Charles Dingee

Charles trusted his “well-beloved” first wife, as his financial and legal representative, to enter into valid contracts, on his behalf, without male supervision, although the law permitted him to repudiate Mary’s actions, if a contract entered into was not of his will.[1]

By contrast Charles’ second wife, also Mary, the widow of mariner John Paynter, never acted as Charles’ legal or financial attorney during his absences from Sussex county despite administering most of John Payntor’s estate to the satisfaction of the Orphans Court.[2] In 1744, Charles was appointed guardian to his brother Daniel Dingee as well as John, William and Samuel Payntor, sons of mariner, John Payntor deceased and his wife Mary (unknown) who intermarried with Charles. [3]


For identifying Charles Dingee’s kinship relationships in Delaware and Philadelphia this research uses images of court documents available in on-line databases.

The Register of registered vessels belonging to the port of Philadelphia and newspaper reports have been used to reconstruct a timeline of Charles’ seafaring life and commercial relationships. The perilous nature of seafaring, sailings, ships, masters, lists of cargo and those spoken to at sea is covered extensively in colonial newspapers. An extremely useful analysis of vessel types, ordnance and crew complements is found in Carl E Swanson’s paper that examines the role of privateering in the British colonies during 1739-48. [4]

Table 1, extracted from the Ship Registers, show the vessels of which Charles was master, owner and co-owner offers an insight into his commercial and/or kinship relationships.

The information in Table 2 is extricated from Other databases offering pay-to-view coverage of colonial newspapers may contribute more information about Charles seafaring voyages. The British Newspaper archive is not illuminating, while google news archives, has not been fully explored due to its limited search function.

Arrayed in Table 3 is data extracted from Lloyds List. Before his demise, it seems, Charles Dingee left Philadelphia for Jamaica thence Ireland but returned to Philadelphia for repairs because the King George was leaking.

Access to unpublished documents held in physical repositories was not possible. Scholarly articles provide historical context.

Table 4. Known associates of Charles Dingee, Sussex, Delaware:

*Jacob Phillips 1743 “my trusty friend Jacob Phillips Esq. my true and lawful attorney”.  This is probably, mariner, Jacob Phillips who transported slaves from the Carribeen to various parts of British colonial America for Robert Ellis, merchant and slave trader.

*Samuel Payntor, joyner and/or house carpenter (brother of John Payntor), Lewes town d. 1767. [5]

* John Hall, blacksmith acts as Charles’ Attorney 1748.

*Abraham Wynkoop. Partnership.


Charles Dingee’s legal dealings provides some insight into his planning and management skills as well as his personal relationships in Sussex county, Delaware. His absences from Sussex, throughout the 1740s, are planned and documented in the Orphans Court dockets and deed records when he appoints Attorneys to act on his behalf.

Estates; executor of his father Charles Dingee’s estate; co-executor with second wife Mary the widow of John Payntor.

Guardianship; brother Daniel Dingee and William, John and Samuel Payntor.

Personal estate; inventory taken in Sussex county. Location not recorded but possibly in Lewes where John Payntor owned several town lots.

Items are old; impression he did not care for material goods and that he rarely spent time in Lewes.  While Swanson argues Masters never made more than two Atlantic voyages in one year shipping intelligence shows Charles was often at sea.

Religion; Quaker; disowned for sailing under a Letter of Marque.  No marriage recorded in Quaker records.  Inventory shows he possessed a book about Quakers.

Land-holdings. Nil.

[1] Mary Beth Norton, Founding Mothers & Fathers: Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society. UK, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011, 85 : Deeds, book H8-I9, 1742-1763, “14 August 1740 Charles Dingee Bricklayer deputes his well beloved wife Mary Dingee as his legal and financial attorney.”

[2] Film # 007652960 Mary Paynter administration accounts 13 May 1743.

[3] Film # 104132841 Paynter, John decd 1744 (minors John, Paynter, Samuel) image 296 Bond Charles Dingee to John Paynter 195/11/10 paid Nov. 1744; image 298 Bond Charles Dingee to William & Samuel. Payntor 195/11/10 paid Nov. 1744.  Note: William’s name is missing from the title of the cover sheet.

[4] Carl E. Swanson, American Privateering and Imperial Warfare, 1739-1748, The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 3, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1985.

[5] Deeds, book H8-I9, 1742-1763 Charles Dingee to Samuel Painter Carpenter in trust for John Painter minor son of John Painter deceased.

This paper is a work in progress and forms part of a series of papers identifying kinship relationships among the early families of Sussex county. This research should not be accepted as conclusive, there may be mistakes in the transcription of records or my hypothesis may prove to be false. If you wish to include any of the material contained in, or derived from this paper, place quotation marks around the extracted portion and credit it as follows: “Sarah Baird, “Charles Dingee – The ships are sailing”, March 2021”.”

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