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Generation 9

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Terry Donnell Sharpe
Mary Elizabeth Donnell
Irvin Cunningham Donnell
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Generation 9
John Cunningham Jr.

Isabelle ? Mary ?___




214. Isabelle ? (Mary?) ____ (Married John Cunningham Sr.(#213) before 1753.) [Note there is confusion in her name. The document Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Cemetery Greensboro, North Carolina compiled by Raymond Dufau Donnell, March 1996 p. 72 states John Cunningham Sr.'s wife was Mary. History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and her People, Greensboro, N.C. by Rev. S. M. Rankin page 23 states that his wife's name was Mary. But, “Guilford County Pioneers: The Cunningham Family” by Donald R. Simpson, published in The Guilford Genealogist, Vol. 27, No. 4 Fall 2000, Issue No. 91, pgs 204-210 states that John's will refers to her as Isabelle.]


Born: ? of Unknown Father (#427) and Unknown Mother (#428)

Died: 1763, after her son, John Jr., was born and before 13 July 1763, when an order in Rowan Court referred to the "orphans of John Cunningham") She was buried at the Buffalo Presbyterian Church Cemetery. The document Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Cemetery Greensboro, North Carolina compiled by Raymond Dufau Donnell, March 1996 p. 71 explains that for some church members, grave markers no longer exist. Specific sites are no longer known. Burials were in the center section, at the old section of the cemetery. Page 72 states "Cunningham, Mary ( ). Nottingham Company pioneer. Wife of John Cunningham, Sr." [Note: Since John Jr. was born the same year that Isabelle (Mary) died, she might have died in childbirth.]


[Her siblings, if any, are unknown.]

Miscellaneous: Since the record of Mary in the document Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Cemetery Greensboro, North Carolina compiled by Raymond Dufau Donnell, March 1996. p. 72 states that she was a Nottingham Company pioneer, she must have been married to John Cunningham Sr. when he came from Lancaster County Pa. to Guilford County, N.C. about 1753. Her children, including Jane, Margaret, and John Jr.(#107), were born after the move. [Note: there may have been additional children as described below.]

Rev. S. M. Rankin’s book: History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People ca. 1934. p. 23 stated that the children of John Sr. and Mary were Jean, James, Joseph, Jeremiah, William, Hugh, John, Jr. and Mary. However, according to "Guilford County Pioneers; The Cunningham Family, The Guilford Genealogist Quarterly Journal of the Guilford County Genealogical Society, Vol. 27, No. 4, Fall 2000, Issue #91, by Donald R. Simpson, p. 204, the Rankin information is not correct. Simpson says that much of Rankin’s information is based on oral family history, but Simpson bases his findings on John Sr.'s will, probated in Rowan County, and other wills that are in the North Carolina State Archive. Simpson states that John Sr.’s children really include only Jane Cunningham, Margaret Cunningham, and an unborn child (John Jr). Simpson states that William Cunningham and Jeremiah Cunningham were two of the five children of a different Cunningham family. He states that their father was James Cunningham).[Note: Jane is probably Jean.]

The following is quoted from History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and her People, Greensboro, N.C. by Rev. S. M. Rankin pgs 14 & 15 about the Nottingham Colony: "This community was first settled by members of the Nottingham Colony, a company organized and formed in the bounds of the old Nottingham Presbyterian Church at Rising Sun, Md. That church was in Lancaster County, Pa. , when our ancestors left there, and until the line between Maryland and Pennsylvania was changed in 1767.

The Nottingham Company sent out agents and had surveyed and secured rights from Earl Granville to thirty-three plots or sections of six hundred and forty acres to the section, ‘lying and being on the waters of North Buffalo and Reedy Fork Creeks.’ That this company could secure so large a tract of land, 21,120 acres, in a body shows there were no settlers in this community before this colony came. The fact that there were thirty-three plots laid out for the company would suggest that there were thirty-three families in the company, and there may have been. However, all did not take their plots, and others secured more than one plot. Others, who were perhaps members of the company and not prepared to come with the colony, came a little later and located on their sections in the bounds of the colony. There must have been about nineteen families in the company that actually located here.

Earl Granville did not sell the land outright to them, but retained an interest in it. The contract was more like a perpetual lease. They paid only a nominal sum to bind the trade, and after that they were to pay an annual rent of three shillings per hundred acres; and they were required to make improvements on the land. The rent was to be paid in two equal semi-annual installments, one ‘on the day of the feast of the annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,‘ and the other ‘on the day of the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel.’ These days must have been in the spring and fall, for other deeds called for the payment on the 25th of March and the 29th of September. All the deeds did not have the rent and other conditions specified, but they must have been in the first contract, which is not on record, and well understood, for in no case was the cash payment more than a few shillings. Some of the grants specified that ‘if the rent is unpaid and behind six months, then the contract is void and of none effect.’ Other grants specified that the owners were to have ‘the privilege of hunting, hawking, fishing and fowling.’

The exact date of the coming of this colony cannot now be established. Dr. Caruthers relates that about the time Dr. Caldwell began to study for the ministry, or soon thereafter, this company was being organized and making arrangements to come to North Carolina, and that they made a tentative agreement with him that when he obtained license to preach he would come and be their pastor. This does not fix the exact date of their coming. Dr. Caldwell decided to study for the ministry in the latter part of 1750. It may have been 1751 when this agreement was made. They may have come here in 1752 and failed to get their grants of land until 1753. However, all things considered, it appears to the writer that they did not come until the summer of 1753. The deeds are all dated December, 1753. After they had decided to come and the company organized it would have required some time for them to collect all the necessary equipment and provisions to set up housekeeping and to begin farming in a wilderness.

Some came bringing large families with them, others were newly married couples seeking to establish new homes in a new place, and some were young men trying to find a suitable location before getting married. Some were the children of the first settlers in Pennsylvania, and some were new immigrants from Ireland who were not permitted to buy land in Pennsylvania.'"

According to History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and her People, Greensboro, N.C. by Rev. S. M. Rankin page 23, “John Cuningham secured his section of 640 acres on the Reedy Fork, near what is now the Hardie Mill."

"At the Rowan Court of 13 July, 1763, it was ordered that Thomas Donnell, William Denny, Hugh Brawley & George Hamilton 'do lay off and value according to law one acre of land belonging to the orphans of John Cunningham on the South Fork of Haw River, unto John Boyd, Junr., to build a public grist mill thereon & make return thereof to our next court.' John Boyd's Mill was located on Reedy Fork [i.e. South Fork] of Haw River just west of George Finley's Mill and near the present bridge for U.S. Hwy. 29. This land, from which the Boyd Mill tract was taken, continued to be held by John Cunningham, Jr. In 1785, he sold part of it to Samuel Thompson by deed which gives the bounds as including "John Cunningham's line through Boud's [=Boyd's ] old mill pond." [Note: The above passage refers to John Sr.'s children as orphans, which means that Isabelle ? (Mary?) died prior to 13 July 1763. She may have died in childbirth with John Cunningham, Jr. who was born in 1763. John Sr. died before John Jr. was born. It is not known who raised John and his siblings.]

Isabelle (Mary) and John had eight children: John (#107), Jean, James, Joseph, Jeremiah, William, Hugh, and Mary.


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