John Outten

Preface To John Outten, Lawyer
Since the following memoir was written about 25 years ago, some facts have been found out about John Outten and his family that were not known to the writer at that time. Many old historical records, including several Real Estate Transactions, are now available that were not known to be extant at that time. These have been searched and proved conclusively the statements that follow.

The writer had suspected that John Outten had been married twice, but no record had then been fount to prove it. The first wife of John Outten was Mary Hopkins (?) and they were the parents of three sons; Thomas, John and Samuel. She was still living on August 13, 1695 when he gave a deed to Philip Connar for a tract of land containing 100 acres but she probably died soon after.

The second wife of John Outten was Mary Purnell. They were married before September 12, 1699 when he bought a tract of land in the neck called Nassawamax, containing 300 acres, when he speaks of her as “Mary Outten, my now wife.” So both wives of John Outten were named Mary. This has been the cause of the difficulty in establishing the relationship of the children.

It now seems probable that Abraham was the son of John and Mary (Purnell) Outten, because Mary, the second wife of John, speaks of him in her will as her son. We do not have the date of his birth and there is no way known to the writer by which to prove whether he was the son of the first or second wife.

John and Mary Outten also had a daughter who married George Truitt, but we do not know her name or the date of her birth. They had a daughter named Mary Truitt who was mentioned in her grandmother’s will. Mary Truitt’s mother probably died before the will was made and her share went to her daughter, Mary. John Outten did not mention any daughters in his last will and testament but the one who married George Truitt did not need any patrimony.

In his last will and testament John Outten mentioned an unborn child, when he said “If my wife should have a son, it is my will that each of my sons (viz) Thomas, John, Samuel and Abraham should contribute 2000 lbs of tobacco each of ye ant if it pleaseth God to be a girl, each to allow 500 pounds of tobacco towards the maintenance not cutting off her his proportion of my principal estate.” The writer does not quite understand the last phrase, but according to John’s theory it would only cost one forth as much to support a girl as it would a boy and requested his grown sons to contribute only one fourth as much “if it pleaseth God to be a Girl.”

John Outten did not know when he made his will whether the child would be a boy or a girl, but as he lived about 16 months after he made his will he found that “it pleaseth God to be a girl.” They named the child Esther but called her Hester. It is likely the brothers all contributed to her support according to her father’s expressed wishes. When Mary, the mother of Hester made her will on February 10, 1723 she remembered Hester and made her one of the executors. She was then 15 years old and was 18 when the will was probated but no reference to her has been found.

Mary, the widow of John Outten married Thomas Copes, but they had no children, so we cannot even guess the date of their marriage. Thomas Copes of Accomac Co., Va. made his will December 16, 1720, leaving all his property to the Outten children. He mentions in his will, stepsons, Abraham and Samuel and a Step-daughter, Esther Outten. The will is not very clear, but he wanted Samuel to have the property where John Outten, his father, lived at Pocotenorton, which he said then belonged to Abraham.

Mary Copes, who was the widow of John Outten, made her last will and testament on February 10, 1723. “I will to my son, Abraham, all the money I am now possessed with, and all the money due me from abroad. My children, Abraham and Hester Outten legatees and executors. Also grand-daughter, Mary Truitt and grandson, John, son of Thomas Outten.” George Truitt signed as nearest of kin and Sabro Outten wife of Thomas Outten witnessed the will.

The will was probated October 2, 1726. It is probable that Mary Copes had died the same year. It states plainly that Mary still had possessions in the Old County, from which she received money, some of which was due her at the time she made her will, which she left to Abraham.

It is worthy of notice that Samuel Outten is mentioned in the will of Thomas Copes. He was born November 20, 1790 (s/b 1690) and his father left him 100 acres of land and marsh at Progg’s Point. There is no other historical reference made of him until Thomas Copes remembers him in his will, December 17, 1720. Samuel was at that time 30 years of age. No other statement concerning him has been found in any of the old records.


John Outten, The Lawyer
It seems quite evident to the writer that John Outten, our great ancestor, who was the earliest progenitor of the Outten family in America, so far as we have been able to trace the historical records, made his first settlement in the New World within the present bounds of the state of Delaware, as a tract of land was surveyed in 1686, and it is distinctly stated that it adjoined land belonging to John Outten. His name is also mentioned in the Index book of deeds at Georgetown, as having a deed recorded for land that he purchased in 1689, but the survey could not be found in any of the old records now extant. His residence was probably not far from the present town of Selbyville, Sussex County, Delaware, and he doubtless practiced his profession, both in Delaware and Maryland, as there was no line of demarcation existing between the two provinces until 1685, and the section in which this honored lawyer resided was considered, by Maryland authorities as a part of Somerset County.

A number of Real Estate Deeds are recorded in full, and they refer to the purchase and sale of real estate which was owned by John Outten, the lawyer.

The Will of John Outten, Dated Jan. 29, 1708, is recorded in the office of the Recorder of Wills at Princess Anne and Annapolis, Maryland.

John Outten probably died in May 1709, as his will was probated on the 27th of that month. There is also a distinct statement made that in 1709 the property of John Outten of Somerset Co., was appraised by Thomas Purnell and Nathaniel Hopkins.

In 1710-11 the account of Mrs. Mary Outten, Administratix of John Outten, Somerset Co., is mentioned in the records, and she paid Mathew Scarborough and John Bratten Smith for services rendered.

In 1714 tobacco belonging to John Outten’s estate from Nowland estate, Queen Annes County, is a matter of record. This statement indicates that John Outten had some interest in real estate somewhere in Queen Annes County, for a part of Nowland’s tobacco crop belonged to John Outten. In 1698 he testified to the will of John Townsend, St., of Somerset County.

Here ends the historical record of John Outten the lawyer and Mary his wife. He seems to have been the original Outten in america, as all others who bear the name can probably be traced to him. It is highly probable that he came to the Eastern Shore a young man, and he was married to Mary Purnell about the year 1683, as his eldest child was born in 1684. The births of their three eldest children are recorded in an old record book in the Land Office at Princess Anne:

Thomas Outten, son of John Outten and born of Mary, his wife the eleventh day of October, Anno Domini, One Thousand six hundred and eighty-four.”

John Outten, son of John Outten, and born of Mary, his wife, the twenty-third day of May, Anno Domini, One Thousand six hundred and eighty-seven.”

“Samuel Outten, son of John Outten, and born of Mary, his wife the twentieth day of November, Anno Domini, One Thousand six hundred and ninety.”

There was perhaps a law in effect at that time requiring parents to record the births of their children, but it was probably repealed before the other children were born. The next child was Abraham Outten, but we do not know the date of his birth. And when John outten made his will, January 19, 1708, there was a child unborn, whose sex and name we do not know. There may have been other children, as it hardly seems probable that there was only one child born after 1690 and then one born in 1708, but if so they died before the will was made.

The whole Outten family would be pleased to know more about their great ancestor, but it not likely after the lapse of more than 200 years since his death, that many more facts concerning him will ever be collected. That he was a lawyer by profession is clearly stated in one of his deeds recorded at Princess Anne; and that he was a man of wealth is evident from the number of deeds that bear his name, and from his last will and testament.

But his moral character and faith may be fairly well judged by the introductory paragraph of his will: “I give and commit my soul to God who gave it, * * and Doe believe in ye Resurrection of ye body and the remission of sins and the life everlasting, and for all sins committed am heartily penitent and hope for the forgiveness of the same.” From these statements, it seems evident that John Outten professed to be a Christian, and he was probably a member of some church, but no one could possibly divine with what religious denomination he was affiliated.

The recorded events of the life of John Outten cover a period of twenty-five years, from 1684 to 1709. Mary his wife was living in 1711, but there is no other mention made of her. It is likely however, that she lived several years, as she was still bearing children in 1708. She was probably much younger than her husband. They lived together twenty-six years; their home was on their own plantation at a place called Pocotenorton, and it is likely that there they died, and according to the custom of the age, they were probably buried on the farm. A progency of several thousand human lives have issued from John and Mary Outten. Peace be their sacred dust!


Written by Rev. John Perry Outten converted to Hypertext by Karen Stephens