More on the Passwater Family


The earliest records found to date were from the 1690s in Somerset County, MD for a Thomas Passwater, who died prior to 1703 when a widow Ursula Passwater is mentioned. It is thought that all the American Passwaters of the next 200 years descend from this single family.

1691, 1694 MD: Thomas Passwater references in Somerset County, MD 1694 MD: Thomas Passwater purchased 200 acres ("Castle Haven") and in 1695 used the land as collateral for borrowing money for farming (see source). In 1694 this was Somerset County; in 1867 this part of Somerset was renamed Wicomico County, and some of the old Somerset records are now located in Wicomico archives.

1703 MD: Ursula Passwater, widow, accused of committing fornication in Somerset County,MD court record

1726-1731 DE: Jonas Paswaters on the Assessment and Levy Lists of Kent County, DE (see source)

1733 DE: Jonas Passwater sold the MD land inherited from his father Thomas Passwater according to deed. Jonas is thought to have married, but had no children. The date of his move to Murderkill Hundred in Kent County, Delaware is uncertain, but by the tax records above, at least seven years prior to this sale. He supposedly died in 1749 without issue (according to a cousin Pat of Dick Passwater -- solgar@dmv.com). The Wicomico deed mentions "orphans", so clearly there were other Passwater children in addition to Jonas, and clearly other male children (assuming Jonas did die without issue). Note, since Jonas sold the property seven years or more after he moved to Delaware, this suggests that some of his younger siblings may have stayed on the property and farmed it.

1740 SC. William Passwater married Hannah Pezaza in Charleston, SC; 1741 birth of daughter Hannah and her 1741 christening; 1742 baby Hannah dies. See entire St. Philips book (pdf) - note it starts in 1720 and goes through the 1750s; there are no other Passwater records and no other Pezaza records, so the Passwaters must have moved circa 1743.

1749 "Calendar of Kent Co., DE Probate Records" by Leon De Valinger, pg. 136 Paswater, Jonas. Admin. of [the Jonas Paswater estate is given] to James Darling. Nov 8, 1749. Reg of Wills, Liber K, folio 43. Note: no heirs were named

1755 VA: William Passwater judged unfit for service in Virginia Militia (in letters of George Washington -- see below); perhaps from Goochland County

1759 MD: Thomas Passwater mentioned in court of Worcester County for non-payment of taxes (see archive source)

1764-65 DE: Kent Co., DE Levy Tax Lists:
1764 Thomas Passwater in Murderkill Hundred
1765 Thomas Passwater's name written then crossed out
1775 James Paswaters on the Delinquent taxpayers of Mispillion Hundred

1770s DE: Delaware Patriots included: David Passwater (Private) and Ezekiel Passwater (Private).

~1790 DE: The 1790 census has been reconstructed from Tax records - Living in Nanticoke Hundred, Sussex Co., DE: PASSWATERS, Isaac PASSWATERS, Jonas PASWATERS, Richard PASWATERS, Richard jr. PASWATERS, William

1792 DE: "Calendar of Sussex Co.,DE Probate Rec" by DeValinger - William Passwaters Sr. left a will in 1792 naming wife Sarah, ch: Jonas, Jesse, John, Clement, Jeremiah & Nancy and "other ch."not named.

1795 DE: "Calendar of Sussex Co., DE Probate Records" by Devalinger - pg. 262 PASSWATERS, Richard. Will (nunc.). Made Sept 15, 1795. Heirs: wife and children unnamed. Exec'rs, Isaac Passwates and William Passwaters. Wits., George Polk, Isaac Passwaters. Prob. Sept 18, 1795. Arch. Vol. A92, pg. 110.

early Census data
1790 -- Delaware not available. The only Passwater in America was Samuel Passwaters in Surry County, NC: 1-3-4-0-0 (1 male over age 16; 3 males under age 16, 4 females)
1800 -- 11 Passwaters found. None in NC (by tax list Zael moved to KY); all 11 in Delaware: Thomas, Jonas, John, Jonas, Isaac, James, Eli, Richard, Rosannah, William and Purnell.
1810 -- 14 Passwaters found in Delaware (IN census lost): Richard, Purnal, Jesse, Thomas, Isaac, U, Jas, Wm, Jonah, Richard, Isaac, U., Ron/Rose, Jas.
1820 -- 1 in IN, 4 in OH, and 8 in DE:
IN: Zael Paswaters.
OH: Purnel, Peter, Richard, William
DE: George, James, Jesse, Samuel, Isaac, Unice, Richard Ebenezer.
Note: Andrea Nowlin posted that her husband's GGG-GF was Peter Passwater. He was born on 15 Oct 1787 in Sussex, DE, married Rachel Coverdale (also born in Sussex on 31 Aug 1796), they had 11 children, they both died in Hamilton County, IN.
Note: "The Good Old Times in McLean County, IL (1874)" states that Purnel Passwaters was born in 1782 in Sussex County, DE; his father Richard Passwaters was an Englishman. He married Comfort Short and moved to Monongehela, VA in 1811, 1814 back to Delaware to visit, 1816 to Hamilton County, OH, 1829 to Illnois, and died in 1852 -- children: Levina Burdsell, Richard, Purnel, Enoch, Clement, and seven who predeceased him.


Conclusions and suppositions:

1. Samuel in NC is William of SC's son:
It is thought that the Samuel Passwater in Surry County, NC on the 1790 census, father of Mary Passwater and Zael Passwater (both born circa late 1770s/early 1780s), was the son of William Passwater of SC. There were three records found in the early 1740s in Charleston, SC:
--January 15 1739/40 marriage of William Passwater and Hannah Pezaza
--February 4 1740/41 a daughter Hanah was baptised
--June 6, 1742 a child named Hanah was buried.
The early 1740s SC church and the 1790 NC census are the only Passwater records found in the Carolinas (although there is a 1755 VA record for a William Passwater -- see George Washington letters below).

2. All of the early Passwaters are related; all descend from Thomas
It is thought that the Samuel Passwater ancestry traces back to Northern America rather than emigration direct to the Carolinas:
1. William Perry Hay (1871-1947) had talked to Mary Passwater Maiden's daughter (his grandmother) Sarah Maiden Hay, and his aunt Margaret Hay, who said they thought the Passwaters came from Rhode Island where they were related to the Queens of that state. It is assumed that Rhode Island was confused with the DelMarVa peninsula. However, it is clear that the family story did not include a direct emigration from Europe to the Carolinas.
2. Pam Geisler Smith mentioned that "someone mentioned that one of the early Sussex County Passwaters was a ship's captain." She also mentioned that "many of these Delaware people were shipbuilders and waterment who traveled along the coast lines to NC and SC." It is unknown if this is true, and it is unknown if this William Passwater of SC is this ship's captain.
Note: the ancestry of the Pezaza name is unknown; there is no reference online to anyone by this name other than the Hannah who married William Passwater. It is not even known what country of origin it might be. Pezoza may be Spanish.
3. There appear to be no other Passwaters in America in the 1700s and early 1800s other than the ones in Delaware and the Carolinas and Virginia (see census data below). This strongly suggests that all the Passwaters belong to one family.
4. The NC Passwaters and the DE Passwaters both end up in Indiana in close proximity, suggesting a familial relationship and perhaps continued communication.


George Washington archives - 1755:

William Passwater mentioned twice in the Papers of George Washington:

Orders - Winchester: December 22d 1755.
Parole: Boston— Countersign:
A Return is to be made every morning to Colonel Washington of the number of men in this town—and all contingences. During his stay here, no provision is to be delivered out, but by a written order from him or the aid de camp. The Commissary is to send up the Cask of Tools by the first waggon that goes to the Fort. The following men being judged unfit for Duty, on Review; are ordered to be discharged: vizt
Francis Harlowin. Enlisted by Ensign Fleming
William Cross— ditto do
William Passwater ditto do
Patrick Connelly Lieutenant Brokenbrough.
Henry Banks Captain McKenzie.
John Hanks, an old Soldier.
The Commissary is to allow each of them eight days provision to carry them home. All the Recruits now in town, who have not received Clothes and arms; are to have them delivered to them to-day. The Officers and Commissary to be very exact; and see that none of them receive them twice. The Commissary to see that the Store-Houses are immediately repaired and secured: he is also to give in a return of the Arms which have been delivered to George Wright to repair.1
LB, DLC:GW.
1 A man named George Wright was living in Frederick County in 1758.
--- Cite as: The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition, ed. Theodore J. Crackel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2007. Document: Col02d227

The second reference was three weeks later, in regard to the same item:

To Peter Hog
[Winchester, 10 January 1756]
To Captain Peter Hogg.
Sir,
Since writing you by Major Lewis, I have received yours; enclosing Returns of the eighth and fifteenth of December.1 In your letter, you speak of Johnstons claim to a discharge, as mentioned in a former letter— that letter I never received2 —and know of no pretence he can have, unless disobedience of Orders and other villanous practises, are sufficient grounds to claim a discharge. As he deserted before the present act of Assembly took place, I do not imagine that any very rigorous measures can be justified; therefore, in this case I would recommend moderation.3 For want of being acquainted with the particulars of Sergeant McCully’s charge, it appears to me to be a very exorbitant one: therefore I can not give orders for payment, further than the Stoppages you mention. Sergeant Wilper received twenty shillings from me to defray his Expences; if you find that insufficient, make a further allowance of what is reasonable.
I can not conceive what charge Mr Fleming can have; since he is allowed eight-pence per day, and no more, for the maintenance of his Recruits, until they are received: which was not before they arrived at your Garrison. Three of his men were discharged here; vizt Francis Harlowin, William Cross, and William Passwater: being judged unfit for Service.4 Captain Bell has orders to settle Ensign Flemings Recruiting Accompt; allowing two pistoles for each man received; and eight-pence per day for their subsistance; from the time of attestation, to the day of delivery, and no more—He will be allowed his arrears of pay for the months of September and October: and then the balance, if any, must be paid to Captain Bell; who is to account with me.
You must be very circumspect in employing Mr Fleming as a Surgeon; and to see that he has no more opportunities than what are absolutely necessary, to enhance a Bill; as these accompts will meet with strict scrutiny from the Committee. It is customary for all Soldiers while they are sick in the Hospital, to have stoppages from their pay, for expence of Nurses, &c.
I find it next to an impossibility to strengthen your Garrison 273 with a Subaltern and twenty men, as I was in hopes of doing sometime ago: so slowly do we proceed in the Recruiting Service: but if the Service you are ordered upon, does not continue long; and you can find time to recruit twenty or twenty-five men; I will see that another Subaltern shall be added to your Company. Lieutenant McNeil has an appointment in the Light Horse—In his room, you will receive Lieutenant Frazier; who must arrive there, before the other quits.5
You are to return me a pay-roll for September; as you received that months pay from me: but for the subsequent months, you are to account with the pay-master; transmitting regular Rolls and Receipts, signed by yourself and Officers; as mentioned in my last. You are to account with Mr Walker (Commissary) for the twenty pounds received of me; and the two hundred pounds by Lieutenant McNeil; as he is charged with those sums.6
I expect the Governor, as he is providing many necessaries for Major Lewis’s Expedition, will furnish you with Kettles. If he should not, you must endeavour to supply yourself among the Settlers; for the expence of sending them from this, is of greater value than the Kettles themselves. And indeed I can not see why your men, while they are in Garrison, may not use one Kettle as well now, as they did before; were there a certain place appointed for Cooking. I am &c.
G:W.
Winchester, January 10th 1756.
LB, DLC:GW.
1 The company return of 15 Dec. has not been found. That of 8 Dec. is in DLC:GW. See Hog to GW, 17 Dec. 1755, to which GW’s letter is a reply.
2 Hog later explained to GW on 27 Jan. what claims John Johnson had to a discharge from the regiment. For earlier references to the “Old Deserter” Johnson, see Hog to GW, 29 Nov. 1755, n.5, and 17 Dec. 1755.
3 The act passed in November, often referred to as the mutiny act (6 Hening 559–64), provided for the death sentence in cases of desertion.
4 See GW’s Orders, 22 Dec. 1755, by which these three men and three others were discharged.
5 Despite GW’s urgings (27 Jan. 1756), George Fraser refused to join Hog and resigned rather than go to Fort Dinwiddie.
6 John McNeil traveled from Fort Dinwiddie to Winchester in early December to get the £200 for supplies (Thomas Walker to GW, 4 Dec. 1755).
--- Cite as: The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition, ed. Theodore J. Crackel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2007. Document: Col02d286

The above two papers were transcribed from the online source of George Washington's papers. Although the first one references both Winchester and Boston, Captain Peter Hogg, Francis Harlowin and Lieutenant Brokenbrough were all from Virginia. Therefore, I think "Parole Boston" was meant linguistically to indicate that the letter was written in Boston -- i.e., "Speaking in Boston". There were also two small towns called "Boston" in Virginia -- in Culpeper and Halifax counties -- it is unclear that George Washington was in one of these small towns rather than Boston, Massachusetts.

This means that there was a William Passwater in VIRGINIA in 1755, and he was discharged for being unfit; this could mean he had a physical disability, or he might have been too young or too old. William was "enlisted by Ensign Fleming;" I believe this to be John Fleming who became a Captain by the time of the Revolution, and he was from Goochland, a county between Richmond and Charlottesville. This would indicate that William Passwater was also likely to be from Goochland, or possibly a bordering county in Virginia. The first letter does not mention Passwater being an "old soldier" like it does for Hanks; the "old soldier" John Hanks may have been one of the two John Hanks born 1712-1714 near Richmond, which would have made him 41-43 at the time of these letters.
         -- If this is the same William Passwater as married Hannah Pezaza in SC in 1740, he should be in at least his late 30s by now; it is surprising he was not also specified as being older. Assuming SC William was 20-35 when married, he would be 35-50 now.
         -- If this William was a son of Thomas Passwater of Old Somerset, he would have been born by 1803 and be 52 by now, which seems unlikely. Thus, he is more likely to be a grandson of Thomas, not a son.
         -- But to be a son of William of SC, he would have to be 13 or younger, which seems very unlikely. It was normal for boys of 16 to be in the militia; it is possible that this William was unfit because he was too young. But since the marriage took place in 1740, and one child was born in 1741, this child would have been born at the earliest in 1742 and be only 13, which is thought unlikely.
         -- Therefore, it seems most likely that IF this William is related to SC William, they are one and the same, and William was married at about age 20 and volunteered here at about age 35. That would mean he was born about 1720, and would be a grandson of Thomas Passwater of Old Somerset (who had died by 1703), father unknown.
It is possible that more VA records will be located that throw light on who this William Passwater is, and his age.

Return to Hay Tree