The Elisha Spence Series: New Discoveries and Reflections

Old Buggy in South Colorado

Old buggy in Fort Garland, Colorado, taken April 25, 2015.

It was time to take stock of things!

Labor Day 2015 found me staring at my computer screen. I was getting ready to write the article about Elisha and Susanna Spence’s next child–a daughter–but then I noticed something and paused to ponder it for a while.

So, why did the next daughter–Rhoda Louisa Spence–and the last daughter–Susan Rhoda Spence–share the name of Rhoda?

I previously remarked  that there were a number of Rhodas dispersed throughout the family. But the fact that two of them were lodged so close together in Elisha Spence’s first family caused me to pause and wonder. I had missed something. It was time to retrace my steps! And so I spent Labor Day 2015 communing with my ancestors. The result was definitely rewarding beginning with my rediscovery of an old handwritten research notebook.

Susanna’s Real Name

Susanna’s father John Spencer (1750-1801) had two wives. I realized that early in my research. But six months ago, I didn’t know which wife was Susanna’s mother. John’s first wife was Mary Catherine (“Milly” Catherine) Roden (1754-1784). His second wife was Caroline Elizabeth Toney (1767-1830). Before discovering this fact, I assumed his first wife’s name was Sarah based upon my  handwritten note I had made in my notebook during an excursion to the Denver Public Library. At the time, I thought Susanna may have been his first wife’s daughter. And my handwriting often became sloppy while taking those notes. Much later, I misinterpreted my handwritten R as an S and assumed that Susanna’s middle name was Sarah. After my ten-year hiatus from genealogy, those notes became more difficult to read. Susanna eventually became Susanna Sarah. And she remained Susanna Sarah for a long time. Then came an amazing discovery in the pages of an old notebook of South Carolina research: Susanna was the daughter of John Spencer’s second wife Caroline Elizabeth Toney.

I must admit I wasn’t too happy with my new discovery, especially after all the work I undertook uncovering Mary Catherine-“Milly” Catherine Roden.  I had already researched the Roden/Wroughten families several years ago. I knew nothing at all about the Toney family. After updating my family tree and after receiving a number of DNA confirmations on the Toney line, my attitude changed. But on Labor Day 2015, I was faced with another dilemma and realized I needed to investigate it before writing about Elisha and Susanna’s remaining daughters.

So who was Rhoda, and why was she so important to Elisha and Susanna? Why were their last two daughters named Rhoda?

I began my search the day before Labor Day and finally took my frazzled brain to bed. I should never go to bed like that! The ancestors chatter at me all night long. I got up at midnight and returned to my tree and stared at my connections.

Perhaps Susanna’s middle name wasn’t Sarah, I decided. Perhaps it was–Rhoda? Susanna Rhoda Spencer?

Then I went to bed and finally went to sleep. I would search through my old notebooks the following day. Rhoda was an excellent possibility! After all, I had seen a number of Rhodas in the Spence-related families: Rhoda McBride springing to mind immediately. But I also recalled seeing the name frequently on South Carolina records.

There has to be some connection!

There was!

Labor Day produced the hidden notebook containing the handwritten note I made long ago. Susanna S Spencer was actually Susanna R Spencer. But the R could have been Rachel? Roberta? Rebecca?–any number of R names. And then I saw it.


Susanna Roden Spencer! Susanna Rhoda Spencer!

The Roden name was given at birth. It was transformed into Rhoda in later years and eventually, Rhoda was used for the two girls!

Okay, that explained the middle name! It would have been easier to accept had Mary “Milly” Catherine Roden been Susanna’s mother! But Susanna was the daughter of Caroline Elizabeth Toney and not Mary Catherine Roden.

Why would they use the first wife’s surname?

What follows is the rest of the story and it begins with something I have long suspected.

The Roden-Toney-Massey Lines

Mary “Milly” Catherine Roden and Caroline Elizabeth Tony were cousins through the Massey, Massie, Macie, Mace lines, although I have not found the exact connection. William Wroughton (1663-1746) was Milly’s great-grandfather. William resided in Dorchester County, Maryland and had three marriages. His first wife was Hannah Meredith (1663-1689). His second wife was Susannah “Anna” Mace/Massey (1660-1702). And his third wife was Rachel Wingate (1668-1746). My current family tree layout for William’s family follows:

By Hannah Meredith:

Thomas Wroughton (1684-1765)–Thomas was the only son to inherit William’s property. He remained in Dorchester County.

John Roden (1685-1720)–Milly Catherine’s grandfather. His name is spelled Roden on various records. John moved to Calvert County, Maryland and died there in 1720. His wife was Elizabeth Jane Winman (1687-1721). Their son, Thomas Winman Roden, Sr. (1715-1807) was Milly Catherine’s father, and her mother was Mary Potts (1720-1785). Thomas and his brother William (1710-1770) settled early in Chester County, South Carolina. John Roden passed away years before his father’s death.

William Wroughton III (1686-1738)–William also predeceased his father.

By Susannah “Anna” Mace/Massey:

Dorcas Wroughton (b. 1690). I have no additional information about her. She may have died young.

Henry Wroughton (twin) (1695-1747). Henry was betrothed to Mary Meredith (1695-1712)–my sixth great grandmother– only she eloped with James Robert Ingram (1692-1757)– my fifth and sixth great grandfather on two separate lines. Henry appears to have died the year after his father. I do not have any additional information about him.

Josias Wroughton (twin) (1695-1761). Josias’ wife’s name was Rachel and they had two sons: David Roten (1724-1816) and Josiah Joseph Rhoten (1738-1774).  He remained in Dorchester County, Maryland, although it appears he may have resided in Pennsylvania for a while. According to Settlers of Maryland, Josias bought 85 acres of land in Dorchester County, Maryland 15 Nov 1728 (1)

Ambrose Wroughton (1700-1746). I have no further information about him.

By Rachel Wingate:

Rachel Wroughton, born after 1700. Rachel married a Pritchett, but his first name is unknown. Rachel is mentioned in her father’s will along with her mother, Rachel, and William’s oldest son Thomas (2) 

(Note: An interesting fact about the Dorchester Wroughtons is that they were Quakers. Milly Catherine’s family became Baptist after they settled in South Carolina.)

William’s second wife is of interest in this narrative. Susannah “Anne” Mace/Massey (1660-1702) was the daughter of Nicholas Massey, Sr. (1629-1693) and Anne Mace (1631-1724). I traced the Massey line back to Nicholas Massey (1443-1491). And this is where the Toney line comes into play. Caroline Elizabeth Toney’s second great grandmother on her mother’s line was Cecilia Massie (1644-1790). Cecilia was the daughter of Peter Davie Massie (1640-1719) and Penelope Ashley Cooper (1639-1711). I traced this Massie line back to John O. Massey/Massie (1429-1509). What is clear is the fact that the Massey family had a powerful influence in England at one time, as noted in an article titled “Massey Lineage”:

Origin of the name Massey came from Ferte de Macei in France near Mont St. Michel. The name has several spellings: De Mace’, de Macei, de Mascy or de Massy. Gradually the name became de Massey and the plain Massey by 1250 or so.

A Norman from Ferte de Mace’, France married Margaret de Sacie, daughter of Lord Sacie. This was our Hamon de Macei the First. He died in 1101.

Going back, the ancestor of this Hamon was Osmund de Cenevilles whose son was given lordships southeast of Paris. This Hamon de Corbeil (of Ferte de Mace) helped to complete a cathedral in Corbeil in 950. He died in 957 and is buried in this cathedral. His great-grandson, Hamon Denatus (“Rattlejaw”) died in 1047 fighting against Duke William who later became William the Conqueror.

There are conflicting reports on the Abbey rolls that Hamon de Mace or de Macei the first fought in the battle of Hastings in 1066, commanding a force of sixty archers. other rolls list other de Macei names. Some historians think Hamon deMacei’s father was the one mentioned. A Mathieu de Mace was in the battle of Hastings and commanded eighty knights. Mathieu and Hamon were closely associated in 1192 and were no doubt relatives.

After the battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror gave an earldom in the Chester area of conquered England to his nephew Hugh Lupus, “The Wolf”. Lupus in turn had the power to create baronies. he created eight and one became a baron, Hamon de Macei the First and was called Denham-Massey after the village of Denham. A Saxon named Elured formerly held the lands which were considerable in area.

Later, King Rufus in 1087, who was the son of William the Conqueror, gave Hamon I a good deal more land because he was a “proficient archer”.

Hamon I was listed in the domesday book of 1089. He built a castle Denham-Massey which was partially destroyed by King Richard the III. Now only the mound site remains.

Hamon II Married Eleanor de Beaumont and died in 1140. Hamon III married Agatha de Theray. He founded Abbey Berkett in Chesire, England. He and his son Robert took the side of King John when the nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. Later the King was beheaded.

Hamon III rebelled against King Henry II and lost some of his lands. Years later lands were returned to the Masseys.

Hamon IV (born approximately 1181) gave a church of Bowdon to the Priory of Berkenhead. As a marriage present he gave the entire town of Stretford, England to his daughter in 1250.

Hamon V, known as “Ould sir Hamon”, was born in 1210, died in 1273. He married Ciceley Gernet who gave land for a leper colony.

Hamon VI was born in 1256, died in 1342. His daughter Alice married William Standley who became Chancellor of England in 1353 during the reign of Edward III. For three generations the Massey-Standley families were prominent at court and even hyphenated the names during this time. A female Massey, lady in waiting to the Queen, had charge of the royal children under Henry VII and a Massey was royal chambermaid to Henry VII. Hamon VI led an army of 4,000 foot soldiers against William Wallace a Scot, who was leading a Scottish rebellion. His third wife, Joan Clinton, was very extravagant forcing him to sell land. Leaving no heirs, the land passed out of the Massey Family. The reign of the barons lasted 260 years.

The family continued however, from William, the younger brother of Hamon V to a Richard in 1322 to a Hamon de Pontington (Estate Name) He was knighted by the crown in 1347. The next important Massey was Sr John de Pontington, knighted in 1380. He was commissioned by Richard II to quell the Irish uprising. His son, Hammond, was knighted in 1389. His son, Sir Hugh married Ann Bold in 1389. She was heir to Coddington Estates.

In the early 1300’s a de Tatton branch of the Massey family was founded. Our branch was the de Pontington Coddington. A son, William Coddington Massey was knighted in 1435 and married Alice Wooton. His grandson, Nicholas Massey moved to Ely England. It is now Cambridge.

Henry VIII founded the Anglican Church and took large estates away from the Catholics. The Masseys, being connected to the court, chose to follow Henry VIII and so came into lands in Ely (Cambridge) given by Henry VIII. Nicholas Masey and his brother went to Ely in 1536.

A great-great grandson, John Massey, married Sarah Birde in 1614.

Their son, John Massey, went to Fort Henry, Virginia in 1636. Fort Henry is now Petersburg, Virginia. He was sponsored by Walter Ashton. A first cousin of this John of 1636, Nicholas, came from Ely in 1658 to Dorchester , Maryland. We can be traced directly to this Nicholas.

Through history from William the Conqueror, 1066, to Queen Elizabeth I 1604, members of the Massey family were accorded honors of knighthood, lands and position. When the Stuarts replaced the Tudors on the English throne the Massey family lost influence.(3)

John Massey and Sarah Birde were the parents of Nicholas Massey (1629-1693) (husband of Anne Mace) and grandparents Susanna “Anna” Mace/Massey (1660-1702)–William Wroughton’s second wife!

As previously stated, I do not know how Susanna “Anna” Mace/Massey and Caroline Elizabeth Toney’s Massies  connect, but I am certain they are related. The Wroughton/Roden-Massey/Massie/Macey/Mace-Spencer-Toney families were all on the same social level and traveled in the same circles. Milly Catherine and Caroline Elizabeth were close friends and spent a lot of time together.

And then I made a huge discovery about Caroline Elizabeth’s family.

Caroline Elizabeth Toney and her husband John Spencer were distant cousins. That was my Labor Day Surprise. I suspected they were cousins, but I found the connection yesterday. As noted earlier, Caroline spent a great deal of time with the Spencer family. She lived in Virginia while the Spencers resided in South Carolina. But she traveled back and forth. When Milly Catherine died, John relocated his family to Virginia where he married Caroline Elizabeth. They stayed in Virginia for a while and then returned to South Carolina.

Caroline’s parents were Sherwood Toney (1738-1833) and Lorena England (1743-1810). Lorena England’s parents were William Anderson England (1710-1768) and Elizabeth Lee (1702-1805). And yes, this is the Lee family of the Northern Neck of Virginia. Elizabeth’s parents were my eighth great grandparents: Major John Lee (1678-1731) and Ann Taylor (1684-1731). I came out of this discovery with two well-known distant cousins: President Zachary Taylor is my third cousin seven times removed, and General Robert E. Lee is my fourth cousin seven times removed!

[Two humorous notes on such an occasion:

I would hate to recall the many hours I spent looking for General Lee in my father’s Lee line years ago based one of those old family legends. I could never prove that story and there is a good reason. The General’s ancestors came from England. Dad’s Lees came from Ireland. “Maybe they were his poor Irish cousins!” I concluded.  And today I found General Lee on my mother’s side of the family!

Concerning President Taylor: For seven years, I spent my K-6 elementary school years at Zachary Taylor Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  I must have passed his portrait “a million times” without realizing there was a connection! However, I have fond memories of Taylor Elementary. Perhaps my inner spirit sensed a bond!]

The cousin connection between John Spencer and Caroline Elizabeth Toney lies within Lorena England’s line via the England surname. Their surname was England back through my twelfth great grandfather–Richard England (1540-1604). Richard’s father was Sir William England (b. 1498, Norfolk), whose first wife was Lady Susan Knightley Spencer–“Baroness de Spencer” (1498-1532). She died in 1532. Richard’s mother was William’s second wife–a member of the Spencer family whose first name may have been Margred. After his marriage to Baroness de Spencer, William became Sir William “High Sheriff Northampton” de’Spencer “Knight of Wormleighton-Althorp England”. William’s father was the Earl of Sunderland, and his mother was Lady Isabel Graunt Spencer. My thought is that the England surname was originally Spencer. Then through the laws of primogeniture and political upheavals, a “lesser” branch of the family became England while the greater branch of the family retained Spencer. (Surprisingly, I received my first England DNA match today while I was writing this!)


So why did John Spencer and Caroline Elizabeth Toney decide to incorporate Milly Catherine’s maiden name into their daughter’s. One reason could be found in Deuteronomy relating to preserving a deceased relative’s legacy within the immediate family–in this case, Milly Catherine’s maiden name. The other reason centers around the fact that Milly Catherine and Caroline Elizabeth were very close, and John really loved his first wife. So preserving her name in this fashion was a lasting tribute to her. Susanna and Elisha wanted to use the name somewhere in their family. But after the passage of time, Roden was transformed into Rhoda. Susanna began using Rhoda and then passed it on to her two daughters. As more time passed, the name Rhoda gradually disappeared.

On the other hand, the name  Milly Catherine began with Elisha and Susanna’s oldest daughter and became a tradition carried down through several generations!




(1)  Settlers of Maryland 1679-1783 about Josias Wroughton., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Sep 2015. Available online at

(2)  William Wroughton Will dated 29 Jan 1745 and recorded in 1746., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Sep 2015. Available online at

(3)  “Massey Lineage”–author unknown., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Sep 2015. Available online at

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