Tag Archives: Corney

John Corney & Abigail Skillings, Gloucester, MA, 1600s

John Corney, born c1645, was likely the immigrant ancestor of the Corney family.

Some say he was born in Falmouth, Maine, which I doubt, as no other Corney men have been found in the records.

However, John Corney did reside in Falmouth, today the city of Portland, on the northwest side of Barberry Creek, during the administration of Governor Thomas Danforth (in office 1689-1692), according to the depositions of Josiah Wallis, aged about 70 years and James Wallis, aged about 62 years years, recorded in 1731.

Furthermore, the Collections of the Maine Historical Society, Volume 1 states that John Corney, laborer, lived one year in Falmouth at the house of John Ingersoll and a second year at the house of Samuel Ingersoll and that John Corney had a 60-acre tract of land at Nonesuch Point, which today is just south of the city center of Portland.

There is no doubt, then, that John Corney resided in Maine for some years, but there is no evidence that he was born in Maine. Given the early date in New England history, it is very unlikely.

Corney, occasionally spelled as Curney, is a unique surname in colonial America and is not particularly common in England in that time period either.

John Corney’s age at death places is birth year around 1645. There is a baptismal record for a John Corney, son of Rowland Corney, bintner (vintner/) of Whitehall and Hannah his wife, at St. Dunstand and All Saints, Stepney, London, England, on 12 November 1645.

Given the rarity of the surname and an exact match to the year, John Corney in Maine and Massachusetts might well be the son of Rowland and Hannah (MNU) Corney.

I have seen the original church entry (digital version), so I am sure no one just made up the parents and date. Unfortunately, no other records for Rowland and Hannah were found.

John Corney married Abigail Skillings on 18 November 1670 in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts.

There is some thought that he brought her down from Maine, which is possible. I know from experience that Skillings is an ancient surname in Maine.

No birth record has been found for Abigail, but she was the daughter of Thomas Skillings and Deborah (MNU), and born c1652. her father died in 1667, which may have precipitated a marriage at aged 18 for her.

John and Abigail were the parents of five children.

Children: (All events in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts)

1. Elisha, born 25 September 1672, called husbandman; married Rebecca Smith, 16 December 1697

2. Abigail, born 8 February 1675/76; married Thomas Sanders, c1702

3. John, born 27 September 1678; married Mary Cook, 15 January 1712/13

4. Mary, born 20 August 1682; married Jacob Rowe, fisherman, 7 January 1713/14

5. Elizabeth, born c1684; married Stephen Rowe, husbandman, 6 November 1721

All five children made a deed dated 15 March 1727 [Essex County, MA Deed Book 61:149-150] in which Elisha Corney, Thomas and Abigail Sanders, Jacob and Mary Rowe and Stephen and Elizabeth Rowe confirmed that their brother, John, was the owner of a piece of land that formerly belonged to their father, John Corney, deceased.

The Gloucester town clerk didn’t seem terribly concerned with recording death dates. None are found for this family apart from Abigail (Skillings) Corney, who predeceased her husband on 16 February 1721/22, aged about 70 years.

John Corney died 3 May 1725 in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts.

In closing, there was early speculation that the Corney surname was actually Carney or Gurney. I don’t believe so, given the Rowland Corney church record and the fact that this name is consistently spelled Corney, or occasionally Curney, in Massachusetts and Maine records.