John Perrin in Frederick (Washington) County, Maryland

This section marks the beginning of history and the end of mythology for this Perrin genealogy. John Perrin's life in central Maryland is well documented in the historical record. Here I will present that record and muse about his origins. The next section will focus on the frontier activities of him and his family.

Background: Central Maryland

Geography of Central Maryland

Before beginning I think it is helpful to review some geography. The map below should help with orientation.

overview map

General topography of Central Maryland and adjacent Pennsylvania and Virginia

Until 1749 all of central Maryland was part of Prince Georges County. That county stretched from the Patuxent River in the east through Rock Creek, Monocacy Creek (site of present day Frederick, Maryland), South Mountain, and the Maryland portion of the Great Valley to the west. Then the county seat, Upper Marlboro, lay on the Patuxent, 60 miles east of present Hagerstown as the crow files. In 1749 the new county of Frederick extended from the Monocacy country west; finally in 1776 the Great Valley portion of Frederick County became Washington County.

The Great Valley, which extends from Pennsylvania to North Carolina through Maryland and Virginia, is an ancient shoreline. The bedrock of the Great Valley is Cambrian and Ordovician limestone, rock easily carved out by water. Underground streams and sinkholes can result. The portion of the valley immediately around and to the south of Hagerstown qualifies as a karst. While the Conococheague and Antietam Creeks serve the west and east sides of the Valley respectively, the middle portion of the Valley does not have good surface drainage. The only stream there, Marsh Run, does not possess a real creek bed until its last mile to the Potomac.


Indian presence in central Maryland was documented only obliquely. Traders such as Israel Friend lived among them as early as 1722 . In 1727 he received a deed from the Indians for land at the mouth of Antietam Creek:

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Att the request of George Beall the Following Deed was Enrolled November the Twenty Seventh Anno DM. Seventeen hundred and thirty whereas be it known to all Manner of persons to whom it may concern That We Cunnaw cha ha la, Taw we Maw, Capt. Sivility, Toile Flangee, She Hays, Callakahahatt, being Kings and rulers of the Five nations for naturall Love and we bar to our Brothers Israel Friend we give unto him...

One of the signers of Friend's deed, Captain Civility, was a Susquehannak chief from Conestoga. He later wrote to the Governor of Maryland concerning settlements in the west; although whether he was referring to the area contested in Cresap's war, or to present day Maryland, is not entirely clear:

To Your Excellency the Governor living in Annapolis with Great Care These

January the 12, 1731/2

To your Excellency of Maryland and Esqr Lloyd, and if it please You Sir I Captain Civility makes bold with these few Lines, for I am heartily sorry to hear as Maryland should deprive us of that Spot of Land as we have held hitherto for I certainly did hear as their Intention is to take it from Us if possible but I hear You intend to come and run Land out above Andahetem, and I heartily desire you not to do it for You have already run Land out at Cohungaruto and put your family to live there which We are very much disturbed and I would have you not to press too much upon Us for We have give no body Land yet but Israel Friend at the mouth of Andahetem and I shall consider with the rest of my Brothers what to do for as We are but Indians You must not think to force Us out of Our own No more at present but We remain Your Servants all the five Nations

   Captain + Civility
   Toyl HT Hangue

Before 1734 there was essentially no legal white settlement in Maryland west of the Monocacy River, but European presence was sufficient to interfere with Indian movements north and south. Samuel Blunston, Justice of the Peace in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania wrote to Governor Gordon of Pennsylvania in August, 1734 to explain the following incident :

About a month Agoe a party of the Six Nations, Warriors, came to the Connoi Town in their way to the Southward, & in the name of the rest, five or Six came to my house & Brought a List of forty, the number going to war. They told me they wanted a paper to take with them through Virginia, to Show the Inhabitants that their Intentions towards the English were peaceable, which paper I supose they Intended to be for the passport mentioned in the Governour of Virginia's Letter; made Nessessary by the treaty, (tho' this I knew not Before,) upon their Application to me I advised them to wait upon thee who only had the Right & power to give them such a paper; but that they said was so far out of their way they could not goe & Insisted upon Something from mee, So Considering if I denyed them a paper they would go without, I rather Chose to write to Edmd Cartlidge a few lines to this Effect, "that forty of the Six Nation's Indians Intending to go to the Southward, Desired a Certificate from me to Show the white people that their Intention was not to do them any hurt, but to pass peaceably along, & that they need not be afraid of them," And I desired Edmund Cartlidge to let them know they must Suffer no Violence to be used towards any person, nor that they shd not forceably take any thing, And that if He thought propper he might give a Certificate of their peaceable Intentions, which they proposed by sending one person Before to Show the Inhabitants that they might not be frighted. If in this I acted Amis or Inadvertantly I shal be Sorry, for I Intended it for Good.

Stories told later indicated there was Indian activity in the Antietam valley in the 1730s :

At the mouth of Antietam, a small creek on the Maryland side of the river [Potomac, or Cohongoruton], a most bloody affair took place between parties of the Catawba and Delaware tribes. This was probably about the year 1736. The Delawares had penetrated pretty far to the south, committed some acts of outrage on the Catawbas, and on their retreat were overtaken at the mouth of this creek, when a desperate conflict ensured. Every man of the Delaware party was put to death, with the exception of one who escaped after the battle was over, and every Catawba held up a scalp but one. This was a disgrace not to be borne; and he instantly gave chase to the fugitive, overtook him at the Susquehanna river, (a distance little short of one hundred miles,) killed and scalped him, and returning, showed his scalp to several white people, and exulted in what he had done.
      "Another most bloody battle was fought at the mouth of Conococheague, on Friend's land, in which but one Delaware escaped death, and he ran in to Friend's house, when the family shut the door, and kept the Catawbas out, by which means the poor fugitive was saved.

Early Settlement

More information concerning Europeans in western Maryland before 1738 can be found in two articles written by Corinne Hanna for the defunct journal Western Maryland Genealogy. Early Traders of the Upper Potomac is the best piece (as it mentions the Perrins:), but I have also included an earlier piece, New Look at an Old Map, which deals specifically with the persons shown (and not shown) on the earliest accurate drawing of the region, rendered for Lord Farifax in Virginia in 1737.

Mayo's 1737 map

Portion of "Map of the northern neck in Virginia", 1737, William Mayo, surveyor
(Photoshop Enhanced)

The above section of this map, from the Darlington Collection at the University of Pittsburgh, includes the names of several families living on the Potomac at the time. In addition to Friend, the names Chaplain and Spurgeant are shown; these names will come up again later in this and other sections. The map also demonstrates the "Waggon Road to Philadelphia". This road passed through the Monocacy valley and South Mountain, crossed the lower Antietam Creek and met the Potomac at present day Shepherdstown, Virginia. Thus it would be a continuation of the road from Lancaster and York described in the last section.

However, the most clear evidence of settlement in this region before 1736 can be found in the Pennsylvania records. Here is a petition written to Samuel Blunston and dated the 28th day, 5th month (July) of 1734 :

Mr. Samuel Blunston Sr. this is to let you understand that the Inhabitants about the great Marsh where Edmund Cartledge does live have met and made a general Conclusion for to get grants from you for to settle any where upon the Waters of Conehecheegoe and likewise upon the Waters of Andiatom on the North side of the line that George Noble and John Smith did run.

Joseph Hickman Edward Parnell John Dobkin James Conron
John Hodge Redman Fallen James Gill Thomas Cherry
John Williams William Clarke William Varnell Thomas Owen
Charles Friend Abraham Fish James Hendrica William Sherwell
Peter Hart Humbleston Lyon Thomas Oncall Nicholas Hammon
Richard Spencer Samuel Baldwin John Surfurance Samuel Owen
Francis Hickman Joseph Hickman Jun'r John Stull Edmund Cartledge Jun'r
John Nicholas Edward Nicholas John Gosedge Neils Friend
John Friend John Gladin Charles Smith John Ryle
James Coborn William May John Sawphorus James Williams

I have not been able to conclusively find where the Noble & Smith line ran; it may have approximated the later Mason & Dixon line, or have been further south. But the "great Marsh" referred to is the upper portion of present day Marsh Creek in Maryland. Edmund Cartledge was responsible for the survey of Fountain Rock in 1737 ; this location is labeled in the 1877 Washington County atlas at present day St. James . The spring named Fountain Rock is on the southern edge of the campus of St. James School.

Later land tracts, such as Marsh Head, surveyed for Redmund Follens in 1737 , and Water Sink, surveyed for Joseph Tomlinson in 1739 , delineated by their names the extent of the Marsh. These tracts may be appreciated in a more detailed map accessible by clicking the icon to the right below. (Be aware that there are some landmarks placed on this map, such as the Deep Spring, for which I have little evidence as to its actual location.)

The inclusion of Cherry, Stull, Nicholas and Friend on the Petition above suggest that the area in which the petitioners lived extended from the Potomac River north to above present day Hagerstown. Why did they petition the Pennsylvania authorities for permission to obtain land grants? This being the time of the Pennsylvania - Maryland boundary dispute, and given how far west the region was from the Susquehanna, no one actually knew for certain which colony they were in, or to put it more cynically, which colony would prevail in the dispute. In that sense the petitioners may have been just covering their bases; indeed, fifteen of the above petitioners had payed taxes to Maryland in 1733 .

I believe that the petitioners were searching for a legitimate way to settle in the region. In 1734 Maryland was not issuing warrants for land that far west to ordinary people. Instead by 1734 huge land grants had been surveyed in the name of Lord Baltimore (Conococheague Manor) or for well placed members of the ruling class (Chews Manor), so that the persons already in the land had every reason to fear that Maryland would never sell them land, but try to rent it to them as tenants. Indeed Fountain Rock was not patented, perhaps because its metes and bounds intruded upon Conocoheague Manor. A later record in the Frederick County Deed books from 1759 provided the details of a lease between the Lord Propiertor and Charles Neall for the two hundred acres named Dry Reach . For forty shillings per year Mr. Neall received the land for up to twenty one years, exclusive of mineral and timber rights, with the requirement that he build a house with a brick chimney and maintain an orchard of one hundred apple trees.

Finally, it is significant to me that many of the signatures on the 1734 petition came from families originally found in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The trading escapades of Edward or Edmund Cartledge were discussed in the last section; it is probably he who took of residence in the Great Marsh, with his son also signing the petition. James Hendrica was probably James Hendricks; he as well as William Sherwell and Samuel Baldwin were listed in the tax records of Conestoga, Lancaster County, in 1718. The presence of the "waggon road" allowed for more migration from Pennsylvania than from coastal Maryland. This continued to be the case for some time.

After Cresap's War

I am fascinated by the fact that after Maryland lost the boundary war with Pennsylvania in 1738 the issuance of warrants for western Maryland land immediately increased. One of the first to benefit from this change in policy was Thomas Cresap, but in 1738 the Maryland Land Office also issued warrants in quick succession to Charles Higginbothom, John Charleton, George Bond, James Henthorn and Thomas Scarlet, all of whom were participants in the "Chester County Plot" . (Doubtless you will tire of hearing about Cresap, but his flamboyant life resulted in a lot of published information about this part of the world which I will continue to cite. He ultimately settled at the forks of the Potomac, at the site of an abandoned Shawnee Indian village called Oldtown. Please see the next section.) But others who had already been living in the region of the Great Marsh now succeeded in buying warrants, either directly or through others, so that by 1739 there began a sustained increase in freehold settlement in the Valley.

Earliest Records of John Perrin

master map

Central Washington County, Maryland in 1739
The probable extent of the Great Marsh is shown in light blue
Roads are as established much later

There are three recorded events which place John Perrin in the Marsh Run region before 1740.

Samuel Finnley's death

The first record I have for a John Perrin in Maryland comes from the Prerogative Court of Maryland. On October 24, 1737 Prince Georges County filed the following document with them :

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Know all Men by these Presents, That We Henry Enoch, John Upton, and John Perrin of Prince Georges County Planters are held and firmly bound unto the Right Honourable the Lord Proprietary of this Province, in the full and just Sum of Three hundred Pounds Sterling Money of Great-Britain, to be paid to His said Lordship, his Heirs and successors:

Even if you read the entire document, it may not be clear that it confirmed Henry Enoch as administrator (executor) for the estate of Samuel Finley, deceased, and that Enoch as well as Upton and Perrin were liable for a three hundred pound bond if he did not perform this task within a year. Below is a photograph of the signatures from the original document.

Signatures from Samuel Finnly's Administration Bond

Four months later Henry provided more information to the Court, allowing us to make sense out of what was happening here .

Henry Enoch & Joseph Metcalf of Prince Georges County Planters being duly Sworn severlly depose & Swear tht they were at the late Dwelling house of Samuel Finnly late of the said County Merchant Dec'ed on the Sixteenth day of October last past & that the said Finnly then lay sick in bed & desired this Deponent Henry to mind what he the said Finnly was then going to say And afterwards said Henry afsd I leave all I have to Johny Aldridge or words to that effect Which words the Dep. Joseph heard the said Finnly speak. That there was no other present when the said Finnly spoke the said words but these Deponents And that he the said Finnly died of that sickness with four or five days after speaking the said words And that the best of their judgement & Apprehension the said Finnly at the time of speaking the said words was perfectly in his Senses

Sworn to Feb 2 1737 [1737/8] before me D Dulany Commsr.

Signed Henry Enoch, Joseph Metcalf (his mark)

The above deposition was taken at the Instance of Joseph Chaplin to avail as much as in law & Justice it might, which to that end I hereby order to be Entered in the Porceedings of the Perogative office

Feb 2 1737 D Dulany Commsr

On the same date that Enoch deposed Finley's will, he relinquished his position as Administrator for the Finley estate , giving it to Joseph Chaplin. I imagine somebody pointed out to him that he could not administer an estate when he was one of only two persons who had actually heard Finley's will.

Now I would like to analyze this event in detail, as I believe that describing what is known of the characters in this case will allow us to guess as to what John Perins was up to in 1737.

I believe that this episode demonstrates that John Perrin had already settled in the Great Marsh region by the fall of 1737, and was probably a neighbor of John Upton and Henry Enoch. I am not certain that Perrin traveled to Upper Marlborough to sign the estate bond, however. When the signature above is compared to the signatures below in this and the next section, I can appreciate a real difference in the writing of the capital P. A bigger issue in my mind is the spelling of Perrin's surname, which I will figuratively beat to death later in this section.

1739 Petition

In early 1739 a petition was circulated in the region around the Great Marsh requesting the formation of a new county. The records of the House of Assembly in Maryland show that this petition was received in May, 1739 and subsequently not acted upon . At great effort I have transcribed it below . The original resides at the Archives of Maryland, and a scan of a copy from there can be viewed here.

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To his Excellency Samuel Ogle Esq Governor of Maryland and To the Hon'ble: the Upper and Lower Houses of Assembly now Convened ____

The Petition of the Subscribers hereof Freeholders and Inhabitants of the back Parts of Prince Georges County ____________

Most Humbly Sheweth.

The first person to sign this petition was Charles Higginbotham; judging from the script he also wrote it. The signatures extend to the back of the document, and I include here a portion of that page.

Portion of 1739 petition signatures

Portion of signatures on page two of the 1739 petition

The signature of John Perins is particularly clear. Note that, in terms of writing style, the first name in his signature here is identical to that found above in the 1737 administration bond. As I noted above the structure of the capital P is different from 1737. And now (and heneforth on any other document for which I have an original signature) Perrin's rendering of his last name includes a final "s", and only one "r".

For those of you who tried to read this peculiarly worded document, I applaud you. There are some interesting points made. This petitioner noted that this was not the first request made by the region. He also stated that no tobacco was grown there; the significance of this argument is that, as tobacco was accepted as currency in the colony, there would be no inflation as a result of more settlement there. There is a woman, Providence Williams, who signed the petition; she would become Joseph Chapline's sister-in-law. The place proposed for a new court house was Salisbury Plain; it will not be built until thirty five years later, when Washington County was formed from Frederick County in 1776.

There is one more sentence in the petition which may be of special significance:

many of the back Inhabitants are much Disatisfied by Sheriffs who never come or Send to their Houses nor Demand or Deliver any account of Officers fees or other Taxes but if they should happen to Come to Court about their lawfull Occupation that then they are taken in Question or otherwise Committed for fees placed & which till then they know nothing of & are there Detained until they pay such Exorbitant price for such fees placed being in Tobacco as the Sheriff shall please to Demand

This was probably a reference to the crow and squirrel head levy . Failure to annually submit these vermin or the equivalent in cash or tobacco would result in a fine to be collected by the sheriff. John Perrins was recorded as deficient in this tax levy in both 1737 and 1738 , confirming his arrival in Maryland by 1737.

1739 Deed

Later in 1739, on November 20, a one hundred acre tract was surveyed for John Perrin. On October 28, 1740 it was patented as Perrins Adventure . The warrant for the land was assigned over from Richard Snowden; I can't put too much significance on that, as Snowden transferred assignment for six other warrants in late 1739. It may have been a way for him to make money (although he was a very rich man), or it may have been the right political thing to do.

Below is a complete transcription of the patent, which I include in case you wish to see how land patents were written; I do not advise reading it for fun.

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Know ye that for and in consideration that John Perrin of Prince Georges County in our said Province of Maryland hath due unto him one hundred acres of land within our said Province whereof an Assignment for that Quantity from Richard Snowden part of a warrant for thirteen hundred and sixty nine acres granted the said Snowden by renewment the sixth day of June seventeen hundred and thirty nine as appears in our Land Office upon such conditions and terms as are expressed in our conditions of plantations of our said province bearing date the fifth day of April sixteen hundred and eighty four and remaining upon Record in our said province together with such alterations as in them are made by our further Conditions bearing date the fourth day of December sixteen hundred and ninety six

A resurvey of Perrins Adventure on March 22, 1744/5 was done by Thomas Cresap  (A resurvey allowed a landowner to expand his property to adjacent vacant land.)

Precise location of Perrins Adventure and adjacent properties

Map detail: Early land tracts along the Great Marsh. First surveys are outlined in dashed lines
Dotted yellow line: Chew's Manor; dotted purple line: Conocoheague Manor

It is now possible for me to locate the properties on the above map very precisely. Modern deeds give a location for Perrins Adventure relative to current roads. A later "fill in" tract called Number Four showed where Perrins Adventure intersected with Conocoheague Manor; the original survey for Perrins Adventure only stated that the land was near the end of Chews Manor. The later resurveys of Perrins Adventure and the adjacent tract Charlemount overlapped. This overlap between their respective resurveys was resolved in a later agreement filed in 1806  so the placement of these two tracts next to each other seems certain. Charlemount and Saint John may also be placed courtesy of another later "fill in" tract called Number Two.

Another nearby tract, Water Sink, was patented by Joseph Tomlinson in 1739 . Its placement relative to modern roads is also possible from later deeds . The later Resurvey of Water Sink in 1753 corrected its western border with Chews Manor , so the positioning of Chews Manor is accurate as well.

There are two other properties shown on the above detailed map. The survey for Number Four delineated the eastern edge of Conocoheague Manor up to a property named Good Fortune. This, plus the contiguous Neglect were patented by Catherine Mallot in 1755 after the death of her father Theodorus Mallot. Catherine's brother Peter patented Peter's Delight, an 18 acre tract, in 1759 . Its location is not clear from the initial survey, but Peter attempted a resurvey two years later. Initially the resurvey was denied because the new property was largely within Conocoheague Manor; it was recorded only much later (1799) . The resuvey showed overlap with Perrins Adventure, but did agree with the border of Charlemount. But the importance (to me) of the resurvey lay in the fact that it referred to the beginning point for the unpatented tract Fountain Rock, allowing me to tentatively place this tract in the above map as well.

Now is a good time to mention some hints about geography contained in the land records. The southern portion of the Resurvey of Watersink was sold to Christian Eversole in 1755   who by 1769 had built a mill on the property . Mentioned above was the survey done for John Upton of It is Well which, while not patented, overlapped with Charlemount. That survey referred to the "South Side of the Eastern branch of the great marsh of Conocoheague" ; so I have drawn this portion of the marsh to extend through Perrin's and into Higgenbotham's land. Another tract of land, Hallums Look Out, which was surveyed between Perrins Adventure and Watersink, also refers to this portion of the Marsh, as its survey began "at a bounded Hickory Tree standing on the North Side of Carters Marsh on ye east Side of the Great Marsh" The original survey for Charlemount stated that its beginning line was about fifty perches east of the "Deep Spring" . I can imagine that spring at the top of the smaller middle lobe of the Great Marsh. While building in the marsh may have been foolish, the marsh may easily have been seasonal and would have provided settlers with well watered meadow for grazing. In contrast, a later survey for Dry Fountain referred to "the Barrons between Capt. Charles Hikenbothams and Antiatum" , implying to me that the land between the marsh and Antietam Creek was not particularly desirable.

Historical record 1740 - 1769

On June 21, 1740 Perrin received payment of a debt owed him by the estate of Robert Ratcliffe . Ratcliffe, like Upton, had been taxed in Monocosie Hundred in 1733  ; the survey for his land in 1737 began at a walnut tree "Standing in the Edge of the Great marsh & near the mouth of the Spring that the s'd Rattclif now lives by " . I imagine this tract was to the east of the Marsh between Perrins Adventure and Neglect.

Then from 1740 until 1747 I have no records concerning Perrin. But from 1749 until his death in 1769 his name appeared in numerous government documents. This coincided with the formation of Frederick County and increasing settlement of the Great Valley.

1755 map of washington county, maryland area

Portion of "A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina". Drawn by Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson, 1755

This map from 1755 indicated that the original road from Canestoga to Shepherdstown had been supplanted with a new road, along which the present day cities Hagerstown and Williamsport would be founded. This new road avoided a significant climb over South Mountain between the Monocacy and Antietam watersheds. It also signalled the start of increased settlement in the northern part of the valley.

The lists that follow are a selection of what I believe are the most relevant Perrin documents between 1749 and 1769. I have for example left out the reports of stray horses (the reporting of them was mandated by law), and any court judgments concerning debtors who had John Perrin as a cosigner. With these lists I hope to establish how Perrin fit into his community. I apologize for incomplete references, as many of these come from secondary sources. Records concerning the patenting and sale of property in the frontier will come up in subsequent sections.

Public Service

Date Document Reference
March, 1748/49 John Perrin served as grand juror in the first grand jury of Frederick County.
March, 1751 John Perrin served as grand juror, Frederick County.
November, 1753 John Perrin served as grand juror, Frederick County.
1758 John Perins signed a petition requesting government money to reconstruct the local church (called a Chapel of Ease)
August, 1760 The Court appointed Joseph Helmes and John Perrin to view the roads approaching the chapel of ease and report to the next County Court.
June, 1762 John Perrin served as grand juror, Frederick County.
March 5, 1766 John Perins signed a petition in 1766 complaining of the scarcity of money in the frontier

The 1766 and 1758 petitions will prove useful in identifying who else was in this region on those dates. More importantly the secondary sources cited probably have recorded the spelling of Perrin's name as it was written in his own hand.

Perrin's service over four separate years on the grand jury is notable. Frederick County was formed in 1748/9. In the county's first election Joseph Chaplin became one of four representatives to the Maryland Assembly. Chaplin and Henry Munday also became judges. Thomas Cresap was appointed justice of the peace for that region. I would think it possible one of these men recommended Charles Higginbotham to be on the grand jury, and Higginbotham respectively recommended John Perrin . These sessions would have given Perrin an opportunity to know a wider circle of people and may explain some of the other subsequent relationships mentioned below.

Deeds, wills, inventories

Perrin's name appeared in a surprising number of legal documents as a witness or as a person who conducted inventory of estates. I believe that, through an analysis of the names associated with John Perrin in the list below, one can get an idea of what he did or how he fit into frontier society.

Date Document Reference
April 21, 1747 John Roberts estate appraised by Thomas Kelley & John Perrin.
October 9, 1749 William and Lidia Flitham in Antietam Hundred, sold Neglect for 100 pounds to Charles Higginbotham. John Perrins and Thomas Scarlett witnesses to deed.
October 25, 1749 The will of Daniel Stull (Antietam creek area, 2 miles south of Hagerstown) witnessed by John Perins, Jonathan Heger and Ja. Smith. Will proved by Perin and Hagar in November 1749.
January 17, 1750 The will of Theodores Malott, John Perrin named executor. Will witnessed by Joseph and Joseph Jr. Lazer, proved by Joseph Lazer Senior.
October 24, 1750 William Foster estate appraised by John Perins & John Moor.
June 3, 1751 John Mitchell estate appraised by John Perins & Van Swearingen. It was then seized by Captains Charles Higginbotham and Robert Debuttes (as they had set bail for Mitchell)
June 15, 1752 Peter Studebaker estate appraised by John Perins & William Alexander.
January 27, 1754 Charles Polbg [Polke] estate appraised by John Perins & Joseph Flint.
June 19, 1754 Charles Higgenbothom estate appraised by Ken. Farrell & John Perins.
August 18, 1756 Hugh Parker estate appraised by John Perins & John Heulhorne [?Henthorne].
December 12, 1760 Capt. John White estate appraised by Van Swearingen & John Perrin.
March 19, 1760 Rev. William Williams estate appraised by Joseph Smith & John Perrins.
August 13, 1762 Will of Moses Chapline witnessed by John Perins, William Good and John Waller.
July 11, 1763 Isaac Baker and John Perrin served as Attorneys in Fact for sale of Hickory Tavern by Edmond Cartlidge of Georgia to Joseph Chapline. Cartlidge's assignment of power of attorney was witnessed by George Downs, Van Swearingen and William Chapline.
October 30, 1765 Nathaniel Tomlinson estate appraised by Joseph Helms & John Perrins.
August 22, 1767 Hugh Campbell estate appraised by John Perins & James Kenthorne.

That was a long list and a heterogeneous list as well. For some of these records, Perrin may have been a neighbor, as he was for Malott. He may have been asked by the court to inventory estates in cases where there was no will, as with Studebaker. I have not researched all of the people mentioned in this list but there are some who stand out.

Land Commissions

Date Document Reference
August, 1761 Court appointed Thomas Prather, Jonathan Hagar, John Perrin and John Swearingen to hear testimony concerning Piles' Delight & Hunting The Hare as purchased by Joseph Chapline.
August, 1762 Court appointed Jos. Smith and John Perrins to hear testimony concerning Charltons Forest as purchased by John Charlton..
March, 1769 Court appointed Col. Thomas Prather, Mr. John Perrin & Wm. Good to hear testimony concerning Water Sink as purchased by Samuel Volgamot and Christian Ebersole.

Important information comes from the land commissions. These commissions were ad hoc committees set up by the court. Typically four persons were invited to gather testimony and submit it within a given period of time. Perrin was selected for five such commissions, but only served on three. In two of the commissions above John Perrin offered his own testimony, and by extension, his age. After all, credibility in establishing land boundaries would come from being able to state that you could have personal knowledge of the past. In the 1761 commission there is the following testimony :

March 13th 1761.

Then Came John Perrin aged about fifty years being duly sworn Deposeth and saith that a certain Henry Enochs Shwed him a bounded white ash that stood about thirty feet to the west ward of a small Walnut that is now marked for the beginning tree of a tract of land called Piles Delight Pattened to Richard Sprigg and told him that that ash was the beginning tree of Richard Spriggs Land and further saith not.

Sworn Before John Perrins, John Swearingen

Notice that Henry Enochs' name comes up. Unfortunately we don't know when he showed Perrin the white ash tree. Then the March, 1769 commission document contains the following testimony :

1769 Deposition detail

1769 Deposition, as recorded in the Maryland archives

March the 18th 1769

The Deposition of John Perins about fifty Eight years of age being Duly sworn Deposith and Saith that he hath been showed showed two Bounded red oak Saplings to be the Boundry of a tract of Land Caled the Resurvey on Water Sink and this Deponant thinks to the best of his knowledge that said boundrys was showed him either by Capt. Joseph Chapline or Nathaniel Tomblinson about fifteen or sixteen years ago for the Beginning tree of a tract of Land Called Water Sink where is now Lime Stone set up and marked there CES and 1769 and S.W. about three feet Eastward of said boundrys and further this Deponant saith [not]

[signed] Thomas Prather, John Perrins, Wm. Good

Both of the commissions agree in terms of the arithmetic; John Perrins birth date must have been between March, 1710 and March, 1711 (using the modern calendar terminology). Other portions of this second deposition confirmed that the property in question was on Marsh Creek southwest of the Great Marsh. The limestone that said CES referred to Chews Manor.

Will and estate

In October 1769, shortly after the land commission mentioned above, John Perrin wrote his will :

In the Name of God Amen. I John Perrins of Frederick County in the Provance of Maryland Farmer Being in health & of sound mind & memory and Understanding, but considering the uncertainty of this transitory life Do make publish & declare this my Last Will in Manner and Form following. First of all I give and bequeath unto my three sons Edward Perrins, John Perrins & Joseph Perrins all my real Estate to be equally divided amongst them in Manner and Form following, (Vez) that all my Lands shall be sold, and the money arising therefrom to be equally divided amongst them my said three Sons to each an equal third part there of their Heirs or Assigns. Also I give and Bequeath unto my Daughter Susannah fifty pounds Current Money to be paid unto her, her Heirs or assigns out of my Estate in one year after my Demase. Also I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Mary Fifty pounds Current Money to be paid unto her, her Heirs or Assigns in one year after my Demase. Also I give and bequeath unto each of my Grand-Children (Vez) to each of my Sons-Children and Duaghters-Children five pounds Current Money to be paid unto them in one year after my Demase. Also all of the Remainder of my personal Estate after paying my just & Lawful Debts above Legalies, I give and bequeath unto Edward Perrins, John Perrins & Joseph Perrins my three Sons equally between them and do hereby nominate and appoint the said Edward Perrins, John Perrins & Joseph Perrins Executors of this my Last Will and Testamint hereby revoking all former Will or Wills by me heretofor made in Witness whereof I have hereunto sit my hand & Seal this eighth Day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & sixty nine.

Signed and sealed John Perins

Witnessed by Jos. Smith, John J Reynolds, Robert Smith

Joseph Smith and Robert Smith proved will 7th January 1770.

The will is straightforward. John Perins referred to himself as "farmer". He mentioned three sons named Edward, John and Joseph, and two daughters Susannah and Mary. Each daughter received fifty pounds and each unnamed grandchild received five pounds. Edward, John and Joseph were all named executors, and each were to receive one third of the estate, and any income from "Lands to be sold".

The following inventory of the estate is also available . This shows a fairly prosperous farm.

February the 26th 1770, An Inventory of the Goods & Chattles of John Peryn, late
of Frederick County appraised by us the Subscribers

Item Value
To his Riding horse & waring app'l
12, 7, 2
One Bay horse £9,,15 / two mares £16,,8 / Two Horses £19
45, 3, 0
One Mare £4,,15 Two stears £4 & 4 Cows £13,,5
18, 0, 0
Two heifers one steer one cow & 4 calves £9 Hay £5,,3,,6
14, 3, 6
Nine sheep £3,,10 seventeen hogs £9,,4 a quantity of corn £4
11,10, 0
a Quantity of Rye £4,,8 Ditto of wheat £1,,4 Oats....C/
5,18, 0
Gees 18/ a Quantity of Pork & beef £9...Salt...../4
10, 2, 0
Peutear £1/15 Pails & Earth'nware £8 Hogs fatt & honey 13/
2,16, 0
Toungs fier shovel & pottauk Iron pots pan & skilletts
1,14, 0
Bees wax a peper mill Tallow a chest & Trunk
1, 3, 0
Old Casks 7/16 Iron Traces 1/4 Two grind stones.....8/
1,19, 6
Three bees hives 18/ Carpenters tools 15/
1,13, 0
Old axes mattocks Rings and wedges a belt a pr of shoemakers Pinchers Two plows & Irons £4,,0 a harrow & wagontier 1/12
5,12, 0
One pistel &scisers 4/6 knives & forks 3/ Caggs 1/ [?kegs]
1, 7, 6
Books & a pair of spectacles 10/ bed & furniture £11/
11,10, 0
Bedstead & a gun £2/10 one horse £7
9,10, 0
The whole am't
154, 8, 8

We the Subscribers hereunder Written Do hereby Certyfie that we do approve of the above Inventory being the Two next of Kinn to the above mentioned Decased --- signed Thomas Lazear &Joseph Lazear
The two greatest Creditors Edmund Rutter Sarah Joans

I think the distribution of assets helps understand Perrin's daily life, at least at the time of his death. The farm was prosperous. Two thirds of the value of the estate was in livestock, with most of it due to horses. The presence of bees suggests fruit trees. There were books and a pair of spectacles.

The estate appraisal was conducted by "the Two next of Kinn" Thomas and Joseph Lazear. That phrase is enough to warrant an entire section for the Lazear family. There I will argue that John Perrin married a member of the Lazear family at some point.

The list of accounts  showed that most of Perrin's debtors owed him bonds. Most of those bond holders are known to have bought property from Perrin. There are exceptions, notably Joseph Jr. and John Lazear. which I will discuss later.

Wives and Children

The next four sections of this narrative concern the three sons and one of the daughters of John Perrin. In the section regarding the Powell family I posit a third daughter. Here I want to briefly summarize the conclusions from those sections, as they may prove useful in constructing John Perrin's origin.


Judging from the order of the names in John Perrin's will, Edward would be the oldest son. Edward's service in the 1757 militia requires that his birth year was before 1741. A story quoted later stated Edward was fifty years old in 1780, yielding a birth date of 1730.

John, Jr.

John's son John, Jr. also served in the 1757 militia. A story recorded later stated John, Jr. was eighty years old at the time of his death. There I reckon he died in 1815, so his birth date was 1735.


Joseph did not serve in the 1757 militia. He probably married around 1765. I believe this puts his birth date between 1741 and 1746, probably earlier than later.


The Cherry family stated that Mary Perrin married Thomas Cherry, Jr., with her first child Thomas Perrin Cherry born June 19, 1759 . That this Mary Perrin is John Perrin, Sr.'s daughter will be clear from the subsequent migration west of this family. I can assume Mary was born before 1741.

You may recall Thomas Cherry, Sr. on the 1734 petition quoted above. Thomas Cherry was listed as taxed in 1733 and 1734 in the Monocacy Hundred, Prince Georges County, Maryland . By 1736 he had moved to Virginia, living along the Potomac at the site of present day Cherry Run, Morgan County, West Virginia, as shown by both deed records and on some old maps . Thomas Sr.'s will, written in 1759, mentioned sons William, Aaron, Moses, John, Thomas, Jr. and Ralph, and daughters Honour and Rachel. Deed records then showed that following Thomas Cherry, Sr.'s death around 1760, Thomas Jr. was still in Virginia for a while. He then took a Virginia patent on land in present day Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1774 , and according to the deed language in Virginia he and his wife Mary were living there as of 1779 .

More will be said about Thomas and Mary (Perrin) Cherry in the section about her and her brother Edward in Washington County, Pennsylvania.


An interesting entry occurs in a biography of Hubert Paxton Wiggins of Indiana County, Pennsylvania, in 1904 :

Mr. Wiggins is descended, on his mother's side, from the Craigens of Scotland, one of whom, Robert Craigen, fought in the battle of Culloden, March 16, 1746, and the ancestral line is as follows: Robert Craigen, born in Scotland, emigrated to Maryland and finally located in Winchester county, Va.; ... Susanna Perrin, native of Maryland, married Robert Craigen;

The information from the biography cited above is consistent with the other available historical data on the Craigen family. Robert Craigen was in Virginia contiguous to Frederick County, Maryland after 1753. His first son, John Craigen, died in 1827, with his will mentioning a daughter named Susan Perrin . The name was actually spelled either Paron or Parran in this will , making it uncertain if there be a relationship here. However, I suspect that the change in spelling reflected its oral transmission in mountain Virginia, so I can excuse this discrepancy. On the basis of John Craigen's birth date Susannah Perrin may have been born as late as 1750.


John Perrin must have married by 1738 to account for three children born before 1742. The other two known children could have been born later. On the basis of the discussion in the Lazear section it is interesting to suppose that the later children, Joseph and Susannah, were named after putative grandparents Joseph Lazear and Susannah Webb. This would explain how Thomas and Joseph Lazear could state they were John Perrin's next of kin in his estate inventory.

On that basis I propose that John Perrin may have married twice; his first wife may have died as early as 1742, and his second wife was a Lazear.


The historical record provides a picture of John Perrin as a successful pioneer settler of central Maryland. Born between March 1709/10 and March 1710/11, he probably settled in Marsh Run after 1734 and by 1737. He later associated with many of the important people of the region, most of whom were also pioneers. I cannot say whether his social network reflected an early arrival to the region, later commercial ventures or public service. Aside from the land sales discussed in future sections I do not see evidence that John directly plied a trade outside of the farm. His estate at the time of his death was certainly larger than many in the region, but paled in comparison to say Joseph Chaplin, whose personal property was valued at £3000 at his death in 1768.

Whence John Perrin?

To explain where John Perrin came from it is necessary to conform to a few hard facts:

  1. His birth date was between March 1709/10 and March 1710/11 (old nomenclature).This comes from the land commission testimony above. There are no known John Perrins in America, and perhaps three in England, who had birth dates recorded in this time interval.
  2. He settled in frontier Maryland by the age of twenty six.
  3. Two of his sons were born before 1741, according to the militia roles discussed in the next section. Likewise his daughter Mary would have been born before 1742 to be 18 when she married.

In addition there are the soft data, based on family stories:

  1. His first son Edward was born around 1730
  2. His second son John was born around 1734

Unlikely possibilities

Let me make unlikely several possible origins of John Perrin, and then try to interpret an unusual clue.

Previous Indenture

Because of the timing constraints above it is difficult to suppose Perrin came to Maryland as an indentured servant. Typically such indentures were by unmarried immigrants for three to five years. There was a John Perrin who left from London for Maryland in December, 1732 under indenture . But for him to be this John Perrin I must suppose he married by 1737 and had three children by 1740. While physically possible such a scenario does not fit well with the stories passed down concerning sons Edward and John, Jr.

Transplant from another Colony

John Perrin may have come from another colony. However a review of the known Perrin families in New England and Virginia, along with the Perrine family of New Jersey, does not reveal a possible John Perrin of suitable age who might have migrated to Maryland.

An argument against a relationship between John Perrin and other Colonial families involves an examination of the contemporary spelling of his name. I have run across about one hundred instances of John's name in historical documents. These include court records, surveys and deeds, estate inventories, tax and militia rosters, wills and petitions. As many were contemporary transcriptions or later compilations by other researchers, I can draw only limited conclusions from them. The variations in John Perrin's surname are listed below:

Perrins 31
Perrin 22
Perins 22
Perryns 8
Perryn 6
Perren 3
Perin 2
Pearins 2
Pedons 1
Perns 1
Perron 1

Only 22 of these entries spelled John Perrin's name "Perrin".For a person from either the New England or Virginia Perrin family, whose spelling of the Perrin name never included the patronymic "s", this amount of variation would not have occurred.

The Huguenot possibility

In the historical biography of John Perrin in Springfield, Ohio it was stated :

The Perrin family is doubtless of French origin, although the immediate ancestors of John Perrin, the first of the name in Ohio, came from England. It is supposed that those who lived in France were driven out of that country at the time of the Catholic persecution: that they came to America and eventually returned to the old world, but did not again go to their native land, locating, instead, in England, whence at an early day representatives of the name sailed for the new world and the family was then established in Maryland, where they purchased land in 1740.

I believe the "doubtless" assertion of the first sentence arose from the writer of this biography, not from family tradition. The writer must have wrestled with the information he then presented. He stated that the family initially came to America, went back to the old world and then finally came to Maryland. No group fleeing religious persecution made such journeys.

Evidence against an immediate Huguenot ancestry for John Perrin also comes from his signature. 64 of the 99 citations for John Perrin's name included a final "s". The "-s", which signifies "-son", is a patronymic convention used in English and other Germanic languages, not in French.



The only other historical biography of note concerned Joshua Perrin, a great-great grandson of John Perrin living in Nebraska :

The history of Mr. Perrin is one of more than ordinary interest, he being the offspring of an excellent old family who have been represented in the Keystone State for three generations, and who trace their ancestry to Germany. Amos and Elizabeth (Bennett) Perrin, the parents of our subject, were natives respectively of Alleghany County, Md., and Bedford County, Pa. The paternal great-grand-father was Thomas Perrin, who, upon emigrating from the Fatherland, settled near Oldtown, Md., and subsequently served in the French and Indian Wars, being in the Federal service under Gen. Washington and witnessing Braddock's defeat. Later, his son Thomas, the grandfather of our subject, carried a musket in the Revolutionary War

This narrative has its own share of mistakes. Four or five generations of Perrins are probably compressed into three. But it is very clear on the notion that the first Perrin in this family line came from Germany. This statement, by its starkness, needs to be considered seriously.

More signature analysis

In the list of the citations of John Perrin's name there was a high number of spellings with a single "r" or with a final "s" . The "Perins" spelling, combining both of these variants, was used 22% of the time. In comparison, the instance of "Perins" in English records from 1700 to 1730 is around 3% . Is this spelling the result of error, or does it signify something?

It is useful to differentiate those citations where Perrin's signature was recorded by someone else versus those citations probably signed by John Perrin himself. When looking at documents referring to "Perrin", the name is part of a government list or pronouncement 75% of the time. It is as though "Perrin" was John's "official" name. In contrast, the "Perins" spelling is the only one found on petitions, most of his estate inventories and several other signed documents, including his will. I would call this Perrin's "personal" spelling of his name, the one which he considered correct.

A wonderful example of the differences among phonetic, official and personal spellings of Perrin's name comes from Roseburghs Delight. This tract was surveyed for John Perryns; which makes sense as the warrant for the survey was also under that name. Indeed all of the tracts under Perrin's first two warrants, as listed in the next section, were surveyed for "John Perryn" or "Perryns". The recorded deed in the Maryland record books names Perrin in the body of the narrative and shows a signature for "John Perrins". However, the original deed itself, which will be going up for auction soon, gives the name "Perryn" in the body of the narrative and is signed by "John Perins". (While this specific signature is not as clear as those writen when Perrin was younger, the reader is encouraged to compare it with two others from 1739 and 1751, respectively).

John Perins signature from 1763

John Perins signature from orignal Roseburghs Delight deed of sale

While Perrin used used the "Perins" spelling throughout his life and apparently even on his will, after his death I know of no example of its use. The "Perrins" spelling would persist intermittently, specifically with his sons and with one grandson Thomas.


I would like to place perhaps inordinate significance on one additional record involving John Perins. This was the mention of a "John Pedons" in the Prince George County tax levy book from 1737 .

The levy book recorded three sets of records concerning the crows head and squirrel bounty. For a given year those who contributed these vermin were counted in a list. A second list was then generated of those who owed the tax. This list was alphabetized on the basis of the last initial of a person's name. Finally there was a third list which indicated who had not paid the tax the previous year; it was to be given to the sheriff to collect fines. This list was not alphabetical; names were grouped largely according to their location of residence. I would think that this list as found in the levy book was a collation of individual lists that had been given to different deputy sheriffs in the county.

A porion of the final 1737 list, referring to those persons deficient from 1736, included this block of names:

Henry Enochson would be the same person as Henry Enoch; here the patronymic "-son" was used. John Pedons was listed next to John Upton; could this person actually be John Perins?

Resolving the connection between Pedons and Perins requires some knowledge of Dutch. In that language the consonant "r" appearing in the middle of a word may be pronounced two ways; either as an aveolar trill (almost like English) or as an aveolar tap. This second sound does occur in some forms of English, but not for the letter "r"; an example would be the sound in the middle of the word "better". The alveolar tap does not occur in German.

I believe the person who recorded this list based his spelling on what he heard. Certainly Daniel McLaughlin's name was spelled phonetically. The spelling of Pedons for Perins suggests to me that John Perrin spoke with a Dutch accent.


Did John Perrin come from Holland? This conclusion is quite compatible with the German ancestry claimed by Joshua Perrin. The confusion between Dutch and Deutsch persists to today among Americans. But the use of Perins as a surname in Dutch in the early eighteenth century was quite rare. For example, a list of all the spellings of Perrin in the church records of the Rotterdam archives from 1600 to 1750 includes only seven records :

Perins 1
Perijn 1
Perijns 2
Perrijn 3

Perin was clearly not a native surname in Holland. Even in Germany, where "Perrin" and "Perin" are recorded in the early eighteenth century, the families were found in areas of French influence, and the patronymic "s" did not occur.

A link with Thomas Perrin

While finding a person named John Perin in Holland would be an unlikely occurrence, there is a natural candidate for his father; Thomas Perrin. Thomas had travelled to Holland as early as 1709, according to the testimony given by Thomas Askew. While in prison he went to Holland for three months in 1714. In 1716 he escaped from prison to Holland, giving legal testimony from there in March, 1717. He was a defendant in a suit appealed to the Hague in 1720 . He was probably in Holland in 1729 during Oglethorpe's investigation of Fleet Prison and at the time of his English pardon in 1732.

I would propose that Thomas Perrin fathered a child in Holland, born between 1710 and 1712. He named the child John, a name not previously used for a son in his English family. The son used a more Dutch spelling for his surname, Perin, and the patronymic "s" was added. For not only was such suffix more commonly used in general in Holland, it would provide a reference in his name to his father, no matter whether his mother's surname was used as well.

As an older child and young adult John would have had ample exposure to his father. John Perrin's emigration to America may have been aided by father Thomas. I would like to think Thomas would have helped introduce this family into a community of people settling frontier Maryland, many of whom he may have known for over fifteen years. It seems possible that in that process John may have been introduced to the Cartledges, Charles Higginbotham.and Thomas Cresap.