Charles Martin Ward, Jr.’s  article appeared in “The American Genealogist,” Vol. 75, No. 1, January 2000, pp. 27–29.  A copy of this issue may be purchased from:

The American Genealogist

P.O. Box 398 Demorest, GA  30535-0398


THIS ARTICLE APPLIES TO KATHERINE (DALE) CARTER AND MARY (DALE) (HARRISON) JONES.  There is no mention of my ancestor Elizabeth (Dale) Rogers.  The evidence discussed in the article has long been common knowledge to descendants of Katherine (Dale) Carter.

Questions regarding Ward’s article should be directed to him.



Rather than review Ward’s article in its entirety, readers can see for themselves the primary documents that form the basis of his simple argument that Katherine (Dale) Carter, daughter of Edward Dale of Lancater Co., VA, wasn’t the daughter of his wife Diana (Skipwith) Dale.

The first record is an image of the actual page from the Thomas Carter prayer book, in a note beneath Carter’s “epitaph” of Edward Dale, which reads:

“Catharine Carter Departed this life the 10th Day of May 1703 in the 51st Year of her Life”

The phrase “in the 51st Year of her life” means that she was over 50 years old on 10 May 1703, and thus was born ca. 1652/3.

The next record is from:

Fleet, Beverley. (1988). Virginia Colonial Abstracts The Original 34 Volumes Reprinted in 3 Volume 1 Lancaster County Court Orders, 1652–1655. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., p. 180.

The record shows Diana Skipwith signed as a witness, using her maiden name, a note of indebtedness dated 10 Oct 1655 from Tho. Carter to Jno Carter. Therefore, Diana Skipwith wasn’t married to Edward Dale on that date, and wasn’t the mother of Katherine (Dale) Carter, who was born ca. 1652/3.

Fleet, Beverley.  (1988).  Virginia Colonial Abstracts The Original 34 Volumes Reprinted in 3 Volume 1 Lancaster County Record Book No. 2 1654–1666.  Baltimore:  Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., p. 128.

The material in quotes is part of the original deed.  Ebby Bonnison had purchased land from “Walter Bruce” and “Ever Peterson.”  That deed dated 17 Nov 1655 was witnessed by Thomas Carter and Diana Skipwith, proving Diana Skipwith was still not married to Edward Dale as of that date.  On 25 Jan 1658/9 Ebby Bonnison granted Power of Attorney to Hugh Brent to acknowledge the sale of 350 acres to Ever Peterson, one of the parties to the original deed.  The Power of Attorney was evidently Recognized on 26 Jan 1658/9 according to the note in the last two lines of the abstract.  Ebby Bonnison was unable to act on his own behalf and probably planned to be out of the county. Power of Attorney didn’t mean Hugh Brent was an attorney—it meant that Bonnison had given Brent legal authority to act for Bonnison in this transaction. Witnesses to the Power of Attorney were Hen[ry] Rye and Domingno Cras. The Power of Attorney was recognized by the clerk on 26 Jan 1658 and recorded 1 Mar 1658.  Thomas Carter and Diana Skipwith had no role in the Power of Attorney, which is a separate instrument—Rye and Cras were the witnesses for that. It was common for deeds to go unrecorded until the owner wanted to sell the property. What’s happened here is that the original deed was unrecorded. In Jan 1658/9 Bonnison wanted to sell the land, so he gave Power of Attorney to Hugh Brent to sell it, and attached the 17 Nov 1655 deed which proved Bonnison’s ownership. The date of the Power of Attorney (25th Jan 1658/9) is in the split system used during the transition from the Julian to Gregorian calendar, and the two dates at the bottom (26 Jan 1658 and 1 March 1658) are given in the Julian calendar only, so “26th Jan. 1658/9” and “26 Jan 1658” are in fact the same date.  Land changed hands frequently in Colonial VA, and sometimes colonists sold land and later reacquired it.

I want to make this absolutely clear: the above record is not about a lawsuit.  Ebby Bonnison was not hiring Hugh Brent to represent him in a lawsuit.  The meaning of the term “Power of Attorney” is discussed below.  There was nothing illegal or fraudulent about this transaction.  The record specifically states Brent’s duty was to “ack[nowledge] sale of 350 acres to Ever Peterson.”

Abbiah (Ebby) Bonison’s will dated 21 Mar 1663 in Lancaster Co., VA named his “friend” Hugh Brent as an executor.

Hugh Brent’s daughter Elizabeth married Abbiah Bonnison’s son Thomas.  Abbiah Bonnison was the subject of a long-running Lancaster Co. scandal: he deserted his wife Honoria and was absent from the county long enough that he was “supposed to bee deade.”  Honoria remarried, only to have her wayward husband turn up again.  That must have set tongues wagging.

From this point onward, Diana (Skipwith) Dale never again used her maiden name.

Finally there’s this, another Power of Attorney, also from Record Book No. 2, p. 162, of Benjamin Whiscombe to Tho Patteson, which proves that by 9 Jun 1660, Diana Skipwith had married Edward Dale.  Thus the marriage took place between 17 Nov 1655 and 9 Jun 1660.

The reader will note that two of the above documents are Power of Attorney.  What did that mean in 17th Century VA?  This document dated 21 Mar 1665 in Lancaster Co., VA in which Abya Bonnison grants “my friend” Hugh Brent Power of Attorney explains it perfectly:  “I do hereby give my sd Attorney as much power in the p:misses as if myselfe were p:sonally p:sent & did it my selfe….”  Brent’s duties were “to arrest implead imprizon any p:sons indebted to me the sd Abya: (in case of non paymt.) and to give acquittances & discharges at his pleasure & also to appoint any Attorneys under him if he my sd Attorney shal think fit….”

Ward offers other supporting evidence, but the crux of his argument rests on the four documents above.  I had a brief online exchange with Charles Martin Ward, Jr. in which I criticized his use of a transcription of the Thomas Carter Prayer Book when the original is available.  I have a copy of the original, and copies of some transcriptions—and there are errors in the transcriptions. Nonetheless, Ward disproved the royal ancestry of Katherine (Dale) Carter.  To date, no one has advanced a credible argument that Katherine (Dale) Carter was the daughter of Diana (Skipwith) Dale.  If proof exists, it would be of great interest to genealogists.  I encourage those interested in this family to read Ward’s entire article.

Some descendants of Katherine (Dale) Carter argue that the “Diana Skipwith” who witnessed the deeds discussed in Ward’s article wasn’t the same Diana Skipwith who married Edward Dale, therefore the deeds don’t disprove Katherine (Dale) Carter as being a daughter of  Diana (Skipwith) Dale.  This argument has no validity.


MichaelAnne Guido, a descendant of Katherine (Dale) Carter, alleged that there are numerous lawsuits on record in Lancaster Co., Virginia between Maj. Edward Dale and his son-in-law William Rogers.  Below is a scan of her comments on Internet message board “soc.genealogy.medieval”, dated 11 May 2006:

That’s not true.  The lawsuit Guido cited was the only lawsuit on record between Edward Dale and William Rogers at any time.  Below is a transcription of that lawsuit made by Ruth and Sam Sparacio, which is identical to Guido’s quote, except for the capitalized surnames:

(Sparacio, Ruth; Sparacio, Sam.  (1995).  Order Book Lancaster County, Virginia 1691–1695.  Arlington, Virginia:  The Antient Press, p. 57.)

The 600 pounds of tobacco awarded Edward Dale is a relatively trivial amount. And that’s not the only erroneous statement in Guido’s post.  Edward Dale didn’t disinherit any of the Harrison children. Sometimes administrators of intestate estates engaged in sharp practice and the heirs sued to pry their property from them. In April 1695 William Rogers obtained a new patent for the tract which had been deeded to Elizabeth (Dale) Rogers on 12 Mar 1677/8; but the new patent was obtained prior to the deaths of Edward and Diana (Skipwith) Dale in 1696.  That’s important (see below). This entire section of Guido’s post is inaccurate.   She can’t produce evidence of these lawsuits because they don’t exist.  If the Dale/Rogers lawsuit was taken from Sparacio, Sparacio books are indexed, and she would have known it was the only lawsuit between Dale and Rogers.  If the lawsuit was taken from micro-film or directly from the Lancaster County, VA record book, she would have known it was the only lawsuit.

Guido, an accountant in upstate New York, has no professional certification in genealogy.  She has a minor reputation as an author of genealogical articles, having authored or co-authored 8 articles in “Foundations,” the journal of the UK based Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, and according to the website of a church in Pittsford, New York, contributed to a church history.  She has sufficient experience to understand good research standards.

The above erroneous statements weren’t about her family, the descendants of Katherine (Dale) Carter.  They were about my family, the descendants of Elizabeth (Dale) Rogers. All genealogists working with colonial Virginia records know lawsuits are recorded in the county court order books, the same “source” Guido cited.  Some early lawsuits were appealed to the Governor.  There’s no secret cache of Edward Dale/William Rogers lawsuits anywhere—The Antient Press provided me with an overall index to their publications for my surnames of interest (a very useful thing to have), and the lawsuit Guido cited is the only lawsuit between Edward Dale and William Rogers.

Guido’s remarks on “soc.genealogy.medieval” were visible to anyone reading the board. Nathaniel Lane Taylor (now a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists), who claimed not to know Guido, said her research methods were merely “not optimal.”  I then received the following e-mail from Douglas Richardson, author of Plantagenet Ancestry and Magna Carta Ancestry, both published by Genealogical Publishing Company of Baltimore.  At the time I was using the stuffed shirt nom de plume Peter W. Pesterhaus III.

Evidently Guido was upset about Charles Martin Ward’s article and wanted to persuade readers that the words: “I give unto my daughter Elizabeth now wife of William Rogers twelve pence in full of all claimes whatsoever” were inserted into Edward Dale’s will made on 24 Aug 1694 because Dale was angry with William Rogers about the lawsuits. However, there’s a similar clause in lines 9–12 of the will of Elizabeth (Elliott) Dale (proved London 8 Feb 1632/3), Elizabeth Rogers’ great–grandmother, which concerns the estate of her deceased son Richard Dale: “I give and bequeath unto James Rudarde and Mary his wife the full some of five hundred pounds of currant money of England in full payment and satisfaccon of all claymes, somes of money part and portion which they or either of them shall or may clayme to part or out of the estate of Richard Dale my late deceased sonne either by the customs of London or otherwise.” (“customs of London or otherwise” means the Common Law.) The words “claymes” and “by the customs of London or otherwise” in Elizabeth (Elliott) Dale’s will indicate what these terms mean.  It’s a waiver of  rights under Common Law. And it’s proof that Elizabeth (Dale) Rogers was the daughter of Diana (Skipwith) Dale.  If Elizabeth (Dale) Rogers’ “twelve pence” clause had any other purpose, it would have voided the Rogers’ title to the land Edward Dale conveyed to them on 12 Mar 1677/8, which they obtained prior to the deaths of Edward and Diana (Skipwith) Dale.  These clauses were used to waive rights to an intestate estate, the only legal claim then permissable. According to the court records of Lancaster County, no one applied for administration for an estate of Diana (Skipwith) Dale.  Had they done so, the proceeds of her estate would have been the property of the executors of Edward Dale.

Why did Guido want to convince readers of her interpretation of the meaning of Elizabeth Rogers’ “twelve pence” clause? The Thomas Carter prayer book states:  “With this Book pr Rv Mr John Sheppard on Wednsday ye 4h Day of May 1670–wsas Mard Mr Thomas Carter of Barford in ye County of Lancaster in Virga & Katherine Dale ye eldest Daughr of Mr Edw: Dale ye same County.” Edward Dale had three daughters: Katherine, Mary, and Elizabeth.  All three daughters were living when Thomas Carter married Katherine Dale. Therefore, Mary Dale was younger than Katherine.  Mary Dale died ca. 1683, but she left a son named Humphrey Jones Jr. by her second husband, Humphrey Jones.  Humphrey Jones Jr. was living and had a guardian when Edward Dale made his will.  Edward Dale didn’t extract a “twelve pence” clause from the guardian of Humphrey Jones Jr.; therefore, Mary Dale wasn’t a daughter of Diana (Skipwith) Dale. And that ends the claim that Katherine (Dale) Carter was a daughter of Diana (Skipwith) Dale.

Several years later, at a cost of more than $200.00, I decided to look at the lawsuits myself.  I own a complete run of Lancaster Co. court orders (published by The Antient Press), spanning the years 1678 to 1706, well beyond the 1693–1695 range specified by Guido. That’s how I discovered the truth.  Occasionally, lawsuits appear in Hening’s Statutes, but there are no lawsuits involving Edward Dale and William Rogers in those records, either. For those who think Guido might actually produce evidence of “a number of lawsuits,” this is her response to Charles Martin Ward in a thread on “soc.genealogy.medieval” dated 10 Feb 2000 regarding the deeds that disproved Katherine (Dale) Carter’s royal ancestry:

None of the promised material ever appeared on “soc.genealogy.medieval.”

Inventing genealogical evidence, whether deliberate or by mistake,  isn’t illegal, unless, for instance, it’s part of a probate proceeding.  If a genealogist isn’t a member of an umbrella organization like BCG, they face no sanctions at all. It’s difficult to know how to approach a situation like this:  was MichaelAnne Guido prevaricating or merely sloppy? She didn’t post a defense or any remarks regarding the situation on “soc.genealogy.medieval.”  All I can do is write a rebuttal.  Many genealogists researching colonial VA ancestors have little or no grounding in colonial VA law.  Had I not discovered the truth, it would have gone without correction indefinitely.

I regret this column must remain online.


For full citations see the publications of The Antient Press by Sparacio, et. al., that pertain to Lancaster Co. in the “Tobacco Road” bibliography .  The Antient Press publishes verbatim transcriptions of colonial Virginia court records.  ALL lawsuits for Lancaster Co. during this period are recorded in those books. The Antient Press publications are scholarly transcriptions of the highest quality.  Having worked with 17th century documents, and knowing first hand the difficulty of deciphering the often alien script, the authors of these very useful books cannot have been driven by prospect of material gain, but rather by love of the subject matter.

The Antient Press

P.O. Box 822 Arlington, VA  22216


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