Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Did John W. Jennings, Sr. (c1777-1858) Marry His Niece?

In early April one of my fellow Jennings researchers forwarded me an email from another Jennings researcher, who believed John W. Jennings, Sr., (c1777-1858) was not the son of Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815). I have considered these two men my three times and four times grandfathers, respectively, for many years. The doubter believed John's sister, Elizabeth had married Benjamin Walrond, who was the father of Anna Mariah Walrond. She was John W. Jennings, Sr.'s wife. If true, it would mean 1) John married his niece, 2) John was not a son of Benjamin Jennings, Sr., 3) Elizabeth married a different Benjamin Walrond, or 4) Anna Mariah Walrond was not the daughter of Benjamin Walrond.

Abtract of Benjamin Jennings, Sr.'s will; courtesy of Documented Notes on
Jennings and Allied Families
by Beatrice Doughtie

Emails were flying as four of us began trying to prove one of the four possibilities. As I participated in the exchanges, it became apparent to me that pooled together we had more than enough records about the Benjamin Jennings family group to prove whatever scenario prevailed. What we were sorely missing was research about the Benjamin Walrond family group. I confined myself to online research for nearly two weeks and began to develop information about Benjamin Walrond and his family, but there were still questions.

Meanwhile, emails continued to fly. Honestly, I got confused by all the evidence we were citing in these efforts, including my own. So I stopped researching and began indexing and analyzing.

Snippet of the Jennings-Walrond timeline I created using Excel

First I created a timeline for the relevant people. When completed it had 141 entries and required 6 pages to print.[1] It included Year, Location, Fact, Person, Source, and Description/Notes as column headings. The timeline included the following people:
  • Anna Maria Walrond (about 1782-1868)
  • Benjamin Jennings, Sr. (c1740-1815)
  • Benjamin Walrond, Sr. (after 1765-1811)
  • Benjamin Walrond, Jr. (1777-1839)
  • Elizabeth Jennings (c1775-unknown)
  • Elizabeth MNU[2] (after 1765-before 1788)
  • John W. Jennings, Sr. (about 1777-1858)
  • Lucy Ellington (1770-1821)
  • Martha "Patsy" Owen (after 1776-1840)
  • Patsey Wiley (unknown-bef 1804)
Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Next, I conducted one more research sweep as the timeline raised some questions I had not previously considered and hinted at one critical fact I had not known before. The second research sweep confirmed there were three, not two, men named Benjamin Walrond living in Virginia at that time. So I conducted a third research sweep about the new Benjamin Waldron. Then, I began analyzing my timeline. That analysis included several facts that led me to identify several important proof points:
  1. Benjamin Walrond, Sr., was born before 1765.
  2. Benjamin Walrond, Sr., married Elizabeth MNU between 1775-1780.
  3. Benjamin Walrond (who married Elizabeth Jennings) was born about 1775.
  4. Benjamin Walrond, Jr., was born in 1777.
  5. Anna Maria Walrond was born about 1782.
  6. Elizabeth (MNU) Walrond, died before 1788.
  7. Benjamin Walrond, Sr., married Lucy Ellington on 6 August 1788 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
  8. Benjamin Walrond, Jr., married Patsey Wiley on 28 March 1796.
  9. Benjamin Walrond, Jr., married Martha "Patsy" Owen on 2 April 1804 in Bedford County, Virginia.
  10. John W. Jennings, Sr., married Anna Mariah Walrond on 19 January 1805 in Bedford County.
  11. Elizabeth Jennings married Benjamin Walrond on 11 January 1810 in Powhatan County, Virginia.
  12. There were three men named Benjamin Walrond, who lived in Lynchburg, Bedford County, and Chesterfield County, Virginia when the 1810 census was enumerated.
  13. Benjamin Jennings, Sr., wrote his will on 27 March 1815 in Powhatan County, Virginia. In it he listed Elizabeth Walrond; Dorothea Pemberton; Benjamin Jennings, Jr.; Daniel, Edward, John, James, and Patsy as his heirs.
  14. Benjamin Walrond, Sr., likely died before the 1820 census was enumerated.
  15. Two men named Benjamin Walrond, who lived in Bedford County and Chesterfield County, were enumerated in the 1820 census.
  16. No evidence was discovered that indicated Benjamin Walrond, Sr., divorced Lucy Ellington before 1810.
  17. No evidence was discovered that indicated Benjamin Walrond, Jr., divorced Martha "Patsy" Owen before 1810.
  18. Lucy (Ellington) Walrond died in 1821.
  19. Benjamin Walrond, Jr., died in 1839.
  20. Martha "Patsy" (Owen) Walrond died in 1840.
Courtesy of
Courtesy of


There were three men named Benjamin Walrond who lived in Virginia in 1810; the year Elizabeth Jennings married a Benjamin Walrond. This was the big revelation! So which one did she marry?

My conclusion was Benjamin Walrond Sr. was first married to a woman named Elizabeth; her maiden name is not known to this day. She was the mother of Benjamin Walrond, Jr., born in 1777 and Anna Maria Waldrond, born about 1782. Elizabeth (MNU) died about 1787. Benjamin Walrond, Sr., then married Lucy Ellington in 1788. They were married until he died sometime before 1820. They lived in Lynchburg in 1810. Therefore, he was married to Lucy when Elizabeth Jennings married a Benjamin Walrond in January 1810.

Benjamin Walrond, Jr. was married to Patsey Wiley in 1796. She apparently died or they divorced before 1804 when Benjamin Jr. married Martha "Patsy" Owen from 1804. They were married until his death in 1839. Benjamin Walrond, Jr., lived in Bedford County when the 1810 and 1820 census were enumerated. Therefore, neither father or son could have married Elizabeth Jennings in 1810.

The Benjamin Walrond who married Elizabeth Jennings and lived in Chesterfield County when the 1810 and 1820 census were enumerated. His parents are not known nor is it known if there is any relationship between him and Benjamin Walrond, Sr., and Benjamin, Walrond, Jr.

John W. Jennings, Sr., was a son of Benjamin Jennings because he was listed as an heir, along with his other siblings, in Benjamin Jennings, Sr.'s will; and Ben Jennings was listed as his father on his death registration. He did not marry his niece!

These are complicated relationships to explain in words so I created a diagram;
made using Microsoft PowerPoint

I reached out to a very knowledgeable Walrond researcher, who sent me all her notes and source document transcriptions for the three men named Benjamin Walrond. She confirmed there were three men named Benjamin Walrond who lived in Virginia during the critical time period and helped me sort out where each one lived. She also stated the three men named Benjamin Walrond used the Sr. and Jr. suffixes interchangeably, or did not use them at all, which explained away many of the contradictions in the records.

So I met a wonderful new research collaborator -- my 5th cousin once removed -- learned the name of another 4 times great grandfather (Benjamin Walrond, Sr.), solidified previous research, and was able to identify the common shared ancestor of a few more DNA matches because I had worked so hard on the Walrond/Waldron line. It was a good exercise!

[1]Not included at the time of analysis were record transcriptions I later received from a Walrond researcher. The timeline now includes over 200 documented facts about the relevant members of the Jennings and Walrond families.

[2] MNU = Maiden name unknown.

I wrote extensively about the descendants of John William Jennings, Sr. and his wife, Anna Maria Walrond/Waldron, in 2015.


  1. That was fun. I enjoyed following your logic.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you could follow my logic.

  2. A massive amount of research and other interested people to share and work through the issue with---what could be better? Glad it all came together and your hard work paid off.

    1. Having research collaborators is great, especially when they used to work with my Dad and are so much more experienced and knowledgeable than me.

  3. Fabulous work. I love to see stories about those who are actually researching and piecing together clues, either alone or with others and not just collecting info. Excellent job, Schalene.

    1. Thank you, Linda. Sometimes collecting is all that's required but other times you really have to work to get the story as right as you know how to make it. That's when it gets fun.

  4. I have been exploring this problem and contradictions for some time. I came about your work during my research. It certainly is logical. I just wish we could have some concrete evidence to nail it down. Thanks for your hard work. Gary Waldron

    1. I'm glad you found this post! What nailed it for me was the 3 men named Benjamin Waldron living in Virginia in 1810 in different locations, which and all be explained based on other records.

      Also, Elizabeth Jennings didn't marry "her" Benjamin Waldron until 1810. Therefore she couldn't have been the mother of her brother's wife as Anna Maria Waldron was born about 1782 according to the 1850 census record.