The Family of John Nairne and Mary G. Spencer


This page created May 6, 2007.

Mary G. Spencer was the daughter of Wiley and Nancy Spencer. I have the rare and fortunate pleasure of being able to state that with more certainty for Mary than I can for most of her other siblings because some wonderful soul inscribed her parents' names on her tombstone. Sometimes you just get lucky. Her tombstone also states that she was the wife of John W. Naire (without a second "n"). Again, it is a rare and fortunate event that the marriage records of Sumter County, Alabama from 1833-1850 survived the ages to substantiate that relationship and to offer the spelling of "Nairne". So Mary G. Spencer was the daughter of Wiley and Nancy Spencer. My best interpretation of census records (see family page for Wiley and Nancy for more information) leads me to believe that Mary was probably born in Edgefield District, South Carolina around 1819 and was her parents' second daughter to survive childhood. Their first daughter Lucinda was born about 1810, and since Mary was born in 1819, I believe there may have been others born between them that did not survive.

Census records from 1830 in Edgefield, South Carolina suggest that Mary was living at home with her parents at that time. Family tradition tells the story that Mary's extended Spencer family left Edgefield, South Carolina around 1832 and migrated to Alabama and Mississippi. It appears that Mary left her parents and moved with her extended family because she married John W. Nairne in 1838 in Sumter County, Alabama. Mary's aunt Hannah Spencer Washington, wife of Dr. Robert W. Washington, also settled in Sumter County, Alabama. Grandfather Shepherd Spencer, Sr. and aunt Elizabeth Spencer Adams, wife of Talbot Adams, settled in nearby Pickens County, Alabama.

According to census records, John W. Nairne was a tailor who was born around 1815 in Maryland. I don't know anything about his family, but there may be a clue in census records. The 1840 census of Sumter County, Alabama shows a male under age 5 (born 1835-1840) in the household of J.W. Nairn. The 1850 census of Sumter County shows a 15-year-old male (born 1835) named George Sherard living in the household of John W. and Mary G. Nairne. No relation is indicated, and George's birthplace was listed as North Carolina. If this 15-year-old George is the same person as the 5-year-old male from the 1840 census, then I would infer a family relationship of some type. The last name Sherard is unknown to me, so perhaps this boy may be one of John's family members?

The 1850 census of Sumter County also shows John and Mary having two daughters: Elizabeth, born around 1840 in Alabama, and Haceltine, born around 1842 in Alabama. According to her tombstone, Mary died in April 1858. Fellow Spencer researcher and Spencer descendant Bill Tankersley told me Mary died in Pickens County, Alabama. She was buried in the cemetery of the Old Providence Church in Panola, Alabama in Sumter County, alongside of her son John Wiley Nairne (who died in 1846 at age 2) and near grandfather Shepherd Spencer, Sr and various aunts, uncles, and cousins. The cemetery has fallen into disrepair over the years and is reached only by hiking down dirt roads and across grassy pastures.

The 1860 census of Sumter County shows Jno. W. Nairne, a tailor with a personal esate of $7000, living in the same household as a grocer and a mechanic. No relationship was given, so I have inferred that they were probably either living in a hotel or boarding house or over a store. Elizabeth and Haceltine would have been 20 and 18 years of age respectfully, so their absence in the household may mean that they had married. I have not found marriage records for them yet, nor have I found them on censuses in 1860 or later. I know nothing else about these children, and this census is the last public record I have seen for John. He is not listed in the transcription of cemetery records for Providence Cemetery, so I do not know where he was buried either.


John W. Nairne (Sometimes spelled Naire, Nairn, and Narine)
Born: 1815 in Maryland
Married: July 31, 1838 in Sumter County, Alabama
Died: After 1860 in probably Pickens County, Alabama
Buried: Unknown
Father: Unknown
Mother: Unknown

Mary G. Spencer
Born: October 19, 1819 in South Carolina, probably Edgefield District
Died: April 22, 1858 in Pickens County, Alabama
Buried: Old Providence Cemetery, Panola, Sumter County, Alabama
Father: Wiley G. Spencer
Mother: Nancy (maiden name unknown)

  1. Elizabeth Nairne
    Born: 1840 in Alabama, probably Sumter County
    Married: Unknown
    Died: Unknown
    Buried: Unknown
  2. Haceltine? Nairne
    Born: 1842 in Alabama, probably Sumter County
    Married: Unknown
    Died: Unknown
    Buried: Unknown
  3. John Wiley Nairne
    Born: August 18, 1844 in probably Sumter County, Alabama
    Died: October 12, 1846 in probably Sumter County, Alabama
    Buried: Old Providence Cemetery, Panola, Sumter County, Alabama


1830 Edgefield District, South Carolina Census, page 146:
Willey Spencer:

Census Data Calculated Birth Range Probable Family Member
1 male age under 5 (born 1826-1830) James (ca 1823)
1 male age 30-40 (born 1790-1800) Wiley (ca 1794)
1 female age under 5 (born 1826-1830) Hannah? (1828)
2 females age 5-10 (born 1820-1825) Mary (1819) and Caroline (1820)
1 female age 30-40 (born 1790-1800) Nancy (ca 1790) 
1 female age 60-70 (born 1760-1770) Nancy's mother? 
No slaves, total of 7 in household. If Lucinda were born in 1810, why is she not listed in the household?

1840 Sumter County, Alabama Census, Microfilm 704 Roll 15, page 2:
J.W. Nairn:

Census Data Calculated Birth Range Probable Family Member
1 male age under 5 (born 1835-1840) Unknown child, possibly George Sherard from 1850 Sumter, AL census?
1 male age 20-29 (born 1811-1820) John (1815)
1 male age 40-50 (born 1790-1800) John's father?
1 female age under 5 (born 1835-1840) Elizabeth (1840)
1 female age 15-20 (born 1820-1825) Mary (1819) -- daughter of Wiley Spencer
15 Slaves: 3 males age 10-24, 1 male age 24-35; 1 female age 10-24, 2 females age 24-36, 1 female age 36-55, 1 female age 55-100

1850 Sumter County, Alabama census: Microfilm 432 Roll 15, Wassau District, December 20, 1850, page 325, Dwelling 1034, Family 1061
John W. Nairne -- age 35 (1815), born Maryland, tailor, real estate value = 1000
Mary G. Nairne -- age 30 (1820), born SC
Elizabeth Nairne -- age 10 (1840), born AL, attended school
Haceltine? Nairne -- age 8 (1842), born AL, attended school
George Sherard -- age 15 (1835), born NC - probably not a son

1860 Sumter County, Alabama Census: Northern Division, Warsaw Post Office, June 13, 1860, Dwelling/Family 69/69, page 573
Jno W. Nairne – age 40 (1820), tailor, real estate 400, personal estate 7000, born MD
Noah Little – age 25 (1845), grocer, born NC
Jn J. Whitaker – age 30 (1830), mechanic, personal estate 500, born NC
      (Note: Mary Nairne died in 1858.)

Cemetery Records of Old Providence Cemetery, Panola, Sumter County, Alabama:

John Wiley Nairne -- Son John W. & Nancy G. Nairne [MKJ note: this is what the book says]
Aug 18, 1844 – Oct 12, 1846

"In Memory of
Mary G. Wife of
John W. Naire
and daughter of
Wiley and Nancy Spencer
born Oct 19, 1819
departed this life on the
22nd of April 1858
She was a tender mother here
and in her life Lord did not fear
We trust our last will repent
and that with Christ she's gone to reign"
      (Note: Full transcription provided by Bll Tankersley.)

Land and Property Deeds in Winston County, Mississippi



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