English, Scottish, and Irish: Generally a nickname referring to the color of the hair or complexion, Middle English br(o)un, from Old English brun or Old French brun. As an American family name, it has absorbed numerous surnames from other languages with the same meaning.[i] The name is from an old adjective meaning ‘brown dark red,’ Old English and OHG. [ii]
Although only ranked #202 globally, the surname Brown is ranked #2 in Scotland and Canada, #3 in Australia, and #4 in England and the United States. In the United States, it is surpassed only by Smith, Johnson, and Williams in frequency.[iii]
In the 1840s, the Brown families in the United States were in every state but concentrated in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.[iv]
Direct Brown Ancestors
4th Great-Grandmother – Mary Brown (___-Bef. Jan 1847) (Married William Price on 16 Jun 1788)[v]
Hardy Brown married Martha Knight probably before 1768. My records have identified 225 direct-line descendants of Hardy and Martha.[vii] However, Mary Brown is the only known Brown surnamed descendant.
It is so nice when other researchers contact me and we can share notes and resources. Recently, a fifth cousin of my wife, and I exchanged several emails bout my wife’s 4th great-grandfather, William Price (1762-1846). I learned that she had transcribed the will of William and was willing to share her efforts.
William Price Will – Martin County North Carolina Will Book 2/326-328
Marcy Porter’s transcript of the will book image follows:
January Term 1847
State of North Carolina }
Martin County } Know all men by these presents that I, William Price, being in sound mind & memory thanks be to God for the same, but knowing the uncertainty of death do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament as follows
1st I commit my soul to Almighty God my body to be entered in a desent Christian like manner in the family Grave Yard
2nd The negro Girl Hannah I lent to my Daughter Cherry at her marriage after my death it is my will and desire that said negro Hannahs increase (except one boy by the name of Luke) be Equally divided between the children of my Daughter Cherry and their heirs forever. My Daughter Cherry being dead it is my will wish and desire that the increase of said negro Hannah she being dead also be Equally divided between Robt Rebecca Martha John & Benjamin Lewis Bryan children of said Cherry after my death and to make said division I do nominate and appoint Jno A Turner Robert Bryan and Saml A Long to do the same
3rd the negro girl Silva I let my Daughter Rebecca have at her marriage (and my Daughter Rebecca being dead and said negro also) but said negro Silva having an increase it is my will and desire that Jno Bryan husband of my said Daughter Rebecca have said negroes to him and his heirs forever
4th the negro girl Liza I let my Daughter Roxana at her marriage it is my will and desire that my Daughter Roxana have said girl and increase her life time and after her death I give said negroes to her Lawful children
5th The negro boy Theophilus which was sold and the proffits equally divided between my Daughter Mary and her two children Joseph & Martha remain so forever
6th I give unto my Grand Daughter Evelina Bryan one negro girl by the name of Hannah should the said Evelina Bryan die without a lawful heir it is my will and desire that the said negro Hannah be sold (and increase if any) and the proceeds arising from said sales be equally divided among my heirs
[Over – Page 327]
7th I give unto my grand sons Benjamin F Price & Hardy W B Price sons of my son Hardy B Price one Hundred Dollars each before the property which I may have on hand is divided
8th I give unto my Grand son Joseph R Bryan one tract of land said land I bought of B F and H W B Price containing forty acres more or less and all the improvements thereon forever
9th It is my will and desire that the negroes I have not given away after my death to be equally divided between my heirs in the following manner (viz) one fifth to Hardy B Price heirs one fifth to Cherry Bryan heirs one fifth to Rebecca Bryan children one fifth to Roxana Bryan her life time and after her death to her children one fifth to Mary Johnson her life time and after her death to her children leaving and giving my executors full power to appoint commissioners to allot and divide said negroes between said heirs according to the above statement
10th I give unto my Daughter Mary Johnson one tract of Land known as the Johnson Tract containing fifty acres more or less running south with the fence to her and her heirs forever
11th It is my desire that the balance of the Land I have not otherwise disposed of Except the family Grave Yard be sold and equally divided between my son Hardy B Price heirs and the heirs of Daughters Rebecca Cherry and Roxana in like manner as the negroes
12th I give unto my Grand son Joseph R Bryan one bed and furniture
13th It is my will and desire that my Executors sell at public auction my Perishable Estate and after paying my just debts the balance with what monies or bond I may have to be equally divided between the heirs of my son Hardy B Price and the children of my Daughter Rebecca and the children of my Daughter Cherry and Roxana and Mary in like manner as the negroes
14th It is my will and desire that my Executors retain in their hands (if not applied for before) the part of my Estate which I give to my Daughter Roxana and her heirs seven years if not applied for in that time then to be Equally divided between my other heirs
15th It is my will and desire that my Executors retain in their hands the property which I have given unto my Grand children untill they arrive to the age of twenty one or marries.
I do hereby constitute and appoint my friend Archibald Slaton and William R Brown Executors to this my last will and Testament revoking all other wills that I may have made prior to this date. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this the twenty second day of August one Thousand Eight Hundred and forty three
[signed] William Price (seal)
Signed in presence of us Bryant Bennett Jos Waldo
[Proven January Term 1847 by the oath of Joseph Waldo; William R Brown relinquished his right to qualify, and Archibald Slaton was qualified as sole executor]
I learned of no new family members, but I did learn many new facts regarding the disposition of land to several of the family members. The will also confirms many previously understood facts. For example, Cherry’s children, Lucy, Mary, and James died before 1843 because they weren’t listed in the will. It also confirms many children and grandchildren were living at the time the will was written.
This transcription was posted with the specific permission of the transcriber, Marcy Porter. My thanks go out to her for her willingness to share her excellent work.
If you see anything in the transcription that is incorrect or otherwise should be corrected, please use the comment form below and report it.
My wife’s third great-grandfather, Burkett Vincent, may have had 12 children, or he may have had eight. He apparently had two wives, Elizabeth Rose and an unknown first wife. To attempt to understand the Vincent family of Halifax, North Carolina, I thought I’d look closer at the children of Burkett (and Elizabeth).
Known Children of Burkett & Elizabeth Vincent
William Hiram Vincent
There were also two boys and two girls who were born between 1810 and 1820. It is unclear if these are William, John, Elisha, and a heretofore unknown girl. There was also another girl born between 1804 and 1820 that is presumed to be Burkett’s oldest daughter.
I’ll take a look at each of the children, in turn, starting with:
William Hiram Vincent (1814-1893)
1890 Census (Not Available)
1880 Census[i] – Hiram Vinson was a farmer living with three of his children in District 9, Hardeman County, Tennessee. With him are his daughter, Francis, and two sons, Joe and Tom.
1870 Census[ii] – Hiram Vincent was a farmer living with seven implied children. The oldest one and the youngest two were his children according to the 1880 Census, so I’m confident ascribing the other four children as his. This adds, James J., William, McAllister, and Martha to his list of children. It also provides a first name for his daughter Mary Frances, and middle initials for Joseph and Thomas. All the children were born in Tennessee, so I’d expect to find the family in Tennessee during the 1860 Census.
1860 Census[iii] – Hiram Vintson [sic] and his wife Catherine are living in Hardeman, Tennessee, with their children, Mary, James, William, Elisha, and Martha. Elisha wasn’t enumerated in the 1870 Census, so he is assumed to have died between 1860 and 1870. Mary and James attended school. All were enumerated as having been born in North Carolina, although later censuses all suggest they were born in Tennessee.
1850 Census[iv] – Hirum Vincin [sic] and his wife Catherine are living in Hardeman, Tennessee with their daughter, Mary. Hirum and Catherine had been married within the past year. Hirum is listed as “Overseer” for an occupation. Of Interest, Hirum is listed as 32 years old, suggesting birth between 1827 and 1828, where other census records suggest he was born between 1825 and 1826.
1840 Census – In my initial review of Burkett Vinson, I ascribed the male, 20 to 29 years old, as presumed to be John Vinson. Upon further research, I have learned that John had two brothers also born between 1810 to 1820, Hiram and James. The male, 20 to 29 years old in the household of Burkett Vinson could easily have been any of the three. A look through the other Vinson’s in Halifax County yielded four results. Only Burkett and Robert had households that included a 20 to 29-year-old male. Further, Paul Vincent of Hardeman County, Tennessee was the only household with a 20 to 29-year-old. So, Hiram could have been the young man in the household. Alternately, Hiram could be elsewhere, or he could have been missed completely.
1830 Census – In my review of Burkett Vincent, it appeared that the teenager, age 15 to 20, in the household of Burkett Vincent is Hiram (William Hiram Vincent).
1820 Census – In my review of Burkett Vincent, it appeared that one of the children, a male under 10, in the household of Burkett Vincent is Hiram (William Hiram Vincent).
William Hiram Vincent is in the FamilySearch tree as ID LHCZ-XB8. Census records before 1850 do not appear to clearly identify William Hiram Vincent as being enumerated. No new information regarding his parents was discovered.
[i] 1880 Census, Family Search, 1880 Census – [William] Hiram Vinson – District 9, Hardeman, Tennessee. “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MD7D-QFM : 15 July 2017), Tom Vinson in household of Hiram Vinson, District 9, Hardeman, Tennessee, United States; citing enumeration district ED 58, sheet 474A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,260.
[iii] 1860 Census, Family Search, 1860 Census – [William] Hiram Vintson [Vincent] – 7th District, Hardeman, Tennessee. “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8TD-4ZK : 18 March 2020), Martha A Vintson in an entry for Hiram Vintson, 1860.
[iv] 1850 Census (NARA), 1850 Census – Hirum Vincin – Hardeman, Tennessee. “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCDF-P2G : 4 April 2020), Mary Vincin in household of Hirum Vincin, Hardeman county, Hardeman, Tennessee, United States; citing family 676, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
I used to, mistakenly, say that there are no real “Brick Walls.” Typically, a “Brick wall” is just a difficult record to find or a record that isn’t worth paying someone else to find for you. In the case of Elizabeth, who married Burkett Vincent and had several children with him, including my wife’s 2nd great grandfather, John Vincent, there just might be a true brick wall. I have a couple more really involved actions to try but I’m not holding my breath thinking it will solve my dilemma.
3rd Great-grandmother: 37. Elizabeth Rose ? (1785 – 186?)
Elizabeth Rose (1785-186?)
I am yet to find a source for Elizabeth’s parents. I took a look at Ancestry Trees and found the following parents indicated:
Forty-seven (47) trees suggest William Rose (1759-1801) and Sarah Crawley (1775-1863).
Fourteen (14) trees propose Elisha Rose Sr. (1753-1795) and Hannah Sellers (1758-1812).
Two trees indicate Elisha Rose and Pheroby Powell (died 1794).
I have not found any sources proving her parents identities. All suggest other people’s trees as their source.
It appears that Elizabeth’s husband, Burkett Vincent. Died before the 1850 Census as Elizabeth is enumerated as the head of a household consisting of her and one daughter, Nancy. Also, during the 1850 Census her son John is living next door.
Looking at censuses before 1850, Elizabeth would have been a female in the household of her husband, Burkett.
The Burket Vinson household of the 1840 Census included a female age 50 to 59 which is presumed to be Elizabeth. Additionally, there are males and females enumerated that align with Burkett (Jr.), John, and Nancy in the household.
The 1830 Census throws the monkey wrench into the works. None of the children of Burkett and Elizabeth are enumerated. Rather four different boys and three different girls are enumerated. All older. I suppose it is possible they were entered on the wrong columns, but I don’t know. My suspicion is that Burkett had a first wife and children with her. The children were still with him, and another female, possibly a sister of Burkett, was in the household.
This idea carries on even stronger into the 1820 census. There, living in Burkett’s household is a female over 45. Elizabeth would have been 35 in 1820. So, I don’t believe it is Elizabeth with Burkett in either the 1820 or 1830 censuses. A scenario wherein Burkett was married, his wife died, he remarried Elizabeth. Elizabeth appears to have had children from a previous marriage, who then took on the Vincent surname.
Of course, this is all speculation, but it does provide a plausible explanation for the conflicting Census Records.
What I think I know
1785 – Elizabeth was born – Parents unclear.
1835 – Elizabeth Rose possibly married Burkett Vincent sometime between 1830 and 1840.
1840 – Elizabeth is probably the female 50-59 in the household of Burkett Vincent
1850 – Elizabeth is the 64-year-old head of a household consisting of her and her 25-year-old daughter, Nancy.
1860 – Elizabeth is the 75-year-old woman in the household of her son, John, his wife Ellenor, and their six children.
I believe that Elizabeth died sometime before 1870.
Further Actions / Follow-up
Query private tree owners for birth source information.
Detail the lives of each of the children of Burkett Vincent and Elizabeth Rose.
Detail the lives of the probable siblings of Elizabeth Rose.
It seems that the surname “Vinson” has two separate origins. First is that it comes from the “son of Vin or Vincent.” The second is that it is a corruption or variant of “Vincent.” It does not appear that my wife’s ancestors were from a patronymic society, so Vinson is more likely a corruption of “Vincent.”
When in doubt, I’ll now use Vincent as the preferred surname, unless there is some uncontroversial reason for using Vinson. That plan suggests I need to relook carefully at my wife’s great-grandmother, Susan R Vinson, whose parents were John and Lenora Vincent.
Worldwide there are approximately 283,936 people who bear the Vincent surname.
It is most prevalent in France, with the United States having the second-highest incidence, with over 67,000 Vincent’s in the US.
My Wife’s Earliest Vincent Ancestors
All of my wife’s Vincent ancestors lived in North Carolina. Her earliest known Vincent ancestor was Philip Vincent. It is not clear where he was born, but during the 1800 Census, he was over 45, suggesting he was born before 1755. He lived in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, in 1790. In 1840, Philip’s son, Burkett Vincent, was living in Halifax County with a household consisting of 5 people. His was one of only 22 Vincent families living in North Carolina during 1840. Burkett’s son, John Vincent was born about 1816 in Halifax County and died sometime before 1870. His daughter, Susan R. Vincent (aka Susan Vinson) was born on 22 August 1848. She married Peter Fletcher Howell shortly after the Civil War, on 10 December 1866.