May 17, 2021
Whole Number 118
Francis James Dallett, University Archivist for the University of Pennsylvania, North Arcade, Franklin Field E6, Philadelphia, PA (19104), has submitted the following query.
"I descend from Captain George Sparks (born 10 March 1762; lost at sea 1788 in employ of Philadelphia shipping firm of Dutilh & Wachsmuth); married 7 March 1784, Christ Church, Philadelphia, Priscilla Harrison Simpson. George was son of Simon Sparks (b. ca. 1725; d. 20 February 1786, aged 61); tavern keeper at Gloucester Town, New Jersey ca. 1750, ferrykeeper on Delaware at Gloucester 1759; tavern keeper again, at Philadelphia in 1765; married Gwin Gerrard of Philadelphia. Simon was son of Henry Sparks, born perhaps ca. 1695; died testate 1755-1756, Gloucester Town, Gloucester County, New Jersey; tavern keeper at Gloucester Town and at Woodbury; co-owner 1755 with two of his sons of sloop Diamond of Philadelphia; who married (first) Ann MNU and married (second) Elizabeth (Garwood Ballinger. Henry Sparks and his presumed brother Simon Sparks (born perhaps ca. 1690; died testate 1749, Deptford Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey; married Jane McClane) have been said without any proof to be sons of Richard Sparks (died 1716 in Philadelphia) and to have come with him from Ireland. This last claim seems totally false.
"Has any real evidence of the paternity of Henry and Simon ever been found? The coincidence of the not common name of "Simon Sparks" suggests that a clue to a possible place of origin in Ireland might be found through another Simon Sparks, of a younger generation, a native of Ireland, who on 6 May 1805 at Philadelphia stated he had been 20 years in the U.S. and 5 in Philadelphia when naturalized; his character witness was Atcheson Thompson, a tavern keeper. (Records of the U.S. Circuit Court). This Simon, immigrant of circa 1785, may represent a branch left behind which came to America later and if he has descendants they may know his place of origin in Ireland which could lead us to the place of origin of the earlier family group."
(Editor's Note: Your editor would like to hear from members of the Association who trace their ancestry to the Sparks families of New Jersey. A member of the Association (now deceased), Evelyn Cole Peters, did extensive research on the Sparkses of New Jersey, but she shared only bits and pieces with the Association. Another member interested in this line, however, later copied for us much of the information she and Mrs. Peters shared. This was Mrs. W. A. Simpson, who died a few years ago. We plan to share with our readers this material in a future issue of the Quarterly, but would be grateful to have any additional New Jersey records in the hands of our readers before doing so.)