Hannah Thornbrough Woodward of Chester County, Pa

Hannah Thornbrough Woodward

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Speculations on Hannah Thornbrough's Parents:

No primary records documenting Hannah's parentage have been found. Her birth date and maiden name are recorded at Centre Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, North Carolina, along with husband Abraham Woodward and the couple's children. This record is contained in Hinshaw's compendium of North Carolina Quaker records. He has converted Abraham's known birth date of 4-17-1740 to 6-17-1740 (See About Dates regarding Quaker dates.) One might guess that since Hinshaw gives Hannah's birthdate as 11-20-1738 that she was actually born 9-20-1738 but since we have no original record we have left it as given by Hinshaw. Also see About Names for information on the various spellings of Thornbrough. For indexing purposes we have used one spelling throughout these pages but there were many different spellings over the years. We know of at least one will that has three different spellings of the same person's name in the same document!

Since we do not have a record of Hannah Thornbrough's birth we do not know her parents' names for sure. There are a number of Thornbrough genealogies and a few Thornbrough Quaker records but the Quaker records are too few and the genealogies give conflicting information.

Various genealogies tell of three brothers, Edward, Thomas, and Walter Thornbrough coming to America. Now "three brothers" stories are almost a joke among genealogists. Most genealogies written in the late 1800's and early 1900's start off with three immigrant brothers and very rarely is it true. In this case there is ample evidence through Quaker certificates that Edward and Thomas Thornbrough did come to America (separately) but there is not one mention in Quaker records, land records, or tax records, of a brother Walter Thornbrough ever being in America. (If anyone can refute this we would love to hear from them!) There is probably confusion with Edward's son Walter Thornbrough who is documented.

Some Thornbrough genealogies name Hannah Thornbrough Woodward as the daughter of Walter Thornbrough. A Mendenhall genealogy (by Henry Hart Beeson) in an account of the Mills family states that Henry Mills "married a Thornbrough of the stock of Walter Thornbrough." We feel this has created confusion - it does not say Hannah Mills is the daughter of Walter Thornbrough only that she is of Thornbrough "stock."

The most common reference is to Hannah Thornbrough Woodward as granddaughter of Edward Thornbrough and daughter of his son Walter Thornbrough. Here is why it could be sticky: According to Northern Neck Land Grants in Virginia "November 18, 1752 - Walter Thornbrough was granted 368 acres on the north run of Middle Creek, Frederick County, Virginia... On the same day, Lord Fairfax granted Thomas Thornbrough 862 acres of ungranted land in Frederick County adjoining Walter Thornbrough." It is clear that Walter Thornbrough and his uncle Thomas were in Virginia at the same time. Actually Thomas Thornbroughwas granted a certificate to Virginia in 1740 so he was in residence much earlier than 1752. We do know that Walter and Thomas each had a daughter Hannah: Hannah Thornbrough Woodward born 1738 and Hannah Thornbrough Mills born 1725. But which one belonged to which parent?

We know the Hannah Thornbrough born 1725 was in Virginia, as she married Henry Mills there at Hopewell Monthly Meeting about 1742. We assume our Hannah Thornbrough was also in Virginia since in 1752 she would have only been 14 years old. When the French and Indian War began to heat up Thomas Thornbrough went north to Pennsylvania where he died and his will was filed in 1758. He does not name a daughter Hannah in his will, but he also does not name his son Thomas who is well documented in North Carolina Quaker records (as his son). Walter Thornborough on the other hand, went south to North Carolina a little earlier and is found in a Colonial America census index in 1755 in Rowan County, North Carolina, along with Thomas Thornborough, Jr. . Two of Walter's brothers William Thornbrough and Edward Thornbrough are found in the same census in 1758.

Now the big question: Did Hannah, daughter of Walter, return to Pennsylvania with uncle Thomas and did Hannah, daughter of Thomas, go to North Carolina with cousins Walter, William and Edward Thornbrough ? The second scenario is a little more plausible as Hannah Thornbrough Mills was already married and other Mills relatives also went to North Carolina at that time. But did Hannah Thornborough (later Woodward), age about 18, go to Pennsylvania with her uncle. It is possible, if there were no suitable marriage candidates in Virginia and potentially in North Carolina. Perhaps this can never be solved! The question might be settled if Walter Thornbrough's estate papers could be found. Walter died intestate sometime before 1783 in Guilford County, North Carolina, and his administrative papers cannot now be found.

Still another parent has been suggested: Robert Thornbrough of Chester County, Pennsylvania, since he stayed in Pennsylvania. He had a daughter Hannah mentioned in his estate papers but there are a couple of problems in her being the correct one. This Hannah was lame and was also pretty clearly born about 1741 so does not match well with our Hannah. You can see more on this on the Robert and Susanna Davis Thornbrough page.

If anyone can shed documented light on this conundrum, please contact Web Master Nadine on the About Us Page.