Abraham Jernigan – Father of Stephen?

One of my reasons for starting this blog was to have a platform for people researching the Jernigan family to share information, both concerning their own branch of the family in America as well as the earlier family in England. Someone coming to the blog would hopefully find some useful information to use in their own research, but my hope was always that others would share their information, which otherwise I might not have found.

Several Jernigan researchers have done just that. A particular post that prompted others to share tidbits of information was Stephen Jernigan of Smith County, MS – Part 2. If you have not read that post, it discusses my attempts to connect my fourth-great-grandfather, Stephen Jernigan, to the larger group of Jernigans in Columbus County, North Carolina, where all evidence seems to point. Stephen was born in North Carolina, according to later census records of his children, before leaving that state and heading south to Mississippi, staying for a time in Georgia, where some of his children were born. Stephen died just prior to the 1850 U.S. Federal Census which, for the first time, listed not only all residents of the home by name, but also their places of birth.

The difficulty I have had with Stephen Jernigan is that no documentation has yet been found that would link him to a set of parents. In the blog post previously mentioned, I discuss the circumstantial evidence that points to Columbus County, North Carolina as Stephen’s place of origin. I also cite other circumstantial evidence that may tie him to a specific set of parents, Jesse Jernigan, Jr. and Lucy Holmes.

While Jesse and Lucy remain prime candidates for Stephen’s parents, information shared as a comment on my blog post by another researcher, Sharon Tingley, leads to the possibility of another of the Columbus County Jernigans being the father of Stephen – Abraham Jernigan.

Abraham does have one very strong piece of evidence that puts him in contention. He is documented with a son named Stephen. In 1811, Abraham is mentioned as the father of Stephen Jernigan, who was purchasing land from John Rawls in Columbus County (Columbus Co., NC Deeds, Vol. A p. 245, dated 11-5-1811). Abraham was a witness named on this deed, as was Jesse Jernigan. It isn’t clear whether this was Jesse Sr. or Jr., but either way, it shows a close connection with the family. Sharon also mentions Abraham selling land to Nicholas Worley. Nicholas was the father of Elias Worley, who married Susannah Jernigan, daughter of the previously-mentioned Jesse Jernigan, Jr. and Lucy Holmes.

Sharon suggests that Abraham may have been another son of Jesse Jernigan, Sr. and his wife Susannah. They are also the parents of Jesse Jernigan, Jr., who I have suspected as being the parents of Stephen. If this is correct, that would obviously make Abraham and Jesse, Jr. brothers. The deed mentioned above already shows a connection between Abraham and Jesse, so it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to think that they could be siblings. Even if Abraham was the father of Stephen Jernigan instead of Jesse, Jr., the circumstantial evidence I have cited making Stephen the son of Jesse would still be relevant – just off by a bit.

It is certainly possible that Abraham Jernigan could be a son of Jesse, Sr. In the 1790 census for Robeson County, where Jesse Jernigan, Sr. was living at the time, he has two white males of age sixteen and up living in the home. Presumably one of them is Jesse, Sr. He also has six white males under age sixteen in the home. Certainly, he was the father of many boys whose descendants have not yet been traced.

We find Abraham listed for the first time in the 1800 census for Bladen County in Capt. Green’s District. In that year, we find Abraham listed under the very broad age grouping of 26 – 44. This doesn’t help us narrow down his age, but if we look at the only woman listed in the house, presumably his wife, she is listed in the 16 – 25 age grouping. In addition, there is one boy listed, in the under ten age group. We might be able to assume that given the other occupants of the house – a very young wife and one young child – Abraham would likely be closer to the younger end of his age grouping. Even if he was at the very beginning of that age group, twenty-six, he would be in the perfect age range for the other male listed in Jesse Jernigan, Sr.’s house in the sixteen-and-up age group in the 1790 census.

Abraham Jernigan is known to have two sons, Stephen and Abraham, Jr. As we have seen, Stephen was likely born in the mid- to late-1790s. Abraham, Jr. was born sometime around 1800. A second boy is not listed in Abraham Sr.’s household in 1800. Later census records list his birth year right around 1800, so we can probably assume he was born sometime between 1800 and 1805.

In 1810, we find A. Jernigan (presumably Abraham) listed in Columbus County. Here, as we would expect, we find two boys, fairly close in age. The older boy is in the 10 – 15 age group, and the younger boy is in the under 10 group. There are no other boys in the household, but there are three young girls. This would not be unusual under normal circumstances, but two of the girls are listed in the 10 to 15 age group. Since there were no girls listed in the house in 1800, who were they? Did they work for the family? Were they nieces or cousins living with Abraham for some reason? Is this the wrong “A. Jernigan?” Since we have Abraham living in the county in 1811, and there are no other A. Jernigans living in Columbus County at that time, we must have the right household.

Another peculiarity with this census entry is that Abraham does not appear to be listed in the house. There are no adult males listed in the entry for that household; no males listed in the 16 to 25, 26 to 44, or 45 and over. This does, however, appear to be the case in a number of households in the area where the male head of household was known to be living at the time. Perhaps the census taker simply forgot to add the head of household, since he was already listed by name. It is a mystery.

Since we are researching a branch of the Jernigan family, a monkey wrench is bound to get thrown into the works, just to make sure we don’t get too confident in our results. By 1820, this is exactly what happens. In that year, we see an Abram (Abraham) Jernigan listed in Columbus County, but no one in the household appears to be Stephen, at least when compared to the previous census of 1810. We see one male between the ages of 10 – 16 (Abraham, Jr.), but the only other male in the household is in the 26 – 45 age group. If we have the right house, this person must be Abraham, Sr., but he must be at the higher end of this age range. If this is correct, where is Stephen?

Despite his land purchase in 1811, we don’t find Stephen Jernigan listed in a separate household in Columbus County in 1820. Where is he? More importantly, was this Stephen Jernigan the same one that left on the eventual route to Mississippi in the following decade?

We do have a Stephen Jernigan listed as the head of household in 1830, and in 1840. As I had previously written about in my post Stephen Jernigan – Columbus County, NC, 1830 – 1840, the one listed in 1830 may be my fourth-great-grandfather, but maybe not. The Stephen listed in Columbus County in 1840 is certainly a different one, since my ancestor was in Mississippi by that time. There are similarities and differences between the two listings. Was either the son of Abraham Jernigan, Sr.?

Once again, we find some answers followed by more questions. That’s par for the course.

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Robert Jernigan of Jasper County, MS

I had previously written about another Jernigan in the area of Smith/Jasper Counties of Mississippi, who had not been known about before. This was Joseph Jernigan, who’s only known appearance in the records of the area is in the tax records for Smith County in 1849. Where he came from is unknown. After his brief appearance in the tax record, he seems to vanish without a trace.

I recently came across another Jernigan whose presence in the area has either been unknown, or hasn’t been researched by his descendants. This is Robert Jernigan, who first shows up in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census in Jasper County, with his last name spelled “Jarnigan.” According to his census record entry, Robert was born in Georgia. His age appears to be 25 (although it could be 28 – the writing is a bit difficult to read here), placing his birth date right around 1825.

Robert is married to Caroline, age 20, who was born in Mississippi. This would certainly indicate that the couple was married after Robert’s arrival in the state. Living with them is their two-year-old son, Theodor.

Unlike Joseph Jernigan, Robert seems to have stayed in the area for a number of years. He is likely the R.D. Journagan who appears in the U.S. Census in 1860, still living in Jasper County. If this is the same man, his first wife, Caroline, seems to have died shortly after the 1850 census. In 1860, he is living with a wife with the first initial “S,” and who was born in Georgia. There is no mention of Theodor, however, and there are five other children living in the house, born between 1850 and 1860.

What, if any, connection is there between Robert, Joseph and Stephen Jernigan? We know from later census records that some of the children of Stephen and Keziah Jernigan were born in Georgia, but it appears that this Robert Jernigan was born in the years prior to Stephen and Keziah’s journey through that state. The only mention of this Robert Jernigan found online so far suggests that he served in the Civil War. More research into this aspect may turn up more evidence.

For now, the mystery continues, and we have yet another piece in the complex, tangled web of Jernigan descendants.

Robert Jarnigan

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The Mystery of Joseph Jernigan

After all of the research that has been done concerning the Jernigans of Smith County, Mississippi, I have never heard anyone mention the name Joseph Jernigan.  Stephen, yes.  Harris, yes.  Francis M., yes.  Never Joseph.

It isn’t surprising that no one has heard of him.  He does not appear on either the 1840 census, nor does he appear there in 1850 or any year after.  Until now, it seems that no one knew of his existence.

I never would have known about him either if I hadn’t gone digging through the records for Smith County, MS available on http://www.familysearch.com.  It was there, while looking through the tax records for 1849, that I first came across Joseph.  He is listed among the property owners, right above Harris Jernigan (Journagin).  Harris is a name I recognized.  He was the oldest son of my 4th great grandparents, Stephen and Keziah Jernigan.

It is assumed that Stephen died sometime between 1848 – 49.  I have found a land record for Stephen dating 1848, yet he is not listed in the 1850 census with his wife and family.  Harris, the oldest son and probably the oldest child (ages were a bit flexible back then, and his sister, Eliza, was right around the same age), likely inherited some land from his father, which is why he would be listed as a landowner.  Did Joseph inherit some of Stephen’s land as well?

Where did Joseph Jernigan come from?  In what part of the Jernigan family does he originate?  Since he is not listed in the census, we don’t have a place of birth or an approximate birth year.  He seems to have come quickly, then left.  He did stay long enough to purchase – or inherit – land, yet only a year later, he is not listed in the census.  Where did he go?

Yes, it is a big mystery.  If anyone has any idea who this Joseph Jernigan may be, I would love to know.

Tax record for Smith County, MS for 1849, listing Harris Jernigan (Journagin) and an unknown Joseph Jernigan (Journagin).

Tax record for Smith County, MS for 1849, listing Harris Jernigan (Journagin) and an unknown Joseph Jernigan (Journagin).

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Francis Melfort William Fitzherbert – 15th Baron Stafford

While the Jernigans have been a very “prolific” family in America since Colonial times, the family continued on back in England as well.  While I don’t have a head count of the surviving Jernegan/Jerninghams in England today, we know there are still many descendants of the high-born Jernegans of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, even if their stature is not what it was, for the most part.

Some lines, however, have continued on in high places, including the peerage, even if the name itself has been absorbed into other families over the centuries.  One such distant cousin is the 15th (and current) Baron Stafford, Francis Melfort William Fitzherbert.  He was born in 1954, the son of the 14th Baron, Basil Francis Nicholas Fitzherbert and his wife Morag Nada Campbell.

In 2005, he was appointed High Sheriff for Staffordshire, the first peer to receive that appointment since the 14th century.  He is married to Katherine Mary Codrington, and among their four children is the heir to the barony, Benjamin John Basil Fitzherbert (b. 1983).  On December 10, 2011, the younger Fitzherbert married Georgina Rose Hewlett who, according to an article on wikipedia.com, is a former flatmate of Philippa (Pippa) Middleton, sister of the Duchess of Cambridge.

The common ancestor of both Francis Melfort William Fitzherbert and Thomas Jernigan, immigrant to Virginia, dates back to the early 16th century.  Edward Jernegan was, with his first wife, Margaret Bedingfield, the direct ancestor of Thomas Jernigan.  The ancestors of Baron Stafford are Edward Jernegan and his second wife, Mary Scrope.

  • Edward Jernegan (1472 – 1515) = Mary Scrope (1476 – 1548)
  • Henry Jerningham (1512 – 1572) = Frances Baynham (d. 1583)
  • Henry Jerningham (1536 – 1619) = Eleanor Dacre (1526 – 1683)
  • Henry Jerningham (d. 1646) = Eleanor Throckmorton
  • John Jerningham (d. 1636) = Mary Moore
  • Henry Jerningham (1619 – 1680) = Mary Hall (1622 – 1653)
  • Francis Jerningham (1648 – 1730) = Anne Blount (1656 – 1735)
  • George Jerningham (1680 – 1774) = Mary Plowden (1704 – 1785)
  • William Jerningham (1736 – 1809) = Frances Dillon (1747 – 1825)
  • George William Stafford Charles Jerningham (1771 – 1851) = Frances Henrietta Sulyarde (d. 1832)
  • Edward Stafford-Jerningham (1804 – 1849) = Maryanne Smythe (d. 1859)
  • Emily Charlotte Stafford-Jerningham (1835 – 1881) = Thomas Charles Fitzherbert (1869 – 1937)
  • Basil Francis Nicholas Fitzherbert (1926 – 1986) = Morag Nada Campbell
  • Francis Melfort William Fitzherbert (b. 1954) = Katherine Mary Codrington







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Stephen Jernigan – Columbus County, NC, 1830 – 1840

If you have read my earlier posts on my 4th great grandfather, Stephen Jernigan, you will know that his suspected origins are in the areas of Columbus County, NC and Horry County, SC, one of the large areas of Jernigan settlement by the early part of the nineteenth century.

We can be fairly certain that he was still living in North Carolina in 1830, since it is known that his first two known children were born there, including his oldest daughter, Eliza.  Her exact date of birth is not known, but census records tell us that she was likely born sometime between 1829 and 1832 (her age varies on later census records).  If this is the case, we can assume that Stephen and his family would be listed in North Carolina for the 1830 U.S. Federal Census.  With this in mind, I went searching.

Lo and behold, I did find a Stephen Jernigan and family living in Columbus County, NC in 1830.  In fact, this was the only Stephen Jernigan to be found in any census records for North or South Carolina in 1830.

Stephen and his wife, both listed in the household, are about the ages we would expect for our Stephen and his wife Keziah at this time.  Both are listed between the ages of 20 and 30.  Since later records in Smith County, MS show his widow, Keziah, to have been born shortly before 1810, this would provide some evidence that we are looking at the right couple.  Stephen’s year of birth is not known, since he died prior to 1850, the first year actual ages were used in the census.  Still, it has been assumed that he too was born sometime between 1800 and 1810.

The children listed in Stephen’s household are more than we would expect to find, based on later census records of his known children in Smith County, MS.  While we see two possible known children, Harris and Eliza (both have been listed on various census records with an approximate birth date of 1829), we see an additional girl between the ages of five and ten, and two more boys under the age of five.  In the early-nineteenth century, when many children died in childhood, this can certainly be accounted for.

To recap, we have what appears to be Stephen Jernigan, his wife Keziah, children Harris and Eliza (or another daughter born before Eliza), and three more children who are later unaccounted for.  It seems like a pretty open and shut case, right?  Well, not so fast.

We know for certain that our Stephen Jernigan and family had left North Carolina, settled in Georgia, and moved onto Smith County, MS by 1839.  Stephen is listed in the tax records there in 1839, and he and his family show up in the 1840 U.S. Federal Census in Smith County.  We would expect not to see Stephen Jernigan in Columbus County, NC in 1840, right?  Well, not so fast.

A Stephen Jernigan, along with his family, is living in Columbus County, NC in 1840.  There is no doubt that this is not our Stephen.  It does, however, call into question whether or not the Stephen Jernigan listed in Columbus County in 1830 is, in fact, our Stephen.  The fact that there are similarities and differences between the Stephen Jernigan family of 1830 and 1840 makes this more of a mystery.

First, let’s discuss the similarities.  The main similarity is the presence of similar neighbors listed in both census years.  In 1830, we find Abraham Joyner living nine houses away from Stephen.  We find Abraham still listed among the neighbors of the 1840 Stephen Jernigan, but this time, he is living only two houses away.  In 1830, we find Henry Strickland (between the ages of 30 and 40) listed three houses away from Stephen.  In 1840, we find Henry Strickland living next door to both Stephen Jernigan and Abraham Joyner, but oddly, he is listed in the same 30 – 40 age group.  Is this the same Henry Strickland?

Let’s now compare the Stephen Jernigan of 1830 vs. the Stephen of 1840.  The number and ages of children listed in 1840 is not consistent with those found in 1830.  However, the fact that there are fewer children in those groupings in 1840 than there were in 1830 could mean that some have died.  There are additional children, under the age of ten, who would not have been listed in 1830.

The biggest difference, however, can be found in the ages of both Stephen and his wife.  While in 1830, they were both listed between the ages of 20 to 30, in 1840,  Stephen is listed in the 40 – 50 age group (10 years older than he would have been if this were the same Stephen) and his wife is listed in the 50 – 60 age group, an even bigger gap between this woman listed here and the wife listed in 1830.

So, the question remains, is this the same Stephen Jernigan and family listed in both the 1830 and 1840 censuses?  If so, why the big differences in ages?  If not, did another Stephen Jernigan move into Columbus County after the other one headed to Georgia and Mississippi?

Without further evidence, this mystery will continue to puzzle.

Columbus County, NC – 1830 (top) and 1840 (bottom)stephen_jernigan_1830


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Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson

In the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, there were few military heroes of the stature of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson.  In an age where Britain’s naval fleet reigned supreme, he was one of the most accomplished leaders to be found sailing the high seas.  His list of naval victories is impressive; San Juan, the Nile, Copenhagen, among many others.  The battle for which he is most known today is the one in which he also perished – the Battle of Trafalgar.

He stands today atop the column in the center of London’s Trafalgar Square.  Each year, millions of visitors pass beneath his statue in that famous place, although most have little knowledge of the exploits of this military hero who died more than two centuries ago.  As with most heroes of a long-vanished era, his name is remembered far more than most of his accomplishments.

In a previous post, I discussed the descent of Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, from George Jernegan (1515 – 1558) and Elie Spelman.  Lord Nelson also shares this line of descent.  He is the great-grandson of Robert Walpole’s sister, Mary, and her husband, Charles Turner.

  • George Jernegan (1515 – 1558) = Elie Spelman
  • John Jernegan (d. 1592) = Catherine Brooke (dau. of Lord Cobham)
  • Katherine Jernegan (c. 1565 – 1613) = Henry Crane (d. 1586)
  • Robert Crane = Susan Allington
  • Susan Crane (1630 – 1667) = Edward Walpole
  • Robert Walpole (1650 – 1700) = Mary Burwell (1653 – 1711)
  • Mary Walpole (1673 – 1701) = Charles Turner (d. 1738)
  • Anne Turner (1693 – 1768) = Rev. Maurice Suckling (1676 – 1730)
  • Catherine Suckling (1725 – 1767) = Rev. Edmund Nelson (1722 – 1802)
  • Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson (1758 – 1805)

If any of you Jernegan/Jernigan descendants find yourself in London, feel free to pay a visit to Trafalgar Square and take a look at the figure standing proudly atop the column.  You can take some pride in knowing that like so many other figures in British history, Lord Nelson is one of the family.

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Robert Walpole, Britain’s First Prime Minister

He was one of Britain’s most celebrated, and most honored statesman.  He is considered to be the first Prime Minister of Great Britain.  He was a Knight of the Garter, Knight of the Bath, a member of the Privy Council, and was eventually given the title of 1st Earl of Orford.  It also appears that he was, through his paternal grandmother, a Jernegan descendant.

These days, the name of Robert Walpole is probably more familiar to people than his many accomplishments in office.  He was the son of Robert Walpole, a member of Parliament for the borough of Castle Rising, and his wife, Mary Burwell.  He was born in 1676 in Houghton, Norfolk, England.  In November 1700, his father died, and the following year, the younger Robert succeeded to his father’s seat in Parliament, a seat he would hold almost uninterrupted for the next thirty years.

He served under two kings, George I and George II.  In 1714, he was appointed First Lord of the Treasury, and the following year was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, posts he would hold, on and off, for more than twenty five years.

Although the job of “Prime Minister” didn’t actually exist at the time, he is historically regarded as such.  He was also the first Prime Minister to live at 10 Downing Street.  He was eventually forced to resign in 1742, and shortly after was raised to the peerage as Earl of Orford.  He died in 1745.

Now that the history lesson is over, you are probably wondering how Robert Walpole is connected to the Jernegan family.  Preliminary research shows that he was a descendant of George Jernegan (1515 – 1558, M.P., son of John Jernegan and Bridget Drury) and his wife Elie Spelman.  This being the case, he shares these direct ancestors with Thomas Jernigan, the immigrant to Virginia in the 1630’s.

Drawing from various sources, I have been able to piece together a line of succession from George and Elie (Spelman) Jernegan directly to their 4th great grandson, Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister.

  • George Jernegan (1515 – 1558) = Elie Spelman
  • John Jernegan (d. 1592) = Catherine Brooke (dau. of Lord Cobham)
  • Katherine Jernegan (c. 1565 – 1613) = Henry Crane (d. 1586)
  • Robert Crane = Susan Allington
  • Susan Crane (1630 – 1667) = Edward Walpole
  • Robert Walpole (1650 – 1700) = Mary Burwell (1653 – 1711)
  • Robert Walpole, 1st Prime Minister of Great Britain (1676 – 1745)

Another famous Briton in this line is Walpole’s great-great nephew, Vice-Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson.



The Royal Descent of Nelson and Wellington, from Edward the first, King of England by George Russell French, 1863

Memorials of the Cranes of Chilton, 1868

Kentish Archæology by William Archibald Scott Robertson, 1877

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