Bio: Catherine Markham
During the early years of my Markham research, Catherine Markham, hung in limbo without identified parents. When the Judith Markham Biography surfaced, we learned that Catherine Markham
was her sister, and that both girls were the daughters of William Markham and Mary Wathen. Catherine Markham was probably born sometime between 1770-1780. During those years her family
lived first in Bedford county Virginia, and then returned to Chesterfield county Virginia. Her father, William Markham, was a Virginia soldier during the Revolutionary War and was probably
away from home many months during the war years. In the fall of 1781 the family learned of his death at Yorktown, Virginia. In the midst of their grief, tragedy struck again, and
Catherine Markham's mother died of smallpox. The Markham children were left orphaned at a tender age.
The Judith Markham Biography tells us that she (Judith) went to live with her Uncle Bernard Markham. Perhaps Catherine Markham did too. Or, she may have been taken in by another of her
Markham uncles who lived nearby. It is likely that she grew up among her Markham cousins. Nothing further is known of her youth.
On the 24th of April 1798 Catherine Markham was married to Jonas Robertson in Chesterfield county Virginia. He was the son of Nathaniel Robertson and Winnie Cain. This was a second
marriage for Jonas Robertson. He had been previously married to Ann "Nancy" Hill and already had four children.
Jonas Roberts (Robertson) and Catherine Markham married by Rev Nathan Anderson, Methodist ministers return; pg 388; 24 April 1798.
[source] Marriage Bonds and Ministers Returns of Chesterfield County Virginia; Knorr.
Catherine Markham began married life with a busy household. Over the next fifteen years, Jonas Robertson and Catherine Markham added eight more children to their family.
1810 Census of Chesterfield county Virginia; page 53
Jonas Robertson; 3m 0-10; 1m 10-16; 1m 16-26; 1m 45+; 2f 0-10; 1f 16-26; 1f 26-45; 11 slaves; (suggests 5 male children and 3 female children in the home in 1810)
Jonas Robertson died in 1818 in Chesterfield county, Virginia. He was probably in his fifties, and his widow in her forties. Many years later, in 1853, Jonas Robertson's descendants
sought to settle some remaining details of his estate in Chauncery Court. An abstract of his original Will was included with the Chauncery Court records. The Will begins by giving slaves
to his four grown children by Ann Hill, then he goes on to say:
"[I] lend to my wife Catharine during her natural life three Negroes named Jim, Edy, and Frank. Also the fourth part of my stock of every description and the whole of my household and
kitchen furniture and after her death I give the said Negroes, stock and furniture above mentioned to be equally divided between my eight children not before named viz.: Markham, Edward,
George, Judith, Eliza Ann, Joseph Bolling, Rebecca, and Martha. The balance of my estate of what nature or kind so ever to be equally divided between my eight last mentioned
children . . ."
By comparing the Will record with the Chauncery Court documents we can clearly identify the children of Jonas Robertson and Catherine Markham as William Markham Robertson, Edward James
Robertson, George Bernard Robertson, Judith Robertson, Eliza Ann Robertson, Joseph Bolling Robertson, Rebecca C Robertson, and Martha Robertson.
Catherine Markham Robertson must have been devastated by the death of her husband, Jonas Robertson. Her four step-children had all married in the years just prior to their father's
death. But, Catherine Markham Robertson's oldest son, Markham Robertson, was about nineteen years of age. Seven younger children were also in the home of Catherine Markham
Unfortunately, few records have been found that tell us what happened to Catherine Markham Robertson after 1818. She died between 1833 - 1835 as an inventory of her estate appears in the
Will records of Chesterfield county Virginia. Included in the Chauncery Court file is this statement: "14 December 1835 - [sold] Slaves Kit, Jim, and Edy sold plus some articles belonging
to Jonas Robertson - each heir got $178.66 full blood; $16.25 those of half blood."
The estate inventories of both Jonas Robertson and his wife Catherine, suggest a household comfortably supplied. The kitchen housed the requisite pots, kettles, jugs, racks, and
sifter. The ladies of the household must have prepared cloth for they had loom, spinning wheel, cards, and flax. Furniture and tableware, often a indication of a family's material
wealth, seemed ample, but not elegant. The furniture included five bedsteads, cradle, pine table, six rush bottom chairs, and six windsor chairs, plus miscellaneous pieces of pine,
described as chest, small table, case, and "prep". The family table would have been set with four each of [serving] dishes, bowls, and butterpots; also twenty plates valued at $3, a
lot of pewter valued at $3, a set of knives and forks, and a pair of candlesticks. By the time Catherine died around 1835, more serving dishes and plates had been added, and a tea board
(tray) and china valued at $5. The farmyard boosted hoes, axes, wedges, and an ox cart with one yoke of oxen. The family was also surrounded by cattle, horses, lambs, and seventeen
geese. Pork must have been abundant, as Jonas had thirty-four hogs. The eleven slaves shown in the 1810 census may be a match for the eleven slaves listed on Jonas Robertson's inventory
eight years later in 1818 - three men and a boy, two old women, two young women, two small girls, and possibly a babe.
Catherine Markham Robertson's children have been hard to follow. William Markham Robertson and Martha Robertson died young, without issue. Edward James Robertson, George Bernard
Robertson, and Rebecca Robertson married and had children. Nothing further is known of her other three Robertson children.
Do you want to know more?
Link to Catherine Markham
Sketch: The Judith Markham Story from an Old Clipping
Biography of Catherine Markham; written by Pamela Hutchison Garrett for John Markham of Chesterfield website; 2014.