Ancestors of Benjamin James LaMaster

Abraham LeMaster (1639-1722)

This Abraham LeMaster was the great great grandfather of Abraham LaMaster who married Letitia Tyler. Many researchers have given his wife the name of Elizabeth Alice Cooksey. As far as I can tell, the name of his wife is unknown.

The following taken from Abraham LeMaster (1638-1722) of Charles Co. MD and his Descendants – Vol. 1, by Ralph Smith, April 1997.

 Abraham’s Origins and Background

The June 1720 record establishes Abraham’s origins as Jersey in the Channel Islands. Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, and Ste. Marie’s Parish is located on its northern coast. The Channel Islands are situated in the English Channel, but closer to France than to England.

Although originally settled by people from Normandy and Brittany, the Channel Islands have belonged to England since the Norman Conquest in 1066. Despite being part of Great Britain for over 900 years, French remained the official language there until fairly recent times. The Channel Islands were occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II. Today they are known as a tax haven.

Abraham’s Channel Islands origins coincide nicely with Lord Baltimore’s Amended Conditions of Plantation (discussed below) and further dispel the notion that Abraham might have been an immigrant from France. Thus, at the time of his emigration to Maryland, Abraham was a British subject, as were virtually all the settlers in Maryland at this time, although he was of French descent and probably spoke French in addition to English. It would seem unlikely that Abraham came directly from Jersey to Maryland. More likely the ship he was on departed from an English port, and perhaps Abraham had a residence in England for a time prior to sailing for Maryland.

Although Abraham is generally claimed to have been a Protestant, there is really no evidence of his religious persuasion, and he may have been a Catholic. Although most of the earliest immigrants to Maryland were Catholic, by the time of Abraham’s arrival, there were considerable numbers of Protestants in Maryland owing to the confluence of Lord Baltimore’s practice of religious toleration, and the absence of same in Virginia . Because of religious problems associated with t he monarchy in England, it became vey difficult to be a Catholic in Maryland after 1689 , so that even if Abraham were originally Catholic it would not be surprising if the family be came Protestant there after. The Huguenot Society (French Protestants) has accepted descendants of Abraham for membership, but I know of no basis for their decision to do so. I have the notion that French Protestants were more likely to use Old Testament names (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) than their Catholic counterparts , but would need to have the advice of a Huguenot expert as to whether this is so. Not only did individuals, then as now, change their religious preference for reasons of conscience (or convenience), but with the unique religious status of Maryland for the first 50 years or so of its existence, there was considerable intermarriage between Catholics and Protestants. Abraham’s daughter, Sarah seems rather likely to have been a Catholic because she and her husband John Tennison named a son Ignatius, and her husband John was probably a Protestant. On the other hand, Abraham’s daughter Mary was surely a Protestant because her husband was an Anglican minister. At any rate, nearly all of Abraham’s later descendants were Protestants.

As to his occupation, Abraham is never called anything but “planter” (farmer). The words “planter” and “plantation” in earl y Maryland do not have the grandiose connotation we attribute to them in the Antebellum South, but applied to even small farmers barely eking out a living on their land. The records of Abraham indicate that he was literate, but some of his children were not.

When did Abraham come to Maryland?

We know that Abraham was in Maryland by Sep. 1662 when he witnessed the Houldcraft will. How much earlier was he there?

Under the terms of Lord Baltimore’s original Conditions of Plantation, a person received land for transporting himself and others to Maryland. Persons who were transported at someone else’s expense contracted to repay the cost of their transportation by agreeing to act as a servant for a period of years, and were called “indentured servants.” Indentured servants were not entitled to free land, and after completing their period of servitude they were expected to lease a tenancy.

In 1648, the Conditions of Plantation were amended to provide that indentured servants who had satisfactorily served out the contract with their transporter were entitled to claim 50 acres of land. The Amended Conditions of Plantation of 1648 also required that former indentured servant land applicants be of British or Irish lineage, that their period of servitude have been not less than 3 years, and that they apply for their land rights within one year after they finished their period of servitude.

This is the category that Abraham falls into. That is, he was an indentured servant who had come to Maryland after 1648, and having completed his period of servitude, he became entitled to 50 acres of free land. This he did in Nov. 1668. According to “The History of Charles County, Maryland,” by Margaret B. Klapthor and Paul D. Brown, p. 153, the cost of passage to Maryland was about six pounds sterling, and the period of servitude (the time in which the passage cost would be worked off) depended upon the skill, ability and value of the servant. The authors state that a period of five years was the usual indenture period for a farm worker or other unskilled person without a trade. Shorter indenture periods were generally for persons with a valuable skill, and longer indenture periods were generally for debtors, petty criminals or others being involuntarily transported to Maryland.

I did my own survey of the first 200 pages in the Skordas book and found 43 people who received land for service under the 1648 Amended Conditions of Plantation. There is a bell-shaped curve, peaking at 6 years’ servitude (7 men). 4 and 5 years servitude produced 5 men each, and 7 and 8 years’ service had 3 and 4 men respectively. 3 and 9 years’ service had only 1 man each. The results of this survey coincide pretty well with Klapthor and Brown’s conclusions.

Was this new benefit for servants after 1648 (free land) necessary because of a decrease in persons willing to serve under the former conditions, or had their numbers remained about the same, but increased immigration was wanted? And, in this regard, one wonders if the average period of servitude lengthened slightly after 1648 when free land became available to the servants.

From the 1662 and 1668 records of Abraham, we know that he had been in Maryland 6 years when he proved his land right, and if the terms of the Amended Conditions of Plantation were complied with (1 year to apply), then the end of Abraham’s period of servitude would have been between Nov. 1667 and Nov. 1668, and presumably closer to the latter date, since why wait around for a year to claim your entitlement? These dates already give us a 5-6 year period for Abraham’s servitude, and it seems unlikely to me that Abraham came to Maryland before 1661, and maybe not until 1662, because otherwise he would have had an unusually long period of servitude. That Abraham’s occupation was as a farmer seems consistent with a period of servitude of about 5-6 years.

The John Smith who transported Abraham to Maryland ca. 1662 was entitled to 50 acres of land for having transported Abraham. This would be in addition to the 50 acres each that John was entitled to for transporting himself and any others that came with him in addition to Abraham. However, no John Smith ever claimed land for having transported Abraham. This is unfortunate for us because had John Smith claimed the 50 acres due him for transporting Abraham, we would have a better date for the transportation, know the entire group of persons that came together, and know the location of the land that was granted to John Smith, which is probably where Abraham lived during his period of servitude. Nor does it appear that John Smith assigned (sold) his right to 50 acres for Abraham’s transportation to someone else because no one else ever claimed land for transporting Abraham either.

I have tried to do some John Smith research in early Maryland, but the name is just too common. There are so many John Smiths who came to Maryland at an early date that we cannot even conclude which John Smith was Abraham’s transporter. One assumes that the John Smith who transported Abraham lived in St. Mary’s Co. Unfortunately, the only source that shows the various John Smiths who came to Maryland (Skordas) does not indicate which county they came to. Nor can one just turn to the records of St. Mary’s Co. to find which John Smith(s) were there at the appropriate time because the early records of St. Mary’s Co. have all been lost.

I have a suspicion that the John Smith who transported Abraham died before he was able to claim land for Abraham’s transportation, and that the John Smith of whom we have some mention in the early records of the LeMaster was his son.

Will of Abraham LeMaster

Liber 18, Folio 10, Hall of Records, Annapolis, MD

In the name of God Amen; I Abraham LeMaster being weak of body but being in perfect sense and memory, thanks be to the God of the same. Knowing that the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death, do make my last Will and Testament. I give and bequeath my soul to the Almighty God that gave it to me, hoping through the death and propitiation of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to have eternal life. I give my body to the earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my Executors hereafter named.

I give and bequeath to my loving son John LeMaster my dwelling plantation to him and the male heirs of his body forever, but in the case the son John should die without such heirs then it to fall and descend to the next heir of the LeMasters.

I give and bequeath to my loving son Isaac LeMaster all that tract of land whereon he now dwells, to him and his heirs forever.

I give and bequeath unto my loving daughters Sarah Teneson and Mary Barrone all that I have of land called Berry to be divided equally to them and their heirs forever.

Richard LeMaster (1670-1745)

Richard LeMaster was the son of Abraham LeMaster.

Richard LeMaster was born 1670 at Charles Co., Maryland where, at the age of five he was issued a patent for a 50-acre tract of land called “Toombett;” the land was secured by his father in his name. In 1690 Richard LeMaster married Martha and settled at “Toombett.” The maiden name of Richard’s wife is often given as Dennis. This, however, is probably not correct. Her surname is unknown.

Like his father, Richard LeMaster was a carpenter and a major dealer in real estate in Charles Co., between 1700 and 1740. In 1722, after the death of his mother, he bought the family plantation “Betty’s Delight” from his brother John for 5,000 pounds of tobacco; Richard LeMaster later willed the plantation to his son John who sold the plantation out of the family in 1747. Richard Lemaster is believed to have died in Charles Co., about 1745. He was predeceased by his wife who died in Charles Co., between 1713-1723.

Abraham LeMaster (1713-1778)

Abraham LeMaster, the son of Richard and the grandson of Abraham, was born in Charles County, Maryland about 1713. Abraham LeMaster married Martha Kerrick about 1740. Martha was the daughter of Hugh Kerrick, Sr. Kerrick family records indicate that Martha was born about 1722. There is no direct evidence that Abraham Lemaster married Martha Kerrick. From Hugh Kerricks 1755 will, we know that Hugh’s daughter Martha Kerrick married a Lemaster. Circumstantial evidence suggests that it was Abrahamm Lemaster that Martha about 1740.

James LaMaster (1758-1831)

James Lamaster was the son of Abraham and Martha (Kerrick) Lamaster and the father of Benjamin James LaMaster. The descendants of James changed the spelling of their surname to LaMaster.  James is listed on an card index of Revolutionary War Soldiers in National Archives.  He served in the 8th and 12th Virginia Regiment from  June 10, 1777 to December 1, 1779 as a private in the Fife & Drum, the light infantry at Valley Forge and  Regiment C. 541.  A Bounty Warrant issued to James for three years service in 12th, VA Continental Line, signed by Capt. Swearingen dated Feb. 3, 1784.  On the same day James signed to deliver his parcel of land to Wm. Stark.  James is listed in Henry Co., KY census as  born 1765 – 1784. Source LeMasters, USA 1965.

James Lemaster Will

I James Lemaster of the County of Henry and state of Kentucky do hereby make my last will and testament in manner of form following (Viz.)

Item 1st I give & bequeath to my wife Mary & my daughter Anne for their use & benefit during the natural life of my wife the farm on which I now reside supposed to contain about three hundred acres, or the rent and profits arising therefrom, also the live or use of my negro girl Alice & her increase (all to be under the superintendence of my Exec.) and also such part of my household & kitchen furniture and stock as my Exec. may consider necessary for their use & maintenance.

Item 2nd At the death of my wife I give the said negro girl Alice & and all her increase to my daughter Anne to be hers and her children’s forever.  I also give to my daughter Anne a horse to be worth fifty dollars, a good saddle & bridle & also a good feather bed, bed stead & bed cloths to be paid her as soon as it may suit the convenience of my Exec. to do so.  But should my daughter die leaving no heir born of her body, it is my wish that the said negro girl Alice and all her increase descend to my don Abraham & his children.

Item 3rd It is my will and desire at the death of my wife that my Exec. make sale of the tract of land as in such manner and on such time as hey may think best calculated to promote the interest of those concerned and the proceeds thereof, I give in the following manner (Viz.) To my daughter Anne one fourth, to my son Abraham on fourth, to Alexander the eldest son of my son James three eighths of the remaining half & to my son Hugh the balance of the proceeds of the sale of land after deducting therefrom and paying over to my son Abraham the amount of a debt now due from my son Hugh to my son Abraham.

Item 4th I give to James, Harriett, Warren & Polly the four youngest children of my son James the sum of fifty dollars each to be raised out of any part of my estate not specially bequeathed, and to my son James the sum of fifteen dollars to be raised in the like manner.

Item 5th It is my wish that all my personal property not specially bequeathed be sold by my Exec. so soon as convenient & after paying all my just debts & the bequests herein specified the balance of the money arising from the sales or from claims due me by any individuals in this state I give to my son Abraham and the five children of my son James, my son Abraham to have half thereof and the balance equally divided between the said children of my son James.

Item 6th And whereas I have debts due me in the state of Virginia, it is my will & desire that whatever amount may be collected of the same shall be equally divided between all my children and in case of the death of either of them, their children (if any) to receive the proportion to which their ancestor would have been entitled had he or she been living.

And lastly I do hereby constitute & appoint my son Abraham Lemaster and my friends E. C. Drane & Barthw. Duprey Exec. of this last will and testament and vest them with the same powers that I would have my self were I living to sell & convey any of the within mentioned property either real or personal and to carry into effect all the provisions of this my last will and testament, and provided either of the within named Exec. should refuse to qualify, or in the case of the death the survivor or survivors with the same powers that they would possess were they all to qualify or all living and having sufficient confidence in the honesty & integrity of my said Exec.

I hereby request the Court to permit them to qualify without giving any security  and to hereby revoke all wills heretofore made by me.  In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and signed in the presence of

Joseph McLain              |    Henry County Court May Term 1831
Geo. W. Herndon          |
Joseph P. Duprey         |

An instrument of writing purporting to be the last will and testament of James Lemaster decd. Was this day produced into Court and proven by the oaths of Joseph Mclain and George Herndon subscribing witnesses thereto to be the act and deed of said James Lemaster whereupon it is ordered that the same be recorded.

Edwd Thomas, C

James LaMaster and the Revolutionary War

1776-1779 – James served in the Revolutionary War in the 8th and 12th Virginia Regiments (Continental Line.) He enlisted Dec. 30, 1776 for 3 years (to Dec. 1, 1779.) He served as a Private, Fife & Drum (8th Regt.) He was in the light infantry at Valley Forge (12th Regt.)

This 1776-1779 Revolutionary War summary for James is from books in the Source list for James. In “Lamaster Ancestors:1712-1870” (quoted below), Dean B. Mahin gives a 1777-1779
history of the 12th Virginia Regiment, thereby showing the specific Revolutionary activities in which James would have participated.

On June 10, 1777, James LaMaster enlisted in the 12th Virginia Regiment. He was 19 years old. The 12th Virginia was created in the fall of 1776, but was not fully operational until the spring of 1777. The regiment was recruited from the northern Shenandoah Valley, i.e., Frederick and Berkeley Counties. It was commanded by Colonel James Wood Jr.

By June 1777 the 12th Virginia regiment had joined Washington’s army near Morristown, New Jersey, where the army had been in winter quarters during the previous winter. Two weeks after James LaMaster joined the regiment, the 12th Virginia saw action in the Battle of Short Hills, New Jersey (June 26-28, 1777.) The Americans met a British force that had marched out from the British base at Amboy. After the battle, the 12th Virginia was in one of the brigades that was ordered to observe and harass the British as they returned to Amboy.

After some weeks of inaction, the 12th Virginia was with Washington’s army as it paraded through Philadelphia in August en route to meet Lord Howe’s army which had landed at the northern end of Chesapeake Bay. That fall the 12th Virginia fought in two major battles near Philadelphia, at Brandywine Creek (September 11, 1777) and Germantown (October 4, 1777).

During the winter of 1777-78 the 12th Virginia endured the privation of the army’s winter quarters at Valley Forge.

On June 28, 1778, the 12th Virginia was in the Battle of Monmouth Court House.

After the battle of Monmouth, James LaMaster remained in the 12th Virginia for nearly 18 more months of dreary duty in New Jersey and New York but was in no more battles. Monmouth was the last major battle in the northern theater of operations. He was discharged on December 1, 1779.

Feb.-Apr. 1784 – A Bounty Land Warrant was issued to James for his service in the 12th Virginia Continental Line. It was signed by Capt. Swearingen, under whom he apparently served, and was dated Feb. 3, 1784. On the same day James signed to deliver his parcel of land to William Stark. Another record says that for his Revolutionary War Service James received Warrant #2854 for 100 acres in Kentucky in Apr. 1784. It is not known whether this is the same warrant or whether James received two different warrants. Kentucky was still a part of Virginia at this time.

[The above narrative was taken from a book by Ralph D. Smith, Port Orange, FL, 2003, entitled ABRAHAM LEMASTER (1638-1722) OF CHARLES CO., MD.AND HIS DESCENDANTS.VOL. 3 Abraham LeMaster (1713-1778), wife Martha Kerrick, and Descendants.]