Tidewater Region of Virginia
Can We Identify a Common Ancestor of our Pruitts, Sweeneys/Swinneys and Whites?
With regard to the question of whether Edmund Sweny, Sr. had children other than those mentioned in the 1655 Purifoy patent, it can only be said that no others are recorded in any records we've seen. It's clear that Edmund, Jr. was the father of sons named Edmund and Samuel based on Edward Day's last will, written on May 3, 1687, which mentions "Edmund Swinney and Samuel Swinney, sons of Edmund Swinney and Martha, his new wife." Edmund Sweny's 1697 will also indicates he had other children who had not yet "come of age." We suspect one of those minors was Merritt Sweny who was a witness to Elizabeth Tabb's 1717 will and another was Lazarus Sweny who was mentioned in a York County legal document in 1726. In his 1732 will, Lazarus Sweny called Samuel Sweny "My Brother" and mentions two sons, Daniel and James. And, in William Tabb's 1721 will (see below), he essentially calls Merritt Sweny, Samuel Sweny and Edmund Sweny his brothers. We believe all this points to Edmund Sweny, Jr. having four sons and Edmund Sweny, Sr. only having one since no others seem to show up in the record.
Samuel Swinney was identified in the early 1720s as the owner of a ship, the Sarah and Mary, a 30-ton sloop built in 1709 and registered in Virginia. It's apparent that the Swenys were involved in shipping. Given the Y-DNA evidence, is it possible that Edmund Sweny, Sr., a son or a grandson was the father of Samuel Prewtt who was born in 1700 in Northumberland Co., Va.? There were many ports of call in the Tidewater region and, in particular, the Northern Neck area where Rosamond had her son. If one of the Swenys was the father, he would have to have been born around 1680 or earlier. Given the extensive dealings the Swenys had with London, New York and other ports, it's likely they owned several ships and visited many ports of call in the Tidewater area.
Just to add further credence to the idea that Edmund, Jr. was the subject of the 1697 will, there are records in Charles Parish, York Co., Va. indicating that Edmund Sweny and wife Frances had three children in 1709, 1710 and 1711. The first was Daniel, the second was Edmund and the third was Martha. It seems likely that these were the children of Edmund, the "eldest son" of the subject of the 1697 will. Perhaps contributing to the confusion, Daniel's father was listed as Edmund, Jr.; however, that was generally a sign that someone was the son of a similarly named individual, not a position of hierarchy in the family. In the Pruitt family we often use Samuel Pruitt I, II, III, and IV to distinguish fathers from sons. However, these Samuels did not use that nomenclature. They were always Sr.'s and Jr.'s in the records. When a Jr. had a son, and his father died, he became the Sr. and his son was Jr. That's likely the same case for all the Edmund Swenys in the historical record.
In William Tabb's 1721 will, he says his "two loving sons," William and Thomas Tabb, can receive their inheritance "when they come of age," indicating they were still minors in 1721. He mentions "my three brothers," Edward Tabb, John Sclater, and Merritt Sweny; Martha and Mary Sclater as "my two sisters"; Martha Sweney as "my brother Edmund Sweney's child"; and Charles, "son of my brother Samuel Sweney." All of this suggests that William Tabb was not only raised in the same household as Merritt Sweny, Edmund Sweny and Samuel Sweney (as suggested by the 1697 will of Edmund Sweny), but that he also had three Sclaters in that household. It's possible that his mother, Martha (Tabb) Sweny, married again after Edmund Sweny died in 1697 and created an even more blended household with the addition of a widower's three children. William Tabb named "my beloved brother Merritt Sweney sole and lawful executor" of his last will and testament.
Finally, in Samuel Sweny's 1753 will in Norfolk Co., Va. he named his son Charles and leaves legacies to John and Lemuel Willoughby. Lemuel married a Martha Sweny in Norfolk Co., Va. in 1751 suggesting that Martha was the daughter or granddaughter of Samuel. Martha was a very popular name in the Sweny clan.
The above family tree is based on what we know so far about the Swenys in early colonial America. As far as we can determine based on wills and birth records, Edmund Sweny, Jr. had four sons and all must have been positive for the FT55898 SNP. We can deduce this based on the fact that we've found six modern day descendants who are all positive for FT55898 and none share a newer SNP. It normally takes two or three generations for a new SNP to emerge in a family line; therefore, it is likely that these Sweny descendants broke off from each other pretty soon after the generations shown on this tree. The Pruitt branch must have been a separate branch from Edmund Sweny, Jr. since they are not positive for FT55898. That means Samuel Pruitt could have been a son, grandson or great-grandson of Edmund Sweny, Sr., but it would be in a line distinct from Edmund Sweny, Jr. Given that Samuel was born 45 years after the Swenys arrived in the colonies, our bet would be that he was a grandson or great-grandson, given that Edmond Sweny, Sr. would have been quite old, if he was even alive, in 1699 when Samuel Prewtt was conceived. In any case, Edmund Sweny, Sr. must have had another son who has not shown up in historical records. That son could have been legitimate or illegitimate. Whatever the case, Samuel Pruitt was born in 1700 without the Sweny surname.
The Tidewater Area of Virginia as the Starting Point for Further Research
Once opened, clicking on the right side of the above chart will cycle the reader through the three family groups - Whites, Sweeneys and Pruitts. None of our testers has identified ancestors who lived in the 1600s with any degree of confidence. Historical evidence confirms that the Whites split with the Sweeneys in the mid-1700s with the birth of Moses Swinney's children and their adoption by their White stepfather. Historical, STR and SNP evidence strongly suggests that the Pruitts split from the Sweeneys with the birth of Samuel Pruitt in 1700 or one generation earlier; either scenario requires that at least one non-parental event (NPE) occurred. The Sweeney/Swinney descendancy is more problematic since no common ancestor has been confirmed (which is likely the reason that no new SNP has been identified beyond their shared FT55898/FT48931). The purpose of these family trees is to provide a starting point for our historical research into finding the nexus of these families whenever and wherever it occurred. We can begin first by looking at records in the counties immediately around the Tidewater region and then moving outward towards the location of their earliest proven ancestors.
The Many Moses Swinneys/Sweneys/Sweeneys
It's well documented that Moses Swinney of Granville, N.C. was the progenitor of the White-surnamed individuals in our FT55898 cohort. However, there are two or three other Moses Swinneys/Sweneys/Sweeneys who may play that role in our group. Here's what we know about each one:
- Moses Swinney of Granville Co., N.C. recorded two deeds in Edgecombe Co., N.C. in 1742 and 1744. He witnessed a deed in that county in 1738 which is the reason we say he was born before 1717 since he would have to have been 21 years of age to witness a deed. In 1754 Moses Swinney's estate documents were recorded in Granville Co., N.C. which suggests he died that year. In 1756 there is an apprentice bond for Dulaney Swinny indicating his father was Moses Swinny. In 1760 there is an apprentice bond for Littleberry Swinney, alias White, which indicates his mother was Margaret White.
- Moses Sweney of Pittsylvania Co., Va. signed his Last Will in 1784 and it was recorded on June 20, 1785. In his will he only specifically mentioned one of his children, James Semore Sweney, but later in the will says, "at the decease of my well-beloved wife, all my moveable property is to be evenly divided between my children...."
- Moses Swinney of Prince Edward Co., Va. was recorded in numerous tax records in the 1780s along with other Swinneys, John, William, and in one instance Edmund in 1792.
- Moses Swinney of Amherst Co., Va. was recorded in several tax records in the 1780s along with John and Joseph.
In the next section, we'll delve more deeply into these records and others in southern and western Virginia and Lincoln and Casey counties in Kentucky in an attempt to flesh out the relationships of these individuals to our testers.