HYPOTHESIS FOR THE FACTUAL IDENTIFICATION OF NICHOLAS HENSHAW, THE IMMIGRANT FOUNDER OF THE HENSHAW FAMILY OF BERKELEY COUNTY, WV
Our hypothesis is that the immigrant ancestor of the Berkeley County Henshaw family is Nicholas Henshaw, the son of Richard and Ellen Henshaw who was baptized in Spalding, Lincolnshire, England, 31 August 1695. He had brothers named William and John, and in later years this Nicholas would name his own sons William and John, and his eldest daughter Eleanor (Ellen). This is the only Nicholas Henshaw in England listed by the IGI who would be close to age 25 in 1720/21,1 his recorded age at that time. In 1703 Nicholas' mother remarried in England to Mr. Coyson.
In October 1720, Nicholas Henshaw was sentenced as a felon and boarded the Gilbert, under Capt. Darby Lux and was transported from London, England, to Annapolis, Maryland. His surname was listed as "Hanshaw," and was designated as from Surrey, aged 25, and fair. He arrived in Annapolis on the Gilbert in May 1721, and was listed as one of 25 felons.
The next record we have of Nicholas is from the property tax listings for Nottingham, Chester County, Pennsylvania. From 1725 through 1735 his taxes ranged from 1 shilling 3 pence to 2 shillings. Spellings of his surname varied from Hanshaw, Handshaw, Hindshaw, and Hansher. These tax records show that Nicholas lived among Quakers, but his name is never included in their signature logs. He lived next door in Nottingham to Henry Reynolds, Jr., two years older than Nicholas, whose father came from England in 1676. Henry¹s wife was a Brown. After Nicholas¹ marriage on 3 November 1726 in the Church of England’s Christ Church, Philadelphia, to Rebecca Smith, Rebecca attended two Quaker weddings in Nottingham. One was a Brown marrying a Harris, and the other, a Harris. They were invited by Henry Reynolds, but Nicholas’ signature does not appear on these Quaker logs.
His first son, John, was born in 1734. The following year, on 21 March, Nicholas Henshaw requested and received a land warrant for 150 acres "whereon He has been several years settled," However, there is no record for a land sale.
The first indication we have that Nicholas and his family were interested in moving to Virginia, appears on 19 September 1737 when Rebecca was granted a certificate for Hopewell, VA, from Nottingham, PA, and on 21 May 1739, Nicholas Hanshaw was received at Hopewell, from Nottingham. That same year, John Hancher received 500 acres on the drains of Opekon Creek, Orange Co., from Robert Brooke, who had received a patent from the Colony on 9 Feb 1737 for 350 Acres which he had surveyed for Isaac Walker 14 Nov 1735 as a 500 Acre tract. It was about this same time that Nicholas’s first daughter, Eleanor, was born, followed by Mary in 1740.
A few years later, the Morgan Chapel records show the births of two Hinshaw children: William Hinshaw on 2 May 1743 and Hannah Hinshaw on 18 March 1746. It seems logical that Nicholas remained true to his Church of England, as it was Rebecca who had the known Quaker connections. The Morgan Chapel later became Christ Episcopal Church of Bunker Hill, where a large number of the Henshaw family worshipped and were buried. However, the several accounts of the Quaker activities at Hopewell show that many members of the family did participate in Quaker activities, as one by one were rejected by the Hopewell Meeting. The following are just a few examples: On 20 August 1759 - John (son of Nicholas and Rebecca Smith Hancher, husband of Sarah Caudy) was Condemned for marrying out of Unity.2,3 Hannah Hancher Berry (daughter of Nicholas and Rebecca Smith Hancher) was disowned for marrying out of Unity on 4 January 1762, and on 5 April 1762 William (son of Nicholas and Rebecca Smith Hancher) was condemned for assisting his sister to marry out of Unity.4
A photocopy of the original land grant shows that on 10 September 1766 John Hancher received his grant from Fairfax for 172 acres. The spelling of the surname is important, as it is just one of many spellings used by the Opekon family, in contrast to the Massachusetts family which is invariably "Henshaw."5
The year following the land grant, Nicholas sold on 30 March, 350 of his 500 Opekon acres to Hugh Sidwell of Chester, PA, for £21. Perhaps this sale was made as his son John had received the 172 acres and the family could use the money rather than excess land.
On 30 January 1768, William Henshaw married Nancy Anderson, and there are a number of legal documents showing his political, business, and military pursuits. The "Henshaw" spelling of his name did not take over completely until the 19th century, and other family members continued to use different forms.
Nicholas’s will of 21 September 1774 was proven on 19 August 1777. His children were John Hancher, who married Sarah Caudy; Eleanor Hancher, wife of Robert Broomfield; Mary Hancher, wife of John Stonebridge; William Henshaw, who married "Nancy" Anderson; and Hannah Hancher, who married Thomas Berry.
After the death of John in 1793, the 172 acres which had been granted to him in 1766 by Lord Fairfax, was found to be 193 acres by a resurvey in 1799. The metes and bounds of the entire lot, followed by descriptions of the metes and bounds of the ten lots into which it was divided is shown in the Court records. The property went to ten of the eleven children of John and Sarah, all of whom are described. Unfortunately for the early 20th century family "historians," this definitely shows that the granted 1766 property was to John, son of Nicholas, and later passed on to his heirs. The descendants of William Henshaw had no part in this.
This Henshaw family needs no clarification, once the proper facts concerning Nicholas and his children are cleared up, as there is much legal documentation in Berkeley County and the counties from which it was formed. It may be considered important for present-day Berkeley County historians to make proper addenda to county histories which attribute Henshaw ancestry to a family which actually had no connection to the Henshaws in Berkeley County. It is also interesting to note that immigration lists show that there were other Henshaw men and women who arrived in Virginia and Maryland at about the same time and whose descendants later married descendants of Nicholas.
Submitted by Henshaw descendants, Carroll Henshaw Hendrickson, Jr., Betty Carson, and Donald Henshaw. Material by other Henshaw descendants previously received and included in our lists of documents was researched by Christine McCormick (most importantly), Edward G. Arntzen, Howard Camp, W.G. Dorwart, and Marion Rambo.
International Genealogical Index, Latter Day Saints The King¹s Passengers to Maryland and Virginia pp.6-10, Peter W. Coldham
Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage, Peter W. Coldham, pp.354, 381
Chester County, PA, tax records in the Chester County Archives
Letter of 24 July 1998 to Marion Rambo from Christ Church of Philadelphia, verifying the marriage of Nicholas Hencher and Rebecca Smith Warantee of Land in Chester Co. PA Book A-20. Page 206 (20 Mar 1735)
Bulletin of Friends' Historical Association #102, "Quaker Migration from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to Hopewell Monthly Meeting 1732-1759"
Morgan Chapel Records-WV Historical Mag Vol 8:167
Virginia Volume Quaker Meetings held in Frederick Co.1759-1781
Disownments at Hopewell 1759-1829 Book I - 1759-1829
Photocopy of the grant of 172 acres on 10 September 1766 to John Hancher from Fairfax.
Excerpts from the below listed documents furnished by the Clerk’s Office of Frederick County, Virginia in re the estate of John Hansher (Hancher) (Henshaw): Frederick County Court Order Book No. 31, pp. 320,409 (³divide the real estate of John Hancher²) Will Book No 5, p. 483(²Appraisment of the personal estates of John Hancher²) Order Book No 24, p. 563 (³Administration of the Eastate of John Hancher²) Deed Book No. 27, p.333 (division of real estate of Joohn Hancher) Historical Records of Old Frederick and Hampshire Counties, Virginia (Revised), Wilmer L. Kerns, Bowie MD 1992 p. 195 "Henshaw, John, son of Nicholas and Rebecca (Smith), was born in 1734 and died in Frederick County, VA, May 6, 1793. His wife was Sarah Ann Caudy, daughter of James Caudy. Sarah died in 1807, in Frederick County. Source: Records in LDS Library, SLC, UT."
1. There was another known Nicholas Henshaw #16680 who would probably have been about the same age, but this other Nicholas married in London in 1723 and so presumably was a different Nicholas. It is of course possible that one or more additional Nicholas's might have been born/christened in this same timeframe and are somehow not included (or badly indexed) in the LDS records, but the LDS collection of extracted English church records is remarkably extensive.
2. The date recorded in the Hopewell Friend Meeting record of minutes was 8 Mo. 20, 1759. Since England and the American colonies were slow to adopt the modern Gregorian calendar (enacted by Parliament in 1752) it is uncertain if this date was recorded using the modern calendar (August 20, 1759) or was recorded using the old-style Julian calendar, in which case this date would be equivalent to October 31, 1759 by the modern calendar.
3. By Quaker custom and practice, John was not actually condemned by anyone, but instead John himself condemned his own misconduct, begging the meeting for forgiveness. Since no record of John's disownment is known, it appears the meeting accepted his contrition and he was retained in membership. Condemnations of misconduct like this, especially for marriages to non-Quakers, were extremely common.
4. On 4 Mo. 5, 1762 (April 5, 1762, if this was recorded using the modern calendar, which is likely by 1762) a complaint was made against William for having assisted his sister in her marriage out-of-unity. By Quaker custom a committee would have been assigned to investigate the matter and to meet with William to convince him to condemn his misconduct. Since William did not condemn his misconduct, on 8 Mo. 2, 1762 he was disowned (expelled). Disownment formally removed him from the Society of Friends, but he remained an active part of the Quaker community as he attended and witnessed several Quaker marriages 1773-1792.
5. Although the branch of New England Henshaws who descended from Joshua Henshaw seem to have been consistently recorded as "Henshaw", there were other branches in Massachusetts who were recorded variously as Henshaw, Hencher and Hincher.
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