James Spence (1674-1740), Esther Booth (1674-1715), and Sarah Elizabeth Truman (1673-1740)


The youngest son of David Spence and Ann Roe, James Spence was born January 5, 1674 in Wicocomico, Somerset County, Maryland, and he died in October 1740 in Pasquotank County, North Carolina. His first wife was Esther Booth, daughter of John Booth (1630-1698). They were my seventh great grandparents. After Esther’s death in Pasquotank, North Carolina, James married Sarah Elizabeth Truman, another daughter of John and Ann Truman of Somerset County, Maryland. Sarah was known by her middle name Elizabeth on Somerset County records when her father was still living. As already noted in previous articles, the three daughters—Dorothy, Catherine and Elizabeth—were bound out to guardians after John Truman died. Elizabeth moved into the John Booth household, where she began using her first name. The Booths already had a daughter named Elizabeth or Eliza, so Sarah used her first name in order to avoid confusion.

James Spence was five years old when his father David died. David had originally patented 1,000 acres in Somerset County, 500 acres of which became the property of James Dashiell. Concerning David Spence’s remaining 500 acres of Despence:

“He (James) inherited half (250 acres) of his father’s Maryland plantation, “Despence” (his brother John inheriting the other half). Lord Calvert’s rent rolls for 1663-1723 show that James retained ownership of this half interest for some time. The same documents show that at some time all 240 acres of his father’s second plantation, “Spence’s Choice”, was “apportioned” to James (specified as being in North Carolina), although it had been left to his older brothers David and Alexander, and was eventually sold by their heirs. The documents also show that James shared with his brother, John, a 200 acre tract named “Hereafter”, assigned to them by Thomas Roe, and that James “possessed for Isaac Booth” a 200 acre plantation called “Fatsters Quarter”, “near the branches of the Wicomico”. The word “fatster” appears to be a corruption of “Fatt Steer’s”, the name originally given the Booth plantation, and the term “possessed” suggested that James managed, rather than owned, the latter plantation.” (1)

In the 1690s, the Spence brothers relocated to the Virginia and North Carolina colonies. Some speculation has been presented that perhaps their mother Ann (Anne) Roe Spence remained in full control of Despence until her death, and the Spence brothers never really settled upon it. (2) David Jr., Alexander and John Spence were the first to leave Somerset County—David settling in Northumberland County, Virginia, and Alexander and John settling in Perquimans, North Carolina. In all likelihood, James probably moved to Perquimans with Alexander and John, per the following:

“It is known that James moved with his brothers to Perquimans Precinct, NC around July 1697, when he would have been only 23. No wife is mentioned, and he was back in Maryland by May 1698, when he witnessed the will of John Booth, of “Wiccocomacoe, Somerset Co.”. James married Booth’s daughter, Esther, and both she and their daughter, Bridget, are mentioned in Booth’s will. From this, it appears that James and Esther may have married sometime before his venture to North Carolina in 1697, and that she did not accompany him on the journey because she was pregnant with Bridget. Esther was a sister to Isaac Booth, who subsequently inherited the above-mentioned plantation, “Fatsters Quarter”, from their father, John Booth Sr.” (3)

The possibility exists that James traveled back and forth between the two colonies until after his mother’s death. Then he was free to finally settle in North Carolina.

The children of James Spence and Esther Booth follow:

1. Bridget Spence (1698-1740). Bridget was born before May 1698 in Somerset County, Maryland, and she died ca. 1740. She married Truman McBride (1686-1727) in Pasquotank County, North Carolina. Their children were:
a. James McBride (no information)
b. Rhoda McBride (no information)
c. John McBride (1725-1766)
d. Sarah McBride (1725-1766) (Dates for John and Sarah are approximate). Sarah McBride will return later in the future William Edward Spence article.

Truman McBride was born March 27, 1686 in Somerset County, Maryland. He was the son of John McBride (1664-1704) and Margaret Truman (1654-1711).

After Truman’s death, Bridget married Benjamin Coen (1697-1734) on August 5, 1727. They had one daughter: Betty Coen, born 1734.
2. Alexander Spence (1700-1752). Alexander married Ann Sawyer. I have no additional information.
3. James Spence (1702-1753)—my sixth great grandfather. He will be treated in a separate article.

After Esther’s death, James Spence married Sarah Elizabeth Truman, who has already been identified as one of the orphaned daughters of John Truman. Their children follow:
4. David Spence (1717-1775). I have no additional information
5. Betty Spence (1719-1740). I have no additional information
6. Sarah Spence (1721-1739). I have no additional information.

An abstract of James Spence’s will follows:

“Name: James Spence
Location: Pasquotank Precinct
Will Date: 20 Mar 1739
Probate Date: Oct 1740
Sons: Alexander, David, James. Daughters: Bridget Spence and Betty Mardrum. Wife and Executrix: Sarah. Witnesses: John Jones, Berd Banger, Elizabeth Perishe. Clerk of the Court: James Craven.” (4)

The Booth, Truman and McBride families all came from Somerset County, Maryland. Concerning the Booth and Truman families, I have not found any evidence that they were directly connected with the Booths of Baltimore County, Maryland (John Wilkes Booth’s family) or the Truman families of St. Mary’s County, Maryland (President Harry S. Truman’s ancestors). At most, they may have been distant cousins. A George Booth settled in Wicomico, Somerset County, Maryland about the same period of time as David Spence. As yet, I have not determined David’s connection with John Booth other than the fact they settled in the same neighborhood. The dates of birth and death for George Booth appear to have been 1625-1666. I have speculated that he was John Booth’s brother, but do not have any proof of that as yet. The McBrides originated in Belfast, Antrim, Ireland, where John McBride was born in 1664. He died in Pasquotank, North Carolina in 1704. John McBride’s wife was Margaret Truman (Trewman) (1654-1711). She was the daughter of Robert Trewman (1634-1685)—a cousin of John Truman of Somerset County. The relationship is established in John Truman’s will. (5)

According to “Notes for James Spence”:

“James died in 1740 at about age 65 in Pasquotank, survived by his wife and executor, Sarah; children Alexander, Bridget, Betty Mardrum, David, James Jr., and Sarah; and grandson James (III), according to his will written on March 20th of that year. As mentioned above, it appears that he had 3 children with each wife, as the will leaves “the rest of my estate to my wife Sarah and her 3 children, above specified”. Unfortunately, the will doesn’t actually identify which children were Sarah’s. It is easy to assume that the children are listed in birth order, and, in fact, Alexander probably was the eldest son since he was made co-executor. Bridget would also fall in the “first three” group, and may actually have been the eldest, as she is known to have been Esther’s child, born in 1697 or 1698. But “James Spence Junr” bought land in 1731, so he had to have been born well before Esther’s death ca 1715, and thus could not have been Sarah’s child. Best guess at present is that Betty, David, and Sarah were the youngest of James’ children.

The will was probated in October 1740. He had retained enough land to leave his “maner plantation.. that lieth on the South side of Taylors Branch” to his son, David; “all the land that lieth on the North side of …Taylors Branch” to his son James Jr.; and, finally, “100 acres that lieth in the fork joyning of Jacob Sawyers and Grapevine ridge” to his grandson, James III.” (6)


(1) “Notes for James Spence”, Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: January 2, 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com
(2) “Notes for James Spence”, Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: January 2, 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com
(3) “Notes for James Spence”, Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: January 2, 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com
(4) North Carolina Will Abstracts, 1660-1790 about James Spence, Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: January 2, 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com
(5) From The Maryland State Archives,No. SM16 PREROGATIVE COURT (Wills) JOHN TRUMAN. Book 4 pp. 215-216, SR 4400
(6) Notes for James Spence, Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: January 2, 2015. Available online at http://www.ancestry.com

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