Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Spence Connection

My Great Grandma Nace went by her middle name Frances. Her first name was Sulmena/Sulmenia/Sulmana (depending on which source you consult). She came from the Big Island area of Bedford County, across the mountains from where she spent most of her married life. Update: She came from near Big Island, in the Charlemont section of Bedford County. Her family moved to Buchanan when she was 15.


Her maiden name was Spence. Her parents were Andrew F. Spence and Mary Lucy Goff, who were married on December 19, 1849. Lucy was the daughter of Archibald Goff of Bedford County. Jefferson Goff provided surety for the marriage bond.


She had two sisters and six brothers. 


The Spence names on the "Births" page are hard to read:
  • John Henry Spence Born De  24 1850
  • Edward [Lott?] Spence Born Feb  10 1853
  • William [G?] Spence Born Feb  3 1855
  • Mary [?]Spence Born De 5 1859
  • Alexzander [?] A. Spence Born June 8 1863
  • Selmenia F. Spence Born De 14 1864
  • Daniel [might be David?] M. Spence Born June 12 1867
  • Lucie Jane Spence Born De 9 1869
  • Walter F. Spence Born July 9 1875
  • one infant Boy Born Apr 11 1858
I've tried Googling many of the Spence names but haven't had much luck. I'd love to know more about Andrew Francis  Frederick Spence. Who were his parents? Where did he come from?
Update: He came from Orange, County, New York; he was a stone mason. And his name was actually Andrew Frederick Spence, not Andrew Francis Spence as I'd heard for years.


The Spense family apparently originated in Scotland. I found the following information on the Internet several years ago but neglected to note the URL:

Although the family name Spence is found in Ireland for centuries, it is ultimately of Scottish origin, having been introduced into Ireland by Scottish settlers. The name is classified as being of occupational origin, that is, derived from the trade or profession pursued by the initial bearer. In this instance the surname Spence is derived from the Middle English "spense, spence", a derivative of Old French "despense", denoting "an official in charge of provisions or a larder". Variants of the surname Spence include Spense, Spencer, and Spenser.
The Scottish Spences of Wormsington were a sept of the clan MacDuff and standard bearers to this clan. Today, this name is numerous in Counties Antrim and Down and rarely found in the rest of Ireland. One of the earliest references this name or to a variant is Scottish in origin and a record of one Roger Dispensator (Latin for Spenser) who witnessed a charter by the Bishop of Moray in 1202. However, research is on going and this name may have been documented even earlier than the date indicated above. John Spens was bailiff of Irvine in 1260. . . .
According to this online article, there were Spences in Virginia in the 1600s, particularly in Westmoreland County; the same article and this genealogy thread also notes the family origin:

The family of Spens (or Spence, Spense) is of very high antiquity in Scotland, descended from a younger son of the Earl of Fife, and carried on its armorial bearing the lion rampant of the Clan MacDuff to denote descent from that ancient house[2]. The name was sometimes rendered as "de Spens", or "of the Spences". Both the Scottish "Spens" and the English "Spencer" carry the meaning of steward. [Source: John Wayland, 1930: Virginia Valley Records: "The Spence Family", p 366.]




There's a lengthy thread on Rootsweb devoted to the Spence family, and  a reference on Rootsweb to a "Francis Spence, age 23" who arrived in Virginia in 1635. 

The earliest Bedford County Spence that I can find online (on the Rootsweb Spens/Spence DNA page) is "Burwell Spence born 1763 Bedford Co Virginia, wife Rebecca Puckett, resided Carroll Co VA." There's also a "James Spence, born abt. 1766 VA, married in Bedford Co VA, Eleanor Milam." Another site lists James Spence as born in 1770 and marrying Eleanor (b. 1774) on October 1, 1785, which would have made him 15 and her 11 when they married, so I'd guess one or more of those dates is wrong. (Another site says they married in 1794 and had no known children.) How either connects to Andrew Francis, I don't know. 



Perhaps someone reading this blog can provide information. Meanwhile, I'll do a separate post about the Goff connection.
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