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Elizabeth, wife of Edward Gatlin of Neuse

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(@bsumrell)
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Elizabeth, wife of Edward Gatlin, would have been born within a few years either side of 1655. If Edward was, indeed, of the Virginia Gatlins, then she and Edward were probably married in Isle of Wight or Nansemond County in about 1670. Their only know child, John, was born sometime around 1675, possibly in Nansemond County, Virginia. Keep in mind, though, that no documentation, that I know about anyway, has surfaced proving that Edward Gatlin was ever in Virginia! Geographically speaking, I could be way off base, but I think my dates are close.

By about 1700, Edward and, presumably, Elizabeth were living in Bath County, North Carolina. All later evidence suggests that their home lay in what is now Pamlico County, somewhere close to what was then known as Powell’s Creek, later Farnifold Green’s Creek. There was a small creek in the area known as Gatlin’s Creek as early as 1716. Whether this is the same as modern Gatlin Creek I don’t know. It’s located between Dawson’s Creek and Wilkison’s Point.

Elizabeth was still alive as of 15 March 1726 when she and John qualified as Executrix and Executor of Edward’s will. In this will, he leaves her four horses, “one negro man named Joab during her naturall life,” two feather beds and their furniture, half his household goods, half his sheep, all of his cattle carrying his “proper mark,” and “Oliver Rustell my orphane boy.” She also received “halfe my plantation and my…house during her widdowhood.” On the day she remarries, if she does, the plantation and house are to revert to John entirely.

These are the facts of her life as I know them. But who was she? I have no idea! There are many theories floating around about her, but I don’t think any of them fit.

One thing I know with absolute certainty is that she was not the sister of Henry George. Henry George’s will was written 2 December 1711 and not only was his sister’s Gatlin husband dead at this point, he’d been that way long enough for her to remarry and give birth to a least one child. Edward Gatlin was still very much alive in 1711. In fact, I think that Ms. George, there is no proof that her first name was Elizabeth, married Edward’s possible brother, William of Kingsale Swamp.

Another popular theory is that she was the daughter of Hannah Kent and her first husband, John Smithwick. There is no evidence this person even existed. John Smithwick’s will, dated 28 August 1696 and probated 6 January 1697 mentions one daughter by name, Sarah. The will is torn in places, so it is possible that Ann, their other known daughter, is mentioned. This is the same Ann Smithwick whose will was witnessed by Edward Gatling in 1711. In the will of Farnifold Green, Ann Smithwick is referred to as his “daughter in law”.

Note: There were other Elizabeth Smithwicks: John’s sister married Robert Warburton and his niece married Martin Griffin.

Ann’s half-sister, Elizabeth Green, is another possibility put forward in various genealogies. She at least did exist. Setting aside the fact that she could not have been born before 1697, there is unassailable evidence, in the form of land deeds and bible records, that she married Daniel Shine.

Much has been made of an association between Edward Gatlin and Hannah Kent Smithwick Green Linnington. I don’t really see it. From what I can piece together, the Gatlins and the Greens were neighbors during the Tuscarora War Era. This can account for much of the relationship demonstrated in the records. And McDuffie’s contention that Hannah Smithwick witnessed a bond involving Gatlins in 1696 is unsubstantiated by her source, The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 1, by J. R. R. Hathaway, page 613, which merely says she appeared and witnessed a bond.

Anyway, because of this supposed relationship, Hannah’s sister, Elizabeth Kent, has been suggested as the wife of Edward Gatlin. According to more conventional Gatlin chronologies, this would be a much better fit, but she just doesn’t work for me. She was born 1 June 1667 in Berkley Precinct, Albemarle County. This precinct is now Perquimans County. On 8 November 1683 “…Elizbeth Kent ye daughter of Thomas Kent & Ann his wife…” married William Charles, son of William and Abigail Charles. Their daughter, Jane, was born 1 October 1685. William wrote his will 7 April 1687. She may have been the Elizabeth Charles to marry John Long 11 August 1687 or the one to marry Samuel Nicholson 16 December 1688. It's hard to know for certain because William had a sister named Elizabeth.  Also, I’ve also read somewhere, can’t remember where, that the wife of John Long’s brother, Giles, was an Elizabeth Charles. Giles died at some point before 12 February 1692 (The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 3, Number 3).   Another niggling hole in this hypothesis is that I've been unable to find any evidence hinting at any kind of relationship between Edward and his wife and Hannah Kent's other sisters, most of whom had a Long among their multiple marriages, or her stepfather, Thomas Lepper.

So, as you can see, I’m no closer to figuring out who she was, just who she wasn't. Any ideas? Refutations? Anything?


   
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