The Ancestry of Zachariah Dutton: How He Fits Into the Duttons of Charles County, Maryland

Our progenitor Zachariah Dutton (Ancestry Tree) first appears in records in Charles County, Maryland, in 1778. There had been a Dutton family living in Charles County since 1680, the descendants of Thomas Dutton and Elizabeth Hill, and we have always believed that Zachariah Dutton is connected to them somehow.

There has been a lot of speculation about Zachariah’s ancestral connections, some of which has become quite pervasive in public family trees on On Ancestry, it appears that if many people list something, it tends to be accepted as true — but often, misinformation is repeated by almost everybody as fact simply because it is repeated by almost everybody. In the case of Zachariah Dutton, we have documentation that disproves the apparent common consensus — that Zachariah was the son of Gerrard Dutton of Charles County, Maryland — and DNA that indicates he is not a patrilineal descendant of these Duttons at all.

In this article, I would like to do my best to clear up some of this confusion, first by summarizing what we know of Zachariah Dutton, then by examining the possible points where Zachariah could connect to the family of Thomas Dutton of Charles County, and finally by examining the DNA evidence.

What we know for fact

The documented facts about the life of Zachariah Dutton are fairly meager:

1783 supply tax assessment of East Newport Hundred, Charles County, Maryland, showing Zachariah Dutton.
1783 supply tax assessment of East Newport Hundred, Charles County, Maryland, showing Zachariah Dutton. (Curiously, and probably mistakenly, it shows him as the sole white inhabitant of his household.) (Source: MDSAR)
  • He first appears in Charles County, Maryland, with a 1778 census and tax assessments in 1782 and 1783. In both he was the only man named Dutton living in the East Newport Hundred. The other Duttons in Charles County lived in the Upper William and Mary Hundred.
  • He appears on a roster of Captain John Barnham’s Company of Militia, Maryland Militia, out of Charles County, during the Revolution.
  • In 1790, he appears on the first census of the United States in Charles County, Maryland, married and with a house full of children.
  • Probably circa 1795, he moved to Granville County, North Carolina, where he appeared on the census in 1800, 1810, and 1820. These censuses suggest he was born before 1755.
  • On 23 Nov 1799 in Granville County, North Carolina, he married Mrs. Judith Parrish (née Parrish), widow of Claiborne Parrish. Zachariah’s first wife had apparently died in the few years previous.
  • Zachariah Dutton signed his will on 10 Nov 1828 in Granville County, North Carolina. It was probated in the August 1829 term of the Granville County court. So Zachariah evidently died sometime in 1829 or at the very end of 1828.

Thee are several other important facts:

  • We have no record of the first marriage of Zachariah Dutton or of the name of his first wife. (I will discuss this in a later post.)
  • The name of Zachariah Dutton does not appear, as far as I’ve been able to discover, in any court document in Charles County, Maryland, in connection with any of the other Duttons living there.

The Duttons of Charles County, Maryland

Maps of Cobb Neck and southern Charles County, Maryland: These maps show the relative locations of Christ Church (William and Mary Parish), near where the family of Matthew Dutton lived; Poppleton, the estate of Matthew Dutton; and Newport town, in or near which Zachariah Dutton lived. Poppleton is about 2 miles from Christ Church; Newport is 7 miles from Christ Church, driving by modern roads. Upper William and Mary Hundred would have included the church and northern parts of Cobb Neck. East Newport Hundred would have included the town of Newport and probably areas eastward. (Source: Library of Congress)

1680 passenger list showing the transport of Thomas Dutton into Maryland by John Redich, merchant.
1680 passenger list showing the transport of Thomas Dutton into Maryland by John Redich, merchant.

The pregenitor of the Duttons of Charles County, Maryland was Thomas Dutton (Ancestry Tree), who arrived in Maryland on 9 July 1680 on a vessel captained by John Redich, merchant. Thomas is supposed to have been born around 1660 and married Elizabeth Hill, daughter of Matthew Hill and Edith Beane. Thomas died before 9 Aug 1717, when an estate document names his heirs:

  1. Elizabeth Dutton, born ca. 1690; died before 9 Aug 1717; married William Penn.
  2. Matthew Dutton, born 28 Sep 1692; died before 9 May 1734; married Judith O’Caine.
  3. Notley Dutton, born 19 Dec 1694; appears to have never married and died young, before 11 Oct 1717.
  4. Edith Dutton, born perhaps ca. 1695; no record of her marriage is known.

Since Notley Dutton appears to have died young and Matthew Dutton to be the ancestor of all families surnamed Dutton in Charles County, Matthew has been the focus of the search for Zachariah Dutton’s ancestry. Also, we have further reason to believe Zachariah Dutton has some connection to Matthew Dutton. Judith O’Caine, Matthew Dutton’s wife, was the daughter of Gerrard O’Caine. Zachariah Dutton named a son Gerrard Dutton, so this appears to be the right family.

According to his will, dated 26 Jan 1734, Matthew Dutton had the following sons:

Will of Matthew Dutton
Will of Matthew Dutton. From Maryland Register of Wills, Charles County, Maryland Will Book, 1734-1752 (vol. 4), pp. 17-18. ( (This image has been edited to place the whole document on one page.)
  1. Notley Dutton, born ca. 1713; died ca. Oct 1802; married ? Chunn.
  2. Thomas Dutton, born perhaps ca. 1720; killed 8 Sep 1781 during the Revolutionary War.
  3. Gerrard Dutton, born ca. 1730; died ca. Dec 1790; married Ann ________.

The will of Matthew Dutton does not mention any daughters, if there were any, but it does mention an unborn child at the time of the will. We have no further record of this child, and it can probably be assumed to have been a daughter or not to have survived.

Since it appeared that Zachariah Dutton was connected to Matthew Dutton, by the occurrence of the name Gerrard in both families, we assumed that he must be the son of one of these named sons. Over several years of research, we speculated that each one of these sons was Zachariah’s father — but in turn, each one was excluded as a possibility.

Gerrard Dutton, son of Matthew Dutton

Will of Gerrard Dutton.
Will of Gerrard Dutton. From Maryland Register of Wills, Charles County, Maryland Will Book 1791-1801, pp. 10-11 ( (This image has been edited to place the whole document on one page and to improve contrast.)

Having Gerrard Dutton as Zachariah Dutton’s father makes for an attractive possibility, I suppose because of the reoccurrence of the name Gerrard. For whatever reason, this is the conclusion that has taken hold in the majority of Ancestry trees. But Gerrard Dutton had a will and estate records, which make very clear that Zachariah Dutton was not his son.

The children of Gerrard Dutton, named in his will and estate proceedings:

  1. Eleanor Dutton, born before 1770.
  2. Mary Dutton, born before 1771, married Samuel Smith on 1 Jan 1800.
  3. Thomas Morriss Dutton, born ca. 1772.
  4. James Dutton, born ca. 1774.
  5. Matilda Dutton, born ca. 1776.

Thomas Morriss Dutton is named clearly as the oldest son and heir. Thomas Dutton Nettle, Stephen Penn, and Notley Dutton Jr. witnessed the will. This appears to be the same Stephen Penn who later moved to Alabama, which offers a tantalizing possibility of how he might be connected.

Notley Dutton Sr., son of Matthew Dutton

Part of the problem in eliminating Notley Dutton from the possibility of being Zachariah’s father is that there are so many men named Notley Dutton:

  • It is apparent that Notley Dutton, born 1694, the son of Thomas Dutton and Elizabeth Hill, died without issue around 1717.
  • The man identified on 1790 and 1800 census records as Notley Dutton Sr. appears to be the son of Matthew Dutton and Judith O’Caine, born probably ca. 1713 and died 1802.
  • Notley Dutton Jr. on 1790 and 1800 census records appears to be Notley Dutton Sr.’s son. He had another son Notley, and there are other Notleys still — so this can get confusing. But the line that must be excluded here is Notley Dutton Sr.
Will of Notley Dutton Sr. (page 1).
The first page of Notley Dutton Sr.’s will (which spans about six whole pages in the will book). From Maryland Register of Wills, Charles County, Maryland Will Book 1801-1809, pp. 63-69 ( Interestingly, the will provides for the eventual manumission of all the family slaves. (An abstract of the will is available at Mike Marshall’s site.)

Notley Dutton Sr. died in 1802 at an advanced age, apparently outliving most of his children. His lengthy and dense will names mostly grandchildren:

  1. Grandsons Matthew Dutton, Notley Dutton, and John Dutton
  2. Daughter Mary Posey
  3. Granddaughter Elizabeth M. C. Posey
  4. Granddaughter Jane Money
  5. Granddaughters Margaret Dutton Nettle and Alice Nettle
  6. Granddaughters Elizabeth Dutton and Matilda Dutton

This is tricky to sort out, but I can determine that Notley Dutton Sr. had the following issue:

  1. Matthew Dutton, who died 1778 without issue and whose estate was administered by his father.
  2. Notley Dutton Jr., born probably around 1740; father of Matthew Dutton, Notley Dutton, John Dutton, Elizabeth Dutton, and Matilda Dutton.
  3. Mary Dutton, born ca. 1762, who married Thomas Posey on 25 Mar 1788; mother of Elizabeth M. C. Posey.
  4. (Female) Dutton, died before 1802, married (Male) Nettle; mother of Margaret Dutton Nettle and Alice Nettle. It is widely reported on the Internet, without concrete documentation, that Edith Dutton, daughter of Notley Dutton, married James Nettle.
  5. (Female) Dutton, died before 1802, married (Male) Money; mother of Jane Money. Another possibility is that Jane was the daughter of the one of the above other children and married a Money.

The question is, is this list exhaustive? Does it include all Notley Dutton’s descendants? Does it presume that Notley’s children, these grandchilden’s parents, are deceased? It appears that it probably does. In any case, if Zachariah were the son of Notley, neither he nor any of his children are acknowledged in the will, which would seem quite strange for a will apparently designed to acknowledge each surviving family. It appears conclusive that Zachariah Dutton was not the son of Notley Dutton.

Thomas Dutton, son of Matthew Dutton

Archives of Maryland, vol. 18, p. 533,: Death of Thomas Dutton
Page from Archives of Maryland, vol. 18, p. 533, indicating the death of Thomas Dutton.

Thomas Dutton, son of Matthew Dutton, died 8 Sep 1781, while serving in the Revolutionary War — and I have few other concrete facts about him. Thomas Dutton is said to have married an unknown woman named Elizabeth, and there is a list of children commonly given for him, but despite searching for it and asking for it for years, I can find no documentation of Thomas’s wife or children.

I now believe that this information is probably in error — probably, at its root, my own error. I remember receiving this list of children and spouse as hearsay from a cousin over the phone sometime about 1998, and repeating it as fact on the Internet. I had the sense then to ask for a citation, but the only one I received was that it came from a will. Unfortunately, I did not then have the sense to consider the information unverified without a concrete citation.

Grant of letters of administration for the estate of Thomas Dutton.
Grant of letters of administration for the estate of Thomas Dutton to Ninian Burrage, 23 July 1785. From Maryland Register of Wills, Charles County, Maryland Will Book 1785-1788, p. 84 (

After years of searching, I have never found a concrete citation. In fact, Thomas Dutton did not have a will. It appears that he died intestate, and court records in Charles County include a grant of letters of administration and an inventory. There is no mention of any survivors that I have found. The administrator of the estate is somebody other than a wife, suggesting that he had no surviving spouse.

The pairing of Thomas Dutton with a wife named Elizabeth, and sons named Notley and Matthew — neither of which I can find any record of — now smells very strongly to me of an incorrectly interpreted record of his grandfather Thomas Dutton — who was married to a wife named Elizabeth and had sons Notley and Matthew.

It now appears very likely to me that Thomas Dutton had no survivors. In any case, there is no record to suggest that Zachariah Dutton was his son.

Two daughters, Muriel Dutton and Eleanor Dutton

There are two daughters commonly attached to this Thomas, who I cannot otherwise attach to anybody:

  1. Muriel Dutton married Thomas Dutton Nettle on 20 Jul 1779.
  2. Eleanor Dutton married John Penn on 20 Jul 1779.

There is documentation of these marriages, in a parish register kept by Rev. John McPherson of Piccawaxon, or William and Mary Parish. The fact that these two women were married the same day suggests to me that they were sisters. But they do not appear to fit into either of the known families of Notley Dutton Sr. or of Gerrard Dutton.

According to his will, Notley Dutton Sr. did have a daughter who married a Nettle, but there is no record of a daughter who married a Penn; and the Eleanor Dutton who married John Penn is claimed as an ancestor by surviving descendants, so at least her children should have been mentioned in Notley’s will if she were his daughter.

Additional final account and distribution for estate of Gerrard Dutton, June Term 1793, Charles County, Maryland.
Additional final account and distribution for estate of Gerrard Dutton, June Term 1793, Charles County, Maryland. From
Maryland Register of Wills, Charles County, Maryland Administration accounts, 1791-1798, ( (This image has been edited to place the whole document on one page.)

On the other hand, it is known from estate records that Gerrard Dutton had an older daughter named Eleanor. In fact, now that I look at it closely, I see that John Penn was made administrator of Gerrard Dutton’s estate. It appears very likely to me that Eleanor Dutton who married John Penn was the daughter of Gerrard Dutton.

But what of Muriel? It could be that she was an older daughter of Gerrard Dutton who predeceased him and so was not named in his estate. There is no provision made for a sixth child’s part or for Nettle grandchildren in Gerrard’s estate; but Muriel may well have died without issue. I’ve found no further information about her, and no one who claims to descend from her, so this is possible. Thomas Dutton Nettle, who married Muriel Dutton, witnessed the will of Gerrard Dutton.

It appears that Zachariah Dutton cannot be connected by documentation or reasonable inference to any of Matthew Dutton’s three sons. As it turns out from our DNA research, this conclusion is appropriate.

Y-DNA indicates Zachariah Dutton’s father is not a Dutton

For years, we worked with one speculation after another trying to fit Zachariah Dutton into one of these Maryland Dutton families, despite the lack of any record tying him to them. And then about ten years ago we began DNA testing on the Dutton patrilineal line. And we quickly realized that the Zachariah Dutton line does not descend patrilineally from the line of the Duttons of Charles County, Maryland. This means that Zachariah Dutton’s father was not a Dutton.


Y-DNA is the DNA of the Y-chromosome, the male sex chromosome that is passed down more-or-less intact from father to son over many generations. This means that the Y-chromosome possessed by a direct male-line descendant of Zachariah Dutton (i.e. a man named Dutton, whose father and grandfather, etc., were Duttons, descending from a son of Zachariah Dutton) should be the same Y-chromosome possessed by Zachariah Dutton himself — and by his father and grandfather and great-grandfather.

So we tested the Y-DNA of seven direct male-line descendants of Zachariah Dutton, from five different sons of Zachariah Dutton. They all matched each other, proving that they each have an unbroken descent from Zachariah Dutton — and that we have the Y-chromosome of Zachariah Dutton himself. We also tested the Y-DNA of three descendants of Matthew Dutton of Charles County, Maryland, one from the Notley Dutton line and two from the Gerrard Dutton line. They likewise matched each other, indicating that they have the Y-chromosome of Matthew Dutton. But Zachariah Dutton’s Y-chromosome does not match Matthew Dutton’s Y-chromosome.

Zachariah Dutton’s Y-chromosome is characterized as haplogroup E-L17, a subclade of E-V13, a population group originating probably in the Balkans in eastern Europe and likely spread to Britain and Ireland by ancient Roman colonization. Matthew Dutton’s Y-chromosome is characterized as haplogroup R-DF98, a subclade of R-M269, the most common haplogroup among men of western European descent, and R-U106, marking this an essentially Germanic population group. Michael R. Dutton’s research has discovered that the Duttons of Charles County, Maryland have the SNP FGC13446, matching the Warburton family of Cheshire, England, and likely sharing a common ancestor in Odard de Dutton, 1st Lord of Dutton, a Norman knight who came to England at the time of the Norman Conquest.

These two haplogroups are two completely different major haplogroups, proving that Zachariah Dutton’s father could not have been Matthew Dutton or one of his sons. So who, then, is Zachariah Dutton’s father?

Zachariah Dutton’s true paternal ancestry

As soon as we realized Zachariah’s father was not a Dutton, that immediately suggested two possibilities: either he was illegitimate, the daughter of a Dutton female who kept his mother’s name, or he was adopted by a Dutton, and not genetically a Dutton at all. I will address this question further below.

Whether he was illegitimate or adopted, Zachariah Dutton had a father. Identifying that father almost three centuries later is a difficult task, but we have had a couple leads. The Dutton men who tested their Y-DNA for the Dutton line also have matches to men of other families.

Connemara, Ireland
Connemara, Ireland (Image by Artemis from Pixabay).

There are a number of matches to men named Cain. After some research, we discovered that there is a Clan O’Keane or O’Caine of Connacht, Ireland
(Ó Caṫáin Uí Fiachrach) who are members of haplogroup E-L17, same as Zachariah Dutton. While we have no proof that Gerrard O’Caine, the father-in-law of Matthew Dutton, was necessarily descended from this clan, it raises a compelling possibility: Zachariah Dutton’s father could have been an O’Caine. (This discovery is further detailed at “A Breakthrough in Zachariah Dutton’s Paternal Ancestry.”)

Various researchers have suggested that Gerrard O’Caine Jr., son of Gerrard O’Caine Sr. and brother of Judith O’Caine Dutton, could have been the father of Zachariah Dutton. This is a possibility. But Gerrard O’Caine Jr. himself died in 1734 around the same time as Matthew Dutton. This would require a very early birthdate for Zachariah Dutton, who would have been in his forties when he began having children, and no less than 95 years old at the time of his death in 1829. I consider this unlikely. There were brothers and cousins of Gerrard O’Caine Sr. who could have fathered Zachariah.

Another possibility that has been pointed out to me recently is that the Thomas family of Charles County, Maryland, the descendants of Philip Thomas, born ca. 1747 in Charles County, if not his ancestors, are haplogroup E-M35 (a parent haplogroup of E-L17) and appear at a distance to be close matches to Zachariah Dutton. Further testing needs to be done here, to expand the Thomas Y-DNA tests and confirm that the Thomas line is E-L17. So it could be that Zachariah Dutton’s father was a Thomas; or it could be that some Thomas in Charles County was fathered by an O’Caine.

Zachariah Dutton’s connection to other Duttons

Zachariah Dutton’s father was not a Dutton. Since Zachariah was surnamed Dutton, we can suppose that either his mother was a Dutton, or that he was adopted by a Dutton family.

If Zachariah Dutton were legally adopted by a Dutton family, one would expect that he would appear in some record with someone, so this would appear at first glance to be a remote possibility. There could, however, have been an informal adoption. But in any case, the fact that Zachariah was living apart from the other Dutton families in Charles County suggests that he was not closely associated with them.

There is some indication from DNA that Zachariah’s mother may have been a Dutton. The descendants of Zachariah Dutton have matches in autosomal DNA (i.e. on Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder or AncestryDNA) to descendants of the Charles County, Maryland Duttons. If Zachariah’s mother was a Dutton, I would conjecture that she was a daughter of Matthew Dutton. Matthew’s will mentions no daughters, but it does not exclude the possibility of his having them.

These autosomal matches by themselves, however, do not present a smoking gun. There is a complication: All of the surviving descendants of Thomas Dutton of Charles County, Maryland, descend from Matthew Dutton and Judith O’Caine. We have already conjectured that Zachariah Dutton’s father might have been an O’Caine. So if Zachariah Dutton had O’Caine DNA through his father, his descendants could be matching the descendants of Matthew and Judith on the O’Caine line rather than the Dutton line. It is not guaranteed that Zachariah Dutton had any Dutton ancestry at all.

Possible DNA solutions

If we could identify enough matches through the O’Caine family (through other O’Caine lines than Judith’s), who matched both Zachariah’s descendants and other Matthew Dutton descendants, and view them in a chromosome browser, then it might be possible to determine this way if the matches between Zachariah’s descendants and the other Duttons were through O’Caine, if the matches intersected between all three (O’Caine‒Zachariah Dutton‒Matthew Dutton). This absence of such an intersection, however, would not necessarily prove the connection is through Dutton; and even the presence of such O’Caine intersections isn’t enough to exclude a Dutton connection, since it’s entirely expected that all these would have some connection through O’Caine. To prove a Dutton connection, we would need to find a three-way intersection between Zachariah’s descendants, Matthew’s descendants, and other Dutton descendants from lines other than Matthew. And there may simply not be any other Dutton descendants.

The only other line from Thomas Dutton of Charles County that is known to have had issue is from Elizabeth Dutton who married William Penn. So far, I haven’t conclusively identified any of their descendants. A three-way match between Zachariah’s descendants, Matthew’s descendants, and Elizabeth’s descendants could come close to proving Zachariah’s Dutton ancestry — but perhaps not quite. It could indicate, after all, that both Zachariah’s descendants and Matthew’s descendants have Penn ancestry.

A simple (two-way) match between Elizabeth’s descendants and Zachariah’s descendants would not by itself prove anything, either. There are other Dutton-Penn matches cropping up, even to Penns who do not have known Dutton ancestry, which could indicate a connection between the Zachariah Dutton family and the Penn family — conceivably through Zachariah Dutton’s wife.

O’Caine connections

I have been finding what appear to be Charles County O’Caine matches in autosomal DNA among different descendants of Zachariah Dutton, especially descending through the family of Elizabeth O’Caine who married Francis Oden. The Oden family migrated south and has many descendants. Elizabeth O’Caine (c. 1690-1749) was the daughter of John O’Caine (c. 1670-1727) and Elizabeth Scott. It is unclear whether this O’Caine DNA is inherited from Zachariah’s father or mother, but it appears to verify that he does have O’Caine ancestry.

So far I have not been able to identify any O’Caine descendants who are shared as matches between both Zachariah’s descendants and Matthew’s descendants.


There are a lot of puzzle pieces that shed light on the ancestry of Zachariah Dutton. Considering all of these pieces, there are a few conclusions we can draw.

  • Zachariah Dutton’s father was not a Dutton, as his Y-DNA indicates. He is not the son of Matthew Dutton, Notley Dutton, Thomas Dutton, or Gerrard Dutton, or any of the other male Duttons in Charles County, Maryland.
  • No primary record that has been discovered connects Zachariah Dutton to any of the Duttons in Charles County. He was living in a different precinct of the county than the other Duttons.
  • The sole thread that insists that Zachariah Dutton has some connection to the family of Matthew Dutton is his naming of a son Gerrard Dutton, after Matthew Dutton’s father-in-law Gerrard O’Caine.
  • Y-DNA research indicates the possibility that Zachariah Dutton’s father may have been an O’Caine. Zachariah’s Y-DNA also appears to match the family of Philip Thomas (b. 1747) of Charles County, Maryland.
  • Autosomal DNA matches between the descendants of Zachariah Dutton and documented descendants of Matthew Dutton indicate a definite family connection, either through the Dutton family or the O’Caine family. This could mean that Zachariah’s mother was a Dutton, or that his father was closely kin to Judith O’Caine — or both. Additional DNA research is needed to identify this connection.

Personally, I consider the most likely case to be that Zachariah Dutton’s mother was a Dutton and his father was an O’Caine. I am not confident of this, and it does not answer every question, but it is my working theory. In particular, there are large questions about connections between the Dutton family, the Penn family, and a third Charles County family, Scallorn. This likely involves the identity of Zachariah Dutton’s first wife, the mother of most of his children. I will approach these questions in my next post.

Author: Joseph T. Richardson

Joseph has been researching the Dutton family for over 20 years, and has had this website almost as long. He applies his background in history and computer science to unraveling genealogical mysteries. He lives in Danville, Morgan County, Alabama, not far from where his Dutton ancestors first settled in the 1830s.

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