Who Is Zachariah Dutton?

Generally the first questions anybody asks about Zachariah Dutton are, who is he? Where does he come from? Who does he connect to? What we know is limited and fragmentary, but with the extant sources, we can construct a fair picture of Zachariah’s life.

Charles County, Maryland

We believe he was born in Charles County, Maryland. There had been a Dutton family living in Charles County since 1680, the descendants of Thomas Dutton and Elizabeth Hill, that we have presumed from the start Zachariah was connected to. Based on the 1800 census on Granville County, North Carolina, in which Zachariah states he is 45 years of age or older, we believe he was born before 1755. Because he died in 1829, and began having children ca. 1775-77, we believe he was born not long before 1750. An earlier date is possible, but ca. 1750-55 seems reasonable. We have very little idea who Zachariah’s first wife, our ancestor, was.

1790 Census, Charles County, Maryland: Zachariah Dutton
Zachariah Dutton on the 1790 U.S. Census, Charles County, Maryland, page 17. He listed as 1 white male over 16, 5 white males under 6, 2 white females over 16, and 3 slaves.

Zachariah appears on a 1778 census and a 1783 tax assessment of Charles County, Maryland, living in the East Newport Hundred, apart from the rest of the Duttons, who were living in the Upper William and Mary Hundred. His name appears on a roster of the Maryland Militia during the Revolution, serving in Captain John Parnham’s Company of Militia, 12th Battalion, out of Charles County. He appears on the first census of the United States in 1790 in Charles County, at that time apparently having five sons, a wife, and a daughter.

Granville County, North Carolina

Will of Zachariah Dutton (front)
Will of Zachariah Dutton

We believe Zachariah moved to North Carolina probably around 1795. His son Edmond was born in 1793 in Maryland; his son Samuel was born ca. 1797 in North Carolina. Zachariah’s first wife probably died shortly after Samuel’s birth in ca. 1797, if not in childbirth. On 23 November 1798 in Granville County, North Carolina, he married Judith Parrish, the widow of Claiborne Parrish. Zachariah had no children by this union.

He appears on the 1800, 1810, and 1820 censuses in Granville County. His will was signed 10 November 1828 and proven in court in August 1829. We presume that he died in 1829.

Zachariah’s Ancestry

From the beginning of our research, Zachariah Dutton’s ancestry has been enigmatic. As far as anyone has found, he appears in no court records in Charles County, Maryland, neither witnessing or named in any will by any Dutton or anyone else. This is in contrast to the family of Thomas Dutton of Charles County, Maryland, and his son Matthew Dutton, who appear to have been landed and well-to-do and who appear in will records. Why are we insistent, then, that Zachariah is connected to these people? The one firm thread that has held Zachariah to this family, in my mind, has been his naming of a son Gerrard: Matthew Dutton’s father-in-law was Gerrard O’Caine.

When we began our DNA research, we were at first disheartened to learn that Zachariah Dutton does not match the patrilineal line of Thomas Dutton: it appears that his father was not a Dutton. This was not, however, a huge surprise. His lack of presence in the records and apparent disconnection from the other Dutton families already suggested the possibility that he was illegitimate.

Autosomal DNA research, however, has uncovered matches between Zachariah Dutton descendants and confirmed descendants of Thomas Dutton in Charles County, Maryland. So it appears that Zachariah Dutton is connected to this family after all. I believe his mother was likely a Dutton, possibly a daughter of Matthew Dutton. (Matthew’s will names only sons.)

In other posts, I will discuss at greater length the family of Thomas Dutton of Charles County, Maryland, where Zachariah Dutton might fit in, and possibilities for who his father might have been, as the DNA reveals.

Author: Joseph T. Richardson

I made this.

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