.Some researchers have gone so far as to propose as a theory that she was the daughter of New Jersey Quakers William and Mary (Austin) Sharp.There are numerous (repetitive?) submissions to www.rootsweb.com to this effect.Consider the evidence.
William and Mary (Austin) Sharp apparently lived in Burlington County, New Jersey (across the Delaware River from Philadelphia), perhaps in or near either Evesboro or Haddonfield.From submissions to the Latter Day Saints website (www.familysearch.org), we can see that this William Sharp was born about December 2, 1689, to John and Elizabeth (Paine) Sharp.On or about December 1, 1716, he married Mary Austin, supposedly born about 1702 to Francis and Mary (Barton) Austin.I think it is questionable (and even highly suspect) that this couple were the parents of Margaret (Sharp) Boggs.I base my doubt on the following factors.
First, the Evesboro/Haddonfield area is about 33 miles from where James Boggs was living (in East Fallowfield Township of Chester County) and this is just too far for easy social interaction (and courting).Furthermore, in addition to the distance by land, there was the barrier of a broad river, the Delaware.There were no bridges (or fords) at that time, and ferrying across (with a horse) would have been an additional inconvenience and expense.
Second, I am not aware of any evidence that William and Mary (Austin) Sharp moved any closer to East Fallowfield or that James Boggs had moved to their area at any time prior to 1751.
Third, the submissions to the LDS site list several children for William and Mary (Austin) Sharp but do not include any daughter Margaret.
Fourth, none of the submissions to rootsweb cite any primary (or even secondary) source(s) for this supposed parentage for Margaret (Sharp) Boggs.There is no citation of any will, any baptismal record, any land records, any family Bibles, or even any published genealogies of the Sharps.Many of the rootsweb submissions seem to simply “copy” what has been passed around (or “found” on the internet) and pass it along without question.
Fifth, William and Mary (Austin) Sharp were apparently Quakers and members of Haddonfield Monthly Meeting.The Quakers were very careful about keeping records of their members.Therefore, it seems likely that, if Margaret had been the daughter of William and Mary, she would have appeared in records in some fashion, but no one has cited any such records making any connection.
Sixth, I am not aware of Margaret (Sharp) Boggs naming any daughter Mary (Elizabeth is the only daughter of whom I am aware).If Margaret had been the daughter of Mary (Austin) Sharp, it seems likely that she would have named a daughter after her own mother.
Does anyone have any reliable source for this supposed family connection??
In a search for Quaker Sharps, there were such families within Chester County, much closer to James Boggs’s home than the Haddonfield, New Jersey Sharps.Consider the Sharps of New Garden Township, for example, including Joseph and Mary (Pyle) Sharp and John and Ann (Bryan) Sharp.
John and Ann (Bryan) Sharp were the parents of several children, including a Mary Sharp and a George Sharp.Each of these two were married at Old Swede’s, just like Margaret Sharp and James Boggs.Mary Sharp married John Woodward there in 1757, just six years after James and Margaret (Sharp) Boggs.George Sharp marriedAbigail Gregg (or Craig) there in 1762.Does this indicate a pattern?
John and Ann (Bryan) Sharp were supposedly married in 1726 and their oldest known child was John, born in 1730.Thus, there was ample time between marriage (in 1726) and John’s birth in 1730 to have had a child born about 1728, so there is room for Margaret (although no record of her).However, the 1778 will of Ann (Bryan) (Sharp) Nichols of Chester County, PA, while mentioning two daughters, does not mention any daughter Margaret.
Another Old Swede’s marriage was Elizabeth Sharp and Benjamin Orin in 1750, the year before James and Margaret (Sharp) Boggs.Could this Elizabeth be related to Margaret (e.g., a sister)?Benjamin and Elizabeth (Sharp) Orin supposedly had a daughter Rebecca born in 1752 in New Garden Township, Chester County, PA, so Elizabeth might also belong to the Sharp families of that area, Quaker or Presbyterian.
As for the other Sharps married at Old Swedes, do they offer any clues?Is it possible that one or more of Margaret’s siblings might have married there as well?Assuming Margaret was born about 1732, then her siblings would have been born within 20 years before (if Margaret was the youngest) or within 20 years after (if Margaret was the oldest), so between 1712 and 1752.If her siblings married between the ages of 18 and 25, then their marriages would have been between 1730 and 1777.Therefore, of the 12 Sharp marriages at Old Swede’s (extracted from church records and electronically published on the LDS website), the following could possibly be siblings of Margaret.
1. Jane Sharp, m. 1744 James Ellet (Elliott?)
2. Elizabeth Sharp, m. 1750 Benjamin Orin
3. Joseph Sharp, m. 1755 Franky (Frances?) Wilson
4. Mary Sharp, m. 1757 John Woodward
5. Mary Sharp, m. 1760 James Harper
6. George Sharp, m. 1762 Abigail Gregg (or Craig)
7. Thomas Sharp, m. 1771 Elizabeth Rotch (Roach? Roush? Rausch?)
8. Rachel Sharp, m. 1773 Isaac Allen
I have already discussed Elizabeth, the Mary who married Woodward, and George.I have not had any luck finding parents, siblings, children or locations for the other five Sharps in the list above.Does anyone have any information on them, and did any of them have a sister Margaret born circa 1732?
On the assumption that Margaret Sharp must have been living within a reasonable geographic proximity to James Boggs, so they could meet and court, I used a map and drew ever-larger concentric circles around Doe Run Presbyterian Church, to see what Sharps might have lived within a certain radius of James Boggs (presumably still in the household of his parents, Francis and Agnes, in East Fallowfield).This led me to the Quaker Sharps in New Garden, the Presbyterian Sharps in Sadsbury (at Upper Octorara) and the Sharps of Newlin and West Marlborough.Based on the tax list showing a James Boggs as an “inmate” in West Marlborough in 1754, I believe this is the best locale for further searching.There was, however, a John Sharp who died in Newlin (just southeast of East Fallowfield) in 1742, leaving no will, so that the court appointed an administrator, a bond was filed and there was even an estate inventory accounting.Does anyone know anything of this man?Could he have had a daughter Margaret?Would his wife have remarried, so that Margaret might have lived in the household of a stepfather with a surname other than Sharp?
Geographic proximity could also play a role in the migration of James and Margaret into Virginia.Did any Sharp families appear near James and Margaret on the Jackson River during the period from approximately 1763-1771?Did any Sharp families appear near James and Margaret on the Greenbrier River from approximately 1771 to 1806?If so, did any of these Sharps move at about the same time, or did any clearly follow Margaret?Or had anyone preceded James and Margaret and then encouraged them to follow?In other words, did Margaret have any brothers who moved to Virginia?
Knowing that American pioneer families often moved to the “frontier” in extended family groups, is it possible that, when James and Margaret (Sharp) Boggs moved from Pennsylvania to Virginia, that any of her family (i.e., brothers surnamed Sharp) moved there about the same time?Two known possibilities are John and Ann (Boyd) Sharp and a William Sharp.
John and Ann (Boyd) Sharp were supposedly from Chester County (perhaps Sadsbury Township and the area of Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church) and moved to Augusta County, VA, where John’s will was probated about 1816.There are indications that this couple did not come until after the Revolution (i.e., after 1781, and possibly as late as 1802).By that time, James and Margaret had left Augusta and moved to the Greenbrier River, so this is not a strong possibility.
William Sharp of Augusta and Pocohontas Counties of Virginia (and now West Virginia), was born circa 1740 to a John and Margery Sharp.Rebecca Sharp has apparently done thorough research and shared a biography of this William online at http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/wv/pocahontas/bios/wmsharpsr-bio.txthttp://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/wv/pocahontas/bios/wmsharpsr-bio.txt.This William was already in VA by 1740 and had no sister Margaret, so he is not a close relative of our Margaret (Sharp) Boggs.There is no indication that Margaret (Sharp) Boggs might have followed this other Sharp family some 20 years later.
Does anyone know of any other Sharp families that might have lived near James and Margaret in Virginia?
Margaret (Sharp) Boggs had several sons.Did she name any of them for her father?Her sons (generally accepted, based on fairly strong evidence, although not necessarily “proven”) were William, Francis, James, Ezekiel, Samuel, Alexander, John and Andrew.Francis was likely named for the baby’s paternal grandfather (i.e., Margaret’s father-in-law).James was likely named for the baby’s father (i.e., Margaret’s husband).James Boggs is believed to have had brothers named William, Robert, Ezekiel, Samuel and Francis, which might explain (at least partially) the names for some of the other sons.This leaves the names Alexander, John and Andrew with no apparent motivation for James Boggs to select these names, so were they names from Margaret Sharp’s family?There were instances of the name Alexander in other Boggs branches.The name John is really common.The name Andrew is not uncommon among the Scotch-Irish of that time.Therefore, there is nothing definitive here.Furthermore, it is always possible that Margaret’s father’s name coincidentally duplicated a name from the Boggs side, so her father could have been Francis, James, William, Ezekiel or Samuel.
Given the fact that James and Margaret’s oldest son was named William, and thus his name given higher “priority” over even Francis, the name of James’s father, there could be a strong inference that Margaret’s father was a William, and that this name was duplicated in the name of James’s brother William, and thus took priority over the name Francis.
Due to the fact that Margaret’s sons’ names are almost uniformly typical of Scotch-Irish ancestry, there is a possible inference that she, like her husband, was of Scotch-Irish ancestry (and not a Quaker).Of course, some of the names of Margaret’s sons are also common English names, so it is not irrefutable evidence.
If anyone sees flaws in my data, or weaknesses in the inferences, please contact me to share constructive criticism.I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.