Cornelius and Mary (Evans) Thames

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Much of what follows is Walt and Maxine’s work, with some edits for clarity and several additions of new records not included in Walt’s book. I will do my best to source Walt’s entries and provide hyperlinks to documentation where available. If the statement or phrase is in green type, it means I do not have the particular source documentation to corroborate; if you have it and can share it, please contact me.

Cornelius was born about 1723. There is no record of his birth; his year of birth is based on the estimated birth year for his father, Thomas, and the presumption that he was Thomas’s eldest surviving son.

We can be pretty certain Cornelius was the eldest surviving son of Thomas who died 1758, because 1) he witnessed the 1750 deed when Thomas buys property in Bladen County, and 2) he was named co-executor of Thomas’s will (along with Thomas’s wife Prudence).

We know he died early on in the scheme of things, but the date of his death isn’t certain. Bladen County, NC court records burned on more than one occasion, which makes researching our Bladen Thames in Bladen County so difficult.

We are pretty sure he died sometime between 1760 and 1763. In 1760 he served on the coroner’s jury in Bladen County, for the inquest into the death of a Wilkinson infant. (Find this source – Walt Gabennesch used it in his 2006 book). But he does not appear on the 1763 tax list for Bladen County, nor any available subsequent tax lists in Bladen or Cumberland counties.

12 Jun 1750 – Bladen County NC Deed Book 23 p 184 – Cornelius witnessed the deed between Robert Dunn and Thomas Thames, wherein Thomas purchased 100 acres on the “North West River,” which is the Cape Fear River. 

1751 – Cornelius Tinms provided verification that Robert Dunn had three whites in Bladen County (maybe Robert and a wife and child?), this on Robert’s petition for a land warrant for 300 acres in Bladen County (Records of the Executive Council, Robert J Cain, Editor, Publisher: Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, 1988). Robert Dunn, remember, is the grantor to Thomas Thames on 12 Jun 1750 of the 100 acres that Thomas lived on at his death and which he bequeathed to his wife Prudence, and after her death to his son Samuel.

1753 – Bladen Co NC Deed Book 1 p 244 – Cornelius witnessed a power of attorney between Caleb Cowpland of Chester Town and Chester County PA and Isaac Jones of Bladen County NC. Caleb was giving Isaac authority to sell his plantation on the NW river (Cape Fear River). Jonathan Evans is also a witness, along with Henry Hale Graham (who can be found in PA Quaker records). Caleb Cowpland was a Quaker, according to numerous records for him found in Pennsylvania.

6 March 1758 – Cornelius Thems, son co-executor of the will of Thomas Thems -Witnesses, Josiah Evans & Jonathan Evans Junr. The witnesses were the brothers of Mary Evans the wife of Cornelius.

1761 – Was Cornelius still living in November 1761, when a lawsuit put forth against him by Ebenezer Lowe was “put off the docket” at Bladen County? Or was it put off the docket because he had died? See the Bladen Co NC Execution Docket of the Inferior Court in Bladen Co NC Miscellaneous Court Records for this record.

1763 – Bladen County NC Tax List – does not include Cornelius. In fact, no Thames is listed, except for three Thems males age 16 or older in the household of Jonathan McClendel; the law in 1763 provided the minimum taxable age for white males was 16. Who are these three Thames males who are age 16 and above? And who is Jonathan McLendel?

Cornelius acquired 256 acres from John Grady at some point. This is evidenced by the following deed:

8 Feb 1783 – Bladen Co NC Deed Book 25 p 122-124 – David Holloway of Edgecombe County NC to John Beard of Bladen County, part of a 400 acre “…patent to David Morley…which said patent date the 6th day of Feb 1737…which said two hundred & fifty six acres was originally conveyed from the said David Morly to Henry Sims & from the said Sims to Thomas Mathews & from the said Mathews to John Grady & from the said Grady to Cornelius Thimbs & from the executors of the said Thimbs to Joseph Cooper…” Subsequent to Cooper, the owners are James Clardy, Stephen Butler, then Holloway. This property was on the northwest side of the Cape Fear River and bordered “James Sims or William Sims” upper corner on the River bank and the eastern border of this land was the Cape Fear River. One of the witnesses was William Thimes (grandson of Thomas d. 1758).

The eastern border of this land was on the Cape Fear River (according to Morley’s patent), but I have not yet placed it on a map.

Note: John Beard (husband of Mary Thames who was Cornelius and Mary Evans Thames’s daughter) held and lived on the 256 acre tract until his death. His will, written 17 Jul 1799 at Cumberland Co and proved at the January term 1800, provided that this land was to go to his sons William and John. Other legatees are his sons Neal and Joseph and daughters Mary Beard and Martha Beard (neither of whom had reached age 21 years old when he wrote his will). John does not mention a wife in his will. The will was witnessed by John Thames Junr, William Thames and Jona[than] Thames. In 1809, this land was sold by Sheriff Stephen Gilmore to John Thames as the result of a suit filed by John and Joseph Thames against William Beard (Cumberland Co NC Deed Book 28 p 112).

Cornelius’s death was well in advance of the writing of this deed, as shown by the property chain of ownership: Morley to Sims to Mathews to Grady to Thimbs to Cooper to Clardy to Butler to Holloway to Beard, in a date span of 1737 to 1783 – ten owners in 46 years.

Because this deed refers to Cornelius’s executors, it means Cornelius left a will. His will has not been located and surely was among the Bladen County records destroyed by fire. It would have answered so many questions!

With the hope of narrowing down Cornelius’s date of death, I have tried (unsuccessfully) to find any of the deeds pertaining to the 256 acres changing hands along the years before David Holloway sold it to John Beard.

Was Cornelius married? Did he have children?

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Mary Evans was the fourth child and eldest daughter of Jonathan and Mary (Savage) Evans. She was born 22 January 1737. This is according to the Jonathan Evans Family Bible. She was the wife of Cornelius Thames; this is based on the notes found in the documents of Delancy Evans 1834-1904 and is Evans “Family Folk Lore”; several documents seem to bear this out.

Cathrine Marsh Cashwell advised me that, according to William C Fields III (renowned Bladen and Cumberland Co researcher), the Delancy Evans file at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill library contains a letter that confirms the marriage of Cornelius Thames and Mary Evans.

If Mary was Cornelius’s first wife, her children likely would not have been born before, say, 1754, when she was 17-18 years old.

Jonathan Evans is the father of Josiah, Jonathan Junr, Theophilus and Mary Evans

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Children of Cornelius and Mary Evans were likely the following:

Jesse Thames – Jesse was born about 1754. He has not been addressed in any publications prior to this. While records for him are limited, what has been collected is discussed in The Two Jesse Thames’s.

Jonathan Thames – Jonathan was born about 1756. A number of records exist for Jonathan, and he will be discussed in a new chapter.

Mary Thames married John Beard and died shortly after childbirth in 1787. She is identified as Mary Thames by the memoirs of her grandson George Washington Marsh. The memoirs are written about 120 years after her death and are somewhat vague and not without error. After saying that, they are important and give us some valuable information. She was born about 1758 and we believe was the sister of Jonathan Thames who witnessed the 1799 will of John Beard as is noted above. Her husband John’s will dated 1799 lists the following children and no wife, in the order named: Mary Beard, Martha Beard, Neal, Joseph, William and John.

Stay tuned – more information forthcoming!

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