A Jolly Post

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the really bad title as today’s post is about my Jolly ancestors. (I guess I should have posted this around Christmas time.)

Yes, it has been quite a while since I have posted here. I have no excuse other than I haven’t been hmmm…excited, enthused, pumped-up…well…interested is probably the closest descriptor to use, about doing my family history lately. The pandemic, the crappy news, the anti-vaxxers, the lack of response from DNA correspondences, the inability to get to records I really need in order to further my research for certain lines, all this has contributed to my malaise. I’ll try to do better this year, I promise, ’cause I won’t let those fu**ers win. So, here goes.

The earliest known male ancestor of my Shaw line, (that would be my maternal grandmother’s line), is James Shaw. The story of James’ life has been passed down in the family and researched: he was an indentured boy who emigrated to York County, Pennsylvania, he joined the Revolutionary cause to help his new home throw off the mantle of British rule, married, had lots of children, and eventually ended up in Kentucky, where he died. I have some doubts about a few parts of his story that were passed down, because they haven’t been verified by sources. But, one thing we do know is true is that he married a woman by the name of Ann Jolly.

Very little is known about Ann, and over the last 20 years I have tried to find her origins. She didn’t just sprout up out of the ground, I believe that she had to have had parents around somewhere when she married James. But, in all these years of research I had been unable to find the answer to that question. Until now.

DNA has helped me in sorting out this mystery, but I also have found records that appear to confirm that her parents were James and Jean Jolly.

Just for added interest a map of Pennsylvania from 1800. York and Washington counties are the ones of interest in this family.

The DNA helped to give me a leg up on where to go to start this search, because I have a couple of matches with other folks who descend from this same couple, but through different children. Those matches gave me a place to start. The fact that they are in Pennsylvania, and the following two probate records cinch the deal for me. First we have James Jolly’s probate record [spelling errors from his record as is]; he died before his wife Jean:

James Jolly probate1
First I have given to my daughter Margeret her full portion that I aloted for her
likewise to my daughter Jane has recd her portion
likewise my dauther Sarah has rec’d hers
also my daugher Ann likewise also has rec’d her portion
my son James he also has rec’d his portion of goods alotted for him
my daughter Elizabeth she also has rec’d her portion
my son William he likewise has rec’d his portion
my daughter Ester has also rec’d her part,

Second… I give and bequeath to my dearly beloved wife Jane my whole estate to be enjouyed by her wholely and solely to be her own property forever to do with the same and use the same as she pleaes… I have let my hand and seal this 24th day of January 1803. John Jolly [seal]

Sighed sealed and acknowledged in presence of Benjaman Lyon, John Kinney, Thomas Parramore

Now this probate doesn’t really confirm much except that he did have daughter Ann. But then Jean died about 3 years later, and her probate record reads as follows:

Will of Jean Jolly…2 I give and devise and bequeath to my daughter Jean who is intermarried to William Quig one dollar.
I give and bequeath my daughter Ann who is intermarried to James Shaw five shillings
I give and bequeath to my oldest son James Jolly one dollar
I give and bequeath my son William one dollar
I give and bequeath my daughter Esther who is intermarried to Nathaniel Parramore one dollar
I give and bequeath Thomas Reacenior five shillings
I give and bequeath William Kinny five shillings
I give and bequeath to Martha Shaw five shillings [<– possibly Ann Shaw’s daughter]
I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth all the reminder of what money in cash is in the hands of William Kinny of mine…

In witness whereunto I have set my hand on this the 26th day of May 18 1806
Jean [her X mark] Jolly [seal]. Witness present in the presence of us: John Mann, William McDonough

If we have DNA matches with folks in this line and the two probate records indicate a daughter Ann who married a James Shaw, I have to conclude that these are likely Ann’s parents. So this is good news. I do love being able to confirm a DNA match with an actual record.

For my next post I’ll try to learn a bit more about James/John and Jean/Jane Jolly/Joley. These folks just can’t decide what their bloody names are!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot – it is possible that the Jolly’s are Scottish. Although, I doubt we will ever know for sure.


  1. v1p487 27 Jan 1803 date of probate — [Jame Jolly entry 1803, v1p487; “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L991-MKCR?cc=1999196&wc=9PMX-4WL%3A268493301%2C282444001 : 3 July 2014), Washington > Wills 1781-1814 vol 1-2 > image 256 of 578; county courthouses, Pennsylvania.]
  2. v2p84 11 jun 1806 date of probate –“Jean Jolly entry 1806, v2p84; Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-8991-M22W?cc=1999196&wc=9PMX-4WL%3A268493301%2C282444001 : 3 July 2014), Washington > Wills 1781-1814 vol 1-2 > image 314 of 578; county courthouses, Pennsylvania.