Genealogy Rabbit Hole #2- Sparks

The ancestry for the Baltimore and Anne Arundel County Sparks is hazy and tenuous. While many online trees give an ancestry that leads to the Fareham, Hampshire, England Sparks beginning with Richard Sparks (1658-1740) and then Thomas Sparks (1615-1693), I find that this Sparks Family Group probably came from Charles County and maybe St. Mary’s County first and were in Maryland much earlier, making it unlikely that Richard Sparks (c. 1658) is a direct ancestor. There is a consistent name repetition that might indicate this Family Group did come from Fareham but from an earlier ancestor.

I have few direct connections; however, there appears enough geographical proximity to call this a Family Group. My thinking is basically as wealthy landowners purchased and speculated in land in neighboring counties, the Sparks family migrated with these developments, working as tenant farmers. The family migrated from Charles County to Prince George to Anne Arundel and here the family splits: part going to upper Baltimore County and the other going to Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

The evidence I rely on is the repetition of names, especially the landholding class such as NEALE, COURT, BATCHELOR, and YATES.

As of now, the earliest record we have places the Sparks on the banks of the Wicomico in Charles County. The earliest record of a Sparks is in William Sparks’s court case of 1678. The one Sparks who we have in St. Mary’s County is Richard Sparks. I am not sure this Sparks is part of the Family Group. The first Sparks I am definitely placing in this Family Group is William Sparks

RICHARD SPARKS, born before 1658; died after 1681 Maryland

On 26 July 1673, “Then came Richard Sparkes of St. Mary’s County and proved Rights for 50 acres for his time of service performed in this province.”  Richard then assigned those rights to EDWARD CLARKE.

  • ST. MARY’S COUNTY (Court Records) Richard Sparkes  Book 17, pg 477.  26 July 1673.; see also Sparks, Paul E. “Immigrants Names Sparks Who Came to Maryland before 1675.”  Sparks Family Association. 18:4 Whole No. 72 (December 1970): pgs 1362-1363. Web.

When Maryland was first founded in 1634, those intrepid enough to go received 100 acres of land.  This was reduced to 50 acres by 1641.  Rich men gave indentured servants 50 acres of land at the end of their service.  Servants in turn paid for their transportation by signing over this 50 acres to their master.  It appears this is what the court record shows.  In addition to the land, a master gave his newly freed servant an ox, gun, two hoes and clothing.  Terms of service lasted from 2 to 6 years.

In an Administration record dated 10 May 1681, the estate of John Dabridgcourt paid Richard an unknown amount.  And this is the last we hear of Richard.

  • MARYLAND PREROGATIVE COURT (Inventories and Accounts) John Dabridgecourt, St. Mary’s County. 7B, 74 A # 4840. 10 May 1681. Others listed include: “John Steventon paid to Mr, Gardner, Magdalen Pean, Richard Sparks, Stephen Gough paid to Mr. Gardner, Richard Gardner, Thomas Dante.”
    • However tenuous, there is evidence through the reoccurrence names in the records. For instance PHILIP LYNES was indebted to EDWARD CLARK. JOHN COURT and JAMES NEALE act as jurors in William’s 1678 case.  Both John Court (probably a son) and James Neale would later lease land to a Thomas Sparkes.

CHARLES COUNTY 1657, 1674-1682

WILLIAM SPARKES, born before 1653; death after 1682 Maryland

A William Sparks lives in the Wicomico area of Charles County around the same time as Richard:

Upon peticon made to the Court by Wm Sparke a lame man It was ordred that Jno Lemaire receive him into his Custody and provided that the sd Lemaire doe make a pfect cure of his legg that then he bee pd two thousand poundes of tob out of the County Levye & in  case the sd Sparke doe remaine Sound one whole yeare & tht Jno Lemaire prsent him So to the Court then the sd Lemaire to be pd one thousand poundes of tob more the next Yeare, and if it Shall Soe happen that the sd Sparke Should dye wthin halfe a yeare that then the sd Lemaire be pd one thousand poundes of tob

  • CHARLES COUNTY (Court Proceedings) William Sparke 1671-1674. Liber E p. 180. 10 June 1674.; see Proceedings of the County Court of Charles County: 1666 – 1674. vol 60. ed. J. Hall Pleasants. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1943. 563. Web. It is uncertain if this is the same William, but Lemaire did have land on the Wicomico close to JOHN COURTS.

A William Sparkes sued PHILIP LYNES on 15 October 1678. The case reached an initial hearing on 14 February 1679. Philip had forced William, on 20 August 1678, from 150 acres in Charles County before his lease was expired.  William Harbert acted as the muscle and was initially named in the suit. Philip Lynes claimed part of the 150 acres of land was part of his tracts “Stumpdale” and “Watsons Land.”[4]

  • These tracts had been surveyed for a THOMAS BATCHELOR, of Cedar Poynt.  A court case involving Batchelor and an Edward Parks occurred almost 20 years earlier.  From what I can make of it, Batchelor had hired a servant from Edward Parks and, it was argued, agreed to pay Parks regardless of the health of the servant. In the transcription there is a Mr Sparks. I now think this is a scribal error. Mister was an honorific title and not used for servants. However, an examination of the original is needed.

Parks v.Batchelor- Deposit inter mr Parks & mr Batchelor: Richard Tarling aged twenty three years or thereabts Sworne and Examined upon his Oath Sayeth Concerning a Servant that mr Sparks hyred to mr Batchelor for the time of three weeks he did him Little or no worke, by reason of his nasty diseases the flux and the Scurvey, And farther this Deponent Sayth that mr Sparks Came to mr Batchelors house one day, and mr Batchelor desired the Said mr Sparks to take Some Course with him and gett him away for he had rather give him Six hundred pounds of Tobacco, then be bound to tend on him, by the reason he was So very nasty, And farther this Depont Sayth that it hindered most of this Deponents time and mr Batchelors to tend on him, and farther this Depont Sayeth not.               Signum Richard X Tarling

Proceedings of the Provincial Court of Maryland: vol 41 1658-1662. ed. Bernard Christian Steiner. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1922. 9. Web.; see also ST. MARY’S PROVINCIAL COURT (Proceedings) Liber B, No. 3. pg 370. 30 December 1657.

Getting back to William’s case, the court adjourned until after the land was surveyed, 11 May 1679. This was no easy feat finding an obscure boundary mark as the land dipped into swamp and morass. The tract was called Hardy’s Purchase and situated on the North side of the Potomac River.  It bordered property owned by John Lee, Richard Watson, and Thomas Batchelor. Batchelor’s Creek ran through a marsh, which spilled into a beaver dam on the property. William leased it on 1 August 1678 for a term of 3 years. William asked for 50 pounds sterling in damages as a consequence of being ejected. Robert Ridgely acted as attorney for William and Christopher Rousby acted for Philip Lynes. The suit was settled in William’s favor:

    Wm Sparkes Lessee of Henry Hardy


Philip Lynes

the Comand was given to the Sheriffe of Charles County that whereas at a Provinciall Court held at the Citty of St Maryes Eighteenth Day of ffebruary Anno Doni 168o before the Justices of the same Court in an action of Ejectment then and there Depending between William Sparkes Lessee of Henry Hardy plt and Philip Lynes def Itt was Considered by Our Said Justices that the Said William Sparkes Lessee as aforesaid Recover against the said Philip Lynes his terme Yett to come and unexpired of and in One messuage of One hundred and fifty Acres of Land lyeing in Charles County aforesaid Called Hardyes Purchase lately in the tenure & occupation of Thomas Peirsey decd wch the Said Henry Hardy to him the said Sparkes Demised for a terme wch is not yet past & likewise the Sume of Nine thousand One hundred sixty and Seaven pounds of tobacco for his Costs of suite by him the said William Sparkes in that behalfe Layd out and Expended Itt was therefore comanded the said Sheriffe that of the goods and Chattles of the Said Philip Lynes If they should be found in his baliwick he should Cause to be made the aforesaid Sume of Nine thousand One hundred Sixty and seaven pounds of tobacco: and When he had the same Soe made as aforesaid or any Part thereof the same in his Custody to keepe Soe that he Should have the Same here the Six and twentyeth day of September in the Seaventh yeare of the Dominion of the Right honoble Charles Lord Baltemore &c Annocp Doni 1682 to render unto the Said William Sparkes On wch Said Six & Twentyeth day of September in the yeare aforesaid Collonel William Chandler Sheriffe of the County aforesaid made returne of the writ afore said that by vertue thereof he hath made of the goods and Chattles of the Said Philip Lynes the Sume of Nine thousand One hundred Sixty and Seaven pounds of tobacco.

  • Proceedings of the Provincial Court of Maryland: vol 69 1679-1680/1 68, 136-137, 242-244, and 402-409; vol 70 1681-1683 Court Series. ed. Elizabeth Merritt. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1964. 291.; see also ST. MARY’S PROVINCIAL COURT (Proceedings) W. C. pgs. 63, 122-123, 216-218, 369-375, 633. 26 September 1682.


THOMAS SPARKS, born before 1682; died 1702 Charles County, Maryland

On 2 December 1702, William Sparkes acted as adminstrator for a Thomas Sparkes in St. Mary’s County. William placed a 100 pound bond and Thomas Blacman and Cornelius Dunivan acted as Security.

  • MARYLAND PREROGATIVE COURT (Testament Proceedings) Administration Bonds Exhibited. vol 19A, pg 129.St. Mary’s County,  2 December 1702. For some connection see John Bould Administration 1696, Cornelius Dunivan’s wife administers and payment is made to Anthony Neale, the landlord of Thomas Sparkes.

WILLIAM SPARKS, born before 1702; died after 1722 Charles County, Maryland

There is a Charles County Court Record for a William Sparkes that according to Maryland State Archives is now lost. The only record I have of it is in the land record index for Charles County. As best that I can make out the other party in the case is a Roach.

  • CHARLES COUNTY COURT. William Sparkes. vol. K 2 pg. 355. August 1722. The reference can be found here: CHARLES COUNTY COURT (Land Records, Index) , p. 0420, MSA_CE83_1.


This is where many trees take up the Family Group. The exact relationships are still tenuous. For instance in 1738 a land record shows a Thomas Sparks Senior, meaning there must have been another Thomas of adult age that we have not accounted for in Charles County at the time. Perhaps the inventory recorded in 1727 for Thomas Sparks refers to someone outside this Family Group.

THOMAS SPARKS, born about 1689

ELIZABETH —, born about 1691; died after 1729. Married 1707 Maryland

  1.    Thomas Sparks, 1711-1789
  2.    Matthew Sparks, born about 1715; died 1786

Matthew migrated to Pittsylvania, Virginia. Married Eleanor Brooks. Matthew had a son named Josiah.

In late 1748, Matthew Sparks purchased 68 acres, called “Bedfordshire Carrier” from William Fields for 3000 pounds of tobacco.  Matthew sold this land to Evan Jones 2500 pounds of tobacco.

In 1760, Matthew Sparks purchased the 109 acres of “Smith’s Neglect” for 5 shillings from Benjamin Beall.  In 1777, Matthew sold the property to Richard Beall, son of Ninian, Sr., for 100 pounds.

In 1763, “Mathew Sparkes brought Before me the subscriber a Small Black Stallion Colt about Ten hand high has a Small Stare in his forehead he Complains that he Trespasses upon his Inclosure.”

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY COURT (Land Records) Book EE, pg 631. 13 December 1748.; Book RR, pg 67. 27 August 1760.; Book TT, pg 113. 25 November 1763.; Book CC2, pg 337. 15 March 1777.; FREDERICK COUNTY COURT (Land Records) Deed Book F, pg 1180. 4 November 1760. Witnesses for these deeds included: B. Young, L. Young, Morda Jacobs, Robert Tyler, Josa. Beall, Chrisr. Lowndes

In a will written on 1 April 1725, JAMES NEALE of Wolleston Manor in Charles County gives to his son Benjamin Neale 500 acres of land leased to Davies, Anthony Smith, John Castles, and Thomas Sparkes.

  • CHARLES COUNTY PROBATES (Wills) James Neale. vol 3 pg 217. 11 October 1727.; CHARLES COUNTY PROBATES (Inventory) James Neale. vol. 1717-1735 pg. 238. 31 October 1727.

A ROBERT YATES witnessed the inventory to the estate.  In documents related to Benjamin the tract of land is called either “Gill’s Tract” or “Giles Land,” and borders the Wicomico River.  It appears, if the connections are correct, that the Sparks family resided here, before 1725, and the next land record we have for them is in 1738 moving into Prince George’s County.

Probate Records for Anne Arundel show a Thomas Sparks died intestate in 1727.  An inventory was conducted on 20 April 1727.  Leonard Hollyday of Prince George’s County administered the estate.  The inventory states there are “no relations” in the province (women and children were excluded from this listing). This could refer to a transported prisoner to Anne Arundel named Thomas Spark -Paul E. Sparks writes in The Sparks Association that between 1716 and 1717 a group of political inmates were transported to Anne Arundel, and their number included one “Thomas Spark.” On arrival he was purchased by Philip Dowell. I am leaning towards the Thomas Sparks who died in Anne Arundel in 1727 not being part of the direct line if he is related at all.

  • “Sparks Family of Pittsylvania County, Virginia.” compiled by William Perry Johnson. Sparks Family Association. Whole No. 11 pgs 79-85. Web.; ANNE ARUNDEL (Inventories) Thomas Sparks. vol 12 pg 264. 1727.
  • Sparks, Paul E. “Thomas Sparks, Political Exile.” Sparks Family Association. 6:1 Whole No. 24a (December 1958): pgs 335-336. Web.

THOMAS SPARKS, born about 1711 Maryland; died 1789 in Pittsylvania, Virginia

ELIZABETH —, born before 1714

  1.   Josiah Sparks 1729-1765
  2.  Matthew Sparks, born around 1745; died after 1777

Matthew married Margery. Migrated to Pittsylvania, Virginia.  In 1775, Matthew purchased from James Beck 100 acres, called Pleasant Spring Enlarged for  50 pounds.  Matthew sold this tract to John Hamilton, Sr., for 80 pounds in 1777.

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY COURT (Land Records) Book CC,. pg 136. 2 February 1775.; Book CC2, pg 396. 5 April 1777.; Witnesses to these deeds include: Jos. Beall, Chris. Lowndes,  Chris. Lowndes, Mary Henderson.

In 1730, Thomas Sparks of Charles County leased “that plantation he now lives on for the term of 15 years,” from BENJAMIN NEALE.  Thomas paid annually 700 pounds of tobacco, 2 barrels of corn, 4 hens or capons, and 4 days work.  Thomas could use the surrounding timber but could not sell it, and if Neale were to find fruit trees, Thomas was to plant and tend them.  Any violation, on either side, resulted in a fine of 1000 pounds of tobacco. R. YATES and John Howard witnessed the deed.

  • CHARLES COUNTY COURT (Land Records) M 2, p. 0237, MSA_CE82_25. 29 September 1730.

In the 27 March 1730, Thomas is listed under the “debts” column in the inventory records for a Samuel Ferson owing 3 schillings.  He was not listed in the “desperate” column.

  • CHARLES COUNTY PROBATES (Inventory) Samuel Ferson. Inventories 1717-1735, pg 198.  27 March 1730.

In 1738, Thomas Sparks Senior, planter, signed a 21 year lease with JOHN COURTS of Charles County, Maryland, Gentleman, for 250 acres of land lying in Prince George’s County near Rock Creek and known by the name of “Clean Drinking.”  ROBERT YATES and John B[r]iscoe witnessed the deed.

  • PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY COURT (Land Records) T, p. 0682, MSA_CE65_10. 24 October 1738.

In the lease Thomas was to plant 150 apple trees and leave them in “good order” once the lease was expired.  Thomas was to have the first year rent free, but after pay 800 pounds of tobacco yearly. “Clean Drinking” lay near the first falls of Potomac River on Rock Creek.

  • In 1740, a lease from Charles Carroll, Esquire,  to Thomas, a planter from Prince George’s County, states Thomas was to pay 600 pounds of tobacco every March for twenty-one years delivered to the Eastern Branch of the Potomac, and not “Suffer more hands to work or till the demised premises than himself his wife and Children and in case his Children [are] uncapable to work then only to take in one able hand,” perhaps meaning Carroll did not want slave labor on the tract.  The land was called “Cloven Couse,” contained a 100 acres, and bordered Samuel Beall’s land.  Thomas was also required to improve this land with 100 apple trees.[14]  Daniel Carroll and Samuel Beall, Sr. witnessed the deed.
    • PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY COURT (Land Records) Y, p. 0197, MSA_CE65_11. 25 June 1740 .

Thomas began to buy land in 1748 beginning with a plot of 162 acres called “Owings Range” in Anne Arundel from John White of Prince George’s County.  The purchase required 1200 pounds of tobacco and 3..7 pounds sterling. John Brice and Vachel Denton witnessed.

  • ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY COURT (Land Records) RB 3, p. 0115, MSA_CE76_20. 30 November 1748.

In 1751, as executrix of Jacob Wood’s estate, Jane Wood settled an account with Thomas Sparks for 6 pounds 14 shillings and 6 pence.[16]

  • FREDERICK COUNTY (Administration Accounts) Jacob Wood vol 1 pg 12. 7 October 1751.

In 1752, Thomas purchased “Taylor’s Lott,” “Milford,” and “Cockey’s Addition.”  The first two parcels totaled 300 acres; “Cockey’s” contained 130 acres.  Thomas purchased the lots from William Woodward, a Goldsmith of London, Mary Holmes of Newington Butts, late Mary Woodward of Newington Butts, Benjamin Baron and Elizabeth, Cornelius Kehown and Sarah for 52 pounds.  These trustees purchased the land from Amos Garrett who purchased it from John Wood.  The deed was witnessed by John Moffatt and Philemon Young.

  • ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY COURT (Land Records) RB 3, p. 0624, MSA_CE76_20. 10 March 1752.

In 1753, Thomas sold the 130 acres of “Cockey’s Addition” lying on the north side of the Maggotty(Magothy) River for 20 pounds to John Brice.  Benjamin Beall and Clark Rockhold witnessed the deed.

  • ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY COURT (Land Records) RB 3, p. 0641, MSA_CE76_20. 22 November 1753.

On 24 January 1755, Thomas sold “Owings Range” to Bazil Barry for 42 pounds and 6 shillings.  The land had received its original patent in 1696 to Richard Owing.  On this land two creek branches came together, and John Mash established a mill at their confluence.

  • ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY COURT (Land Records) BB 1, p. 0021, MSA_CE76_21.  24 January 1755.

On 29 July 1755, near the head of the north side of the  Maggotty(Magothy) River, Thomas purchased 100 acres for 16 pounds from George Conoway.  The land bordered the plots purchased in 1752 and was near Muddy Run or Bailey’s Branch.  Thomas, I presume, for a short time ran the “Maggoty Mill called Milford.”

In 1756, Thomas sold 50 acres of this lot named “Milford” and part of a tract called “Tailor’s Lott” to a James Norman for 9 pounds.  On the same day, he sold to Jacob Allwell for 20 pounds 150 acres of the same lots.  Recorded in this record are the following landmarks: “Carved Rocks” which is by the Magothy on the north side, Ketchenars Cove, a valley is mentioned as well.  Benjamin Beall, James Norman and Jacob Allwell witnessed the deeds.

  • ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY COURT (Land Records) BB 1, p. 0164; BB 1, p. 0168, MSA_CE76_21. 27 March 1756.

It is believed that a few years after Thomas moved with his son, Josiah to upper Baltimore County. Josiah stayed in Baltimore, while Thomas and Matthew moved to Virginia.


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