Sarah Maiden's connection to Revolutionary War Hero
Francis "Swamp Fox" Marion


Brief biography

Francis Marion - the "Swamp Fox" - 1732-1795
Francis Marion (~1732 - February 26, 1795), a life-long resident of South Carolina, was considered a hero of the American Revolutionary War. He began his military career at age 24 in the French and Indian War, where he served in campaigns against the Cherokee in 1757 and 1761. In 1775 he was commissioned captain in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment. After the Patriot defeats in Charleston and Savannah, and particularly after the "massacre" of the Patriot soldiers by Banastre Tarleton after the Battle of Waxhaws, Francis Marion organized his own small unit. Due to his irregular methods, he is considered one of the fathers of modern guerrilla warfare.

Marion showed himself to be a singularly able leader of irregular militiamen, known for his cunning and his resourcefulness. Unlike the Continental troops, Marion's Men, as they were known, served without pay, supplied their own horses, arms and often their food. All of Marion's supplies which were not obtained locally were captured from the British or Loyalist ("Tory") forces. Marion rarely committed his men to frontal warfare, but repeatedly surprised larger bodies of Loyalists or British regulars with quick surprise attacks and equally quick withdrawal from the field. After the surrender of Charleston, the British garrisoned South Carolina with help from local Tories, except for Williamsburg (the present Pee Dee), which they were never able to hold. The British made one attempt to garrison Williamsburg at Willtown, but were driven out by Marion at the Mingo Creek.

John Blake White's "General Marion Inviting a British Officer to Share His Meal" -- hanging in the U.S. Capitol building
In early 1781, Revolutionary War militia leader Francis Marion and his men were camping on Snow's Island, South Carolina, when a British officer arrived to discuss a prisoner exchange. As one militiaman recalled years later, a breakfast of sweet potatoes was roasting in the fire, and after the negotiations Marion, known as the "Swamp Fox," invited the British soldier to share breakfast. According to a legend that grew out of the much-repeated anecdote, the British officer was so inspired by the Americans' resourcefulness and dedication to the cause—despite their lack of adequate provisions, supplies or proper uniforms—that he promptly switched sides and supported American independence. Around 1820, John Blake White depicted the scene in an oil painting that now hangs in the United States Capitol. In his version, the primly attired Redcoat seems uncomfortable with Marion's ragtag band, who glare at him suspiciously from the shadows of a South Carolina swamp.

The British especially hated Marion and made repeated efforts to neutralize his force, but Marion's intelligence gathering was excellent and that of the British was poor, due to the overwhelming Patriot loyalty of the populace in the Williamsburg area. Colonel Banastre Tarleton was sent to capture or kill Marion in November 1780; he despaired of finding the "old swamp fox", who eluded him by travelling along swamp paths. Tarleton and Marion were sharply contrasted in the popular mind. Tarleton was hated because he burned and destroyed homes and supplies, whereas Marion's Men when they requisitioned supplies (or destroyed them to keep them out of British hands) gave the owners receipts for them. After the war, most of the receipts were redeemed by the new state government.

And, as portrayed in the painting, "Swamp Fox" did have Black soldiers in his service, despite the fact that he himself was a slave-owner. After the war he married a cousin, Mary Esther Videau, and served several terms in the South Carolina State Senate. He died at age 63, with no issue.

The Genealogical Connection

Sarah Maiden and Thomas Hay named their 7th child Francis Marion, and three more of their eleven children the patriotic names of Andrew Jackson, George Washington and Thomas J (Jefferson?). It was Francis Marion Hay's oldest son, Mark Hay (1869-1932), who told his cousin William Perry Hay (1871-1947) that "Sarah Maiden claimed descent from General Marion;" clearly William Perry Hay had asked him for the origin of his father's name. However, the descendancy claim is incorrect, as "Swamp Fox" Francis Marion had no children; the genealogical relationship must be something different. William Perry Hay then summarized it as "Sarah Maiden claimed relationship to General Marion of Revolutionary fame."

I believe that the relationship will throw some light on the Sarah Maiden's maternal ancestors -- the Passwaters. The Passwaters are known to have been in South Carolina in 1739-1741; there is a record for William Passwater's marriage to Hannah Pezaza in St. Philips Parish Church in Charleston, SC on January 15, 1739/40, and a child Hanah baptized and buried in 1741 and 1742. The Marion family was in Charleston at the same time; Francis "Swamp Fox" Marion was born in Charleston in 1732. Thus, I believe any genealogy link would refer to the Passwater/Pezaza line in SC at that time. The Maidens stayed in North Carolina and had no ties to South Carolina, as far as I can determine; however, since Sarah Maiden's paternal grandmother has not been identified (Patriot John Maiden's wife), this possibility cannot be ruled out.

The Marion family emigrated to America circa 1684, directly to South Carolina, living in Charleston by 1687. Marion's father, Gabriel Marion, was one of 11 children of Benjamin Marion and Judith Balluet, two born in France in the 1680s and nine in South Carolina in 1685-1701; his siblings married Cater, Gignillat, Peronneau, Wickham, (and unknown). His mother, Esther Cordes, was one of seven children of Antoine Cordes and Esther Madeline Balluet, both born in France; her siblings married Coker, Gendron, Simons, Porcher, Videau (and unknown). Francis was the youngest of six children, born ~1720-1732 -- just prior to the time that William Passwater is known to be in South Carolina. The surnames of Marion's siblings' spouses were: Allston, Gaillard, Julien, Mitchell, Simons, and Taylor.

Other surnames found in the Marion tree are: Ashby, Bailey, Ballentine, Bochet, Bonneau, Bowen, Bulloch, Cahusac, Cain, Chisolm, Clements, Couturier, Cray, Cutler, Deveaux, Dubose, Goodwin, Gregory, Greenland, Huger, Hutson, Hyrne, King, Kirk, Lepear, MacBeth, Manieson, Maine, McDuffie, Mitchell, Moore, Palmer, Peyre, Pierce, Read, Rothmahler, Scott, Screven, Seabrook, Singleton, Snowden, St. Julien, Swight, Tew, Warning, Whaley, Whitehouse, Yeardon. Other surnames found in the Cordes tree are: Allen, Allston, Banbury, Barker, Barksdale, Bee, Bennett, Benoist, Bratton, Broome, Broun, Caldwell, Ceiland, Chambers, Coker, Collings, Cripps, Dawson, Donom, Doughty, Dunkin, Dwight, Elliott, Evance, Fitzsimons, Ford, Foster, Fryer, Glover, Golightly, Gourdin, Harleston, Hasell, Howard, Keith, Kinloch, Laurens, Lee, Leigh, London, Lord, Lucas, Manigault, Maybank, Mazyck, McGrigor, Means, Middleton, Motte, Murphy, Pinckney, Pringle, Prioleau, Proctor, Pyatt, Richebourg, Roberts, Roche, Rutledge, Shackelford, Sinkler, Smith, Spencer, Steele, Stevens, Stoney, Travours, Waites, Warley, Weston, White, Wilson, Yerger. (And a note of great gratitude to John Simons for his research on these trees.)

Obviously, there is no Passwater or Maiden name in the list, to provide an easy link. The one name that stands out to me is Rutlege -- the Passwaters were known to have ties to Rutledges in Delaware, and some of the Rutledges and Passwaters emigrated to SC and NC. But the Rutledges in the attached tree married into the Huger branch, on the Cordes side, not the Marion side -- I consider it unlikely to be a match, but worthy of more research. The first Rutledge in Charleston is Dr. John Rutledge who married Sarah Hext in 1738 -- his son Hugh marries into the Cordes line; his son Edward was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

But it is noteworthy that Francis Marion's grandfather Benjamin Marion had a second marriage to a Mary (surname unknown), and eight more children, of whom nothing is known (see the bottom of the Marion tree). It could well be that the link resides here. Perhaps if more information is found about this branch of the Marion family, there will be other leads to research.

Even assuming that any genealogical link must be in SC (the Marion family remained in SC), and is therefore to the Passwater line and not the Maiden line, does not clarify. Since the Passwaters are in DE prior to the 1730s and maybe in VA by 1755 and then NC by the 1770s, the window of time in SC is short -- probably just the late 1730s to the early 1740s. The records for St. Philips Church are available through the 1750s, and there are no more Passwater records. Any relationship then would appear to relate to William Passwater's wife, Hannah Pezaza, who would likely have been born ~1710s.

Culturally, the Marion family is French Huguenot, Passwater is English, but the origin of Pezaza is totally unknown (perhaps Spanish?). My guess is that Hannah Pezaza was Sarah Maiden's great-grandmother, and she was somehow related to the Marion line -- perhaps a descendant from Benjamin Marion's second marriage to Mary Unknown, or perhaps a Cordes relative -- a relative of Francis Marion's mother Esther Cordes. With Francis Marion's fame, and the small size of Charleston at that time, it would be known that his mother and wife were from the Cordes family, and it seems perhaps more likely to be a Cordes relative as Hannah is a name that appears in the Cordes line but not in the Marion line. When relating the stories of the great battles of the Revolution, especially when Mary Passwater told stories of how she witnessed the Battle of Cowpens in SC, stories of Francis "Swamp Fox" Marion, and any familial relationship would be sure to be mentioned. Note: it is always possible that Hannah Pezaza was a widow when William Passwater married her, and thus the search is for a different surname.

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