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The Seals Family

Part 1

Our first Seal ancestor, William Seal, shows up in Halifax Co., Va. records in the mid-1700s. While there's much we don't know about the early years of the Seal family, we are indebted to Alton Lee Greene for the research he documented in his spiral-bound book, Seale Family Tree of William and Nanny Seale, 1730 - 1965. Mr. Greene has passed on a lot of information he found at various courthouses and from interviews with descendants before his death in 1982. His research serves as an excellent introduction to the Seal family; however, some of his research has not been verified to date. For example, Mr. Greene indicates that William Seal served in the French and Indian War, but provides no evidence. He indicates that William Seal bought 400 acres in Halifax County in 1756, but the first record we've found is this land purchase of 250 acres in 1765 in Halifax Co., Va. He indicates William Seal was a school teacher and a law enforcement officer. We've found one record of a William Seal serving as a Constable in Pittsylvania Co., Va. in 1799, but we can't be sure if this was William Seal or his son, William Seal, Jr. We suspect it is the latter. While Mr. Greene stated that William Seal likely lived in the part of Halifax County that became Pittsylvania County in 1767, tax records do not bear that out. William Seal appears in Halifax County tax records through 1784. Then, after a two-year absence, he appears in Pittsylvania County records in 1787. His sons, Zachariah, Solomon and James also made the transition between counties in 1783 and 1784.

William Seal's dates and places of birth, death and marriage(s) are not clear at this time. His date of birth is extrapolated from dates of his earliest known legal records in Halifax County. His date of death, 1815, is based on the latest records for William Seal in Pittsylvania County; however, we've seen that is not a reliable indicator considering his son, William Seal, Jr., also lived in Pittsylvania County. The last year William, Sr. and William, Jr. both appeared in tax records was 1792. After five years with no appearance by either William Seal, only one appeared in any given year through 1815. We believe William Seal, Sr. could have died in any year after 1792. If it could be determined that William Seal, Jr. moved from Pittsylvania County before 1815, then the tax records would be a good indicator that William Seal, Sr. died around 1815. At this point, we're pretty confident that William Seal, Jr. did not move out of Pittsylvania County before 1815, except for a two or three year period of living in Randolph Co., N.C. in the early to mid-1790s.

One of the most contentious issues about William Seal is the name of his wife. According to Alton Lee Greene, there is only one record that references the wife of William Seal, a July 1789 document recorded in September 1795 in which James, William and "Nanney" Seal profess to have never slandered the daughter of Robert Standfield, Sr. While we can't be sure this "Nanney" Seal refers to the wife of William Seal, Sr., there are other issues to consider. Some sources have speculated that "Nanney" was Nancy Anna "Nanny" Butts, a daughter of Samuel Butts and Elizabeth Swearingen who were married at St. Barnabas Church in Prince George's Co., Md. on August 1, 1734. However, these same sources give Nancy Anna Butts's birth year as "around 1730," which was four years before the marriage of her presumed parents and would have occurred when her mother was 15. Also, Nancy Anna Butts does not appear on any lists of the children of Samuel and Elizabeth Butts. Other sources have him marrying Susannah Nancy "Nanna" Temple who was born in Chester Co., Penn. on Nov. 8, 1730. This Nanna married a William Seale, but both she and her husband appear to have lived their entire lives in Chester Co., Penn., so it is not credible that this is our William Seal.

It's not out of the question that William Seal married a Nancy Anna Butts but, at this point, we have no evidence. There were many connections between the Butts, Seals, Hawkers and Pruitts. Lydia Butts, a daughter of Samuel Butts and Elizabeth Swearingen, married Ambrose Cook Hawker who was a first cousin of Elizabeth Hawker, the wife of Samuel Pruitt [I]. Ambrose and Lydia Hawker had a daughter, Elizabeth Hawker, who married William Seal, Jr., a son of William and the presumed "Nanney" Seal. Zachariah Butts, a grandson of Samuel and Elizabeth Butts, married Drucilla Hawker, a daughter of Ambrose and Lydia Hawker. Zachariah Butts later married Elizabeth Pruitt, a daughter of Samuel Pruitt [II]. The Pruitt, Hawker and Butts families were quite close when they lived near each other in Prince George's Co., Md. and, later, in Pittsylvania Co., Va. It's suspected that William Seal may also have traveled with those families from Maryland to Virginia, but we have no evidence at this time that William Seal lived in Prince George's Co., Md.

Children of William and "Nanney" Seal were:

One curious record found in Halifax Co., Va. is a court order from the July Court 1766 which orders the Church Wardens of the Parish of Antrim to bind out four sons of William Seal (Zachary, Peter, James and Solomon) because their father was not able to instruct them in Christian principles. Was this an indication that William Seal was not a member of the Anglican Church? We do not know. We have found no record indicating what happened to the children in the short term, but suspect any action taken by the Church Wardens did not last very long.

Among the first documents found for William Seal, Jr. is the record of his marriage to Elizabeth Hawker on Oct. 23, 1790 in Pittsylvania Co., Va. Both William Seal, Jr. and his brother-in-law, John Givens, were responsible for the marriage bond.

Around 1791, William Seal, Jr. showed up in Randolph Co., N.C., where three of his brothers (Solomon, Zachariah and John) also appear. We have a few records from their time in Randolph County including two deeds and a 1791 court record that appoints "an Overseer for the New Road from John Stanfield's Mill to the Fork of the Road" and seems to commend the four brothers and three others "for their hard work thereon." Although we have not found the original record, the following court entry was found in the old family papers of the Jean Hood collection:

State of North Carolina - Randolph County. This day, Alexander Catton came before me, William Bailey, one of the justices for said County and made an oath that a sarten black mare he found in the possession of William Sell taken up by said Sell as a stray is his property. Sworn and submitted before me, this 8th of May 1793.

The Seal brothers seem to have been conducting business in both Randolph Co., N.C. and Pittsylvania Co., Va. during the early to mid-1790s. We have tax records from Pittsylvania County for William Seal, Jr. from 1790 through 1792 at the same time he appeared in Randolph County records. His son, Bailey, was born around 1794. We believe he was born in Randolph County and it appears he was named after William Bailey, the justice William Seal, Jr. encountered in the May 1793 incident. William Seal likely moved back to Pittsylvania Co., Va. shortly after Bailey's birth.

William Seal, Jr., son of William Seal was born about 1769 in Pittsylvania Co., Va. He died in Claiborne Co., Tenn., in an area that is now Hancock Co. He married Elizabeth (Betsy) Hawker who was born about 1770. She was the daughter of Ambrose Cook Hawker and Lydia (Butts) Hawker. The marriage produced the following children:

Bailey Seals, son of William Seal, Jr. and Elizabeth (Hawker) Seal was born about 1794 in Randolph Co., North Carolina and died in Hancock Co., Tenn. He married Rebecca Mathis, who was born about 1795 in Darlington Co., South Carolina. She was the daughter of Enos Mathis and Nancy Mathis. Children of Bailey Seals and Rebecca Mathis were:

Bailey Seals raised three of his grandchildren. They were the children of his daughter, Patty, and they took the name Seals. They were John, Oliver, and Jemima. (Hawkins Co., Tenn. April 1826 Book 14, Page 519)

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