Sunday, October 10, 2010

Who Were Col. Gideon Macon's Ancestor's ?

 Who Were Col. Gideon Macon's Ancestor's ? Updated, Nov. 2010.

There have been too many different ideas about Gideon Macon's ancestors. For example, Gideon as a “Huguenot” through England, or having come direct from France to Virginia as a “immigrant”, or...”being connected to the Royal Families”, or being “naturalized in Virginia and /or England”. Also, I have found that there are three different French genealogies for Gideon. All of this with no documentation or any French names for his children or his descendants. We will start with what we are trying to find more documentation for. (What we are working on.)

According to the Archivist of The Drapers Company of London,William Macon,Gideon's father(?) ,was “of Nottingham”, England. The records did not list William's father's name. William was apprenticed at The Merchant Taylors Company, part of The Drapers Company of London, in 1624, at age 9 years old. He apprenticed from 1624 to 1631, plus 3 years to became a “freeman” in 1634.

According to the ships records, William then sailed from England to Virginia on the “Bonaventure” in 1634-5 at 19 years old. William's future brother in law, Hugh Garland, 20 years old, was on the same ship. William was listed as Mason on the ship. Macon is a French name, spelled Macon, but pronounced Mason. At the time, it could have been spelled either way. An example of this, is Hugh Macon. He was listed at the Merchant Taylors Co., as an apprentice, as Hugh Macon, but on the ship to Mass. the name was listed Hugh Mason. This is only an example, I do not think he is connected to the Macons we are concerned with.

William later married Ann Garland in Virginia and had two sons, among other children. One son, Gideon, may have been named after the original mascot – symbol of The Drapers Company. It was “Gideon and the Golden Fleece”, from the Greek, “Jason and the Golden Fleece”. It was later changed to “Lions”. Another son was named William. The younger William was documented at The Merchant Taylors Company as being the son of the older William. The younger William apprenticed at the Company from 1654 to 1661, plus 3 years to become a “freeman” in 1664. There were no records for either William after their apprenticeships at the Merchant Taylors Company, which means they were not in England. They would have had to register with the Company Guild in order to work in England, which they did not do. This was because they both would have been in Virginia with no need to work in England.

During this time, 1654 to 1664, Gideon may have studied English law at St. John's College, Oxford, founded in 1555 by a Master of the Company. It was associated with The Merchant Taylors Company However, the Company owned or supported many different schools where he could have studied English law in England. Gideon was in Virginia practicing law at least by 1670-71, (York County Court Records of Virginia.) Gideon was in York County, where William and Ann lived, until he bought Macon Island in New Kent County in 1680.

In 1670, William Macon held a Royal Patent for 400ac. In the County of Powhatan. (Land Office of Patents and Grants of Virginia).

In 1673, William Macon bought 100ac., escheat land, formally granted to Henry Rey. In Nansemond County, Virginia. (Land Office of Patents and Grants of Virginia, Patent 6, page 498.)

In 1677, William Macon of James City, had a Tavern House which he rented to the Colonial Government of Virginia, because Nathaniel Bacon and his men, during Bacon's rebellion, burnt down the old office building, along with the older records. In 1684, at the death of William Macon, his widow Ann Macon was granted , “ allowance of 12,000 pounds of Tobacco for the use of her Tavern House as committee chambers, assembly roome, clk's office, and council chamber, etc.” This agreement continued until Ann Macon's death in 1699. At that time, the government offices were moved to Williamsburg, Virginia. (The Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia.)

Gideon probably met the Governor in his father's Tavern House in 1677, because Gideon started working for the Governor in 1677 until the end of that year.

The Tavern House, the land, and the rest of William's estate were probably dealt with in his will of 1684. That is why, in Ann's will of 1699, she was only giving her personal items to her immediate family members, and John Baldwin, her friend..

In 1684, Nov. 14th, the year William died, the records of Bruton Church show Gideon giving “a large sum” of money to the church, some say in his father, William's name.

In 1699-1700, Ann (Garland) Macon's will left all her personal items to her living children, including Gideon, and to Gideon's children. It seems that her son, William died before 1699, along with one of her daughters. According to the English naming patterns of before 1700, William and Ann 's children should have been named William, Ann, and two named after William's parents (who we do not know yet), along with Gideon, and any other names they might have used. These children would have been born in the 1630's to the 1650's. We have no way to know how many children they may have had, because so many early Virginia records were destroyed at one time or another. As of now, it is not possible to fully document this.

In Ann's will, she refers to her married daughter as “Sarah Freckelton”. She did not refer to Sarah as her daughter, but she was. She was probably referring to another married daughter as “Mary Elwenn”, she was probably a widow, the term spinster referred to the fact that Mary had not remarried. The term, “spinster”, referred to a woman who had never married or one that had not remarried. She did not refer to Sarah as her daughter, but she was, or Martha as Gideon's daughter, but she was, or Gideon as her son, but he was. There seems to be a pattern here.

1699, Ann Macon's will: “Anne Macon, of St. Botolph, Algate, London, widow, will dated 7 September 1699, proved 3 August 1700. To Mr. Gideon Macon now living in Virginia and to his wife to each of them a ring of 20s. apiece. To Gideon Macon, his son, my silver tankard &c. To Ann Macon, daughter of Gideon Macon the elder my silver porringer. To Martha my six silver spoons. To Mary Elwenn, spinster, all of my wearing linen and my best hood &c. To Sarah Freckelton, a black flowred silk petticoate which was her sisters. To Mr. John Baldwin and his wife to each of them 20s. for gloves. Rest to son in law, Robert Freckelton, executor, and I desire my friend Mr. John Baldwin will see this my will executed. Witnesses: John Shaw, John Goodyer, Ath Lake.” Consistory of London Register Redman (1670-1720) fo. 94.

In 1680-81, Gideon married Martha Woodward and had four children among others. He named the two older ones, Gideon and Martha, after he and his wife, and the two next oldest ones, William and Ann, after his parents. The names and ages of these children fit the English naming pattern of before 1700. (St Peters Parish Records.)

The problem now is finding the Macon family parish in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England. There are three possible, St.Peter's, St. Mary's, and St. Nicholas. William's birth record, born in1615, and his father's name should be there, and hopefully even more information. The spelling of the last name should probably be a variation of Macon, because of the early date of his birth, 1615. This was more usual than not, for the early dates in the parish records. The spelling of names would not become consistent until at least the 19h century, and in some places much later. (The Relevance of Surnames in Genealogy”, from The Society of Genealogists, in Britain.)

So far, we have found no indication at all that the family were Huguenot or that they had any direct connection to France. In order to determine anything different we would have to find William's father and other ancestors of his to see if any of them came from France. We have not found them yet.

The other possibility is that the family may have descended from a French stonemason. The name, Macon, with various spellings, was an old Norman name for stone workers in the North Western part of France, the area of Normandy and Brittany. These stone workers developed a reputation for their stone work. Many were imported into England at least as early as the 1100's to do their work in England. These stone workers were the ancestors of many Macon families, with various spellings for the name. These families were not biologically related to each other, but were related by their ancestor's occupations as stone workers. See, “The Internet Surname Database”, “Macon Surname”. There are other web sites as well, with the history of the Macon name.

The name had various spellings during several hundred years time. The name was spelled the way it sounded to the person writing it at the time. See the four page leaflet, “The Relevance of Surnames in Genealogy”, from The Society of Genealogists, in Britain. This may be a “need to know” to do family research in Britain, at least for the Macon Name. Two interesting examples of the variations in spelling are a Richard Machun in 1120 and a John Macun in 1130. It is interesting too, that Richard Machun was in Lincolnshire County, next door to Nottingham. Both men were probably stone workers, John Macun was listed on the building accounts of King Henry the first of England in 1130. By the 19th century surnames in Britain were beginning to be more stable and uniform in a family.

The only way to know if the family descended from a Huguenot or a stone worker or both is to find William's father and trace the line back to see where it leads.

There is no way that Gideon Macon was born in France of French parents. Alethea Jane Macon seems to agree in her book, “Gideon Macon of Virginia and Some of His Descendants”, and “Allied Families”, on page 6, she says, “...Louis de Macon...his son Gabriel de Macon married Catherine de la Bielle, ditte de Serre. The statement has been made repeatedly that Gideon Macon was a descendant of these Macons, whose line is given in some detail in the 'Armorial General de la France'. However, THE RECORD DOES NOT CONVINCINGLY BEAR OUT THE CLAIM. Especially significant is the absence of all given names found in the American family of Macon.” (French given names)

If anyone has information to help this research along I would appreciate an e mail. Thank you.
1)The Merchant Taylors Company of London, England
2)The Drapers Company of London, England
3)Land Office of Patents and Grants of Virginia
4)York County Court Records of Virginia
5)“The Minutes of the General Court of Colonial Virginia”
6)The Records of Bruton Church, Williamsburg,Virginia
7)”Historical Southern Families”, by John Broddie, Vol.VII, pages 139 to 141
8)St. Peters Parish Records, New Kent County, Virginia
9)“Gideon Macon of Virginia and Some of His Descendants” and “Allied Families”, by Alethea Jane Macon, published in 1956, updated by Jarvis Wood, in 1979. Page 6, for the French references.
10)“The Relevance of Surnames in Genealogy” from The Society of Genealogists in Britain.
11)The Internet Surname Base
12)Rays, for the ship, Bonaventure of 1635.
13)The Macon
14) Consistory of London Register Redman (1670 to 1720) fo.94. Ann Macon's will.


  1. Finally,more logical view of Gideon Macon's ancestors.Its about time someone is doing more digging...It made no sense for his parents to be French because his children and decendents had no French names.I had thought that as well...Great Reserch..Can't wait for what else you come up with.

  2. Hi! I am a member of the Gideon Macon clan. Have you been to any of the reunions?

  3. Hi Amy, Sorry to say, I have not been to any reunions. But I know it would probably be very interesting.

  4. Thanks for posting this research. It clears up a great deal of misinformation out there!