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. It originates from the Pinxton and Etchells tree.
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.
There are several resources online regarding the Kelsall family in the Bahamas. The best documented is on WikiTree managed by Ann Carmel here. References for births, marriages and deaths compiled by Peter Kelsall are included in the table at the end of this account.
From various accounts John Kelsall and later Roger and William owned a large estate near Beaufort, South Carolina where they grew cotton. During the Revolution, Roger, a staunch Loyalist, moved from South Carolina to Sunbury, Georgia where the English had a stronger hold. As the English lost control of Sunbury, Roger moved to East Florida where he had been awarded land by the Crown but when Florida reverted to Spanish rule he moved on to the Bahamas. He established an estate called Pinxton on Little Exuma, where he tried to grow cotton, but the soil was poor and rocky.
From the Pinxton and Etchells tree, we know the Kelsall line in the Americas and Bahamas originated with Roger Kelsall, the son of John Kelsall of Pinxton, Derbyshire. Roger was expelled from Cambridge University in 1698/1699 after he became a Quaker. He went out to Virginia, became minister of Lynhaven Parish, and died in 1708/1709. From his will we know that Roger was married to Katherine but I have found no record of this marriage on either side of the Atlantic. Katherine is also mentioned in Col. James Wilson (1644-1712) of Norfolk County, VA and brother Col. William Wilson (1646-1713) of Elizabeth City County, VA (online): Lemuel Wilson was clerk of Lower Norfolk county in 1711. He married Katherine, widow of Rev. Roger Kelsall, minister of Elizabeth River Parish, who in his will (1708) names his son John Kelsall and an estate left him by Roger Kelsall, “minister of Royden, dec’d, known by the name of Byers St. Mary’s adjoining to Colchester.” From the IGI Lemuel and Katherine had children Lemuel, Mary, Luce and Samuel between 1710 and 1716.
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. As discussed in the Pinxton and Etchells tree, this author believes that this John Kelsall was the son of Roger Kelsall who died in Virginia in 1708.
- 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 these maps.
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 1765 based on the will of John Kelsall of St. Bartholomew Parish proven 29 March 1765.
Roger Kelsall was born 1737/1738 as inferred from his age when he died. He married Barbara Mackay (from “James Mackay of Strathy Hall, Comrade in Arms of George Washington”). From the inscription on the mourning ring described above he died 5th December 1788 “approximately 51 years after he was born”.
John Kelsall, the son of Roger Kelsall, was born in 1766. He returned to England and married Lucretia Moultrie at St. Paul, Covent Garden, London 8 August 1791. John died in the Bahamas in 1803 and was buried in the Centre Burial Ground Nassau (photo from Find a Grave).
THIS STONE | is placed by his Affectionate | Sister ANNE LEWIN | over the Remains of | JOHN KELSALL | who was born Dec 25, 1766 | and died April 15 1803.
Lucretia had left the Bahamas with her children in 1800. She was the daughter of John Moultrie, a doctor born in South Carolina and educated at the University of Edinburgh Scotland, who became Royal Lieutenant Governor of Florida. After Florida was ceded to Spain he moved with his family to England and is buried in Sheffnal Church, Shropshire. (from The Moultries of South Carolina From A Sketch by The Late Dr. James Moultrie, with. Annotations by A. S.’ Salley, Jr). The Moultries were a prominent South Carolina family of Scottish origins and there is much of their history on line. The Moultries of South Carolina were a deeply divided family in the Revolutionary War. While Dr. John Moultrie, a Loyalist, fled to Florida, his brothers, including Gen. William Moultrie, were all Patriot officers.
John and Lucretia Kelsall‘s children were Eleanor Kelsall d 1865, Roger Kelsall d 1792, John Theophilus Kelsall 1794-1855, and Thomas Forbes Kelsall 1799-1872. gave rise to an extensive tree mainly located around Fareham, Hampshire. The names Moultrie, Lucretia and Theophilus are prominent in descendants. Lucretia died in Fareham in 1835.
William Bellinger Kelsall, the other son of John Kelsall was christened in Charleston, South Carolina 6 August 1741. He married Mary Elizabeth De Saussure. daughter of Henri and Magdalene De Saussure, Swiss emigres, 23 April 1772, in St Helena’s Parish, Beaufort, South Carolina. Like his brother Roger, who preceded him to the Bahamas, William was an exiled Tory/Loyalist. He, Mary Elizabeth, and their four daughters, Mary, Charlotte, Henrietta and Eliza – as well as his slaves and stock animals arrived in Exuma early February 1790. The Royal Gazette, in the 12th February 1790 issue, reported: “On 5th instant, William B. Kelsall and family arrived at Exuma from Port Royal, South Carolina in the schooner ‘Eliza'”.. They settled on Little Exuma and developed an estate next to Pinxton called the Hermitage where he planted cotton and raked salt. William Bellinger Kelsall died in 1791 in Exuma at 50 years of age. The Bahama Gazette published a death notice in the issue of 2-6 September 1791 that read “Death, at Little Exuma, on Saturday the 27th of last month, William Bellinger Kelsall; formerly of South Carolina.”
The will of Mary Elizabeth Kelsall of Nassau Bahamas, was proven November 1824. Their daughter Eliza De Saussure Kelsall married Robert Duncombe at Christ Church, Nassau, Bahamas 3 February 1807. Eliza died in Nassau in 1845 and was the last of the Kelsalls in the Bahamas. She and Robert had five children: William Kelsall, Alfred John, Mary Deborah, Frederick, and Edward Adderley Duncombe.
Again drawing from Ann Carmel at WikiTree, Mary Magdalen Kelsall, the oldest daughter of William Kelsall and Mary De Saussure was born about 1774 – probably in Beaufort, South Carolina. She married George Fowke, third son of Thomas Thorpe Fowke, 24 July 1797 at Christ Church, Nassau, Bahamas – George Fowke had a long career in the Royal Navy. In 1795, Lieutenant Fowke was promoted to the rank of Commander, and to command the Swallow, a fir-built sloop of 18 guns. He was ordered to the Leeward Islands. From this station, the Swallow was attached to Jamaica. In 1798, he was appointed to the Proselyte, of 32 guns, that was stationed in the West Indies until it was lost in 1801 off the coast of St. Martin’s.
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.