Spratling with a “T”

Conventional wisdom assures us James Spratling (1742–1812), husband of Winifred Munday, is the son of John Spradlin (1712–1769) and Mary English (1713–1756). And this conventional wisdom goes on to assure us John is the grandson of Andrew Spradling (1652–1733) of New Kent County, Virginia, apparently Andrew Spradling the Immigrant.

  1. Andrew Spradling (1652–1733) and Ann (Unknown) Spradling (1652–unk)
  2. Andrew Spradling (1689–1738) and Elizabeth (Chaddock) Spradling (1693–1717)
  3. John Spradlin (1712–1769) and Mary English (1713–unk)
  4. James Spratling (1742–1812) and Winifred (Munday) Spratling (1751–1835)

Years ago, this author embraced this conventional wisdom, copying and pasting the line into our family tree. But does the conventional wisdom of 100’s of unsourced on-line trees equal truth? A few minutes spent comparing an abstracted source to the primary source and a few Big Y-700 DNA tests have destroyed the conventional wisdom, replacing it with a blank sheet of paper.

The most extensive research of James Spratling and Winifred Munday was conducted by Marion S. Wattenbarger [1] before 1998. Marion’s research focuses on establishing that James’ wife Winifred is Winifred Munday, daughter of James Munday of Caroline County, Virginia. Her well-sourced research is a treasure chest, providing the primary sources for the life of our James Spratling.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about Marion’s research is what is not there—not one word about James’ parents or origin. Marion was the brave genealogist among us. She stuck to what she could prove.

How did James Spratling come to be the son of John Spradlin and Mary English?

Well, an abstract of course! So much easier to read an abstract than the cursive handwriting of the primary source—is cursive writing even taught in schools any more.

Records of Hanover County.
The Small Book, 1734–1735.
Jany., 1773.

Mary English, extor of Jno. Spradlin. Security Michael Gentry, Saml. Gentry.

Abstract of The Small Book, 1734–1735, Records of Hanover County. [2][3]

Our imagination fills in the rest. Mary is John’s wife—ok, that part is not hard to imagine as the wife is often the executor of the husband’s estate in this era. But he needs a birth date. He needs a death date. And throw in a child while we are at it. Or perhaps that came later, John being discovered in the area, with a very unique surname, the right age to be the father of our James, an ancestor in need of parents.

But something is already amiss. Do you see it? Why is a Jany. 1773 record in the 1734–1735 records of Hanover County, Virginia. Well, it isn’t.

In the primary source [4], image 23, left-hand side of the page, we find something very different.

In the record dated 5 Mar 1733 (O.S.), we find the probate for John Spradlin, deceased in 1734, not 1769, whose wife Mary Spradlin is executrix, with Samuel and Nicholas Gentry posting bond.

  • 5 Mar 1733 (O.S.), not Jany., 1773.
  • Mary Spradlin, not Mary English.
  • Nicholas Gentry, not Michael Gentry.

The primary source is clearly referring to John Spradlin (1678–1734) who married Mary Gentry.

Where did Mary English come from? Flip back one page to image 22, right-hand side of the page. There we find the 7 Jul 1727 (O.S.) settlement of the estate of John English, Mary English extor. This record and the record at the top of image 23, left-hand side of the page, are both missing from the abstract.

Mary English is her married name in the primary source. However, in the 100’s of unsourced on-line trees, Mary English is her maiden name, and she is the daughter of John and Mary English.

The marriage of John Spradlin (1712–1769) and Mary English is an abstraction error, two records conflated into one. He does not exist.

Not convinced? Want to bet?

Descendants of Andrew Spradling (1652–1733) and James Spratling (1742–1812) have taken Y-DNA tests with FamilyTreeDNA. See the data on the Spradlin Project.

The descendants of Andrew Spradling are haplogroup R-FGC21301. Three descendants of James Spratling, including this author, are haplogroup R-BY67253. These two haplogroups are estimated to share a Most Recent Common Ancestor between 127 and 155 generations ago, between 1600 B.C. and 2400 B.C.

The Spradlings and Spratlings of the Colony of Virginia are not related in either the genealogical or the historical time frame.

The parents of James Spratling are unknown.


James Spratling (1742–1812) and Winifred Munday (1750–1835) are 6th great-grandparents of MKS in the Spratlin branch.

References:
[1] Marion S. Wattenbarger, “James Spratling and His Wife, Winifred (Munday), Caroline and Henry Counties and Wilkes County, Georgia,” Tidewater Virginia Families: A Magazine of History and Genealogy, Virginia Lee Hutcheson David, editor, 12 vol. (Berwyn Heights, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc., 2016), 6:1 (May 1997 – Feb 1998):30-38.
[2] “Records of Hanover County.”, The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 1, 1912, 49; digital images, JSTOR (https://www.jstor.org/stable/1922081).
[3] Gary Parks (indexer), Virginia Land Records From The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the William and Mary College Quarterly, and Tyler’s Quarterly (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1982), 85; digital images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/sharing/23352612?h=abdcc6).
[4] County Court, Hanover County, Virginia, Deeds, wills inventories, and settlement of estates, 1733–1735, Miscellaneous probate and land records, 1733–1792, Item 1, Deeds, wills, inventories, and settlement of estates 1733-1735; database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99P6-3SFR?cat=365146), image 22-23.