William Warden 1675 – 1735

William ran his forefinger over his initials carved on the bronze cylindrical case his father lovingly pressed into his hand on their last evening together. He opened it, and started to unfurl the buff-colored, crisp parchment; then, gently placed the scroll back inside. No need to read it again – he had memorized the words by heart. Besides, he did not want to chance smearing the ink in the drizzling, gray fog that shrouded the passenger loading dock. He returned the case to his breast pocket for safe keeping.

1698 Parchment

1698 Parchment

“We the provost Bailies and persons of Council of the Burgh of Elgin, Scotland by these testify and declare that the bearer hereof Wm. Waudon, son of William Waudon glover, Burgess of the said Burgh is descended of honest and Christian parents; and that since his infancy he has lived here, and has proved as an apprentice to James Waudon Glover, Elgin in his said craft, most faithful and honest as is represented to us by him; and that the said Wm Waudon – bearer – his religious behavior and deportment has been most flawless and innocent so that we know no impediment why he may not be received in any Christian Society where Providence may cause his lot to be.

By these given under our hands at Elgin this third day of June 1698.
[Signed by the council but names are not legible.]

William Warden was the son of William Warden, a Burgess of the Council of the Burgh of Elgin, Scotland. The Council had signed their names giving him permission to emigrate, and declared William was the lawful son of Christian parents. Additionally, they attested to his good character, and gave proof to his credentials as a tradesman on this irreplaceable manuscript.1 When he reached the new province of Maryland, he would proudly present his letter of introduction to the Anglican minister of his new parish.

A brief rush of childhood memories of Elgin with its many fine buildings along the River Lossie, flooded him as he awaited the call to board ship. He knew every stone in the cobbled streets, every building, and the names 34 of each family member and shop keeper in town. All that he was had come from the people of this town who had nurtured and loved him. William’s name would have been chiseled next to those of his ancestors in the cemetery, if not for the enticing reports of wealth being made in the colonies. Momentarily, he yearned to turn back toward home and his familiar life in Elgin. He could try again to initiate a courtship with one of the local young ladies; and perhaps, take over Uncle James’s shop someday. William quickly put his musings in check, for he knew he must follow through with his decision to embark on a new life in Maryland. He would see it to the end, whatever Providence may design for him.

attach5More than notoriety as a master glover, James Warden gave his 20-plus year old protégé the skills to make a living in any environment. Long before he permitted William to sew the fi rst stitch in a white sheepskin, Uncle James insisted he learn the basics of processing cow hides and making a broad range of leather goods including belts, sword hangers, pouches, saddle bags, satchels, breeches and points. There would be a constant demand for such goods anywhere William would settle. William’s expertise in all facets of gloving and leather works was sorely needed in Maryland where there was a ready supply of deer, calf and sheepskins, but few craftsmen who knew the trade.


Discovery of William Warden’s Identity

attach6Early English handwriting and archaic wording in the 1698 parchment had to be interpreted before we could determine whether we were searching for someone named Waudon” or “ Glover.” Without punctuation, the name of William’s father and his trade were run together as though “ Glover” was his surname. A closer examination of the Parchment showed on the second and sixth lines, two places where “William Waudon” appeared without the word, “glover.” Therefore, we determined his last name was “ Waudon.” The parchment states he was the lawful son of William Waudon, who was also a Glover by trade.

From our history lessons, we learned that trade guilds were well organized institutions in the 16th & 17th centuries. The Glovers Guilds in Glasgow and Dundee, Scotland exerted a high degree of control over trade in fi ne gloves and wearing apparel made from animal skins. The 1698 Parchment tells us William Waudon served as an apprentice to James Waudon, a Master Glover, and that he had fulfilled the Guild’s requirements for quality and workmanship. His trade as a Glover is important because it is one of the qualifications needed to become a member of the Colonial Dames of America. Other qualifications include ownership of property or service to the colonies prior to 1701.

Surname spelling variations present a difficult challenge when researching early records of our country. Specifically, surnames were spelled phonetically, according to how the person writing the document interpreted the name. Often, the surname was spelled several different ways within the same document. “ Waudon” as written on the 1698 Parchment is how “Warden” was pronounced in Scotland, with the broad “R” sound. “Warden” is the current, preferred spelling. In our search for William Waudon/Warden, we found spellings such as: Warder, Ward, Warde, Wathen, Wardon, and Walden. We had to consider all records containing any possible spelling variation; then, eliminate those records that did not pertain to our family.

Our search was made much easier by Rev. William Robert Mills’s explanation of the 1698 Parchment, as it allowed us to single out our Warden ancestor from all other persons, regardless of the various spellings. He included the following hand-written note to explain the meaning of the parchment:


“The parchment gives the lineal descent of our branch of the Mills family. Wm. Waudon – glover, emigrated to North America and settled in Charles County near to Mattenaur [sic] (Mattawoman) Creek in the then province of Maryland in the year 1698; his daughter became the mother of Wm. Nelson Mills who was the father of Wm. Nelson Mills, Jnr. who was the father of Rev. Wm. R. Mills.2

Rev. Mills’s note gave us three vital pieces of information: fi rst, the exact location where we should start looking for records – Mattawoman Creek in Charles County; second, the maiden name of the maternal ancestor – Nelson, William Nelson Mills’s middle name; and, third, a Warden daughter who married a Mills. This information represented the fi rst clues to the maternal lineage of our Mills family.

Considering that more than 100 years had passed since William Warden died in 1735 and 1852 when Rev. Mills penned his note, the data were still extremely useful. However, in recording the Mills genealogy, he left out one generation between William Warden and the mother of William Nelson Mills. Richard Warden, the son of William Warden, had a daughter ( Charity Warden) who became the mother of William Nelson Mills. Therefore, Charity was the granddaughter of William Warden, not his daughter.

NOTE: In earlier times, the word “daughter” was used when referring to a daughter, daughter-in-law, or granddaughter. As for his writing of “ William Nelson Mills, Senior” and “ William Nelson Mills, Junior,” Rev. 36 Mills’s intention was to state that William Nelson Mills’s father’s name was also,“ William Mills.” He used Junior and Senior to distinguish between father and son. At the time, this was a common practice. Men with the same name who lived in the same locality were called junior and senior. They did not necessarily have to be related.

The maternal lineage of William Nelson Mills was as follows: William Warden, who emigrated from Elgin, Scotland in 1698, married Margaret Nelson, daughter of Richard Nelson and Mary Brett Nelson. Richard Nelson was a planter in the Mattawoman Creek area of Charles County, Maryland. Richard Nelson married Mary Brett before 1699.3 Their son, Richard Warden married Agness (nee unknown). Richard and Agness ? Warden were the parents of Charity Warden, who married William Mills of Fairfax County, Virginia. William and Charity Warden Mills were the parents of William Nelson Mills. His middle name, Nelson, was in honor of Charity’s maternal grandparents, Richard and Mary Brett Nelson.