Document Analysis Gives Clues
Recently, I wrote in this space that a correspondent had offered certain documents related to the Revolutionary War pension application of one William Manson. I’ve now received and analyzed those documents. I’m excited by what this trove suggests and I’m grateful to Carolyn Lambert, a Midwestern family historian, for her generosity in sharing the documents.
A brief review: I’m on the trail of the origins of my Manson ancestors in America. I know that the earliest such ancestor I can document is Charlotte Manson. She was born in the late 1700’s in South Carolina and later moved to Georgia. She was the mother of Jane Manson, born about 1823 in Talbot County, Georgia. Coincidentally [or maybe not], another Jane Manson lived in western Georgia at about the same time. This Jane Manson was Jane Manson Norwood, mother of Georgia politician Thomas Manson Norwood. I’ve been trying to determine whether Jane Manson Norwood had any connection to Charlotte Manson.
Here’s what I’ve learned from the new documents: In 1832, William Manson, then residing in Jefferson County, Tennessee, made an affidavit in order to apply for his Revolutionary War pension. He averred that he “was born on the 13th of November 1750 in Caithness, one of the Northern shires of Scotland . . . .” The affidavit continues, “In the year 1775, he emigrated to the United States and landed at Savannah, Georgia late in the fall of 1775.”
From separate sources, I know that in September 1775, three ships carrying Scots immigrants arrived in Georgia. The three ships were the Georgia Packet, the Georgia Merchant, and the Marlborough. There were Mansons on each of these vessels. Any of them could be a relative of the Charlotte Manson we’re seeking. But the most intriguing of these is William Manson, who arrived aboard the Marlborough. This William Manson is said to have been born on July 24, 1751, according to historian David Dobson, and came from Dunnet, Caithness. The birth dates don’t match, however. This could be an error, as Dobson’s work also assigns a birth date of July 24, 1751, to a Margaret Manson, who arrived on a different ship, the Georgia Merchant.
Another interesting fact about our Marlborough passenger is that he was married to one Elizabeth Sinclair. Now, our pensioner declared that he had a son named Sinclair, born in 1772. Yet the pensioner also declared that he was married on October 13, 1783 to a woman named Mary. This suggests, of course, that Mary was a second wife.
So could the Marlborough passenger and the pensioner be the same person?
Pensioner William Manson had six children with Mary, one of whom was Jane, who was born in South Carolina. She later married Caleb Merriman Norwood in Blount County, Tennessee.
Clearly, there’s a lot here to continue to look into. More to follow.
Another Interesting Note
In his pension application, William Manson declares that he served under Captain John Bowie when he enlisted in South Carolina July, 1776. This would appear to be the first contact between these two of my American families.
May 31, 2006 Wednesday at 9:11 pm