A mis-interpretation of the matriliny of Samuel Paynter, (1768 – 1845)

  • Hazzard-222   Meritta (Hazzard) Paynter (abt. 1748 – aft. 1814)
  • Paynter-415     Samuel Paynter Sr.  (abt. 1736 – bef. 1815)
  • Paynter-166     Samuel Paynter (1768 – 1845) [1]

While wikitree contributors to the profile for Samuel Paynter, Governor of Delaware, between 1824-1827, and the profiles for his parents, Samuel Paynter Sr. and Meritta Hazzard, cite extant records as their sources, the research is superficial rather than qualitative.  The sources cited have not been analysed, the facts have not been tested for their validity nor have other extant documents, created by Samuel Paynter Sr. and Meritta Hazzard, been located and examined to resolve conflicting data.

A contradiction is evident in one of the sources cited in Meritta’s profile.  On “12 December 1780, guardianship of Ruth Craig, daughter of John Craig, deceased, a minor older than fourteen. Petition to choose Miretta (sic) Hazzard as guardian. Granted.” [2]

One would presume, that Meritta, supposedly the wife of Samuel Paynter Sr. and alleged mother of Samuel the governor, born 1768, would be recorded under her married name.  By expanding the scope of research to resolve this conflict, a deed dated 25 January 1780, between Meritta Hazzard of Broadkiln Hundred, Spinster and Isaac Smith & wife proves that, in 1780, Meritta was not married to Samuel Paynter. [3]

Samuel and Meritta married before 8 December 1785.  This is confirmed in the Orphans’ Court dockets for Sussex, Delaware, Book E folio 6 : “Came into Court Samuel Paynter and Meritta his wife late Meritta Hazzard one of the daughters of William Hazzard the Elder late of Broadkiln Hundred … “.

The profile for Samuel Paynter Sr., cites his will as evidence for identification of his children, wife and manumission of his slaves.  The citation given by the contributor appears to be an incorrect amalgamation of Ancestry and FHL Catalog references. Samuel Paynter’s will is recorded in Sussex, Delaware, Wills Book Book G No 7 folio 44 (FHL Film # 007652949 image 29).

The contributor failed to analyse and assess the quality of evidence documented in the will. [4]  Three clauses give the impression Samuel is negotiating his final wishes between two families.  The mother-son relationship between David and Meritta is apparent however, when referring to to his elder children, in relation to David and Meritta, Samuel refers to them as “my daughters” or “my son” :

“unto …  my youngest son David Paynter, subject to the limitations and condition thereunto annex, … reserved for the life estate of his mother, on the condition that she shall and do convey and release unto my daughters Mary Smith and Sarah Webb …”. 

“Also one other tract of land situate on the south side of Broadkill Creek … on the condition that he convey and release or cause to be conveyed and released unto my son Samuel Paynter that part of his mother’s land …”.

“Also I give and bequeath unto my said son David so much or residue of the term of service of Negro Paris as may be unexpired at the death of his mother …”.

For those interested in discovering the genetic mother of Samuel Paynter, Governor of Delaware, find-a-grave, offers the best starting point for qualitative research. [5]


[1] https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Paynter-166.

[2] https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hazzard-222.

[3] Delaware, Land Records, 1677-1947, Delaware Public Archives; Delaware Land Records; Roll Number: 6 imaged Ancestry (Ancestry has indexed the year as 1791).  Isaac Smith is the husband of Mary Hazzard, widow of John Craig and sister of Meritta Hazzard.

[4] https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Paynter-415.

[5] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10966462/elizabeth-paynter.

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