Mary Hamilton, wife of Jacob Saunders or wife of Moses Sanders?

Jacob Saunders of Montgomery County, North Carolina, lived from about 1760 until about 1830. His wife Mary lived a very long life, from about 1760 until 1866. In family tradition she was called “Old Mary” or “Grandma Jacob.” For many years researchers have believed that Jacob’s wife Mary was the same person as Mary Sanders, the daughter mentioned in the 1785 will of Joseph Hamilton of Brunswick County, Virginia. Several members of this Hamilton family later moved to Montgomery County. I formerly assumed that this conclusion about Mary's parentage was based on family tradition, but recently I received information from the original researcher of “Old Mary” that the identification was premised only on Jacob's wife having the same given name as the daughter of Joseph and on Jacob's grandson marrying a great granddaughter of Joseph Hamilton.

If the daughter in the will is not the wife of Jacob, the other possibility that comes to mind is that she is Mary Hamilton Sanders, the wife of the Reverend Moses Sanders who also lived in Montgomery County, North Carolina, in the 1770s. Below I have summarized the evidence concerning whether Mary, daughter of Joseph, was the wife of Moses or the wife of Jacob.

We have solid documentation that the wife of the Reverend Moses Sanders was named Mary Hamilton and that she had a brother named William. Based on records I received from Jim Sanders, Mary is named as Moses' wife in a South Carolina Deed dated 11 Nov. 1798: "Moses Sanders of Franklin County Ga..... and his wife Mary." She signed the deed and relinquished any dower right to the property.  Moses Sanders also names Mary as his wife in his 1817 will. Their marriage probably occurred in Virginia because the oldest son, Aaron was born in that state in 1769, according to the 1850 census. 

Moses Martin Sanders, a grandson of the Reverend Moses Sanders, in the ordinances done for the LDS church in the 1880s, referred to William Hamilton as his great uncle. A William Hamilton apparently lived near Aaron and Moses Sanders in Montgomery County in 1774. According to Jim Sanders, "Moses was a chain carrier for two of William Hamilton's grants." Again, according to Jim Sanders, "Moses Sanders and William Hamilton entered their property on Barnes and Duncombe creek in consecutive numbers, 38 and 39, in the entry takers book of 1778."  Moses, Aaron, George Sanders and William Hamilton were all order to to "'view" a road in Anson County in 1774. The road was adjacent to Aaron's 1774 grant. William Hamilton bought 1200 acres of land in 1814 in Bedford County, Tennessee. This was near the property of David Sanders, one of the sons of the Reverend Moses Sanders. David Sanders named one of his sons William Hamilton Sanders. In his ordinances, Moses Martin Sanders named several of the sons of William Hamilton.

Joseph Hamilton, in his Brunswick County, Virginia will that was proved in 1785, named several children. One was Mary Sanders, another was William Hamilton. We don't have, of course, any specific evidence that the William Hamilton of Montgomery, N.C., and the Mary who married Moses are the same people as the children of Joseph, though this seems to be the most obvious conclusion. Another of the sons, Walter, moved to Montgomery County, North Carolina, and left numerous descendants.

On the other hand, we have no documentation about the maiden name of Mary, the wife of Jacob Saunders. Her grandson, James, did marry a great granddaughter of Joseph Hamilton, but to assume Mary's maiden name was Hamilton, we have to make an inference from her given name being Mary, the same as Joseph's daughter; and from the two women having lived in the latter part of the 18th century.

Even with that assumption, we would have to further assume  that the parents lived in Brunswick County, Virginia, and their teenage daughter, who could not have been more than 19 years old in 1779, married Jacob Saunders who lived in Montgomery County, North Carolina.  I believe the marriage of Jacob and his wife took place about 1779 because there appear to be about six children on the 1790 census in Jacob's household and if we figure a child being born every two years, as was normal then, the marriage must have been at least 10 years old. Unlike the marriage of Moses and his wife, the marriage of Jacob and his wife was most likely occurred in Montgomery County.

Therefore, the preponderance of evidence now suggests that the Mary Sanders of the will of Joseph Hamilton refers to the wife of the Reverend Moses Sanders, not to the wife of Jacob Saunders. Below is further documentation in an article written by Jim Sanders, a descendant of Francis Sanders, brother of the Reverend Moses Sanders.


Jim Sanders
May 2008                          

It has been reported that Joseph Hamilton of Brunswick County, Virginia was the father of Mary Hamilton, the wife of Jacob Sanders of Randolph County, North Carolina. Through communication with other Sanders researchers we now believe that this Mary Hamilton may not have been the wife of Jacob Sanders but instead, the wife of Moses Sanders. In order to provide proof of Mary Hamilton’s husband we turned to the records of Brunswick, Virginia. In a still ongoing review of these available records, we found many mentions of Sanders and Hamilton. Unfortunately, we did not find absolute proof of her marriage to either man. We begin with the 1780 will of Joseph Hamilton: 


Transcribed by Jim Sanders April 2008

FHL Film # 0030633 Page 459

In the name of God Amen, I Joseph Hambleton of the Parrish of Meherrin in the County of Brunswick being in my proper senses calling to mind the uncertain state of this transitory life and that all must yield unto death when it shall please God to call I do make constitute and ordain and declare this my last Will and Testament I hereby give and bequeath to my loving wife Ann 4 negroes 2 winches named Ann and Betty one girl named Rashal, one Negro boy named Sterling her life after her death then these three above named negroes to my son Walter Hambleton, but if my son Walter should die without heir, these said negroes to be divided among all my children, also after the death of my wife, I also give the above named negro Betty to my daughter Elizabeth Ezell, also I give and bequeath to my son Walter Hambleton my plantation and 237 acres of land with it and 1 negro girl named Charlotte, one bay mare, also I give to my daughter Elizabeth Ezell 100 acres of land her life, taking of this said tract binding on Preston’s line after her death the said land and the negro Betty to be sold and all the money to be equally divided among all her children. Also I give and bequeath to my son William Hamilton 20 shillings Also I give and bequeath to my daughter Ann Upchurch 20 shillings, Also I give and Bequeath to my daughter Mary Saunders 20 shillings also I give and bequeath to my son Samuel Hambleton twenty. Also I give and bequeath to John Hambleton’s heir 20 shillings and do make my wife and my son Walter my executors of this my last Will and Testament.  Witness my hand and seal this 19th day of May in the year of our lord 1780.
Test.  Signed Joseph Hambleton
Benjamin Harrison, Jr.
Patty Harrison
N.B.  I also give and bequeath unto Benjamin Walker one certain tract of land containing 450 acres more or less that the said Walker has now in possession.
   Signed Joseph Hambleton 

Test. Benjamin Harrison Jr. Patty Harrison. Registered in the Brunswick County Court 28 February 1785. Ordered to be recorded by Drury Stith. 

This will has been the basis for the reasoning that Mary Hamilton married Jacob Sanders.  A very simple methodology was used in making this decision: Jacob Sanders wife was named Mary and in Joseph Hamilton’s will, a Mary Saunders is noted as his daughter.  A historic leap of faith was taken here, perpetuating this belief as fact. 

Walter Hamilton is found adjacent to the Sanders of Barnes Creek in Montgomery County in 1796 when he is noted as a chain Carrier for Joseph Carnes. Carnes surveyor noted that Moses Sanders property was adjacent to Carnes.

The identification of Mary Hamilton Sanders 

Mary is identified as the wife of Moses Sanders in a grant deed recorded in 1798 in Laurens County, SC. (FHL film 024082 page 409).  She is also identified as his Mary in his will, which was written in 1816, and registered in 1817, upon his death, in Franklin County, Georgia. 

Furthermore, in 1877 and 1878, Moses Martin Sanders, son of David who was the son of the Reverend Moses, baptized his family and friends, who had died, prior to the formation of the Mormon Church.  This baptismal process is called Vicarious Ordinance or the Endowment for the Dead. On January 31st, 1877, he baptized his grandmother, Mary Hambleton and his grand uncle William Hambleton.  He would be Mary Hambletons’ brother.         

We know that William, her brother, went to Bedford TN in the early 1800’s when he purchased 1200 Acres.  Jacob and John Hamilton were witnesses to the transaction. At the time, David Sanders and Mary (Allred) Sanders, the Reverend Moses’ son and daughter-in-law, were in Bedford. Incidentally, David named his secon son William Hambleton! (Bedford research by Jim Sanders 2004) 

Moses Martin Sanders, not knowing his great-grandfathers name on either side of his grandmothers or grandfathers family (the Reverend Moses and Mary Hambleton), baptized them as great grandfathers Hambleton and Sanders. (Eldon Hurst research)         

“…William Hamilton had at least four sons: Hatton, Theophilus, John and Isaac…” Jacob and John Hamilton were witnesses to a 1200 acre purchase by William Hamilton in 1813, Bedford. (Bedford County, Tennessee, Sanders by Jim Sanders 2004) 

The records of the Groves Level Church of Franklin County, Georgia show that a “Polly” Sanders died in 1828 in Franklin County, GA. We believe that this was Mary Hamilton Sanders.

William Hamilton, Mary Hamilton’s brother is an also key component to establishing a theory that might validate Mary Hamilton as the wife of Moses Sanders.  We will show that Moses and William Hamilton were closely aligned for more than fifty years. 

William Hamilton

We believe there are two, and maybe more, William Hamiltons in Brunswick between perhaps as early as 1754 and as late as 1792. Either may be the brother of Mary Hamilton Sanders. Their relationship to each other is undetermined.  It is possible that one is a son of John and the other a son of Joseph. The William Hamilton in question [the one who once lived in North Carolina-gs] died in Bedford TN in 1825.  Eldon Hurst has the name of William’s wife as Mirrian or Mirran.

In 1786 Nancy Hamilton’s will is recorded in Brunswick. The will names her brother John and Johns eldest son, Duke, who is not yet 21.  She also devises to her brother William Hamilton, four Negroes, named Frank, Buck, Robin and Charles as well as the remainder of her estate.  William is named as an Executor. We have not attempted to relate this family to Joseph Hamilton.

1754 A William Hamilton is first noted on Lizard Creek. Deed Book 5 page 295.         

October 1754 William Hamilton, agent for the King against John Milam.  An Alias Capias (Attachment) is awarded against Milam.   

1772 William Hamilton buys property from Edward Carlos.  Book 10 Page 510. 

1786 William sells a piece of property in to Peter Reed.  Book 10 Page 236 

1777 The following Website notes that John Hicks Captain, Lieutenants Lewis Hicks and William Hamilton are members of the Revolutionary force of Brunswick County, VA.         

1792 William Hamilton sells property to James Huff.  Book 15 Page 240 of Deeds. 

1792  “This Indenture made this 4th day of January 1792, between William Hamilton of  the County of Brunswick & State of Virga. of the one part and Edmund Webb of the same County & State aforesaid of the other part . . . for and in consideration of the sum of eighty two pounds ten shillings . . . doth absolutely bargain and sell unto Edmund Webb one certain tract & parcel of land lying & being in the County of Brunswick on waters of the Lizard Creek and bounded by the lands of Daniel Huff, James Huff, Herbert Haynes and Peter Reed containing by estimation one hundred &    sixty one acres”  Signed by William Hamilton and witnessed by James Huff. Brunswick County Court August 27th 1792. This Indenture of Bargain and Sale was acknowledged by William Hamilton party thereto to be his act and deed and ordered to be recorded. Deed Book 15, page 303. 

1798 Moses Sanders and his son Moses Jr. were in Laurens County, South Carolina, when Judge Jonathon Downs of Laurens County, examined and interviewed Mary Hamilton Sanders upon the sale of the Reverend Moses’ property, in 1798.  She swore that she relinquished any right to Dower regarding the subject property.  Could this indicate that the property may have been devised to Mary?  We have not delved deeply into the records of South Carolina; however, in the 1790s, several William Hamiltons are in found near the County lines of Laurens, Orangeburg and the Ninety-Six District in SC. Which of these is our subject is unclear. 

Pertinent facts regarding Moses and William: 

1) In 1772, Moses Sanders and William Hamilton are both noted in the records of Brunswick. The mention of their names in documents provides information that they were located in the same geographical area.

2) 1771-1774, William and Moses are Chain Carriers for William’s Grant on Barnes Creek, Anson, NC.  Moses is also a Chain Carrier for another of William’ grants in Anson in 1774

3) Moses is entry #38 and William is entry #39 of the Entry Books of Anson.

4) Moses and William are named, together, in 1774, in Anson Road Orders.

5) William Hamilton is found in Bedford, TN in 1813. David Sanders, Moses’ son, is in Bedford in 1810.  David’s son, is named, William Hambleton Sanders. 

We believe that after David’s death in New Orleans in 1815, his mother remarried to a man named Willis Wright.  She died in 1820. (Rock Creek Church Records).The 1820 census of Bedford indicates her children may have been raised in William’s household.

6) The names of William Hamilton’s sons, William, Theophilus and Francis, are also found in the family of Francis Sanders, Moses brother.  Silas, Frances’s son, also named his son Theophilus. 

The Nippers Creek Hamiltons

This Hamilton family is probably the line of Mary Hamilton Sanders. We believe they were located near the NC border in the south Western corner of Brunswick. Deed references of Randal Bracey and a road order in 1741 calling on the Nippers to clear the road from Cockes Creek to Butchers Road, lead us to this conclusion.

1745 John Hamilton receives a patent for 370 acres on the Nippers Creek. Adjoining William Tucker, Thomas Eldridge. 

1749 George Hamilton is noted as a witness in Brunswick in Deed Book 3, Page 570. 

August 20th, 1760 Joseph Hamilton receives a patent for 180 acres on Nippers Creek,Brunswick County, VA.  Randal Bracey’s line is referenced. This Hamilton may be Mary        Hamilton’s father. Bracey sold a property to Benjamin Harrison in 1755. It appears that Joseph and John Hamilton, both on Nippers Creek, could be related. John is noted in Joseph’s Will. 

1762 “By an Indenture made the 5th day of February, 1762, between Robert Jones, Jr., Gentleman of North Carolina and the County of Northampton, and Benjamin Harrison, conveying tract of land adjoining the land of William Betty, Thomas Preston, land of Hamilton (Probably John) and Randal Bracey. Deed Book 7, page 165.   

1763 John Hamilton grants to Benjamin Ezell 100 acres of the 370 acres granted in 1745.  Deed Book 7, Page 350.Ezell was married to one of Joseph Hamilton’s Daughter’s.  (Joseph’s 1780 Will)      

1772 We find what we believe is the only mention of our line of Sanders in Brunswick within the following two documents:
On 26 Feb. 1772 on page 481 of Film #0030665 (order book 11):  A notice of attachment to the estate of Moses Saunders was continued until the next court.

On page 51 of FHL film # 0030666, order book 12, 1772-1774, dated 28 July 1772 we find this: An attachment attained by Thomas Preston, Plaintiff, against the estate of Moses Saunders is dismissed being agreed by the parties. “Estate”, as used in Brunswick documents, is “all goods and possessions of the defendant”. It is of note that Thomas Preston is a neighbor of the Hamilton’s.  Although Moses is not mentioned again in either Deed records or Lease records of Brunswick, the attachment against his estate is strong circumstantial evidence because it places a Moses Saunders and a Mary Hamilton in the same, immediate geographic area as well as the correct time frame. 


1) Hamilton’s are first noted in Brunswick in 1745. 

2) Hamilton Grants to Ezell in 1763.  Joseph Hamilton’s daughter, Elizabeth marries an Ezell.  (Joseph Hamilton will of 1780).

3) Benjamin Harrison Jr. (neighbor of John) was a witness to Joseph Hamilton’s Will.  Randal Bracey sold property to Harrison on Nippers Creek)

4) In 1772, Thomas Preston sues Moses Saunders. The mention of Thomas Preston is significant as he is an adjacent neighbor of the Joseph Hamilton’s.

5) We can justify the connection between Moses Sanders and Mary Hamilton in Brunswick with circumstantial evidence.  However our research to date, will not support a conclusion of any sort that his brothers, William Aaron, Francis, or Isaac were ever in Brunswick.

6) The only reference to the Sanders line of Moses, Francis and William Aaron, is the above attachment to the estate of Moses Saunders.  Perhaps Moses was an interloper and was passing through when he met and married Mary Hamilton. Since he owned no property in Brunswick he may have lived with the Hamilton’s.  Moses and Mary’s oldest son, Aaron was born in VA in 1769. (1850 Franklin GA census). 

A thorough check of the grant deed index exposed only the Edward Saunders line with the given names of Thomas, Hubbard, James and Joseph.  We haven’t made any connection with Edward’s line as of yet. 

7) In addition to the Hamilton connection in Brunswick, we found what we believe to be 2 associate families of our line; the Steeds; John Sr. and sons Nathaniel, Moses, Mark and John Jr., and Abby Sanders father, John Robbins.  .

 John Robbins in Brunswick

John Robbins was the father of Abby Robins who married John Sanders in Franklin County, Georgia in 1811. John Sanders was the son of the Reverend Moses Sanders. We can place a John Robbins in Brunswick in 1776.  Here is how we got there:

Moses Marion Sanders, a son of John Sanders and Abby Robbins and a gandson of the Reverend Moses, wrote a history of his family in 1880.  We have included a paragraph of that history herein, which provides a bit of additional evidence of a connection of our line to Brunswick County, Virginia.

 “…John Robbins was a merchant in VA.  He was born about 1750 in Orange County, VA where he married Elizabeth Dogan in 1771…”  Another Website with Robbins information:

John and Rueben Robins are listed on the tax List of Surry County, North Carolina in 1774. In 1785-1790 He is found on the tax lists of Wilkes County, NC.  A John Robbins Jr. and Sr. as well as Rueben Robins, are noted.  The Reverend Moses Sanders is also noted, as is his brother Francis, as freeholders through 1794. The location of their properties is near the county corners of Surry, Wilkes and Iredell.

John Robins Jr. was taxed on 780 acres in 1785. He is also noted in 1786, 1787, and 1788 and by 1789 he has 880 acres.  He is indexed in Captain Judd’s District, which includes the Hunting Creek and is near the “Grassy Knob” where the Reverend Moses Sanders family lived in the 1778-1790’s. In the 1790 and 1800 census of Montgomery and Anson counties, North Carolina, a John Robins is listed and may be John Robins Jr.

The following case describes a John Robins and he may be the father of Abby Sanders. If so, this case strengthens the connection of the line of Moses Sanders to Brunswick.


 “…KNOW all men by these presents that I, William Boswell Executor of the Last Will and Testament of my brother Thomas Boswell who was admtor of his father William Boswell, decd. of the County of Brunswick & State of Virginia for divers consideration & good causes me hereunto moving have made ordained constituted and appointed and by these presents do make ordain constitute and appoint my trusting friend James Saunders of the County aforesaid my true and lawful attorney for me in my name & to my use to ask demand recover or receive at and from John Robins lately removed from the State of Virginia to the State of North Carolina the sum of One Hundred Pounds . . . but to be discharged by the payment of Fifty Pounds of like lawful money with interest from the 19th day of February 1776 till paid and costs upon the same by obtaining a judgment up or the same in the County Court of Glouster which judgment the said Saunders is now ready to produce with the seal of the state of next giving and by these presents granting to my said attorney my sole and full power & authority to take persue & follow such legal causes for the recovery receiving and obtaining of the same as I myself might or could do were I personally present and uponreceipt of the same acquitance & other sufficient discharges for me and in my name to make sign seal & deliver of as also one or more attorney or attorneys under him to substitute or appoint and again at his pleasure to make and further to do perform & execute for me and in my name all and singular thing or things which shall or may be necessary touching and concerning premises as fully fairly & entirely as I the said William Boswell in my own person ought or could do in and about the same ratifying allowing and confirming whatsoever my attorney shall lawfully do or cause to be done in and about the execution of the premises by virtue of these presents In Witness where of I have hereunto set my hand and seal the twelth day of June One Thousand Seven Hundred &Ninety Two. Signed by William Boswell, Brunswick County Court June 21st, 1792. This Power of Attorney was acknowledged by William Boswell party thereto to be his act and deed & ordered to be recorded. Deed Book 15, page 244…”(This James Sanders is the son of Thomas Sanders of the Edward Sanders line.)

Jim Sanders
May 2008

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