Sunday, October 01, 2017

Church Records Sunday - who was the father?

I have been working on my Guilford County NC ancestors recently and was looking for infomation about them in the "Buffalo Presbyterian Church Session Minutes" - film #8185994 on

Most of the nearly 600 images on this film consist of basic church operations - how much to pay the minister, how much money was raised for the new church building, etc.  There are several membership lists, and a few lists of baptisms.  This information, of course, is very useful.
The earliest years (1777-1788) were the most fun to read, with discussions of who was seen to be publicly drunk, and who might have said something slanderous.

One of the interesting discussions involved my ancestor William Burney -  summarized here (numbers in parentheses refer to witnesses, discussed below):

Dec. 18, 1779 -

- William Burney was charged by Jane Burney as being the father of her child, which he denies.

- Elizabeth Wily (1) said Jane Burney declared to her "in her sickness" that William Burney, John Burney's son, was the father of her child.  and the thinks the child was before the full time.

- Martha Lecky (2) said she asked Jane Burney who was the father of the child and she told her it was William Burney and that "it was got" on his father's loft on a Saturday night.

- John Burney (3) said he and his wife were at Charles Burney's (4) on the last evening of September 1776, and it was born overnight and buried.  He also said that "he hath not been a Saturday night from but two for eight years past and one of them his son William was with him, the other was the latter end of March the same year before the child was born."

- Katharine Burney (5) said that Jane Burney was not at their house on Saturday night for twelve months before that child was born, nor any other night during that time except one between the 17th and 20th of March that year.  She did not observe any particular familiarity between her son and Jane Burney.

- Elizabeth Burney (6) said she heard Jane Burney tell her brother William the morning after the child was born that it was got one Saturday night on his father's loft.  She also said that she always slept with Jane Burney when she lay at their house and never knew her brother come to the bed where they were.

- Robert Burney (7) said he did not remember Jane Burney being at their house on any night but the one mentioned for twelve months before the child was born, and it was a Sabbath night.

The Session determined unanimously to refer it to the Presbytery the following February.  (those session records are not included on this film.)

So, who are these various deponents?

William Burney was my 4th great-grandfather.  My ancestor was his daughter Mary, born ca 1778, who married Thomas Wiley.  She was the daughter of his first wife, name unknown.
William was born ca 1756 in Dobbs Co, NC and died ca 1823 in Guilford Co NC.

William was the son of John Burney and Catherine Lackey. (#3 and #5) - 

John and Catherine Lackey Burney had the following children:
William Burney (born ca 1756) - the accused father
John Burney Jr. (born ca 1761)
Elizabeth Burney (#6)
Rebecca Burney
Robert Burney (#7)
Samuel Burney
Mary Burney
David Burney
Joseph Burney
Catherine Burney

Catherine Lackey Burney  was the daughter of William and Rebecca Lackey.  Catherine's sister Mary Lackey married Charles Burney. (#4 - father of Jane)
Charles and Mary Lackey Burney had children:
William Burney
Rebecka Burney
Jane Burney - the accuser
Robert Burney
Adam Burney

so, it appears that Jane was accusing her first cousin of "familiarity" in "his father's loft".

I am not sure who Martha Lecky (#2) was - she was most likely related to Catherine and Mary, the mothers of the cousins involved.

Similarly, there are many Wileys in the area during that time, many of whom are my ancestors.  Elizabeth (#1) may have been extended family, or a neighbor who was present as a midwife.


  1. I've always been interested in this story and hoped to determine if the William Burney of this story was the same William Burney who came into possession of my ancestress Hannah McMurtry. The William I'm looking for was 58 years old in 1797 when he arrived with his 2nd wife Elizabeth Hartley at the Ouachita Poste in NE Louisiana. With them were my ancestress then 11 years old, and an "infant" called Elizabeth Iricke. The Burneys were in Burke County, NC in 1786 and in Kentucky a few years later where they remained until 1797. This William had no children born of his 2nd marriage, but had known children, John, who died in Rapides Parish, La., circa 1810, William Burney who died in Ouachita Paris, Ann Burney who married Thomas Fish and lived in Kentucky, Jane Burney and several others who's named I'm not recalling. Any insight appreciated.

  2. I don't believe he was the same William Burney. The William who was suspected of naughty behavior in the loft was born c 1756 and died c1823 in Guilford Co, NC. His daughter Mary Burney was born c1778 and married Thomas Wiley in 1801 in Guilford Co. I don't know who Mary's mother was (another loft incident?????) but William married Mary Ann Mebane in 1788 in Guilford Co. I had always assumed that Mary Burney's mother was William's first wife (name unknown) but after reading the church record I realize that William may or may not have married her mother.
    William's father was John Burney, born 1725, died 1794 in Guilford Co.
    I don't see any record of these Burney's moving to Kentucky or Louisiana but there may be a connection further back.
    Good luck in your research.

  3. Just seeing your response, thank you. I've always been concerned with what manner of man the William Burney who gained possession of my ancestress Hannah Dorcas was. I find it odd that he and his wife would take on two young children, at what was then "old age". I suspected the worse, and finding that article on the Guilford incident had me really concerned about Hannah Dorcas and Elizabeth Iricke who were both infants when they became a part of his household.