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Samuel Brown and Mary Dickinson and their sons

Notes by Robin Richmond, with citations

Samuel Brown (1717 - 1750) was the son of Henry Brown and Mary Giles. His wife Mary is generally presumed to be Mary Dickinson, the daughter of Adam Dickinson, but I know of no hard evidence of her identity, her birth date and place, or even her death date.

His will was dated 6 Dec 1649 and probated 22 May 1650. It is quoted in full on page 102 of Mead relations : Mead, Brown, Powell, Keyser, Kelly, Trumbo, Austin, Toler, Prichard : Virginia, Kentucky, compiled by A.M. Prichard, Staunton, VA, 1933.  The will can be read at  https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89061976627;view=1up;seq=108

Samuel Brown's death date is usually reported as 6 Dec 1649, the date of his will.  His will does say that his was very ill, but given the probate date, I presume that he died sometime in early 1650.  The will identifies his wife only as "Mary Brown", and names his two sons,  Adam and Henry. He does not mention (he probably didn't know) that his wife was pregnant with their third son, Samuel.

Two of the Brown brothers were adbucted by Native Americans - presumably Shawnees -  in Sep 1746, in the same series of raids in which their step-father, Humphrey Madison, an ensign in the Virginia Militia, was killed.  The younger of the two is supposed to have escaped and returned home, perhaps as many as 13 years later, though there seem to be no records of where, when, or how, or what ultimately happened to him.  Adam Brown was sold to the Wyandotte people of Michigan, where he grew up, married, and raised a family as a proud member of the Wyandotte Turtle Clan.  He also played a role representing Native Americans in support of the British in the War of 1812, and is reported to have relocated to Ontario after the war.  A Wyandotte Nation web site has a biography of Adam Brown at http://www.wyandotte-nation.org/culture/history/biographies/adam-brown/.  FWIW, a touching story of Adam Brown's return to Virginia and a visit with his mother has been published more than once, but is almost certainly false.

Samuel and Mary's third son, Samuel Jr was born in 1750, but I do not know his death date. He had achieved the rank of Colonel in the Virginial Militia by 1780, and lived in Greenbrier County, VA (now West Virginia) until at least 1814 when he reportedly gave a deposition about land he had inherited from his father, according to a collection of Virginia Militia archives called "The Preston Papers" that was serialized in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. The relevant information is in Vol 27, No1 (Jan, 1919), which is available at https://www.jstor.org/stable/4243711?seq=2

(Note: Accounts of the kidnapping of the Brown brothers differ in how they identify the younger brother. That Adam, the oldest of the three Brown brothers, was abducted and lived out his life among Native Americans is unquestioned.  But some accounts say that the second abducted brother was Samual, and others say that it was a brother named William. I've never seen Henry mentioned in any accounts of the incident.  I tend to think that, since Samuel, Jr. lived to maturity and some prominence, if he had been the one who was abducted, we'd know more about his return.  I thus identify Henry as the second kidnapped brother, but I'm really pretty agnostic about it.) 

Mary Dickinson (abt 1725 - ??). It is harder to identify Mary Brown than to identify her husband, but not impossible.  Adam Dickinson was the executor of Samuel Brown's estate, and did have a daughter named Mary, but Samuel Brown's will made no mention of a relationship betwen his wife and his executor.  We know about the death of Mary's second husband, Humphrey Madison, but we don't really know his orgins, and the only extant record of (presumably) their marriage omits her name. (It's most likely that Humphrey comes from the extended family of President James Madison's grandfather, but it is not clear how he fits into that family.)

We do have solid records of Mary's third husband James Littlepage, who was born in 1738 to Col. James Littlepage and Sarah Winston, very prominent residents of Hanover County, Virginia. James and Mary had one son, John Dickinson Littlepage, whose middle name supports the argument that Mary Brown was born Mary Dickinson.  As if to support this argument further, John Dickinson Littlepage gave several of his 11 children names from Mary Dickinson Brown Humphrey Littlepage's past.  That is, John Dickinson Littlepage and his wife Martha Howell had children named Samuel Littlepage, John Dickinson Littlepage, Mary Dickinson Littlepage, Catherine Littlepage (named, presumably, for Mary and Humphrey Madison's daughter), and Adam Brown Littlepage.  From these names, it seems easy to confirm that Mary Littlepage was the former Mary Brown, and the former Mary Dickinson.

Two connected pieces to the puzzle remain missing, however.  The connection is the will of Captian John Dickinson, the leader of Dickinson's Rangers of the Virginia Militia, who was the son of Adam Dickinson and the brother of Mary Dickinson.  In his 1797 will, he lists a bequest to his sister, Mary Davis. The two problems raised by this bequest are:

  1. The death date of Mary Littlepage is usually reported as 1770, which, of course, conflicts with the strong evidence from the will that Mary Dickinson was alive in 1797.  But since there is no contemporaneous record of Mary Littlepage's death, it is not hard to dismiss the date of 1770 as incorrect conjecture. 
  2. Although Dickenson genealogies often identify Adam Dickinson's daughter Mary as Mary Davis Dickinson, it was unusual at the time for women to have middle names.  It also seems a little odd for John DIckinson to identify his thrice-married sister as "Mary Davis", unless she was, or had been, married to a Mr. Davis. James Littlepage appears to have died in 1793 (though some records say 1799), so there was opportunity for Mary Dickenson to have a fourth husband named Davis.  But there is no evidence (other than her name in John Dickinson's will) of such a marriage. 

Without records of Mary's death, or the record of a marriage between Mary and a Mr. Davis, there is no good way to complete the puzzle.  But as it is, I am satisfied with the conclusion that Adam Dickinson's daughter Mary is the woman who married Samuel Brown, Humphrey Madison, and James Littlepage.

Parenthetically, Adam Dickinson, Mary Dickinson, and Catherine Madison are my direct ancestors - My 7th great grandfather and my 6th and 5th great grandmothers.

Robin Richmond
Cleveland, Ohio
April, 2018

 

 




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