Jesse Floyd and Descendants: The family of Jesse Floyd, Sr. (c.1746-1813) of St. Mary’s County, Maryland is almost the only one of that name attested in the region before 1900. He was a successful farmer. Although he had many children by his four wives, the surname is mostly carried on by descendants of his grandson Francis Ferdinand Floyd (1815-1893). The most famous member of this family is Olivia Floyd of Rose Hill, who was an important link in the Confederate underground.
Jesse Floyd, Sr., the earliest known ancestor of this Floyd family, was born about 1746 and apparently lived his entire adult life in St. Mary’s County. His parentage is unknown.
The earliest record of him is the will of Robert Fenwick, which he witnessed on February 16, 1774. At that same time, he appears in the records of the Jesuit priests of St. Mary’s County. In 1775, he made contributions to St. Aloysius, Leonardtown: 2£ 15sh. (for his child.), 5£ 18 sh. 8d. (for himself). Later 15£ for his wife. His status or generosity is indicated by the fact that only one contribution is greater on either list.
From church records, we know that Jesse Floyd married four times within a dozen years:
- Elizabeth Swales in 1774 (d. 1775)
- Mary Carey Read in 1777 (d. 1779)
- Sarah — , widow of Wm. Luckett in 1779/80
- Elizabeth Taylor in 1785
Details on these marriages and his children are found later in this entry.
In his early 30s during the Revolutionary War, Jesse Floyd served as a Private in the St. Mary’s County, Militia (1777) and in 1778 he signed the Oath of Allegiance to the State of Maryland. In the 1782 sale of Beaverdam Manor (the confiscated property of the tory Henry Harford, Esq.), he acquired 87 ¾ acres (at 11sh3d =49£ 2.5d). In 1787 he had 50 acres of Wolfpit Levels and in 1796 he had a certificate for 129.25 acres of that same property.
Griffith’s 1794 map of Maryland indicates only a few named landmarks in all of St. Mary’s County, but one of them is “Floyds” along Three Notch Road a bit northwest of the “Roman” Church (St. John’s in Hollywood). Presumably, this marks the mill which Jesse Floyd is listed as operating in the 1812 county tax assessment and Wm. Floyd and others 1821-1831. He also had a blacksmith shop according to the deposition of his son William Floyd who visited the elderly Michael Drury in 1825. Drury recounted to the deponent his visits to the deponent’s father’s blacksmith’s shop about 25 or 30 years before, adn that they had had many a good drink there.
He is recorded on the 1794 St. Mary’s Militia list and the 1798 Md. Slave Owners and Superintendent list for St. Mary’s County (Lower Resurrection) with 15 slaves. Jesse is also listed as supervisor for 1 slave of Charles Stone in the same district. He witnessed the 1796 will of the young Austin Fenwick.
The first Federal census in 1790 lists Jesse Floyd as the head of a household with 3 white males over 16, 3 under 16, 4 females, 13 slaves. From our knowledge of his children, we can guess that these are himself, his eldest son Jesse, Jr., his minor sons Joseph and William, his wife Elizabeth and minor daughters (and an unplaced adult male over 16). Likewise in 1800, Jesse Floyd (mistranscribed “Hoyd”) and his wife led a household in which the family members can mostly be matched with known ages: 2 young men 16-25 (Jesse, Jr and perhaps the same unknown male as before), 2 boys aged 10-15 (William, Joseph), 2 boys under 10 (David, James); 1 girl 10-15 (Mary), 1 girl under 10 (Elizabeth); 17 slaves.
By the time of the 1810 Census, most of his children were adults and we find separate households listed for Jesse Floyd Sr., Jesse Floyd Jr. and William Floyd. With Jesse Floyd, Sr,, in addition to himself and his wife were two boys, two young men (16-25), one man (26-44), three girls, one woman (26-45), and 20 slaves. Besides his unmarried children this leaves unplaced one man and one woman, each aged 26-45.
His death on 14 March, 1813, at his residence in St. Mary’s Co., “in his 67th year” was noted in the Balt. Patr. & Even. Adv. (3/23/13). It is said that his tombstone was once visible at St. Francis Xavier cemetery, Newtown Neck, but it is no longer so. On April 11, 1815, Elizabeth Floyd posted a guardian bond for James R. and Juliana Floyd, from which we can infer the other children were of age.
Jesse Floyd, Sr. wrote his will on Nov. 12, 1808 (probated March 30, 1813), with provisions for dividing his lands among his four sons besides Jesse, Jr., after they were all 21 years of age. His daughters were given two thirds of the balance of his personal estate.
He died with substantial assets (the lengthy inventory filed on Oct. 21, 1817 lists 12 slaves and a total value of $4846.45) but also a $600 bank loan, endorsed by his friends John Simms and Edward Fenwick. Those friends were charged with valuating the land annually and paying 1/3 to his wife and 2/3 to his four younger sons and $20 annually for 15 years to Jesse Floyd, Jr. — a sign that already Jesse Floyd, Jr. could not be trusted to have a large sum of money at any time.
His executor, son William Floyd, expeditiously applied for and received in August 1813 a court order for “a sale of as much of the deceased’s person estate (all the Negroes except one excepted) as will be sufficient… to raise $600.” But later matters moved slowly and creditors complained in 1819 and 1821 that the estate was still not settled.
Marriage of Jesse Floyd, Sr. and Elizabeth Swales (d. 1775)
His first marriage was to Elizabeth Swales on 5 Nov. 1774, as recorded in the Jesuit accounts for St. Francis Xavier parish, which also record her death about a year later in 1775 “suddenly”. Since their only known child Jesse Floyd, Jr. was baptized in December 1775, we can assume that she died in childbirth or soon afterwards. She was the daughter of John Swales of St. Mary’s County.
1) Jesse Floyd, Jr., (1775- died after 1826), married Jemima Abell in 1804; she received a divorce in 1824.
As the oldest son, he was already established with property when his father died, but his father passed over him to make son William his executor. Subsequent facts of his life confirm his father’s cautious judgement of him. He had four sons and possibly a daughter.
Marriage of Jesse Floyd, Sr. and Mary Carey Read (d. 1779)
Within a year and a half, Jesse was married again, this time to Mary Carey Read (c.1755-1779) on 18 March, 1777, as the Jesuit records at St. Francis Xavier Church on Newtown Neck tell us. She was the daughter of Philip Read and Ann (?) and was a Roman Catholic, since she is on the list of the Sodality at St. Aloysius c. 1776 as “Carry Reed”.
On Feb. 3, 1779, Mary Carey (Read) Floyd gave birth to a child whom she named Ann Carey Floyd, a name later given to her great-granddaughter Elizabeth Ann Carey Wills, which suggests that Mary’s mother’s full name was “Elizabeth Ann Carey”. Then Mary Carey Reed is also in the Jesuit notes for 1779, presumably for her death and a memorial Mass. Jesse Floyd gave 15 pounds for Masses at St. Aloysius for “wife Carry”. Quite possibly she died from complications of childbirth after her only child Ann Carey Floyd was born on Feb. 3, 1779. If she died in 1779, it is not possible for her to have had another child that year after Ann. In March 1795, Jesse Floyd was granted letters of administration for the estate of Lewis Bowling (Mary Carey Read’s nephew) which was later taken over by Lewis’ brother William Bowling.
2) Ann Carey Floyd (1779-1811) m. John Baptist Wills, Jr.
On 2/3/1779, she was baptized at Newtown Neck with Peter Jarboe and Eliz. Joy as godparents. In June 1782 and Feb 1794, Jesse Floyd was appointed guardian for his daughter Ann in certain matters, probably with regard to Read inheritances — “niece Ann Floyd” is given 100 pounds “current money” in the 1792 will of Philip Read of Orchard Neck. Likewise, in the 1798 Md. Slave Owners and Superintendent list for St. Mary’s County (Lower Resurrection), Ann Floyd is listed (separately from her father) with 1 slave, which presumably she inherited from one of her mother’s brothers. A sampler of hers dated 1790 was once in the possession of her Wills descendants. In 1802, she married John B. Wills, Jr. (1773-1844) of Port Tobacco, and was buried at Mt. Carmel Monastery and then her grave was later moved by her son to his estate Preference. She had one child:
2.1 Dr. Francis Reed Wills (1803-1872) of Preference
Marriage of Jesse Floyd, Sr. and Sarah — (d. 1781/1784):
Left with two infant children, Jesse Floyd, Sr, did not wait long to remarry, this time to Sarah —-, widow of Wm. Rhody Luckett (1720-1779) of Port Tobacco. When her husband died in January 1779, she was stepmother of at least five children, and as widow she received one third of the estate, of which she was executrix. But at the sale of personal property on Nov. 27, 1780, it developed that she had married Jesse Floyd who then rendered a final account (see Harry Wright Newman, The Lucketts of Portobacco (1938), pp. 75-77). Apparently, they had only one child, whom they named Sarah after her mother. We know nothing further of this wife, but she must have died within a few years.
3) Sarah “Sally” A. Floyd (b. c. 1780- 1860) m. (1) George Brewer (2) John Wilkinson
Her marriage license to George Brewer (son of John Brewer and Elizabeth —) is dated Jan. 24, 1805. By her name and age, we can be fairly confident that Sarah Floyd Brewer was Jesse Floyd’s daughter by Sarah — (Luckett) rather than by an earlier wife. Sarah was listed as the wife of George Brewer in her father’s will written in 1808, but George was deceased by April 1810 when Sarah administered on his estate.
On Sept 4, 1811, she married the widower John Wilkinson (b. 1773, son of William Wilkinson). From his first marriage to Ann “Nancy” Thompson on 4/11/1800, there were apparently 3 surviving children. Sarah and John Wilkinson lived long lives in St. Mary’s County and at the time of the 1850 Census he is listed as aged 72 (with $3000 real estate), “Sarah A.” is aged 71. Also in the household is 7-year-old Zachariah Brewer, probably a grandchild. The initial “A” might be an indication of her mother’s maiden name, but might also simply stand for “Ann”. Sarah died on March 15, 1860 aged 80, and John Wilkinson in 1863.
Marriage of Jesse Floyd, Sr. and Elizabeth Taylor
Finally, the thrice-widower married Elizabeth Taylor, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on 6 Feb, 1785 (presumably that was her church but most of their children seem to have followed his Catholic faith). She bore seven children and survived him. The order of these children in their father’s will is first sons Joseph, Wm., David, James; then daughters Mary, Eliz, Juliana. It is reasonable to assume that this is the birth order of the sons and daughters respectively.
In the 1820 Census, she is the head of a household which also includes one boy under 10, a young man and woman (each aged 16-25), a man (aged 26-44), 6 slaves and one free black person (aged 14-25). Probably this count represents her three youngest children (all aged 16-27 then), but the identity of the young boy is unknown. She and some of her children give interesting depositions in the 1826-27 dispute of the estate of Sally Fenwick, who had been a boarder at Elizabeth Floyd’s (St. Mary’s Co. EJM #1, fol. 48).
4) Joseph P. Floyd (1786/7-after 1836) marr. Ann Herbert
In his father’s will, he is consistently listed before William and his date of birth can therefore be calculated as 1786 or 1787. In the War of 1812, he had an interesting experience as a member of the First Baltimore Horse Artillery. He was also one of the Baltimore subscribers in 1814 when Augustine Fagan of Philadelphia published Bishop Challoner’s The grounds of the old religion or Some general arguments in favour of the Catholic apostolic, Roman, communion.
After the war, he obtained a marriage license on 20 April 1815 to Ann Herbert and they had one daughter, but he was not listed with a separate household in the 1820 census – presumably he was in the larger household of a relative. In the 10 August 1824 National Intelligencer, his mother offers a $40 reward for 2 horses stolen from her farm on 3 August: “Information to me or Joseph P. Floyd at John B. Wills’ near Port Tobacco, Charles Co.” His extended presence in the Port Tobacco area (either with his brother-in-law John B. Wills, Jr. or his brother David) is confirmed by a long 1826 letter of Joseph P. Floyd to his nephew Francis Reed Wills which paints the rich social life of the day in that area.
4.1) Ann Amanda Floyd, b. 12 Jan 1819 and died 26 Dec 1903. The 1831 will of her unmarried aunt Eleanor Herbert, left “Ann Amanda Floyd, daughter of my sister Anna Floyd, a Negro woman named Anna; a Negro boy named Samuel; and the residue of my estate.” In the 1840s, she married John Richardson Dunbar and had a daughter named Lucy Ann Dunbar (1 July 1850-12 Nov 1908) who m. Alexander “Sandy” Beal (Confederate soldier). Photo. Long after John Dunbar died (15 July 1851), Ann Amanda m. second, David Wilson Tyler, 4 Oct 1864 (no children by him). He was born 23 April, 1804 in Dorchester Co. and died in St. Mary’s on 30 May, 1875.
5) Capt. William Floyd (1788-1868), marr. Eleanor Heard
A captain during the War of 1812. He married Eleanor Heard in 1814.
5.1) Francis Ferdinand Floyd (1815-1893) marr. Mary Davis, left 6 children.
5.5) Ann Mary Floyd (c. 1816/7 – ? ) marr. 1847 Cornelius Payne
5.2) Margaret Elizabeth Floyd (1818-1893)
5.3) William Giles Floyd (1820-1860) marr. Mary F. Mills, left 3 daughters
5.4) Mary Ellen Floyd (1824-1882)
5.6) Sarah Maria “Sallie” Floyd (1827-1900) marr. her cousin Wm. F. Greenwell
5.7) Mary Amanda, m. 1858 Zachariah T. Spalding
6) Mary “Polly” Floyd (1791 – 1873), marr. Edward Spalding, Jr (1791-1846)
She witnessed the will of William Heard on April 21, 1816. She married Edward Spalding, Jr., on April 25, 1819, with several children.
6.1) Edward Leo Spalding (1820 – 1874). photo.
6.2) Charles Clement Spalding (1822-1879) marr. Sophia Kerr, Charlotte Leigh
6.3) James Bernard Spalding (1825 -after 1882) marr. Jane Ann Mattingly
6.4) Mary Anna Elizabeth Spalding (1828-1894) marr. Clinton McCully
7) Elizabeth T. Floyd (1792-1859), marr. 1820 Thomas James Greenwell (1787-1826)
Probably named “Elizabeth Taylor” for her mother. They had no known children in their short married life. The 1850 census shows her living with her brother James. Her gravestone at St. John’s Cemetery gives her dates: “Born July 15, 1792. Died June 27, 1859.”
8) David I. Floyd (1793/4-1847), marr. Sarah Semmes (1796-1882)
He was a tobacco merchant in Baltimore. In 1843, David Floyd’s children received the rights to the historic Rose Hill estate near Port Tobacco and the family lived there for the rest of the century. The adult children were all active in the Confederate cause.
8.1) Mary Floyd (1824-1898), marr. 10/12/1848 John B. Piet of Baltimore
8.2) Anne Olivia Floyd (1826-1905) of Rose Hill
8.3) Robert Semmes Floyd, C.S.A. (1829-1863)
8.4) William Floyd (1830-1842)
9) James R. Floyd (1794 – 1854)
Although there is no marriage record for him and he left no children, he had significant property and must have had an overseer or tenants, because the 1840 St. Mary’s Co. census records him heading a household of seven free white persons and nine slaves. He witnessed the will of William Heard on April 21, 1816, so he must have been 21 but that date. He was aged 55 in 1850, when he was living two houses over from his brother William. He is recorded as a farmer with $1500 of real estate, and in his household are his widowed sister Elizabeth (Floyd) Greenwell and his niece Margaret A. Greenwell. In his 1854 will, he leaves his estate to “my nephews William F. Greenwell, James C. Greenwell and unto my niece Margaret A. Spalding, the wife of Andrew J. Spalding”. His tombstone at St. John’s Cemetery is now damaged or sunken, but it was once transcribed with the dates Aug. 9, 1797 – Dec. 8, 1854; however, the year of his birth must be a mistake for 1794.
10) Juliana Floyd (1803-1835), marr. 1827 William Francis Greenwell (1786-1849)
Her husband (a widower) was the brother of her sister’s late husband Thomas James Greenwell. For more information on this family, see Betty Greenwell Burgelin, Some of the Many Branches of the Greenwell Family Tree (1984), pp. 50, 64, etc. Their four children were:
10.1) William Francis Greenwell (1828-1894) marr. his cousin Sarah Maria Floyd
10.2) James Cyriacus Greenwell (1831-1885) marr. Mary A. Slater
10.3) Margaret Ann “Sookie” Greenwell (1832-1863) marr. Dr. Andrew Jackson Spalding. For his biography, see Margaret K. Fresco, Doctors of St. Mary’s County, 1634-1900. (1993), 235-6.
10.4) Peter, died young.