This tree links a Kelsall family in the American colonies at the time of the Revolutionary War, with a family in the Bahamas and lines in England.
The story of Kelsall in the Bahamas is told in a book “Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People”, Volume 1: From Aboriginal Times to the End of Slavery” by Michael Craton and Gail Saunders, University of Georgia Press.
The Kelsalls were almost the quintessential Bahamian Loyalist family. The patriarch was John Kelsall, owner of Great Ropers Plantation near Beaufort, South Carolina, whose sons Roger and William compromised themselves during the Revolutionary War and migrated to the Bahamas after the American victory. Roger, the older son (1738-88), was the pioneer. A widower since 1770, he had already resettled in Georgia, where he became a councilor in the Loyalist government and “a Commissioner to take possession of the Negroes and other property of active Whigs. Having sent his children John and Anne to England for their education, he went to the Bahamas around 1783 with a handful of slaves, establishing an estate called Pinxton adjoining the great salina on Little Exuma. During this rough initial stage, the middle-aged bachelor, isolated from his family and fellow planters, fathered a girl called Portia with his black slave housekeeper, Eleanor, commonly called Nelly. The struggle to clear land, raise cotton, and rake salt broke Roger’s health, and he went to England in 1786, to die two years later.
Roger Kelsall’s legitimate children returned to the Bahamas after their father’s death, dividing their time between Pinxton and Nassau. Anne, no great heiress, married a modest doctor called Lewln, but John, with his Cambridge degree and legal training, married Lucretia, the daughter of John Moultrie, former Lieutenant Governor of East Florida. He failed as a planter but enjoyed a distinguished if brief public career, becoming vice-admiralty judge and Speaker of the assembly before his tragically early death in 1803.
In 2008 I was contacted about a memorial ring that had been found with the inscription “Rogerus Kelsall, diem obut 5 Decembris 88, circiter 51 annus natus” which was translated as Roger Kelsall, died 5th December 1788, approximately 51 years after he was born. The story behind this ring is told here and on Ancestry.
As noted above Roger Kelsall arrived in the Bahamas from the American colonies. Various historical records may be found on line for Kelsall in the southern states, principally South Carolina and Georgia.
- John Kelsall married Mary Bellinger 28 May 1738 (South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral research, indexed on Ancestry).
- John Kelsall listed in U.S. Census reconstructed Records, resident of St. Bartholomew Parish, South Carolina.
- Kelsall, John, planter of St. Bartholomew’s parish, to Mary Kelsall, bill of sale for two slaves named Phillis and John, 4/10/1746 (South Carolina Online Records)
- John Kelsall granted 500 acres in Christ Church parish, Skidoway Island, Georgia (English Crown Grants for Islands in Georgia, 1755 to 1775; Pat Bryant, State of Georgia, 1972).
- Mary died January 1760, St. George, Dorchester, South Carolina (Ancestry trees).
- John Kelsall married Agnes Barry, June 30 (South Carolina Marriage Records, 1688 to 1799; J. Revill, 1944).
- Will of John Kelsall of St. Bartholomew Parish proven 29 March 1765. Refers to wife Agnes, eldest sons Roger and William, daughter Mary Sealy, five youngest daughters and son John.
- William Kelsall identified as a parishioner St. Helena Parish, South Carolina. (Minutes of The Vestry of St. Helena’s Parish, South Carolina, 1726-1812; Edited by A. S. Salley, Historical Commission of South Carolina, 1919).
- 1765 to 1773. Roger Kelsall identified as owner of property in St. Mary and St. David Parishes, Georgia. (English Crown Grants for Parishes of St. David, St. Patrick, St. Thomas, St. Mary in Georgia, 1755 to 1775; State of Georgia, 1972).
- Roger Kelsall surveyed 50 acres in St. James parish, Georgia. ((English Crown Grants for Islands in Georgia, 1755 to 1775; Pat Bryant, State of Georgia, 1972).
- Colonel Roger Kelsall identified as a proprietor of the town of Sunbury, Georgia (from The Dead Towns of Georgia, Charles C. Jones, 1878).
- Roger Kelsall granted land in St, John Parish, Georgia.
- Roger Kelsall and William Bellinger Kelsall administrators of the estate of John Kelsall (South Carolina Online Records).
- Three British colonels of militia, Fenwick, Lechrnere, and Kelsal, with thirty-two regular dragoons and fifty-six privates of the royal militia, surrendered on the 12th of April 1781 to this handful of returning exiles (The History of South-Carolina, From Its First Settlement in 1670 to The Year 1808. David Ramsay, 1809.)
- Reference to the will of the late Mrs. Agnes Kelsall in the District of Beaufort (South Carolina Online Records).
General locations of the lands owned by the Kelsalls are shown in this map.
Combining these sources, John Kelsall was in South Carolina as early as 1738. There are trees on Ancestry that indicate that John was born about 1716 in St. John’s Parish, Berkeley, South Carolina but I have not seen the source for this. He married Mary Bellinger in 1738 and Agnes Barry in 1763. He died in about 1782.
Roger Kelsall was born 1737/1738. He married Barbara Mackay (from “James Mackay of Strathy Hall, Comrade in Arms of George Washington”). He died 5th December 1788.
John Kelsall, the son of Roger Kelsall, was born in 1766. He married Lucretia Moultrie. Other records show this marriage was at St. Paul, Covent Garden, London in 1791.
Lucretia Moultrie was the daughter of John Moultrie, a doctor born in Scotland, who became Royal Lieutenant Governor of Florida. John and Lucretia gave rise to an extensive tree mainly located around Fareham, Hampshire. The names Moultrie, Lucretia and Theophilus are prominent in descendants.
John Kelsall’s origins in Britain are not recorded directly but there may be a clue in the name “Pinxton” given to the estate in the Bahamas. Pinxton is a village on the eastern boundary of Derbyshire in the Bolsover district, England. Patricia Ellis has found that a John Kelsall was Rector at Pinxton when he married Jane Hall in 1676. From the IGI this John had a son Roger christened 13 September 1678 at Pinxton. There is similar repetition of the names John and Roger in both Pinxton and the American families.
There are other references to Kelsall in the West Indies:
- Henry Kelsall was a plantation owner in St Andres Parish, Barbados in 1680 (The Original Lists of Persons of Quality; Emigrants; Religious Exiles.; Political Rebels; Serving Men Sold for a Term of Years; Apprentices; Children Stolen; Maidens Pressed; and Others Who Went from Great Britain to The American Plantations, 1600- 1700.)
- Sarah Kelsall died 1734 aged 49 in Jamaica, with reference to her niece Johanna Bowerman died 1729 aged 26. (Monumental Inscriptions of The British West Indies).
- References in 1726 to a ship commanded by Capt. Kelsall at Spanish Town, Jamaica.