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Rhodes of St. Mary's County, Maryland
Posted by: Todd Whitesides Date: August 31, 2001 at 07:10:34
  of 6895

An Interpretation of the Evidence for the Origin of the Rhodes Family of St. Mary's County, Maryland

John Rhodes (d. 1764), a legatee of Abraham Rhodes (d. 1705) of "Tesbury Plains," St Mary's County, Maryland, is the first of his line born in the Maryland colony. Abraham refers to John as "sonne of Francis Rhodes" in his will and made him a residual legatee of much of his estate should the other heirs (a cousin named Bloomer Goodacre in England and a couple of gaddaughters named Mary Richardson and Mary Magrah living in Maryland) die without issue or fail to come to the colony. Mary Magrah received property known as "Rhodes Rest," and Abraham's friend Nicholas Richardson received a wooded tract called "Hunting Quarter" lying on the western branch of St. George's River. It is obvious from the wording of this will that John Rhodes is not Abraham's son, but the identity of John's parent Francis Rhodes has been debated.

Is this Francis actually Frances Rhodes, wife of Abraham? John is named as Frances' nearest relative in her administration papers (1710), and "Tesbury Plains" leaves her hands at this time and descends to John Rhodes and his heirs. It seems unlikely because John was under the "age of one and twenty years" at the time of Abraham's 1705 will which helps place his birth as ca. 1690 (give or take a few years in either direction). A deopsition dated 25 June 1722 in St. Mary's County states that a priest named Mr. Massey and Mrs. Frances Rhodes came on the same ship with Jane Saunders, Lady Baltimore, 51 years previous (ca. 1671). Abraham was a testator to the will of Thomas Hatton of St. Mary's County in 1675, and Abraham and Francis Rhoades were witnesses to the 1678 will of Michael Rochford of St. Mary's County. They were obviously established in Maryland by the 1670's. If John Rhodes (who we shown could have been born no earlier than 1684) was indeed born to this Frances after her arrival in the colony, and he was not born a son of Abraham Rhodes, then he was born to her by another man and taken in by Abraham in spite of it all. This seems unllikely due to the fact that Frances maintained her standing as [Gentlewoman] Frances Rhodes at the time of her death ca. 1710.

More likely is the explanation that John Rhodes was a kinsman of some degree to Abraham Rhodes, and that he was Abraham's only living relative in the Maryland colony, and therefore a likely candidate to be made an heir of that man. So who then is the Francis Rhodes who left a son John in St. Mary's County? A clue to this may be found on page 586 of Familiae Minorum Gentium, vol. 2. It states there that Francis Rodes, second son of John Rodes of Sturton and his wife Elizabeth Jason, resided some time in Maryland, where he was twice married and had issue. It goes on to state that he resides now (1698) in England. This provides us with a prospect for the identity of John Rhodes' father. The Rodes pedigree in Familiae Minorum Gentium states that Francis' younger brother was Charles Rodes, third son, and that he lives in Virginia (1695) where he is lately married. Charles' christening record has been located at Sturton-cum-Fenton, Nottinghamshire, dated 24 Mar 1661 and giving his parents as John and Elizabeth Roades. Charles Rhodes appears in the vestry records of St. Paul's Parish in Hanover County, Virginia from 1709 to 1719. Also appearing in these church records as early as 1711 is Francis Rhodes. It would appear that after returning to England from his Maryland sojourn by 1698, he joined his brother in Hanover County, Virginia. Francis appears in the St. Paul vestry records as late as 1719. After that I cannot place him.

So now we have a person named Francis R(h)odes, born ca. 1655-60, descended from a gentry family, who migrated to Maryland where was married twice and had issue. He returned to England by 1698, but from 1711-19 was living in same parish as his younger brother in Hanover County, Virginia. He seems a likely candidate for the Francis Rhodes who left a "sonne" named John Rhodes who was raised by Abraham Rhodes and his wife Frances of St. Mary's County, Maryland. Frances herself was described as of "gentle" status, so now we can postulate that both these Rhodes families were of a similar background.

If Francis Rodes of Sturton, Nottinghamshire, is the father of our John Rhodes (d. 1764) of "Tesbury Plains," St. Mary's County, Maryland, then John has a distinguished ancestry. Francis' father John Rodes was the fourth son of Sir Francis Rodes, baronet (d. 1645), of Barlborough Hall, Derbyshire, and his wife Elizabeth Lascelles, daughter and heiress of Sir George Lascelles, knight, of Sturton and Gaytford, Nottinghamshire.

Regarding Francis Rhodes' mother, Familiae Minorum Gentium lists her as Elizabeth, daughter of Simon Jason of Edial, Staffordshire. Gregory King's 1663 Visitation of Staffordshire corrects this by showing that Elizabeth, wife of John Rodes, was the second sister of Simon Jasson of Edyal (aged 30, 1663). At St. Mary's Parish in Lichfield, Staffordshire, can be found the christening of Sebastian, son of Symon Jasson, on 18 Sept 1655. This Sebastian appeared in the 1663 visitation as Simon's eldest son, aged 7.

It is nice to note that John Rhodes (d. 1764) perpetuated the name of his benefactor Abraham by naming one of his sons Abraham Rhodes, and that he left to this son the dwelling plantation of "Tesbury Plains" in St. Mary's County. It is from this Abraham Rhodes (d. 1797) and his wife Mary Gough that I descend, coming down through their son James Rhodes, who migrated to Nelson County, Kentucky in the late 1700's and eventually settled in Knottsville Precinct, Daviess County, Kentucky.

Todd Whitesides


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