Last week marked the debut of the Descended from Scoundrels series. This week’s part two is along the same vein. An ancestor left his wife and children for another woman and subsequently started a new family.

A Scoundrel

My 7x ggrandfather, Robert Patrick, was born in 1764 in Virginia. He married Elizabeth “Betsy” McMullin in 1804 and some time after 1807 they moved to Kentucky. Robert was one of the early founders of Floyd County, Kentucky. He and Betsy had seven children: Hugh, Henry “Little Hen”, Hiram, Robert Jr., Nancy, Margaret “Peggy”, and Brice. The latter two were twins born in 1816.

In April of 1819, Betsy filed for divorce:

Divorce Petition of Betsy McMullin Patrick
State Archives Frankfort, Ky

“To the Honorable Judge of the Floyd Circuit Court in Chancery sitting upon part of Betsy McMullen (NOTE: McMullen crossed out and Patrick written in) complainant, shows that on the __day of__the said defendant left and abandoned with intent to abandon her for ever, and has since that time constantly lived in openly adultry with another woman. That she has seven children by him all of whom she has supported and raised. She charges that said defendant has property real and personal for the value of $500.00 or more, and prays that she may have alimony and separate maintenance decreed to her out of his estate. That said defendant refuses to live with her or to support her. To the end therefore that said defendant may answer this bill as his oath, and the possibility considered, may it please the court, to issue her a divorce, and she fears the defendant will leave the state and dispose of his property, she asks that he be compelled to give a bond of security to hold his property__to discharge this decree of your__for alimony to the jury a decree of alimony and separate maintenance_an further that such order may be extended to her as equity of the will.”
April 20, 1819
Wm J. Mays

Okay, so he left his wife and children and set up house with another woman. He fathered at least one, maybe two children before Betsy filed for divorce. What a scoundrel! Apparently the judge thought so too:

April Court 1819
On the motions of Betsy Patrick by her attorney on bill for that purpose filed against Robert Patrick ordered that a writ of ____ with injunction be awarded herein restraining the defendant from removing or consigning his property without the jurisdiction of this court till further order and decree of the court herein and that the clerk endorse the said writ. That the sheriff is directed on serving the same to hold the defendant to bail in the sum of $350 and that a subpoena in chancery issued on said bill returnable here next July court till which time this case is continued.

Commonweath of Kentucky to Sheriff of Floyd County. Greetings. Whereas it is represented to the Honorable Judge of our Floyd Circuit Court in Chancery sitting on the part of Betsy Patrick, Complainant, against Robert Patrick, defendant, that the said defendant designs quickly to go without the jurisdiction of the state which tends name forthly to the great damage of the said defendant as by her bill filed appears to us they are in order to prevent such injustice we again command you as often heretofore we have commanded you do without delay cause the said defendant Robert Patrick to come before you and give sufficient security as bail with a bond conditioned that he will not go or attempt to go without the jurisdiction of this court and in case the said defendant shall refuse or fail to give such bail as security, you are to commit him to our nearest prison there to be kept in safe custody till he shall do it of his own accord and when you have taken such security you are forthwith to return a certificate thereof to the Honorable Judge of the said court distincly and plainly under your seal together with this writ.
Witness: William J. Mayo, Clerk of our said court the 4th day of November 1819.
Attest: William J. Mayo

By July of 1820 things got a little ugly:

July 1820
“I got sight of the defendant, but could not arrest him.”
Jesse McClure for James Brown

You are hereby directed to take bond with sufficient security in the sum of $350 of the person named Robert Patrick that he will not go without the jurisdiction of the Floyd County Court without leave of said court or performing such decree as may be made by the said court in the suit initiated by the said Betsy Patrick, complainant, against the said Robert Patrick, defendant, and this you shall not avoid.
Test: William J. Mayo, recorded the 5th day of November 1820

“Not executed because I was not able to ride for a__time past.”
Wilson McCoy by James Brown

Hmmm… seems the sheriff was covering for my ancestor. Robert never voluntarily compensated Betsy.

Gravestone: Robert PatrickBetween 1818 and 1830 Robert Patrick had nine children with Nancy PRATER Allen. Upon Betsy’s death in 1830, Robert and Nancy married. They had one more child.

Robert, Nancy and their children migrated to Northwest Arkansas with a group that consisted of Tacketts, Salyers and Praters. He was about 74 years old.

Crypt: Nancy PatrickRobert and Nancy are buried next to each other in the Patrick Cemetery in Patrick, Madison County, Arkansas. Robert’s crypt is no longer there but a military stone marks his grave. Nancy’s crypt still stands and bears faint markings on the top. Click on the thumbnails to the right for larger versions of the pictures.

Robert and Nancy Patrick Burial SiteAgain, I’m in a quandary. Part of me wants to condemn my ancestor for his actions but if not for his actions I wouldn’t be here. I’m descended from his second family. Does the divorce petition and the legal correspondence that followed paint an accurate picture? What does the fact that he help found a county in Kentucky and a town in Arkansas say about the man?