Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Who Was Ruth Champion?

Who was Ruth Champion.  She was my 4th great grandmother and was married to John Champion, my 4th great grandfather.  They lived in Frederick County, Virginia which later became Berkeley County, West Virginia.  Little else is known about Ruth.

The only hint of her maiden name comes from the Last Will & Testament of Mary Mankin Chandler of Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Mary Chandler had no children and her husband, Thomas Chandler, had predeceased her about 1761.  Mary died in 1769 leaving her estate to several individuals, most of whom she identified by relationship.  Her beneficiaries are summarized as follows:

Mankin James, nephew (£4);
Philip James, nephew (£4);
Elizabeth, wife of Isaac Chandler (£8);
Mary, cousin and wife of John Robinson (£8);
Ruth, wife of John Champion (£8);
Catherine, wife of John Cann (10 shillings - same as a half pound);
Richard, brother of Catherine and son of Jos. James (10 shillings);
Ruth, daughter of Thos. Buffington (£5); and
Thos. Buffington of Newlinton, my "well beloved friend" (estate residue).

I believe an analysis of Mary Chandler's Will yields some insight concerning the identity of Ruth Champion.  First, I believe the "Ruth, wife of John Champion" is my ancestral grandmother since some of the other beneficiaries are known family members.  Is it possible that insight can be gained by the amount of each bequest in relation to the others?  At the time of Mary Chandler's Will, there were 20 shillings in a pound.  The three largest bequests (aside from the unknown amount of the residual bequest) are the 8 pounds each to Elizabeth, wife of Isaac Chandler; Mary, cousin and wife of John Robinson: and Ruth, wife of John Champion.  These three bequests total 24 of the 38 total pounds in the specific bequests exclusive of the residual bequest.  That these three are the primary beneficiaries suggest a close family relationship to Mary Chandler.

I know that both Mankin and Philip James, who are identified as nephews of Mary Chandler, are sons of Mary's sister, Ann Mankin James.  It should be noted that Mary Mankin Chandler had three siblings, Ann, Richard and George Mankin, all of whom predeceased her.  Not much is known about Richard or George except they both died in New Castle County, Delaware.  Richard died in 1715 and his Will suggests he died without issue.  George died in 1721 but I don't know if he had issue who survived him.

Elizabeth James Chandler, wife of Isaac Chandler, is the daughter of Ann Mankin James.  She married Isaac Chandler, the nephew of Mary Chandler's deceased husband, Thomas.  Isaac's father was George Chandler II, brother of Thomas Chandler.

Mary, cousin and wife of John Robinson, is the daugher of Ann Mankin James.  The Will is incorrect when it refers to Mary as "cousin."  Actually, Mary is a niece.  Catherine, wife of John Cann, is the daughter of Joseph James who was the son of Ann Mankin James.  Richard James is the brother of Catherine and the son of Joseph James.  I don't know the date of death of Joseph James but it is likely he predeceased Mary Mankin Chandler.

Thomas Buffington was clearly a trusted friend of Mary Chandler and Ruth was the daughter of Thomas.  There does not appear to be a family relationship and, as such, not much insight can be gained from this bequest.

With the family relationships established (except for Ruth Champion), let's see what we might infer.  First, we know that Mary Chandler's siblings, Ann Mankin James, Richard Mankin and George Mankin, all predeceased Mary.  It appears that Mary Chandler looked with favor on her sister Ann James' descendants.  Ann had six children, Joseph, Mankin, Philip, Elizabeth, Howell, and Mary.  Mankin and Philip were both bequeathed £4; Elizabeth was bequeathed £8; Mary (was was misidentified as a cousin rather than a niece) was bequeathed £8; and Joseph (who may have predeceased Mary Chandler) had two children, Catherine and Richard, who were each bequeathed 10 shillings.  Howell predeceased Mary and had no issue according to his Will.

As I previously mentioned, all of the beneficiaries were descendants of Mary's sister, Ann, except Ruth Champion and her "well beloved friend" Thomas Buffington and his daughter.  Ruth Champion received one of the three largest bequests (£8).  Also, Ruth is listed in the midst of Ann James' descendants.  It is customary for the order of beneficiaries to be listed in some orderly sequence.  Since Ruth Champion is listed between other known relatives of Mary Chandler, this may infer that Ruth Champion was also related in some way to Mary.

Could Ruth Champion be a descendant of Mary's brother, George Chandler?  This is certainly possible since I have no information on his immediate family.  If so, Ruth would have been Ruth Mankin before her marriage to John Champion.  There is another piece of evidence that adds more support to this theory.  One of Ruth and John Champion's sons, Thomas Champion, named his first son "Mankin Champion."  I believe it is reasonable that Thomas named his son after his Mother's family.  Admittedly, this is all circumstantial evidence but it certainly points in that direction.  While I can't say that Ruth was definitely a Mankin, I believe it is more likely than not.

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