Perches, Punkins and Penn

Eyes, Which Relative Do I Get My Eyes From? sketched by Wendy Harty September, 2021

Sometimes my research pulls me in all directions. My 7th great grandparents, Woodman Stockley (1654-1713) and Jane Rogers (1659-1713) didn’t know where they lived! Indian River, Delaware, was known for its pumkin chunkin festival which would involve hurling a pumpkin. There were new taxation laws imposed on the Sussex County, Delaware, 1693, which were only “supposed to be in force for one year”.

The William Burton Patent for Long Neck is found on page 247 Georgetown Court House, Delaware. It is described: W side of Delaware Bay, S side of Rehoboth Bay, N side of the Greate River, 1000 perches to a white oak at head of small creek called Indian Cabin Creek, N 350 perches to a white oak standing by a creek called Middle Creek with a line of marked trees to the Bay, SE 1000 perches containing 100 acres of land.

As you can see, the land wasn’t surveyed, they used landmarks and what was a perch? The mile was based on a Roman measurement of 1000 paces. The word “furlong” comes from the distance ploughed by an oxen without a rest. A foot the length of a man’s foot, a perch was 16 1/2 feet, 40 -perches was 1 rood and 4 roods was 1 acre. An acre could be ploughed by a team of 8 oxen in one day. It certainly wasn’t an exact science, and imagine if the white oak blew over after a hurricane wind or the point eroded and fell in the water?

Then enter into the equation two kings. in 1632, King Charles ! of England in the Charter of Maryland granted the Peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay and a line from Watkin’s Point to 40 degrees to Lord Baltimore (that wasn’t colonized yet!). Then by 1664, James I English King had granted Virginia 400 miles of Atlantic Coast extending west to the Pacific Ocean to the colonists of Jamestown, 1606-1611. Each claimed the land my relatives lived on.

Woodman and John (twins born in 1654) and brother William Stockley were three of the seven boys of John Stockley Jr. and Elizabeth Watkins. John Stockley Jr. obtained his Assawoman plantation, Accomack County, Virginia by transporting people from England to the New World Colony of Virginia in 1664. 50 acres for each person transported was given. Here the family grew up and I think the 70 mile strip of land later called the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware, Maryland and Virginia) was becoming to populated to expand. These three boys went about 50 miles north with the cattle their father, John Stockley gave them just before he died in 1673. Here there was a boundary dispute over a 28 mile wide strip of territory. A final judgement wasn’t achieved until 1767, when the Mason-Dixon line was recognized as the boundary between the colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware and Penn and Lord Baltimore quit fighting. Therefore my 7th great grandparents didn’t know where they lived and the records of Sussex Country, Somerset County and Accomack County are all listed as their children’s birth places. Thus Elizabeth Stockley, my 6th great grandmother is born 1689 at Somerset, Maryland and her aunt Jane dies at Love Creek, Sussex, Delaware, 1710. My research leads me to believe the family never really moved, the boundary lines were just changed.

Henry Bagwell was John and Elizabeth Watkins Stockley’s educated neighbor. Henry was the clerk of the 1st Court of Accomack. His son, Thomas Bagwell married their cousin Ann Stockley daughter of Uncle Francis Stockley. They were the first of this large Stockley family to move to Sussex County, Delaware when William Burton sold half of Long Neck to Thomas Bagwell. It was all one big family interrelated. William Burton was married to Thomas’s Aunt Frances Bagwell and they had eleven sons at Accomack County, Virginia. By 1677, William Burton and sons owned 1000’s of acres along Indian River. They had to pay the natives for the land – one matchcoat -a big fur cloak for each 600 acres. The rent was 10 bushels of winter wheat, settlers had to make improvements and continue in obedience and confirming himself to the Laws of their government.

It was here the three Stockley brothers, the twins Woodman and John and another brother William, brought the cowherd to Sussex County, which was sparsely settled. Woodman Stockley my 7th great grandfather married Jane Rogers in 1673. His best friend William Atkins, and indentured servant married his sister, Ann Stockley. It was also in 1673 that their father, John Stockley Sr. died and the seven sons inherited equal shares in the Assawoman Plantation of 385 acres each. Woodman sold his inheritance to his younger brother, Charles, who lived near their widowed, blind, mother, Elizabeth Watkins Stockley remarried to John Stratton.

By 1693, Woodman and Jane Stockley were found on records listed in a Delaware tax role. The taxation was only to be for one year with these stipulations: 6 shillings if owned less than 100 pounds of assets, those with a great charge of children would not be taxed or if one was indigent. This would be taxed on all freemen.

John Stockley value 200 pounds taxed 0.16.8

Woodman Stockley value 100 pounds taxed 0.08.4

Charles Stockley value 100 pounds taxed 0.08.4

William Atkins (married to their sister Ann) with less than 100 assets was taxed 0.06.0 or 6 shillings. We know from a court case I recorded in a previous blog that William married to Woodman’s sister had a cow that was in a court case worth 350 pounds of tobacco, but didn’t have a penny to his name, the year before in 1692 where the records state he had recently come.

In 1706 Woodman Stockley and William Atkins bought 300 acres on the south side of Love Creek and Branch in Love’s Creek in Angola Neck, which was listed in his will as on the sea side of Cedar Neck. Further records show Woodman in 1710 moved to Somerset County where he died, still owning “Bradford Hall” his plantation in Sussex County which he bequeathed to his son, Woodman Jr.

My research shows Woodman and Jane living in all three states of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. I wasn’t able to ascertain what a great charge of children was for the taxation laws but apparently Woodman and Jane’s didn’t qualify. Woodman’s brother John Stockley Jr. was the Judge of the Court in Sussex County in 1692. Apparently the family grew tobacco and gained land for their named plantations. Woodman Stockley’s will written in 1710 named his wife Jane and left Woodman Jr. his 150 acre plantation at Bradford Hal, Sussex County, Delaware. He left to 3 sons, Joseph, Benjamin and Oliver 300 acres out of 500 at Cedar Neck and he named his two daughters, Elizabeth my 6th great grandmother and her sister Temperance.

I wonder today if I could win at a punkin chunkin festival or go golfing on the course that was designed on Long Neck by Jack Nichlaus? I wonder if the white oak still stands? I wonder?

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