John Glassell (1780 - 1850)

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Birthplace: Torthorwald, Madison, Virginia, United States
Death: Died in Culpeper, Culpeper, Virginia, United States
Managed by: Dan Cornett
Last Updated:

About John Glassell

Biography of Frances Toy Glassell

“The Glassell (or Glassele) family is of French descent. The first of the name went from France to Scotland with Mary, Queen of Scots on her return to her native land in 1560. The name supposedly was originally spelled ‘Glassele.’ John Glassell, a descendant who followed the fortunes of Mary Stuart, lived on his estate called ‘Runcan’ in Scotland. He married Mary Coalter.” (ref.#6) Although Frances was raised in Virginia, her roots were planted deeply in Scottish history. Her great grandfather, “Robert Glassell, was born at Runcan in Dumfries, Scotland. He and his wife, Mary Kelton, married on November 27, 1734 and they lived near ‘Torthorwald’, the Castle of the Douglass.”

They had three sons: Andrew (the grandfather of Frances,) Robert who was baptized on February 15, 1741, and John who was born November 26, 1736. It was the “daughter of John Glassell (Joanna Glassell) who married the 7th Duke of Argyll (John Campbell) at Inveraray Castle, County Argyll, Scotland on December 21, 1777.”

Andrew married Elizabeth Taylor in 1776. She was the daughter of Erasmus Taylor, of Orange County, Virginia. “Erasmus was the son of James and Martha Taylor of Culpepper County, VA., whose son Zachery was the grandfather of General Zachery Taylor, president of the United States, and thus the great grandfather of Sarah Taylor who married Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America.” (ref.#6) Andrew and Elizabeth had nine children together: (1) Millie (b. 1778) who married Rueben Smith, (2) John (b. 1780) who married Louisa Brown, (3) Mary Kelton (b. 1783) who married Michael Wallace, (4) Helen Buchan (b. 1785) who married Daniel Grinnan, (5) Jane Moore (b. 1787) who married Benjamin Cave, (6) James McMillan (b. 1790) who married Eudora Swaitrout, (7) Andrew (b. 1793) who married Susan Thornton, (8) Robert Alexander (b. 1795) who died of fever during the War of 1812, and (9) William Erasmus (b. 1797) who married Margaret Somerville. They were all born at Torthorwald. Andrew died July 4, 1827 at the age of 89. It was the eldest son, John, who was the father of Frances Toy Glassell.

John Glassell was the first of his line to be born in America and live and die here. He was born on October 29, 1780; a time when we were still embroiled in the war that would ultimately bring us our freedom from England. It would not be until John’s second birthday, with the surrender of the British army at Yorktown in 1783, when that dream of independence would become a reality though. When John was nine years old, “his father took him to Scotland and placed him under the care of his friend, Rev. James McMillan, at Dumfries, where for nine years he attended the academy there.”

When John returned to Virginia at the age of eighteen, his father gave him a farm near Haymarket. “He eventually sold this first farm and bought another one next to the family estate of Torthorwald. He lived there until his marriage in 1806 to his first wife.” (ref.#6)

John began courting Louisa Richard Brown in the early 1800’s. “She was the daughter of Alexander and Humphrey Ann Frances (Toy) Whiting of Prince William County in Virginia.” (ref.#6) Louisa was born June 22, 1785, into a home mostly filled with daughters. “Her sisters were Helen, Maria, Cecilia, and Seignora. She also had one brother named Gustavus; a family name that dated back to before 1689.” (ref.#6) Louisa would have been 21 years of age when she married John.

Louisa and John had six children together before her untimely death on August 20, 1818 at the age of thirty-three. Their first child was a son named Andrew McMillan who was born October 29, 1807. He later married Frances Ann Downing. Frances Toy was the first daughter and she was born July 25, 1809. She was followed by her sister, Marian, who was born April 16, 1811 and married William Henry Conway.

We know, from a different letter written by Sigismund S. Ware in 1930, that “Fannie Glassell was sent to school in Winchester & stayed at the Episcopal Rectory with Reverend Alexander Balmain, who had married her aunt; Miss Lucy Taylor.” (ref. #340) In making the move away from home, she used a small leather trunk with her initials “F.G.” encased on the top to carry her belongings. Her namesake, Frances Glassell Ware Elliott (daughter of Somerville and Lena Ware) wrote in 1935: “The trunk belonged to my grandmother Fannie Glassell who married Josiah William Ware. It carried her clothes when she was sent to Winchester to school at her aunt’s; the Alexander Balmains.” (ref. #20) The trunk is now in the possession of James H. Ware (her great, great grandson) and is still in remarkably good condition; especially considering that it’s now almost 200 years old.

While Fanny was in Winchester, she was courted by a young man named Josiah William Ware. It’s not surprising since we know from family letters that she was “a very beautiful woman” (ref.#2) Josiah was from an affluent family in the Berryville region; the son of James Ware III and Elizabeth Alexander Ware. He grew up in the family home called Riverside, but he often spent time in Winchester which was not far away.

Josiah was born on August 7, 1802, so he was seven years older than Fanny. During the years between 1822 and 1827, Fanny continued her education and Josiah soon found his way into public service. In describing him, Rev. Hayden wrote, “he was eminently useful as a citizen, both in private and public life. His methodical and industrious habits enabled him for many years to render important services to his friends and neighbors, whom he was always happy to assist.” (ref.#6) Josiah worked hard at establishing a reputation that was unblemished. He continued his work in Winchester, and there is a “deed on file in Virginia, dated 1825, from Henry & Mary Payne Jr. to Treadwell Smith for a lot in Berryville and Josiah William Ware was shown as Deputy Court Clerk. (ref. #540) He also served on many public committees and began his lifelong interest in politics and government. (ref.#241)

Josiah also took his patriotic duty very seriously and, at the age of twenty-two, joined the Virginia Militia. On July 3, 1824, he was commissioned as Captain of a company of artillery in the third regiment and third division of the Virginia Militia. His official commissioning papers were signed by the 22nd Governor of Virginia, James Pleasants, Jr.

So, on February 22, 1827, Josiah and Frances Toy Glassell were married. He was twenty-five years old and she was eighteen. Even though it would take several years to reach total completion, “in the year of his first marriage (1827) Josiah began the construction of ‘Springfield’ (one of the most beautiful houses of its period in the Valley) on land inherited from his mother.” (ref.#61) The land originally belonged to Edward Snickers (a large landowner in Virginia around 1760) and was called “Springfield” even at that time. Edward left the property to his daughter Sarah (Mrs. Morgan Alexander). She, in turn, willed it to their daughter Elizabeth (Mrs. James Ware III), and they subsequently gave the property to their son, Josiah William Ware. (ref. 160) It was a beautiful home; “large cream stucco, with a cupola on the top.” (ref.#2) As one of his sons later remembered, “the house was imposing in appearance; lumber was seasoned for three years before being used. It was large and the rooms were spacious, & there were, I’m sure, at least twenty servants on the place.”

One of the most significant entries was on March 15, 1831 – -“Henry making cradle.” (Ref.360) Yes, Frances had just delivered their first baby. He was born on February 16, 1831, and they named him James. Josiah had one of his slaves named Henry make a beautiful cradle for his new son. It had tall spindles and stood on a rocking frame; the workmanship was gorgeous. Sadly, baby James died at only eight months so he never got to use it much. Frances soon became pregnant again, however, and on November 26, 1832 she and Josiah had another son. They named him James Alexander Ware, in honor of his paternal grandmother’s maiden name of Alexander.

Three years after the birth of James, another son arrived on May 2, 1835 and they named this one John Glassell Ware; obviously using Fanny’s maiden name as his middle name. John would grow to adulthood, but he never had the chance to marry before his death. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1854 and soon after joined the army. He was serving in Galveston, Texas when he died on September 29, 1858 of yellow fever at the age of twenty-three. Unfortunately, there are no known pictures of him.

A daughter was born to Frances and Josiah on September 30, 1837; named Elizabeth Alexander Ware in honor of her grandmother. Frances was twenty-eight at the time of her birth. Elizabeth was a beautiful girl and often went by numerous nicknames over the years. Her family called her “Kee” or “Key” although we don’t know why. She was also known as Bessie, Aunt Bessie, and some friends called her simply Bess. One of her nieces once wrote, “I remember seeing her take down her hair and it touched the floor when she was standing.”

Another daughter was born on January 10, 1839. She was named Lucy Balmain Ware in honor of the Rev. & Mrs. Balmain who Fanny stayed with while away at school. Then, on April 26, 1841, Frances had her last child – a son names Charles Alexander Ware. He had “a fair complexion, light hair, and blue eyes.” (ref.#106) As the baby of the family, Charles was doted on by his brothers and sisters. He grew up to be a doctor and a confirmed bachelor, but he always stayed especially close to his sister Elizabeth. This probably was, in large part, due to the fact that he never really got to know his mother very well. Charles was only one year old when Frances died, and he was subsequently raised by his father’s second wife, Edmonia Jacquelin Smith Ware.

Those early years of marriage between Josiah and Frances were filled with many blessings and the joys of close family. Fannie’s sister-in-law (Josiah’s older sister named Sarah Stribling) lived directly across the lane from the young couple with her family. Her husband was Dr. Sigismund Stribling and their home was known as Morgan Springs.

Unfortunately, Fanny’s health was obviously not good in April of the very next year, for in a letter dated April 1, 1842 from Senator King, he mentioned, “I hope Mrs. Ware has recovered her health.” (ref.#657) It is not known what ailed her, but on May 10, 1842, she passed away quietly at 8 a.m. in the morning. (ref.1) Frances Toy Glassell Ware died at the young age of 33; leaving a grieving husband and five small children feeling lost. James was only ten years old, John was seven, Elizabeth was five, Lucy was three, and little Charles was just one. In a letter to his sister that was written from Winchester, Josiah confided that “Bess asked me today if I was almost done going to see Reverend Balmain.” He also wrote poignantly that “John often asks me what his Ma will say when she ‘comes home’ if she sees him reading.” It must have been a very difficult time for all of them.

From Judy C. Ware Genology at http://www.warefamilies.org/blog1/?p=2461#hide

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Virginia, Marriages, 1740-1850
about John Glassell Name: John Glassell Gender: Male Spouse Name: Margaret C. Lee Spouse Gender: Female Marriage Date: 27 Jun 1821 County: Fauquier State: Virginia

Source Information: Ancestry.com. Virginia, Marriages, 1740-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. Original data: Dodd, Jordan R., et al.. Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850. Bountiful, UT, USA: Precision Indexing Publishers.

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Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s
about John Glassell Name: John Glassell Year: 1806 Place: Virginia Source Publication Code: 8925 Primary Immigrant: Glassell, John Annotation: Alphabetical list of immigrants to Virginia, 1635-1800, from a variety of sources. Source Bibliography: STANARD, WILLIAM GLOVER. Some Emigrants to Virginia: Memoranda in Regard to Several Hundred Emigrants to Virginia during the Colonial Period Whose Parentage is Shown or Former Residence Indicated by Authentic Records. Richmond [Va.]: Bell Book and Stationery Co., 1911. 2nd ed., enl., 1915. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1983. 94p. Page: 37

Source Citation: Place: Virginia; Year: 1806; Page Number: 37. Source Information: Gale Research. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2010. Original data: Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Research, 2010.

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John Glassell's Timeline

1780
October 29, 1780
Madison, Virginia, United States
1806
September 11, 1806
Age 25
Va
1807
October 29, 1807
Age 27
"Torthorwald", Madison Co, Va
1809
July 25, 1809
Age 28
Virginia, United States
1811
April 16, 1811
Age 30
"Tothorwald", Madison, Virginia, United States
1813
January 31, 1813
Age 32
"Torthorwald", Madison, Virginia, United States
1814
December 24, 1814
Age 34
"Torthorwald", Madison Co, Va
1816
October 4, 1816
Age 35
Madison, Virginia, United States
1821
June 27, 1821
Age 40
Fauquier, Virginia
1823
July 12, 1823
Age 42
"Torthorwald", Madison Co, Va