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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

38.3 Researching the Durnfords - Thomas Durnford and Mary Lane parents of Elias Durnford


Sometimes when researching it becomes quite obvious that outside factors have an influence in the lives and social standing of our ancestors.  This then raises so many questions.  Sometimes the answers can be found, sometimes the questions remains unanswered, as it certainly has with our Great Grandfather Thomas Durnford.

Records show that Thomas and was a clothier and he employed 3 apprentices over a period of some years.  He and Mary had 4 children

There is also a record showing that in 1734 he lived at St Mary Bourne.
St Peter's St Mary Bourne 

The village and thatched houses St Mary Bourne
 St Mary Bourne is small village and civil parish in northwest Hampshire. It lies in the valley of the Bourne Rivulet, a tributary of the River Test 5 miles (8 km) northeast of the town of Andover.

As a clothier, he perhaps had a very good business, or he had inherited substantial wealth.

Past researcher show that both he and Mary died in 1737.  The children would have been quite young at that time.  Quite often the answers to these questions can be found in reading wills, but none can be researched from the available online records.



Elias Durnford               1720  -   1774 m  Martha Gannaway        Our lineage
Elizabeth Durnford        1723     1736
Ann Durnford                1726     1786  m  Henry Brent 1744 in Christchurch Eppingham and then                                                                       Thomas Bolney m 1762 Ringwood
Andrew Durnford          1728  -  1798  m  Joannah Swaine

Their youngest son married Andrew married Joanna Swaine in 1760 in Ringwood.

They had two sons, and there-in lies another story.



Children of Andrew Durnford and Joanna Swaine


Elizabeth Swaine Durnford,              d. Sep 28, 1792, Ringwood, Hampshire, England.
Jane Swaine Durnford,                      d. date unknown.
Mary Durnford,                                 b. Sep 20, 1761, Ringwood, Hampshire, England
                                                                 , d. Oct 19, 1787, Ringwood, Hampshire, England.
Thomas Durnford,                              b. Dec 22, 1762, Ringwood, Hampshire, England,
                                                                   d. May 03, 1826, New Orleans, LA.
Elias Durnford, b. Feb 21, 1771, Ringwood, Hampshire, England, d. Jun 11, 1803, Madras.


Maybe killed at the battle of Assaye


Thomas Durnford

Their son Thomas had quite a life.  He sailed to North America in the year 1776, at the time of the American Revolution.   He traveled with his cousin, Colonel Elias Durnford (1793 - 1794) of the Royal Engineers.  Elias was the brother of Andrew. his father.  Elias employed Thomas as a clerk, and he lived in the Lieutenant Governor's quarters.  Thomas found this position gave him understanding and training in the Trade business, between British Florida and New Orleans.

When the Spanish overthrew the British military in West Florida, Elias was evacuated with the fleet to the island of Tobago, in 1794.  Thomas did extremely well from the trade in the south, and it appears he may have amassed quite a fortune.

During this time, he fathered two boys.  One named Joseph who was born in 1783, according to census records of 1860, and another Andrew who he had with Rosaline Mercier, a free woman of colour.

Thomas died May 3rd 1826, maybe intesttate, and his friend John McDonough was the curator of his affairs.

His English relatives lodged a claim on his estate, around 20 years after he died.  The Thomas Durnford Succession Papers are available in the UK archives.

However, all may not seem to be as it was on the surface, because there was a case in the Supreme Cout of Louisana against Thomas Durnford as Administrator of Hodge's estate for $38,875,87.  As he died while the case was still alive, John Mc Donough was also a party to the estate.

Hodge was a very wealthy merchant, and had estates in Baton Rouge, Pensacola and Natchez, and a few negros, all of which were disposed by Durnford.

The case came about because Thomas had put in an account for administration of Hodge's estate but some 20 years after Hodge's death.  The plaintiffs won the case.


Andrew Durnford became a Sugar Plantation Owner, and would have been a pioneer in the day when mixed marriages were frowned upon, and particularly prior to the Civil War.

His mother was Rosalind Mercer, and she was bequeathed monies from Durnford's family on regular basis.  Andrew married Marie Charlotte Remy another free lady.  He became a planter in Mississippi and built a plantation called St Rosalie.  He and Marie had a daughter Rosella.

He like his father, (and his uncles) had another child called Albert, with a slave named Wainy.  He later son Wainy and her son to his daughter!




Nearly every story has it's beginnings and endings in a Will!

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