March 23, 2021

Pages 35
Whole Number 6


by William Perry Johnson

To those of us who delight in claiming kin with celebrities, whether the relationship be close or distant, this article will be of more than passing interest. A recent discovery was the fact that Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States, was a Sparke descendant?

Living in the city of London, England, in the latter half of the 16th Century was a Mr. Sparks who was, by occupation, a draper. (A draper in those days was one who made cloth; later the term came to apply to one who was a dealer in cloth or any goods.) In the year 1596, one Lionel Branch applied in London for a license to marry Valentia Sparke. The license reads as follows:

Lionel Branch, of London, gent., and Valentia Sparks, of St. Martin, - Ludgate, said city, spinster, daughter of FNU Sparks, late of said city, draper, deceased, gen. lic., 7 July 1596. Copied from London Marriage Licenses, 1521-1869, edited by Joseph Forster, page 174. (Ref. 1, page 73)

Lionel Branch was a native of Abington, Berkshire, England, and a son of William and Katherine (Jennings) Branch. His paternal grandparents were Richard (born before 1500) and Elizabeth (Beauforest) Branch. (Ref. 2, page 457.)

Christopher Branch, son of Lionel and Valentia (Sparks) Branch, was the immigrant to America. He settled in the early 1600s in Henrico County, Virginia, where he was a member of the House of Burgesses in 1639, and a Justice of the Peace in 1656. He had married in England in 1619 to Mary Addie. (Ref. 2, page 457.)

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) descended from Lionel and Valentia (Sparks) Branch as follows:

Lionel Branch m. 1596 Valentia Sparks

Christopher Branch m. 1619 Mary Addie

William Branch m. Jane MNU(who married 2d Abel Gower)

Martha Branch m Thomas Jefferson I (Left a will in Henrico County, Virginia in 1677.)

Thomas Jefferson II m. Mary Field

Peter Jefferson m. 1753 Jane Randolph

THOMAS JEFFERSON (Refs. 2 and 3.)

Reference 1. -' Branch of Abingdon, by James Branch Cabell; William Ellis Jones' Sons, Inc., Richmond, Va.; December1911.

Reference 2. -' Genealogy of Members, Sons of the Revolution in the State of Virginia, Richmond Virginia, Mitchell & Hotchkiss, Printers; 1939.

Reference 3. - Virginia Magazine, Vol. 14, page 227.