Samuel Gorby and Mary May – the first Gorbys in America?

Samuel Gorby and Mary May – the first Gorbys in America?

According to the book written by Alva Gorby in the 1930s, Samuel Gorby and Mary May were the first Gorby family in North America. From Alva’s book:

“Little of definite information can be found concerning Samuel Gorby.  Traditions there are in plenty, but so far they seem to be all that can be found.

One story is that Samuel Gorby married Mary May in Manchester, England, and came directly to America, settling in Chester Co, Pennsylvania, where he bought a home, reared a family, and fought for his country whenever his services were needed.

Another story tells of his being kidnapped from his father’s castle in England by a stranger who was spending the night at his father’s home, and of his being brought to America.

Still another version tells of his running away from his English home when twelve years of age and coming to America, there he was indentured, serving until he was 21 years of age, when he then married Mary May.

But these are all traditions, and it is not known definitely how nor when Samuel Gorby came to this country, nor where he married.  But he was born in England about 1700 and married Mary May.  Nothing is known of the May family, though there were many Mays in and around Philadelphia in those early days and some in Delaware.  Many of the Gorbys lived in Newcastle Co, DE, across from Chester Co, PA, and many of their descendants are still living there.”

Much of Alva’s information on the early Gorbys in America came from notes kept by 5th generation Josephus Gorby (son of John, son of Job, son of Thomas) so this is all anecdotal.

After researching the Gorby Family for almost 20 years, I have never found any proof that Samuel Gorby existed.

In the past, I have had several people claim that they have seen a passenger manifest with Samuel Gorby’s name on it. But when pressed for the specific source, none has ever been given.

The only immigration information which has come to light thus far is that of one Joseph Goreby of Ansley, Warwickshire. He was a laborer aged 19, whose father lived in Ansley, and on September 14, 1738 he indentured to a four year contract to Mark Walker to serve 4 years in PA. ‘Mark Walker and Co’ was an agent in London who arranged indentures. They indentured 20 people just in 1738 alone with 11 of them going to PA. All contracts were for 4 years.

The earliest written documentation we have on a Gorby in America is the marriage between 2nd Generation Joseph and his marriage to Maria Littlejohn at the Holy Trinity Church in Wilmington, New Castle Co, DE on Feb 26, 1745. Alva’s book called her “Mary Loan”, but that is because Joseph was her third husband. She was married first to Erasmus Stedham in 1726 and second to William Loan in 1732.

(Those of you who have based their family tree on Alva’s book need to be aware that Joseph did NOT marry both Mary loan and Hannah Stilley. Hanna married 3rd Generation Joseph, the son of Joseph and Maria Littlejohn.)

So… is the Joseph Goreby from Ansley the same Joseph Gorby who married Mary Littlejohn? No way to know at this point, and we will probably never know.

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