Research on Abshier/Abshire/Abshere and now Abshaw
Note:Yes, I have seen the genealogies that maintain that the original spelling, or at least phonetics, of the name was Abshaw.I yield, but I suspect that the pronunciation ends soft vowel sound since.
I have "Footprints of the Abshier Family in America" and intend to have it copied and eventually digitized as pdfs.Hopefully will put on my web site.
Following are what I found and think.
John (Jean) Abshire and Francis (Francoise) Hargrave "Footprints of the Abshier Family in America" by Thelma Abshier Cessna, page 2, states that John (Jean) Abshire was born in Pennsylvania and that "It is the opinion of several Abshire researchers that the Abshire Family that settled in Virginia in Bedford and Franklin Counties in the late 1770's are of the same family.The children's names all correspond to those of our John Abshire in Lousiana".
There are no citations that I saw as to why Mrs. Cessna maintained that John (Jean) Abshire came from PA. The VA Abshire genealogies that I found list a John I Abshire with the exact same birthday as our John Abshire and married to Francis Hargrave before moving to Louisiana.While I haven't seen census or other documents to prove this, the other information in their family tree (see Lewis below) proved to be very accurate.
I think this information is more credible and I hope to find some records from the 1700's in Bedford and Franklin County Virginia records to substantiate, but I just haven't had the time or interest in proving this. Therefore, the family tree that I developed (titled "Abshier - Music Family Tree" on Ancestry.com and "soon" to be on my web site (www.abshier.net) will use John I Abshier born in VA as the ancestor.Also, I have traced the Francis Hargrave to which he was married to origins in Yorkshire, England.Therefore, I doubt that her name was Francoise.
The lineage on the VA Abshire family tree (from Gordon Abshire - many thanks!) listed the father of John as Peter, then Arthur Jr. then Arthur then Lewis.Lewis was reported to have been born in 1617 in Stifford, Essex, England, that he immigrated to the US in 1637 and that his father was Richard.
From John Abshire and Francis Hargrave I have about 100 ancestors identified, some as far back as 1067.
I 'm not really a genealogy researcher, but I almost immediately found records of a Lewis Abshere who was part of a land grant in James City County VA in 1637 (can be found in several books that record Virginia land grants in the 1600's) and a Lewis Abshire who immigrated from England to JamesCity County in 1637 (can be found on page 11 the unabridged version of "Immigrants to American before 1750" by Frederick Virkus.
What I found next though, required some digging.While in the Houston Public Library I saw some books titled "Essex Parish Registers" (remember, Lewis was from Stifford, Essex) but they were bound and a note said that a digitized version could be found at BYU.But, they only had four volumes.It turns out there are about a hundred of them.
Then I found a web site that is tied to the Essex County government that is digitizing all the registers.But, transcriptions for only a few are available.Fortunately for me, the original handwritten one for Stifford was legible.Also, the Chairperson of the effort to digitize the registers helped.
There I found an entry for the birth of Lewis son of Richard Abshaw dated Nov 2, 1617.Then I found an entry for the birth of Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Abshaw on Apr 30, 1620.Here are those entries:
At first I thought it said Abshair, but later I realized that it really was Abshaw. Probably pronounced something like 'absha' with a soft leading and trailing a and emphasis on the sh.
Elizabeth died when only 21 on August 24 (I think), and there were no records of a marriage for her: >
Then for Apr 10, 1646 I found another son born named Reuben:
Sadly, in 1650 there must have been an epidemic of some sort, for there were a lot of deaths and for August 3 and 4 I found this entry recording the death of Richard's wife and son Reuben:
Which was shortly followed by Richard's death on April 7 of 1651 (not 1635).
Unfortunately, I find the name for Richard's wife illegible.But, it is also possible that the scribe didn't know how to write it.The spelling of any name at that time - Abshire, Abshere, Abshaw or her name was how the scribe thought it should be spelt since most people couldn’t read nor write and therefore didn't have an opinion on how to spell it - only how to pronounce it.
And, this was a transition period between having last names and your last name being where you were from.So it is possible that the last name was actually where he came from or close to it.
The name of Richard's wife might be Aireza, but that is a Middle Eastern name.While looking through other Registers most names were Elizabeth and Mary for girls and William, John or Robert for boys.There was only one other Richard.One girls name, from Ashdon, was Alira.She was about the age that Richard's wife should be so until I can find out what her name really is I will call her Alira.
The Chairman of the group coordinating the digitizing of the Essex Parish Registers said that he had never seen the name Abshaw before, but that it sounded Saxon (the Germanic peoples who invaded what is now England around 400 - 600 AD).He did some quick research and said that one web site ties the name to a Lancashire County family named Habercham.The most famous of them is Matthew de Habercham who lived in the early 1200's.Their descendents also immigrated to Virginia and have various spellings of the name.
As you might have guessed, I have not yet found any record of Richard's birth or his marriage.I have searched only about 15% of the Essex Parish Registers and after those will see if Lancashire County has also digitized their registers.The search by me will probably end there whether they have or not.
I now have my doubts that the origins of the Abshire/Abshere/Abshier family name was in Germany, unless indirectly via a Saxon connection from almost 1500 years ago.If anyone wants to look through the Essex Parish registers let me know and I will send a link.But, keep in mind that the script in the attached images is some of the most easily read that I saw.
I didn't attach the images to this post.Send me your email and I will send along with what I have for John's ancestors.