Gregg Bonner's COLCLOUGH Family
Colclough Family of St. Paul's Parish, Stafford County, Virginia

An interested person can read much on the internet about this family. Unfortunately, a lot of the material presented online is either in error, or otherwise wholly unsubstantiated. It is my intention to present here as much primary evidence as possible in an effort to elucidate the familial relationships between and among the various persons of this family. My plan is to give evidence and rationale for various claims which I believe to be true, and in some particular cases, outline why I believe other claims must be untrue. I will try to proceed in a methodical, step-by-step manner, and at the same time write in a type of story form which I hope the reader will not find so boring as to be insufferable.

The primary issues I will address are:

1. When was a person born?
2. When did a person die?
3. When did a person marry?
4. Who did a person marry?
5. For each married couple, who were their kids?

I can think of no better place to include the excursuses on DNA evidence regarding the family than here:

A. The Colclough Surname DNA Project

B. The mtDNA of Rachel ([--?--]) Colclough, wife of Benjamin Colclough.

First Generation
Benjamin Colclough & Rachel

I start with Benjamin Colclough and Rachel because it is my belief that the vast majority of Colclough descendants in the USA descend from them, and also because they are the earliest of the line for whom there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate claims made. One important source of material on the early Colclough family comes from the St. Paul's Parish Register. I cite from the volume St. Paul's Parish Register (1715-1798), by John Bailey Calvert Nicklin (hereafter referred to as Nicklin):

Nicklin, Page 14:
1. "B[orn]. William and Alexander, sons of Benjamin and Rachel Colclough, July 2, 1717."
2. "B[orn]. Sarah, dau. of Benjamin and Rachel Colclough, Mar. 17, 1719/20".

I assume the "Benjamin" and "Rachel" mentioned in these two entries are identical. Thus, the above records demonstrate only three children for them - William Colclough, Alexander Colclough, and Sarah Colclough. The above records also imply a marriage for Benjamin Colclough and Rachel (maiden name unknown) occurring in the latter half of 1716, or earlier. It is important to remember, however, that the available Parish Register transcriptions begin in 1715, therefore children born prior to that year would not be evident in the record. So Benjamin and Rachel could have had a number of children prior to that, and similarly, their marriage date could have preceded that date by some several years.

While the year of birth of Rachel can be roughly approximated from these birth records, it can be fixed more precisely by other documents. The Stafford County Will book (1729-1748) includes an entry regarding Alexander Colclough. In Stafford County Court, 13 NOV 1739, the nuncupative will of Alexander Colclough was proved by the depositions of Rachel Colclough and John Jones. Rachel Colclough was deposed during which she gave her age as 61 years, or thereabouts. Given that the age did not seem to be rounded, it is then calculated that she was born 1678, or thereabouts. This deposition fixes her year of birth, but it also "fixes" another important date - it (approximately) fixes the latest year she could have had children. I choose almost completely arbitrarily the age of 47 for the maximum age of delivery. While it is possible for a woman to have children at an older age, it is very unlikely that she will have a child at a significantly older age. So it is likely that Rachel would have been unable to have children much later than 1725.

When Rachel died is relatively well-documented. The St. Paul's Parish Register notes her death as 25 DEC 1748. This is in agreement with the dates of her Will signing, and the probate thereof. Rachel signed her Will on 19 DEC 1748, and same was probated 14 FEB 1748/9. The documents related to Rachel's Will are important for corroborating her date of death, but also for supplementing the list of her children with Benjamin. In this will, she refers to "my sons Robert Colclough & William daughter Eliza daughter Mary daughter Rachael daughter Jane daughter Margt. Derham".

So from this Will, and from the St. Paul's Parish Register, we can reconstruct this family as follows:

Benjamin Colclough married Rachel (maiden name unknown), born about 1678, died 25 DEC 1748:

1. William Colclough, born 02 JUL 1717
2. Alexander Colclough, born 02 JUL 1717
3. Sarah Colclough, born 17 MAR 1719/20
4. Robert Colclough
5. Eliza Colclough
6. Mary Colclough
7. Rachel Colclough
8. Jane Colclough
9. Margaret Colclough

Second Generation
William Colclough, born 02 JUL 1717

The St. Paul's Parish Register includes the following entry:

Nicklin, Page 14:
"M[arried]. William Colclough and Mary Roger, Dec. 30, 1741."

While I have yet to find anything to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, this husband of Mary Roger is generally taken to be the son of Benjamin Colclough and his wife Rachel. Circumstances support this notion, as William Colclough would have been aged 24 years at the time of the marriage, which seems reasonable. Further, there is no evidence that suggests that there was more than one William Colclough in the area at the time.

The St. Paul's Parish Register notes births of three children to William Colclough and wife Mary relatively shortly after the marriage of William Colclough to Mary Roger:

Nicklin, Page 14:
1. "B[orn]. John, son of William and Mary Colclough, Sept. 14, 1743."
2. "B[orn]. Margaret, dau. of William and Mary Colclough, Feb. 4, 1744/5".
3. "B[orn]. Elizabeth, dau. of William and Mary Colclough, Oct. 11, 1747."

Alexander Colclough, born 02 JUL 1717

The date of probate of Alexander Colclough's nuncupative Will is given above. His death is noted in the St. Paul's Parish Register:

Nicklin, Page 14:
"D[ied]. Alexander Colclough, Nov. 10, 1739."

While Alexander could have married and had kids before he died at age 22, there is no evidence of such.

Alexander Colclough, born 02 JUL 1717, died 10 NOV 1739.

Sarah Colclough, born 17 MAR 1719/20

There are many who will claim that Sarah Colclough married John Kidwell. I do not think this is the case. Given the approximate birth dates of John Kidwell and Sarah as given by some, the line is clearly impossible. If John Kidwell and Sarah had a child named Josiah Kidwell born about 1775, then clearly Josiah's mother could not be Sarah, the daughter of Benjamin Colclough and Rachel. This is because a 1775 birth requires Sarah to deliver a child at age 55. This is not reasonable.

The confusion over Sarah Colclough arises primarily due to poor transcription and abstracting representations of the Will of Rachel Colclough. In her will, Rachel makes no mention AT ALL of a daughter named Sarah. And citation of all later documents claiming a living daughter named Sarah in regards to inheritance of the Colclough estate at the death of Rachel can be traced back to erroneous representations of the Will. Rachel had a daughter named Mary, who married a Kidwell (see below), and had a daughter named Sarah. Since Mary (Colclough) Kidwell had remarried to a Thornbury, confusion ensued over how Sarah got the last name "Kidwell", and people presume it was by marriage.

However, a reading of the actual Will of Rachel Colclough reveals unambiguously that Sarah Kidwell is a grand daughter of Rachel and not a daughter of Rachel. The Will uses the word "Sarah" only one time, and that is in this sentence:

"Item, I give unto my daughter Mary Thornbury's daughter Sarah Kidwell one feather bed, bolster, sheets, blanket, & rug that was her grandfather's, & one young cow, two pewter dishes, & half a dozen pewter plates".

I have edited the preceding quote to conform with modern spelling and punctuation, but no material changes were made.

So the question remains, where is the documentation that Sarah Colclough married a KIDWELL? I can tell you where the documentation is NOT. The documentation is NOT in the Parish Register of St. Paul's Parish, Stafford County, Virginia. Take a look for yourself - you will see that it is not there. It is also NOT documented by the will of Rachel Colclough. Take a look for yourself - you will see that it is not there. All cases for this marriage that I have seen come down to the will abstract which is in CLEAR ERROR. The only way to take the will abstract (as provided by Boddie in Viginia Historical Genealogies) as true is to say that the abstract is MORE accurate than the will itself. I will not try further to convince those that believe the abstract to be more accurate than the will itself.

Robert Colclough

Robert was almost certainly the eldest son of Benjamin and Rachel. I believe that documents of the time were written in such a way as to prevent Robert from inheriting property. He was executed in 1758 by being hanged for charges of rape and incest.

Robert married Sarah Sinclair, based on the entry in the Overwharton Parish Register:

WM. F. Boogher, Overwharton Parish Register (1720-1760), (Clearfield, 2003), "Cockley, Robert. Married Sarah Sinclair, September 21, 1740."

John and Sarah seem to have had a few children, but otherwise, descendants have been lost to time. This may have been caused by a name change due to the notoriety of Robert.

Eliza Colclough

Who did Elizabeth Colclough marry? Have you seen the name William Elias De Bowling or William Elias de Bolling? Where did they get that name? Well, I will tell you that it is in error on two counts. The name "Elias" is actually just the name "Elisabeth", in abbreviated form (viz., "Elisa"). The problem is that in John Bennett Boddie's "Virginia Historical Genealogies", a typographical error is made, and the name is rendered as "Elias" (instead of "Elisa"). So the name 'Elias' actually refers to the wife, not the husband. Okay, what about the "de" part? Well, that is a more complicated error. When Rachel Colclough (mother of Elizabeth) wrote her will, she included provisions for her granddaughter, Jane Debell. Unfortunately, this name, too, was confused by Boddie in Virginia Historical Genealogies. So the name Debell was confounded to read "Debowling". There is no such name, and that is why you will find no original records for De Bowling. The actual name is BOWLING and will be found as such. The other common rendering of the name is BOLLING. The name Bolling is fairly common in this region of Virginia at the time. The Bolling name will have connections with Pocahontas.

William Bolling/Bowling married Elizabeth Colclough. The date of the marriage is not known but it Elizabeth (Colclough) Bowling was mentioned in her mother's will, written in 1748. Further, since Elizabeth already had at least one child, the marriage presumably must have taken place before 1745 or so. It is hard to know exactly how many children they had, but I just want to address a couple of common errors concerning their children.

Allen Bowling: this person does not exist. When Rachel Colclough wrote her will, she made provisions for her grandson, Alexander Bowling. But the name "Alexander" was abbreviated as "Alexr". When people came along later to transcribe the will, they mistakenly transcribed "Alexr" as "Alen", which is why you will find many references to "Alen Bowling". Additionally, people not satisfied with a single error have decided that they would 'correct' the name "Alen" to the more common spelling of "Allen". So this is how we end up with the fictitious person, Allen Bowling. All references to Allen Bowling are actually references to the real person, Alexander Bowling.

Sims Bowling: I believe this is another example of people "correcting" the record. The will of Rachel Colclough makes provisions for her grandson, "Sim. Bowling". The name 'Sim.' is an abbreviation, almost certainly for Simon. The St. Paul's Parish Register has several entries for "Simon Bowling", the person this "Sim. Bowling" is probably named. But upon transcription of the will, the dot after 'Sim' had become lost. This left us with Sim Bowling. Finally, those not satisfied with this error decided to further improve the name, for good measure. Evidently they have thought that "Sims" is a more likely name, since that name is a fairly common surname, and which could suggest some familial relationship. I believe all references to Sim Bowling and Sims Bowling are actually referring to Simon Bowling.

Mary Colclough

I believe the key to understanding Mary is to know what her last name was called according to the will of her mother, Rachel. Also, to sort out her marriages, decide which children must be minors at the time of the will of Rachel Colclough. She could not have had children who were minors, yet have adult children from a subsequent marriage. That would not pass the "straight-face test".

Mary appears to have married first to John Kidwell. With John, Mary had children William Kidwell, and Sarah Kidwell. These children were most likely born prior to 1725, as the St. Paul's Parish Register records the death of one John Kidwell who was their probable father.

Nicklin, Page 36:
"D[ied]. John Kidwell, June 16, 1725."

Mary (Colclough) Kidwell then appears to have married John Debell subsequent to the death of John Kidwell, and prior to the birth of the daughter of Mary (Colclough) Kidwell Debell and John Debell, named Jane Debell.

Nicklin, Page 18:
"B[orn]. Jane, dau. of John and Mary Debell, May 3, 1735."

John Debell presumably died between 1735 and 1744, and Mary married a third time, to Samuel Thornberry, as noted in the St. Paul's Parish Register:

Nicklin, Page 36:
"M[arried]. Mary Kidwell and Samuel Thornsberry, Apr. 20, 1744."

The Parish Register then goes on to record the births of two children to Samuel and Mary:

Nicklin, Page 64:
"B[orn]. John Kidwell, son of Samuel and Mary Thornberry, Feb. 19, 1744/5."
"B[orn]. Elizabeth, dau. of Samuel and Mary Thornberry, Apr. 15, 1746."

This brings up a couple of unusual things. First, why does the marriage of Mary to Samuel call her Kidwell (her first married name), instead of Debell (her second married name)? Second, why would Samuel and Mary name their son John Kidwell Thornberry, evidently after a prior husband? I don't have good answers to these questions, but can find no better reconciliation of all the evidence in sum. Perhaps she just preferred her first husband vastly. But it does open the door to more complicated explanations for the Parish Register entries, and the nature of the relationships outlined in the will of Rachel Colclough, the wife of Benjamin.

Rachel Colclough

It was evidently this Rachel Colclough who married Thomas Bowling, as evidenced by the entry in the St. Paul's Parish Register:

Nicklin, Page 14:
"M[arried] Rachel Colclough and Thomas Bowling, Nov. 11, 1729."

Notice the year of marriage is 1729. This rather forces Rachel's birth year to be something like, say, 1710.

The Parish Register records the birth of at least two of their children:

Nicklin, Page 6:
"B[orn]. Priscilla, dau. of Thomas and Rachel Bowling, Mar. 7, 1731/2."
Nicklin, Page 7:
"B[orn]. Stephen, son of Thomas and Rachel Bowling, Jan. 26, 1738/9."

The Parish Register also records the birth of another child who may be of the same family:

Nicklin, Page 7:
"B[orn]. William, son Rachel Bowling, Nov. 25, 1754."

Jane Colclough

Jane married Benjamin Newton:

Nicklin, Page 14:
"M[arried]. Jane Colclough and Benjamin Newton of Hamilton Parish, Oct. 22, 1740."

Not much more is known about Jane, except that it appears that she and Benjamin had a son named Benjamin Newton.

Margaret Colclough

Margaret Colclough was referred to as "Margt. Derham" in the will of Rachel Colclough, her mother. So it is fairly safe to assume that she is the person mentioned as Margaret, wife of William Durham in the parish register. The Parish Register shows the birth of Jane, daughter of William and Margaret Durham, in 1739. So when were William Durham and Margaret Colclough married? Well, pretty simple, look in the St. Paul's Parish Register, right? It shows their marriage as 10 NOV 1737, right? That makes sense with a 1739 birth of their daughter, right? Well, have you looked at the Parish Register? Okay, it says 10 NOV 1727, not 1737, right? Uhm, no. Look again. There is only one marriage of any Durham mentioned in the St. Paul's Parish Register - and it is 10 NOV 1727, alright. The problem is that it is the marriage of someone else. This record shows the marriage of Helen Durham to Robert Reddish (given many places as Raddish). The 10 NOV 1727 marriage date being associated with William Durham and Margaret Colclough I think was mostly promulgated by World Family Tree, Vol. 5, Ed. 1, Tree #0473. How it came to reside there, I know not. I have still never seen any document to support any marriage date for William Durham and Margaret Colclough. Nevertheless, the birth of Jane Durham given in the Parish Register is enough to satisfy me what this is who Rachel Colclough was calling her daughter in her will.
Last Revision: 24 April 2012