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Court minutes and deeds indicate that Joseph Thames and Martha could possibly or even probably met at her father’s gristmill or ordinary. The deeds and minutes show that Joseph and Martha, after their marriage, probably took up residence in Cross Creek where Joseph was taken into the Matthews/Newberry family business of building and operating grist mills as well as land speculation.
It is very difficult to determine an age for Martha’s birth or date of marriage to Joseph Thames. The best guess we can make is that they married about 1752 and Martha was born about 1732, and that is the basis of determining the ages of their children, when actual birth dates are unknown.
Jesse Thames, the oldest surviving son of Martha and Joseph, received a land patent, no. 1031, on 11 Mar 1775, as shown in NC Patent Book 27, p 171. In Colonial America, the minimum age to buy and sell land was 21 (Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on The Laws of England, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1765, Book 1, Chapter 17).
Obtaining a land patent was a drawn out process. First an entry had to be filed by the prospective landowner after he had scouted out his desired plat. Then a warrant was issued to the county surveyor – which could take a year or more after filing the entry – authorizing (warranting) the surveyor to measure out the tract described in the entry and submit the plat (in duplicate) to the secretary of state. Finally, the land office secretary collected all the fees and payments due (the land wasn’t actually free), recorded the patent in the Patent Book, and surrendered the patent and plat to the now joyful patentee. Source: North Carolina Research, 2nd Edition, Chapter 31 Land Grant Systems, p 313, Helen F M Leary, CG, FASG, Editor, North Carolina Genealogical Society, Raleigh, 1996.
Using this information about the land patent process, let’s say Jesse entered his land claim as soon as he could, at age 21. If we are generous and allow, say, six months for the warrant to be issued, another month for the plat to be surveyed, and another month for the patent to be issued, he filed around August 1774. Subtracting 21 years from that, he was born about 1753.
Here are dates of birth for the children, dates in italics being estimates.
- Jesse – 1753
- Joseph – 1 Sep 1758 (per his headstone)
- William – 1759-1760
- Thomas – 1762
- Martha – 1763
- Samuel – 1765
- John – 1767
Looking at these dates, note the 5-year gap between Jesse and Joseph; surely some children must have died before Joseph wrote his will in 1780. Makes one ponder if one of them was a daughter named Marcy or Prudence, doesn’t it?
The will of Joseph Thames made 11 Oct 1780 at Bladen County, North Carolina, recorded in Bladen Co NC Will Book 2 pp 275-276. Note that the clerk famously mis-transcribed the family name as Thomas. Line breaks are added for readability in the transcription here:
In the name of God “Amen” – I Joseph Thomas of Bladen County and state of North Carolina being in perfect mind and memory make this my last Will and Testament.
First I recommend my soul to god that gave it and my body to be buried at the discretion of my Executors and my estate and effects I bequeath and dispose of in form and manner as follows:
In the first place I order that all my Just debts shall all be paid out of my estate.
And Secondly I give and bequeath to Martha my dearly beloved Wife one-third part of all of my remaining estate during the time of her life then to be given to the children at her disposal.
Item – I give to my sons Jesse Thames Joseph and William Thames the Sum of Five shillings each Lawful money of this state, which is to be paid to them by my executors.
Item – I further order and my mind will is that the other two thirds of all my personal and Real estate negroes lands goods and chattels and moveable estate shall be valued by my Executors and equally divided amongst these my four children Namely – Thomas, Martha, John and Samuel Thimas.
Lastly – I constitute make and ordain Martha my dearly beloved Wife Executrix and also James Jackson, Joseph Thomas and William Thomas Executors of this my Last Will and Testament and I hereby do utterly disallow revoke and disavow all and every other former Testament Wills Legacies and bequests Executors by me in any ways before made willed and bequeathed, ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last Wil and Testament.
In Witness whereof I hereunto set my hand and seal this 11th day of October in the Year of Our Lord 1780.
Witnesses, Benjamin Clark, David Holloway, James Jackson— Joseph Thames then signs with his mark “H”
Joseph names his wife as Martha. He names his children in what appears to be their order of birth – Jesse, Joseph, William, Thomas, Martha, John and Samuel Thames – this conclusion is based on him naming his daughter Martha in the “middle” of the names of the boys. Since he names the last four as “children” it may indicate they are not as yet of age – 21 years old. James Jackson, who is named as an executor and a witness, is Joseph’s brother-in-law, the husband of his sister Marcy. No date of probate is recorded with the will, but Joseph died soon after it was written since Martha paid the property taxes in 1781.