Who were the parents of Charles Jeptha Secord of Sussex, New Brunswick?

Some sources state that Charles Jeptha Secord who was born about 1813 and died in 1893 was the son of Gilead and Margaret (Spragg) Secord. This is a reasonable conclusion in the absence of any other evidence, as he lived near Gilead's family and was buried with them in Riverbank Community Cemetery in Sussex Parish, Kings County, NB:


555: Gilead Seacord  d. 3 Jun 1856 ae 68  - FATHER
556: Margaret w/o late Gilead Secord  d. Oct 1883 ae 95
557: Charles Secord  d. Apr 1893 ae 79 yrs 8 mos
 wife, Sibyl  d. Jun 1908 ae 76

An age of 79 years and 8 months in April 1893 suggests that Charles was born in August 1813.

The Vital Statistics of New Brunswick Newspaper series, as found on the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB) website at http://archives.gnb.ca/APPS/NewspaperVitalStats/?culture=en-CA, has the following notice of his death:

Date April 17 1893
County Saint John
Place Saint John
Newspaper The Daily Sun

Apohaqui (Kings Co.) April 14 - Chas. SECORD died at his residence last night. His death was not unexpected as he was ill for some time. He was a quiet unassuming man and was highly respected by all who knew him. He was the oldest resident anywhere in the vicinity, being about 80 years of age. A widow and three daughters survive him. One daughter is in the State of Massachusetts, one in Moncton and the other the wife of Dr. G.N. PEARSON of this place.

There is a marriage record for Charles in the Queens County New Brunswick Marriages Volume A 1812-1861, transcribed by R. Wallace Hale:

Secord, Charles of Sussex and Secord, Sibel of Johnston - witnesses Wm E T H Burnet & John Secord Jr. - 29 February 1848

"Sibel" was one of the descendants of the Loyalist Elias Secord.

In the 1851 census for New Brunswick, Charles and family were enumerated in the parish of Sussex, Kings County [on page 96]. Charles and "Sibble" and their two daughters were living in the same house as an older Irish couple, John and Ann Walker. I don't know of any relationship between Charles and Sibyl and this couple, and I think it is likely that they were boarding with them. In the same census, Gilead and Margaret (Spragg) Secord appear on page 79. There was no age listed for Charles in this census. In the 1861 census for Sussex, Charles and family appear on pages 61 and 62, between the families of Gilead's and Margaret's sons William and Gilead Jr. Again, in the 1871 census for Sussex [pages 26 and 27], Charles and family were listed between the families of William and Gilead Jr. In the 1881 census for Sussex, the three families were all listed on the same page [page 22]. In the 1891 census for Sussex, the families of Charles and Gilead Jr. appear on the same page [page 19]. Here are the ages listed for Charles in the various census records:

1861- 45

1871- 58

1881- 67

1891- 78

Those suggest a year of birth of 1815, 1813, 1814, and 1813, respectively, all of which fit reasonably well with August 1813, calculated from his cemetery record as above.

For more information on Gilead Secord and his family, see Gilead Secord, son of William and Ruth (Hunt) Secord. Gilead Secord and Margaret Spragg were married on March 21, 1813, so they were married before Charles was born. Though it was only about five months before he was born, this certainly did happen and this is not a good reason for supposing that Gilead and Margaret were not his parents. It is Gilead's will that suggests very strongly that Charles was not his son, as Charles was not mentioned in it. The will named all of Gilead's other known children, including Elias, Leah, and Margaret, who were to receive only five shillings each, but not Charles. Likely Elias, Leah, and Margaret had already been provided for by Gilead and that is why they were given a nominal sum, but it is noteworthy that they were still listed there, while Charles wasn't.

So if Charles did not come from the family of Gilead and Margaret, then who were his parents? The most likely couple is William and Polly [Frost] Secord. For more information on them, see William Secord, son of William and Ruth (Hunt) Secord. Ancestry.com has a book called "The Frost Genealogy/Descendants of William Frost of Oyster Bay, New York" by Josephine C. Frost, published in 1912. This books lists the children of William and Polly [Frost] Secord (with spouses and no dates of birth), as William (married a Wallace); Thomas (married Mary Belding); Sarah (married Nicholas Pickle); Hannah (married first Mr. Sharlin, and second R. Ellison); Elizabeth (married Wm. Wiggins); Mary (married first Thomas Ellison, and second John Nelson); Amy (married Harvey Perkins); Frederick (married first a Lawton, and second a Lawton).

Here is the list of those sons and daughters, with estimated dates of birth gleaned from various records I have been able to find:

1) Sarah b ca 1801

2) Hannah b ca 1803

3) Thomas b ca 1804

4) Mary b December 31, 1806

5) William b ca 1808

6) Amy b ca 1814 - 1816

7) Elizabeth b ca 1815

8) James Frederick b ca 1821

It is clear that Charles, born in August 1813, could fit into this family. With so many children in the family, it would not be surprising if the family member who provided the information to Josephine C. Frost for the book, above, happened to forget one [or more?] of them. It was, after all, 1912 when this book was published, so about a hundred years after Charles was born.

William and Ruth (Hunt) Secord had the following known children, with estimated dates of birth:

1) William Secord the younger - born Feb. 18, 1775

2) Rachel Secord - born about 1776-1777

3) Anne Secord - born about 1778-1781

4) Sarah Secord - born about 1782-1783

5) Elizabeth Secord - born about 1782-1783

6) Olive/Olivet Secord - born about 1786

7) Gilead Secord - born about 1787-1788

8) Elijah Secord - born about 1790

9) Susan Secord - born about 1792-1795

10) James Secord - born about 1795-1796

11) Mary Secord - born about 1797-1802, assuming that she was older than Carmel

12) Carmel Secord - born about 1803

[See The children of William and Ruth (Hunt) Secord for more information.]

For Charles to carry the last name Secord, presumably his father was one of these Secord men and his mother was that Secord man's wife, or else his mother was one of these Secord women who was not married. That rules out nearly all of them except for William Jr. and Gilead. Rachel, Anne, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Olive/Olivet were all apparently married by August 1813, so he could not have been the son of one of them. Similarly, Elijah, James, and Carmel were not known to be married until after that. That leaves Susan and Mary. Susan married well after 1813 and moved away but did not take Charles with her, so it seems unlikely that he was hers. I think that Mary was probably the Mary Secord who married Charles Brittain in 1832, but if so she was born about 1798 and she would only have been about 15 when Charles was born. William and Polly [Frost] Secord remain the most likely couple to be the parents of Charles.

Why, then, would Charles have been so close to Gilead and family as to live very near them from at least 1861 on, and be buried in the same plot as Gilead and Margaret? I think the answer may lie in the circumstances surrounding the death of William Secord Jr. I have viewed the probate records for William [on PANB film F10408]. He died on April 27, 1826 at the age of 51, and he died without a will. He also died with some debts, and it appears that his land may have been sold in order to pay them.

How on earth would Polly Secord manage with no husband, a large family, and the land apparently sold to pay debts? A likely answer appears in the land transaction records for Kings County, NB. On April 19, 1827, Polly "Seacord" bought a small piece of land in the parish of Kingston from William Frost, probably her father and not her brother who also had that name. She paid him five pounds for it. The land was described as part of lot 32 and was about half an acre in size. Still, Polly would have been in an extremely difficult situation with so many children still at home, especially as she did not remarry. Hannah had married by the time her father died, and possibly Sarah had too, but probably none of the rest. Charles was twelve at the time of William's death, and Amy, Elizabeth, and James were younger yet. It seems possible that Charles may have been sent to live with Gilead and Margaret in Sussex to take some of the burden off his mother. Gilead and Margaret had sons who were close to Charles in age, so it would be a good fit. His marriage record in 1848 indicated that he was living in Sussex, and all of the subsequent census records also. He was not living very close to Gilead and family in 1851, but was very near them in 1861 and beyond. Again, there is an explanation in the land transactions for Kings County, which shows that William Secord [Gilead's and Margaret's son] and his wife Elizabeth sold land in Sussex parish to Charles Secord for 200 pounds on April 26, 1849. The land was described as lot number nine, containing 200 acres. Here is the description of the lot:

...bounded Westerly by lands belonging to one Gilead Secord Northerly by the Course of said River up to the line dividing lot number nine and Ten thence following said line until it strikes land formerly deeded to one Caleb Spragg thence Westerly to lands owned by the aforesaid Gilead Secord to the place of beginning...

This deed makes it clear that Charles lived near Gilead's family because he purchased land from them, and not because he inherited it or was otherwise given it. Though Charles and his wife owned the land before the 1851 census was taken, they apparently were not living on it at that time, perhaps because they had not yet built a house on it.

I have no document to prove this, but I believe that Charles Jeptha Secord was the son of William and Polly (Frost) Secord.