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Home: Regional: U.S. States: Virginia: Lunenburg County

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Dozier, Barry, Roberts, Thornton family
Posted by: Richard O. Johnson Date: May 06, 2000 at 18:02:28
  of 683

Leonard Dozier III (ca. 1710-1785) and his wife Ann had nine children, one of whom was a daughter, Susanna [Susannah] born 6 Nov.
1739. For many years it has been claimed by many researchers (especially in the Thornton family) that this Susannah was the wife of
Mark Thornton II (ca. 1718-1780), a claim made by Jonathan Mills Thornton in his The Thornton Family: Dozier Thornton Line. Mark
Thornton was the father of Dozier Thornton (1755-1843), indicating a probably connection between him and the Dozier family. This
essay will argue that Susannah Dozier (b. 1739) was not married to Mark Thornton, but that she was, in fact, married twice, first to
Thomas ROBERTS and second to John Barry.

Mr. Thornton's book cites another work, A Glimpse of Thorntons through the Centuries by Walter Thornton, which he states is "on
file" in the Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, AL. He quotes the earlier work as follows: "It is well established that
Dozier Thornton was a son of Mark Thornton, with full agreement on one point, namely, that his father was the Mark Thornton who
married Susannah Dozier, daughter of Leonard Dozier." The only "evidence" that J. M. Thornton then produces for such a marriage in fact
only shows a connection between the two families: "Leonard Dozier signed [a 1721 inventory of the estate of Mark Thornton's father,
also named Mark] as a witness. This is evidence that Dozier was a friend of the Thorntons long before the marriage Susannah Dozier to
Mark Thornton II in 1754." No source is given for the alleged date of marriage other than the fact that Dozier Thornton was born in
1755; Mr. Thornton claims that this marriage took place in Lunenburg co. VA, but no such record appears to exist. Mr. Thornton goes on
to claim that Mark Thornton died in 1780, and that his widow Susanna remarried "as evidenced in the will of her father, Leonard Dozier"
[in which she is named as Susanna Barry].

It will be readily seen that no documentary evidence supports the claim that Mark Thornton II married a daughter of Leonard Dozier
III, and that the only circumstancial evidence supporting such a claim is the fact that he named his son Dozier. On the other hand, one
must be at least somewhat suspicious of the claim that Thornton, who was at least 36 in 1854 (and perhaps somewhat older) would have
married a 15-year-old girl--not impossible, to be sure, but even then uncommon. The long-standing connection between the Thornton and
Dozier families must also be considered carefully. Mr. Thornton appears to believe that the Leonard Dozier who signed the inventory in
1721 was the future father-in-law of Mark Thornton. But Leonard Dozier III was only eleven years old at that time, and the signature
surely must be that of his father, Leonard II (Susanna's grandfather). That there is a connection between the families is clear, but it is
not so immediate as Mr. Thornton implies.

Leonard Dozier II (ca. 1680-1733), who apparently signed the 1721 inventory of the estate of Mark Thornton I, left a widow,
Elizabeth (Ingo) Dozier; when she died in 1748, her will named her children, one of whom was Elizabeth Thornton. Mr. Thornton mentions
this will and this daughter, but does not even suggest who this Elizabeth's husband might be. Elizabeth would seem to be a much more
likely candidate to be the wife of Mark Thornton; she was about the same age, and obviously was married to a Thornton (or widowed) in
1748. In Mr. Thornton's book, he mentions Mark (Jr.) and Thomas Thornton, who were associated with Dozier Thornton in North Carolina,
and later Wilkes co. GA. He refers to these men as being older "half-brothers" of Dozier Thornton; but the only evidence for this seems
to be his assumption that Mark II could have married his Dozier wife no earlier than 1754. Obviously if Mark Thornton had been married to
a Dozier prior to 1748, these supposed "half-brothers" could easily be full brothers of Dozier Thornton.

If Leonard III's daughter Susanna did not marry Mark Thornton, whom did she marry? Apparently she married at least twice. In
Lunenburg co. is recorded the 12 Dec. 1766 marriage of Susanna Dozier and Thomas Roberts, with Leonard Dozier as surety; that this is
Leonard III is supported by the fact that just three years later in Lunenburg co. Leonard Dozier also is indicated as surety for the
marriage of Keziah Dozier to William Crymes; Keziah is known to be another daughter of Leonard III. Yet in Leonard III's 1785 will, he
names his daughter as "Susanna Barry." Thus we can be reasonably certain that Leonard III's daughter Susanna was married at least
twice, first to Thomas Roberts and then to Mr. Barry. Who are these men? To sort them out, it is necessary to look at a string of
information from the next generation:

(1) A biographical sketch of Townsend Wright, Jr., of Howard co. MO, states that his father, Townsend Wright Sr., was first married
to America [possibly should be Armenia] Sanford, the daughter of John and Nancy D. (Roberts) Sanford. I have analyzed this Sanford
couple in a separate paper; here I will simply state that various census, marriage, family and other records indicate that John and Nancy
D. (Roberts) Sanford were the parents of at least three other children: John Dozier Sanford, Nancy (Sanford) Richardson, and Huldah
(Sanford) Johnson, all of whom settled in central Missouri ca. 1820. The son's middle name suggests a connection to the Dozier family.
All these surnames--Sanford, Dozier, Barry, Roberts--appear in early records of Lunenburg co. VA.

(2) William Taylor Barry was a prominent Kentucky jurist, legislator, and postmaster general under President Jackson. According to
several different biographical sketches of him, he was the son of John and Susanna (Dozier) Barry. Both John Dozier Sanford and Huldah
(Sanford) Johnson named their oldest sons for William Taylor Barry; William T. Barry Sanford and William T. Barry Johnson were born in
1814 and 1824 respectively, rather early in W. T. Barry's career, and so it is unlikely that they both would have been named after him
unless there was a close family connection. Furthermore, John Sanford, when he moved to Kentucky from Lunenburg co. VA, appointed
John Barry, W. T. Barry's father, as his attorney, describing him as "my trusty friend" and thus suggesting that there was a close
connection between the families. The 1783 tax list of Lunenburg co. shows, on the list of John Powell, John Barry and John Sanford
apparently living on the same property.

(3) No record of the death of Thomas Roberts has been found, nor any positive record of the marriage of Susanna to John Barry;
though there is a marriage record of a Susannah Roberts to John Bury in Charleston SC 4 Nov. 1779. Many of the other children of
Leonard Dozier III had migrated to SC by that time.

(4) There were at least two Thomas Robertses in Lunenburg co. during the late 1750's; a 1757 deed, for example, is witnessed by
both "Thomas Roberds Sr." and "Thomas Roberds Jr." A 1764 deed in which "Thomas Roberds Jr." grants property to John Hatchsel
includes a release of dower by his wife Joanna. Is it possible that this is the same man who, just two years later, married Susanna
Dozier? Or could Susanna's husband have been the older man? Or an entirely different Thomas Roberts?

(4) The date of birth of Nancy D. (Roberts) Sanford can be estimated as ca. 1768/70; a woman believed to be she is listed in the
1840 census in the household of Alfred and Huldah (Sanford) Johnson (her daughter and son-in-law) in Boone co. MO. In that census she is
listed as being between 70 and 80 years of age. The 1810 census record in Madison co. MO believed to be that of John and Nancy D.
(Roberts) Sanford lists her as 26-45 years old, confirming a birth after 1765. Given the 1766 marriage date of her parents, 1768/70
seems a reasonable birthdate for her, and suggests that she was likely the first or second child of this marriage.

(5) Richard McKenzie, who is working on the genealogy of the Benning family, indicates that his ancestor Anthony Benning was a
nephew of postmaster William T. Barry. One genealogy of the Benning family, written by Eva Hardin Benning, states that he was the son
of Anthony and Elizabeth (Roberts) Benning. This Anthony Jr. was b. 1809 in Fayette co. KY (adjacent to Madison co., where the Sanfords
had settled; the Barrys were in Fayette co.), and thus his mother was born perhaps 1769/89, and so could well be a daughter of Thomas
and Susanna (Dozier) Roberts. Furthermore, Anthony and Elizabeth (Roberts) Benning allegedly had at least another child, a daughter,
Susan Dozier Benning (though there seems to be some question about the middle name), b. 1807. Obviously if Anthony Benning was a
nephew of W. T. Barry (and assuming this was by blood, not by marriage), and if indeed his mother was Elizabeth Roberts, one must
conclude that Elizabeth Roberts and W. T. Barry were probably (half) brother and sister, and thus that Elizabeth Roberts was a sister of
Nancy D. Roberts and the daughter of Thomas and Susanna (Dozier) Roberts.

(6) In 1982 I corresponded with Murl Black, whose ancestor, Thomas Roberts, was born 1775 in VA. He had a daughter, Susannah, b.
1815 in KY. Mr. Black suspected that this Thomas, who died in Jefferson co. IA in 1853, was a son of Thomas and Susannah (Dozier)
Roberts, but admitted this was nothing more than a hunch.

Putting all this together, one might hypothesize the following: Thomas Roberts, m. 1766 to Susannah Dozier, had perhaps the
following children:

i. Nancy D. Roberts, b. ca. 1768, m. John Sanford.
ii. Thomas Roberts, b. ca. 1775, d. IN.
iii. Elizabeth Roberts, b. ca. 1777, m. Anthony Benning.

Thomas died perhaps ca. 1778, and his widow married ca. 1779 John Barry, by whom she had at least one son:

i. William Taylor Barry, b. 1784.

I have seen claims that William Taylor Barry had at least two or three siblings, including a John Barry and a Sarah Barry (b. 1785, m.
Ferguson). Susanna Dozier was allegedly born in 1739, and so could not have been having babies too many years after W. T. Barry's birth;
but of course the alleged son John could be older than he.


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