Sunday, March 15, 2015

John Markham – Who are you?

Exploring the life of John Markham has been a bit like assembling disparate pieces into a puzzle.  One of the first pieces to appear was a Will for John Markham, proved in 1770 in Chesterfield County Virginia.  It named nine children, but no wife.  Then, by great good fortune, a genealogy presented itself - published in the Virginia Magazine of History about 125 years after that Will.  The genealogy introduced an interesting wife, but she didn’t seem to fit very well into the puzzle.  Next out of the box, something about New York – Really?  Then an amazing clue arrived, but the piece was hard to get to – a fellow researcher suggested a quest for Bernard Markham in Ireland.  So the pieces were laying themselves out on the table, but they weren’t fitting together very well.

Time and patience has worked its magic, and gradually the story of John Markham’s life has come into better focus.  There are still some missing pieces. And, one or two pieces just don’t fit like they should.  But, I am determined to get his puzzle into better shape.  Perhaps future researchers will be able to give it some polish. 

John Markham was born near the beginning of the eighteenth century in County Kilkenny Ireland.  He was the son of Bernard Markham and Rebecca Briscoe, whose families had come into Ireland from England in the previous century.  The basic timeline of John Markham’s life is fairly simple – As a young man, in the 1730’s, he immigrated to America, and settled in Orange county New York; probably just before 1740, he married Catherine Mathews and began a family;  just after 1750, he uprooted his family, and moved south to Chesterfield County Virginia;  in Virginia his family continued to expand and he pursued a variety of occupations;  in 1770 John Markham died in Chesterfield County Virginia. 

It was when I tried to color John Markham’s timeline with details that his story became interesting and challenging.  Did he come alone to America?  There is little evidence of family or friends.  What is the story of his wife?  Her puzzle piece is one that doesn’t fit very well.    What inspired John Markham to uproot his family and move to Virginia?  That wasn’t a typical migration pattern of the time.  And, the questions continue. 

I have written extensively about John Markham at my Markham of Chesterfield database website.  I suspect that I have asked, and examined, more questions than I have answered.  If you like to consider puzzles, and are interested in the life of John Markham, I hope you will make a visit, and read more.  There are still plenty of seats at the puzzle table!

For more details on John Markham, visit his page at the Markham of Chesterfield website.

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Aubin M Fry 1878 > Eliza Brooks Hutchins 1844 > Aubin M Markham 1817 > John Markham 1770 > Bernard Markham 1737 > John Markham of Chesterfield, abt 1700.

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